Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, July 20, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraq Inquiry learns a number of details about the intelligence assessments before the start of the Iraq War (which did not support an invasion), the US Congress learns that the US may never leave Iraq, violence continues, Thomas E. Ricks makes an ass out of himself, and more.
I'm not in the mood.  The biggest little s**t these days is Thomas E. Ricks who just gets bitchier (and fatter) each day.  No longer a journalist, just a stupid little cheerleader for War Crimes, we now ignore him.  But he's such a little s**t that we'll start the snapshot by calling the piece of trash out.  There's no excuse for what he did and it goes way beyond the pale.  Because Avatar was against Rick's precious counter-intelligence, he trashed the movie and we could all just roll our eyes because Ricks' opinion on film stopped mattering somewhere around the time What's New Pussycat? was in general release.  Though no one -- except the New York Times -- appeared to notice, Michael Hastings' Rolling Stone article was all about counter-intelligence and it wasn't pretty.  So in order to grudge f**k Michael, Thomas E. Ricks puts I Lost My Love in Baghdad down as one of the "Ten worst Iraq war memoirs." The book is about Hastings time in Iraq working for Newsweek and with his signifcant other Andi Parhamovich.  The book is about her death and his dealing with it.  It takes really bitchy person to attack Hastings via that book but bitchy is all Thomas E. Ricks has left.  Anybody else get the feeling that if he'd get a breast reduction, Thomas E. Ricks would stop being such a s**t?  Hey, Thomas Ricks, I see an elderly woman with a walker trying to cross the street -- if you hurry, I'm sure you can trip her.  What a low life.
In London today the Iraq Inquiry continued receiving public testimony. The big witness today was MI5 Director General (2002 - 2007) Eliza Manningham-Buller. Prior to her testifying, a [PDF format warning] letter she sent to John Gieve (Home Office) was declassified [though some parts remain redacted].  Gieve was the Permanent Secretary of the Home Office at that time and the position provided oversight to MI5 (which is Military Intelligence, Section 5).
We have been giving some thought to the possible terrorist consequences should the US, possibly with UK support, seek to topple Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. I thought that you might find it helpful to see our current assessment, together with an outline of our own preparations.
2. Since the end of the Gulf War Iraq has been implicated in a small number of murders of Iraqi oppositionists in the Middle East but only one terrorist plan directed against a Western target -- a planned car bomb attack on ex-President Bush in Kuwait in 1993.  There is no credible intelligence that demonstrates that Iraq was implicated in planning the 11 September attacks. 
3. We judge that the current period of heightened tension between Iraq and the US is unlikely to prompt Saddam to order terrorist strikes against Coalition interests.  Even limited military action (for example, cruise missile attacks such as the those in response to the attempted murder of ex-President Bush) would be unlikely to prompt such a response.  We assess that Saddam is only likely to order terrorist attacks if he perceives that the survival of his regime is threatened.
In the UK
4. If Saddam were to initiate a terrorist campaign, we assess that Iraqi capability to mount attacks in the UK is currently limited. We are aware of no Iraqi intelligence (DGI) officers based in the UK.  There are up to    DGI agents here who report on anti-regime activities. But most of these agents lack the inclination or capability to mount terrorist attacks.  So if the DGI wished to mount attacks in the UK it would need to import teams from overseas.  It is possible that some Palestinian groups based outside the UK might be willing to mount attacks in support of Iraq,
5. Nonetheless, in case Iraq should try to co-ordinate action by existing UK-based agents, or to import its own or a surrogate terrorist capability, we will be taking a number of steps over the coming months, including:
reviewing our knowledge of past and present DGI visiting case officers to identify and disrupt any increase in DGI activity; 
putting in place arrangements to deal with (and capitalise on) any increase in defectors, volunteers or callers to the Service's public telephone number who might have relevant information.  Experience during the Gulf War leads us to expect an increase in such contact with the public in the event of conflict;
with the police, maintaining coverage of the Palestinian community, some of whom, as during the Gulf War, may react adversely to any threat to Iraq.
6. You may recall that, at the time of the Gulf War, a number of suspected Iraqi sympathisers were detained pending deportation on grounds of national security.  These included members of Iraqi support organisations, as well as individuals believed to be associated with Palestinian terrorist groups, such as the Abu Nidhal Organisation.  We currently assess that the number of individuals in the UK who potentially pose sufficent threat to be subject to deportation or detnetion is small.  We are currently reviewing the cases of those who could pose a threat to establish whether there might be grounds for action. 
7. We believe that Middle Eastern countries would be the most likely location should Saddam order terrorist attacks on Western interests.  Other locations, for instance SE Asia featured in attempted DGI co-ordinated attacks during the Gulf War and are thus also a possibility. We will, of course, continue to liaise closely with FCO colleagues to ensure they are in a position to brief missions if the situation develops.
Chemical or biological (CB) threat
8.  There were media stories during the Gulf War suggesting that Iraq planned to mount CB terrorist attacks in Western countries, and a 1998 scare (arising from a tale put about by Iraqi emigres) that Saddam planned to send anthrax abroad in scent bottles. Given Iraq's documented CB capabilities, we can anticipate similar stories again.
9. Most Iraqi CB terrorist attacks have been assassination attempts against individuals, often emigres. 
Iraq used chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq war and also against civilian Kurds in 1988, but there is no intelligence that Iraq has hitherto planned or sought mass-casualty CB terrorist attacks. As with conventional terrorism, we assess that Saddam would only use CB against Western targets if he felt the survival of his regime was in doubt. In these circumstances, his preferred option would be to use conventional military delivery systems against targets in the region, rather than terrorism.
10. There have for some years been reports of contact between the Iraqi regime and Al Qa'ida about CB. But we have yet to see convincing intelligence that useful co-operation developed, or that Iraq provided genuine CB materials.
11. I am copying this letter to Stephen Wright, John Scarlett, Julian Miller and Tom McKane.
E L Manningham-Buller
Deputy Director General
That letter was sent in March 2002, nearly a year before the start of the Iraq War.  And that was the intelligence assessment.  At Committee member Usha Prashar's request, Manningham-Buller explained the Security Service's tasks: "collect intelligence from a rance of sources, some of them secret, on threats to the United Kingdom and to develop that intelligence, to analyse it and, where necessary, to act on it in mitigating or reducing those threats and also using intelligence generated by us to provide information to government on which policy can be placed and on which more general countermeasures can be developed."  Committee Member Prashar wondered about "the intelligence pciture" on Iraq? 
Eliza Manningham-Buller: But if I can refer to the letter from me as Deputy Director General from March 2002 which was released -- a redacted version was released today, six months before I became Director General we felt we had a pretty good intelligence picture of a threat from Iraq within the UK and to British interests, and you will see from that letter we thought it was very limited and containable.
We'll move ahead to the start of Committee Member Lawrence Freedman's questioning. Before we do, in the US, Bully Boy Bush and his lackeys were fond of tossing in "mushroom cloud" among their lies.  In England, in the leadup to the Iraq War, liar and prime minister Tony Blair publicly insisted that Iraq could deploy WMD on England in 45 minutes.  That was a lie.  But he insisted it was true.
Eliza Manningham-Buller: As I said to Lady Prashar, we regarded the threat, the direct threat from Iraq as low. We did think -- and it comes in that letter -- that Saddam Hussein might resort to terrorism in the theatre if he thought his regime was toppled, but we did not believe he had the capability to do anything much in the UK. That turned out to be the right judgment. What the letter -- has been redacted from the letter, like I say, in general terms is that is partly as a result of action we took. But I don't think the threat in the UK was anything other than very limited.
Still in the exchange between Freedman and Manningham-Buller.  And when you read this, grasp that in 2002 the CIA knew this. Therefore the White House knew it.  And the British intelligence knew the White House wasn't happy with the truth the CIA was providing.
Committee Member Lawrence Freedman: Can I just ask one final question, which is related to the things that Iraqis might have done, and this refers to the proposition that Saddam's regime were in some way responsible for providing support, potential support to Al-Qaeda, and even might have been involved in 9/11.  Did you give any credence to these sorts of assessments?
Eliza Manningham-Buller: No. I think you have material suggesting that there had been intelligence on occasional contact in the past but I think -- I wrote this down when I was preparing for today -- there was no credible intelligence to suggest that connection and that was the judgment, I might say, of the CIA. It was not a judgment that found favor with some parts of the American machine, as you have also heard evidence on, which is why Donald Rumsfeld started an intelligence unit in the Pentagon to seek an alternative judgment.
Committee Member Roderic Lyne asked about her Queen Mary College speech in 2006 where she stated that the Iraq War had increased the chances that England could be a terrorist target. She informed him, "I think it is worth saying that I needed the approval of the Home Secretary to make public speeches and he cleared the text with me, and John Reid and I discussed that part of it and he agreed that I should say that in public."
Committee Member Roderic Lyne: So you're saying you had evidence that the Iraq conflict, our involvment in the Iraq conflict was a motivation, a trigger, for people who were involved in the attacks in London in July 2005, who were going to Afghanistan to fight. Were there other attacks or planned attacks in which you had evidence that Iraq was a motivating factor?
Eliza Manningham-Buller:  Yes. I mean, if you take the video wills that were retrieved on various occasions after various plots, where terrorists who had expected to be dead explained why they had done what they did, it features. It is part of what we call the single narrative, which is the view of some that everything the west was doing was part of a fundamental hostility to the Muslim world and to Islam, of which manifestations were Iraq and Afghanistan, but which pre-dated those because it pre-dated 9/11, but it was enhance by those events.
Lyne asked her to speculate about how such a threat might have been lessened even with the Iraq War proceeding and she responded that the peace could have been planned for, that following the initial invasion, measures could have been taken to return Iraqi lives to normal.  "The insistence, for example," she offered, "of the Americans on sacking, you know, much of the Civil Service and the Army, the Ba'athists, was an error. Others much better informed than me will have given you evidence on that. I was asked on a visit to the United States on other matters to talk to Paul Wolfowitz about this issue and to seek to persuade him that it was not sensible to do this."  Lyne asked if she managed to "convert him?"  "Not a hope," Manningham-Buller replied.
Along with Manningham-Buller, Maj Gen Andy Salmon and Lt Gen Louis Lillywhite (Surgeon General, 2006 - 2009) (link goes to video and transcript options).  Manningham-Buller was the witness to watch.  BBC News notes that she's testified the Iraq War has "substantially" upped the chance of England being a target for terrorism and that the threat assessment wasn't "substantial enough" to merit going to war: "If you are going to go to war, you need to have a pretty high threshold to decide on that." Gordon Rayner (Telegraph of London) quotes her stating, "Our involvement in Iraq radicalised, for want of of a better word, a whole generation of young people -- not a wholel generation, a few among a generation -- who saw our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan as being an attack on Islam. . . . Arguably we gave Osama bin Laden his Iraqi jihad so that he was able to move into Iraq in a way that he was not before." Miranda Richardson (Sky News) emphasizes the same quote Rayner did and the link has video of Manningham-Buller testifying. Andrew Sparrow (Guardian) is live blogged the testimony. Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) reports on the testimony here. What stood out to me this morning while streaming the testimony -- and still does -- was that the big moments include her assessment that Saddam Hussein was contained and not a threat to England. And that this was in writing in 2002.  The Inquiry heard testimony Monday as well.  Chris Ames covers the military testimony here.
What may be most interesting about the coverage is how it's being ignored.  Not in England. (As noted above and you can also click here for England's Channel 4 coverage.) And not in the Arab world (Al Jazeera among others).  Emma Alberici is covering it for Australia's ABC.  But in the US.  AP has covered the testimony of Manningham-Buller with several stories and Glenn Greenwald (Salon) covers it.  But we were noting it this morning and, all this time later, where is the US press?  UPI, let's not forget them.  But shouldn't US outlets be all over this?  British spy chief testifies that Donald Rumsfeld set up new 'intel' division when the White House refused to accept the CIA's assessment?  Did you notice that she knew the name of everyone she felt deserved blame?  Did you notice she faulted the de-Ba'athification process?  Did you notice she did not pin it on Paul Bremer?  (It was the White House who gave the orders to Bremer though a number try to now pretend Bremer was acting on his own.)  A year before the war started, British intelligence judged Saddam not to be a risk.  The US press sold the Iraq War and has repeatedly attempted to dispute some of the realities Manningham-Buller testified to.  They owe it to their audiences to report on her testimony.  The Liberal Democrats (UK political party now in power with the Conservative Party via a power-sharing agreement) found the testimony newsworthy and issued the following today:
Commenting on Eliza Manningham-Buller's evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry, in which she said the conflict in Iraq 'substantially' increased the threat to the UK from international terrorism, Co-Chair of the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Committee on Foreign Affairs and Defence, Tim Farron said:                      
"This is a shattering blow for Labour's claim that the Iraq war did not increase the terrorist threat to Britain.               
"We already knew that this was a disastrous war for our own brave service personnel and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Now we have the head of MI5 at the time saying it increased the threat to Britain --  the precise opposite of what Labour claimed it would do.
"As Foreign Secretary in the last Government, David Miliband must come clean on why his administration misled the British people on this issue for so long."      
Notes to editors                                                
1. Appearing before the Chilcot Inquiry today, Eliza Manningham-Buller said:          "What Iraq did was produce a fresh impetus to people prepared to engage in terrorism."                   
"Al Qaida had not focused on the UK. It attacked us abroad in 2003 but it became clear that its ambition was to attack us in the United Kingdom."            
2. When asked by Roderic Lyne, "To what extent did the conflict in Iraq exacerbate the overall threat your service and your fellow services were having to deal with from international terrorism?", Manningham-Buller replied, "Substantially".                                  
3. Labour has long denied that the Iraq invasion led to an increased terrorist threat against the UK. In 2004, Jack Straw said: "No one should get the idea that somehow if you were a country which was opposed to the military action in Iraq, you are less of a target for al-Qaida."                        
Today CNN reports, "The United States has spent more than $1 trillion on wars since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, a recently released Congressional report says. Adjusting for inflation, the outlays for conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world make the 'war on terrorism' second only to World War II." And yet the United Nations reports:
The United Nations humanitarian arm warned today that a lack of funding is hampering efforts to assist vulnerable Iraqis, with food distributions to hundreds of thousands of pregnant women and schoolchildren already having been suspended.        
So far, only $22.3 million -- or 12 per cent -- of the required $187.7 million sought for the 2010 humanitarian action plan for Iraq, which was launched six months ago, has been received, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
"We appeal to donors not to give up on their commitment to the Iraqi people and to help pave the way for Iraq's future development," urged Christine McNab, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in the country.               
The lack of funding has already resulted in the World Food Programme (WFP) suspending food distributions to 800,000 pregnant and nursing women and malnourished children, as well as to 960,000 schoolchildren.     
In addition, the livelihoods of 500,000 drought-affected people in the Suleymaniyah and Dahuk governorates are threatened, and some have started to become displaced.
While there was a plan to support 22,500 vulnerable IDP families with emergency shelter, this will now have to be suspended as well, OCHA noted.                                
"Thousands of households will therefore be left to continue living in desperate shelter conditions, unable to be protected from often severe climatic conditions and vulnerable to sickness through inadequate water and sanitation provision," the Office stated in a news release.                 
There's always money to destroy human lives.  It's only when it's time to spend on improving lives that governments balk. Which is how the Iraqi refugee situation continues.  Which is how so much continues.  Sammy Ketz (AFP) reports on Sheikh Alaa Aziz' regret that a religious ceremony for Sabeans that used to take all day and night was accomplished by early afternoon because "there's nobody left already. It's really sad, everybody is emigrating."
Violence never stops in Iraq.
DPA (via the Hindu) reports that a Baquba car bombing has claimed 8 lives and left twenty-two people wounded while a Kirkuk bombing injured three police officers. Tang Danlu (Xinhua) adds, "The powerful blast destroyed three houses in the Shiite Turkman neighborhood, the source said. A one-year-and-a-half child was among the dead and a woman was among the wounded, the source added." Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports Sahwa Hameed Hasen al Zowab'i's Baghdad home was targeted with a bombing which wounded "his wife and daughter," a Jdaidat al Shat car bombing targeting pilgrims claimed 4 lives and left four wounded, a Kirkuk roadside bombing wounded three police officers, a Mosul bombing injured six people, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed 1 life and a Tikrit roadside bombing which wounded four police officers. Reuters notes a Qara Tappa car bombing claimed 2 lives and left seventeen injured while a Kirkuk roadside bombing injured an Iraqi soldier and, dropping back to yesterday, a Basra roadside bombing which injured three soldiers.

Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 suspected suicide bomber shot dead in Mosul and a Baghdad attack on Agricultural Minister Deputy Muhammed Kheleel Wardi which left him "severly injured".
In other violence, fighting continues on Iraq's northern border. Steve Bryant and Benjamin Harvey (Bloomberg News) report continued fighting between the PKK and Turkish military has resulted in the deaths of "at least six Turkish soldiers" and that the fighting continues. The PKK is a Kurdish group -- labeled a terrorist organization by many governments including Turkey, Iraq and the US -- which seeks an autonomous Kurdish homeland among other things. Press TV adds, "The PKK has intensified its militant attacks against Turkey since May 31, when they stormed a Turkish naval base in the port city of Iskenderun, killing six Turkish soldiers." Seyhmus Cakan, Pinar Aydinli and Daren Butler (Reuters) explain, "Most of the PKK's estimated 4,000 fighters are based in the mountains of neighbouring northern Iraq, from where they launch attacks on military targets in southeast Turkey."
Grasping there's no way to make sense of Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) doesn't try to hide the question marks when noting Ayad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr's face-to-face in Syria yesterday, "But in the calculus of Iraqi politics, yesterday's enemy can become tomorrow's friend. And Sadr's relationship with Maliki soured two years ago after the prime minister ordered his security forces to attack Sadr's militia in 2008. Will Allawi and Sadr's huddle break the logjam? Time will tell."  Citing Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Today's Zaman notes the meet up and the role Turkey's official played in what's being billed as "positive developments" towards Iraq forming a government.  March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. Three months and two days later, still no government. 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. It's four months and five days and, in 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. Today makes it four months and thirteen days without any government being established. Al Sumaria TV notes, "Head of Al Iraqiya List Iyad Allawi affirmed that it has been agreed with Sayyed Moqtada Al Sadr on the necessity to accelerate the formation of an inclusive government."
While Turkey's government may be hopeful things are moving, every one is not so sure.  James Jeffrey is currently the US Ambassador to Turkey and he made statements that were a bit more vague today when he appeared before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Senator John Kerry chairs the Committee and Jeffrey was appearing before them as US President Barack Obama's latest nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq.  Chris Hill currently holds the post and has been a disaster.  Unlike Hill, Jeffrey is already one step ahead since he has experience in the region.
Chair John Kerry: Few Americans know Iraq better than today's nominee.  Ambassador Jeffrey has served as Deputy Chief of Mission in Baghdad and as coordinator for Iraq policy at both the White House and State Department. Most recently he served as Ambassador to Turkey. He's also a native of Melrose, Massachusetts, so I'm especially pleased to welcome him here today.
That would go over better if Kerry hadn't also praised Chris Hill in his confirmation hearing (see the March 25 and 26, 2009 snapshots).  Equally true is that some of Kerry's statements (as disclosed before, I know Kerry and have since the seventies) were laughable. Some were frightening.  On the latter, "As the remaining American military forces come home by the end of 2011, our civilians will not only be responsible for resolving Iraq's many outstanding political diplomatic issues. They will also take on responsibilities previously performed by our troops, including police training and providing security for diplomatic missions outside Baghdad."  Uh, John, as you damn well know, police training and providing security are not civilian duties.  As you should know, if the US leaves in 2011 (yeah, you're doubtful as well), the US should not "be responsible for resolving Iraq's many outstanding political diplomatic issues."  Where the hell does that come from? Oh, right, we're not really offering Iraq sovereignty.  I forget.  He noted the approximately 4,400 US service members killed in the Iraq War (4412 is the current toll). He noted the political stalemate and how it wasn't "clear whether a resolution is days, weeks or months away." While sticking to the problems facing Iraq, he was on stronger ground -- but he's always had a strong grasp on the various factions competing for power in Iraq.
Senator Richard Lugar is the Ranking Member on the Committee.  With Hill, the Republicans opposed him.  This was a strategy -- and apparently a successful one since Hill has been such a loser. The strategy with Hill was to pin it on the Democrats and on Barack.  'Things were successful before Barack screwed up by making Hill the ambassador.'  That's how they begin the walk away from Iraq.  When we noted that in real time, a number of people insisted it would never happen.  There are Republican members of Congress -- besides Ron Paul and Walter Jones -- who express it's time to leave Iraq and you saw more manuevering from Michael Steele recently when he called Afghanistan Obama's war.  Yes, there was a push-back from some Republican members but Steele remains in his job.  If you're paying attention, you're seeing how Republicans plan to pin the wars -- wars Barack has continued and made his own -- on him. 
All of that made Lugar's remarks especially interesting.
Ranking Member Richard Lugar: While making fewer headlines, the situation in Iraq continues to be vital to the national security of the United States. Iraq held parliamentary elections on March 7, 2009, but an agreement on who will be the Prime Minister may not be concluded for several months. The redeployment of American forces in Iraq has begun, and by September, all but 50,000 U.S. troops will have departed the country. President Obama has said that by the end of 2011, all US troops will be out of Iraq. Plans submitted by the Administration suggest that US involvement in Iraq will remain robust well beyond that with more than 5,000 diplomats and civilian advisers working with civil society and the Iraqi government. The uncertain political situation creates risks for our transition plans. Our military has been involved in areas of governance far beyond security and turning over those critical responsibilities will be challenging. The State Dept has asked for more than $800 million in start-up costs for a police mentoring and training program. The program envisions having 350 advisors at three camps who will fan out to 50 sites in the country, about half of which would be reachable by ground and the rest requiring air support. With the military's departure, we are told, the Dept may hire as many as 7,000 contract security personnel.  An AP article last month suggested the Iraq mission would need the equivalent of a squadron of Blackhawk helicopters, 50 ambush-protected vehicles and equipment to protect against rockets and mortars.  It is important that the Administration flesh out how all the pieces of this unprecedented operation will fit together in Iraq as American troops depart.
Jeffrey outlined the big concerns in Iraq today and did so very well.  If there was an interest group within the US that felt left out, I can't imagine who they were.  He even addressed the plight of Iraqi Christians.  He was well informed -- again, he knows the region -- and he'll be confirmed without objection.  He has strong ties to many Republicans -- including on the Committee -- and he has regional experience.  In his opening remarks, he also thanked a number of people including Barack, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, his wife Gdrun, his children Jahn and Julia and his late parents Herbert and Helen Jeffrey. Luger and Kerry had to step out of the hearing and left Senator Bob Casey Jr. in charge as acting chair.
Senator Bob Casey: One of the -- one of the overiding issues that I had a sense of at the end of our visit [to Iraq recently] -- and, of course, you can only learn so much in two days, but we did a learn a lot, especially about the security situation.  We saw one graphic presentation by way of a chart which very simply -- by way of cataloguing and therefore plotting on a graph the number of [. . .] violent incidents, suicide vests, car bombs, those kinds of violent incidents.  When you looked at the six month period at the end of '06 and the first six months of 2007, in both time periods, it numbered above a 1,000. So well over 2,000 for roughtly a one-year period. When you compare the same to the first six months of 2010 in terms of suicide vests, suicide bombs and that kind of substantial violence, the number was -- I don't remember the exact number was somewhere in the neighborhood of fifty.  Fifty to a hundred at the most. So obviously it's come down a lot.  And that's good news. To highlight when we have, uh, a little bit of good news.
Why is that good news?  The number fell due to the Iraqi refugee crisis more than anything but why the hell, Bob Casey, are you using 2006 and 2007 as your benchmarks?  Did the Iraq War start then? No, it did not.  (Casey's numbers are incorrect by the way.  They're too low -- 2,000 for 12 months during the 'civil war' -- way too low.)  It seems to make peopel feel good to take the all time worst and use that as the benchmark.  But that wasn't the start of the war.  Nor do his numbers acknowledge the fact that violence has been on the increase since February 2009.  Why the hell, in fact, is Casey comparing 2010 to three years ago as opposed to comparing it to the years immediately before it?  What a bunch of crap.  It's only 'good news' because you've got your finger the scale.
Casey prattled on. And on.  And finally came to something resembling a question.  Jeffrey began his reply with, "I've seen similar charts as well.  They document at least a 90% drop in violence from the period you cited -- at the peak of the attacks from 2006 and 2007 [. . .]"
It was crap.  Casey wasn't prepared to chair and he was too busy trying to whore for a war.  People often mocked Joe Biden (I know and like Joe Biden) as someone who couldn't shut up.  (I believe I noted it during one hearing as well.)  Casey is far worse. And that he's starting out this way?  Frightening.  The best moment of his speechifying was when he accidentally hit the microphone button and for a few moments we just watched his lips flap and heard nothing.  It was so wonderful. 
Casey: "and asked him -- or raised -- raised with him a question -- about what I thought was President Bush's  -- uh, uh, uh --"  If he thinks Bush was misleading with language (Bush was), maybe he shouldn't be tossing around the same garbage.  Two minutes and 27 seconds after he began his 'reply' to Jeffrey's answer, he finally said,  "Here's the question."  He uh-uh-uh stumbled as he tried to ask about metrics.  He then noted the 'violence going down' as an example of a metric.  But violence isn't going down, it's going up.  It only goes down if each year you act as if the 2006 and early 2007 period was the only time that mattered. 
And here's a thought Casey, you were a member of Congress when the Congress called for Benchmarks for Success and the White House proposed them.  Did you forget that?  Did you sleep through it? 
Jeffrey indicated the US will never leave Iraq when he said that he had his marching orders from President Obama: "An Iraq that is stable, self-reliant, is sovereign, with a government that is just, that is accountable and that is representative.''  What the hell is that?  Is the US ever leaving Iraq?  And since when are those ways you end the war? 
Ambassador James Jeffrey: We don't know now how sustainable this will be.  That's one reason why we are continuing our military presence for the next, roughly, 18 months and will move gradually to a still very, very broad and very, very deep engagement with Iraq but without as much emphasis on the military side.
But without as much emphasis on the military side?  Why does that not sound like US troops leave.  Oh, right, they don't and they end up part of the "Little State Dept" at the US Embassy/Fortress in Baghdad.    Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan (Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox) writes about the poverty draft and proposes a measure she'd like to see introduced in Congress:

The Casey Sheehan "End to War" Bill:     

Immediately upon the president signing this bill into law, forced military conscription will begin.               

The bill will have NO EXEMPTIONS to those who are eligible to the draft and the age limit is 18 to no upper limit. This bill seeks to draft those eligible from both genders and all gender and sexual preferences.    

There will be very limited health exemptions as most people can perform a skill that is valuable to the military. As University is now open to all ages and attended by old and young alike, there will be no education exemptions. The draftees can resume or attend college when their stint in the armed forces is up. There will be no GI education benefits extended to the draftees, as they will be members of the wealthy of the US.           

Citizens will be drafted in this order in the event of a Constitutionally declared war, or un-constitutionally started war, or any of these euphemisms (but not limited to) for war: police action, entanglement, theater, hostilities, occupation, special operations, interventions, cluster-fu@k, pacifications, war on drugs, peace-keeping, fighting for "freedom and democracy," etc:       

The President and his/her Cabinet and their age appropriate dependents, including spouses. No exemptions as outlined above.                  

Senators and Congress Members and their age appropriate dependents, including spouses. No exemptions as outlined above.

CEO's of the Federal Reserve and Banks and their age appropriate dependents, including spouses. No exemptions as outlined above.          

CEO's of any company (including the media) that profit directly or indirectly from war and their age appropriate dependents, including spouses. No exemptions as outlined above.                    

Anyone who by word or deed supports the entry into war, or any of the euphemisms associated with war, and their age appropriate dependents. This includes media pundits, male or female and their age appropriate dependents, including spouses. No exemptions as outlined above.          

Any citizen of the United States of America who does not fall into one of the above categories is categorically ineligible for this forced conscription draft.        

This bill will also provide college tuition grants to anyone who does not fall into one of the above categories and who wishes to go to college -- without having to join the military.  

Related, Koyuki Yip (World Can't Wait) writes about the latest efforts in counter-recruitment:

Under the non-profit tent @ the Camden, NJ -- Warped Tour - Matthis Chiroux (the Iraq War resister), Jessica, and I embraced the 95 degree weather to set up the World Can't Wait table and meet young people to bring the We Are Not Your Soldiers Tour to their school, town, or wherever. It was an unbearably hot day, but it was a pretty amazing day, because we talked to hundreds of kids, passed out flyers, and posted flyers around the venue.              
Even as we began setting up and decorating our table at 9am, our knee caps were sweating from the heat and humidity. The heat wasn't going to stop our determination to get our visuals up and out there for everyone to see. Mainly we stood in front of the table with one of our Abu Ghraib images, and passed out the We Are Not Your Soldiers flyers. The Abu Ghraib image along with Matthis' body signs (he wrote on his stomach - "No U.S. Genocide" and on his back "Soldiers Are Not Heroes") challenged hundreds of people to stop -- look -- and comment on the wars in the Middle East. While many people walked by our table and rubbernecked our images - many people stopped in their tracks and either: were totally upset by the image, pissed off by our anti-war position, or agreed and were interested in who we were. A number of young women, either in high school or younger, were taken aback by the Abu Ghraib image and just asked with their mouths open where these images came from. A bunch of people would walk by Matthis and say "that sign is not cool." And even one asshole had the nerve to tell me that he didn't care about the Abu Ghraib prisoner. While these people were in the minority, they were vocal about their disagreements. While others were the complete opposite they were drawn by our poster and our table and were interested in talking about Obama, Afghanistan, or the tour. A couple of people thanked us for being out at Warped Tour. Also, we learned that many of the kids that signed our list were from small towns. It wasn't just youth that stopped by our table, there were many people of different ages some people were in their twenties and others were parents accompanying their parents.