Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Blood and money continue to pour in Iraq

Violence continued in Iraq today.  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) notes 3 "Iraqi officials" were shot dead today and a Taji roadside bombing left six people injured while a Zubaidiya car bombing claimed 8 lives and left twenty-five people injured.  AFP notes the 3 shot dead in Baghdad: "policewoman Ibtisam Ibrahim[, . . .] police First Lt Ahmed Swadi [and] employee at Iraq's parliament, Farhan Kadhim Mussa."  Alsumaria notes a Baquba roadside bombing injured three people.  Yesterday saw violence as well and Margaret Griffis ( counts 63 dead and 152 injured on Tuesday.

At Commentary, Max Boot wants to insist he has "no joy from being proven right."  Proven right?  About the need to go war with Iraq?  No.  Not right there and Boot doesn't want you to dwell on that.  He was right, he insists, about what follows the US leaving Iraq.  And to be fair to him, we'll note what he said. Here he is at the Council on Foreign Relations in December 2011:

My worry is that progress is tenuous and reversible. If we were keeping troops in Iraq past Dec. 31, the chances of Iraq achieving its full potential would be much greater. As things stand now, the prospects of a catastrophic failure have gone up. But there is still a chance of Iraq developing as a model for the "Arab Spring", thereby redeeming the great sacrifices made by so many to defeat the extremists who threatened its future.

Violence has increased and has been increasing.  But, check our archives, we said this would happen as well when US forces left.  We said that over and over.  As someone opposed to the illegal war and occupation, I didn't feel the need to lie.  I know that's uncommon because so many in the Cult of St. Barack think they can lie and then run from their lies.  (Such as: "I am against illegal spying! Using drones to kill innocent people is outrageous!" -- positions they held when Bully Boy Bush was in office but have set aside, cloaked and hidden now that Barack is in the White House.)  The US installed a puppet regime.  The minute US forces left in any large number, violence would increase.  That's a given. And I'm not psychic for knowing that.  It's the historical pattern.  I have no idea why Max Boot feels he's done something amazing by noting what historically happens over and over.  Next up: Max Boot proclaims, "I was right! The sun did rise this morning!"

Max Boot and I are on the opposite side of every issue but if his post on violence is about his never getting credit for being right, as his political enemy, I will say Max Boot has been right many times.  He's been more right since Barack became President of the United States and that's because he no longer feels the need to spin and fawn for an administration.  It's a shame he couldn't have lost that desire when a Republican occupied the White House.  But he has been right about Iraq many times since he gave up his post in the Court of Bully Boy Bush.

Joshua Altman (The Hill -- link has text and video) reports US House Rep Jason Chaffetz was on CNN's Situation Room with Wolf Blitzter Tuesday and declared, "The degree in which our assets are being treated in very troublesome.  There’s some 50 billion dollars worth of projects that the American taxpayers have footed ... yet when we try to go through checkpoints and try to travel through the country and do other types of things we’re having a very difficult time."

Last week, the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations held a hearing on Iraq.  Committee Chair Chaffetz heard many disturbing reports from the various governmental IG (inspector generals) about what was taking place in Iraq.

Chair Jason Chaffetz: The State Dept has greatly expanded its footprint in Iraq. 
 There are approximately 2,000 direct-hire personnel and 14,000 support contractors 
-- roughly a seven-to-one ratio.  This includes 7,000 private security contractors to 
guard our facilities and move personnel throughout Iraq.  Leading up to the withdrawal, 
the State Dept's mission seemed clear.  Ambassador Patrick Kennedy testified that the diplomatic mission was "designed to maximize influence in key locations."  And later 
said, "State will continue the police development programs moving beyond basic 
policing skills to provide police forces with the capabilities to uphold the rule of law.  
The Office of Security Cooperation will help close gaps in Iraq's security forces 
capabilities through security assistance and cooperation."  This is an unprecedented 
mission for the State Dept. Nonetheless, our diplomatic corps has functioned without
 the protections of  a typical host nation.  It's also carried on without troop support that
 many believed it would have. As a result, the Embassy spends roughly 93% of its budget
 on security alone.  Without a doubt, this is an enormously complex and difficult mission.  Six months into the transition, the Congress must assess whether the administration 
is accomplishing its mission?  While the State Dept has made progress, it appears to be 
facing difficult challenges in a number of areas. The Oversight Committee has offered 
some criticism based on their testimony today.  Including the Government Accountability Office noting that the State and Defense Dept's security capabilities are not finalized.  
The Special Inspector General for Iraqi Reconstruction states that, "Thousands of 
projects completed by the United States and transferred to the government of Iraq 
will not be sustained and thus will fail to meet their intended purposes."  The Defense 
Dept's Inspector General's Office explains that the lack of Status of Forces Agreement 
has impacted land use agreements, force protection, passport visa requirements, air 
and ground movement and our foreign military sales program.  And the US AID Inspector General's office testifies, "According to US AID mission, the security situation has 
hampered its ability to monitor programs. Mission personnel are only occassionaly 
able to travel to the field for site visits."  Embassy personnel have also told Committee 
staff that the United States government has difficulty registering its vehicles with the
 Iraqi government and Iraqis have stood up checkpoints along supply lines.  According 
to one embassy official, the team must dispatch a liason to "have tea and figure out 
how we're going to get our trucks through."  These are just some of the challenges 
the State Dept is facing in Iraq today.  Perhaps as a result of these conditions, Mission 
Iraq appears to be evolving.  In an effort to be more efficient, the State Dept is evaluating 
its footprint, reducing personnel and identifying possible reductions.  This rapid change
 in strategy, however, raises a number of questions. Are we on the right track?  Are we redefining the mission?  What should we expect in the coming months?  And, in hindsight,      was this a well managed withdrawal?

The Subcommittee heard about it being impossible for Americans to check on the various costly projects the US taxpayers continue paying for (so there is no direct US supervision) and that there was a failure to get lease agreements so that most of the facilities could be lost.  (Only 5 of 14 have land lease agreements, as the US Government Accountability Office's Michael Courts testified.)) This matters because?  It matters because of the money the US government is spending -- taxpayer money -- in Iraq. US House Rep Blake Farenthold conveyed his displeasure to the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy over the fact that the Police College Annex in Baghdad was a US facility that cost US taxpayers "more than $100 million in improvements to the site" only to "be turned over to Iraq for free" as a result of the US not securing a land lease.  And don't forget that last week, Walter Pincus (Washington Post via Stars and  Stripes) reported, "The State Department is planning to spend as much as $115 million to upgrade the U.S. Embassy compound in Baghdad, already its biggest and most expensive in the world, according to pre-solicitation notices published this month.  Remember, it has been 3 1/2 years since American diplomats moved into the 104-acre, $700 million facility and only four months after State Department officials in February talked about trying to cut back the U.S. presence there."

I'm actually going to do three entries.  I thought I could pull everything in here but that's not the case.  So there will be one more entry from me.

Kat's "Kat's Korner: Demos, live and what the fans want" went up earlier this morning.   Isaiah's latest comic goes up after this.  And, at their sites, Mike and Marcia will be posting tonight.

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