Thursday, November 10, 2011

1st Brigade Combat Team 1st Cavalry Division to finish deployment in Kuwait

For thousands of Iraqi women and girls, the conflict that began in 2003 was only the start of their ordeals.
In the chaos of war and the confusion, lawlessness and poverty that followed, an untold number have become victims of sexual traffickers, some within Iraq and others sold over the borders.
But the problem of trafficking has gone almost unreported, kept in the shadows by a combination of corruption, religious and cultural taboo and lack of interest by the region's authorities in tackling it, researchers say.

That's the opening to Laura Smith-Spark's "Silent victims: Iraqi women trafficked for sex, report says" (CNN) and it's the topic we opened with yesterday by noting Hajer Nailis (WeNews) reporting on this topic and Iraqi women were the focus of yesterday's snapshot. We've done what we can. And as you see the silence on the report and the topic, grasp that this is why we repeatedly call out, for example, the New York Times for its failure to find Iraqi women these days when reporting on Iraq, for rendering this country of widows and orphans as a land of men only. UPI, to its credit, carries Hajer Nailis' report.

Azzaman reports Joe Biden, US Vice president, is expected to discuss a number of issues with Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and thug of the occupation, when he visits Iraq and notes he met over the weekend in DC with the KRG's Prime Minister Barham Salih. Dar Addustour is an Iraqi paper in Arabic. On their home page they have a poll currently asking whether Iraq should grant US troops immunity after December 31, 2011. The results? 55% (746 votes) have said yes. It's not a scientific poll, it's not in any way limited to Iraqis. But it is surprising that one of Iraq's leading papers would have a poll on that topic and get that sort of result. Yes, a small tiny group -- even one outside Iraq -- could skew the poll. But so could a group on the other side and the percentages really aren't changing this week -- the poll's been up all week and, in fact, went up last week. In other news, Michelle Tan (Army Times) reports:

Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division have been "remissioned" and will move from Iraq to Kuwait for the remainder of their 12-month tour, the brigade commander announced Wednesday.
The announcement from Col. Scott Efflandt was posted on the unit's Facebook page.
"Troops and families of the 1st Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division are being notified that [the unit] will likely be repositioned within the [Central Command] area of responsibility for the remainder of their 12-month deployment," according to Efflandt's note. "This force will function as a reserve in the region to provide maximum flexibility for response to contingencies. It also demonstrates our lasting commitment to regional stability and security, and the robust security relationships we maintain with our regional partners."

Tan explains that the White House is working to secure a deal to use Kuwait as a staging platform for several thousand US troops. Meanwhile, UPI notes the CIA's not leaving Iraq, "The Central Intelligence Agency, which until recently operated outside the military establishment, is expected to stay on in various guises within the 17,000 U.S. personnel who will remain under State Department jurisdiction." Walter Pincus (Washington Post) addressed yesterday how the US government will be using security contractors in Iraq: "The latest example comes from the Army, which said in a recent notice that it has increased the number of contracted security teams hired to escort convoys of food and fuel coming in from Kuwait." And this use of contractors is happening while the State Dept refuses to present Congress or the SIGIR with any hard numbers or other facts leaving the American tax payer at risk of more tax dollars wasted on corruption and graft. And at a time when the Commission on Wartime Contracting -- whose salaries were paid for by US tax payers -- had declared it's not sharing its work. From the October 4th snapshot:

Over the weekend, Nathan Hodge (Wall St. Journal) reported on the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, "The internal records of a congressionally mandated panel that reported staggering estimates of wasteful U.S. wartime spending will remain sealed to the public until 2031, officials confirmed, as the panel closed its doors on Friday." They've finished their study and they've closed their books. And, if you were at the hearing today, you learned just how wrong that is as Co-Chair Shays waived around the Commission's published findings and declared, "Our problem with Mr. Tieffer was that this book would have been three times as thick if we'd let him put in everything he wanted to put in so we limited him to 40 cases. But it could have been many more."
Great, so US tax payer money went down the drain again. The Commission unearthed tons of things but decided just to publish 40 of them. Because they didn't want their book to be too thick.
Right. We covered the Commission's public hearings. It was always a waste of time which describe the Commission itself and those members of Congress that pushed for it. The only value the Commission could have had was in making public its records now while the wars continue in the hopes that contract waste and abuse could be caught and some money saved. However, that's not going to happen with the Commisson's records being sealed and the published report only focusing on a small number of cases of fraud and abuse. As noted before, the Commission's purpose was never to find fraud and abuse. The purpose was to distract outraged Americans from what was being done with their money. The Commission had no powers. No charges have been filed over fraud. The Commission has wrapped up their business.

Erik Slavin (Stars and Stripes) reports today:

Two U.S. senators slammed a request by the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan to seal its records for 20 years and called on higher officials to publicly release them, according to a statement released Thursday.
Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., co-signed a Nov. 7 letter to Archivist of the United States David S. Ferriero calling on him to overrule the commission’s request, which would effectively prevent the public from learning the details of an investigation into a massive misuse of taxpayer dollars.

AP adds, "Webb and McCaskill sponsored the legislation that created the commission."

Aswat al-Iraq reports that Dr. Hom al-Khishaly, Iraqi Army Doctor, is being held in Diyala Province as a 'terrorism' suspect. Basaer News notes that Nouri's security forces have arrested over 1,000 Iraqi citizens in the last month. The Association of Muslim Scholars notes that many were arbitrary with the most arrests taking place in Diyala Province (277) and Nineveh having the second highest arrest rate (163).

Turning to the arts, writing and reporting for two items. First, Al Rafidayn reports that the Union of Iraqi Writers is calling for the formation of a higher council for Iraq culture and union spokesperson Ibrahim Khayat explains that funding for the Ministry of Culture is meager and that the ministry is not able to provide grants to cultural organizations whichis something the union would like to see a new higher council do in order to help the arts take root in the new Iraq as it has historically throughout Iraq's long history. Meanwhile Al Mannara wonders where journalistic freedom is in Iraq and notes that journalists, media reps and bloggers in Iraq all live in fear of being punished for free expression of opinion as well as reporting which might make the government uncomfortable. At the end of October, they note, a Basra radio station -- which worked with the BBC -- saw its headquarters raided and the journalists arrested. The trumped up charges were Nouri's personal favorite: "Ba'ahtists."

An Iraqi correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers has a must-read blog post at Inside Iraq. Please read. We can't excerpt. It's three brief sentences replying to a US government press release.

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