Today (PDF format warning) the US military announced: "A Multi-National Division – Baghdad Soldier died as a result of an improvised explosive device that struck his vehicle west of Baghdad at approximately 9:30 a.m. July 8."
Yesterday, puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki floated the idea that a treaty -- (popularly called "Status of Forces Agreement") needed to replace the UN mandate that provides legal cover to the occupation which expires Dec. 31st -- with the White House might need to include a withdrawal timeline. Sabrina Tavernise's "Iraqi Favors Short Security Pact With U.S." (New York Times) offers:
Mr. Maliki's office said in a statement that the "current trend is toward reaching a memorandum of understanding" that would extend the presence of American troops for a period of time. While the statement used the words "scheduled withdrawal" about American troops, it did not seem to mean that a precise timetable for troops to depart was being negotiated.
Ali al-Adeeb, a prominent leader in Mr. Maliki's political party, said in a telephone interview that while there were many options for withdrawal and several end points under discussion, "We think that what is suitable for withdrawal is when our soldiers are ready and well armed to take the responsibility."
The issues being negotiated are prickly: How much control, if any, should Iraqis have over American security operations? Should American soldiers have the right to detain suspects without Iraqi approval?
She's describing a treaty, not a Status of Forces Agreement. The White House calls it a SOFA in an attempt to circumvent the Senate and the Constitution. Alexandra Zavis' "Iraqi prime minister advocates withdrawal timetable" (Los Angeles Times) provides an overview:
The talks are focused on two accords. One would provide a framework for future diplomatic, economic and security relations. The other, known as a Status of Forces Agreement, would provide a legal basis for U.S. troops to remain in the country.
Negotiators from both sides have said that progress is being made but that outstanding differences might make it impossible to complete a comprehensive Status of Forces Agreement in time to put it into effect by the end of the year. A number of possible bridging measures are being explored.
"The current orientation [of the talks] is to reach a memorandum of understanding either to withdraw the forces, or to set a timetable for their withdrawal," Maliki's office quoted him as saying in response to questions from Arab ambassadors in Abu Dhabi.
Many Iraqis, including members of Maliki's government, view a deal that allows for a long-term American military presence as a surrender of sovereignty to an occupying force. Setting a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops could ease those fears.
I'm noting Bill Delahunt and Rosa DeLauro's "The Wrong Partnership for Iraq" (Washington Post):
First, the editorial failed to recognize congressional obligations, imposed by the Constitution, on governing the use of our armed forces. The Post argued that barring a "formal commitment to defend Iraq from external aggression," congressional approval of the agreement is not required. Yet constitutional scholars testifying before the oversight subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee have stated that "the authority to fight" that the administration seeks from Iraq does indeed require congressional approval. Requiring international legal approval of combat is what makes this agreement anything but what the administration incorrectly calls it: a "status of forces agreement."
The U.N. mandate provides the last legal thread of domestic U.S. authority for combat because "enforcing relevant U.N. resolutions" was one of the two activities cited by the 2002 vote in Congress authorizing the use of force against Iraq (the other being to dispose of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein). If the U.N. mandate expires on Dec. 31, so does domestic authority for our troops to fight, along with their immunity from Iraqi prosecution. This is precisely the "legal vacuum" that constitutional scholars Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway detailed in an April 5 op-ed, " The War's Expiration Date," on washingtonpost.com.
We have proposed an alternative that would serve our interests and those of the Iraqis far better: extending the U.N. mandate in Iraq for six months, as has been done before, so that the new president and Congress can work with Iraq's leaders to determine the next agreement.
Second, The Post failed to appreciate the exclusivist manner in which the administration has pursued this agreement. Congress was broadsided by the "declaration of principles," outlining the negotiating parameters, signed by President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in November. Lawmakers have since been denied access to information on the U.S. negotiating position and even on U.S. goals. This is a key reason that not just Democrats but also Republicans have expressed reservations.
Angela K. Brown's "Military program helps sex assault victims" (AP) explores an attempt to address sexual assault -- the program doesn't impress me but we'll note these statistics:
Last year, 2,688 sexual assaults were reported by women and men in the military -- compared to 2,947 reported in 2006 and 2,374 in 2005, according to the Department of Defense. Officials said changes in the method of reporting data make it difficult to compare numbers year to year.
Since 2005, victims can choose to report assaults confidentially. The assault is recorded, but there is no investigation and the chain of command is not notified. The victims, however, can still receive medical treatment, counseling and other services.
Lizette Alvarez' "After the Battle, Fighting the Bottle at Home" (New York Times) is a lengthy front page article exploring returning home with PTSD and being left to 'manage' on your own. Anne Flaherty (AP) explores a UC at Santa Barbara study which found that gays and lesbians serving in the US military do not risk 'unit coehesion' and we'll note this from the article:
Navy Vice Adm. Jack Shanahan said he had no opinion on the issue when he joined the panel, having never confronted it in his 35-year military career. A self-described Republican who opposes the Bush administration's handling of the Iraq war, Shanahan said he was struck by the loss of personal integrity required by individuals to carry out "don't ask, don't tell."
US war resister Joshua Key will be interviewed from Canada on KPFA's The Morning Show today at 11:00 a.m. EST, 10:00 Central and 8:00 PST. (The interview will take place in the second hour of the show -- that's the time being listed, not when the show begins.) Aimee Allison and Philip Maldari co-host The Morning Show. With David Solnit, Aimee Allison co-wrote Army Of None.
Brady notes this video from the Nader-Gonzalez campaign.
Ralph Nader is running for president and you can find more videos at the campaign's You Tube video page.
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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