Monday, December 19, 2011

Iraq snapshot

Monday, December 19, 2011.  Chaos and violence continue -- and that's just within the government as Iraq looks for a handbasket to go to hell in.
CNN reported this afternoon that an arrest warrant had been issued for Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi by the Judicial Commitee with the charge of terrorism.  Omar al-Saleh (Al Jazeera) terms it a "poltical crisis" and states, "The government says this has nothing to do with the US withdrawal, that this has nothing to do with the prime minister consolidating his grip on power.  However, members of al-Iraqiya bloc, which Hashimis is a member of, say 'No, [Maliki] is trying to be a dictator."  Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) observes, "The arrest warrant puts Mr. Maliki on a possible collision course with the Kurds, who run their own semiautonomous region in the north and participate in the central government but have longstanding disputes with Baghdad over oil and land; and with Sunni Arabs in provinces like Anbar, Diyala, Nineveh and Salahuddin who have pressed in recent weeks for more autonomy from Baghdad with the backing of the Kurds."
What the hell is going on? 
Over the weekend, Nouri went for another power grab. 
It actually started before Saturday but the press was ga-ga over photo-ops.  'Last soldier out! No, really, last US soldier out! Except for the ones still there! Don't look behind the curtain!'   And apparently covering for Barack was more important than telling Americans what was taking place in Iraq.
Late Saturday night online (Sunday in print), Liz Sly (Washington Post) noted that the 'government' in Iraq is "unraveling faster than had been anticipated Saturday." Really?  All in one day.  Well,  no, not in one day.  She continued,  "In recent days, the homes of top Sunni politicians in the fortified Green Zone have been ringed by tanks and armored personnel carriers, and rumors are flying that arrest warrants will be issued for other Sunni leaders."
"In recent days."  
Golly, seems to me if you know -- for even just one damn day -- that Nouri's goons -- in tanks, no less -- are 'ringing' his political opponents home, you report it then.  Yet even with Sly reporting this late Saturday -- by which point it was already all over the Iraqi media -- you had Jim Axlerod (CBS News) filing garbage and crap and pretending that was covering Iraq. 
There are actually two opponents Nouri is attacking.  Let's walk through.  Saturday,  
Ines Tariq (Al Mada) reported on the controversy over whether or not the country's Supreme Court has issued an arrest warrant for Iraq's Sunni Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi. Yes, rumors were already swirling about an arrest warrant.
Now put al-Hashemi on hold for a moment and let's note the other politcal opponent Nouri's targeting and, don't worry, when we move over to Sunday, the strands come together.  Al Rafidayn reported Nouri al-Maliki was asking Parliament for a vote to withdraw confidence in Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. Nouri declared al-Mutlaq is no longer fit for office as a result of an interview he gave to CNN. Last Tuesday, Arwa Damon and Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is amassing dictatorial power as U.S. troops leave the country, risking a new civil war and the breakup of the nation, his deputy warned Tuesday.
Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq told CNN that he was "shocked" to hear U.S. President Barack Obama greet al-Maliki at the White House on Monday as "the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq." He said Washington is leaving Iraq "with a dictator" who has ignored a power-sharing agreement, kept control of the country's security forces and rounded up hundreds of people in recent weeks.
[. . .]
"America left Iraq with almost no infrastructure. The political process is going in a very wrong direction, going toward a dictatorship," he said. "People are not going to accept that, and most likely they are going to ask for the division of the country. And this is going to be a disaster. Dividing the country isn't going to be smooth, because dividing the country is going to be a war before that and a war after that."

Like Tareq al-Hashemi, Saleh al-Mutlaq is a member of the Iraqiya political slate. Dar Addustour reported that the homes of al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq as well as the home of Rafi Hiyad al-Issawi had been surrounded by "tanks and special forces." Dr. Rafi Hiyad al-Issawi was the previous Deputy prime minister (2007 through 2010). He was the head of Falluja General Hospital prior to that and he is currently the Minister of Finance. Like the other two, al-Issawi is a member of Iraqiya.  Now that's Saturday.

And, hopefully, you'll agree that the above should have been news.  That the photo ops should have ceased immediately.  Let's move to Sunday where Nouri's still got a few tricks to play.  AFP reported, "Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and several of his bodyguards were escorted off a plane at Baghdad airport on Sunday because two of the guards were wanted on 'terrorism charges,' officials said, the latest step in a deepening political crisis." Also on the plane, I said the strands would meet, was Saleh al-Mutlaq.
al-Mutlaq was also forced off the plane. On Sunday's All Things Considered (NPR), Kelly McEvers offered this take:

Kelly McEvers: Here in Kuwait, just having crossed over the border, we have all these US commanders telling us that they're leaving Iraq in a better place, that it's a thriving democracy. Yet in Baghdad it looks like you have Prime Minister Maliki -- who is a Shi'ite and whose government is Shi'ite -- going after his rivals who are Sunnis. Just yesterday, charges were announced against the Vice President who is Sunni and troops surrounded his house. The Maliki government accuses him of being involved in a terrorist plot. But Maliki's detractors say this is sectarian revenge. So you know we've got these promises from US commanders that things are going really well but this kind of national reconciliation government looks like it's unraveling.

That should have been the lead story on the Sunday evening newscasts (network evenings news).  Kelly McEvers filed in time for All Things Considered.  Other should have been filing as well.  Instead, you got this piece of garbage report by Jim Axelrod -- who damn well knows better -- airing on the CBS Evening News Sunday (link is text and video). Search in vain for any mention of arrest warrants or tanks around politicians' homes or politicians being pulled off planes in Baghdad.  You won't find them.  Jim whored.  Jim embarrassed himself.  And if I were Jim's age and his health record, I'd be seriously worried about my legacy because there may not be a lot of time left and I really wouldn't want to go out as a whore.
Are you in the news business or not?  If you are and you're filing a report on Iraq on Sunday, you damn well include what's going on. Sunday, Nizar Latif (The National) observed:

Those moves have added to a fear among the prime minister's critics that he is seeking to eliminate rivals and consolidate power.Iraqiyya warned it would pull out of the coalition government unless Mr Al Maliki agreed to seek a solution that respects "democracy and civil institutions".
"Iraq is now in a very difficult position. This is a critical time," said Eytab Al Douri, an MP with the Iraqiyya bloc. "If solutions are not found quickly, Iraq will be heading towards sectarian and ethnic divisions, and a return to civil war."

Roy Gutman, Sahar Issa and Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reported that there were claims of confessions being made by other Tareq al-Hashemi guards. If so, it's worth noting that Iraqi 'confessions' often result from torture making them unreliable at best. Gutman, Issa and Hammoudi note Nouri's government planned to air the 'confessions' on TV:

Iraq's Interior Ministry announced Saturday that it would televise the confessions of the first two suspects that night, but the plan touched off a firestorm. The U.S. Embassy, silent for most of the past year in the face of other political excesses, objected publicly. It said in a statement that U.S. officials had not yet seen the actual confessions and urged Iraq to investigate all allegations "in a transparent manner in accordance with Iraqi law."
On Sunday, Iraq's supreme judicial authority ruled that the confessions of the alleged "cell" members couldn't be aired until the investigation is completed.

QUESTION: Yes, ma'am. Almost time for the departure of the last American soldier from Iraq. The Iraqi prosecutor general issued a warrant arrest for the Vice President Tariq al-Hashemi and the Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq. Both are Sunnis and from the Iraqiya or affiliated with the Iraqiya coalition. Do you have any comment on that?
MS. NULAND: Well, we are closely monitoring these reports that an arrest warrant has been issued, in particular for Vice President al-Hashemi. We are talking to all of the parties. We've expressed our concern regarding these developments. We're urging all political sides in Iraq to work out their differences peaceably, politically, through dialogue, and certainly in a manner that is consistent with democratic political processes and international standards of rule of law. Ambassador Jeffrey has been in contact with all of the parties in recent hours.
QUESTION: Victoria, I mean, coming so soon after Maliki's visit to Washington, is that Mr. Maliki saying that I'm really in Iran's camp? I mean, is that how it is interpreted in this building? Or should it be interpreted that way?
MS. NULAND: There are a number of issues that Iraqis have been struggling with for a number of years. We want to see, in this next phase of Iraq's development, this sovereign phase, Iraqis work together within Iraq's democratic institutions to preserve national unity, to address the underlying political issues that form the basis of these kinds of tensions. We want to see Iraq's sovereignty protected and their democratic institutions protected. So that is a goal that we share. We share that goal with most of Iraq's leaders, and we're urging them to work together on these issues.
QUESTION: Does the U.S. have anything to indicate that these warrants were issued in any way that doesn't comport with democratic processes? Do you doubt the motivation behind these reports of arrest warrants?
MS. NULAND: Well, I think I've addressed our general view that we want to ensure that, whatever is done, it's within the democratic possibilities of Iraq and within international standards of rule of law. We obviously have not been privy to the underlying documents, et cetera, and we don't know where this is going from here. But again, we want to see dialogue, and we want to see resolution of these things within Iraq's democratic processes.
We're being kind and I'm not inserting names but leaving "Question" in place.  Kind?  How the hell do you not know know who Saleh al-Mutlaq is?  When Nouri lodged the complaint with Al Jazeera against Inside Iraq, among the gripes was the charge that al-Mutlaq was able to dispense "propaganda" on Jassim al-Azzawi's program.  The reason we didn't fall of Al Jazeera's garbage passed off as Libyan War coverage is because I knew the background on what vanished Jassim al-Azzawi from his own program and then what got the program killed (he was allowed to host the final episode).  It was Nouri.  Nouri and the government of Qatar.  That's why their coverage is so embarrassing from Iraq. 
From Inside Iraq that began airing January 22, 2010, they're discussing the efforts to keep al-Mutlaq off the ballot for the March 7, 2010 elections.
Jassim al-Azzawi: [Overlapping] Yes, I shall come to the scare tactics and the fear politics that you mention but before that, I guess our international audience would like to know, who stands behind this campaign to disbar more then 500 people?  Some of them such senior figures as yourself. The National Dialogue Front has about 12 members in Parliament.  You've been in politics for many, many years. I guess the logical question is: Who's behind it? It is my role as a presenter and a journalist to ask the tough questions and perhaps it's your role as a politician and even your perogative not to answer.  Let me give you a couple of options and see which one you lean on.  Is it Ahmed Chalabi, the former head of the de-Ba'athification?  Is it Prime Minister al-Maliki fearing that Saleh al-Mutlaq has the wind behind him and one day he might even become the president of Iraq?  Or is it another force? Who is exactly orchestrating this?
Saleh al-Mutlaq: Well Ahmed Chalabi could not do what was done alone.  I think there's a power behind that and my belief is that Iran is behind that and Ahmed Chalabi is only a tool -- Ahmed Chalabi agenda is a tool to do this.  And Ahmed Chalabi is not alone. We discovered that Ahmed Chalabi now has an intelligence association in Iraq and he worked with so many people outside the Iraqi government. And what happened really surprised everybody.  The same day that this decision was taken, everybody was saying, "I know nothing about it." You ask al-Maliki, he says, "I know nothing about it." You ask the president [Jalal Talabani], he says he knows nothing about it.  You ask the Chairman of the Parliament, he knows nothing about it. Then who is doing that?  We discover there is a small organization which does not exist legally.  The de-Ba'athification committee has been frozen -- including Ahmed Chalabi himself -- has been frozen by the prime minister and by the president.  And another committee, which is the Accountability, came in but it was not formed because the Parliament did not vote on the names that were being proposed by the prime minister because most of them are from al Dahwa Party [Nouri's party].
January 2010, J. Scott Carpenter and Michael Knights' "Iraq's Politics of Fear" (Foreign Policy) explained:

The ban will mainly affect candidates from the Iraqiyya coalition, a cross-sectarian alliance dominated by secular nationalists and led by Iyad Alllawi, the first Iraqi prime minister of the post-Saddam era. Saleh Mutlaq, one of the three most senior leaders in the coalition, was among the candidates struck from the ballot -- along with all candidates from his party, the Iraqi Front for National Dialogue. Wathab Shakir, the Sunni Arab head of the national reconciliation committee, was also banned, alongside numerous candidates of the Unity of Iraq coalition, another cross-sectarian nationalist alliance.       

Iraqiya was the slate most targeted with (false) charges of Ba'athism.  The charges came from the Justice and Accountability Committee steered by Ahmed Chalabi and his beloved Ali al-Lami whose fate was to be gunned down in May of 2011 with his brother Jamal Faisal gunned down in June -- reportedly it was Shia on Shia violence stemming from some deals al-Lami had going on the side.  (Deals?  He was allegedly peddling his ability to influence and allegedly either went back on a promise or didn't have the power he claimed.)
Despite Nouri targeting Iraqiya and picking off candidates (some of whom were barred from running, some of whom were assassinated) and despite the glowing press his State of Law political slate received in Iraq (see Deborah Amos' "Confusion, Contradiction and Irony: The Iraqi Media in 2010," Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center) and despite his quickly tossed together projects ahead of the election (oh, look, water at last for our neighborhood), Nouri still couldn't pull out a win.
Political Stalemate I begins with the results of the March 7, 2010 elections, even after Nouri al-Maliki bitterly contested them and stamped his feet until a few post-election votes were tossed his way, were that Iraqiya still came in first and Nouri's political slate State of Law still came in second. Iraqis do not elect their prime minister, the Parliament does. Per the Constitution, Ayad Allawi, the leader of Iraqiya, should have had first crack at forming a government. First crack? You become prime minister-designate and then have thirty days to name a Cabinet (nominate people for positions and have Parliament vote in favor of them). If you can't accomplish that in 30 days, per the Constitution, a new prime minister-designate is supposed to be named.

Political Stalemate I ended in November of 2010 with the Erbil Agreement hammered out in Erbil between the major political blocs (and the US) whereby every one was supposed to make concessions. The Kurds would get to keep Jalal Talabani as president. They thought they would get three vice presidents. Iraqiya won the elections in March 2010 and the political bloc was headed by Ayad Allawi. Nouri wasn't stepping down and the White House was backing Nouri. For Nouri to remain prime minister, Allawi was promised he would head a new, independent council over security issues. He was also promised that the Iraqiya candidates demonized as Ba'athists and forced out of the 2010 elections by Nouri's friends would have their names cleared.

On November 11th, the new Parliament held their first real session. They voted Osama al-Nujaifi Speaker of Parliament (he was from Iraqiya and that was part of the Erbil Agreement), Jalal was named president and Nouri was named prime minister designate (but we were all informed in the following days that this was 'unofficial' -- once named prime minister-designate, you have 30 days, per the Constitution, to put together a Cabinet and get the Parliament to sign off on each member). But what of the security council? What of clearing the names of the falsely accused?

That would come, State of Law insisted, in time.

Allawi and a number of Iraqiya members walked out. They should have refused to participate from that day forward. Instead, they foolishly believed promises (from both State of Law and the White House). Nobember 25th, Jalal 'officially' named Nouri prime minister-designate.

Nouri had created Political Stalemate I by refusing to surrender the prime minister post. He'd done that for eight months. In that time, he should have had some ideas about a Cabinet. But Nouri's problem was he over-promised to get support. So when it was time to name a Cabinet, suddenly the Cabinet had more ministers and deputy ministers than it had previously (from 37 in 2006 to 42 in 2010). And he still couldn't keep his promises to everyone.

December 22nd, the Constitution was tossed by the wayside and Nouri was allowed to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister because he'd assembled a kind of Cabinet. He named 31 out of 42 ministers and people pretended that was good enough. He had failed to meet the Constitutional mandate of naming a Cabinet but everyone looked the other way.

He refused to name the security posts: National Security, Interior and Defense. His defenders (including the White House) swore those posts would be named in a matter of weeks. His detractors saw the refusal as part of a pattern of power grabs on Nouri's part and stated he wouldn't fill the posts. This is the start of Political Stalemate II.
Three days from now, it will be a year since Nouri was wrongly (per the Constitution, per the vote) named prime minister. And Iraq still has no Minister of Defense, Minister of Interior or Minister of National Security. The US press insisted to news consumers, back in December 2010, that it would only be a matter of weeks before Nouri named nominees for these posts.  Wiser Iraqis stated the vacancies were intentional and part of a power grab on Nouri's part. Nearly a year later, who looks like they were right and who looks like they were wrong?
Before we go further, al-Mutlaq was telling Al Jazeera viewers about how the political party Dawa controlled the Justice and Accountability Commission in 2010.  The head of Dawa is Nouri al-Maliki. (Visit the party website and use their "Ask the PM" feature if you'd like to communicate with a thug.) State of Law is a political slate.  (Some call it a "coalition."  That's not exactly wrong but, to form a government after parliamentary elections, a coalition is formed.  To avoid confusion, we call it -- and Iraqiya -- political slates and not "political coalitions.") Why bring up Dawa and its control of the Justice and Accountability Commission in 2010?  Because, as explained in the September 20, 2011 snapshot, Nouri was again attempting to continue the committee and to again put it under Dawa control (even Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc objected to that).
That should have been totally anticipated by the US government and yet another reason why they shouldn't have backed Nouri for a second term (they got the Kurds to set aside their objections and got SICI's leader to come on board as well, they then made deals with Ayad Allawi -- that the US government went back on -- to get him to go along with the Erbil Agreement).  Saturday night when the Iraqi press was conveying how bad things were going, we noted here that Barack was responsible.  And the Cult of St. Barack descended upon the public e-mail account and the Cult sayeth he is wise and all good and only a hater shall ever blame our modern day Christ-child.  "It was Bush's war!" chants the Cult.
No, it's Barack's war.  It became his war the minute he was sworn in.  It continued to be his war and, with the militarization of the State Dept, it remains his war.  As we noted Saturday:

That's not an argument for staying. We have always favored immediate withdrawal. And we noted back when Barack won the election that he needed to get the troops out immediately. Had he done what many voters thought he was promising to do, the disaster that Iraq may become would be a Bush disaster.
If Iraq had broken out into all out war in 2010 -- Barack having pulled all US troops out in 2009 -- that would be Bush's problem. And Barack could say that. And no one could have argued with him. He had a mandate from the voters to immediately end the Iraq War.
But instead, he decided to own the war. And he decided to continue the occupation (by militarizing the State Dept). And he and his gang of idiots made one fatal mistake another another including backing Nouri over and over. Including repeatedly stabbing the Kurds in the back. Asking them time and again to ignore what was best for them and instead do what would help the White House. (That's not even counting all of the US money the CIA funneled into Goran -- a political party in the KRG that challenges the two existing parties.) As a friend in the administration said to me recently, there's really no marker left that the US can call in when it comes to the Kurds. The administration betrayed those who were friends to the US by supporting a thug named Nouri. In supporting a thug named Nouri, they betrayed the Iraqi people. In backing Nouri over the Iraqi Constitution, they sent a message and set a pattern that rule of law does not matter.

That's not just my opinion.  Last Tuesday on KCRW's To the Point, Warren Oleny addressed Iraq with many guests.  We'll note part of his conversation with Feisal Amin Rasoul Istrabadi -- the part where the realities of Political Stalemate II are addressed.
Warren Oleny: Is there anything the Obama administration should be doing differently from what it is?
Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi: Well, I mean, that's hard to say because obviously it's influence is somewhat waning.  The critical mistake the Obama administration made occurred last year when it threw its entire diplomatic weight behind supporting Nouri al-Maliki notwithstanding these very worrisome signs which were already in place in 2009 and 2010.  The administration lobbied hard both internally in Iraq and throughout the region to have Nouri al-Maliki get a second term -- which he has done.  Right now, the betting there's some question among Iraq experts whether we'll ever have a set of elections in Iraq worthy of the name.  I mean, you can almost get odds, a la Las Vegas, on that among Iraq experts. It's a very worrisome thing.  What can they do in the future? Well I suppose it would be helpful, it would be useful, if we stopped hearing this sort of Happy Talk coming from the administration -- whether its Jim Jeffreys in Baghdad, the US Ambassador or whether it's the president himself or other cabinet officers.  We're getting a lot of Happy Talk, we're getting a lot of Happy Talk from the Pentagon about how professional the Iraqi Army is when, in fact, the Iraqi Army Chief of Staff himself has said it's going to take another ten years before the Iraqi Army can secure the borders. So it would help, at least, if we would stop hearing this sort of Pollyanna-ish -- if that's a word -- exclamations from the administration about how swimmingly things are going in Iraq and had a little more truth told in public, that would be a very big help to begin with.
Critical mistake is correct.  As the Washington Post's David Ignatius observed last week, "I have a copy of a 1985 photograph, culled from the archives of a Beirut newspaper, that shows a circle of Iranian-backed conspirators gathered behind the pilots of the hijacked TWA Flight 847.  Some former U.S. officials say the balding man in the front row is Maliki; but even if that's wrong, his own Dawa Party bombed the U.S. Embassy in Kuwait in 1983.  A conspiratorial underground was his political education."
That's who the US government backed.  That was Bush's decision in 2006 and it was Barack's in 2010.   Things could be different in Iraq.  But the US government made the decision.
Nouri has often been at odds with Tareq al-Hashemi.  Both came to their current positions in the spring of 2006.  Nouri and State of Law objected strongly to Tareq's visiting neighboring countries in the region during Political Stalemate I and, most importantly, when Nouri was exposed as a liar (again) for lying about secret prisons (again) and prison conditions, al-Hashemi amplified the revelations by visiting the prison.  And Saleh al-Mutlaq?  Dar Addustour notes Nouri is also calling for confidence to be withdrawn on al-Mutlaq and that Shwani Khalid, head of the Parliamentary Legal Committee. Al Sabaah notes Nouri's trusted lackey Yassin Majeed went on television and stated that al-Mutlaq is not fit to hold office. If that is what Nouri is pursuing, that means he's attempting to prosecute al-Mutlaq for the statements that have Nouri enraged. For those who've forgotten, Nouri attempted to sue a member of Parliament (Sabah al-Saadi) only a few months back (September).  From the September 22nd snapshot:

Hossam Acommok (Al Mada) reports on Moqtada al-Sadr's criticism of Nouri al-Maliki swearing out an arrest warrant for Sabah al-Saadi claiming that criticizing Nouri is a threat to national security (see yesterday's snapshot). al-Sadr has called out the move and compared it to a new dictatorship and issued a call for the government to work on inclusion and not exclusion. Another Al Mada report notes Sadr declaring that Nouri needs to drop this issue and focus on the needed political work. It's noted that the Sadr bloc waited until Moqtada issued a statement to weigh in and that the Kurdish Regional Government President Massoud Barazni declared that the Kurdish bloc would not support a vote to strip al-Saadi of his immunity. As a member of Parliament, Sabah al-Saadi should be immune to Nouri's arrest warrant for the 'crime' of speech. Currently, the warrant exists but cannot be executed due to the immunity members of Parliament have. So in addition to filing charges against al-Saadi, Nouri and State of Law (his political slate) are also attempting to strip a member of Parliament of his immunity.
But that's not all. Nouri has a back up plan. Should the Parliament not agree to strip al-Saadi of his immunity, the warrant will stand through 2014 when al-Saadi's term expires (al-Saadi's decided not to run again or Nouri's made that decision and intends to utilize the Justice and Accountability Commission to keep him from running?) at which point all-Saadi would be a citizen (without immunity) and then the warrant can and will be executed. In addition, Al Mada notes the claim that immunity can be stripped of a member of Parliament if half-plus-one of those in attendance vote in favor of the motion.
For those wondering how an insult, any insult, rises to the level of criminal, this AFP report (in French) explains that Nouri's complaint utilizes a law from the reign of General Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr, Article 226 of the 1969 Criminal Code which made it a crime for anyone to insult a member of Parliament, the government, the courts, armed forces, etc.

That was in September. Immunity prevented Nouri from going any further. And if MPs want to call Nouri a dictator they can. (Sadly they can only do that, under the current understanding of Iraqi law, because they have immunity as an MP. Citizens, under the current understanding of Iraqi law, most likely lack that freedom of expression in Iraq.) Nouri's efforts to have the man kicked out of Parliament failed so Team Nouri (advisors and attorneys) began telling the press that as soon as the man's term in Parliment expired (they didn't appear to think the man could be re-elected), he would be arrested. (For calling Nouri a dictator.)

al-Mutlaq said Nouri was acting dictatorial. For that 'crime,' Nouri must strip him of his status which confers immunity if he's going to have him arrested.
Reuters notes a gun attack on a Mosul checkpoint which claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier, 1 grocer was shot dead in Mosul, one man was injured when police shot him n Mosul, a Balad roadside bombing injured three Iranian pilgrims and, dropping back to last night for both, a Kirkuk shooting in which two Sahwa were injured and a Mosul shooting that left two police officers injured.
Turning to the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Murray Press Office
Monday, December 19, 2011 (202) 224-2834

VETERANS: Murray Applauds VA Implementation of Care for Newborn Children of Women Veterans

(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, released the following statement after the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
issued regulations to cover the provision of care to newborn children of women veterans as required in the Caregivers and Veteran Omnibus Health Services Act of 2010. This provision, authored by Chairman Murray in her Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2009, would provide health services for newborns for up to seven days after the birth of the child if the mother delivered the child in a VA facility or in another facility pursuant to a VA contract for maternity services.

"This is great news for our women veterans who have earned the right to expect high-quality health care services that are tailored to meet their unique needs," said Chairman Murray. "As our remaining troops departed Iraq yesterday and thousands more prepare to leave Afghanistan in the coming months, the VA system must be equipped to help our women veterans step back into their lives as mothers, wives, and citizens. I applaud today's announcement and will continue my push for benefits and services that will help our nation's women veterans receive high quality care."


Meghan Roh

Deputy Press Secretary

Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray



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