Friday, February 10, 2012

Like the political crisis, the CIA continues in Iraq

The much-feared Central Intelligence Agency is planning to maintain a large and secretive presence inside both Iraq and Afghanistan long after American troops leave those nations, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
In Iraq, where most US troops have already left, the massive CIA presence in Baghdad has been re-purposed. Once focused chiefly on tackling Qaeda in Iraq and other insurgents, the American spies are now "monitoring developments in the increasingly antagonistic government."
In many ways thing have come full circle for the CIA, which had a presence on the ground spying on the Saddam Hussein regime before the 2003 US invasion. Now, having spent the last eight years helping the military prop up the Nurul Maliki government, the agency again finds itself there spying.

The above is from "CIA to stay in Iraq, Afghanistan: WP" (Pakistan's The Nation) and they're referring to Greg Miller's Washington Post report from earlier this week. It was an important article and has garnered a great deal of attention from the press . . . outside the US. As noted earlier this week, NPR's Morning Edition ran with Tim Arango but ignored Miller's report. That's fine, Ava and I were already toying with doing "A Tale Of Two NPRs" this Sunday, highlighting the rank hypocrisy and lack of standards -- including the need to tack a 'warning label' on anything to do with women's reproduction, including how some contests matter and some don't, including so much. So we can easily squeeze the ignoring of a major report in -- especially after the propaganda piece Morning Edition aired yesterday that didn't contain a critic. It sure is cute that if that were an anti-war group, they would have felt the need to present both sides but when it's a group associated with the US government, one size fits all. Prensa Latina notes, "The CIA's stations in Kabul and Baghdad will probably remain the agency´s largest overseas outposts for years. According to The Washington Post, this will happen even if they shrink from record staffing levels set at the height of American efforts in those nations to neutralize insurgency attacks."

Meanwhile Nouri is facing rumors that he's cooperating with the CIA or assisting them. Al Mada notes State of Law MP Adnan al-Sarraj has issued a statement denying any involvement Nouri has with the CIA -- presumably current involvement is being denied since Nouri and the CIA had a pre-existing relationship prior to 2003 -- and stating that when Nouri met with US President Barack Obama in December, Nouri made clear that the CIA wasn't welcome in autonomous Iraq. Al Mada notes not only Miller's report for the Washington Post but also Iraqi intelligence sources who have that Iraq's leadership and the CIA have an extensive relationship.

In Iraq, the political crisis continues. Shihab Hamid (Dar Addustour) offers that national reconciliation is important to the political and social future of Iraq as well as to the security and stability of the country and that all Iraqis should be able to participate because, otherwise, the price paid with millions dead was for nothing. Al Mada notes that Iraqiya has confirmed to them that there are various plans being put forward for the national conference and that, at Monday's meeting, the National alliance offered a working paper, as did Iraqiya and the Kurdistan Alliance. The plan is for the three proposals to be discussed at the next meeting which is currently scheduled for Sunday. Yes, another meeting to make preparations. President Jalal Talabani and Speaker Osama al-Nujaifi have been calling for a national conference since December. It's February. Is it going to take eight months of preparation? Or, more likely, in a month or two is Nouri just going to say that since they've managed this long without one, they really don't need it?

When Nouri returned to Iraq, his war against Iraqiya and Sunnis became more obvious and he began demanding that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his position and that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested on 'terrorism' charges. Al Mada notes that Saleh al-Mutlaq is stating that the problems in Iraq remain serious and that he will not return to Cabinet meetings until there is a guarantee that the political proces will be fixed and that the groundwork for a real partnership is in place. He maintains this needs to take place before the Arab Summit which is scheduled to be held in Baghdad currently. Al Sabaah notes that the meeting is scheduled for March 29th and is part of a series of planned visits by foreigners to Iraq -- a list that's said to include UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visiting.

Of the Sadr Festival yesterday, Al Mada reports on Moqtada al-Sadr's speech and who knew Moqtada was such a chicken He calls out the illegal war and he calls out the American troops but is apparently too scared to call out the Ahmed Chalabis who didn't just live in exile but actively courted and lobbied the government of England and the US to go to war with Iraq. If you're going to talk "blood on their hands," it seems you start with those who begged and lied to get the western invasion of Iraq.

We'll close by noting this from The Bat Segundo Show:

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Stewart O'Nan at McNally Jackson Live 2/16

As previously announced, the great Stewart O'Nan will be making a New York City appearance at McNally Jackson on February 16, 2012 to discuss his latest novel, The Odds. Odds that Our Correspondent will be baking cookies shortly before the event? 2.2:1. If you're not up to speed on O'Nan, we check out our lengthy email volley with him last year or listen to our previous show with him.

A Bit of Fry, Sewer Talk, and Wanted Women

As this one hour conversation demonstrates, Stephen Fry is indisputably a world-class raconteur, a gentleman and a scholar who has rightfully promulgated erudition and the miracle of language. But why is he so reticent to confront Foxconn? Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Agnieszka Holland discusses In Darkness, how to find the right sewer, and the present state of Holocaust cinema. Two wanted women, one dual biography, one 35 minute conversation.

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