Sunday, September 05, 2010

And the war drags on . . .

Leila Fadel and Jinana Hussein (Washington Post) report, "Just five days after the United States declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq, U.S. soldiers opened fire Sunday morning on suicide bombers who snuck into an Iraqi army base in Baghdad, a U.S. military spokesman said." CBS Evening News -- as usual these days -- couldn't seem to find the story. But that crap-fest, more and more, is nothing but a televised version of In Style magazine -- it's a news program for people who don't wish to be informed or bothered with actual news. So it offered box office and 'medical news' on mice but not anything that really effected people's lives. If CBS ever wants to get out of last place, it's going to have to do a news show, an actual news show, not the crappy infotainment it keeps serving up. On The KPFA Evening News today, David Landau explained:

In the Middle East today, American soldiers helped Iraqi troops battle insurgents in downtown Baghdad earlier today, repelling a major attack in the capital five days after President Obama had declared an end to US combat operations there. At least 18 people were killed and 39 injured when a group of suicide bombers and gunmen attempted to storm the army's east Baghdad headquarters located in a former ministry of defense building in a busy market district along the Tigris River. No Americans were among the casualties, according to a US military spokesman, but US soldiers did join in the fighting alongside Iraqis to repel the assailants, two of whom managed to enter the army compound. The US military also dispatched helicopters, bomb disposal experts, unmanned aerial drones and other unspecified intelligence, surveillance and reconassiance assistance to the scene of the downtown battle, the US military spokesman said. According to an Iraqi official, speaking anonymously, the Iraqi security forces had requested American help in the battle and US soldiers shot 2 snipers who had taken up position in nearby buildings. It was the first significant attack in Baghdad since President Obama's address to the nation on Tuesday in which he told Americans that US combat operations were over and said it was time to "turn the page" on Iraq.

A whiner felt that Pacifica Radio didn't get enough credit for their coverage of Iraq last week in either the pieces Ava and I wrote for Third today or here last week. So I made a point to catch every Pacifica Radio news broadcast today. In other words, I listened over the airwaves to KPFA's evening news. And? WBAI pre-empted their news tonight. KPFT (Houston) offers no Sunday news program (just canned programming from around the country apparently and really bad music programs), KPFK (Los Angeles) apes KPFT and offers nothing. In other words, except for KPFA, they're all as ridiculous and embarrassing as WPFW. How do you not do a news show? How do you not do one? You don't do one because you're not about informing, you're about fleecing listeners and serving up dull and dead programmng. The fact that they're unable to serve up news for 24 hours is embarrrassing and shameful. But you heard bad music all day, didn't you. As with last week, Pacifica has nothing to be proud of. Democracy Now! isn't a Pacifica program -- hasn't been over ten years now. It's on NPR, it's on TV, it's everywhere and WBAI doesn't own it. So what can Pacifica point to? And if you thought Law & Disorder would address Iraq tomorrow, you were dead wrong. Instead, they jerk off and waste everyone's time with a hodge-podge of nothing. What a waste of listener donations.

On NPR's hourly news brief, you could hear the news.

Carol Van Dam: Suicide bombers attacked an Iraqi army base in Baghdad Sunday. American troops were drawn into the fighting just a week after the US formally ended its combat operations in the country. The BBC's Gabriel Gatehouse reports several were killed and dozens injured.

Gabriel Gatehouse: The attack seems to have involved at least 5 bombers. The biggest explosion came from a mini-van when one of the bombers detonated his explosives at the outer checkpoint leading to the compound. Then four men, some wearing suicide vest, ran torward the base. Two were reportedly shot dead before they could pass a second checkpoint. But an Iraqi officer at the scene told the BBC that two further bombers did manage to get into the base. He said they took refuge inside the building, attacking the security forces with hand grenades. The same officer said that US forces were called into help and that they exchanged gunfire with the attackers before Iraqi security forces stormed the building.

Click here for BBC News' text report of the attack. NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams had Lester Holt anchoring and he noted, "Oversees now to Iraq and another suicide bombing. This one targeting one of the main Iraqi military commands in Baghdad. Twelve people were killed and thirty-six wounded when terrorists detonated a van filled with explosives, then stormed the base. American soldiers returned fire, helping to repel the attack."

It's really amazing how many 'news' and 'public affairs' outlets there are and how few of them offer a damn thing other than junk news. On PRI's The Takeaway tomorrow (or today -- Monday -- if you're in EST or Central time zones), Anthony Shadid and Micheal R. Gordon (New York Times) will address the Iraq War. And while I see it as 'whining' to claim that Pacifica did anything on Iraq last week (Democracy Now! and Free Speech Radio News are programs Pacifica -- and other radio stations -- carry, they are not Pacifica programs -- and we highlighted both's coverage of Iraq), PRI actually did do coverage and PRI friends asked why I ignored it? I ignored it because they didn't -- as they usually do -- call me to alert me to it. I'm on the road speaking about the Iraq War or observing Congressional hearings during the week. I'm not sitting around in front of a TV or radio. I meant to make some calls and check on PRI but with so much going on -- and so much coverage from elsewhere -- I just didn't have the time. PRI has a right to complain and a friend with The NewsHour has a right to complain about how little I noted Margaret Warner's reports last week (some of her reports were noted but she did some really strong work and most of it we didn't have time for or space for, we may pick up some of that this week). Christiane Amanpour (ABC's This Week with Christiane Amanpour) interviewed War Hawk Tony Blair -- the unrepentant War Hawk and discussed Iraq today (link goes to transcript). She also had a roundtable and it was very clear that Iraq was of no concern to the panelists. Considering that Thomas Friedman (a War Whore) was among the panelists, that was appalling. Considering that economist Paul Krugman (another panelist) passed himself off as an expert on political campaigning, that's appalling. Krugman's become such a weak voice and, if you wonder why, it's to pursue TV punditry. He'll be E.J. Dionne before the end of the Barack's first (only?) term.

They're just there to try and make the people free,
But the way that they're doing it, it don't seem like that to me.
Just more blood-letting and misery and tears
That this poor country's known for the last twenty years,
And the war drags on.
-- words and lyrics by Mick Softly (available on Donovan's Fairytale)

Last Sunday, ICCC's number of US troops killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war was 4416. Tonight? 4416. Robert Gates, as Ava and I noted in "TV: Nothing Learned," announced last Tuesday that 4427 US service members had died in Iraq. But then DoD doesn't walk back their count whereas ICCC went with Reuters (still not retracted) report on 2 US service members being killed last month and announced killed by the US military and then, days later, they took the 2 out of the count. And then they took another one out of the count last month as well. It's a questionable count at ICCC and you'd think when their count is lower, LOWER, than the count being used by the Secretary of Defense -- and repeated on ABC World News Tonight with Diane Sawyer and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams -- people would start wondering about ICCC's count. ICCC is becoming as much of an undercount as IBC. But no one's supposed to notice.

In reported violence today, Reuters notes a Taza roadside bombing which injured ten Iraqi soliders, a Baghdad attack on a police patrol in which one police officer was injured, a Baghdad building bombing that injured two people, a Baghdad sticky bombing which claimed the life of 1 "prsion service employee" and left two bystanders injured and, dropping back to yesterday, two Baghdad roadside bombings which injured one Iraq soldier and one bystander.

At Firedoglake, Gareth Porter deconstructs
the myth of the 'surge':

In reality, of course, that’s not what happened at all. It’s time to review the relevant history and deconstruct the Petraeus narrative which the Obama administration now appears to have adopted.

The Sunni decision to cooperate in the suppression of al Qaeda in Iraq had nothing to do with the surge. The main Sunni armed resistance groups had actually turned against al Qaeda in 2005, when they began trying to make a deal with the United States to end the war.

At an Iraqi reconciliation conference in Cairo, November 19-21, 2005, leaders of the three major Sunni armed groups (one of which was a coalition of several resistance organization) told U.S. and Arab officials they were willing to track down al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and deliver him to Iraqi authorities as part of a negotiated agreement with the United States. The Sunni insurgent leaders were motivated not only by hatred of al Qaeda but by the fear that a Shi’a-dominated government would consolidate power and exclude the Sunnis permanently unless the United States acted to rebalance its policy in Iraq.

Two months later, U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad actually entered into secret negotiations with the three major Sunni insurgent groups 2006, as later reported by the Sunday Times and confirmed by Khalilzad. The Sunni leaders even submitted a formal peace proposal to Khalilzad. They insisted on a “timetable for withdrawal” as part of the deal, but it was “linked to the timescale necessary to rebuild Iraq’s armed forces and security services”, according to Sunday Times.

Khalilzad cut off the negotiations in February 2006, because such an agreement would have conflicted with a broader strategy of standing up a Shi’a army to suppress the Sunni insurgency.

In addition, it needs to be noted that the 'surge' was a failure. The escalation was supposed to create 'breathing space' for Iraq to meet the White House created benchmarks for success (which Nouri al-Maliki signed off on) and that never happened. If the entire point of the escalation (and that was the point, check out the statements back then by the White House) never came to be, then it was a flop.

New content at Third:

The plan for this site as the Labor Day weekend wraps up? Kat plans two music reviews. Isaiah has a comic that will be going up. I will do at least two entries tomorrow. If the news is such that a snapshot is required, there will be one. Pru notes "Iraq: an illegal war that led to terrorism" (Great Britian's Socialist Worker):

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Evidence given to the Chilcot inquiry into the war in Iraq is consistently proving the anti-war movement right.

Last week the former head of MI5, Baroness Manningham-Buller, told the inquiry that the war had “radicalised” young Muslims in Britain.

She also raised doubts about intelligence organisations.

“People talk in hushed tones about the Joint Intelligence Committee”, she said.

“It is another Whitehall committee. It is fallible.”

This evidence, from a key figure in the British establishment, is pretty damning.

But it appears there may be even more explosive evidence that the inquiry isn’t hearing.

Carne Ross was Britain’s Iraq expert at the UN from 1997-2002 and gave evidence to the Chilcot inquiry earlier this month.

He says he was told not to refer to a key foreign office memo in his testimony, which he says “dramatically and inaccurately” exaggerated Iraq’s nuclear threat.

The following should be read alongside this article:

Deceit and disaster: Afghanistan laid bare by leaked documents Leaked Afghan documents: civilian deaths Leaked Afghan documents expose British atrocities

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