Monday, September 14, 2009

Iraq's anti-corruption 'watch dog' refuses to bark

A look into the Integrity commission report of 2008
The 2008 report of the Iraqi integrity commission, the governmental anti-corruption watchdog body, said that corruption cases totaling $1.3 billion were pardoned, and most of it came from the Iraqi ministry of defense.
The $1.3 billion is the value of only 11% of the corruption cases that were pardoned in 2008 -- the others didn’t have a dollar value given -- and the number of defendants involved in corruption cases who were pardoned in 2008 is 2,772 defendants.
The pardon law was passed by the parliament in 2008 as part of the reconciliation effort and was described as an important step towards reconciliation. Thousands of detainees were released from prisons as a result for the general pardon law.

The above is from one of McClatchy's Iraqi correspondents, writing "$1.3 billion is pardoned in Iraq and more" (Inside Iraq). That's news. The "shoe tosser" and his "release" today that did not happen? Not so much. Another thing (yes, I'm dropping back to the previous entry) to remember is that his family didn't want the US' 'help' -- however that's defined. And they made that very clear. Meaning?

If someone says they don't want publicity, I take them at their word. I don't spend a lot of time wondering about you, let alone covering you, if you say you want your privacy. So, for example, if you're a governor that makes that announcement, defending you from sexist attacks was exhausting and we didn't agree on anything but I would make the time to defend you because I am a feminist. However, when you then say you want your privacy, great. Wonderful. Means I don't have to utilize my time on that issue (in terms of you) anymore.

The integrity commission in Iraq is who the politicians are supposed to make their disclosures to. For example, in the US, Barack Obama is president. He has to disclose his income. Any gifts over a certain amount must also be disclosed. And Barack will make those disclosures because they're required and because it puts trust into the system.

Iraqi politicians aren't too concerned with Iraqis having faith in the system. You can tell that by the fact that McClatchy's Iraqi correspondent notes people holding the following positions have not made their financial disclosures (from 2006 through today, no disclosure): President, both Vice Presidents, Prime Minister, both Deputy Prime Ministers, Speaker of Parliament, Second Deputy of the Speaker, Minister of the Interior, Minister of Defense, Minister of Finance, Minister of Planning and the Governor of the Iraqi Central Bank. All have ignored the law demanding disclosures. That is news. It's a shame only McClatchy is covering it.

Then there's what might be news if it was reported well but instead it's poorly reported. Did someone say James Risen?

In today's New York Times, his article opens with this paragraph:

Private security guards who worked for Blackwater repeatedly shot wildly into the streets of Baghdad without regard for civilians long before they were involved in a 2007 shooting episode that left at least 14 Iraqis dead, federal prosecutors charge in a new court document.

Federal prosecutors say it? Well, then, the Times should run with it. Right? Because prosecutors are never wrong. Right? That the New York Times -- infamous for many witch hunts (including the one on Wen Ho Lee) -- would do this article is really sad. They've learned nothing. We know Blackwater's not going to comment. They never do. Or they give a generic statement. So for the New York Times to turn "prosecutors say . . ." into a story, they need to round it out. They don't. There's no effort to develop it via contractors who worked with Blackwater, there's no quotes or stories on Blackwater from reporters who once worked in Baghdad and could share a great deal about the 'wild' (being kind) actions of Blackwater. James Risen read court documents and wrote up a book report.

Thing is, they never do that with the defense. A defense attorney files papers, it's not taken on face value. James Risen wrote a bad and one-sided article. I loathe Blackwater, that doesn't change the fact that it's bad reporting on Risen's part.

David Ignatius is a journalist. He's a columnist and not a reporter. Unlike many columnist, he doesn't rely on zing-zang-it's-not-rocket-science bluster or spend hours sniffing the panties and briefs of others. Columnists have opinions and they can be the wrong ones. But that's what a columnist offers. He or she can also offer some reporting -- though few do. In a column for Sunday's Washington Post entitled "An Iraq Security Framework Via Its Neighbors," he's advocating for the US to put together a coalition of Iraq's neighbors (all of its neighbors, including Iran) to help with security. As he notes, that was a recommendation from the so-called Iraq Study Group.

An example of the tricky regional dynamic is Syria. The Obama administration has been working carefully to rebuild U.S.-Syrian relations. Representatives of Central Command made two visits to Damascus this summer to discuss security cooperation on Iraq. This led to a tentative agreement that U.S. and Syrian military representatives would meet Aug. 20 on the Iraq-Syria border. U.S. officials proposed including Iraq, as well.
Not so fast, protested Maliki. He warned Chris Hill, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, that policing Iraq's border was an issue for Iraq, not America.
When Maliki visited Damascus on Aug. 18, he told President Bashar al-Assad that he opposed the Syrian-American plan to discuss Iraqi security and would boycott the Aug. 20 session. Maliki also demanded that Assad turn over Baathist leaders who were living in Syria. Assad refused, saying that these Baathists had opposed Saddam Hussein's regime and posed no threat. The Maliki-Assad summit meeting "was a failure," says one Arab official.

If you paid attention to Chris Hill's testimony on Thursday, you knew he spun in places. If you were on either committee hearing from him Thursday and believed him 100%, right now you may be about to pull your hair.

Again, today David's a columnist. He has a long, previous history in reporting. And that includes the International Herald Tribune which lets me close out this entry noting further stupidity. That bad book -- the really bad one, the one that takes women's art and ignores it to provide a yawn-fest of who they slept with -- praised as "scholarly" is anything but. And Jim read a page outloud this morning (he so enjoys tormenting me with that bad book) which explained that ___ read the International Herald Tribune while living in France in 1964.


No, she did not.

No one did.

The International Herald Tribune is created in 1967. The paper read in 1964 would have been the New York Herald Tribune. Those needing to fact check me -- it's amazing that I get fact checked for a free site whereas the idiot ____ writes a trashy book that no one fact checks in hardcover or soft cover -- can pop Jean-Luc Godard's Breathless into their DVD players and you will see Jean Seberg's character call out, "New York Herald Tribune" repeatedly in her first scenes as she walks around Paris selling editions of the paper.

Repeating: Non one in France read (or "strolled to town" to pick up) the International Herald Tribune in 1964. The paper didn't exist at that point. No matter what it says in some overly-praised, cheesy ass book. And, for the record, the most Jim's made it in reading outloud before an error emerges is two pages. There is a gross factual error on at least every other page and that piece of ___ got praised as a good book? Hey kids, clip together a bunch of bad (and incorrect) Rolling Stone's "Random Notes" (their gossip column, for those who don't know) and pretend you're not taking "Random Notes" word for word (pretending allows you not to source those items and to let readers mistakenly believe someone told you what you cribbed) and then pad it out with a lot of boring sex and you too can be praised as "scholarly."

Don't know the facts?

Don't let it worry you, apparently no one else will and your publisher won't bother to hire a fact checker for your allegedly non-fiction book. And People magazine will dub you "scholarly" -- well consider the source.

Bonnie reminds that Kat's "Kat's Korner: Get Under The Covers" and Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "He's Going To Scare You To Death" went up yesterday.

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