Getting there from central Baghdad, a few miles away, involved sharing a highway with military convoys and having vehicles checked by bomb-sniffing dogs. Exhibitors spoke of the oil-soaked riches waiting to be tapped here, but also of the security worries that hamper investment. Most were staying at a hotel at Baghdad's airport, surrounded by layers of blast walls and armed guards.
And then there's the issue of legislation: the pivotal law that parliament must pass to cement a plan for managing Iraq's oil industry and dividing the profits. It has languished for more than a year, tied down by political feuds and distrust among Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis.
None of this stopped about 70 exhibitors from coming to the expo, which closes today after a three-day run at the airport's new, not-quite-finished convention center.
The above is from Tina Susman's "Iraq promotes oil industry at first postwar Energy Expo" (Los Angeles Times) on the expo which started Friday and ended yesterday. Major US and UK firms skipped the event and those who attended found themselves basically imprisoned at the airport's hotel or convention center (the hotel, at least, had a bar). As Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) noted Friday:
Because they were limited to either the conference hall or their hotel rooms, the one amenity they did appreciate was a bar in the hotel, one of the few in Baghdad. The bar opens at noon and last call is at 11:30 p.m., but it closes after midnight. "I'm not allowed to go anywhere except the hotel and the oil conference, so at least there is a bar to go to," one international company representative said. "There is nothing else to do at night. That will be one drawback if we set up here."
Staying with LAT but moving over to their blog Babylon & Beyond, Asso Ahmed notes the attacks on a free press in the Kurdistan region of Iraq as evidenced by the imprisonment of journalist Adel Hussein. From Ahmed's "IRAQ: Gay-sex story lands writer in jail:"
The Committee to Protect Journalists and Reporters Without Borders, groups that monitor press freedom across the world, are among the international organizations demanding the release of Adel Hussein, who was arrested Nov. 24 in the Kurdish city of Irbil. "I find the verdict strange," said Kamal Raoof, the editor of the Kurdish newspaper Hawlati, which published Hussein's story. "The government claims there is freedom in the region."
Hussein, whose article appeared in Hawlati in April 2007, is the second Kurdish journalist to land in prison in the past month. On Nov. 8, the editor in chief of the Hawal newspaper, Shwan Dawoody, was given a month in jail and a fine for a series of stories his paper ran that were critical of the judiciary in Sulaymaniya, which is part of the semiautonomous Kurdistan region.
The court that sentenced Hussein, who is a doctor specializing in sexual and reproductive diseases, said he had violated "public custom" by writing about health issues related to gay sex. But Hussein's lawyer and the Kurdistan Journalists' Union said the court relied upon a 1969 law that was recently superseded by a law protecting press freedom and banning the jailing of journalists.Staying on the Kurdish region, Reuters reports: "Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq will halt attacks within Turkey in a week-long ceasefire in honour of Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday, an official said on Monday." Turning to the US, to the White House in fact, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley -- who was very lucky that investigating the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame stopped so quickly -- issued a statement this morning regarding a New York Times editorial:
Sunday's New York Times contains an editorial expressing inaccurate and incomplete statements on pre-war intelligence and the war in Iraq.
While the President has repeatedly acknowledged the mistakes in the pre-war intelligence, there is no support for the Times' claim that the President and his national security team "knew or should have known [the intelligence] to be faulty" or that "pressure from the White House" led to particular conclusions. Nothing in the many inquiries conducted into these matters supports the view of the Times' Editorial Board. Indeed, the independent Silberman-Robb Commission and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence concluded that no political pressure was brought to bear on the Intelligence Community.
As the President has stated, he regrets the intelligence was wrong, but it was intelligence that members of Congress, foreign governments as well as the Administration all believed to be accurate. Working with Congress, the President has since put in place a number of intelligence reform measures to try to ensure that such mistakes do not happen again.
While Saddam Hussein did not have stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, he was a threat, and his removal has opened the door to a democratic Iraq in the heart of the Middle East that is an ally of the United States.
The New York Times continues to have difficulty acknowledging the undeniable success of the President's decision to surge an additional 30,000 troops into Iraq. Because of the surge, Iraq is a more stable and secure country. It is the success of the surge that is allowing American troops to withdraw from Iraq and return home with a record of heroic service and still unheralded success.
The intelligence manufactured and, in many cases, did not come through normal channels. The CIA knew the intelligence was false and some fought back against the lies but the CIA was not used for the 'gathering.' Feith, et al, set up their own little 'office' with the White House's knowledge and on the orders of Bully Boy. The evidence was manufactured. Saying that it's the same evidence Congress has is b.s. because it is the 'evidence' the White House provided Congress with, most infamously in Collie Powell's lie-infested 'testimony' which should have resulted (and still should) in charges being brought against Powell.
The Times' editorial is "The Deluder in Chief" and all Hadley's statement will do is draw attention to it (as evidenced by the fact that we're noting the editorial right now):
It was skin crawling to hear him tell Mr. Gibson that the thing he will really miss when he leaves office is no longer going to see the families of slain soldiers, because they make him feel better about the war. But Mr. Bush's comments about his decision to invade Iraq were a "mistakes were made" rewriting of history and a refusal to accept responsibility to rival that of Richard Nixon.
At one point, Mr. Bush was asked if he wanted any do-overs. "The biggest regret of the presidency has to have been the intelligence failure in Iraq," he said. "A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction" were cause for war.
After everything the American public and the world have learned about how Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney manipulated Congress, public opinion and anyone else they could bully or lie to, Mr. Bush is still acting as though he decided to invade Iraq after suddenly being handed life and death information on Saddam Hussein's arsenal.
The editorial is correct. Of course it takes a lot of nerve for the editorial board to write the above or the below:
The truth is that Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had been chafing to attack Iraq before Sept. 11, 2001. They justified that unnecessary war using intelligence reports that they knew or should have known to be faulty. And it was pressure from the White House and a highly politicized Pentagon that compelled people like Secretary of State Colin Powell and George Tenet, the Central Intelligence director, to ignore the counter-evidence and squander their good names on hyped claims of weapons of mass destruction.
Judith Miller is the New York Times catch-all excuse and we're all supposed to believe that Miller wrote her articles, the guest columns (and turned down the many columns against going to war with Iraq that the paper rejected), the editorials and, in fact, edited the news section of the paper and determined which stories made the front page. Miller is the paper's fall-gal when the paper was on board with selling the illegal war. Finger pointing at the White House would be more loudly applauded if the paper had ever gotten fully honest about their role in the selling the illegal war. The mini-culpa -- anyone remember that -- promised there would be futher investigation. Was there? (No, there wasn't.) And the matter was allowed to slide. Another editorial could easily read:
The truth is that the New York Times had been chafing to attack Iraq before Sept. 11, 2001. They justified that unnecessary war using unsourced stories, drumming up the beat of war and refusing to question so-called intelligence reports that they knew or should have known to be faulty. And it was a need to be 'in' with the the White House and a highly politicized Pentagon that compelled journalists to ignore the counter-evidence and squander their good names on hyped claims of weapons of mass destruction, to abandon the skepticism that is supposed to be at the heart of journalism and turn themselves into Stenographers to the Court of St. Bully Boy.
Hadley echoes his superior Condi Rice whom CNN reports told Fox "News" yesterday,
"While it's fine to go back and say what might we have done differently, the truth of the matter is we don't have that luxury. And we didn't at the time." The truth? Condi wants to talk about the truth? Okay, that is funny.
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Princess Brat" went up last night.
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