Saturday, December 04, 2010

Thug Nouri

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki fired dozens of officers from the security and intelligence services early this year and replaced them with inexperienced political officers loyal to his Shiite Dawa party, U.S. officials reported in February, according to newly leaked diplomatic cables.
The firings were carried out under the guise of purging members of Saddam Hussein's long extinct Baath party, but U.S. officials in Baghdad fretted in cables that Maliki would do "serious harm to the intelligence institutions by drumming out experienced and proficient officers," including many Sunni Arabs.
The cables, published on the website of al Akhbar, a left-leaning Beirut daily, bolstered U.S. and Iraqi critics who've accused Maliki of building a sectarian security structure during his first term in office.

The above is from Shashank Bengali's "WikiLeaks: Maliki filled Iraqi security services with Shiites" (McClatchy Newspapers). Max Fisher (The Atlantic) continues:

The Baghdad cables are part of a cache of 183 U.S. State Department communications from the Middle East and North Africa recently published online by Lebanon's Al Akhbar newspaper. It's unclear how Al Akhbar got the cables, which they say are "exclusive," and whether they posted them with the permission of Wikileaks, which has tightly controlled who publishes which of its cables and when.
In the week before Iraq's election began, the U.S. embassy in Baghdad warned that Maliki and his office "directed the removal" of security and intelligence officials, including "some of the highest quality personnel" and "some of the most experienced intelligence officers," over dubious allegations of ties to the long-defunct Baath party. Maliki, the cables say, then replaced those officials with "political officers" from Maliki's Da'Wa party who "lack intelligence or related backgrounds." They cite "troubling" concerns that Maliki's changes were designed "to eliminate internal opposition in the run-up to the elections."
The purges and political replacements targeted the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Interior (which oversees intelligence), the Iraqi Joint Headquarters Intelligence Directorate, and the Iraqi National Intelligence and Investigation Agency. Those agencies handle much of Iraq's internal security and the ongoing battle against still-present sectarian and terrorist groups, both roles that are increasingly important as the U.S. reduces its troop presence. "The politically linked command changes are corrosive to Iraqi Security Force command and control integrity and unit readiness," a February 2010 cable from Baghdad warned. Maliki, they say, was likely "trying to hedge post-election fall-out by seeding security forces and intelligence services with allies."

And that's who is the prime minister-designate today. Nouri has 21 more days to propose cabinet ministers and have them approved -- individually, one by one -- by the Parliament. He's pushed back the census (again) which is having at least a small spillover effect in terms of the Kurds. Whether it will be large enough to cost him votes or not is an unknown.

But he barely put together a power-sharing coalition. When he did put it together, he did so with the promise of the census and the promise of a new post for Ayad Allawi. And neither of those things have come to pass. If they don't come to pass before the thirty day deadline (they've fudged his being named prime minister-designate and are stating it didn't occur until November 25th), Jalal Talabani is supposed to nominate another prime minister-designate and that's written into the Constitution.

Last Saturday, Nouri held a press conference and made noises that could be interpreted as the advance roll out in case he misses his deadline. His remarks could be interpreted as, "If I don't meet the 30 day deadline and someone else is appointed and has to start over, it will toss the nation into further chaos." Nouri's often done that, prepared the press for his failure to uphold and obey the law.

The Constitution was completely tossed aside following the March 7th elections. Nouri knows that. Nouri damn well knows all the laws he's broken since the US first installed him as prime minister in 2006.

For all the fabled talk of "democracy" in Iraq -- talk not just from the lips of George W. Bush, Barack Obama has repeated these lies -- the US government refused to (or was to weak to) stand up for democracy in Iraq during the continuing political stalemate. Which is how the lesson from the 2010 (Iraq) elections is that elections don't matter. A losing party can retain leadership. Elections don't matter and there's no reason to even vote.

Many of the pieces in the last months have echoed Iraqis voicing just that sentiment.

So if Nouri tries to blow off the Constitution, there needs to be worldwide outcry. Or else the world just needs to stop kidding itself that Nouri isn't the new Saddam. He's already ignored the ballot and if he next ignores the Constitution -- and gets away with it -- the message will be very clear that Iraqis were not handed the right of self-governance, they were handed over to a new dictator.

Jack Healy (New York Times) reports Baghdad was slammed with bombings today. Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 4 Baghdad roadside bombings and 2 Baghdad car bombings, all at nine a.m., which claimed 8 lives and left sixty people injured and, four hours later, a Baghdad car bombing claimed 6 lives and left forty-two people wounded. Healy notes Baghdad police barred reporters from the scene of the noon bombing and quotes one snapping, "What do you want to see inside? The world inside is on fire, and people are cut to pieces." Reuters drops back to Friday to note 2 police officers wounded in a Baghdad attack, 1 corpse discovered in Mosul, a Bashiqa explosion (land mine) claimed 1 life and a Kirkuk grenade attack injured three police officers.

WikiLeaks remains under attack. A number of e-mails ask how they find it due to closings? You can -- thus far, anyway -- start with the WikiLeaks Twitter feed and we'll note the latest items from it:

  1. WikiLeaks strikes back. Cut us down and the stronger we become:
  2. Robert McClelland is a US suckhole, worse than Howard on Hicks, and needs to go.
  3. Reporters Without Borders condemns attacks on WikiLeaks,38958.html
  4. WikiLeaks at the Frontline Club (two rightmost journalists)
  5. 'Wikileaks' now twice as known as well known as 'Wikipedia' according to Google.
  6. UK Conservatives promised to run 'pro-American regime' #cablegate
  7. Ellsberg: Boycott Amazon
  8. Great summary the attacks this week on WikiLeaks
  9. US may use Sweden to extradite Assange: Lawyer
  10. Letter to Australian Prime Minister
  11. Sarkozy government moves to ban WikiLeaks
  12. An extraordinary 24 hours. Press roundup
  13. Cut the spin. Julian Assange is NOT a traitor
  14. Digital McCarthyism: U.S. Military Tries to Intimidate Soldiers Into Not Reading Wikileaks
  15. Digital McCarthyism: Columbia students advised not to comment on/link to discussions on Wikileaks.
  16. PayPal bans WikiLeaks after US government pressure Support us:
  17. Facebook group hits 600,000 members Support us:
  18. TIME cover: Why WikiLeaks is good for America
  19. Ron Paul: Why we need more WikiLeaks

Currently this WikiLeaks site is up. On Twitter feeds and WikiLeaks, we'll note this:

Good for Ron Paul. Am I missing it or are all of our 'brave' Democrats cowering in silence right now? Has any Democratic member of Congress come out to defend WikiLeaks? What about our brave Socialist Bernie Sanders? Remember the lie we were told when he was running for the Senate? It went something like this: 'He'll be able to take strong stands now because he won't have to run every two years like he does now.' He was elected to the Senate in the 2006 mid-terms and I'm still waiting for that bravery to emerge. He couldn't even stand up to ObamaCare. Now if you want to see him waste his time and our monies, by all means note his 'hard hitting' MSNBC shouldn't have suspended Keith suck up piece. But guess what, Bernie, you weren't elected to the Senate to defend overpaid millionaires. Where's Baraba -- I STOOD UP TO THE WHOLE WORLD -- Lee? Where are they, the brave speakers in the Democratic Party? How telling and how typical.

Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan should have been elected to Congress but apparently bravery is a liability for the elected left. In her latest column at Al Jazeera, "Surrendering our civil liberties," she tackles the airport insecurity industry:

As a very frequent flyer, I have wanted to write about the abuses of the Transportation Security Agency (TSA) for years now. To tell the truth, since I am such a frequent flyer and often recognised by individual TSA employees, I was a little timid about this because I did not want flying to become an even bigger hassle and more invasive than it already is. But the recent brouhaha over the Chertoff-O-Scanners has given me the courage in numbers to be able to write about my experiences.
The first thing that bugs me is how complacent my fellow travellers are about the civil rights abuses we endure to be able to take the airplane seats we pay hundreds of dollars for. The second we click 'purchase' on the airline's website, we are treated as though we are guilty just for wanting to go from point A to B by plane. This goes against our constitutional right of being presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Every time a TSA operative asks me if he or she can "take a look in my bag," I say: "Sure, if you can show me a warrant." I cannot say how many times a fellow traveller has proclaimed: "It's for your own safety!"
Speaking of "it's for your own safety", who can forget Richard Reid, the "shoe bomber" who allegedly tried to detonate explosives on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2002? That incident is the reason why in the US we have to take our shoes off and put them through the x-ray machine. But did you know that the US is the only country that forces flyers to do this? Reid is a citizen of the UK and was flying from France, but if one flies in either of these countries, or anywhere else for that matter, it is not common practice to remove your shoes. So why are planes not dropping from the skies all over the world? Well, because this has nothing to do with our "safety". Shoe removal and shoe throwing are the same act of disrespect and intimidation unless one is entering a Japanese home or walking on holy ground.
I think the next opportunity for abuse that came from on high to us already weary and grouchy flyers, was when some nebulous plot was discovered in the UK to blow up planes by carrying explosive liquids on board. We were never shown any hardcore proof that our shampoo would blow up an airplane if it was in a four ounce bottle, but that the offending liquid in a 3.5 ounce bottle, safely ensconced in a Ziploc bag, would be okay. I was actually on my way to the airport with a backpack full of naughty liquids when I heard about this one on the radio. I had to throw away about $80 worth of toiletries and make-up and wait in excessively long lines since the glorified minimum wage workers of the TSA were not too sure how to handle this latest threat to our "freedom and safety" - except, of course, to do what they always do and take away more of our freedoms to "protect" us from "threats".

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