Wednesday, December 29, 2010

One pimps, the other fluffs

Some reporters flit from outlet to outlet like some giant gypsy moth and you feel sorry for them. Some toss out shoddy work that explains why they have to constantly start over. Meet Sam Dagher.

He began the war at the Christian Science Monitor and that didn't work out so he moved over to the New York Times where he felt "constrained" and then landed at the Wall St. Journal which is apparently free of 'constraints' as well as rules and regulations.

Yesterday, Sam dominated the news as only a whore can do after he filed "Iraq Wants the U.S. Out" which opened:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki ruled out the presence of any U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of 2011, saying his new government and the country's security forces were capable of confronting any remaining threats to Iraq's security, sovereignty and unity.
Mr. Maliki spoke with The Wall Street Journal in a two-hour interview, his first since Iraq ended nine months of stalemate and seated a new government after an inconclusive election, allowing Mr. Maliki to begin a second term as premier.
A majority of Iraqis—and some Iraqi and U.S. officials—have assumed the U.S. troop presence would eventually be extended, especially after the long government limbo. But Mr. Maliki was eager to draw a line in his most definitive remarks on the subject. "The last American soldier will leave Iraq" as agreed, he said, speaking at his office in a leafy section of Baghdad's protected Green Zone. "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed."

And then Sammy quickly moved on to other topics. There's reporting and there's lying. When we wrote yesterday morning, we noted Nouri's pattern and other things that Dagher should have noted in his article. The Wall St. Journal, so thrilled to finally have a scoop (have they had even one since Murdoch took over the paper), quickly released the transcript of Dagher's interview and uh-oh, not quite as definitive as he painted it.

In the third paragraph of the excerpt above, he quotes Nouri stating, "The last American soldier will leave Iraq." And then he jumps to "This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration. It is sealed." Let's go to the transcript and I'm going to put what Dagher quoted in italics:

The last American soldier will leave Iraq. Secondly this agreement is sealed and at the time we designated it as sealed and not subject to extension, except if the new government with Parliament’s approval wanted to reach a new agreement with America, or another country, that’s another matter. This agreement is not subject to extension, not subject to alteration, it is sealed, it expires on Dec. 31

Wow. Journalistic malpractice before our own eyes. What Dagher's established is that no one should ever trust a quote from him again. He cherry picked to spin the story the way he wanted and deliberately left out a very pertinent fact. (Though he doesn't quote him, like a good Rudith Miller, Dagher does bury the possibility of a new SOFA in paragraph thirteen. Alsumaria TV demonstrates how Dagher's distortions are spread across Iraq.)

Nouri's statements are cagey and make more sense today. The SOFA would have to be replaced, we've long noted that. If the US military presence continues in Iraq (and is not fudged as "State Dept mission"), the SOFA would have to be replaced with something. That's how the UN mandate worked as well. Nouri pushes the burden off onto Parliament and with his past history that's meaningless.

But as usual, Juan Cole's an idiot. The cheerleader for the war who then was against it, then saw a turned corner, then didn't know what he was doing, then got testy when Steve Rendall mentioned some of this reality in a CounterSpin interview, thinks that because he has a few groupies who allow him to constantly blog in a revisionary style, the whole world will hail him as a genius. Keep dreaming.

Juan Cole plays idiot (plays?) quoting a State Dept cable on the issue of the occupation and Iraqi opinion of it. So that's an interp of an interp? And we're supposed to believe it? The cable exists I'm not denying it. I'm also not a stupid asshole who thinks information and opinions are freely shared in an occupation. Or that third-hand gossip is necessarily "news." Juan wants you to know that the Parliament could never approve a SOFA, never!!!! Again, Nouri's pattern is to subvert the Parliament. I don't know who's been doing Cole's lectures and testing but maybe he needs to turn his blog over to his TA? Let's assume for a moment that this was an issue that went before Parliament. Cole argues:

There are not 163 votes in parliament for an extension of the US troop presence, and any move in that direction would likely cause al-Maliki’s government to fall. Muqtada al-Sadr’s followers have 40 seats in parliament and are the leading party in the National Iraqi Alliance, the Shiite fundamentalist parties, who have a total of 70 seats. They would pull out of al-Maliki’s government and likely return to militia activity were he to betray their expectations in that way. Al-Maliki’s own State of Law coalition, including his Islamic Mission Party (Da`wa) is certainly not going to plump for US troops to remain. It has 89 seats. Those two Shiite religious blocs have 159 seats between them. And, among the Sunni Arabs of the Iraqiya, there would certainly be at least 4 who opposed retaining US troops. Voila, 163. No parliamentary approval.

Third-hand news and lousy crystal visions -- it's as if Juan Cole formed a cheap Fleetwood Mac cover band to do a Rumors tribute.

A number of people -- including guess who -- spent forever claiming the SOFA wouldn't get pushed through in the first place. It did. Probably a good idea not to try to predict what the future holds. But if you're going to, probably a good idea to know a thing or two.

Unlike Juan Cole, we've covered the targeting of Iraqi Christians. We've covered it repeatedly and regularly. That has several times meant drawing a very firm line on a number of topics. One of which is that the supporters in the US who organize rallies are advocating for the US military to remain in Iraq for the near future. (As noted many times before, we don't support that.) Is Juan aware of that? Probably not. He certainly doesn't write as if he is.

Most likely, those Iraqi Christians in the Parliament would vote for the US to stay. The State Dept has long considered the Kurdish bloc a sure thing to vote for the US to stay. Once you note those, it's not too difficult to note other things. Such as the split between Moqtada's bloc and the Iraqi National Alliance whose leader increasingly tilts westward.

And then there's the most important thing of all -- which Juan is too 'pure' (too much of a priss, actually) to note -- money. Palms were greased and then some in November 2008. Palms will be greased again. It is not at all difficult to see a similar vote as that which took place in November 2008: a large number of MPs bailing on the vote. Those who remain left to insist on this extra and that bonus.

Nouri's not popular. The stalemate only made him less so. He was hoping to be feared as iron-fisted Nouri. But the stalemate just reminded everyone of how, in his four-year term as PM, Nouri never could seal the deal. He's a wanna be strong man who lacks the fear factor with the public.

It's not difficult to see him (yet again) throwing his lot in with the US. It's paid very well for him thus far and neither Iran nor the US really seems focused on much more than pushing Iraq back and forth between them like a shiny, rubber ball.

We'll close with this from Debra Sweet's "Going on 9 Guantánamo Years" (World Can't Wait):

Lost in the flurry of bills passed as Congress ended was the inclusion in the 2011 National Defense Authorization Act of language that forbids any Pentagon funds being used to transport any detainee from Guantánamo to the U.S. for any reason. There’s no evidence that the Obama administration really opposed this language; they’ve accepted that detainees such as Khalid Sheik Mohammed won’t be tried in federal courts. They’ve delineated a group of detainess for indefinite detention for the reason that they’ve been tortured, and such information, from the government’s standpoint, can’t be made public.

So still, 174 men sit in Guantánamo, including the large group of Yemenis who are caught between denunciations by the U.S. authorities of the anti-government forces in Yemen, and U.S. support for same. The hope many felt two years ago, in anticipation of an end to the Bush torture regime is dead. Yet courageous lawyers, writers, and activists still struggle for humanity to know the truth about the illegal prison Bush built in Guantánamo, and the need for the wider complex of Bush-era torture, indefinite detention, rendition, and secret prisons to really end.

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