Wednesday, October 01, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, October 1, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue,  Barack's 'plan' continues to falter, Barack steps away from fears of civilian casualties from US bombings, monthly totals for Septembers dead and wounded are released, Antiwar.com does a better job of counting the dead than does the United Nations, England joins in bombing Iraq, Senator Patty Murray works to address the issue of homeless veterans, TRICARE is failing some military families in the US, and much more.



We're going to start with veterans by noting this press release from Senator Patty Murray's office:


(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Housing Appropriations Subcommittee and senior member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, announced new resources to help homeless veterans secure stable housing. Washington state will receive 335 housing vouchers that will be allocated to eleven different housing authorities across the state- this includes both tenant-based vouchers, which are used to cover rent in private housing, as well as project-based vouchers, which are attached to specific units of housing. 
The vouchers are part of the joint Department of Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program (HUD-VASH program), a program Murray helped restart in 2008 and which she has continued to fund every year since.  Through the program, homeless veterans receive vouchers through HUD and case management and services through the VA. 
“These vouchers are a huge boost in the effort to end homelessness among veterans in our state,” said Senator Murray. “Each one of these vouchers represents a step toward finding a permanent home for someone who sacrificed for our nation, but is struggling to find stable housing. The HUD-VASH program provides critical support to these veterans and is a key reason why we are making real progress toward the goal of finally ending veteran homelessness.”
With the assistance of HUD-VASH, veteran homelessness in the United States has declined 33 percent since 2010.
 

See a breakdown of voucher allocation below (totals include both tenant-based and project-based vouchers):


Public Housing Authority
VA Medical Center
Vouchers
Amount
Seattle Housing Authority
VA Puget Sound Health Care System (HCS)/Seattle Campus
69
$485,738
King County Housing Authority
VA Puget Sound Health Care System (HCS)/Seattle Campus
92
$745,134
Housing Authority of the City of Tacoma
VA Puget Sound  Health Care System (HCS)/American Lake Campus
23
$135,665
Housing Authority of the City of Longview
Portland VA Medical Center (VAMC)Vancouver Campus
5
$22,160
Housing Authority City of Bellingham
VA Puget Sound Health Care System (HCS)/Seattle Campus
10
$51,857
Housing Authority of Snohomish County
VA Puget Sound Health Care System (HCS)/Everett Community-Based Outreach Clinic (CBOC)
12
$95,790
Housing Authority of Thurston County
VA Puget Sound  Health Care System (HCS)/American Lake Campus
17
$97,951
Housing Authority of the City of Spokane
Mann-Grandstaff (Spokane) Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC)
39
$169,622
Housing Authority of the City of Walla Walla (WA)
Walla Walla VA Medical Center (VAMC)/Richland Community-Based Outreach Clinic (CBOC)
10
$39,365
Housing Authority of Chelan County and City of Wenatchee
Mann-Grandstaff (Spokane) Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC)/Wenatchee Community-Based Outpatient Clinic (CBOC)
18
$88,119
Vancouver Housing Authority
Portland VAMC
40
$193,877


###





--
Eli Zupnick
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
(202) 224-2834
Eli_Zupnick@murray.senate.gov

@elizupnick



Senator Murray works tirelessly for veterans and deserves much praise for that.

However, if there were 19 clones of her and the original serving in the Senate, it still wouldn't be enough.

TRICARE.

I am hearing the same story over and over from veterans and their spouses with children.

TRICARE is supposed to be coverage for service members and for veterans -- there's TRICARE for retired, etc.  Think of it as Blue Cross Blue Shield if you need to simplify it.

John and Joan are married and have a daughter named Jill.

John is not oversees, he's a service member but he gets stationed here and there.  They do a seven month stint in Colorado.  Five months in, Jill is vomiting and can't stop.  She's taken to the emergency room of the local hospital where they stabilize her.  Jill is taken to a doctor's office or clinic the next day and Dr. Michelle Wong says Jill needs to see a specialist, Dr. Andre Kumar.

I hope everyone's following example, it's pretty straight forward.

En route to Dr. Kumar's office, or after being seen, John and Joan are informed that the visit isn't 'authorized' so TRICARE won't be covering it.

I've heard this basic story over and over in the last four weeks when speaking to veterans groups.

TRICARE wants a PCP -- a primary care physician.  That would be your family doctor, the doctor you or your children see when you're sick.

John and Joan are not living in X and never moving.  The military wants them at this base for a limited time and then at that base.  And if there's no reason to change the PCP -- if the child isn't sick or can be treated in a clinic, for example -- the parents don't change the PCP.  Sometimes TRICARE does.

So when their child does get sick and they seek care, they're suddenly faced with costs and expenses they shouldn't have to deal with.  But TRICARE says their sick child can't see that specialist -- even if a doctor has made the referral -- because they didn't see their PCP.

I've tried to keep the above simple (there's also an issue of TRICARE assigning PCP's to relocated families).

TRICARE could keep things real simple by allowing service members and their families to see a specialist if they are referred by another doctor -- it should not have to be a PCP.

It is ridiculous.

Joan and John and Jill are not moving because they made the decision, they're moving because the US government is changing where they are stationed.  TRICARE needs to recognize that.

No service member should have to worry about the costs of caring for their children -- that's especially true when your child is in dire need of a specialist.


I've tried to keep the above simple.  I've used PCP because that's what most people are familiar with -- most with insurance -- but, for example, in TRICARE, the PCP is called the PCM.

Calling.  The other big issue.

As someone who has sat in one hearing after another where members of Congress like Patty Murray, Senator Richard Burr, Senator Bernie Sanders, US House Rep Jeff Miller and US House Rep Mike Michaud have repeatedly asked the VA if they need more money for employees or training or this or that and heard the VA say no?

Will someone ask the VA, someone in Congress, how they feel about their call center because veterans with health issues -- such as the example above -- are getting real tired of the weight.


Moving to another topic . . .

Ned Parker's made his mark and then some reporting from Iraq.  His time at the Los Angeles Times, for example, is noted for his breaking the news on the secret prisons tyrant Nouri al-Maliki ran.  He nows heads Reuters' Iraq bureau.  And he Tweeted the following:





And this followed:







To give credit where it's due, the byline for the Reuters report is Raheem Salman, Yara Bayoumy, Ned Parker and Philippa Fletcher.


And to point out that the 'correction' isn't one, let's note that BBC added Reuters to the story, it did not issue a correction ("In a previous version of this report, we wrongly . . .") or an apology.

Accidents do happen, mistakes as well.  If you can't acknowledge them, that says something about you -- something much worse than an inadvertent failure to give credit.

In other image problems . . .


If you were looking at approximately two more years in office, you might try to use them to improve your image -- especially if you had six bad years so far and your second term was marked only by how increasingly unpopular you were.

You might look to improve your image.

US President Barack Obama apparently doesn't.  Igor Bobic (Huffington Post) reports:

The Obama administration has exempted its current military campaign in Syria and Iraq from strict standards imposed last year aimed at preventing civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes, Yahoo News reported Tuesday.
The White House intended the standard of "near certainty" that civilians wouldn't be killed to apply "only when we take direct action 'outside areas of active hostilities,' as we noted at the time," Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, told Yahoo. "That description -- outside areas of active hostilities -- simply does not fit what we are seeing on the ground in Iraq and Syria right now." 


Huffington Post reported, AP rushes to excuse.  Associated Press' Ken Dilanian offers:

According to the White House, the reason the near-certainty standard is not applicable turns on a fine point of international law — the theory that the U.S. is not involved in “active hostilities” in Yemen and Somalia, but is in Syria and Iraq. Such distinctions are controversial, given the frequency with which American bombs and bullets have flown in both countries.
A more practical reason is that the self-imposed rules on drone strikes against al-Qaida are simply too restrictive for a conventional military air campaign against the Islamic State group, which the U.S. says is both a terrorist group and an occupying army, and has ordered the Pentagon to destroy.

Nothing says neutral and impartial news organization like excusing civilian deaths, justifying them, right?


Last Friday,  NINA reported a  Mosul bombing by US war planes killed 4 civilians.  In another article, Dilanian offers, "In Iraq, the U.S. is relying for ground reports on the Iraqi military and intelligence services, whose insights into Islamic State-controlled territory are limited."

Then maybe they shouldn't be bombing?

And did Barack miss this reality before he started bombing because so many people were discussing this publicly before the first air strikes started -- Time magazine's Bobby Ghosh, for example, was on MSNBC talking about just this possibility.


Did he miss that reality or does he just not care?

Jason Ditz (Antiwar.com) notes the dropping of the previously announced standard and offers:

The more fast-and-loose definition of care may mirror the US occupation of Afghanistan, where airstrikes have routinely killed large numbers of civilians, and incidents of scores and even hundreds of civilians slain in botched strikes are not unheard of.
It also makes the weekend admonition by the Red Cross for the US to take care that it abides by international bans against targeting civilians and medical personnel all the more important, as their checkered track record of doing that in past wars seems to be the template they’re applying to the new conflict.

Doyle McManus (Los Angeles Times) observed earlier this week, "When the president talks about his new offensive against the extremist group that calls itself Islamic State, he sounds as warlike as George W. Bush ever did."

The war never ended in Iraq and UNAMI has issued their monthly death toll for September:



Baghdad, 1 October 2014 – According to casualty figures released today by UNAMI, a total of at least 1,119 Iraqis were killed and another 1,946 were injured in acts of terrorism and violence in September*. 


The number of civilians killed was 854 (including 79 civilian police), while the number of civilians injured was 1,604 (including 84 civilian police).  A further 265 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed, and 342 were injured (including Peshmerga, SWAT and militias fighting alongside Iraqi Army/not including casualties from Anbar operation). 
*CAVEATS: Data do not take into account casualties of the current IA operation in Anbar, for which UNAMI was unable to obtain figures for the reporting period. In general, UNAMI has been hindered in effectively verifying casualties in conflict areas. In some cases, UNAMI could only partially verify certain incidents. UNAMI has also received, without being able to verify, reports of large numbers of casualties along with unknown numbers of persons who have died from secondary effects of violence after having fled their homes due to exposure to the elements, lack of water, food, medicines and health care. For these reasons, the figures reported have to be considered as the absolute minimum. 
Civilian Casualties (killed and injured) per governorate 
Anbar excluded, Baghdad was the worst affected Governorate with 1,335 civilian casualties (352 killed, 983 injured), followed by Salahadin (298 killed, 383 injured), Kirkuk (59 killed, 51 injured), Diyala (36 killed, 71 injured), Nineveh (75 killed, 16 injured). 
Operations in Anbar 
Up to now, UNAMI has not been able to obtain the total civilian casualty figures from the Health Directorate in Anbar. Overall casualty figures for Anbar will be added if and when they become available.


Anbar is a province where a lot of violence takes place so you don't have a real count if you're leaving out Anbar.  There's also the nonsens of 'civilian' casualties -- dead is dead.


The UN News Centre notes, "At least 1,119 Iraqis – most of them civilians – were killed in [September], the United Nations in the country today reported, but cautioned that the figure does not include people killed in the ongoing operation in Anbar, or those who died from the heat or hunger after being forced to flee violence in their cities."

So they do keep a tally of security forces killed.

Who's is missing?

How about the dead accused of being 'terrorists'?

Why is the UN going along with that?

I seem to remember when a group of US forces broke into an Iraqi home, murdered the parents and a five-year-old girl while gang-raping an Iraqi teenager in the other room before killing her too.  And who did the press blame?

'Terrorists.'

In terms of the dead last month, there's no need to determine who is or isn't a terrorist, you just count the dead.  Dead is dead.  The press has no idea whether some person the Iraqi forces killed is a terrorist or not but they do know the person is dead.

Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports, "Antiwar.com has determined that at least 3,790 people were killed across Iraq during September. These numbers include militants, even foreign ones, killed in Iraq. Another 1,949 were wounded. The violence also left 126 dead and 184 wounded across Iraq on Tuesday."  That's the standard the United Nations should be pursuing.

And let's further note that the UN's refusal to count Anbar's deaths really harms the United Nation's credibility.



In other news, Chelsea J. Carter, Gul Tuysuz and Ben Wedeman (CNN) add "that the United Kingdom said it conducted its first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, striking targets four days after Parliament voted to approve the country's involvement."  Those bombings were late last night.  For those scratching their heads and thinking, "Wait, didn't . . ."  Yes.  Yes, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was telling/scolding the press yesterday that the RAF would not be "panicked" into bombing but would instead gather intel and then move cautiously and safely and blah, blah, blah. 


Judith Orr (Great Britain's Socialist Worker) reports:

British warplanes joined the third attack on Iraq in less than 25 years after a vote in Westminster on Friday of last week.

MPs backed prime minister David Cameron’s proposal to launch air strikes by a majority of 524 votes to 43 after parliament was recalled.

Britain joins the US, France and a number of Arab states in their assault on the country in the name of stopping the sectarian Islamist group Islamic State, also known as Isis.
Within 24 hours RAF tornado jets flew from Cyprus to Iraq searching for targets.
Cameron said, “This is going to be a mission that will take not just months but years.”
To their shame most Labour MPs lined up to back the Tories’ new war.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said bombing Iraq was about “protecting our national interest, security and the values for which we stand.”

After the vote Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in east London, resigned as shadow education minister over Labour’s support for the air strikes. 
Labour MP and chair of the Stop the War Coalition (StW) Jeremy Corbyn refused to vote for the motion.
He spoke to Socialist Worker on the eve of the vote as StW protesters gathered outside Downing Street in London.
Corbyn said, “This is the third time I’ve been asked to bomb Iraq and the third time I’ll say no.”
He pointed to the West’s hypocrisy. “They are joining with Saudi Arabia which frequently beheads opponents of its regime to stop Isis which beheads the opponents of its regime,” he said.
Like Saudi Arabia the West’s other allies in the bombing—Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and UAE—are dictatorships that suppressed democracy movements during the Arab Spring.
MPs congratulated themselves on what many declared was a serious debate. They acknowledged the shadow cast by the last war on Iraq. But in speech after speech MPs claimed that somehow this war would be different.
The vote was on a motion to bomb Iraq, but many MPs were already pushing to extend air strikes to Syria. Cameron asserted that he could legally extend action without a new vote.
Even Miliband did not rule out spreading the attack to Syria, only saying it would be “better” if there was a United Nations resolution to justify such action.
Several MPs also refused to rule out putting troops on the ground.
Iraqi socialist Sami Ramadani told Socialist Worker, “They failed to win a vote to bomb Syria last year because of opposition to war.
“Now they want to justify this new war with all the talk of tackling savagery of Isis.”
“But this is a chance for the US and the West to reassert itself in the region,” said Sami.

Activists across Britain need to get out on to the streets and challenge the warmongers’ lies and the threat of increased Islamophobia they whip up.

Demonstrate Saturday 4 October. Assemble 1pm Temple Place London WC2R 3BD. More details at stopwar.org.uk


[Socialist Worker article © Socialist Worker (unless otherwise stated). You may republish if you include an active link to the original.]













jason ditz
 the socialist worker
judith orr




As British jets join raids on Iraq - Protest against the war (Judith Orr)


 This is a repost from the UK Socialist Worker:


As British jets join raids on Iraq - Protest against the war

by Judith Orr



Protesting in Downing Street against Britain joining bombing of Iraq
Protesting in Downing Street last week against Britain joining bombing of Iraq (Pic: Dave Gilchrist)



British warplanes joined the third attack on Iraq in less than 25 years after a vote in Westminster on Friday of last week.


MPs backed prime minister David Cameron’s proposal to launch air strikes by a majority of 524 votes to 43 after parliament was recalled.

Britain joins the US, France and a number of Arab states in their assault on the country in the name of stopping the sectarian Islamist group Islamic State, also known as Isis.
Within 24 hours RAF tornado jets flew from Cyprus to Iraq searching for targets.
Cameron said, “This is going to be a mission that will take not just months but years.”
To their shame most Labour MPs lined up to back the Tories’ new war.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said bombing Iraq was about “protecting our national interest, security and the values for which we stand.”

After the vote Rushanara Ali, Labour MP for Bethnal Green and Bow in east London, resigned as shadow education minister over Labour’s support for the air strikes. 
Labour MP and chair of the Stop the War Coalition (StW) Jeremy Corbyn refused to vote for the motion.
He spoke to Socialist Worker on the eve of the vote as StW protesters gathered outside Downing Street in London.
Corbyn said, “This is the third time I’ve been asked to bomb Iraq and the third time I’ll say no.”
He pointed to the West’s hypocrisy. “They are joining with Saudi Arabia which frequently beheads opponents of its regime to stop Isis which beheads the opponents of its regime,” he said.
Like Saudi Arabia the West’s other allies in the bombing—Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar and UAE—are dictatorships that suppressed democracy movements during the Arab Spring.
MPs congratulated themselves on what many declared was a serious debate. They acknowledged the shadow cast by the last war on Iraq. But in speech after speech MPs claimed that somehow this war would be different.
The vote was on a motion to bomb Iraq, but many MPs were already pushing to extend air strikes to Syria. Cameron asserted that he could legally extend action without a new vote.
Even Miliband did not rule out spreading the attack to Syria, only saying it would be “better” if there was a United Nations resolution to justify such action.
Several MPs also refused to rule out putting troops on the ground.
Iraqi socialist Sami Ramadani told Socialist Worker, “They failed to win a vote to bomb Syria last year because of opposition to war.
“Now they want to justify this new war with all the talk of tackling savagery of Isis.”
“But this is a chance for the US and the West to reassert itself in the region,” said Sami.
Activists across Britain need to get out on to the streets and challenge the warmongers’ lies and the threat of increased Islamophobia they whip up.

Demonstrate Saturday 4 October. Assemble 1pm Temple Place London WC2R 3BD. More details at stopwar.org.uk

The not-so-clear targets to bomb and the response from the victims

Socialist Worker front page
Socialist Worker front page



Politicians claim they have Islamic State “bases” clearly targeted in the growing area it controls across north eastern Syria and north west Iraq.

US bombing has focused on the Islamic State-controlled city of Raqaa in Syria’s north east.
Previously it had faced constant bombing from forces of dictator Bashar al-Assad.
Civilians who were not able to flee are in the firing line.
British foreign secretary Philip Hammond said Western air strikes aimed to have no civilian casualties. But he admitted, “That’s not always achievable”.


The US has already bombed a school in the town of Tal Abyad on the border with Turkey, claiming it was a local Islamic State headquarters.
Other raids are about taking back oil and gas installations captured by Islamic State forces.
The US carried out a separate strike with at least 20 Tomahawk cruise missiles against eight targets near the north western Syrian city of Aleppo.
US army chief William Mayville Jnr claimed these were to stop a group called Khorasan, which was in the “final stages of plans to execute major attacks against Western targets and potentially the US homeland”.
Khorasan is the name given—by the US—to a group of Al Qaida affiliated fighters based in Syria. Many are supposed to come from the region of that name bridging Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Yet there is no evidence that such a group either exists or has any such plans. It appears to be a creation of the CIA to whip up fears of an Islamic terrorist threat to justify air strikes.
Islamic State is a product of the sectarian regime created by the West after its invasion and occupation of Iraq.
The West used sectarianism to help crush opposition in Iraq, setting up a majority Shia government and crushing Sunni dissent.
This created the conditions out of which the Islamic State organisation grew. The new war allows it to pose as the militant opposition to imperialism.
Fighters for the Al Qaida linked group Jabhat al-Nusra are reported to be defecting to Islamic State. Yet up to 3,000 have died in fighting between the two groups in the last two years.
One Raqaa resident told the BBC, “The people are against Islamic State, but if the USA bombs Raqaa, we will be with Islamic State against the USA.”

Syrians against West’s bombs


Tens of thousands of people in rebel areas of Syria have demonstrated against the latest Western attacks.

The demonstrations were bigger than any since 2012 in Houla in Homs province, in Daraa in the south and in Taftanaz and Maarat al-Numan in Idlib province.
These people have fought both Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship and Islamic State, and they are opposed to the West’s intervention.
One placard said, “Civilians don’t need international killers.”
People in Kafar Daryan in Idlib held a silent protest after US missiles killed scores of civilians as well as supporters of Islamist group Jabhat al-Nusra on Tuesday.
Volunteer civil defence workers, who rescue people after regime air strikes, themselves became the victims of a US attack.
In Manbij, east of Aleppo, US air strikes destroyed grain silos and killed two civilians who distribute food.
Many rebels are now uniting with Islamist groups they have been fighting to oppose both the West’s assault and the opportunity for Assad to strengthen the regime’s control.
Far from weakening Islamic State the West’s attacks are making it stronger.

The cost of using weapons 


Britain is so far only supplying political cover for the US which doen’t need its six RAF Tornado aircraft.
The US is showing off its most expensive fighter, the F-22 “Raptor” in combat for the first time.
The RAF boasts that its Tornadoes’ electronic pods—also called “Raptor”—mean they can see “targets” before and after attacks at a safe distance.
Yet each Tornado has massive potential for destruction with five 500lb Paveway “precision” bombs and Brimstone missiles.
They can also carry 1,000lb “dumb” bombs.
Each Tornado costs £35,000 per hour simply to fly.





                                            the socialist worker





Barack's failing plan has a big financial cost

Chris Isidore (CNN) reports the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment puts the cost of Barack's war on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria at $1 billion and warns it could soon cost $1.8 billion a month.

For those who don't understand how this works, Barack doesn't pay for his wars out of his pocket.  He uses taxpayers' money and when there's been no increase in taxes to pay for the increase in spending, he is taxing future generations by sticking them with the bill.

Though the money's being spent, no one can say it's been spent well.  Darren Boyle (Daily Mail) explains:

Pentagon officials are finding it difficult determining how effective US airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria are because of 'significant gaps in intelligence'. 
Senior current and former US officials have told the Associated Press that American aircraft are running under less restrictive rules than those governing drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. 
Despite this, they are having difficulties determining the effectiveness of the bombing missions targeting Al-Qaeda and ISIS due the lack of intelligence assets on the ground. These assets identify targets before an airstrike and conduct an after action battle damage assessment.  

Well I guess if Barack's (failing) 'plan' doesn't work out, he can just waste more billions of taxpayer dollars.  It's not like Americans really expect money to be spent on the country's crumbling infrastructure or on a safety net.

Chelsea J. Carter, Gul Tuysuz and Ben Wedeman (CNN) add "that the United Kingdom said it conducted its first airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq, striking targets four days after Parliament voted to approve the country's involvement."  Those bombings were late last night.  For those scratching their heads and thinking, "Wait, didn't . . ."  Yes.  Yes, UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond was telling/scolding the press yesterday that the RAF would not be "panicked" into bombing but would instead gather intel and then move cautiously and safely and blah, blah, blah.

RT and NBC both cover the food and ammo drop that the Iraqi military provided to the Islamic State.  It's being called a mistake.

While the UK joins in bombing, the editorial board of Canada's Globe & Mail argues against Canada joining in and notes:

Sometimes, however, sending fighters jets is the right answer. Canada did it in Libya and Kosovo. Both times the public supported the decision, and with good reason. But the fight against the IS is far more loosely defined than those other conflicts. Who exactly are we fighting against? The IS, or all Islamic terror groups? Who are we allied with? The Syrian government or the Syrian opposition? How do we define victory? And what is the postwar political outcome that we seek to achieve? At this point, the answers to each of these questions is foggier than the last.

And while Iraq's new prime minister Haider al-Abadi will apparently tolerate bombings by any and all European and western countries, he does draw a line . . . against Arab countries.  ITV and BBC report that he has declared he is "totally opposed" to Arab countries bombing in Iraq.


The following community sites updated:





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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, September 30, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Barack redefines civilian casualties, Australia has concern about the legality of the war, and more.


The violence never ends in Iraq.  Yesterday, Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counted at least 256 violent deaths for Monday.  Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Sinan Salaheddin (AP) report that a "wave" of violence has left "at least 47 people" dead today.

Violence hasn't stopped in Iraq.  Many are starting to register that.

At the Pentagon today, spokesperson Rear Adm Jack Kirby declared:


We've been pretty honest about the fact that military action alone will not win this effort, but that shouldn't be taken as an admission of ineffectiveness, and one of the ways we know we're having an effect is precisely because the terrorists have had to change their tactics and their communications and their command and control.  Yes, they're blending in more. Yes, they're dispersing, and yes they aren't communicating quite as openly or as boldly as they once were. That's a good thing, because if they aren't operating as freely, then they aren't as free to achieve their goals.
That doesn't mean ISIL doesn't still pose a threat. It doesn't mean they aren't still trying and in some cases succeeding at taking and holding ground. No one said this would be easy or quick, and no one should be lulled into a false sense of security by accurate airstrikes. We will not, we cannot bomb them into obscurity.


Kirby was speaking at a press briefing and, during it, he was asked about yesterday's reports that the Islamic State was close to Baghdad.


Q: Can we go back to Baghdad for a minute? Because Iraqi officials are saying now there has been ISIS fighting as close as five miles south of Baghdad. So, understanding everything you said, what does that tell you about ISIS's capabilities and intentions towards Baghdad? What concerns do you have about it? And particularly, what looks to be their moves to get in and around Baghdad Airport?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: Well, we've been watching this for awhile, Barb. It's not -- I understand, I've seen the coverage today that you know, they're within five to eight miles or whatever it is, how it's being reported. We have consistently seen them pose a threat to the capital city.

This is not a new thing. And they'll make an advance and they'll back off. They'll try another way. One of the -- you've seen several of the strikes that we've been doing and the last ten days to two weeks have been to the south and southwest of Baghdad because that's where they've kinda maneuvered to. So, they continuously pose a threat to the capital city, and we continuously, in concert with the Iraqi security forces, are trying to put them back.
But this should come as no surprise to anybody that they have designs on -- on Baghdad, as they have had designs on other cities and other places of infrastructure throughout the country.

Q: How convinced are you that Baghdad can be -- remain safe, that Iraqi forces can hold Baghdad, and that Iraqi forces can hold the airport?


REAR ADM. KIRBY: What I can tell you is -- with certainty is that we're going to do what we can to help Iraqi security forces maintain control of the capital city. As I've said before, they have -- Iraqi security forces in and around Baghdad have been performing well. They've stiffened their defenses. They have -- they have not allowed Baghdad to come under a major assault. They've -- they've done pretty well in and around the city.

And as I said, we've been helping from the air put pressure on ISIL.


Q: One last – to press the point one last time, can the Iraqis hold Baghdad and hold the airport on their own without you?

REAR ADM. KIRBY: I am -- I am -- there's a lot of things I'm not good at. One of them is predicting the future. What I'll tell you is that we're -- we're watching it very closely. We have been watching it very closely. The Iraqi security forces have been continuing to stiffen their defense around the city. We believe that they've done a good job with that. They'll continue to focus on it.


Obviously, it's a -- it's a city of immense importance to them and to their government. It's clear they share the same sense of urgency about protecting the city, and so I think, you know, we're -- I can't predict anything one way or the other, other than to tell you what I can predict is we're going to continue to work with them and their defense -- their defenses of it.


By the way, while reporters covering the Pentagon could and did ask questions about Iraq in the press briefing, for the second day in a row at the US State Dept briefing, no reporter could be bothered to make time for the topic.

While the useless reporters covering State can't even pretend to be interested in Iraq, it's not that way at the Defense Dept or, for that matter, at the White House.

Yesterday, the first questions Josh Earnest, White House spokesperson, faced were about Iraq.



Q    Thanks, Josh.  The President in his “60 Minutes” interview last night, acknowledged that the United States underestimated what was happening with the Islamic State and also the Iraqi military’s ability to deal with it.  And I know that the President is reliant on the intelligence community and his advisors for those kinds of assessments, but I’m wondering if he sees himself as having any responsibility for that failure to connect the dots there or if he has a role in what happened there.


MR. EARNEST:  Josh, the President of the United States is the Commander-in-Chief, and he often talks about how he is the one that is ultimately responsible for protecting the national security interests of the United States of America all around the globe.  There is no question that he relies on important advice from the leaders in our military, from leaders in our diplomatic corps, and from leaders in our intelligence community.  He values the relationship and advice that he gets from leaders among all of those important segments of our government, and in fact, it’s only because of the strong, sound advice that he has received from members of the intelligence community that we have had some success early on in our efforts to combat the threat from ISIL.
One of the things that we talked about earlier this summer is the efforts underway at the Pentagon to develop military options for the President, either in Iraq or in Syria.  And at that time, I talked about how it was important  -- or at that time, I talked about how military planners were relying on intelligence that was being collected and cultivated by our intelligence community to develop a set of targets on which the President could order military action. 
The early reviews, the early assessments of those military operations indicate that the strikes were impactful and effective.  That’s a testament, first and foremost, to the skill and courage of our men and women in uniform, but it would not have been possible without the tremendous ability of members of our intelligence community.



Q    And the President also discussed last night how the Islamic State group has become the more immediate threat even as the United States continues to wish to see Assad go.  I’m wondering if there is anything that the U.S. is actively doing at the moment to work to get Assad to go.


MR. EARNEST:  Well, certainly our efforts to build up the moderate elements of the Syrian opposition will have a very negative effect on the Assad regime’s ability to hold on to power; that as the opposition in Syria is built up, it will succeed in providing a legitimate counterweight to the Assad government, with the ultimate goal of a diplomatic resolution of that situation.  That’s also something the President discussed in the “60 Minutes” interview over the weekend.

There is not a military solution to the very grave problems that are plaguing Syria right now; that ultimately at the core is a political resolution as it relates to governing that country. And building up, fortifying and strengthening the capacity of moderate elements of the Syrian opposition will move us further in pursuit of that goal.


The 60 Minutes exchange where Barack blamed the intelligence community is certainly garnering a great deal of attention.  Tod Robberson (Dallas Morning News) offers:





Obama shifted responsibility to his director of national intelligence, James Clapper: “Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria.”
I would have enjoyed a time reference to help us understand when this little lapse occurred, because I’ve been going back through some old headlines, blog items, love letters and other correspondence, and by golly, it’s pretty obvious that Obama knew about this an entire year ago. So what was he waiting for?
Take, for example, the letter that Democratic and Republican senators sent to Obama on Oct. 29, 2013 — 11 months ago — warning him that ISIS was taking over Syria and moving into Iraq. This wasn’t speculative on their part. It was a statement of facts that were known at that time and warnings that were already being sounded by Iraq’s then-prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

“The deteriorating conflict in Syria has enabled al-Qaeda in Iraq to transform into the larger and more lethal Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which now has a major base for operations spanning both Iraq and Syria. As the situation in both countries grows worse, and as ISIS gathers strength, we are deeply concerned that Al-Qaeda could use its new safe haven in Iraq and Syria to launch attacks against U.S. interests and those of our friends and allies,” said the letter, signed by Senators John McCain (R-Ariz.), Carl Levin (D-Mich), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).


David Rutz (Washington Free Beacon) adds:



Obama pawned responsibility off to CIA Director James Clapper and others for underestimating the threat in a recent 60 Minutes interview, but intelligence officials have warned Obama about ISIL for months.
The Daily Beast quoted one former Pentagon official saying, “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullsh**ting.”



And for more on the topic, you can refer to the video Bill Roggio's urging people to stream.












  • The bombing's aren't working.

    And the Islamic State is adapting.

    And US strikes keep killing civilians.

    On War crimes, Michael Isikoff Tweeted:








  • Let's stay with War Crimes.  On last 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 included  the legality of Barack's current war actions. We noted some of this in the September 22nd snapshot.  We'll note some more of the discussion now.




    Michael Ratner: So if you look at the attack on ISIS or on the Islamic State we're not using supposedly -- Let's accept for a second we don't have "combat troops" in there -- but the War Powers limitations that you can't go to war without the UN or the Congress still apply.  They apply to bombings.  It doesn't say anything about troops on the ground, it applies to the use of force, to the creation of hostilities or really the use of force. So that is not a distinction.  But Obama is clearly violating this -- as probably every president before him has violated ot.  If we look at what Obama's justifications are he has two justifications that they've sort of articulated -- they haven't articulated well but have sort of said.  One is that the original grant of authority to bomb and go and use force and US troops in Afghanistan -- called The Authorization To Use Military Force -- passed shortly after 9/11  in 2001 which basically said the president could use force to go after the perpetrators of 9/11, those who harbored them or those who aided and abetted them.  That's the authority that the US went info Afghanistan on  and that's the authority which is the equivalent of the Gulf of Tonkin, in my view, Gulf of Tonkin Resolution -- that's the authority that the president has used now  to go into war everywhere.



    Heidi Boghosian: Right.




    Michael Ratner: Not just continue in Afghanistan, where the Taliban has been pushed out, but go into Yemen, to go into Somalia




    Heid Boghosian:  It's like a blank check book that he can use wherever he wants.



    Michael Ratner: Because he claims everybody's affiliated with al Qaeda in some way or everybody's affiliated with 9/11.  And where that really breaks down now is the claim that somehow we can go after the Islamic State based on that.  Because in this case, in the case of the Islamic State, they're actually at war with and have been denounced by al Qaeda.  So they're not part of, certainly not part of any 9/11 conspiracy at all.  They may be in some future time, according to somebody some king of threat to the United States -- although there are a lot of people who think they are not.  But if they are then President should go to Congress and actually get an explicit statue authorizing  the war.  And then he should go to the UN and try and get the Security Council to go and authorize that war. 



    These are not academic discussions.  In Australia, some effort appears to going into determining the legality of Barack's latest phase of war.  Brenda Nichols (The Australian) reports:



    TONY Abbott will not be rushed into ordering airstrikes against jihadist targets in Iraq before a proper legal framework is in place, government sources have told The Australian.
    The sources said the Prime Minister insisted on the most prudent possible approach to such a major step.
    That decision could still be days away.




    The topic led to the following Tweets.



    1. PM Abbott announces RAAF aircraft have started operating over Iraq in support capacity only, refuelling etc. No airstrikes, pending approval
    2. PM Abbott says the Govt has not yet made the final decision to engage in combat but Aust refueller will start flying over Iraq from today

















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