Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lost billions in Iraq, Barack's speech

The White House issued the following yesterday:

Vice President Biden met today with Iraqi Council of Representatives Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi. The Vice President praised the Speaker’s stewardship of Iraq’s legislature and offered continued support for the development of Iraq’s democratic institutions, including a national partnership government. The Vice President also thanked the Speaker for his work to secure approval for a $400 million compensation package for American victims of the Saddam Hussein regime. The Vice President and the Speaker discussed our shared interest in an enduring partnership between the United States and Iraq, across a range of sectors, under the Strategic Framework Agreement.

Despite the fact that al-Nujaifi made public and clear before he left Iraq that he intended to press the White House on the missing $17 billion, the White House statement made no mention of it. Briefly, money (Iraqi money) from the oil-for-food program is missing. How much can not be determined as yet due to the refusal of the Federal Reserve to share information with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) which the US Congress mandated to provide oversight in Iraq. Aswat al-Iraq quotes from Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's statement:

“Nujeify has conferred during his current visit to the United States, with U.S.
Vice-President, Joe Biden, demanding him to “open an official investigation about the fate of Iraqi Fund, estimated at US$17.5 billions (b), withdrawn from Iraq’s Development Fund in 2003-2004 and after that, without the appearance of any documents showing the reason for the withdrawal,” the statement said, adding that Nujeify “had asked the United States to help in achieving that mission.”
He said that “there are efforts, exerted by the financial observation bodies in both Iraq and the United States, to gather information and uncover the details of the said issue.”

al-Nujaifi's statments were carried by the Iraqi press and throughout the Arabic press. They were also covered by many US outlets. AP offers this morning, "But US officials trying to trace the funds say the Iraqi government is not cooperating and has so far not allowed them access to bank records they need to determine whether any of the money was misused." The editorial board of Gulf News observes, "The US had a duty to safeguard this cash and not being able to answer to the Iraqis is simply unacceptable. It is hoped that a serious investigation is started so Iraq can recover its money."

In the Burlington Free Press, Senator Patrick Leahy calls for sharpened war goals in Afghanistan:

What if we had never gone to war in Iraq? I wonder where our country might be today if we had never made that tragic mistake. Thousands of American families would never have stood before flag-draped coffins, grieving over young lives cut short. A trillion dollars in debt would not be burdening our economy, to be paid back by our children and grandchil­dren.
Our troops did all we asked of them and more. In the toll they paid, and in the burden laid upon the nation, the war in Iraq cost us dearly. I voted with 22 other senators against authorizing the Iraq War, believing then as I do today that the strategy of containment was keeping Saddam Hussein at bay. If he posed an imminent threat to anyone, it was to Iran, not to the United States.
Today, the Senate finds itself at a similar crossroads as that fateful 2003 vote. The war in Afghanistan will be 10 years old this November. Osama bin Laden, the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks, is dead. So what do we do now?

Yesterday on the Pacifica Evening News (KPFA and KPFK), anchor John Hamliton discussed Barack's speech with Phyllis Bennis. Excerpt:

John Hamilton: We've just heard the president promise troop reductions by the fall of 2012. interestingly, just in time for elections. Of course, we should remember that the much ballyhooed surge of 30,000 troops that Obama ordered into the country in December of 2009 was actually the second major increase in troop levels. On taking office, he immediately ordered an increase of 17,000 soldiers. With that in mind is it fair to call this the beginning of the end of the Afghanistan War?

Phyllis Bennis: No, it made clear that the continuation of a huge number of US troops, NATO troops and US-paid mercenaries is going to continue for an indefinite period. This announcement of what amounts to a really token withdrawal leaves in place a huge component of the current 250,000 US and allied military forces. This is not going to change that. The fact that 33 [33,000 by September 2012] out of 250,000 military forces are going to be pulled out in the course of a year and a half is hardly the beginning of an end.

John Hamilton: And of course, in the past when we've seen troops removed from Afghanistan, we've often seen them a concurrent escalation in the number of contractors sometimes by a ratio of 2:1 or even higher --

Phyllis Bennis: It's very unlikely we're going to see that now. Most [audio goes out . . .] Already 100,000 private contractors in Afghanistan. I don't know that they can even absorb significantly more than that.

John Hamilton: Well Phyllis Bennis, as the old song goes, "One-two-three-four, what are we fighting for?" In the case of Afghanistan, that remains a difficult question to answer.

Phyllis Bennis: It remains a very difficult question and what we're seeing is that there is no strategy that's been determined here. There's no definition of a military victory. The announcement had been made at the very moment just after President Obama had first been inaugurated, when he first sent 21,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, he said, 'We're going to send these troops and then we'll decide on a strategy.' Rather backwards logic but nonetheless what didn't happen was any decision about a strategy. We've heard lots of discussions about counter-insurgency versus counter-terrorism, boots on the ground versus small groups but none of that has been a real strategy for what everybody agrees will never be a military solution to this conflict in Afghanistan but will have to have political solutions. That political solution remains as far away tonight as it has ever been.

The song referred to (if you don't use the link) is Country Joe McDonald's "Fixin To Die Rag," recorded by Country Joe and the Fish and (not work safe) was among the songs they performed at Woodstock. While John Hamilton showed the strong job Pacifica Radio can do, WBAI seems determined to prove how worthless public radio can be. On WakeUp Call this morning, Esther made the case both for the return of Deepa (sorely missed) and for her own firing. After the news reader created 'news' to sugar coat Barack's speech yesterday and after Barack's speech was played (in full -- such good little toadies), Esther took callers -- with whom she fought. WBAI's audience is not an audience that puts up with whoring. And the angrier they were at the speech, the ruder Esther was.

Esther insisted to a man that he was wrong, the president hadn't said force would be used in the case of a threat, he had only said it would be used in the case of an attack. No, Esther, the caller was right. Esther repeatedly interrupted him thereby (as she intended) diluting his point. And she insisted that the speech would be checked. First off, the speech was yesterday. Second off, the entire speech was played on the program. Third of all, Esther was hosting a segment on the speech. She damn well should have known what it said. If that was too much to expect from her, she should have had a transcript ready to access. She was rude to another woman (interrupting her repeatedly and then making a snide remark after the woman was off the air). Maybe Esther needs to learn to do her damn job?

That includes being prepared.

It also includes listening for your cues.

And, Esther, when you miss your cue, you don't blame others. And you certainly don't do so whining into an open mike while a man is delivering sports. Yes, Esther is so damn stupid that not only did she miss a cue but she could be heard (unknown to her) griping about it and then it was time for staff to grovel (still heard over the airwaves -- during the sports report) before the Great Stupid Esther. Only on WBAI. And, Esther, you dumb ass, here's the sentence the caller was referring to, "When threatened, we must respond with force -- but when that force can be targeted, we need not deploy large armies overseas." It's in the speech, learn to do your damn job.

The following community sites -- plus and, for Esther, the White House's transcript to Barack's speech --- updated last night and this morning:

We'll close with this from Senator Patty Murray's office:


Wednesday, June 22, 2011 (202) 224-2834

Murray Statement on Afghanistan Troop Drawdown

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after President Obama announced his timeline for a troop drawdown in Afghanistan.

“Tonight President Obama took a step in the right direction by outlining a drawdown of American troops from Afghanistan over the coming year. I have called for a sizeable and sustainable drawdown because I believe the human, economic and military resources we are spending in Afghanistan are unsustainable. The President’s announcement is a step forward, but I will continue to push the President to bring this war to a close and redeploy troops out of Afghanistan while providing the support they and their families deserve.

“Our brave men and women in uniform have done everything we’ve asked of them – including finding Osama Bin Laden. But we need to make sure our military operations are targeted to meet the threats of today.

“Our terrorist enemies are not bound by lines on a map. Leaving tens of thousands of troops in Afghanistan is not the best use of our resources—especially as we work to tackle our debt and deficit. It’s time to redeploy, rebuild our military and refocus on the broader war on terror. I was glad to see President Obama take a step in that direction today.

“But as Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I know that the costs don’t end when our men and women leave the battlefield—for so many troops and their caregivers, that is just the beginning. This must be a consideration for the President and our entire nation whenever we make strategic military decisions. I will continue to push to make sure our veterans and military families are one of the foremost concerns during this drawdown and that they get the care they need and deserve.”



Eli Zupnick

Press Secretary

U.S. Senator Patty Murray


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