Friday, December 02, 2011

Look who's floating the notion of a third term

A healthy sketicism is supposed to be a hallmark of journalism but it's probably the quality most missing in modern US journalism -- especially when it comes to Iraq. That becomes even more clear this morning with Al Mada reporting Nouri al-Maliki's legal advisor Fadhil Mohammad Jawad is informing the press that there is no law barring Nouri from a third term as prime minister.

This is big news because?

In January, as protests began in Iraq, there were complaints about the do-nothing government, about how elections had taken place (March 7, 2010) and nothing had changed -- the prime minister was the same, the president was the same, even the two vice presidents were them same (at that point, there were two vice presidents, shortly afterwards, there would be three until one resigned in July). This happened despite the fact that Nouri's political slate, State of Law, came in second in the elections, Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, came in first. By the end of February, these were no longer scattered protests but major protests throughout Iraq and they were demanding a functioning and a responsive government (and jobs and that justice system be reformed and other things).

In this climate, as regimes in the MidEast were either falling, thought to be about to fall or trembling, Nouri attempted to garner support and made a string of announcements, ones that the press ran with as gospel. He claimed salaries would be cut, for example. And then he made his really big claim. For those who've forgotten, we're dropping back to the February 7th snapshot:

Of course no one does easy, meaningless words like Nouri. Saturday, his words included the announcement that he wouldn't seek a third term. His spokesperson discussed the 'decision' and Nouri himself announced the decision to Sammy Ketz of AFP in an interview. Ketz reported him stating he won't seek a third term, that 8 years is enough and that he supports a measure to the Constitution limiting prime ministers to two terms.

Well Jalal Talabani declared he wouldn't seek a second term as President of Iraq in an interview and then . . . took a second term. Point, if you're speaking to a single journalist, it really doesn't seem to matter what you say. Did Nouri announce his decision to the people? No, is quite clear that an advisor made an announcement and that Malliki made no "public statement" today.

In other words, a statement in an interview is the US political equivalent of "I have no plans to run for the presidency" uttered more than two years before a presidential election. That's Iraqi politicians in general. Nouri? This is the man who's never kept a promise and who is still denying the existence of secret prisons in Iraq. Deyaar Bamami ( notes the Human Rights Watch report on the secret prisons and that they are run by forces Nouri commands.
And Nouri couldn't even make it 24 hours with his latest 'big promise.' Sunday, Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) reported that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, declared today, "We would like to correct this article. Maliki said, 'I think that the period of eight years is adequate for the application of a successful program to the prime minister, and if he is not successful, he must vacate his place'." Of course he's not announcing that. He's a thug. His previous four year term was an utter failure.

That's not speculation, that's not opinion. He agreed to the benchmarks that the White House set. He was supposed to achieve those in 2007. Those benchmarks, supposedly, were what would determine whether or not the US tax payer continued to foot the bill for the illegal war. But he didn't meet those benchmarks and apologists rushed forward to pretend like they weren't a year long thing and that, in fact, he had 2008 as well. Well 2008 came and went and the benchmarks were still not met. Nor were they in 2009. Nor were they in his last year in 2010.

That's failure. When you agree you will meet certain things -- such as resolving the Kirkuk issue -- and you do not, you are a failure. Not only did he fail at the benchmarks, he failed in providing Iraqis with basic services. He failed in providing them with security.

There is no grading system by which Nouri can be seen as a success.

But just as he will not admit to or own his failures from his first term as prime minister, do not expect to own or admit to his failures in his second term. In other words, Little Saddam wants to be around, and heading the Iraqi government, for a long, long time.

The Wall St. Journal was the only US newspaper that reported Nouri was going back on his word already. And even after Lando and Ammar's article, the US press continued to breathlessly repeat 'Nouri al-Maliki, for the good of Iraq, will not seek a third term! He's putting the needs of the country first!'

So it wasn't just there breathless naivete and lack of skepticism in the face of Nouri's announcement, it was the whoring they did after Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar reported that the pledge, not even 24 hours old, was being broken. "Whoring" is the only term when they ignore that development and continue to pimp, as they did for the rest of February 2011, that Nouri wouldn't seek a third term.

Now Nouri's legal advisor is telling the press that there's no law that could prevent Nouri from running for a third term. Gosh, what do you suppose that's a trial balloon for?

Imagine if we lived in a country with a functioning press, picture just how different things might be.

The following community sites -- plus, the ACLU and NYT's blog -- updated last night:

Community member Todd e-mailed asking if I would promise we'd cover the Senate hearing in today's snapshot? Yes, I will promise that. Wednesday, we attended the House Subcommittee hearing on Iraq and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing. Wednesday's snapshot did not have room for either. I noted I would try to cover both yesterday and ended up dropping the Senate hearing because there wasn't room for it and the more we edited what I'd dictated, the less sense the Senate hearing made. It will be covered in today's snapshot, I promise. We'll close with this from Sherwood Ross' "U.S. EXPANDING DRONE BASES TO ASSASSINATE 'SUSPECTS'" (Veterans Today):

Forecasting a future of robotic warfare in which perverted science is put at the service of its Empire, the U.S. has built 60 bases around the world for its unmanned, remotely controlled killer drone warplanes. And more bases are under construction.
“Run by the military, the Central Intelligence Agency, and their proxies, these bases...are the backbone of a new robotic way of war,” writes Nick Turse, an investigative journalist for [. . .] TomDispatch.
The bases “are also the latest development in a long-evolving saga of American power projection abroad---in this case, remote-controlled strikes anywhere on the planet with a minimal foreign ‘footprint’ and little accountability,” Turse points out.
He notes that there may be even more than 60 bases since the Pentagon has dropped a “cloak of secrecy” over its operations. With the recent murder of American citizen Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen, the drones are now assassinating suspects in no fewer than six countries, Turse says.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post also reports the Obama Pentagon is building a constellation of secret drone bases in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula to attack al-Qaeda affiliates in Somalia and Yemen.
A number of the drone bases are located in the U.S., centered at Creech Air Force base outside Las Vegas, Nev., where “pilots” seated in front of computer screens can direct the unmanned drones and command them to launch a Hellfire missile on a suspect in Afghanistan, 7,500 miles away.

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