Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Were you invited?

AP reports "an invitation-only briefing to a dozen journalists and policy analysts from Washington-based think tanks" yesterday was where US Army General George Casey Jr. declared US troops might remain on the ground in Iraq for over a decade more: "Global trends are pushing in the wrong direction. They fundamentally will change how the Army works." Michael Winter (USA Today) notes the remarks here. Casey's remarks are not unique or out of the norm. Repeatedly remarks like his have been made and repeatedly they have been ignored. We're dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

Military spokespeople weren't the only ones making statements Sunday. The Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff also made statements publicy. The New York Times ignored it naturally. Noting it here led to five e-mails from CENTCOM trying to insist what it did and didn't mean. Sorry folks, I believe Mike Mullen is conversant in English. Sunday Adm Mike Mullens appeared on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos (link has video option and the transcript is here).

STEPHANOPOULOS: OK. Let me move to Iraq then. U.S. combat forces are scheduled to complete their pullout from Iraqi cities by June 30th. But in recent weeks, we've seen an uptick again in the violence. Does that rise in violence mean that the deadline for pulling American forces out of the cities might not be met?
MULLEN: Oh, I think we're still very much on a track in terms of pulling the forces out of the cities, which is the end of next month. We're on track to decrease the number of troops down to 35,000 to 50,000 in August of 2010.
We've had an uptick in violence, but the overall violence levels are at the 2003 levels. It's still fragile. There's an awful lot of political positioning and political debate that's going on right now, and I think that in great part becomes the essence of how Iraq moves forward.
I'm actually positive about what the Iraqi security forces have done, their army and their police in terms of providing for their own security. They've improved dramatically.
So the path, I think, is still the right path. These ticks, upticks in violence are going to occur. We said that going in, even into -- as we talked about coming down in force. So we just have to, we have to constantly keep an eye on that.
Al Qaida is still active. They're not gone. They're very much...
MULLEN: Al Qaida in Iraq is very much diminished, but they still have potential to create these kinds of incidents.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president has said that his overall goal is to have all forces out of Iraq by 2011.
OBAMA: Under the status of forces agreement with the Iraqi government, I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That is pretty unequivocal. Yet I was reading the proceedings of the U.S. Naval Institute. They had an interview with Tom Ricks, the U.S. military historian, where he says he worries that the president is being wildly over- optimistic. He says we may be only halfway through the war. And he talks about a conversation he had with the commanding general in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, who told him he'd like to see 35,000 troops in Iraq in 2015. Is that what you expect, as well?
MULLEN: Well, certainly the direction from the president and the status of forces agreement that we have with Iraq right now is that we will have all troops out of there by the end of 2011. And that's what we're planning on right now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But can Iraq be safe with all U.S. troops out of Iraq in 2007 (sic)?
MULLEN: Well, we're on a good path now. And we'll have to see. I mean, the next 12 to 18 months are really critical there in that regard, and I think that answering that question will be much clearer given that timeframe.
The other thing is, we have -- this is a long-term relationship we want with Iraq, and Iraq has stated they want with the United States. And part of that is the possibility that forces could remain there longer. But that's up to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government to initiate discussions along those lines, and that hasn't happened yet.
STEPHANOPOULOS: It's up to the Iraqi people and the Iraqi government. It's up to the president, of course, as well. But from a military perspective, General Odierno says that he would like to see 35,000 troops in 2015. Is that what you all believe is necessary to secure Iraq from a military perspective?
MULLEN: There's no definitive number right now beyond the end of 2011.
STEPHANOPOULOS: But it's not zero?
MULLEN: Well, I mean, when I'm engaged in other countries around the world, I have very small footprints of military personnel in that engagement. You know, and I would hope long-term, that we would have a great military-to-military relationship with Iraq.
STEPHANOPOULOS: That could include U.S. troops there?
MULLEN: Well, I mean, we've got small numbers of troops throughout the world that conduct training activities, exercises, and those kinds of things. So long-term in Iraq, I would look to be able to do something like that.

"It's not zero," George asked. Basic question. Mullen is a 63-year-old man who's spoken English for at least 61 -- if not 62 -- of those years. Yes, CENTCOM, they speak English in Sherman Oaks. Edward DeMarco (Bloomberg News) caught it, "On Iraq, Mullen said he would like to have some U.S. forces available there for training and exercises with the Iraqi military beyond 2011, when all U.S. forces are set to leave. He didn't specify how many U.S. military personnel would be needed." And though I have to hold my nose to note, Manu Raju (Hedda Hopper Lives!) observed Mullen "left open the option of keeping residual forces there after that deadline passes." Holding my nose for that source (not the reporter, the outlet) but we gave credit where it was due. By the way, Whores For Centcom who lied about what was stated included Janet Adamy (Wall St. Journal), AFP and many, many more. Decide on your own whether it's worse to do as the New York Times did and ignore it or to 'report' on it and deliberately lie.

Mullen was not the first person before Casey. There have been many others and Gen Ray Odierno, the top US commander in Iraq, has repeatedly made similar statements.

It's long past the point for Americans to pay attention but, notice, it doesn't happen. Today Amy Goodman's got time to tell you about a wiretap which, POINT OF FACT, she has not heard. She leaves that out and she tells you what it says because, apparently, Amy Goodman's an agent of the government. That would be the only way she could have heard the wiretap. Reality, she doesn't know what it says, she dismisses with Casey's public remarks quickly and goes into gossip which she presents as fact.

She's yet to address ALL OF THESE STATEMENTS. Public ones. Odierno, for example, has addressed this with Deborah Haynes (Times of London), John King (CNN) and mulitple people at CBS News. And that's just in the last months.

We don't get that reality and let's stop pretending that we're being served. Let's also stop expecting that the first Latina woman nominated to the court can be 'addressed' by the hideous panel Goodman & Company assemble on Democracy Now! today. That's bulf**kings**t. It's past time they all corrected their own sexist bias. A Latina woman is nominated and how many Latinas are invited on for the panel? ZERO. How many men? Three. That's nonsense, that's garbage and it's offensive. Now they can't tell us about Iraq and they can't even cover an informed manner what they choose to gas bag over. They're all up in a wiretap they haven't heard and they're offering yet another male dominated roundtable to tell us what it means that a Puerto Rican woman has been nominated for the Supreme Court. Non-Latina Marjorie Cohn is the only woman brought to the table.

They can't do their job because they really don't care. Juan and Amy want to put their friends on air. They don't care if it's an informed or representative discussion. All that matters is that the circle jerk be unbroken. By and by. They invite the same group of people and 'color' means a male of ethnicity is brought on. They further the insult by playing Billie Holiday who has no ties to the Latino community and just underscores that to gringa Amy Goodman, everyone's White or Black. What a damn insult, what an offensive program they've provided this morning. Shame on 'em. And Marjorie, Sonia Sotomayer is a Latina. Don't insult the audience by exposing your own ignorance or bias repeatedly.

Abed Falah al-Sudani

That's Abed Falah al-Sudani (we're using the CIA spelling). He resigned this week as Iraq's Trade Minister. Nada Bakri's "In Iraq, Assertive Parliament Emerges Under New Speaker" (Washington Post) puts the struggle into a different context:

The struggle over Trade Minister Abdul Falah al-Sudani in recent days is more than just the typical debate between legislative and executive powers. The newly elected speaker of parliament, Ayad al-Samarraie, a Sunni Arab, is attempting to reshape the institution ahead of crucial elections scheduled for January, eight months before the Obama administration has pledged to withdraw most combat troops from Iraq.
"The government kept parliament weak for the past three years," Wael Abdel Latif, an independent lawmaker, said Monday. "But now, with Samarraie in power, it's becoming stronger, and it's assuming its rightful place."
The conflict involves two of the dominant forces in today's Iraq. An increasingly powerful Maliki is attempting to centralize authority in the hands of a coterie of advisers his opponents have nicknamed "the impenetrable circle." Opposing Maliki, a Shiite, are politicians who say they are trying to build institutions in a state still susceptible to the appeal of a strongman.

Last week, puppet of the occupation and despot with training wheels Nouri al-Maliki lashed out against representative democracy indicating that if he can ever kill every Sunni in Iraq, his next goal would be to abolish democratic guidelines in Iraq. When not arranging for the murders of Sunnis or attacking Constitutional government, Nouri likes to attack the press. In his continued efforts on that, he's now filed a lawsuit. Mayada Al Askari (Gulf News) reports:

In an unprecedented move by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, an Iraqi web blog,, is being sued for one billion Iraqi dinars which is equivalent to about Dh3.3 million.
The prime minister's lawsuit was prompted by a January article by Ali Hussain, a writer using a pseudonym, who accused Al Maliki's chief of staff of using his position to get jobs for his relatives.

It is part of Nouri's never ending intimidation tactics. Martin Chulov (Guardian of Manchester) reports:

Iraq's national intelligence service has launched a court action to sue the Guardian, claiming to have been defamed by a story that characterised the regime of prime minister Nouri al-Maliki as increasingly autocratic.
The story, by award-winning correspondent Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, was published in April, when the Iraqi leader was in London on an investment drive. It included interviews with three unnamed members of the Iraqi national intelligence service (INIS), who said elements of Maliki's rule resembled a dictatorship.
Maliki called for legal action to be launched on his return to Iraq and the ostensibly independent INIS filed a writ demanding $1m in damages for what it said was a "false and defamatory" report.

Meanwhile Paul Wiseman's "U.S.-supported Iraqi militias clash with government" (USA Today) notes the continued estrangement of Sahwa from the process as a result of being targeted by the government, by being targeted with violence and due to lack of payment and appreciation:

Sheik Mustafa Kamil Hamad Shabib drives past the wheat fields where al-Qaeda hit men used to dump their victims, through the intersection where he survived a car bomb, and into the family compound that sustained 85 hits from al-Qaeda mortars in 2006.
"A year ago," he tells an American visitor, "you would have been a big fish here" — worth "maybe $100,000" to kidnappers.
The threat seems distant. The al-Qaeda fighters who once terrorized rural Arab Jubur district on Baghdad's south side are dead or hiding. Farmers tend their fields, shopkeepers sell wares from roadside shacks and Shabib's militiamen keep the peace -- for now.
Shabib and his men are part of the Awakening (or Sahwa) movement in which Sunni Muslim tribesmen turned against al-Qaeda and allied with U.S. forces.

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michael winter
mayada al askari
martin chulov
usa today
paul wiseman