Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Corruption, 'withdrawal,' Chapter 7

"The results of our 63 billion dollars -- of which portion I spent several millions, I'm proud to say -- ironically was that most of that money was spent for us not for them," Peter Van Buren explained to John Hockenberry (PRI's The Takeaway) yesterday. "The money was spent for propaganda projects, for show good projects, for feel good things. But I'm afraid in terms of helping the Iraqis, they still lack water, sewer services, electricity, the basics of life. I'm afraid we did not do our job."
Peter Van Buren is a State Dept employee and the author of the new book We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People (American Empire Project) which hit bookstore shelves yesterday. Peter Van Buren's book charts 2009, not the more distant past, not the Bush era. As a result of truth telling about what went on in Iraq under Barack, the administration has been targeting Van Buren. From his "Freedom Isn't Free at the State Department" (TomDispatch via Truthout):

On the same day that more than 250,000 unredacted State Department cables hemorrhaged out onto the Internet, I was interrogated for the first time in my 23-year State Department career by State's Bureau of Diplomatic Security (DS) and told I was under investigation for allegedly disclosing classified information. The evidence of my crime? A posting on my blog from the previous month that included a link to a WikiLeaks document already available elsewhere on the Web.
As we sat in a small, gray, windowless room, resplendent with a two-way mirror, multiple ceiling-mounted cameras, and iron rungs on the table to which handcuffs could be attached, the two DS agents stated that the inclusion of that link amounted to disclosing classified material. In other words, a link to a document posted by who-knows-who on a public website available at this moment to anyone in the world was the legal equivalent of me stealing a Top Secret report, hiding it under my coat, and passing it to a Chinese spy in a dark alley.

Peter Van Buren and Tom Engelhardt connect the targeting of Van Buren with the targeting of others in the alleged era of Obama Openess in "WikiLeaked at the State Department" (

It's hardly a secret at this late date that, while the Obama administration arrived in office promoting "a new standard of openness" in government, in practice it's cast not sunshine, but a penumbra of gloom over the workings of Washington. Talk about a closed and punitive crew. Its Justice Department has notoriously gone after government whistleblowers and leakers, launching significantly more (largely unsuccessful) prosecutions than any of Obama’s predecessors. His people lit out with particular ferocity after WikiLeaks, and specifically Bradley Manning, the young Army private accused of passing enormous caches of Army and State Department documents to that website. In the process, the administration developed special forms of pre-punishment to torment him while he was confined, still uncharged, at a Marine brig in Quantico, Va. (It also went to ludicrous lengths to bar government officials, workers, contractors, the military, and anyone else linked to them from reading the leaked documents to which everyone else on Earth already had access.)

Meanwhile in Iraq the political split continues. Dar Addustour reports that the Kurdish delegation did not go to Baghdad yesterday as reported. Al Mada adds that the delegation is not expected to arrive this week and the earliest they would go to Baghdad.

Meanwhile Iraq's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari remains in the US. AP reports that he declared yesterday that his feeling is there will be US soldiers in Iraq beyond 2011 under the billing of 'trainers.' Zebari is quoted stating, "I think we will get an agreement on training. How many trainers will remain in Iraq is not that important. It's the commitment that is very important." What's really going on is better reported by Al Sabaah. Iraq wants out of Chapter 7. That's why they moved to the SOFA and left the UN mandate to begin with. Zebari remains in the US to press the White House on that issue, removing Iraq from Chapter 7. Al Sabaah reports that with US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman at his side, Zebari made the case for ending Chapter 7 to the UN yesterday.

In Iraq today, AP reports a Baghad home invasion of a Sahwa member ("Awakening," "Sons Of Iraq") in which five of his family members were killed.

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