Friday, July 31, 2009. Chaos and violence continue, bombings targeting mosques rip through Baghdad, the assault on Camp Ashraf continues, the 'withdrawal' is examined, two women tell stories the media hasn't chosen to share, and more.
As anyone even slightly interested in the Iraq War knows, NPR's The Diane Rehm Show remains the only public radio program -- NPR or Pacifica -- on which you can get any sort of regular information and discussion on the war. Most Fridays, during the second hour, the international news hour, Iraq will be a topic. USA Today's Susan Paige filled in for Diane (who returns Monday) and they did have a planned segement about Iraq and they also had callers who asked questions about developments there but, at the very end of today's show, they had two women share their stories and we're going to start with that.
Susan Paige: Let's go to Pamela. She's calling us from New Jersey. Pamela, thanks so much for calling.
Pamela: Yes. Good morning, how are you? Thank you for taking my call. I am responding to a comment I heard earlier and it really just like shot me in my heart. And the comment was that the suicide rates [in the US military] are skyrocketing and how this has to be addressed. And I literally like I said stopped dead in my tracks. I . . . lost my brother in service due to suicide. He was home on a leave and, uh, about to be, pardon me, to go back and to serve and, uh, was, uh -- the difficulty in getting the mental health services I believe that he needed -- I mean he was married with two children -- was most, most difficult and delayed and a long wait and this and that. And then the unfathomable happened and, uh, when I, uh, at times decided to share how he died rather than just say he died in the war and I would say he died by suicide the remark I would hear unfortunately was, "Oh my goodness, he didn't die a hero then." And-and I continually hear this and I guess I want to make a statement that how someone dies, um, should not be -- that -- that is not a definition of how they lived their lives. And here was a good man who gave and did so much for the community and yet because of how he died -- which you know is a mental illness health related, etc. etc. -- he is now being defined as -- not -- as a zero. And not being defined. And I think you know this-this suicide issue is getting way out of control and for every person that dies by suicide there are at least six to ten people that are horribly effected as well to the point where their mental health also, uh, you know, begins to fall apart and the whole mental health, how to get help, starts all over again. And I should say that the support groups for those that lose a loved one by suicide are now separated from regular grief groups and while attending one and sharing how my loved one died, people were going around the room, people said to me, "Oh my God, why is she here?" I've been asked to leave meetings because -- grief support meetings -- because of how my brother died and I don't think that's fair or correct or right and, um, so the issue goes far beyond the pain of losing a loved one and is extremely complicated. And, um, I wanted to share all that. And if ever anybody hears of someone that dies of a suicide please just say "I'm sorry for your loss" and ask about the person. And don't say anything cruel or unkind because, again, how one lives their entire life for 38 years should not be defined by a, you know, a irrational moment that effects -- that became a permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Susan Page: Yeah well Pamela we certainly thank your brother for his service and we express our sympathy to your family for this terrible loss. [. . .] Let's go to Mary, she's calling us from San Antonio, Texas. Hi, Mary.
Mary: Hi there. As a matter of fact, that's exactly what I was calling about. My husband is currently on his fourth tour in Iraq which is his fifth deployment in six years. As a matter of fact, he's physically lived at home six months since 2001. There's -- there's two reasons I think why the high suicide rate You have these up tempo deployments. When someone comes back from being deployed in Iraq you have what's called a honeymoon period and it might be a month or several months where everyone's happy to see you and every thing's going fine and then the cracks start to show a little bit the stress that every body's been under -- whether it's the normal stress or maybe PTSD. But by the time that starts to rear it's head, they're back for another deployment again and so those issues don't get addressed. And I live in fear for when my husband is home permanently and I know for certain that we're going to have to address that. My husband told me once a story when they were in Iraq, in a combat mission. There was a young gentlemen, maybe 19, scared to death to go out -- understandably. And he was out maybe thirty minutes and they got hit by an IED. He was absolutely terrified and the next day he had to go back out on another mission. And he did not want to go and he had to. And I asked my husband what do you do in those circumstances? And my husband said "Charley Mike" which is an acronym for CM and it means continue mission. That is the most important thing is you continue the mission and you don't stop until it's complete and then you look back and maybe try to figure out what's wrong with these poor people. The -- I don't care what any senior officials say -- the mental health is abysmal in the military. It's frowned upon, there's not enough services. Also I think because the rest -- only the military is at war and the rest of the country is not, there's not -- there's a big disconnect there and I think that adds to the situation. My husband is proud to do his service. He's happy to be there so many other fathers don't have to be. But he would like at least some acknowledgment and recognition. When you turn on the TV and very little is talked about.
Those stories are not being told. They weren't being told in the 'meanwhile back at home' segments of that trashy (and thankfully cancelled) CBS show and they're not being told on Lifetime's ridiculous Army Wives. There is no place for those stories to be told because there is no interest in telling them. You heard them on The Diane Rehm Show today and you could hear them on the show again. Hopefully, you will, hopefully others will call in on Friday's second hour. But in terms of the media, there's really no where to go except Diane's show. And that's really sad. These are stories of today and people would rather serve up propaganda (I'm referring to all the time Pacifica wastes advocating on behalf of Barack which is not why it has a license and is also not why Lewis Hill created Pacifica to begin with) or waste their time (and your time) in other ways. Those are two stories of the Iraq War. Only two stories of millions. And there's no interest in covering them.
Susan Page was joined by panelists Anne Geran (AP), Demetri Sevastopulo (Financial Times of London) and Barbara Slavin (Washington Times).
Susan Page: We had Defense Secretary Robert Gates make an unannounced visit to Iraq this weekend. Anne, you were with him. Tell us about the trip.
Anne Geran: Well Secretary Gates spent a few days in the Middle East. He was in Israel and Jordan before his trip to Iraq. The main reasons for him to go to Iraq now are to get a, kind of a status assessment after the June 30th handover of Iraqi cities to Iraqis --
Susan Page: Which went well. Right on schedule.
Anne Geran: Yeah, it did go on schedule and the - and the assessments from the top commanders and from Gates himself is that it went better than expected and that there really have been -been relatively few problems. A few hiccups, as Gates put it by -- on the part of people who didn't get the word on down the chain. There have been some problems -- in Baghdad, in Mosul which are the cities that had the greatest problems before June 30th. The other reason he was there was to impress on both the Kurdish leadership in the north and the Arab led central government in Baghdad -- they've been increasingly squabbling with one another -- that the time is running short for US forces to stay there and to keep the lid on this and it's time for everybody to figure out where the line is drawn for the Kurdish self-rule area and figure out their business.
Susan Page: Secretary Gates made some headlines when he said that the United States may be able to speed up the scheduled troop withdrawal of American troops. Does it go beyond the symbolic, Barbara?
Barbara Slavin: Well there are some interesting things going on there. There was a story in today's New York Times, a leaked memo that suggested maybe one reason why the US might pull out more troops sooner is because the Iraqis really don't want us there anymore and want to take back their country which seems pretty logical after more than six years now of US occupation, quasi-occupation. But might understanding is that about 10,000 troops are supposed to come out, were supposed to come out, by the end of the year, and so Gates is talking about another 5,000. That would still leave a fair number, let's see, if I do my --
Anne Geran: About 100,000.
Barbara Slavin: calculation -- over 100,000, during Iraqi elections, national elections, which are scheduled in January but would quicken the pace getting down toward 50,000 by the end of next year.
Susan Page: Demetri, this leaked memo which is on the front page of the New York Times this morning, a memo by a senior US military advisor, Colonel Timothy Reese, which was plenty blunt in its language
Demetri Sevastopulo: It was very blunt and it's not clear -- to me anyway -- whether he posted it himself on other websites or whether it was leaked by other people but it was blunt. It was supposed to be to the American military leaders. He himself is an advisor to the Iraqis. His basic argument was, as Barbara was explaining, 'We've taught' -- the Americans have taught -- 'the Iraqis how to ride the military bicyle. Now they can peddle, they're moving along. They may not be perfect but they're frustrated because the Americans are holding the saddle and not letting them go full steam ahead.' So his argument is, 'Just let them get on with it, we should get out now. They've basically accomplished, in terms of training, everything they're going to be able to do.' But not every one in the American military agrees with that. A lot of people think, 'Hold on second. They actually can't do a lot of the things they need to do yet. And General [Ray] Odierno is the top commander in Iraq -- the top American -- he said while Secretary Gates was there that one of the things that they [the Iraqis] cannot do, they won't be able to before the end of next year is to provide air support for themselves. They don't have the capability or the planes, the fighter jets, to defend themselves.
Susan Page: And what will that mean, Anne, for how this proceeds over the next year or two?
Anne Geran: Well in the very strictly technical sense, it will probably mean the sale of American F-16s to Iraq. They want to buy them, we want to sale them. It's a question of how to do that. They can't be built fast enough or in quantity to get them to the Iraqis before the scheduled US pull-out, get enough of them there. So they're looking a different ways to do that. The Iraqis could also buy Russian or French planes. But beyond that there will - there will have to be a debate and a resolution of the debate at some point of what sort of help the United States provides after the cut-off date? Is it -- is it air support from another countries? Is it air support from inside? Is it continued advisory role? Is it nothing?
Susan Page: And, you know, US -- President Obama talked during the campaign about withdrawing most US combat troops by a - by a certain time. I wonder, Barbara, how many troops will be left when most combat troops are out? I mean there will still be some US presence there.
Barbara Slavin: Well, you know, the Status Of Forces Agreement says all US troops are supposed to be out by the end of 2011 but when the Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki was in town [DC] the other week, he suggested that he might want to request some of them to stay on and, of course, there are weapons, not just F-16s but other kinds of weapons systems, that the Iraqis are - are buying from the US that will need maintenance. So I think one could forsee a continued US presence but nothing like the one we have now.
Susan Page: And this long war will then actually come to a close for the United States?
Demetri Sevastopulo: Well it will come to a close to the extent -- it depends on what the Americans are doing. If you have 30, 40, 50,000 Americans there who are periodically called in to help the Iraqis when they are fighting in Mosul or somewhere else well then the war will have come predominately to an end but there will still be lingering fighting.
First, Sevastopulo is confused about the issue of the air force. Anne Geran, who was present for the remarks Odierno made this week (reported them here), tries to nicely fix the situation. Elisabeth Bumiller (New York Times) reported Odierno said right now it did not appear likely that Iraq would be able to defend their own air space at the end of 2011. It matters because it goes to the fact that it's not a real withdrawal, a point Sevastopulo seems aware of in his second answer and was probably just confused speaking off the top of his head prior. Independent journalist Dahr Jamail (at CounterCurrents) addresses the realities of the non-withdrawal:
"If the Iraqi forces require further training and further support, we shall examine this then at that time, based on the needs of Iraq," Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki recently informed President Barak Obama in Washington. While Iraqi and US government officials continue to insist the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq is currently on schedule, only a few thousand US troops have left Iraq since Obama took office, and few, if any, are expected to be withdrawn through the beginning of 2010. From his recent statement, Maliki appears to be willing to accept a long-term stay.
The timeline in the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) says that US "combat troops" were to withdraw from Iraqi cities and villages no later than June 30, 2009, and all troops are to be out by December 31, 2011.
Yet on November 17, 2008, in the wake of Iraq's cabinet approving the SOFA, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the highest-ranking member of the US military, immediately began inferring loopholes and possible grey areas, saying the deadline for withdrawal by 2011 should depend on conditions on the ground.
"I do think it is important that this be conditions-based," Mullen told reporters at the time, "And so three years is a long time. Conditions could change in that period of time."
Dahr's latest book is The Will to Resist: Soldiers Who Refuse to Fight in Iraq and Afghanistan and it has just been released this month. As the discussion on NPR noted, the memo by US Col Timothy Reese is still in the news. (It was noted in yesterday's snapshot.) It's posted at various places online. One of the many places you can read the memo in full is here (New York Times) and we're noting this section:
The general lack of progress in essential services and good governance is now so broad that it ought to be clear that we no longer are moving the Iraqis "forward." Below is an outline of the information on which I base this assessment:
1. The ineffectiveness and corruption of GOI Ministries is the stuff of legend.
2. The anti-corruption drive is little more than a campaign tool for Maliki
3. The GOI is failing to take rational steps to improve its electrical infrastructure and to improve their oil exploration, production and exports.
4. There is no progress towards resolving the Kirkuk situation.
5. Sunni Reconciliation is at best at a standstill and probably going backwards.
6. Sons of Iraq (SOI) or Sahwa transition to ISF and GOI civil service is not happening, and SOI monthly paydays continue to fall further behind.
7. The Kurdish situation continues to fester.
8. Political violence and intimidation is rampant in the civilian community as well as military and legal institutions.
9. The Vice President received a rather cool reception this past weekend and was publicly told that the internal affairs of Iraq are none of the US's business.
Michael Gordon (New York Times) broke the news on the memo yesterday online. His article appears in today's paper (and link is the story which is longer than his report online Thursday). Clicking here takes you to the Times offering various people weighing in -- some of whom seem not to have actually read the memo. Douglas Macgregor makes the strongest argument. PBS' Online NewsHour notes, "A spokeswoman for Odierno said that the memo did not reflect the official stance of the United States military and was not intended for a broad audience, and that some of the problems the memo referred to had been solved since it was written in early July, the New York Times reported." Yes, because July was, like, months ago, totally. Nancy Montgomery (Stars and Stripes) tackles the sotry from the entry point of Odierno's friend Lt Gen Kenneth Hunzeker returning to Iraq:
Hunzeker, who was promoted to lieutenant general and named V Corps commander in August, 2007, said he's always wanted to go back to Iraq. When he visited two months ago, he said he found that "the performance of the Iraqi security forces is pretty good."
Reese, the adviser, disagreed in his memo. He detailed corruption, poor management and a bowing to Shiite political pressure, the Times said. But he wrote that despite deficiencies, Iraqi security forces are now able to protect the Iraqi government.
But there has been growing concern among military commanders about a potentially explosive dispute between the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan and the central government in Baghdad over territory, oil and other resources.
The issues couldn't be settled when the Iraq Constitution was drafted in 2005 -- the parties couldn't agree even which ethnicities lived there -- so it was put off. A clause in the constitution, Article 140, calls for a census followed by a referendum to settle the fate of these areas, including oil-rich Kirkuk. It was supposed to take place by the end of 2007. It still hasn't happened.
It's the last day of the month so the little liars crawl out of their holes. Dan Murphy's had a pretty lousy week but isn't done disgracing the once fabled Christian Science Monitor. In a 'turned corner' piece (of garbage) Danny's hoping people take him at his word and don't go off and do their own research: "The numbers at Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, a website that tracks both coalition and Iraqi deaths, appear to confirm the improvement. Their count is typically lower than APs, but the trend is the same. They count 200 Iraqi deaths in July, the third-lowest total for them since January 2006. Their data shows Iraqi deaths peaked at 3,500 in September of that year." Their data shows?
ICCC does a wonderful job of tracking the number of foreign military service members killed in Iraq. It deserves huge applause for that. When an announcement's made by a governmental body, it's noted. And it's great that it's trying to provide some form of a count on Iraqi civilians. But ICCC's in California. It's not in Iraq. So why would anyone use their numbers as anything but a basic guage? Take, for example, the June Security Forces and Civilian deaths -- which is what ICCC tracks. They've got how many for the month of June? 367. Really? Because the Interior Ministry always does an undercount and their count for June was . . . 373. In May, ICCC's saying 188 deaths. I know that's wrong because no one wanted to talk May deaths and the lie was 134 from the Ministry of Health so I went through and counted up reported deaths from Reuters and McClatchy alone and the number -- just those two sources -- was 226. Each day in May is linked to, you can check the reported deaths and you can check the math. There is a big difference between 188 and 226. I'm not attacking ICCC but I am noting that their civilian death count is not something I'd go with unless making repeated qualifiers and doing my best to check out the official figures (from the ministries) and do a count myself to offer the differences.
Dan Murphy's not interested in qualifiers or doing his own research. He's interested in pimping the lie that things are less violent in Iraq. We've said it before, we'll say it again. That 'trend' story falls apart with the month of February and you see an increase in violence. That is the trend that's held since February. Dan Murphy's a non-stop embarrassment for his outlet.
Earlier in the week, Murphy was in titters over the assault on Camp Ashraf and those 'strange' MEK. Today at the Independent of London, non-reporter and human stench Patrick Cockburn is giggling over "the latest episode in the strange history of the Mujahedin-e-Khalq" -- no link to his trash. For the record, when someone's assaulted, their history (or your opinion of it) really isn't an issue. For the record, putting the victims on trial is one of the trashiest things anyone can do. No surprise, Patrick Cockburn does just that. He's not a reporter. AP reports that US "medical professionals" (US military medical staff) were at Camp Ashraf yesterday evening and "evacuated the most seriously wounded to a U.S. military facility for further treatment." Charles Levinson (Wall St. Journal) reports, "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki agreed on Thursday to let a small group of journalists into the camp. Visitors were given access to only the few hundred yards of land along the main road controlled by Iraqi forces." But that wasn't the first group of journalists allowed in. The National Council of Resistance of Iran explains that although there is ban on any journalists visiting Camp Ashraf, Nouri al-Maliki has made exceptions . . . for Iranian news outlets. They also alleges that the reporters were actually "a number of agents from the Iranian regime's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and terrorist Qods Force".
Not all in Iraq are going along with the assault. The Iraqi National Dialogue Front has issued a statement decrying the assault: "Ashraf residents have been deeply respected during all these years by the Iraqi people and protecting them against the plots, pressures and political quid-pro-quo deals has turned into a matter of national pride for us. However, with the occurrence of yesterday's crimes, which have left a dark stain on those who ordered and carried it out, Iraq's political forces and people must only distance themselves from it. We declare that this crime has no relation to the people and country of Iraq and demand the trial of all those involved." In addition, 50 Iraqi Members of Paliarment have signed on to a letter addressed to the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon decrying the assault, noting the Fourth Geneva Convention is supposed to protect those at Camp Ashraf and calling for the UN to intervene. And NCRI explains:
On Thursday evening at 21:00 local time, the al-Arabiya TV channel reported that Mr. Tariq al-Hashemi, the Iraqi Deputy President, wrote a letter to members of the country's presidential council and highlighted the need to demand sufficient explanations from Nouri al-Maliki about the military operation carried out recently in Camp Ashraf.
He also demanded to know the reason for performing the operation as well the political objectives to be pursued by the government in the future with regards to dealing with the refugees of the camp.
In his letter, al-Hashemi emphasized that from this point on it would be unacceptable for Iraq's presidential council to be surprised every time political or security measures are taken without prior consultation with the council.
The assault was noted on The Diane Rehm Show today:
Susan Page: Here's an e-mail from C. Harvey who says,"Please speak to the Camp Ashraf situation in Iraq and any American responsibility for roll in or lack of ability to prevent the Iraqi attack on Camp Ashraf." Demetri, tell us what's going on?
Demetri Sevastopulo: Well basically you've had a camp of roughly over 3,000 members of this group, the People's, Barbara, correct me if I'm wrong --
Barbara Slavin: People's Mujahedin.
Demetri Sevastopulo: who have been protected by the Americans in Iraq for several years even though the American government considers them to be terrorists. They are dedicated to the overthrow of the Iranian regime. Saddam Hussein basically supported them because he was fighting wars against Iran. The current Iraqi government is more inclined or more aligned towards the Iranian government and so they have been less willing to brook their-their activities. The Americans weren't aware, they say, that the Iraqi authorities were going to authorize their troops to go in and attack this camp. So this is another indication of how the Iraqis are getting out ahead and saying to Americans "we're in charge now."
Susan Page: Should the Americans have been in a position to protect their camp?
Demetri Sevastopulo: Well I don't think the Americans have the ultimate ability to do that anymore because they have kind of pulled back and the problem is when you give a country their solidarity, their soveriegnty, you have to live with that and that's a problem America faces over and over again around the world.
Anne Geran: Well the American military had been arguing essentially with the Iraqi government over what to do about the camp, the MEK as they call it, for some time and they had pulled out full military protection for the camp but still had some advisors around the outside. And the Iraqis did not tell, according to General Odierno, the Iraqis did not tell the US that they were going to go in and do this raid. Odierno was encouraged at first that the raid appeared to be relatively peaceful and bloodless but that changed.
Susan Page: Barbara?
Barbara Slavin: Well this is part of a pattern. Demetri mentioned that the current Iraqi government is much more -- is closer to Iran certainly than Saddam Hussein was and just a couple of weeks ago, the US released some Iranian detainees, some members of the Quods of Jerusaelm Force of the Revolutionary Guards to the Iraqis who immediately turned them back over to the Iranians even though the US had insisted that these were somehow dangerous people. Iraq is reclaiming it's soveriegnty and it's going to do what it's going to do and a lot of these actions might not be quite what the US had in mind perhaps when we went in in 2003.
Leo Shane III (Stars and Stripes) reports, "US embassy officials on Thursday met formally with Iraqi political leaders on the issue of the refugee camp . . . State Department officials said for now the Iraqi government has made no long-term decisions on whether members of the group may be sent back to Iran". Betty weighed in last night on the topic and her thoughts include:
Not that it should matter but Camp Ashfraf isn't a singles complex. Meaning, this has been a home for nearly 3,500 people. A home. Meaning children. And Nouri al-Maliki ordered the assault on the camp Tuesday. They went in with bulldozers, with wooden batons, with sonic grenades, with fire hoses to blast people with water. And Nouri order that.
Camp Ashraf has been a home for the MEK for decades. And their homes are being destroyed. And this is why I didn't want Hillary to be Secretary of State. She is going to get blamed for this when it's Barack's fault for not addressing it and for not being firm with Nouri al-Maliki.
This is an outrage. And don't give me that bunk about "Iraq's national soveriegnty." If this happened in India, the US would be decrying it. We'd do it in almost every nation. (I doubt we would in Israel, we never really have before.)
I don't care what those people in Camp Ashraf believe in or stand for. I care that they are human beings. I care that they are families trying to raise their children. I care that they are people trying to survive. And I care that a government assaulted them and continues to do so. It's not right and I am appalled by the lack of a strong response from the US.
I'm not talking, "Bomb em!" There are many ways to respond strongly. For example, those sonic grenades being used? Made in the US. It could be explained to Nouri that US weaponry used against peaceful citizens of Iraq means no more weaponry. (I don't think they need weaponry to begin with.) There is the carrot and the stick and the stick doesn't always have to be violence. Thus far the US has refused to condemn the actions.
I will. What Nouri is allowing is an international crime. Excuse me, what he has overseen is an international crime.
That violence is ongoing. It is not the only violence. Chelsea J. Carter (AP) reports on the violence sweeping Baghdad today as attacks on Shi'ite mosques have claimed 24 lives. Reuters explains the death toll climbed 25 and that there have been five bombings. The death toll has continued to climb. Liz Sly and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) report, "In the bloodiest attack, 24 people were killed and 28 injured when a parked car exploded outside a mosque in northeastern Baghdad's Shaab district just as worshippers were leaving prayers.Within the next 10 minutes, four other explosive devices detonated at four other mosques in southern and eastern Baghdad, killing four and injuring 35. The timing suggested a high degree of coordination by the attackers." Citing the Interior Ministry, Sam Dagher (New York Times) counts 136 injured (29 dead) and notes the bombings "took place between 12:46 p.m. and 1:30 p.m." Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) adds "Iraq army and police officers are interpreting [the bombings] as a sign that insurgents are determined to destabilize the country a month now that American forces have withdrawn from Iraqi cities and towns." In other reported violence . . .
Reuters notes a Kirkuk car bombing which claimed 2 lives and left fifteen injured. Mohammed al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) drops back to yesterday to report a grenade attack on a home in Mosul that claimed 1 lives (husband and wife) and left a child wounded and a roacket attack on a home in Basra which left four people injured.
The ministries in Iraq were mentioned earlier. They can't count but might they take part in kidnappings? News today out of England on the May 29, 2007 kidnappings. Background, 5 British citizens were kidnapped over two years ago in Iraq. Following the US military handing over two brothers said to have been responsible for the attack on a US base in Iraq in which 5 US service members were killed, the group the brothers belong to released two of the five British hostages: Jason Creswell and Jason Swindlehurst. Both men were dead. Alan McMenemy and Alec Maclachlan are also now considered to be dead but the families continue to hope otherwise and at this point nothing is known. Peter Moore is hoped to be alive. He is the fifth hostage. There were supposed to be six kidnappings, not five. The sixth person eluded the kidnappers. He is among those talking to the press in today's news cycle. And now the big news out of England on the kidnappings. The Telegraph of London reports:
An unnamed senior Iraqi intelligence source told The Guardian the highly-organised kidnapping was "one only a government can do".
Mr Moore had been installing a computer system to track billions of pounds in foreign aid and oil revenue through the finance ministry.
The intelligence source told the paper: "Many people don't want a high level of corruption to be revealed.
"Remember this is the information technology centre, this is the place where all the money to do with Iraq and all Iraq's financial matters are housed."
Paul Wood, a former British Army officer who investigated the abduction for the four bodyguards' employers, GardaWorld, said it was "too perfect".
"It would make sense to think that there was someone on the inside telling the kidnappers when to come, what to expect and how to deal with any security issues they were going to face," he told the paper.
Meena Muhammed, Maggie O'Kane and Guy Grandjean (Guardian) add:
Unknown to the kidnappers, two intelligence officers were parked opposite the centre, outside an outpatients' clinic. Through an intermediary – a former high-level intelligence source – one of the officers described the operation to the Guardian:
"The cars started coming down the street and surrounding the ministry. The cars were marked 'ministry of the interior' – they are Toyota Land Cruisers, they belong to the ministry of the interior ... The operation was well planned and they were carrying Kalashnikovs. One group came out with two of the hostages. They put them in the first car. They weren't hooded or handcuffed. Then they brought the other three men out. Then they brought out the men's belongings, their briefcases and rucksacks. They put those things in a separate car.
"People started gathering around. It was near the al-Rafidain Bank on Palestine Street. The people were gathering around and the kidnappers were shouting: 'Go home now, this is nothing do with anyone. Do not look, this has nothing to do with you.'"
For those who would prefer audio, the Guardian offers Maggie O'Kane explaining the story here (and Seth MacFarlane creator of Family Guy and American Dad is also featured in the arts section of the audio).
Staying with England, Alsumaria notes, "Former Prime Minister Tony Blair will be called to testify to a panel investigating Britain's involvement in the Iraq war." Wales News reports that the poodle is going to "be grilled on live TV by the official inquiry into the Iraq war, it was announced yesterday." This is the independent inquiry that Gordon Brown (current prime minister of England) promised long ago but is only now getting started and is no longer as limited as Brown announced it would be. Karla Adam (Washington Post) reminds, "When Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced the inquiry last month, he initially said it would be held behind closed doors. The decision was reversed after objections from opposition politicians and families of British soldiers who died in Iraq. The war has claimed the lives of 179 British troops, and Brown has described the inquiry as a chance to pinpoint 'lessons learned'." Sir John Chilcot heads the inquiry and CNN quotes him stating, "You can work out for yourself who some of them will be, but apart from the former prime minister [Tony Blair] -- who it's obvious we must see -- I don't want to give a longer list today." Alex Barker (Financial Times of London) observes, "Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader, said public hearings were vital to ensure the inquiry was not seen as a 'whitewash'. 'It is essential that this inquiry has the teeth it needs to get the job done. The government must not be able to interfere to keep Blair and Brown out of the spotlight for the sake of political convenience in the run-up to an election'." Peter Riddell (Times of London) adds, "The Chilcot inquiry provides an opportunity for national catharsis over the Iraq war. Its main value is likely to lie less in any startling new disclosures about why the war was fought than in allowing those affected a chance to air their grievances. It will not end the anger and grief but it provides a chance to balance passion with a thorough narrative about what happened over the course of the eight years from 2001 until 2009, and not just in 2002-03." In terms of what to expect timeline wise, the Guardian offers a basic overview here. Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) explains some of the anger over the timeline from the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats (Tony Blair and Gordon Brown both belong to the Labour Party):
However, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats said they were still unhappy with aspects of the inquiry. They blame Brown for the way he set it up but, after Chilcot's press conference, they also criticised some of the decisions Chilcot has taken about how it will proceed – showing that he has not yet established cross-party support. Chilcot said the inquiry was unlikely to produce an interim report before the general election – as the Liberal Democrats have been demanding – and said there was no chance of final conclusions being published before polling day.
Yesterday's snapshot covered the US Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs hearing. Last night, Kat covered it at her site -- and she's covering witnesses who blame veterans for the VA's problems so be sure to read her post. The Thursday snapshot has a typo that I need to clear up. We have typos here all the time -- including especially in what I type (I dictate snapshots) -- and it's not a big deal or the end of the world. But yesterday's includes, "On the first panel, Senator Jon Tester asked the VA's Patrick Dunn for some hard numbers. Tester noted, the VA had 406,000 pending claims and wondered how that compared to one year age and Dunn responded that it was about 25,000 to 30,000. " And "year age" should be "one year ago." In addition, Rebecca's mentioned but not linked to. That's my fault because I said copy and paste me from that morning and that morning I hadn't linked to Rebecca in the morning entry. So when it was copied and pasted into the snapshot, no link. On England, please note that Rebecca's covering Gordon Brown and Labour's problems this summer. As she's explained, a friend is doing polling for Labour and she's been brought in before (and will be again) to offer her take on the polling data. She's not being paid for that, she's doing it as a favor for an old friend. Because she's been looking at the data from time to time for months now, she's decided to make the summer at her site about Brown's drag on the Labour party. Rebecca's done a great job and this week the media in Engalnd started having poll numbers to share. Their numbers jibe with what Rebecca was explaining to her readers back in June.
TV notes, NOW on PBS drops back to May 28, 2008 to air:
Child prostitution is on the rise not just in other countries around the world, but right here in America. The Department of Justice says, on any given day, tens of thousands of children across America are involved in prostitution. But what's being done to stop it?
This week NOW on PBS visits Atlanta, Georgia to see how one American city is handling the tragic phenomenon of child prostitution. It is one of 27 American cities where the problem seems to be spinning out of control.
"It's one of those issues that doesn't get discussed and therefore there's an assumption that perhaps either it doesn't exist at all or the young women and girls who are prostitutes are there by their own free will," Atlanta's Mayor Shirley Franklin tells NOW.
That is a rebroadcast ("This show was originally broadcast on May 30, 2008."), not an update. Bill Moyers Journal feels like a repeat. Are you tired yet of Wendall Potter? Has any been on every bad Pacifica radio show already in the last two weeks? Amy Goodman's had him, even Houston's The Monitor had him -- in all he's been on at least twelve radio programs airing on Pacifica Radio in the last few weeks. Bill's been waiting his turn. Remember, there's no real left, just one dull DULL echo chamber. Washington Week finds Gwen Ifill sitting round the table with Dan Balz (Washington Post), Alexis Simendinger (National Journal) and Charles Babington (AP). Bonnie Erbe sits down with Irene Natividad, Kim Gandy, Tara Setmayer and Margaret Spellings to discuss the week's issues on PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, all four PBS shows begin airing tonight on many PBS stations. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:
Screening The TSA
Is It Murder?
60 Minutes Sunday, Aug. 2, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
the telegraph of london
the financial times of london
the times of london
the washington post