Friday, August 31, 2007

Iraqi police 'need' 'retraining' & Congress gets played

In this morning's New York Times, David S. Cloud's "Panel Will Urge Broad Overhaul of Iraqi Police" demonstrates just how little progress the puppet government has made. A report to Congress "will recommend remaking the 26,000-member national police force to purge it of corrupt officers and Shiite militiants suspected of complicity in sectarian killings" and Cloud cites an official who worked on the report summing it up as "we should start over". US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates sends out his flack (Geoff Morrell) who tells cloud that retraining is the answer and "said that Pentagon officials believed that such an effort could succeed in removing sectarianism from the ranks without requiring a complete overhaul of the Iraqi force."

The illegal war hits the five year mark in March. And that's the sunny view of where things stand (sunny side up is how the Times serves up war). Retraining is the laugable 'answer' proposed by the Defense Dept.

How much longer does this illegal war go on? How many more 'retraining's take place? And how stupid do you have to be to think 'retraining' addresses the problems?

From the article:

American commanders on the ground in Shiite-controlled areas of Baghdad say that the local police actively subvert efforts to loosen the grip of militias, and in some cases, attack Americans directly. One commander in northwest Baghdad said most bomb attacks against American patrols in the area this spring occurred close to police checkpoints.

But the Defense Dept. says the 'answer' is retraining.

No corner ever got turned in the illegal war. Waves of Operation Happy Talk flow in and out repeatedly, but the reality is there no progress, there has never been any progress. There can't be any progress. The illegal war was built on lies. That can never be made 'noble'. (Or, for that matter, 'legal'.)

The waves of Operation Happy Talk is the topic of Lloyd's highlight, Jonathan Weisman's "Lawmakers Describe 'Being Slimed in the Green Zone'" (Washington Post):

Brief, choreographed and carefully controlled, the codels (short for congressional delegations) often have showed only what the Pentagon and the Bush administration have wanted the lawmakers to see. At one point, as Moran, Tauscher and Rep. Jon Porter (R-Nev.) were heading to lunch in the fortified Green Zone, an American urgently tried to get their attention, apparently to voice concerns about the war effort, the participants said. Security whisked the man away before he could make his point.
Tauscher called it "the Green Zone fog."
"Spin City," Moran grumbled. "The Iraqis and the Americans were all singing from the same song sheet, and it was deliberately manipulated."
But even such tight control could not always filter out the bizarre world inside the barricades. At one point, the three were trying to discuss the state of Iraqi security forces with Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, but the large, flat-panel television set facing the official proved to be a distraction. Rubaie was watching children's cartoons.
When Moran asked him to turn it off, Rubaie protested with a laugh and said, "But this is my favorite television show," Moran recalled.

But Weisman reveals that's not the concern. The scripted visits don't rankle the Congress members. They're upset that information sheets (with questionable information) are distributed about them prior to their visits to "Iraqi officials, U.S. officials and uniformed military of no particular rank" by the US military brass.

Now while the sheets no doubt determine whether an Iraqi, for instance, that's supposed to speak with them turns off cartoons and gives them some attention, the reality is Ellen Taushcer being upset that her August vote was not noted is really missing the point. It's not about what they said about one person. The issue is that it was done at all and that the way Congress members were treated resulted from those sheets. The military brass, at the behest of the administration to be sure, has decided for Americans which Congress members will get accorded the 'respect' of being sincerely lied to and which ones will get blown off. It's not about Taushcer. It's about the way the Congress is being treated on the orders of the administration. It's one more sign of how the current administration ignores that there are three branches of the federal government. It should be offensive to all -- Republicans and Democrats in Congress (as well as the independents) and all Americans.

That's disgusting. Last night we noted that a plane bound for Baghdad carrying various lawmakers was reported to have 3 rockets launched at it. What Congress gets in Iraq is nothing but a dog and pony show that they'd be smarter to avoid in the first place. But they do risk their own lives going to Iraq (they also risk the lives of the US military that has to travel around with them). So that sheets are passed around ahead of their visit to indicate how much respect they are granted or not is disgusting.

And Mowaffak al-Rubaie needs to be fired. It's shameful that the story is only told when a few are taking an assault on Congress as just an assault on each of them as individuals. The National Security Adviser of Iraq was visited by Congress members and he made it a point to convey that he was more interested in watching a cartoon than in speaking to them.

That's offensive. And it's really offensive that we only learn of it now. This is al-Maliki's choice and this is how he conducts himself. Whether this was disrespect he'd show anyone coming into office or not isn't known but certainly the continued chaos and violence indicates he may spend a great deal of time blowing off issues to sit around watching cartoons.

The illegal war should never have started, US forces need to withdraw and Congress needs to cut off funding. Congress has continued to fund the illegal war and al-Maliki is fond of issuing cries that the US must stay (to prop up his own unpopular ass) so when members of the US Congress (who have the power of the purse) visit and his hand picked National Security Advisor blows them off to watch a cartoon, that's telling you a great deal. It should be telling Congress (regardless of their party) a great deal as well.

In another article in the Times, Damien Cave gets tacked with a laughable headline: "Shi'ites Tale: How Gulf With Sunnis Widened." Of course the paper's avoided addressing what came before, what the US started. And Cave's happy to go 'historical' as long as that means the pinata that is Saddam Hussein. So you hear about Hussein's very real abuses but you don't hear about the US encouragement of the conflict, the US encouragement of dividing the nation into Sunni and Shia (other sects exist but that was the question the US repeatedly asked to speed conflict along, "Are you Shia or Sunni?"). Cave presents Shatha al-Musawi's 'turning point' of realization with no context. al-Musawi realized the conflict when a Sunni she was friends with failed to share her joy about the capture of Saddam Hussein. The capture, for many at the time and for more since, demonstrated the US would remain in Iraq. There would be no 'handover' in the immediate future. A number feared the US controlled show trial would be all that it was and encourage the barbaric nature of the illegal war would seep over into what was said to be the newly created 'justice'. It did just that. Many see it as an attempt to put Hussein to death before he could talk too much. Which is why some Iraqi victims were rightly outraged that before he stood trial for the crimes against them, he was executed. It wasn't Iraqi justice, it wasn't justice at all. Victims who had longed for the day when Hussein would be held accountable for the crimes against them and their families saw with their own eyes that the puppet government existed to extract what the US wanted, not justice for Iraqis.

What is in the article is instructive to a degree. But the refusal of the paper to address the issue of the US role in the Sunni and Shia split and the US role in continuing to feed the hostilities is shameful. Or, for that matter, the US installing of and support for Saddam Hussein all those years and the willingness to ignore the crimes while they were ongoing.

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