Saturday, September 05, 2009

Chalabi's secretary connected to League of Rightous

U.S. authorities detained a top aide to former Iraqi exile leader and Bush administration ally Ahmad Chalabi last year and accused him of helping Iranian-backed militants kidnap and kill American and British soldiers and contractors.
The aide, Ali Feisal al Lami, said he was quizzed about Iranian agents, senior Shiite Muslim politicians and deadly bombings. Then, Lami said, he asked his American interrogator: Have you ever been to the White House?
"He said, 'No,' " Lami told McClatchy. "I told him, 'Well, I have.' "
Lami said he'd visited the White House with Chalabi in November 2005 and met with a senior administration Mideast expert. By August 2008, however, when Lami was arrested at the Baghdad airport, the U.S. command considered him a dangerous man with links to Shiite terrorist groups and the Iranian intelligence apparatus.

The above is the opening to Hannah Allem's "Chalabi aide: I went from White House to secret U.S. prisoner" (McClatchy Newspapers) and in the article it states the League of Rightous (that's the group Lami was connected to and Eli Like reported on that last week) is suspected of kiling 5 US soldiers and kidnapping 5 British citizens. The League of Rightous has claimed credit/responsiblity for those actions. It's a little late in the game, years late, to suddenly toss around 'suspect.'

Reading the article with both feet on planet earth should convey why the US never should have installed exiles into the government. Ba'athists 'bad' and Lami heads a committee to keep them out. But the League of Rightous? Lami is convinced they can be brought into the process.

Allem sketches out the splinter group (League of Rightous) from Moqtada al-Sadr's actions and Lami's bragging that his connections to al-Sadr allowed him to work to free two kidnapped journalists held by one of al-Sadr's many groups apparently.

Which two journalists? That would be worth knowing.

Lami's imprisonment was noted by Eli Lake two weeks ago. This article just allows Lami to play drama queen. Best example, those mean, mean Americans tricked him by telling him Chalabi was dead. He cried, he says, for three days. Is he your boss or your lover? Three days is a bit excessive. He's hooded when he's transported. Other than that, his allegations do not rise to the level of torture. He mentions no physical abuse and, except for some lying, no mental tricks were used (and nothing resembling mental abuse is alleged by him in the article). A different article at McClatchy is a recounting of his imprisonment and it offers this:

He was filthy and couldn't wash himself in the ablutions necessary before Muslims pray. Without a toothbrush for so long, Lami said, his lower gums gradually separated from his teeth and he often woke up with blood in his mouth.

That's mistreatment. It could be abuse. Especially if he was denied medical treatment. However, he claims psychological abuse and there's not any in either article.

We've covered here many times that if someone says, "I wish you were dead," that's not a threat. Unless they're rubbing Aladin's lamp, it's not a threat. By the same token, when they displayed photos of Lami's family and asked him which one would die first at the hands of Ba'athists he'd wronged since he was in prison and not outside to protect them?

That's not them threatening.

And Ba'athists do have a reason to loathe Lami.

We do learn that, while in prison, he and Qais Khazali slobbered one another with kisses. Qais is the leader of the League of Rightous. After their kiss-kiss greeting, Lami relates:

"I asked him, 'So, Sheikh Qais, which is better: your military way or my political way?"
"He said, 'It's all the same. We're both in prison,' " Lami said. "He was right and I was wrong."

Eli Lake's "EXCLUSIVE: Iraqi official's top aide linked to Shi'ite terrorists" (Washington Times) opened:

The U.S. military authorized the arrest and interrogation last year of a top aide to Ahmed Chalabi on suspicion that the aide served as a liaison to a Shi'ite group thought responsible for the 2007 execution-style slayings of five U.S. Marines and other violence against foreigners and Iraqis, U.S. officials and the aide say.
The group, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or the League of the Righteous, also has been implicated in the kidnappings and slayings of four British contractors in 2007. The British government is negotiating for the release of a fifth abductee, Peter Moore.

The paper's Barbara Slavin spoke of that article on the August 28th broadcast of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show:

Yeah, well, the twists and turns involving Ahmed Chalabi are just incredible. This is the guy, to remind people, who led Iraqi exiles after the Gulf War, who lobbied so hard to overthrow Saddam Hussein, who presented information to the media about alleged Weapons of Mass Destruction that didn't turn out to actually exist in Iraq once the US got there and he also, throughout this time, had maintained good relations with Iran -- which makes sense if you're an Iraqi Shia, since Iran is the neighbor and the biggest Shi'ite country. And what we have now is more evidence that his connection with the Iranians are closer perhaps than we even thought. The Washington Times has a front page story today about the arrest of a top aide to Chalabi on charges that he was a liason to an Iraqi Shi'ite militant group called the League of the Righteous which, among other things, is believed responsible for the execution-style murder of five US marines in 2007. And Chalabi, of course, denies it, the aide denise it, but, uh, senior US military officials say that, indeed, Chalabi's links and the links to this group are-are documented and that Chalabi has been playing both sides of the fence.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing which injured one person, a second one which wounded five people (two Iraqi soliders), a Baquba roadside bombing which left one woman wounded, a Baquba sticky bombing which claimed 1 life (the driver), and, dropping back to Friday, Turkish military bombed Erbil "without causing any casualties." Reuters drops back to Friday to note a Mosul roadside bombing which wounded two people and a second one which claimed 3 lives and left three people injured.

Reuters notes 1 person shot dead Friday in Mosul.

We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "When Will Obama See Afghanistan's Daughters As His Own?" (YubaNet):

The war in Afghanistan today hangs like some cloud of poison gas over Washington that won't blow away. It sickens everything as it spreads. It continues to suck precious tax dollars out of the Treasury, money this country cannot afford to squander, especially as millions of Americans are sinking into poverty and joblessness exceeds ten percent. Writing in USA Today last March 10th, Susan Page reported, "In one year, 24 million slide from 'thriving' to 'struggling' and "Some fear that the American dream may be in peril as well." Worse, the U.S. is turning poverty-plagued Afghanistan, a long-suffering nation of 25 million souls into another Iraq, perhaps even another Viet Nam. Afghanistan has already been under U.S. assault for eight years and President Obama's top military advisers are telling him it will take many more years to achieve "victory," a term having utterly no meaning for skyrocketing numbers of dead and dismembered civilians.
U.S. troops dispatched to "build long-term stability" in Afghanistan (the phrase was uttered by Obama accomplice British Prime Minister Gordon Brown) went from 5,200 in 2002 to 62,000 currently while the cost has shot up from $21 billion to $60 billion a year in that period for a grand total of $228 billion---dollars that could have been far better spent in America, on Americans, for Americans. And dispatching more troops means dispatching more targets. "Deaths from bombings soaring," the Miami Herald reported last August 12th. IED explosions soared to 828 in July, more than twice as many as in the previous July and the highest level since the war began. U.S. casualties are at record highs. This is the road to "victory"?
Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, calls the Afghan crisis "serious and deteriorating" as U.S. casualties hit new highs. The Pentagon throws crack Marine fighters at the Taliban in southern Helmand province yet they are not enough. General Stanley McChrystal may shortly have to ask to increase his forces by nearly half. Worse, President Obama has escalated the fighting into Pakistan, where the Pakistani Taliban control areas close to the capital of Islamabad, and where the fighting has created two million refugees. Congratulations to the White House and Congress: America is now at war in three Middle Eastern nations, on behalf of governments in all three that are weak, unpopular, and corrupt. Who would have thunk it? And even though McChrystal says "the most important thing is to not hurt the Afghan people", Obama is escalating, not withdrawing, and children just like his own daughters are being carted to the cemeteries.
Even conservative columnist Pat Buchanan asks, "What is so vital to us in that wilderness land worth another eight years of fighting, bleeding and dying, other than averting the humiliation of another American defeat?" Buchanan rightly adds, "And if Obama yet believes this is a war of necessity we cannot lose, and he must soldier on, his decision will sunder his party and country, and put at risk his presidency." George Will, another conservative columnist, wants to continue the war but by doing "only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent special forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters." He wants land forces out. Apart from the smug arrogance with which Will dismisses Afghanistan as a no-account nation (!), this theep dinker's strategy of bombarding from untouchable bases at sea will only inspire fresh hatred against the U.S. Afghani rage is white hot because the Pentagon attacks with unmanned drones and Afghanis regard this method of warfare as "unfair" and unmanly. Reuters reported that in Farah province the district leader lamented an air attack in Bala Boluk that killed 108 civilians. Does Obama really believe he is doing the Afghans a favor?
Americans need to recognize that violence only begets violence, that attacks only beget more attacks, and that each round of reprisals gets ever deadlier. Also, there would be no war today if U.S. meddling hadn’t jump-started Osama bin Laden. "(President) Clinton's bombing of Sudan and Afghanistan in 1998 effectively created Al Qaeda, both as a known entity in the intelligence world and also in the Muslim world," philosopher Noam Chomsky is quoted as saying in "Imperial Ambitions"(Metropolitan Books) by David Barsamian. "In fact, the bombings created Osama bin Laden as a major symbol, led to a very sharp increase in recruitment and financing for Al Qaeda-style networks, and tightened relations between bin Laden and the Taliban, which previously had been quite hostile to him." The U.S. is by no means innocent in bringing war and misery to this country.

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Adam Ashton says the US wanted to 'fix' Iraq

I know why we stayed; I don't know why we came.
It's never going to be worthwhile, just less bad.
Those are the two conclusions I've reached in my four months in Iraq in the past year. I know they're not original, but they're mine and I've been getting to them along with you ever since we watched "shock and awe" rock Baghdad on our televisions in March 2003.

We stayed because we broke Iraq. We owed it to Iraqis to fill the vacuum and restore stability.

That's McClatchy's Adam Ashton, back in the US, writing in "Reporter reflects on Iraq: Fixing what we broke" (Modesto Bee) and playing like he can make sense of it all. A tornado rolled through and his house wasn't hit so Adam rationalizes to assuge guilt? That's what it reads like. Ashton's a solid reporter but what a load of crap. "I don't know why we came" -- but "I know why we stayed."

No, you don't. The US did not stay in Iraq "because we broke Iraq." That's the biggest load of bulls**t in the world. "I don't know why we came."

That's actually true. We know the Bush administration lied to start the illegal war and we all have hunches as to why that is, but we don't KNOW why that is. By the same token, Ashton doesn't KNOW why the US stayed but he offers a bulls**t excuse, one we rejected years ago. (See "Should This Marriage Be Saved?" from December 2004.)

It takes a lot of stupidity (willful stupidity) to believe that the US remained in Iraq to help. With all the reconstruction scandals? With no potable water? With electricity shortages?

When was the US 'fixing' Iraq?

It was trying to fix the laws in order to justify the theft of Iraqi oil. It remains focused on that and Barack's even referred to the 'need' for these laws publicly.

Adam Ashton's too smart to play dumb. He embarrasses himself when he tried to cast himself as Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday.

Tim Cocks, Shamal Aqrawi and Michael Christie (Reuters) report tensions in Nineveh Province as Mayor Barzan Said Kaka (who is Kurdish) declares "independence from the largely Arab-run council" in the province while offering a list of allegations against the council including violent crimes and claims that they aren't concerned at all with Kurds. The reporters note that the province's governor, Atheel al-Nujaifi, has made repeated statements against the Kurds and that he "has so upset mayors in 16 Kurdish areas that they're threatening to secede."

Staying with the Kurdish focus, Azad Aslan (Kurdish Globe) reports that Barham Salih, who recently resigned as deputy prime minister of the central government (under Nouri al-Maliki) is expected to "start negotiations to form the next Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG)." Today the Kurdish Globe reports on the KRG's reaction to Nouri's announcement that the long-promised census will not, in fact, take place this year:

"The KRG is concerned that the decree has been issued. The census process is a national right for all Iraq, including Kurdistan Region. By holding the census, all of us would have benefited from the great information that would have been gained," said Osman Shwani, KRG Minister of Planning. Shwani explained that the delay had political backgrounds. The decree came during a meeting of the Iraqi Council of Ministers, according to a statement published by government spokesman Ali al-Dabagh on Thursday. Al-Dabagh stated that the Council of the Ministers agreed to postpone the census until October 2010 as reply to "social changes" in provinces of dispute.

Ako Muhammed (Kurdish Globe) reports that Kamal Kirkuki (Speaker of KRG Parliament) is calling out the United Nations' inept and unfocused 'help' offered in the last years. It's noted that Staffan de Mistura did very little as the UN rep in Iraq. The article notes:

UN involvement came as Baghdad halted fulfilling constitutional Article 140, which calls for returning displaced families home in the disputed areas, deporting brought-in people from those areas, and allowing the original people of those places to decide in a referendum whether to be governed by the Kurdistan Regional Government or directly by the federal government. "We insist on the resolution of this issue in accordance with the implementation of Article 140 of the Constitution, because we do not want to see our people go through hardships and tragedies again." [KRG President Massoud] Barzani also assured of their readiness to cooperate with the UN, "but this issue concerns a whole nation and we will not make any concessions on this issue in any way whatsoever.

Meanwhile an editorial wonders, pay attention Adam Ashton, if Iraq's already returning to the Saddam era? From "Iraq's freedoms under threat: Could a police state return?" (The Economist):

Old habits from Saddam Hussein’s era are becoming familiar again. Torture is routine in government detention centres. “Things are bad and getting worse, even by regional standards,” says Samer Muscati, who works for Human Rights Watch, a New York-based lobby. His outfit reports that, with American oversight gone (albeit that the Americans committed their own shameful abuses in such places as Abu Ghraib prison), Iraqi police and security people are again pulling out fingernails and beating detainees, even those who have already made confessions. A limping former prison inmate tells how he realised, after a bout of torture in a government ministry that lasted for five days, that he had been relatively lucky. When he was reunited with fellow prisoners, he said he saw that many had lost limbs and organs.
The domestic-security apparatus is at its busiest since Saddam was overthrown six years ago, especially in the capital. In July the Baghdad police reimposed a nightly curfew, making it easier for the police, taking orders from politicians, to arrest people disliked by the Shia-led government. In particular, they have been targeting leaders of the Awakening Councils, groups of Sunnis, many of them former insurgents and sympathisers, who have helped the government to drive out or capture Sunni rebels who refused to come onside. Instead of being drawn into the new power set-up, many of them in the past few months have been hauled off to prison. In the most delicate cases, the arrests are being made by an elite unit called the Baghdad Brigade, also known as “the dirty squad”, which is said to report to the office of the prime minister, Nuri al-Maliki.
The American-sponsored judicial system was supposed to protect Iraqis’ civil rights. But it is sorely overstretched, with some 1,500 people being brought into prisons every month as the Americans empty their own Iraqi jails. The number of Iraqis in American-run prisons has dropped to less than 9,000 from more than 21,000 a year ago, whereas the number in Iraq’s own jails has risen from 35,000 in February probably to more than 40,000 today.
Moreover, sentencing is getting harsher, with more people sentenced to death. On a single day in June 19 people were hanged in Baghdad. In a recent report Amnesty International, a British-based group, says that more than 1,000 Iraqis face execution, often on the basis of confessions, which, it says, are sometimes made under torture.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

Iraq snapshot

Friday, September 4, 2009.  Chaos and violence continue, two fallen US soldiers are identified, the Bremer walls are put back up in Baghdad, Nouri courts an international crisis, Jordan and Iraq strengthen their ties, Steven D. Green gets sentenced for War Crimes and more.
Leaning up against the back of the building we discovered half of a rusted Russian heavy machine gun, and another piece of a Cold War era anti-aircraft gun. No big deal, except both weapons had been used against our company two years prior during the retaking of the city of Baqubah. Pretending this find meant the IPs were doing their job and taking dangerous weapons off the street and not that they were the average two-faced insurgents, we rounded the last corner of the compound and headed for the front gate.           

Thanks to the hand-tying status of forces agreement between Iraq and the United States, American soldiers are not allowed to operate in urban areas without having the Iraqi Police or Iraqi Army present. Exceptions apply, but they're few and far between.                   

By the time our squad had regrouped around the front of the building, our IA escort forces from outside the city had exited their humvees and stood around smoking and joking with each other. They were dressed in USMC desert fatigues, military body armor, and commercial tactical vests. They were also carrying clean weapons outfitted with modern American optics and flashlights. Apparently, Iraqi Army Special Forces are fairly well funded.             

We passed them by and headed out the gate, since our absurdly strict platoon leader wasn't around to stop us. One lonely IP stood guard just outside the entrance to the station. He remained rooted to the ground while we moved past him and out into the neighborhood. We figured he'd count as our Iraqi escort if someone important came along. Crossing a small lot with a few scattered cars and trash piles, a pack of four or five dogs picked up our scent and barked to alert the area to our presence. We held up at the far side of the lot, less than a hundred meters from the IP station. A group of kids had been playing around in the street, but had scattered as soon as we left the station. In previous years, that was a bad sign. Kids scattered and plugged their ears before roadside bombs detonated.

This time around, it's a different war. "War" is hardly the word to describe the current situation. Anyway, the unit we're replacing didn't spend a single second of their tour mingling with the locals around this particular IP station. It had been months since the last American foot patrol through their village. They peeked around corners and out from behind courtyard gates. Families weaving around rubble and small rivers of sewage eyeballed us suspiciously, rarely returning a wave.                       

Two young boys crept closer, stopping about ten meters ahead of us. I motioned to them to come closer while Todd called to them in broken Arabic. Cautiously, the older of the two darted up to us. Todd pulled a pack of gum from his pants pocket and handed a piece to the boy, who looked confused but optimistic. Todd pulled out another piece for himself, and popped it in his mouth. The boy smiled and darted back to the safety of his house. When he stuck his head out a moment later, he was chewing happily and surrounded by a new group of local kids.

I motioned again to them, and a younger boy came running up over the broken bricks and dirt littering the street. I handed him a little pack of Sweet Tarts as my squad started moving back to the police station. He accepted happily and ran back to the house. I turned and followed the squad out of the neighborhood and back through the guarded station entrance, offering the lone IP a wave as he closed the gate behind me.                                

We walked up to the front of the building, wondering where our blundering platoon leader was. The Iraqi Army Special Forces soldiers were still lounging around, smoking cheap cigarettes in the scorching afternoon sun. Approaching them, they welcomed us with open arms and all sorts of broken English. Cigarettes were offered all around, we removed our helmets and gloves, and relaxed. The language barrier is always difficult to overcome, but through the few Arabic phrases I remember from my first deployment and creative sign language, we got to know each other. We examined each others rifles and pistols, resisted the pleas of the IA soldiers to trade watches and jokingly traded insults. An American private from Guam was played up as an Iraqi who forgot how to speak Arabic, and the sexual preference of all involved was questioned. Some things are funny to soldiers no matter their nationality.

That blog post was written by Jordan Shay who was killed while serving in Iraq. Yesterday the US military issued the following announcement: "CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, TIKRIT, Iraq -- Two Multi-National Division - North Soldiers were killed and five wounded in a vehicle rollover accident in the Diyala province of northern Iraq Sept. 2.  ICCC is currently down [they note a server crash and that they are working to get the site back up] but the announcement should bring the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4338. (It was 4336 on Sunday. ICCC was down yesterday and remains down today.) It appears the two killed were Todd Selge, 25-years-old, and Jordan Shay, 22-years-old.  Frederick Melo (Pioneer Press) reports Selge was on his second tour of duty in Iraq and his wife Dellona Selge states, "He was definitely gung-ho about the military.  He was going to get out.  He wanted to finish up school and move back home and have a regular life." With her and their sons "ages 6 and 2."  John R. Ellement (Boston Globe) reports Shay was also on his second tour of duty and had been engaged to marry.  Marie Szaniszlo (Boston Herald) adds that his MySpace page has "a clock counting down how many days he had left in the Army".
July 31st, Jordan Shay wrote (on his Twitter accont), "I've been saying I'm ready to go, and I am, but it's amazing how fast the last two weeks have flown by." August 23rd, he noted "back in iraq for round two, probably won't fire a shot in anger all tour. sucks."  In his last post at his blog, Shay observed, "We are respected in Baqubah. We are also feared. Our battalion has a fantastic opportunity to use these facts to our advantage and make a real difference before the withdrawal of all combat forces in the summer of next year. We made a difference in 2007, we could do it again in 2009. I fear we will not."
Any such efforts at "a real difference" seem blocked as Nouri al-Maliki continues his quest to create an international incident.  August 19th was Black Wednesday -- mulitple bombs going in off in Baghdad, the Foreign Ministry and the Finance Ministry being targeted, at least 101 people were killed nearly 600 hundred injured.  Though no one knows who is responsible, Nouri has attempted to make political hay by blaming Ba'athists in Syria and demanding that the Syrian government turn over to Ba'athists.  The Syrian government has responded by following the laws on extradition and requesting evidence before making a move.  Boht countries have recalled their ambassadors.  Nouri bloviates about evidence but either has none or is unwilling to turn any over.  Nouri's demanding the United Nations set up some sort of tribunal to investigate the bombing -- which actually makes it clear how inept Nouri's 'leadership' is that he can't handle an incident of violence.  Alsumaria reports that Syrian President Bashar Al Assad denounced the proposal at a press conference today with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Khalid al-Ansary, Muhanad Mohammed, Tim Cocks and Janet Lawrence  (Reuters) report that Nouri's sending "thousands of extra police" to the border with Syria and Iraqi police chief Tariq Yusuf describes those being sent as "emergency forces."  BBC quotes Hoshyar Zebari, Iraq's Foreign Minister, stating, "We have given them [the Syrian government] the evidence that we have through the Turkish foreign minister and we are waiting for their response."  Efforts by Turkey to mediate between the governments of Syria and Iraq earlier this week appear to have fallen apart after Turkey refused to send more water to the two countries.  Alsumaria reports that Jordan's Prime Minister Nader Al Dahabi (visiting Baghdad and now in the Kurdistan region) "noted that his country is willing to calm tensions between Baghdad and Damascus". As Mike noted yesterday, the Jordan Times reported Iraq and Jordan reached an agreement to establish "a free trade zone".
Iraq as the Angry Child.  Stomping its feet and demanding everyone bow to its wishes.  If you learn one thing from following the current government, it's how ignorant and uninformed or uncaring the officials are.  Inside Iraq airs every Friday on Al Jazeera and usually includes one Iraqi government employee who struggles to redefine what government actually is and only succeeds in demonstrating how nothing resembling democracy is taking root in Iraq.  Forget respect, there is no understanding of the press and you get idiots like the Ministry of National Dialogue's Saad al-Muttalibi (see the August 21st broadcast) stating:
And I'm not here to defend anybody, I'm just saying that there were no evidence. For somebody to write a piece, an article in a state-owned newspaper and claim that he knew in advance that somebody, anybody has the intention of doing the robbery and buying blankets and distributing the blankets through -- during the elections, that sounds to me like going out of the norm, this is not media reporting, this is accusation and without any evidence.  I mean the journalists didn't have any evidence for his case. A journalist's job is uh to produce the news uh to convey the news and events that happen in the country and as truthfully and honest as possible and but not to make interpretation, their own interpretation of events.  Thank you.
A journalist doesn't gather 'evidence.'  Journalism is not a court of law.  Reporting isn't a court of law.  There are different standards in a court of law than are required for journalism and that's because public shaming (the worst that journalism can do) is not the same as imprisonment.  Equally true, journalism is reporting and it is more than that.  The article that had Saad al-Muttalibi so enraged wasn't "reporting."  He wants to impose reporting standards on what was an opinion piece, a column.  Forget that it was parody -- which the uneducated Saad al-Muttalibi and a whole host of others can't grasp -- it was an opinion column.  But Saad thinks he can dictate what journalism will be in a country and what it would be under him is nothing but "The government said today . . ."  That's not how journalism works and it's not even reporting is supposed to work.  The thugs in charge in Iraq like to toss around "evidence" but they never understand what it is nor do they ever grasp that just because they dub something "evidence" doesn't mean others would recognize it as such.  The government's a joke and it would deservedly fall apart if the US pulled out all troops tomorrow.  Which should probably happen because it would allow the Iraqis a fighting chance -- the people who the US military was supposedly 'freeing' but instead have been enslaved to the whims of a bunch of cowardly exiles who couldn't fight Saddamn but could run off and hide in other countries where they lobbyied for US involvement for decades.  These cowards are the ones the US government put in charge of Iraq and they have no legitimacy in the eyes of the average Iraqi which is not a surprise because no one would want their rulers to be composed of a slew of cowards and turncoasts who didn't have the guts to struggle in the country with everyone else but instead fled for posh and cushy lives in London, Iran, Jordan, Syria, etc.

When you grasp how many exiles make up the so-called 'government,' it's all the more shocking the central government's lack of concern for the ongoing external refugee crisis.  UNHCR announced today that 36 Iraqi refugees living in Jordan and Syria have been "resettled to Belgium".  On the subject of refugees, Marcia noted the appeal sent out by the US Committee for Camp Ashraf Residents -- Camp Ashraf is a camp of Iranian exiles who have been in Iraq for decades now.
On the 38th day of a hunger strike outside the White House in protest against the continuing siege of Camp Ashraf in Iraq, speakers at a news conference called on President Obama to intervene and end the humanitarian crisis in Ashraf, home to 3,400 members of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK) and their families.

Steven Schneebaum, U.S. Counsel for the families of Camp Ashraf residents,
said, "The position of the United States that it no longer has any obligation
towards the residents of Ashraf is plainly wrong. The US is still responsible
based on the agreement it signed with each and every member in 2004, according
to Article 45 of the 4th Geneva Convention and International Customary Law."

Colonel Gary Morsch, Reservist, Commander, Combat Support Hospital in the US
army, who severed in Ashraf in 2004, remarked that, "I am speaking as a
soldier and cannot comprehend why our military did nothing to stop the carnage
at Ashraf."

"There are hundreds of people across the world on hunger strike. If we can get
our government to act quickly, and get the 36 hostages released, we can bring
the hunger strike to an end," Colonel Morsch added.

Unlike their 'leaders,' for the Iraqi people, the stuggle never ends.  Campbell Robertson (online at the New York Times) reports from northern Iraq's "small Christian villages" where "residents seem tired; looking into their empty, often unhealthy faces, you wonder whether the massive exodus of Christians from Iraq -- half the population by many estimates -- has left only the weakest and least capable behind to look after their homeland." And in order "to look after their homeland," Nordland reports, a new development has emerged, the formation of Christian militias.  Militia member Thabid Daoo is quoted stating, "We are protecting the whole city, not the churches only.  We are the people of our city, so we know the strangers who are coming from outside."
Meanwhile Quil Lawrence (NPR -- text only) reports that Iraqi security forces are using an instrumbent to detect bombs that probably doesn't do that: "Many U.S. officials say the science is about as sound as searching for groundwater with a stick. [. . .] One American expert in Baghdad compared the machine with a Ouija board but wouldn't comment on the record.  A U.S. Navy investigation exposed a similar device made by a company called Sniffex as a sham."  Meanwhile one security measure is in the news.  Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports that not only have they stopped taking down the Bremer walls (blast walls) in Baghdad, "This week walls were again being erected across the capital in areas where they had only just been removed.  The symbolism was unmistakable: forebodying landmarks of Iraq's descent into chaos were once again necessary.  The security gains of the past year are starting to look like a false dawn."
Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad sticky bombing and a Baghdad car bombing last night with seven injured from the latter.  Reuters notes a Basra rocket attack last night "on the South Cas company offices" and a Baghdad car bombing which injured three people last night (in addition to the one that injured seven).
Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk.
Turning to the United States and what may be the only accountability for the crimes in Iraq.  May 7th Steven D. Green (pictured above) was convicted for his crimes in March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead kicking in sentence to life in prison. Today, Green stood before US District Judge Thomas B. Russell for sentencing. Kim Landers (Australia's ABC) quotes Judge Russell telling Green his actions were "horrifying and inexcusable."  Not noted in any of the links in this snapshot (it comes from a friend present in the court), Steven Dale Green has dropped his efforts to appear waif-ish in a coltish Julia Roberts circa the 1990s manner.  Green showed up a good twenty pounds heavier than he appeared when on trial, back when the defense emphasized his 'lanky' image by dressing him in oversized clothes.  Having been found guilty last spring, there was apparently no concern that he appear frail anymore. 
Italy's AGI reports, "Green was recognised as the leader of a group of five soldiers who committed the massacre on September 12 2006 at the Mahmudiyah check point in the south of Baghdad. The story inspired the 2007 masterpiece by Brian De Palma 'Redacted'."  BBC adds, "Judge Thomas Russell confirmed Green would serve five consecutive life sentences with no chance of parole."  Deborah Yetter (Courier-Journal) explains, "Friday's federal court hearing was devoted mostly to discussion of technical issues related to Green's sentencing report, although it did not change Green's sentence. He was convicted in May of raping and murdering Abeer al-Janabi, 14, and murdering her parents, Kassem and Fakhriya, and her sister, Hadeel, 6, at their home outside Baghdad."
Green was tried in civilian court because he had already been discharged before the War Crimes were discovered.  Following the gang-rape and murders, US soldiers attempted to set fire to Abeer's body to destroy the evidence and attempted to blame the crimes on "insurgents."  In real time, when the bodies were discovered, the New York Times was among the outlets that ran with "insurgents."  Green didn't decide he wanted to be in the military on his own.  It was only after his most recent arrest -- after a long string of juvenile arrests -- while sitting in jail and fearing what sentence he would face, that Green decided the US Army was just the place he wanted to be.  Had he been imprisoned instead or had the US military followed rules and guidelines, Green wouldn't have gotten in on a waiver.  Somehow his history was supposed to translate into "He's the victim!!!!"  As if he (and the others) didn't know rape was a crime, as if he (and the others) didn't know that murder was considered wrong.  Green attempted to climb up on the cross again today.  AP's Brett Barrouguere quotes the 'victim' Green insisting at today's hearing, "You can act like I'm a sociopath.  You can act like I'm a sex offender or whatever.  If I had not joined the Army, if I had not gone to Iraq, I would not have got caught up in anything."  Climb down the cross, drama queen.  Your entire life was about leading up to a moment like that.  You are a sociopath.  You stalked a 14-year-old Iraqi girl while you were stationed at a checkpoint in her neighborhood.  You made her uncomfortable and nervous, you stroked her face.  She ran to her parents who made arrangements for her to go live with others just to get her away from you, the man the army put there to protect her and the rest of the neighborhood.  You are one sick f**k and you deserve what you got.  Green play drama queen and insist "you can act like I'm a sex offender" -- he took part in and organized a gang-rape of a 14-year-old girl.  That's a sex offender.  In fact, "sex offender" is a mild term for what Green is.
Steven D. Green made the decision to sign up for the US military.  He was facing criminal punishment for his latest crimes, but he made the decision.  Once in the military, despite his long history of arrests, he didn't see it as a chance to get a fresh start.  He saw it as a passport for even more crimes.  What he did was disgusting and vile and it is War Crimes and by doing that he disgraced himself and the US military.  His refusal to take accountability today just demonstrates the realities all along which was Green did what he wanted and Green has no remorse.  He sullied the name of the US military, he sullied the name of the US.  As a member of the army, it was his job to follow the rules and the laws and he didn't do so.  And, as a result, a retaliation kidnapping of US soldiers took place in the spring of 2006 and those soldiers were strung up and gutted.  That should weigh heavily on Steven D. Green but there's no appearence that he's ever thought of anyone but himself.  He wants to act as if the problem was the US military which requires that you then argue that anyone serving in Iraq could have and would have done what he did.  That is not reality.  He does not represent the average soldier and he needs to step down from the cross already.
 AFP notes, "During closing arguments at his sentencing, Green was described alternately as 'criminal and perverse' and deserving of the death penalty, and as a 'broken warrior" whose life should be spared'."  Brett Barrouquere (AP) has been covering the story for years now.  He notes that Patrick Bouldin (defense) attempted to paint Green as the victim as well by annoucing that Green wanted to take responsibility "twice" before but that Assistant US Attorney Marisa Ford explained that was right before jury selection began and in the midst of jury selection.  In other words, when confronted with the reality that he would be going to trial, Steven D. Green had a panic moment and attempted to make a deal with the prosecution.  (The offer was twice rejected because the 'life in prison' offer included the defense wanting Green to have possible parole.)  Steve Robrahn, Andrew Stern and Paul Simao (Reuters) quote US Brig Gen Rodney Johnson ("Commanding General of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command") stating, "We sincerely hope that today's sentencing helps to bring the loved ones of this Iraqi family some semblance of closure and comfort after this horrific and senseless act."
While Green plays victim, Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan attempts to end the wars. Last week, she led demonstrations on Martha's Vineyard while US President Barack Obama vacationed there.  John V. Walsh (CounterPunch) reports:
I spent but a short time with Cindy Sheehan as she carried her antiwar protest from an earlier time at Crawford, TX, to Martha's Vineyard, vacation spot for Obama and many other Democrat Party elite.   As Cindy remarked, the real story was not that she was protesting Obama's wars but that the "leadership" of the peace movement did not support her protest.  When the target was Bush in Crawford, she was all the rage with antiwar celebrities, but not so now that the target is Barack Obama.   While there is considerable enthusiasm for her anti-Obama protest on the part of the rank and file in the anti-war movement, a refusal of its "leaders" to notify their members far and wide, high and low, crippled the action.
As a result of this betrayal, the numbers at Martha's Vineyard were not large.   But Cindy and her fellow anti-warriors were undeterred.  While I was there, she mounted a spirited march down the road to Obama's place, no more than a quarter mile away from where she stayed.  The purpose was to present the President with a poster of Cindy bearing a signed plea to end the wars.   The considerable armed force at the gate and the Secret Service officers would not even bring out the lowliest of staffers to receive the poster.  Clearly the message from Obama was "Get lost, Cindy."  And we were quickly told to move a considerable distance down the road.  At least in Crawford it had been possible to demonstrate at the checkpoint to the site -- not so at Obama's place.  Thus, did Obama greet a mother whose son was lost in the wars, which he continues and enlarges by the day.
Is there any sign of life in a movement that marshaled hundreds of thousands to march in protest against war in Iraq?  Ah, but those were the Bush years. Now we have a Democrat in the White House.
One person hasn't tossed aside her peace sign. Cindy Sheehan sees war as war, whether the battle standard is being waved by a white moron from Midland, Texas or an eloquent black man from Chicago. But when she called for protesters to join her on Martha's Vineyard to stand outside Obama's holiday roost for four days at the end of August there was a marked contrast to the response she got when she rallied thousands to stand outside Bush's Crawford lair.           
As John Walsh described it here last week, "the silence was,  as Cindy put it in an email to this writer, 'crashingly deafening.'  Where are the email appeals to join Cindy from The Nation or from AFSC or Peace Action or 'Progressive' Democrats of America (PDA) or even Code Pink?   Or United for Peace and Justice. And what about MoveOn although it was long ago thoroughly discredited as principled opponents of war or principled in any way shape or form except slavish loyalty to the 'other' War Party.  And of course sundry 'socialist' organizations are also missing in action since their particular dogma will not be front and center.  These worthies and many others have vanished into the fog of Obama's wars." 
Before he joined Sheehan on Martha's Vineyard, Walsh says he contacted several of the leaders of the "official" peace movement in the Boston area -- AFSC, Peace Action, Green Party of MA (aka Green Rainbow Party) and some others.  Not so much as the courtesy of a reply resulted from this effort -- although the GRP at least posted a notice of the action.
TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on many PBS stations:

This week NOW, as part of a collaboration with the nonprofit investigative unit ProPublica, explores the controversial tactic of "preventative detention," a government plan that may detain suspects indefinitely without trial or even formal charges. Implementing such a plan may have far-reaching consequences on not just our fight against terrorism, but the integrity of the U.S. Constitution and the cause of human rights.

Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and sitting around the table with Gwen this week are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Jackie Calmes (New York Times), John Dickerson (CBS News and Slate) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe and her guests Sam Bennett, Amanda Carpenter, Karen Czarnecki and Eleanor Holmes Norton discuss the week's news on this week's edition of PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Age of Megafires Global warming is increasing the intensity and number of forest fires across the American West. Scott Pelley goes to the fire line to report. Watch Video
Combat in Afghanistan The enemy is on the rise in Afghanistan and Lara Logan's report from a forward operating base near Pakistan includes 60 Minutes footage of up-close combat. Watch Video
Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez Discovered living on the streets by Los Angeles Times newspaper columnist Steve Lopez, mentally ill musician Nathaniel Ayers has become the subject of a book by Lopez and now a Hollywood film. Morley Safer reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes Sunday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

War Criminal Steven D. Green sentenced today

Steven D. Green

May 7th Steven D. Green (pictured above) was convicted for his crimes in March 12, 2006 gang-rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi, the murder of her parents and the murder of her five-year-old sister while Green was serving in Iraq. Green was found to have killed all four, to have participated in the gang-rape of Abeer and to have been the ringleader of the conspiracy to commit the crimes and the conspiracy to cover them up. May 21st, the federal jury deadlocked on the death penalty and instead kicking in sentence to life in prison. Today 4th, Green is scheduled to stand before US District Judge Thomas B. Russell for sentencing. From the United States District Court - Western District of Kentucky.

United States vs Green, Steven D.Case Number: 5:06-cr-00019
Updated: August 27, 2009
The District Court will update the
docket sheet as new documents are filed.
Upcoming events: Sentencing is set for September 4, 2009, at 11:00 a.m. (Central Time) in the Paducah Division of the Western District of Kentucky. The Courthouse is located at 501 Broadway, Paducah, Kentucky.
Seating for Sentencing: Sentencing will take place in the second floor courtroom, which can accommodate approximately 70 persons. There will be reserved seating for family members of the victims and the defendant as well as credentialed members of the media. All remaining seats will be available to the public on a first come, first serve basis. In the event that the reserved seating is not full when the proceeding begin, the remaining seats in the reserved section will be available to the general public. When there are no more seats available in the second floor courtroom, spectators will be directed to the overflow courtroom on the first floor.
All spectators must be in their seats by 10:50 a.m.. Attendees, including the general public and press, must remain seated until the court recesses. No one except court staff, assigned counsel, and those assisting counsel will be permitted to enter or exit the courtroom once proceedings have begun.
Media Room: There will be no media room set up for the sentencing.
PROHIBITED items in the Courthouse: Cell phones, cameras, audio or video recording devices, and laptops are NOT permitted in the courthouse.

You know what would be great if some stupid ass attorney took to her stupid ass blog to insist, decades from now that Steven D. Green wasn't convicted of this or that and wasn't sentenced to this or that.

Yeah, I'm referring to the CrackPot Jerry of TalkLeft who's such a damn idiot that she doesn't even grasp what a brutal killer was sentenced to. She was sentenced to death. She was not sentenced to prison. After she was sentenced to death, California did away with the death penalty.

The piece of trash garbage murdered a woman, murdered a pregnant woman. She did not 'confess' in jail. She bragged about it in her cell after she was picked up as a suspect in another offense.

We don't need the garbage of CrackPots like Jerry of TalkLeft. She's a real loon. I waited nearly 24 hours on saying anything about that because I was furious when I learned of it yesterday.

Sharon Tate was murdered in cold blood. (I knew Sharon.) Sharon Tate was pregnant. Sharon wasn't the only one murdered. Jay Sebring, Abigail Folger, Steve Parent and Wojciech Frykowski were also murdered.

What had any of them done? Not a damn thing. And the creepy crawls of trash Charles Manson were all over that area for weeks, testing doors, entering homes. It could have been anyone in that area murdred.

They are a menace to society. They are in prison and they deserve to die in prison. That some little boo-hoo from Whore Jerry over a murderer having cancer . . . Oh, the horror. How awful. She had no sympathy when Sharon begged for her unborn child's life. I'm referring to the murderer but, obviously, it also refers to CrackPot Jerry.

That is the problem with some 'attorneys' on the left. They think everyone's wonderful and groovy. The Creeply Crawlies got what they deserved and they will (and should) die in prison. CrackPot Jerry doesn't get it because she's probably wet dreaming of Charles Manson, groovin' on being the gal to 'save' him.

She's pathetic.

And I'm not in the mood for any liar or crackpot to come along and claim that any of those people deserve to be released. They're damn lucky the death penalty they were sentenced to wasn't re-applied after California brought it back.

They destroyed countless lives with their brutal murders. There is no indication that they've 'changed' in prison. And the fact that a murderer may be dying of cancer? Good. Let's hope it's painful. Let's hope the piece of trash dies in as much pain as she caused Sharon.

And then take a moment to picture yourself pregnant. Take a moment to picture yourself begging with thugs not to kill you. Take a moment to picture yourself as Sharon's husband Roman or her parents or her sister when you get the news of what happened.

And then try to feel sorry for a piece of trash murdered because they have cancer?


Cancer will not be as brutal on their system as their knives were on Sharon and Abby and Jay and Steve and Wojciech. The victims were shown no mercy. The murderers got a trial. The murderers were sentenced. They got lucky that the death penalty was (briefly) overturned. But they don't get to walk because they end up sick or any other crap. They caused tremendous pain and they meant to do that.

They meant to cause the pain.

They meant to cause the fear.

They meant to blame the left. That's what the blood 'graffitti' was all about.

So little demented Jeryln can finger herself 'till the cows come home drooling over the idea of being Charles Manson's love slave. But in decent society, we don't move heaven and earth to apologize for the horrific crimes of Manson or the trash who followed him.

In decent society, we grasp that when you commit brutal acts and are found guilty of it, you suffer the consequences. The trash with cancer allegedly goes in and out of grasping her surroundings. And we're going to let her out?

We're going to let someone who committed a brutal murder out with the knowledge that she's often unaware of her surroundings and where she's at?

She needs to die in prison and all the ones involved need to die there.

They were destructive forces that deliberately set out to murder in cold blood and to do so in order to create an element of fear in society. The sixties 'end' due to that nonsense. It's when all the 'groovy,' 'let it all hang out' vibes head out the window. They destroyed so much and they meant to do that and they meant to start wars. They wanted civil unrest.

I have no sympathy for Charles Manson. I think Evan Dando's a damn idiot and take tremendous joy in the fact that his pathetic career was so short-lived. Whenever any of those 'geniuses' records a song written by Manson, it tends to create a karmic backlash and destroy their careers. Good. Hopefully that same karmic backlash will attach to CrackPot Jerry of TalkLeft.

And shame on anyone who thinks because someone's physically ill after they're in prison that their illness wipes away their actions or requires that society show them sympathy.

It is not cruel to keep that murdering piece of trash in prison. She will get the medical attention she needs and she will be where she belongs. Prison hasn't been to bad for her, after all, she ended up with a husband, now didn't she?

What CrackPot Jerry really demonstrates is an ugly side of a fringe element on the left that repeatedly and automatically plays the violins for the 'victims' who aren't victims. Manson and his thugs are criminals.

CrackPot Jerry doesn't even know the details, as her bad post revealed, and, again, she can finger herself forever imagining she's the 'girl' who turns 'bad boy' Chuck Manson around. But in the real world, five people were murdered. In the real world, one of the people was pregnant. In the real world, our society was greatly damaged by those crimes and the fear they were intended to instill.

Sharon's killer allegedy stated, in reply to Sharon's begging for her life and that of her unborn child, "Woman, I have no mercy on you." Sharon's killer is damn lucky that she faced a judicial system and not a vigilante one. She's damn lucky. She doesn't deserve to be set free, she deserves to die behind bars. She's done NOTHING to mitigate her crimes and it's doubtful she or anyone could. But the fact that she allegedly has cancer doesn't change her actions. And shame on anyone who argues otherwise.

I'm not linking to CrackPot Jerry. If you're late to this, you can see myiq2xu's post at The Confluence where he quotes CrackPot Jerry (and he more than grasps what the CrackPot can't).

Returning to Iraq and prisoner news, Marisa Taylor and Warren P. Strobel offer "Assessing CIA culpability in detainee deaths will be tricky" (McClatchy Newspapers):

By all accounts, the interrogation of Iraqi Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush went terribly wrong. Military guards accused his interrogators of beating the detainee and stuffing his body into a sleeping bag bound with electrical cord until he suffocated.
When it came time for a CIA employee to testify during the court-martial of Army Chief Warrant Officer Lewis Welshofer, however, officials went to great lengths to protect the employee's identity, erecting a high, Army-green tarpaulin to shield him from spectators. Even the unidentified man's employment by the CIA was off-limits, until Welshofer's civilian attorney mentioned it in a slip of the tongue.
"The CIA was a kind of specter hanging on the edge of the case the entire time," said David Danzig, of the advocacy group Human Rights First, who attended the trial. The CIA's role in questioning Mowhoush "was not being investigated, not being discussed," he said.

TV notes. NOW on PBS begins airing tonight on many PBS stations:

This week NOW, as part of a collaboration with the nonprofit investigative unit ProPublica, explores the controversial tactic of "preventative detention," a government plan that may detain suspects indefinitely without trial or even formal charges. Implementing such a plan may have far-reaching consequences on not just our fight against terrorism, but the integrity of the U.S. Constitution and the cause of human rights.

Washington Week also begins airing tonight on many PBS stations and sitting around the table with Gwen this week are Dan Balz (Washington Post), Jackie Calmes (New York Times), John Dickerson (CBS News and Slate) and Martha Raddatz (ABC News). Meanwhile Bonnie Erbe and her guests Sam Bennett, Amanda Carpenter, Karen Czarnecki and Eleanor Holmes Norton discuss the week's news on this week's edition of PBS' To The Contrary. Check local listings, on many stations, it begins airing tonight. And turning to broadcast TV, Sunday CBS' 60 Minutes offers:

The Age of Megafires Global warming is increasing the intensity and number of forest fires across the American West. Scott Pelley goes to the fire line to report. Watch Video
Combat in Afghanistan The enemy is on the rise in Afghanistan and Lara Logan's report from a forward operating base near Pakistan includes 60 Minutes footage of up-close combat. Watch Video
Mr. Ayers and Mr. Lopez Discovered living on the streets by Los Angeles Times newspaper columnist Steve Lopez, mentally ill musician Nathaniel Ayers has become the subject of a book by Lopez and now a Hollywood film. Morley Safer reports. Watch Video
60 Minutes Sunday, Sept. 6, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

On NPR today, Susan Page fills in as guest host on The Diane Rehm Show which begins airing at 10:00 a.m. EST (streaming online at that time as well). Panelists for the first hour (domestic hour) are Tony Blankley, David Corn (Mother Jones) and Ruth Marcus (Washington Post). For the second hour, the international hour, the panelists are Tom Gjelten (NPR), Michael Hirsh (Newsweek) and Kevin Sullivan (Washington Post).

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Obama takes the war, Obama takes the war, hi-ho . . .

How many more kids will President Obama sacrifice before he keeps his promise to end the occupation of Iraq and bring our youth home, not just send them to Afghanistan to die? What will it take for him to see the lessons we learned in Vietnam and those that Russia showed us in Afghanistan? The president is great in one thing: convincing the media to avoid reporting the deaths, continual deaths that is, and not preventing the Democrats from self-destruction (boy, are they in for a surprise in November). I used to vacation every year on Martha's Vineyard with our nine children; I wonder how many warriors died during Obama's time there? I voted for him and now I'm ashamed because of the wars, and his other broken promises of transparency, the lobbyists etc.
Please stop the killing; that would be one change he promised.
R. J. Deierlein
West Harrison

Above is a letter to the Lower Hudson Journal Valley. And yet . . . Ozarks First reports there will be a deployment ceremony this evening at Nutter Field House for 20 soldiers with the 13th Military Police Company of whom are headed for a one-year tour of duty in Iraq. And Travis Pillow (Gainesville Sun) reports on yesterday's ceremony for soldiers with the 347th Preventative Medicine Detachment who leave Monday for Iraq.

The unit's commander, 1st Lt. Anthony Jackson, said he is preparing for his fifth deployment. Previous missions have taken him to Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan, but leaving behind his 11-year-old son and 2-year-old daughter is still not easy.
"They can never get used to it," he said. "But they know they won't lose contact with me."
Spc. [Kevin] Haseney said it's easy to get preoccupied while serving overseas, but he plans to contact his 7-year-old daughter, Sierra, and his fiancee, Rhonda Tompkins, whenever he can.
"After two years of training, I get to go on this huge adventure, and they're going to be wondering if I'm O.K."

Last night's entry included the wrong numbers for the death toll in Iraq and I've corrected it and added this:

***0-4-09 Numbers corrected. Thank you to Eli, Joan and Keelan who were the first to e-mail and point out that the numbers wrong. "Last Thursday" link now goes to last Thursday and not a Thursday in April. ICCC is still down, 2 deaths were announced Thursday, the total of 4338 is those 2 added to 4336 which was the count on Sunday. ****

Eli, Joan and Keelan were the first three to e-mail about my error. They weren't the only ones. I'm sorry, I didn't catch it and I should have. The "Last Thursday" link went to an April "I Hate The War" and that was because I was going backwards trying to find the last time the point was made regarding Republicans would flip on the issue of the Iraq War. I went back into 2008 and found examples but I was sure it had been commented on this year. Then I remembered it was a Sunday and Chris Hill's nomination. During that, I had checked and ICCC was still down and then I just forgot about it as I wrote the entry. (I copy and paste the lyrics and the toll in and then write the entry.) It was my error and it was a huge one and my apologies for that.

Because ICCC is still down, it's difficult to tell when Todd Selge died in Iraq. The press isn't helping by refusing to say when he died or where. The Pioner Press notes he was 25-years-old and that his family has explained he died in Iraq while serving there.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

I Hate The War

As expected, it's happening. The worm is turning. The once pro-war Republicans are entering a new phase.

As noted in today's snapshot, George F. Will's "One Way Or Another, Leaving Iraq" (Washington Post) calls for US forces to leave Iraq and concludes:

If, in spite of contrary evidence, the U.S. surge permanently dampened sectarian violence, all U.S. forces can come home sooner than the end of 2011. If, however, the surge did not so succeed, U.S. forces must come home sooner.

The Democratic Party rode 'opposition' to the Iraq War to huge wins in 2006 and 2008. The voters believed them and expected that the Democrats would indeed end the illegal war. They did not do that. Even after they controlled both houses of Congress and the White House, they did not move to end the Iraq War.

You cannot run against them and not note this fact. Of course the GOP was going to turn against the Iraq War. We've gone over that repeatedly here. Most recently April 5, 2009 when noting Chris Hill's nomiantion for Ambassador to Iraq

The GOP senators were offering carefully worded questions, delivered very carefully. Why was that?
That doesn't happen in most hearings. No one comes off rehearsed (mainly because few have the time to be). So what was going on there? Turns out, they were preparing for clips that they can air if Iraq goes straight to hell between now and the 2010 elections. Chris Hill is unqualified and has no MidEast experience. Iraq is among the most important diplomatic posts at this point due to the perception that violence is down (and some say gone -- it's not gone, it hasn't even ceased).
It is a good guess that Iraq will yet again slap the Operation Happy Talkers in the face and this time the GOP's the one prepared to benefit from such an event. They're going to attack if that happens (I think it will happen) and they're not MoveOn. Meaning? They're not attacking Ray Odierno. They're going to point to Chris Hill. They're going to point to his ambassadorship. They also know that the 2007 benchmarks were never met. Three years later and they're not met. The GOP line of attack is going to be: "Hill had the progress that Peteraues and Crocker built and created and he wasted it. He is completely unqualified and we raised these issues when he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee." (I don't know Sam Brownback and I have been told his objection is very real to Hill's appointment. I'm not stating or inferring he participated in political theater. I am saying that those Republicans on the committee did.)
I think Hill's going to be confirmed. I believe he's unqualified for the post and, based on Iraq events since the start of the illegal war, Iraq will be the same quagmire where nothing is accomplished. The GOP's going to hang that on Hill. The Dems think they can turn Palin into the 2010 issue and that makes no sense at all. I've been told that it's the same as when the Republicans go after US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. And they went after her before she was Speaker. But the difference is that Pelosi was on the national stage as a member of Congress. Palin's a governor, it's a different level and she's got no huge impact on the national stage from her position. It would be as if Bully Boy Bush had decided to attack Governor Jennifer Granholm. It makes no sense. And since the attacks on Palin never end, you're begging to create a backlash of sympathy for Palin and you're also risking looking incredibly petty by making a governor the focus of all your scorn. It's ploy based on sexism and maybe it'll work but far more likely will be the GOP betting on Iraq.
The administration has no clue what a huge mistake they're making. The Republicans are not going to stick with Iraq forever. We've noted that here in 2007 and 2008. But by naming someone with no MidEast experience as ambassador to that country, the Democratic administration just gave the Republican Party their out on Iraq. It becomes, "We supported it. We supported the work Crocker and Petraeus did. And we stood firm and managed to get the violence down. And then President Obama appointed someone completely unqualified and all the progress vanished." That will be the argument and that will be how Republicans begin walking away from the Iraq War which is now Barack Obama's. And if the GOP plays this well, it takes the only card that Dems have had for the last few election cycles: That they're right on Iraq and the Republicans are wrong.

The Dems were happy to use Iraq when a Republican was in the White House. You'd have to be really thick-headed not to grasp that a Democrat in the White House and a continued Iraq War would mean Republicans would want to use the war to garner votes.

I'll leave to others' judgments as to how sincere George Will is in his column or how calculated he is? But he's put it out there and, yes, a Kagan has slapped him down already today. No surprise. They will not walk away from that illegal war. They have far too much vested in it. But they don't control the Republican Party. They wanted to and they might have succeeded if the Iraq War had been the "cakewalk" it was promised to be.

Others will join Will. Some will be sincere and some will just see it as a wonderful gift: A way to point out that the Democrats are being hypocrites: Insisting on ending the war NOW when Bush was in office and content to let things ride today.

For the bulk of the decade, the public has associated the Democratic Party with opposition to the Iraq War. That is their strength and what handed them both houses of Congress in 2006. The Republican playbook in the last 20 years has repeatedly been: Destroy your oponents strength.

Not play up their weak quality. It's always been identify their strength and then destroy it. At a time of war, John Kerry's a decorated war hero? Rip that apart, question it, smear it. Al Gore's a highly intelligent person? Attack that. (Calling him a liar was attacking his record -- calling him a liar was calling into question his intelligence and bringing him down to the same level as George W. Bush.) That's how they work. And some will be turning against the war simply because it fits into the pattern.

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

Last Thursday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4334. Tonight? 4338.
***0-4-09 Numbers corrected. Thank you to Eli, Joan and Keelan who were the first to e-mail and point out that the numbers wrong. "Last Thursday" link now goes to last Thursday and not a Thursday in April. ICCC is still down, 2 deaths were announced Thursday, the total of 4338 is those 2 added to 4336 which was the count on Sunday. ****

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