Monday, January 11, 2010

Gates and the no Iraq withdrawl discussions

Samantha Power gave a television interview in which she stated that US forces leaving Iraq in 16 months after Obama's inauguration was a best case scenario. The problem was that Obama had been running around the entirecountry repeating that 16 month mantra as the backbone of his stump speech.
Now that Obama is 12 months into his presidency we see that having all US forces out of Iraq in the first 16 months of his presidency was a best case scenario.
Samantha Power knew then what most Americans did not want to admit to themselves: that the withdrawal from Iraq would be a game of delays, excuses and residual forces. Geopolitically the US cannot leave without leaving its position of world domination behind.
The security agreement that was agreed to by the US and Iraqi governments at the end of George W. Bush's presidency sets the end of 2011 as the soft withdrawal date for all US troops from Iraq. There is also a withdrawal of 50,000 troops set to take place strategically two months before the Congressional midterm elections in August of this year.

The above is from Shaun Booth's "Obama knows the US can never leave Iraq" (Political Lore). The BBC revealed Samantha Power's interview late on Friday March 7, 2008 -- see that day's snapshot. For those who've forgotten, Barry O was campaigning as the 'peace candidate' (just like Richard Nixon) and endlessly playing his commercial "We want to end the war! Now!" And promising that he'd end the Iraq War in 16 months (in depth interviews offered weasel room but when before his adoring and stupefied throng of admirers, Barry kept it simple)and then, in a February speech in Houston, Texas, making it even quicker! But it was all a lie. Here's the key portion of that BBC interview:

Stephen Sackur: You said that he'll revisit it [the decision to pull troops] when he goes to the White House. So what the American public thinks is a commitment to get combat forces out within sixteen months, isn't a commitment is it?

Samantha Power: You can't make a commitment in whatever month we're in now, in March of 2008 about what circumstances are going to be like in January 2009. We can't even tell what Bush is up to in terms of troops pauses and so forth. He will of course not rely upon some plan that he's crafted as a presidential candidate or as a US Senator.

That's why Samantha Power left the campaign, that interview. Not for calling Hillary a monster. She realized (she left on her own, she was not asked to leave) that her loose lips (flapping all over Europe) were about to sink Barry O's ship. By announcing her departure from the campaign hours before the BBC announced their interview, she knew the Barack adoring (bought and paid for) press would take the attitude of, "She's gone now so we're not interested in what she said." And that's what the Big Press largely did (notable exceptions being the Washington Post and the Boston Globe) while Panhandle Media types rushed to ignore reality and instead insist that poor Samantha this and poor Samantha that. (See the crap that John Nichols and Davy D, for example, served up. Of course, Davy D kept calling her "Samantha Powers" -- a further indication of how little he knew.)

Booth goes on to note a December 31st interview US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave to Charlie Rose where he declared the December 31, 2011 'withdrawal' date will probably see "tens of thousands" of US service members still in Iraq.

Wednesday, David Culter (Reuters) reported 1 US soldier died "while on patrol in Baghdad." The Pensacola News Journal notes that the soldier, Spc David Andrew Croft, Jr., would have turned 23 last Friday and is survived by his mother Vicki Croft. Kevin Smetana (St. Petersburg Times) quotes Vicki Croft stating, "That's all he talked about was coming home. He was ready to come home."

US troops continuing deploying to Iraq. Jason Morton (Tuscaloosa News) reports, "For the second time since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began, the Alabama Army National Guard's 2101st Transportation Company out of Demopolis, Aliceville and Butler is going overseas." For almost a third, it will be their second deployment to Iraq (that percentage deployed back in June 2004)and a send-off ceremony was held Saturday at Demopolis High School. WHDH notes a send-off today in Hingham, Massachusetts for 70 members of the National Guard's 1058th Transportation Company. Meanwhile Walter Pincus (Washington Post) reports, "The Defense Logistics Agency is preparing to contract out delivery of more than $10 billion worth of food to U.S. troops and other government personnel serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Jordan. The solicitation is broken into two contracts -- one for Afghanistan for five years and another for Iraq, Kuwait and Jordan for four years." And Steve Green (Las Vegas Sun) reports Vision Airlines Inc. crew members' lawsuit over not receiving "extra hazard pay for flying dangerous missions into Iraq and Afghanistan" is going forward

In this morning's New York Times, the editorial board offers "Privatized War, and Its Price:"

Judge Urbina correctly ruled that the government violated the Blackwater agents' protection against self-incrimination. He sketched an inept prosecution that relied on compelled statements made by the agents to officials of the State Department, who employed the North Carolina security firm to protect convoys and staff in Iraq. That, he said, amounted to a "reckless violation of the defendants’ constitutional rights."
During the presidential campaign, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton competed over who would take the toughest line against mercenaries. It is clear that the only way for President Obama to make good on the rhetoric is to get rid of the thousands of private gunmen still deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports on the Blackwater settlement some Iraqis agreed to (including 16 of the 17 families who lost loved ones in a Baghdad shoot up in September of 2007). Sly notes that some Iraqis who settled now cry "unfair" insisting their Iraqi attorneys told them Blackwater was about to suffer arrests and confiscations. They want to nullify their settlements and get new offers. Here's reality, what's "going to happen"? It's never happened.

You don't make a judgment based on what's "going to happen"? Now you can survey a scene and consider the possibilities and make a choice (also known as a gamble though some prefer "educated guess").

I have no idea on Iraqi law -- I don't believe their justices do -- but in the US, if you went in and said, "Well I took this offer but don't want it now because I only took it back when I thought all the company's assets would be seized by the government and that didn't end up happening so . . ."?

The judge would most likely yawn at the end of your overly long excuse and then ask: "You accepted the offer?"


"Of your own free will?"


"And you're now unhappy with outside details not a part of your actual offer?"


"Next case."

Sly reports:

Fawzia Sharif, 53, whose husband, Ali Khalil, was among those killed at Nisoor Square, said Sunday that three Iraqi lawyers and one American attorney tried to persuade her to accept a settlement. She would not disclose the amount, but said it did not exceed the reported figures.
"At the beginning I refused," Sharif said. "They spent three hours sitting with us and beseeching us to sign. They planted despair in our hearts, saying they are going to announce bankruptcy and the government is going to confiscate all their assets and you will not get any amount at all if you do not sign."
"I feel I was deceived by them," she said. "They told me the company is going to go bankrupt and this was my last chance. But now I wonder, how could this happen to such a big company?"

Liz Sly notes that Susan Burke wasn't at that meeting. For those late to the party, as I've disclosed before, I know Susan Burke. She's a wonderful attorney and a wonderful person and no where near as cold hearted/clear-eyed when it comes to the law as I am so do not take the above (or any other) legal analysis to be indicative of what she would think. But my attitude is, "You took the offer. Did you get your money? Good. That's all that concerns you. Not what you thought might happen to the company or hoped might happen to the company. The law deals with realities not with misplaced wishes."

(Not noted in any of the press, by the way, is the fact that the deals negotiated for the dead, the payment? Significantly higher than the coins the US military tossed out at the families whose loved ones were accidentally killed by the US military. That's not to compare Blackwater's massarce with accidental or "accidental" US military killings. It is noting that if we're going to toss around the dollar amounts, we should probably note that the settlements were far greater than what the US military has offered for Iraqi deaths. Does that mean "Be grateful!" Not at all. It does mean, if we're discussing the dollar amounts -- and the press is -- you might provide a point of reference.)

Let's stay with the law for a minute. Stare decisis. That's something most Supreme Court Justice nominees give lip service to -- especially those who don't want to offer a take on Roe v. Wade. They'll fall back on stare decisis. And that's translated (popularly from Latin) to mean that they will respect previous decisions, legal precedents. Which allows those of us who are Roe supporters (I am) to believe, "Okay, they have respect for the law. Roe is established law and Roe is somewhat safe." (Roe is never safe. As years of chipping away at it has proven.)

In her confirmation hearings, Sonia Sotomayor gave the usual lip service to Stare decisis (including stating that a question that would prompt reconsideration of established law should be: "Has there been a change in society that shows that the factual findings?"). So listen to Nina Totenberg's Morning Edition report (NPR, link also has text) and wonder why stare decisis is not mentioned and why the Court deciding to hear a case on an issue they just decided in June. That's where Panhandle Media should be today. But they'll most likely skip it as usual when it actually matters. (The case, by the way, is itself important. Should the defense have the right to face the forensic analyst in court? Any reading of the Constitution should argue "yes." Which is what the Court found in June. But prosecutors think Sotomayor will be more willing to ignore that principle and since she's been added to the Court since that verdict was handed down, they're basically getting a retrial.) Also on today's Morning Edition, Quil Lawrence reports some reality on the one-time 'model' Anbar.

Joel notes this at Courage to Resist (and if you use the link you can hear the song):

Marc Hall jailed for angry 'Stop-Loss' Hip Hop song


Please donate to the Marc Hall Free Speech Defense Fund at

By Courage to Resist. Updated December 22, 2009

Stop-lossed Army Specialist Marc Hall (aka Hip Hop artist Marc Watercus) was placed in the Liberty County Jail Friday, December 11 for speaking out against the continuing policy that has barred him from exiting the military, including recording an angry and explicit song. Servicemembers do not completely give up their rights to free speech, and certainly not when they do so artistically while off duty. However, the military intends to hold Marc in the county jail for months of pre-trial punishment before court martial. This could become a precedent setting case for boundaries of dissent within the ranks. Free Marc! Free speech! Free the troops from Stop Loss!

Bonnie notes Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "What Harry Worry?" And last night the following community sites updated:

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thomas friedman is a great man