Thursday, June 18, 2009

Barack practices a curious pull-out method

American troops may have to remain in violent cities such as Mosul and Baquba after the end of this month, despite plans for a complete US pull-out from urban areas, according to an official in one of Iraq’s most powerful political parties.
Mohammed al Gharawi, of the Supreme Iraqi Islamic Council (SIIC), the largest single party in Iraq’s parliament and the group in control of the ministry of interior, said he would support an extension for the US military presence to prevent a worsening security situation.
"There is the pull-out agreement and there is a schedule for that, but scheduling is related to developments on the ground," he said.

The above is from Phil Sands and Nizar Latif's "US troops may need to stay in Iraq's cities" (The National) and you can team that with AFP's report on "U.S. army commanders" who stress that there is confusion ("mired in confusion") over the so-called departure from Mosul by June 30th ("when U.S. soldiers must leave cities and major towns nationwide") and that "[t]hey also believe the political message emanating from Baghdad about the U.S. withdrawal has created a false impression among Iraqi citizens that U.S. troops will no longer be seen on Mosul's streets when, in fact, they will."

We'll come back to the topic of Mosul in a moment, but first Ann is filling in for Ruth and Tuesday she noted a Jackson Sun article her aunt passed on of "how 140 Tennessee National Guard members were being deployed to Iraq." The Mercury reports Maj Gen Vincent Brooks is headed to Iraq (and "900 members of the headquarters of the Big Red One are deploying"). Vinnie Brooks became famous at the start of the Iraq War as The Daily Liar though his official title was "Deputy Directo fo Operations". Karen Middleton (The News Courier) reports "80 members of the Athens-based 203rd Military Police Battallion" will be leaving for Iraq (departure certemony tomorrow at Beasley Field, 4:00 p.m.). And Chris Roberts (El Paso Times) notes approximately "125 soldiers with the post's 47th Transportation Company will head for western Iraq for a 12-month tour of duty." ("The post" is Fort Bliss.)

Back to Mosul. Chelsea J. Carter (AP) reports it was allegedly Mosul police that shot dead US Lt William Emmert February 24th, as well as his interpreter (five more people were wounded in the attack). Carter reports:

During a recent meeting, a Mosul police commander told [Col Gary] Volesky the two suspects had not appeared before a judge - the first step toward prosecution - because of doubts not only that they were the gunmen, but that they were policemen at all.
Volesky wasn't buying it, saying the men's relatives had identified them.
"Everybody will be looking at your ability to investigate this completely," Volesky said. "Let us know what you need from us to help you."

Propaganda was the focus of the last section of the previous entry, we'll return to the topic. Campbell Robertson and Abeer Mohammed's "Iraqi Arrested in Shooting of Lawmaker" runs in this morning's New York Times and possibly it's so worthless because it's given so little room in the paper? Yesterday's snapshot noted the house raid and the for-show arrest of an 'al Qaeda' member. And this was included:

Waleed Ibrahim (Reuters) reports that while the convicted-let's-sentence-him claims were being made, "[o]ther officials were more cautious in their assessments. . . . Al Qaeda and Sunni hardliners accuse members of Ubaidi's Accordance Front of being traitors for taking part in the political process with a Shi'ite-led government. But Ubaidi was also a leading rights defender, in particular of Iraqi prisoners, and some fellow politicians have tried to point the finger at other potential culprits, such as Interior Ministry officials."

The Times this morning can't find time for any thing but parroting what al-Maliki's government says. Stenography, not reporting. And really bad stenography. Why would anyone believe a claim about an arrest after the April incident? Have we all forgotten that? In the midst of massive fatalities from bombings, Nouri and his goons announce April 23rd that they've captured the mythical Abu Omar al-Baghdadi. Basically two months ago. And how'd that story pan out? Oh, right, it hasn't. But by all means, Nouri's goon squads (who have every reason to point at others) want to insist they've found an 'al Qaeda leader' who is a 'mastermind' of the Friday assassination of Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi (also spelled al-Obaidi and al-Obeidi). Let's again note that Amnesty International issued the following:

Iraq: Amnesty International calls for an independent investigation into the assassination of Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi

In a letter sent to the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamil al-Maliki, Amnesty International has expressed grave concern at the killing of Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi, Vice-President of the Human Right Committee of the Iraqi parliament, and requested urgent clarification as to what steps the government has undertaken to investigate the murder. The organization has also called for an independent investigation into reports of torture of detainees in a prison in the city of al-Diwaniyah.

Dr al-'Ubaidi, who also headed the Sunni Accord Bloc in parliament, was shot dead at the end of Friday prayers on 12 June 2009 at al-Shawwaf Mosque in the Baghdad district of al-Yarmuk. After firing at Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi with a pistol the killer is reported to have thrown a hand grenade at other prayer attendees, killing five people and injuring 12 others, before he was shot and killed by police.

A number of Iraqi parliamentarians have since denounced the killing and attributed Dr Hareth al-'Ubaidi's murder to his human rights work, especially his recent exposure of cases of torture, including rape, of detainees following a visit he undertook a few weeks ago to a women's prison in al-Kadhmiya in Baghdad. Dr al-'Ubaidi told the media that several women detained at the prison told him that they had been raped during interrogation.

Further evidence of torture of detainees is reported to have been brought to light by a human rights body affiliated to al-Diwaniyah Governorate, which has accused the security authorities of torturing detainees during interrogation in order to extract "confessions". Investigators from the Interior Ministry are reported to have identified bruising on 10 of the 170 prisoners in al-Diwaniyah Prison that may have been caused by torture or other ill-treatment.

In its letter, Amnesty International has requested prompt clarification of the steps being taken by the Iraqi authorities to investigate the attack on Dr al-'Ubaidi and other worshippers at al-Shawwaf Mosque, which it strongly condemns, and to establish whether it was perpetrated by a gunman acting alone or with the active assistance of others. Further, the organization has requested prompt clarification of the steps being taken by the Iraqi authorities to investigate the allegations of torture cited above and to bring to justice those responsible for such abuses. In accordance with Iraq's obligations under international human rights law, including the UN Torture Convention (CAT), such investigations should be independent, impartial and conducted and completed without delay. The outcome should be made public and anyone found responsible should be brought to justice through fair trial procedures and without recourse to the death penalty.

The organization has called on the Iraqi authorities to ensure that all detainees have access to regular medical care, families, lawyers of their own choosing and the right to challenge the legality of their detention. In addition, all persons in custody should either promptly charged with recognizable criminal offences and trial in accordance with international standards of fair trial, or released. Public Document

For more information please call Amnesty International's press office in London, UK, on +44 20 7413 5566 or email:

International Secretariat, Amnesty International, 1 Easton St., London WC1X 0DW, UK

Amnesty's reality, the Times offers propaganda. More propaganda can be found at Media Channel where Michael Hastings writes:

But the "incentives" to support the war were apparent to columnists and reporters in newsrooms across the board--from the New Republic, to the New Yorker, to New York Times and the Washington Post.
There's no need for me to name names here. Within a year, most of the folks who got it wrong had publicly begun their intellectual journeys back to common sense. (But if you want names, take a minute to read Slate's 2004 roundup of war rationalizations and mea culpas, and then again in 2008.)

Propaganda. That is completely false. Monday on Law and Disorder, a segment discussed the pressure Elisabeth Bumiller was put under by her editors (at the New York Times) and Michael Smith's offering "Judy Miller."

Judy Miller got burned at the stake for all the sins of the other stenographers and liars. No one took accountability. Not even briefly. Bill Keller was never going to go beyond the mini-culpa at the New York Times because of his own work before he became managing editor of the paper. What happened was Judith Miller became the punching bag and others kept their heads down low and hoped no one would call them out. Michael Gordon was just as bad as Miller and far worse because (a) he's still employed at the Times and (b) he's pushed for war with Iran for over four years now. No one paid, no one confessed. No one changed their spots.

Judith Miller -- who ironically was apparently not lying because she apparently believed every foolish lie she reported as fact -- took the fall for the entire US press system. And in the six years-plus that the press started selling the illegal war, there's been no real change.

"Oh! What about the public editor of the New York Times!" What about it? That's a public editor's job. I believe Daniel Okrent bucked the paper to finally provide an examination of the Times' bad pre-war reporting. Okrent was the public editor. The public editor is not the paper. It's an independent position. Today's public editor follows in Okrent's foot steps and good for him but let's not confuse that with any change at the paper. In fact, Clark Hoyt's column, stating that what happened with that story is like what happened with the pre-war 'reporting' indicates that NOTHING has changed. There's been no ownership of guilt, let alone any attempt to improve.

Michael Hastings may have misworded or quickly worded to get to a different point he wanted to make but the reality is no one, NO ONE, paid for pre-war reporting except Judy Miller. Everyone else is still employable and she remains the only known name. The punch line. While all the others skate away laughing. The climate didn't change, the rules of the profession didn't change and there was no ownership of personal or cultural mistakes.

There is every reason for Michael Hastings to name names. The public memory has now boiled it down to "Judith Miller is the only one responsible." And Hastings' claim that the liars returned to "common sense" is a claim that's not only laughable but also beyond his ability to measure.

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