Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Can someone explain facts to Tom Bowman?

Al Sabaah reports Iraq's political blocs have agreed to address whether or not to extend the US military presence in Iraq. This reconsideration is at Nouri's request. Wednesday, Nouri al-Maliki raised the issue and said if 70% of the political players agreed to extend the US presence, then that's what would happen.

Extend the US presence? In November 2008, the Iraqi Parliament voted on the Status Of Forces Agreement (or those who bothered to show up -- many skipped the vote). Prior to the SOFA, each year the US and Iraq had to request that the UN mandate be renewed for the US military to legally operate on Iraqi soil. (This is the occupation. No UN mandate provided for the war itself.) The SOFA replaced the UN mandate. The UN mandate covered a variety of countries (including England and Australia) but it also put Iraq in a type of protective receivership. Nouri was prevented from gaining access to certain funds (among other things). This is why Nouri didn't want the UN mandate renewed.

When it was decided that the UN mandate would be ditched, every country that planned to stay in Iraq needed to negotiate their own contract with Iraq. The US went with the SOFA.

The SOFA could run for three years, if neither side exercised their 'out clause.' The SOFA ends December 31, 2011.

The SOFA is a contract. Like any contract, it can expire, be renewed and it can be replaced. Offering that very basic legal analysis was controversial in 2008; however, events have backed up what we've said. It's only the most idiotic that can't graspit today.

Enter Tom Bowman (NPR). Today on Morning Edition, he reports on one of two plans. But gets many things wrong. First, he's unaware -- or unwilling to pass on --that this is one of two plans currently. What he's covering is plan B for the US administration. It's their back up plan, not their preferred plan.

The preferred plan is extending the SOFA. If that doesn't happen, US forces that remain in Iraq -- and some will though Tom Bowman 'forgets' to include that aspect in his report -- will be under the State Dept's control. In addition, as Bowman report, there will be many contractors brought in (who will also be under the State Dept's control).

Throughout his report, Bowman repeatedly states as fact that all US troops leave Iraq at the end of this year. First off, they don't. Even under plan B (Bowman's topic), some remain in Iraq. (Bowman might need to attend Congressional hearings on this subject. If he had, he'd be well versed in this topic instead of flying blind.) Second, facts are what has happened. US troops have NOT left Iraq. Some may leave at the end of 2011, some may not. And with Iraqi blocs agreeing to discuss the issue, you'd think NPR would be concerned about their reporters getting the facts correct.

If NPR had a functioning ombudsperson, she would address facts versus predictions (it's an easy and entertaining column that pretty much writes herself). But repeatedly we've been given every indication that NPR does not have a functioning ombudsperson.

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