"Think of it this way," Ted Koppel declared on Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC) last night. "The US is withdrawing a highly visible presence in Iraq, and replacing it with a presence that is all but invisible." After the report, he and Brian Williams discussed a number of topic (online has bonus features, FYI). Excerpt:
Brian Williams: I wrote down the words "dangerously exposed?" while watching the piece. So many people speaking through clenched jaws. You can almost hear it in the voice of that Lieutenant Colonel from the 1st cavalry. Why aren't the remaining Americans to be considered dangerously exposed?
Ted Koppel: They are. They are dangerously exposed. And you have to remember, Brian, that the military command in Iraq did not want the US troops heading home. The commanding general asked for 27,000 troops to stay behind. The fact of the matter is, if the Iranians were to launch an attack against the consulate in Basra, you have to be willing to put your money on the Iraqi government. And if the Iraqi government doesn't do it, who else is going to do it? Well as you've heard there are a lot of American troops in that region and I would put my quota on saying, they're coming back and they'll be the ones to evacuate.
In what Al Mada calls a remarkable development, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi publicly declared yesterday that Parliament has agreed to grant foreign troops "partial immunity." US talks broke down over one legal reading-- no the official administration reading of the law - that US troops could not stay in Iraq without immunity granted by the Parliament. (Yes, they could have. Nouri could have granted it all by himself and the US could have accepted it as they do with Status of Forces Agreements in other countries.) Now the Parliament is offering "partial immunity" as negotiations continue. That announcement was made yesterday. Yesterday. Where are the US outlets reporting it? Look in vain for what should be in the US news cycle but isn't.
Jack Healy, Tim Arango and Michael S. Schmidt (New York Times) offer a look at Nouri. My strongest negative criticism was that this (on Nouri's mass arrests) needs to appear further towards the opening (and not in the middle):
"It's highly unlikely to be much validity behind" the coup plot, said a Western official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, to avoid upsetting relations with the Iraqi government. "Baathism here is a symbol that Maliki uses as a bogyman. It gives them the leeway to go around arresting people. It's about a climate of fear."
On another morning, we'd be going into the article at length (it warrants that kind of attention) but there's not time. Though read it as an explanation of why the US government backed Nouri for a second term (and overrode the Iraqi people) and the article makes more sense. On things there is not time for, to those e-mailing that Barack's statements are being ignored: No, they are not.
Jim wanted Ava and I to do two TV pieces on Sunday. In addition to "TV: The Nutty Airhead," he wanted us to grab 60 Minutes that night and then write something up. We said no. But allowed we might bring it in this coming Sunday. Thanks to Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic) brilliant critique there's no need for it. What could have been said has been (and said very well by CF). However, we are addressing the sorry-ass media coverage of Barack's spectacle. That includes many things -- TV and radio -- and it's not being ignored, it's being filed away for our piece on Sunday. There are many more things to do right now than make space here for ceremonial crap -- c.c. that's insulting on so many levels.
Reuters notes a Falluja gun and bomb attack in which 3 people died and five were injured (three of the five were judges), 1 police colonel was shot dead in Mosul and a Shirqat sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "The judges were headed to Ramadi, where they work. One of them is the chief judge of the criminal court there."
Arwa Damon (CNN) has a report on looting and smuggling -- link is video and text.
Diyala Province wants to go semi-autonomous and is following Salahuddin's lead. We'll go into that in the snapshot and also Osama al-Nujaifi's remarks yesterday about Nouri and his Cabinet being in violation of the Constitution. I don't see US outlets grabbing those remarks either.
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rock center with brian williams
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michael s. schmidt