Thursday, June 16, 2011

Nouri's never-ending propaganda

Roy Gutman and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) report Nouri al-Maliki declared on "live television broadcast late Tuesday" that assassinations on government security officials were being carried out by a "militia" which has infiltrated the ministries -- he names Interior and Defense specifically.

Gutman and Hammoudi have a strong article, read it in full. But let's leave the article of what happened for why. Human Rights Watch, more than any other organization, is getting under Nouri's thin skin. And primarily because they observe the reality of what an assailant was wearing -- often official security uniforms (such as a police uniform). In 2008, the press was very good about identifying what assailants were wearing when they were in official clothing. And then some of that got dropped. HRW continues to note it and it's becoming harder and harder for Nouri to fall back on his 2006 excuses of 'they're fake uniforms!' and 'a warehouse in southern Iraq with those uniforms was broken into!'

Going public with the fact that a lot of these officially garbed assailants are working for the government, Nouri gets to be seen as more honest and, he hopes, gets to inject a falsehood into the narrative the press will then repeat.

The narrative? Nouri declared on "live TV" that this infiltration has taken place and: "Those who have destroyed the Ministries of the Interior and Defense are we, the (political) parties, who come with a list and tell the officials, 'Employ these people'."

That little statement's not innocuous or an aside. It's Nouri's maing point. And part of his efforts to convince Iraq that not only is he the only thing keeping them 'safe' but that he needs more power and the ability to rework the current government.

The only real flaw in Gutman and Hammoudi's article is that they repeat Nouri's assertion and fail to provide perspective. They go on to say that some feel the tensions between Nouri and Ayad Allawi are harming the country but that's nothing, they've dropped the ball on perspective. Here's the point they should have made, one that would have made their article much stronger: 'Today Nouri al-Maliki accused other political parties of destroying the Ministries of Interior and Defense by demanding that their people staff the agencies; however, if the two ministries are in disarray that blame would be shared by Nouri who refused to appoint a Minister to head either of those ministries and has instead declared himself the temporary head of those two ministries as well as the Ministry of National Security.'

Those are the facts. If the two ministries have been infiltrated, then that goes to the
fact that they have no permanent head. If the two ministries are in trouble or struggling, that goes to Nouri who's decided he can be prime minister and head three ministries. Of Nouri's lousy job performance, Francis Matthew (Gulf News) offers:

He promised that officials at any level would be sacked if their performance did not match standards, and he spelt out that "the performance of the government and the ministries will be evaluated separately in order to know the extent of success or failure in carrying out the duties given to them". He also made it clear that each minister would have to be responsible for stopping corruption in their ministries.
Despite the drama of his announcement, nothing happened. This week, at the end of his 100-day deadline, Al Maliki met his cabinet (no one had been sacked). He later claimed to the public that each ministry now has a four-year plan, and he seems to be insisting that he has achieved all his goals, and he claims "massive progress" in the 100 days.
It seems unlikely that all Iraq's ministries have just become models of efficiency, and that its famously corrupt officials have all stopped taking bribes. The opposition does not agree with Al Maliki's rosy view of what has happened, and its leaders have called for renewed protests to start this weekend.
It remains to be seen if they can get the people back onto the streets, and also if Al Maliki's large and very tough security forces will let them march again. The events this weekend will indicate how political life in Iraq might run for the next few months.

As part of the continued propaganda effort, David Ali (Al Mada) reports, Nouri and company are working to stage a pro-Nouri rally in Tahrir Square this Friday. The pro-government non-activists showed up last week and attacked the real activists. This appears to be an effort at propagandizing the world population (a successful one when you think about the press attention the pro-government non-activists got last weekend when you contrast that with how little attention the real Friday activists have been receiving all these months later) and also an effort to run off the real activists. A Youth Movement activist states that if they have to leave Tahrir Square, they will continue their protests elsewhere. This Friday will find them attempting to rally in Tahrir Square. The Great Iraqi Revolution asks, "Between PUNISHMENT FRIDAY AND THAT OF DECISION & DEPARTURE WHO DO YOU THINK WON? THE KNIFE OR THE CAMERA WHICH EXPOSED THEM?????"

Dar Addustour reports that the tensions between Nouri and Allawi have led to a dialogue between Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani with the two said to be working on a way to resolve the crisis. The crisis can be traced back (most recently) to the failure by the parties (Nouri) to abide by the Erbil Agreement which was reached when all the major parties came together in Erbil (all major political parties in Iraq plus the US) and divided up this and that to move the nine month and counting stalemate along. The crisis can be traced back even further to the refusal by the UN and the US to appoint a caretaker government. Had that been done, the stalemate would not have continued for nine months and Nouri would not have been able to abuse his position and remain as prime minister.

But the US wanted Nouri to remain prime minister (Samantha Power came up with a lengthy list of 'reasons' why it was 'the only sane thing to do') and with the US and Iran backing him, everyone else -- including the people of Iraq who actually thought they'd have a say in their government -- got stabbed in the back.

Now days, Iran's news outlets work overtime to boost Nouri's image daily and to attack Nouri's rivals daily. Most recent example? This 'report' about England's ambassador to Iraq who knows Allawi. The ambassador had an affair last year with a woman -- both he and the woman are married. Press TV is practically panting as it makes the point it fears slow readers may have missed: Allawi knows this man!!!!! Why, it's almost like Allawi himself was cheating!!!! When Press TV does that kind of crap, they justify every bad thing other outlets say about them.

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


Wednesday, June 15, 2011 (202) 224-2834

AFGHANISTAN: Senator Murray Questions Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen on the Costs of the War to Wounded Warriors and their Families

Murray emphasizes need for these often unseen human costs to be factored in drawdown decisions

Secretary Gates describes human costs in terms of lives, bodies, and minds that have been “shattered,” says the impact to service members, veterans, and their families has made him “more cautious” about the use of force in the future

Listen to the exchange HERE.

Watch the exchange HERE (Senator Murray begins her questions at 94:18).

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) asked Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, tough questions regarding some of the all too often overlooked human costs of the ongoing war in Afghanistan during a hearing on the Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for the Department of Defense (DoD). Senator Murray also asked how these long-term costs are being factored into the decision to drawdown forces in Afghanistan. During the exchange Senator Murray expressed her strong belief that these costs of war, including the rising rate of suicide among veterans, the lack of access to much needed mental health care, and the increased number of tours of current service members, must be taken seriously by the Pentagon and the White House, particularly in decisions to bring troops home.

“Many of these service members have sacrificed life and limb in Afghanistan and we as a country are going to be taking care of them and their families not just today, not just when they return home, but for a lifetime,” Senator Murray said today.

Excerpts from the exchange and the full text of Senator Murray’s questions below.

Secretary Gates, last Friday I visited the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda and had an opportunity to talk to a number of our wounded warriors, their dedicated providers, and their caregivers.

As you know well, many of these service members have sacrificed life and limb in Afghanistan and we as a country are going to be taking care of them and their families not just today, not just when they return home, but for a lifetime.

As Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, I take this issue very seriously and I’ve been trying to draw attention to this all too often unseen human cost of the war in thinking about how we should consider that as part of our decision in any long-term conflict.

I think you know, the major components of this long-term war include the fact that deaths from suicide among veterans and service members from this war are on par with combat deaths, many of our warriors are facing difficult challenges accessing needed mental health care when they return home, And that many of the service members serving in Afghanistan today are on their third, fourth, or even fifth tours.

So, while we have talked a great deal about costs in terms of rebuilding projects, Afghan aid, and military resources – I wanted to ask you today what you – and the Pentagon - consider to be the biggest costs of this war to our wounded warriors and their families - particularly those costs that we will be paying for for a very long time and whether that is ever considered or factored in when you’re making decisions about drawing down in Afghanistan?

Excerpts from Sec. Gates’ response:

“I cannot say that decisions in terms of drawdowns or military strategy are made bearing in mind the costs of the soldiers, and the sailors, and the marines who suffer, it is on the minds of everybody who makes those decisions, but by the same token, it is the nature of war and it is frankly one of the reasons why, as I told an interviewer a couple of weeks ago, I feel I have become more conservative, more cautious, about when you use force because I’ve seen the consequences up front,” said Sec. Gates.

“The costs are exactly as you described, in lives that are shattered, in bodies that are shattered, and in minds that are shattered,” said Sec. Gates. “So from our part, in addition to the VA, we have tried to make sure that these funds for these programs have been protected and will be protected in the future.”

Excerpts from Adm. Mullen’s response:

“Senator, first of all, I appreciate your leadership on this because it has to have a voice. I actually believe we are just beginning to understand this,” said Adm. Mullen in response to Sen. Murray’s questions. “Leaders have to continue to focus on ‘what are these costs’ and I thought you said it very well, it is to repay this debt for the rest of their lives and we need to stay with them so that we understand what that means.”

“There are time bombs set up that we know are out there, we just don’t know when they’re going to go off,” Adm. Mullen continued. “The relationship that the Pentagon has with the VA and with communities throughout the country has got to get stronger.”

“These costs are longstanding, we don’t understand them as well as we should… not just for our members, but also for our families, we see that time and time again. Our families have become almost as much a part of our readiness as anything else and it wasn’t that way 10 or 15 years ago. Without them we would be nowhere in these wars,” said Adm. Mullen.

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