U.S. officials said Biden's visit, his third to the country as vice president, had been planned weeks in advance as a routine engagement with Iraqi leaders as the U.S. prepares to draw down troops this year. But the controversial decision by an Iraqi government commission to ban at least 511 candidates from the March balloting because of suspected ties to the outlawed Baath Party of the former regime has added a sense of urgency to Biden's meetings today with Iraqi leaders.
Biden's national security advisor Antony Blinken said the vice president would offer no specific proposals to resolve the controversy, but would emphasize the Obama administration's concern that the electoral process should be transparent and inclusive.
The above is from Liz Sly's "Biden in Iraq to discuss election crisis" (Los Angeles Times) and the BBC adds, "Mr Biden began by meeting the UN secretary general's special representative for Iraq, Ad Melkert, for a working breakfast, before holding talks with Prime Minister Nouri Maliki." And those are the only outlets I'm in the mood for. I'm not in the mood for the liars.
I'm not in the mood for the news that Biden promises the US (government) will appeal the Blackwater decision followed by the insistence that this promise has nothing to do with attempts to get Nouri & Posse to stop banning candidates.
Nor am I in the mood to pretend -- sorry friends at the State Dept, that Biden's promise means anything. It will be appealed. If he gives his word it will be, it will be. But the people the US installed in Iraq have no respect for democracy nor do they respect justice. And that's why the promise can be made. On their end, they hear "appeal!" It means something. It means nothing. Read the legal decision by Justice Ricardo Urbina. There's no wiggle room. While in Iraq, Nouri can order the judiciary around, in the US, the judiciary is its own separate and equal branch of government.
Appeal? Sure, why not. But nothing's changed in the case.
Nor am I really high on the press clucking in some quarters about US 'influence.' Reality, US troops on the ground influence the election. If the US-installed government in Baghdad doesn't want US influence, then pull all US troops out now. Of course doing that would mean Nouri's government would instantly topple and it would be that much more difficult for him to campaign as Queen of Law and Order.
In the real world, Richard Woods and Michael Smith (Times of London) report on the storm Tony Blair will be walking into when he gives testimony to the Iraq Inquiry next week:
TONY BLAIR is expected to face damaging new claims that the invasion of Iraq was illegal when he appears before the inquiry into the war this week.
The inquiry is to hear evidence from Sir Michael Wood, former chief legal adviser to the Foreign Office, who is understood to have consistently told the government that there was no legal basis for war.
Wood is to appear on Tuesday, the same day as Elizabeth Wilmshurst, the former deputy legal adviser at the Foreign Office. Previously attention has focused on Wilmshurst, who resigned at the outbreak of the war, declaring it amounted to a “crime of aggression”.
Meanwhile the Iraqi military has surrounded a council building in Tikrit. In some of today's reported violence, Reuters notes a Mosul mortar attack which left one police officer injured, 3 corpses discovered in Mosul and, dropping back to Friday, a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured the Interior Ministry's Sahban Ali and two bodyguards and a Baghdad roadside bombing which left two Iraqi soldiers wounded.
Lawrence Velvel's "President O’Bomber Denies CIA Not Connecting Dots On Terrorist Plans" (Bodhi Thunder):
In an exclusive interview, President Barack O’Bomber said it was not true “that our (CIA) analysts were not connecting the dots” that might have stopped Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab’s attempt to blow up Northwest Flight 253 from Amsterdam to Detroit Christmas day.
“There were 200 of them(agents) in Langley connecting the dots in the little books we give them. They were coloring in the pictures too after they connected the dots,” the president told this reporter.
O’Bomber said he received a phone call from ex-Vice President Dick Cheney saying the only way to stop terrorists is to stop people from flying, forcing terrorists to have to blow up planes on the ground, where nobody will get hurt. Cheney told O’Bomber that nobody ever heard of an airplane falling out of the ground, so people will be safe.
“Cheney suggested to me that we give all people who want to be terrorists the key to the big parking lot in the Arizona desert where all the thousands of airplanes not currently in use are kept,” O’Bomber said.
“This would enable the terrorists to blow up all the airplanes they want, with nobody being hurt. As a side benefit, we would find out who the terrorists are because they would have to apply for keys to the parking lot, and we could also track them on the parking lot to find out what particular type of plane each likes to blow up,” the president added.
He said CIA failed to stop the Christmas day bombing attempt because it was not “believable that a Nigerian banker would turn in his own son. So the analysts were certain that his coming to the embassy to tell it he feared his son had become a terrorist was an obvious ruse designed to throw us off the track.”
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