Saturday, June 16, 2012

I Hate The War

ambassador to swingtown
How important are the unqualified Brett McGurk (above) and the pathetic Gina Chon (below)

the gentlemen's club for journalism

They're pretty important at present.

Brett McGurk is a natural focus for this site and we've been noting his lack of qualifications since Laura Rozen first reported he was going to be the new nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq.  (Laura scooped everyone with that story.)  We began reviewing his qualifications and noted he was not qualified.  Peter Van Buren blogged about about problems with McGurk early on.  We linked to his writing and echoed those points here.  That was before the confirmation hearing.

The day before the confirmation hearing, I knew I'd have to do something in the snapshot to note what was coming.  But even I didn't know what was coming.  I was going to review again the reasons McGurk is unqualified.  Not a problem.  And we did do that.  But while visiting various offices, I was in a Senator's office where a conversation was taking place in whispers about Brett McGurk and some reporter (Gina Chon's name wasn't mentioned -- she was a nobody in most people's eyes at that point).  As I left the office, I searched the web on my iPhone and found them at Cryptome.  (I searched "Brett McGurk" "e-mails" on Google.  At that point on Tuesday, it was the third result.  The other two were on different topics.  Cryptome was the first site to post them -- they had earlier been posted to Flickr.)

Reading them, it was obvious this created a new problem with the nomination: Iraqi women will have to cut themselves off from the US Embassy if McGurk is confirmed.  That's a little over half the country's population.  No one whose mere presence cuts off half the host country's population should be allowed to be an ambassador.

Did anyone care about that?  I didn't see it on my TV, I didn't read it in the newspapers.

Iraqi women apparently are invisible in the US.

They certainly were invisible in Gina Chon's pathetic e-mail yesterday where she pretended to have suffered.  Ask Iraqi women about suffering, Gina Chon, ask them.  The e-mails Brett McGurk exchanged with Wall St. Journal reporter Gina Chon in 2008 while both were in Baghdad are part of the public record.  If Chon doesn't like it, that's too damn bad.  Maybe they shouldn't have written each other about blue balls?  Maybe, since Gina was carrying several devices, she should have used something other than her work phone to e-mail on and McGurk should have used something other than government equipment to e-mail her?

But McGurk was already known in Iraq and now he's known as the man who came to Iraq already married and then engaged in extra marital sex.  A community member in Iraq wrote that it would have been better for Iraqi women if McGurk (Anglo White) had been involved with some White woman from England or the US.  But Chon is a person of color and that sort of leaves open the notion that McGurk might sleep with Iraqi women as well.  And it's that belief that's going to prevent most -- if not all -- Iraqi women from accessing the US Embassy if McGurk is confirmed.  So-called 'honor' killings are not something I've made up.  Each year, in their human rights report, the US State Dept documents them. 

Why the hell would a government send someone to another country as an ambassador if they knew that person's mere presence would prevent half the country from accessing the embassy?

The first week, we covered these issues and more:

We spent three snapshots on the confirmation hearing alone.  He's no qualified.  Iraiqya doesn't trust him.  You've got the most popular political slate in the country (Iraqiya) saying they don't trust him.  And that's who you're going to send into Iraq to (hopefully) 'smooth things over'?  How's that going to work?  No one wanted to ask, on the Committe, about the political impasse.  Not seriously.  How in the world can McGurk address that in any credible manner when he's seen as being too close to Nouri al-Maliki -- the man responsible for starting Political Stalemate I (the gridlock after the March 2010 elections through November 2010) and Political Stalemate II (December 2010 to the present)?

Margaret Carlson wrote a ridiculous column for Bloomberg News that's fairyl typical of the XENOPHOBIC press in the US.  She wanted the world to know:

What you think of the affair between diplomat Brett McGurk and journalist Gina Chon depends in part on your view of professional ethics, in part on your political affiliation, and in part on your e-mail habits. And on your sympathy for the human condition. That might have something to do with it, too.

Thank you, Bwana Margaret.  In Margaret's xenophobic world, Iraqi women just don't exist.  No one would think of them and certainly no one would care what happened to them.

In Margaret's xenophobic world, you might care due to journalism and government ethics, you might care if you were a partisan Republican or Democrat, or you might care because you send out e-mails.  But you'd never care because of the fate of Iraqi women.

I'm not surprised -- please, we all lived through 2008 -- to see women devalued so by the US press.  I am surprised, however, when it's by a columnist who repeatedly wants to be seen as caring and compassionate and has been accused of trotting out family stories solely in order to prop up that image.

Iraq is a nation of widows and orphans due to the illegal Iraq War and the sanctions which came before that.  At some point and time, the US government might want to responsibility for their actions and might want to start thinking how they can help Iraqi women, not how they hurt them further.

Sending Mr. Playboy who can't handle "blue balls" to Iraq is not going to help Iraqi women.  It would appear that Barack Obama has the war on women.  He's the one trying to force Brett McGurk into Iraq.  He's also the one who's now nominated three people to be US Ambassador to Iraq and all three of men.  (And I believe we also stand alone in our criticism of that -- and remember Ava and I lobbied Barack's transitional administration to make a woman the Ambassador to Iraq back at the end of 2008 so it's not like the idea's never been presented to them -- our argument was that a qualfiied person who was a woman would, by her presence alone, lift Iraqi women's boats a little higher.  We're also the only ones making the accurate criticism that, in one term, a president shouldn't be nominating three people to the same post.  That's your first indication that vetting hasn't been done.)

As for Gina Chon.  Go back up to those linked entries.  We were perfectly happy not going into a great deal about Gina Chon.  She got a pass here in part because she was a woman.  But I was repeatedly stating that we weren't going to go into the ethical issues involving Chon because CJR and others would.  They didn't.  When they didn't, we had to step forward.

Gina Chon's as much an Iraq story as Judith Miller.  It's a real shame that Judith Miller can't claim to have married her government sources (Scooter Libby) because then CJR would insist it didn't really matter and was 'too much information' and we all needed to look the other way.

Though it didn't make the snapshots, we did cover many other issues this week -- ones as important as who will or will not be the next US Ambassador to Iraq.  We covered Jalal Talabani's increasingly ineffectual public image.  (Which is in the Iraqi news today again.)  We're the only ones who have probably explored the shrinking Jalal.

This entry's really a reply to three e-mails in the public account.  People claiming to be visitors but more than likely Gina Chon friends or Gina herself.  We have always defended Iraqi women here.  If you want to lie and say you've read this "blog" since day one, you might try checking the archives.

You'd find it's not "a blog."  A blog would be what I want to write about and this site early on ceased to be that.  I write on demand, based on what the community wants covered.  That's Iraq.  In 2006, we created the Iraq snapshot because there was alarm over how little Iraq coverage there was in the MSM.  And as that coverage has vanished, we've continued to cover Iraq.  We cover Iraq related issues like veterans issues.  We cover Congressional hearings and UN presenations.  Check the archives.

And when you do, you'll notice things like Abeer.  We never dropped the story of Abeer.  The young teenager who was gang raped by US soldiers in her own home while she heard her five-year-old sister and bother her parents killed in the next room, shot dead.  When Steven D. Green took 'his turn' in the gang-rape, he also shot Abeer to death.  She had lived in fear of him before the attack.  He'd manned checkpoint in her neighborhood.  He'd stared at her and touched her and made comments that unnerved her.  If the attack had been the next night, she wouldn't have been there becuase her parents had arranged for her to go to a relative because they too were bothered by Green's behavior.  It was a brief flurry in the US press.  Then it was largely forgotten.  The whitewash had already started with Carloyn and Robert of the New York Times.  we covered all this in real time.  And when Green went on trial finally, we covered the trial every day.

So the three of you who are so concerned about Gina Chon and wonder if, in the name of 'sisterhood,' I can just let it go?  No.  No, I can't.  Because Iraqi women have been betrayed enough.  And I will not be silent while the Senate considers confirming a nominee who will make Iraqi women's lives harder by his very presence. 

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4489.

The e-mail address for this site is