Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The treaty and is Barack breaking his word again?

So many lies in print, so little time to correct.

First we'll note this bit of truth:

The concessions included establishing deadlines for withdrawing combat forces from Iraqi cities by next June and from the country by the end of 2011, though officials said the text of the agreement included language that made those dates less rigid deadlines.

That's from Campbell Robertson and Steven Lee Myers' "Iraqi and American Critics of Security Pact Speak Up" (A9, New York Times) and is apparently supposed to suffice for a correction to the record? (See Robertson and Stephen Farrell's report yesterday -- discussed here). Though the two mention Bill Delahunt's hearing they neglect to note what he has said. We noted the press release in yesterday's snapshot, let's note it in full:

For Immediate Release:
November 14, 2008
Further Information:
Mark Forest - 202-225-3111/774-487-2534
Experts Suggest That Agreement May Tie Hands Of Obama Administration
WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Rep. Bill Delahunt, the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight will hold his eighth hearing on the proposed U.S.-Iraq security agreement on Wednesday, November 19th at 10am.

Next week's hearing will examine the possibility that any bilateral agreement reached between the Bush Administration and the government of Iraq may effectively tie the hands of the next Administration as a result of a clause in Article 31 in a draft of the accord that would prohibit the United States from cancelling it for one year.

At the end of October, Delahunt joined with Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro in writing to President Bush asking for a temporary extension of the UN mandate for Iraq which expires on December 31, and is the sole instrument providing U.S. troops with the legal authorization to engage in combat operations in Iraq.

To read the letter, please click here.

The subcommittee will hear from a panel of experts that will also discuss the plans and prospects of a temporary extension of the mandate as well as offer their analysis on how a rushed agreement will affect the next President.

WHO: Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight

WHERE: Room 2175 of the Rayburn House Office Building:

WHEN: Wednesday, November 19, 2008 at 10:00 a.m.

SUBJECT: Renewing the United Nations Mandate for Iraq: Plans and Prospects


Oona A. Hathaway, Esq.
Professor of Law
Berkeley Law
University of California Berkeley

Mr. Raed Jarrar
Iraq Consultant
Middle East Peace Building Program
American Friends Service Committee

Michael J. Matheson, Esq.
Visiting Research Professor of Law
The George Washington University Law School

Issam Michael Saliba, Esq.
Senior Foreign Law Specialist
Middle East and North Africa
Law Library of Congress

"Next week’s hearing will examine the possibility that any bilateral agreement reached between the Bush Administration and the government of Iraq may effectively tie the hands of the next Administration as a result of a clause in Article 31 in a draft of the accord that would prohibit the United States from cancelling it for one year." Key passage from above. Binding contracts do not allow either party to cancel in one year, 'binding contracts' trumpeted for what they will 'do' three years from now (2011) do not allow either party the option to cancel out starting in 2009.

Delahunt has made his position very clear on the treaty masquerading as a Status Of Forces Agreement and you can check out the column he pennded with US House Rep Rosa DeLauro July 8th's "The Wrong Partnership for Iraq" (Washington Post).

We'll come back to the Times (most likely), let's head over to the Washington Post. Michael Abramowitz does a hideous job and critiquing "Bush Reversal on Iraq Deadline Gives Obama Breathing Room" could take several book volumes. Let's underscore he doesn't know what he's talking about when he's writing of (don't call it reporting!) the treaty and instead move to this appalling tidbit:

The agreement signed yesterday by U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari needs approval by the Iraqi parliament. And the Obama transition team is signaling that it wants Congress to review the pact, though not necessarily approve it.
"President-elect Obama believes it is critical that a status-of-forces agreement that ensures sufficient protections for our men and women in uniform is reached before the end of the year. We look forward to reviewing the final text of the agreement," said Brooke Anderson, a policy adviser and spokeswoman on national security.

Yes, Michael forgets that the presidency council has to sign off as well -- he forgets a great deal and it's a bad article. But what about the garbage above? Barack doesn't believe the treaty needs US Congressional approval? If Michael's correct, that would be a huge, HUGE, shift. Let's scoot over to the Barack Obama campaign site and zoom in on one section of "Plan for Ending the War in Iraq:"

The Status-of-Forces-Agreement

Obama and Biden believe any Status of Forces Agreement, or any strategic framework agreement, should be negotiated in the context of a broader commitment by the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops and forswearing permanent bases. Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval--yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress. The Bush administration must submit the agreement to Congress or allow the next administration to negotiate an agreement that has bipartisan support here at home and makes absolutely clear that the U.S. will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq.

Must be subject to Congressional approval. Suddenly Congressional approval doesn't matter? Does Michael have his facts right on that aspect? If he does, if, then that's a huge shift and Barack is just as bad as the current Bully Boy so forget rule of law or respect for the Congress and mark it on the calendars that it took place over a month before Barack was sworn in. [Added: Two months before actually, January 20th is when Barack's sworn in].

Not only would it be a huge shift from the campaign, it would be a huge shift from the position since the election. Change.gov is the official website for the Barack-Biden transition and if you pull up "The Obama-Biden Plan," you will find:

The Status-of-Forces Agreement
Obama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home.

So which is it? (Friends in the transition team tell me this morning that they have not been informed of any change in position re: the treaty.)

Delahunt's office again: "Next week's hearing will examine the possibility that any bilateral agreement reached between the Bush Administration and the government of Iraq may effectively tie the hands of the next Administration as a result of a clause in Article 31 in a draft of the accord that would prohibit the United States from cancelling it for one year." And that's this week's hearing and it takes tomorrow. Why is Tina Susman continuing to play the fool in print? It's obviously the position of her paper's editorial board.

The editorial board ridiculously maintains: "Over the weekend, the Iraqi Cabinet approved a plan hammered out by the government of Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and U.S. officials to restrict U.S. combat operations starting Jan. 1, pull American troops out of cities by June and withdraw from the country entirely by the end of 2011." I would really hate to think that LAT was so desperate to continue the illegal war (without the treaty or an extension of the mandate, US troops would HAVE to return home, Joe Biden noted that himself back in April, in an open Senate hearing he chaired) that they'll lie YET AGAIN to the American people just to prolong the illegal war.

Megan notes Tom Burghardt's "Obama's Intelligence Agenda: More of the Same from the 'Change Administration'" (Dissident Voice):

While expectations may be high that the incoming Obama administration will reverse many of the worst features of the Bush regime–from warrantless wiretapping, illegal detention, torture, "targeted assassinations" and preemptive war–now that the cheering has stopped, expect more of the same.
According to The Wall Street Journal, "President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party."
With hyperbolic "change" rhetoric in the air, Obama is relying on a gaggle of former intelligence insiders, warmed-over Clinton administration officials and "moderate" Republicans, many of whom helped Bush craft his administration's illegal policies.
With U.S. street cred at an all-time low, due in no small measure to Washington's hubristic fantasies that it really is an empire and not a rapidly decaying failed state, ruling elites have literally banked on Obama to deliver the goods.
During his run for the White House, the Illinois senator may have mildly criticized some of the administration's so-called "counterterrorism" policies including the Bushist penchant for secrecy, the disappearance of "terrorist" suspects, driftnet surveillance of American citizens and legal residents, CIA "black site" gulags and the crushing of domestic dissent.
But in the few scant days since the November 4 general election, the contours of what Democratic party corporatist grifters will roll-out come January 20 are taking shape. Citing Obama's carefully-crafted public relations blitz on the campaign trail opposing illegal spying, the Journal reports:
Yet he ... voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision.
The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight. (Siobhan Gorman, "Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact," The Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2008)

The "current government official" cited by the Journal fails to specify precisely what it means to "keep the road open" when it comes to torturing prisoners of war in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

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