Thursday, September 13, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri cracks down on beer, Iraq's president may finally return to the country, Iraq's LGBT community remains persecuted, Elise Labott has some tough questions for the State Dept, and more.
Al Mada reports that the Kurdistan Alliance is stating that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani will return next week and address the political problems plaguing the country while Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman states that there is no will among the political blocs to resolve the ongoing crisis. In March 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections. Nouri al-Maliki, thug and prime minister, was not pleased with the results which saw his State of Law slate come in second to the Ayad Allawi-led Iraqiya. Furious that he was not allowed, per the Constitution, first crack at forming a government, Nouri through a public tantrum for eight months -- with the backing of the White House -- and this is known as Political Stalemate I. It ends in November 2010 only as a result of the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.
This contract was an agreement between the leaders of the various political blocs and it gave Nouri a second term as prime minister in exchange for his making various concessions. Nouri used the contract to get his second term and then trashed the contract. By the summer of 2011, Iraqiya, Moqtada al-Sadr and the Kurds were calling for a return to the Erbil Agreement and that's when the second political stalemate begins. In December 2011, Nouri demands that Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi be arrested for 'terrorism' and that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post (due to remarks al-Mutlaq made to CNN). Both al-Hashemi and al-Mutlaq are members of Iraqiya and Sunni. This move begins the political crisis.
Numerous attempts at addressing the political crisis have thus far failed. This includes Moqtada, KRG President Massoud Barzani and Ayad Allawi attempting to launch a no-confidence vote in Parliament. That was deralied by Jalal Talabani before Talabani fled to Germany. It may yet happen. It also includes Jalal and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi's call for a National Conference to address the political crisis. Nouri stalled and objected and, in the end, managed to kill it the day it was scheduled to start. Talabani has returned to his call for a National Conference.
Nouri's being in charge hasn't brought safety to Iraq but has allowed him to demonstrate similarities to Saddam Hussein. Like Iraq's former and now deceased leader, Nouri doesn't like freedom and doesn't really like people too much.
In other violence, Alsumaria reports that armed forces in police uniforms attacked various social clubs in Baghdad yesterday, beating various people and firing guns in the air. They swarmed clubs and refused to allow anyone to leave but did make time to beat people with the butss of their rifles and pistols, they then destroyed the clubs. AFP adds, "Special forces units carried out near-simultaneous raids at around 8:00 pm (1700 GMT) on Tuesday 'at dozens of nightclubs in Karrada and Arasat, and beat up customers with the butts of their guns and batons,' said an interior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity. 'Artists who were performing at the clubs were also beaten,' the official said." The assaults were ordered by an official who reports only to Nouri al-Maliki. In related news the Great Iraqi Revolution posted video Friday of other attacks on Iraqi civilians by security forces and noted, "Very important :: a leaked video show Iraqi commandos during a raid to Baaj village and the arrest of all the young men in the village .they threatened the ppl of the village they will make them another Fallujah and they do not mind arresting all village's men and leave only women . they kept detainees in a school, and beating them, u can see they burned a car of one of the citizens"
September 6h, Alsumaria noted that Iraqiya, led by Ayad Allawi, has called out the assault on the social clubs and states that it is violation of the Constitution as well as basic human rights. Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoun al-Damalouji called on the security forces to respect the rights of the citizens. Tamim al-Jubouri (Al Mada) added that the forces working for Nouri attacked many clubs including Club Orient which was established in 1944 and that the patrons including Chrisitans who were surprised Tuesday night when Nouri's forces entered and began breaking furniture, beat patrons and employees and stole booze, cell phones and clothing. So they're not only bullies, they're also theives. Kitabat explained that the people were attacked with batons and gun butts including a number of musicians who were performing live in the club including singer Hussein Basri. Alsumaria added that the Baghdad Provincial Council states that they were not informed of the assaults on social clubs.
Unexpected raids on Baghdad's bars, as well as beaten customers, shocked locals last week. But it's not just drinkers who are upset. Activists say it's the government's latest plan to curb personal freedoms while MPs pondering re-election in the mainly-Muslim nation haven't said a word.
Last week, government security forces raided a number of clubs, bars and other establishments in Baghdad without warning, closing many of them by force that same night. The clubs seem to have been targeted both because they were selling alcohol and because they hosted known intellectual cliques. As a result, the attack has raised serious fears of an attack on personal freedoms and concerns that Islamic parties are trying impose their religious ideology on other Iraqis.
Although Iraq is a mainly Muslim nation and Islam forbids the consumption of alcohol, there are also diverse minorities in Iraq and many of these allow alcohol drinks; often members of these groups will be the ones that run bars or liquor stores.
And on September 4, a number of clubs, bars and restaurants in the affluent Baghdad neighbourhoods of Karrada and Arasat were raided. Many of the patrons on the night – and this included members of the security forces and other officials – were injured or beaten as a result.
One eyewitness told NIQASH that the raiders had been violent. "They were brutal," he said. "They entered and told us all to get out immediately. They then went around smashing everything up, including tables and chairs. And then those who were guarding the entrance started beating the people who were trying to leave with sticks and their rifle butts."
Ahmed al-Utabi, a well-known poet, was at the Writer's Union Club when it was stormed by security forces. "At first, we thought there was a bomb or an explosive device inside the club and that was why the security forces asked us to leave," al-Utabi said. "Then we were really surprised to see them smashing everything up inside the club."
Natalia Antelava: In a tiny stuffy room, Ahmed, Nancy and Allou are hiding from their families and the police. All three have received death threats. Ahmed has not left this room for over two months now.
Ahmed: I came here because I was gay and I was threatened by my family -- my immediate family -- and some unknown guys from my neighborhood. The situation a few years ago was very bad. But at that time, they did not pay any attention to gays. Now they have nothing to do but look for gays -- to kill them.
Allou: The threat is much bigger now than before. It's not only the militias now. It's the police, the government who are going after us.
Natalia Antelava: I really wish we could show you their faces. Ahmed's got big, dark, worried eyes on his thin face. Nancy's really pretty and I would have never guessed that she was born male. And Allou's got this very trendy haircut which would be completely normal in the West but here in Iraq, this sort of hair could get you killed. Nancy is especially vulnerable in Iraq. Born a transgender, she dreams of a sex change operation but it is impossible to have it done in Iraq, she says, and she has no way of leaving the country.
Nancy: My mom tried to persuade me to act like a man because I am supposed to be a man I couldn't. She didn't know what was inside me. She couldn't understand that. I can't tell you how many times I've been raped at checkpoints -- with the police, it's countless. The worst incident was at a checkpoint on Al Sadun street. They asked me for my ID, then asked me to get out of the car. It was dark. They put me against the blast wall. Nine of them raped me. There was nothing I could do. If I had resisted, they would have arrested me.
Natalia Antelava: If you could have anything that you wanted, what kind of life would you want to have?
Nancy: I want to live the life I want. I want to be a woman and to be treated like one. I am a human being and this is my right.
Natalia Antelava: It's not just transgender, Allou had been raped too. And I heard many other similar stories -- gay men, with even a slightly feminine appearance say they're often raped by police at checkpoints.
Allou: I am so tired, so sad. I have no freedom. I can't say that I am gay. I can't live my life. I can't go home. I have to stay here doing nothing and just wait.
[. . .]
Natalia Antelava: Radical milita groups are believed to be behind this hit list. Although officially they've been disbanded, militias still pose the greatest threat to homosexuals. But those we spoke to say that they're just as fearful of countless police and military checkpoints that are supposed to be making Baghdad safe. This checkpoint is manned by the Interior Ministry troops. But in Iraq, one's uniform never tells you the full story. In this country, you can be a police man by day, a militia man by night. These blurred lines and mixed allegiances have made it easy for the government to blame militia groups for the killings of gays. But we've discovered evidence that directly links the police with attacks on gays in Iraq. Qais is gay and a former police man. He told me he had been ordered to go after homosexuals. He couldn't refuse and so he quit his job.
Qais: In 2006, 2007 and 2008, we were busy fighting terrorsm. We didn't pay attention to gays. On top of it, the Iraqi government had to respect the rule of law when the Americans and the British were here. But now? They have a lot of free time and the police are going after gays.
Natalia Antelava: Have you ever been called to arrest gays or kill gays or go after gays in any way?
Qais: Yes, twice. We had to arrest this guy. He was having an argument with someone. Once they arrested him, they accused him of being gay. We were told to send him to another town where he was wanted for being gay. We sent him to that town and he disappeared. His family came to ask about him and we sent them to another town where they could not find him. Then they got a death certificate from the police but they never got the body.
Natalia Antelava: With so much secrecy, fear and loathing, it's difficult to establish the exact level of the government's involvement in the persecution. But 17 gay men interviewed for this investigation said they believed they were being singled out and hunted by the state.
And they are right to feel that way, the government is often behind it, Nouri is often behind it.
For example, in March of this year, the world's attention turned to the attacks on Iraqi youth -- Emo kids and gay Iraqis -- and those suspected of being both or either.
Who gave the orders for that targeting?
The Ministry of Interior. They put it on paper.
Nouri is the head of the Ministry of the Interior.
He refused to nominate anyone to that post or any of the security posts. He is in charge of the Ministry of the Interior. It was Ministry of Interior forces that did the targeting, it was those forces that went into schools to talk up the 'threat' these young people posed. Nouri was responsible.
Iraqi LGBT's Ali Hilli writes about the persecution of the LGBT community in Iraq for the BBC: Members of our organisation and the gay men and women we interviewed have said consistently that, under arrest, they have been forced to give names and addresses of other homosexuals or suspected homosexuals.Taken together, this is why we believe the Ministry of the Interior tracks sexual minorities with the aim of eliminating them. Iraq LGBT is based in London, and it has become increasingly dangerous for us to operate inside Iraq. But we have been trying.
This is Nouri's Iraq, where safety and security are elusive and Nouri is forever adding to his enemies list. Vice President al-Hashemi got on that list and Nouri ordered him arrested and charged with terrorism. al-Hashemi was already in the KRG by that time and KRG President Massoud Barzani offered him asylum. al-Hashemi currently resides in Turkey. Sunday, Ramadan al-Fatash (DPA) explained "that a Baghdad court sentenced in absentia Iraq's vice president, Tareq al-Hashemi, to death on terrorism charges. Al-Hashemi, Iraq's most senior Sunni Muslim official, has called the charges a political ploy by the Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki." Lara Jakes (AP) reported, "The Baghdad courtroom was silent Sunday as the presiding judge read out the verdict convicting al-Hashemi and his son-in-law of organizing the murders of a Shiite security official and a lawyer who had refused to help the vice president's allies in terror cases. The court sentenced both men in absentia to death by hanging. They have 30 days to appeal the verdict." Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall Street Journal) observed, "Many saw the verdict against Tariq al-Hashemi -- a prominent Sunni politician who has professed his innocence and has been sheltered by the Sunni Islamist-led government in Turkey since April -- coupled with Sunday's attacks as emboldening those among Iraq's Sunni minority who see violent confrontation rather than politics as the only way to regain powers lost to the Shiite majority after the U.S.-led ouster of Saddam Hussein's regime more than nine years ago." Omar al-Jawoshy and Michael Schwirtz (New York Times) quoted Talabani stating on Monday, "It was regrettable to issue, at this particular time, a judicial decision against him while he still officially holds office." Today, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Alsumaria notes, has declared that the death sentence for Tareq al-Hashemi could negatively effect any chances of resolving the political crisis.
al-Hashemi? Nouri's Blonde Boyfriend resurfaced today with exciting, new 'analysis.' He's back to show either his ignorance or his ability to lie -- you decide. He can't get the facts right because they interfere with the 'logic' of his argument. He wants you to know that al-Hashemi's story is being misconstrued by everyone and that "It should be remembered that the initial, dramatic reaction to the prosecution of Mr Al Hashemi back in December 2011 ([. . .]) was the withdrawal from the political process of the political alliance to which he belongs, the secular Iraqiya coalition."
What a stupid ass. Or maybe he's just a non-stop liar?
Iraqiya announced a week before the events in dumb ass parenthetical that they were considering withdrawaing. They withdrew on a Friday. The following Sunday, Tareq and Saleh al-Mutlaq attempted to fly from Baghdad to the KRG, were taken on the plane and briefly detained before being allowed to fly to the KRG and the next day, Monday, was when the arrest warrant was issued. Dumb ass doesn't know a damn thing or just likes to lie.
Those are the choices: Stupid or damn liar.
Unlike the twit who Tweets, I can back up what I say. We have archives at this site and I am known for memory. So let's drop back to the April 30th snapshot:
The political crisis was already well in effect when December 2011 rolled around. The press rarely gets that fact correct. When December 2011 rolls around you see Iraqiya announce a boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry . Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point. Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya. December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .
Again, I can back up what I say. And, in fact, just did. Use the links to those entries and you'll see that the boycott was announced on a Friday (December 16th).
It's people like Nouri's Blonde Boyfriend who repeatedly damage any grown up conversation about Iraq by 'fixing' 'facts' to suit their arguments.
It's a fact that provincial elections are supposed to take place next year and it is hoped that they can be held in March. For that to happen, certain details need to be finalized now.
Mr. President, there is no democracy without elections and there are no credible elections without a strong and truly independent election commission. As we speak, my political deputy, Mr. [Gyorgy Busztin], is engaged in facilitation efforts to bring about the formation of a new, Independent High Election Commission which is representative of the main components of Iraq -- including women and children and minorities. The urgent selection of the commissioners is essential for ensuring that the provincial council elections due to take place in March 2013 can be conducted on time. I'm concerned that the ongoing political stalemate is hindering the process however. In recent days, I have discussed with political leaders -- including Prime Minister al-Maliki -- the need for a swfit conclusion of this political process and the need for an adequate representation of women and minorities in the commission. Today, I would like to re-iterate my appeal to all political blocs to expedite the selection of professional commissioners. UNAMI stands here ready to actively assist.
Alsumaria reports KRG Deputy Speaker of Parliament Arslan Bayez declared today that disputed Kirkuk is part of Kurdistan and that Article 140 of the Constitution needs to be applied. He also stated that the Kurds believe in the principle of coexistence and dialogue. Oil-rich Kirkuk is a disputed region with both the KRG and the centeral-government based in Baghdad attempting to claim it. How do you resolve the two claims? The Iraqi Constitution explains how in Article 140:
The responsibility placed upon the executive branch of the Iraqi Transitional Government stipulated in Article 58 of the Transitional Administrative Law shall extend and continue to the executive authority elected in accordance with this Constitution, provided that it accomplishes completely (normalization and census and concludes with a referendum in Kirkuk and other disputed territories to determine the will of their citiznes), by a date not to exceed the 31st of December 2007.
Well that's pretty clear. Good thing they've got to December 2007 to . . . . Oh, wait, that's already passed. Yes, during Nouri al-Maliki's first term as prime minister he refused to implement Article 140 of the Constitution he took an oath to uphold. And he's continued to refuse to implement it all these years later. Adnan Hussein (Rudaw) reports a parliamentary committee exists that's supposed to be addressing the issues; however, "Although the province of Kirkuk is at the center of discussions about the disputed territories, the committee doesn't have any members from the area despite the province having six representatives in Iraqi Parliament."
In other news sure to tick off Nouri, Press TV reports, "The Kurdistan Region's Council of Ministers has approved a national genocide institute. The institute will bring together international genocide experts alongside local parliamentarians, academics and activists. It is hoped that the institute will make work on the genocide more systematic and organised." The Kurds are said to be the largest ethnic minority in the world without their own homeland. Among the groups calling for a Kurdish homeland is the PKK. Alsumaria also reports that Turkish warplanes today continued bombing suspected PKK and, in the process, destroyed two historic churches in Dohuk Province. Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."
Iraqis continue to be at risk as violence grips the country. Alsumaria reports a Falluja roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured, a Ramadi car bombing left five people injured, a Falluja roadside bombing left three people injured, a Nineveh car bombing left six people injured, a Mosul attack claimed the life of 1 person (and the person was the cousin of an Iraqiya MP) and Salahuddin roadside bombing claimed 4 lives and left one person injured. AFP adds that a Dhuluiyah roadside bombing claimed the lives of 4 Iraqi soldiers with another left wounded.
Turning to diplomacy, Trend News Agency notes that William Hague, UK Minister of Foreign Affairs, arrived in Iraq yesterday. BBC News adds, "During his stay, Mr Hague will meet senior Iraqi figures, including Prime Minister Nouri Maliki and Foreign Minister Hoshiyar Zerbari." Still on diplomatic issues, Kitabat notes that after the scandal that was Brett McGurk's nomination to be US Ambassador to Iraq, US President Barack Obama has now nominated Robert Stephen Beecroft to the post. Beecroft is currently Charge d'Affaires at the US Embassy in Baghdad and the paper states he is little known in political circiels but has a personal relationship with the Shi'ite National Alliance coalition and is seen "as a proponent of Nouri al-Maliki and his policies." The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has scheduled the confirmation hearing for Robert S. Beecroft for next Tuesday morning.
MONTAGNE: And earlier this morning, reporter Hadeel al-Shalchi of Reuters, who's in Benghazi, described these events. Word spread of the protest in Cairo against a film that insulted Islam. Protesters headed to the consulate in Libya and the situation escalated.
INSKEEP: A lot of guns in Benghazi, Libya, things became more and more violent. And later, she says, it began to seem like an organized attack because of mortar fire that appeared to be carefully targeted. That's the information from Benghazi, Libya.
NPR's Dina Temple-Raston is here in the U.S. She's been talking with U.S. officials. And Dina, what is their timeline of what happened when in Benghazi?
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON, BYLINE: Well, the U.S. consulate in Benghazi is in this temporary compound that's basically made up of a main building, a couple of auxiliary buildings and an annex. And when they provided this timeline, they said that around 10:00 p.m. Libya time, Tuesday night, the compound started taking small arms fire. And then maybe 15 minutes later there was a rocket-propelled grenade that went into the main building and then set it on fire.
There were three people in that main building - Ambassador Stevens, a U.S. information officer named Sean Smith, and a regional security guard. And apparently these rocket-propelled grenades set the main building on fire, so they were trying to escape. And there was smoke and fire. The security guard made it out. Ambassador Stevens apparently hadn't. In the confusion they lost track of him.
And it took about half an hour for a handful of men to get back into the main building to look for the ambassador, because they were under such heavy fire. When they finally got back into the main building, they found Sean Smith. He had died there. But they couldn't find the ambassador anywhere. And by then it was about midnight.
MONTAGNE: And Dina, how exactly - 'cause there was a little confusion about this yesterday - how exactly did Ambassador Stevens die? And then what happened to him?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, there still is a lot of confusion about exactly how he died. When they eventually got into the main building and they realized that the ambassador was no longer there, and they didn't know how - where he was or how he left the compound, they found out later that he was apparently taken to a local hospital, but it's unclear how he got there. It's unclear whether he died in the compound or died at the hospital.
They think that local Libyans took him to the hospital, but the circumstances around that are still unclear. The next time U.S. officials saw the ambassador was when the Libyans dropped his body off at the airport.
MONTAGNE: And let me ask you just one more thing. The other two Americans who died, they have never been named - so far. Why is that?
TEMPLE-RASTON: They haven't been named because they are trying to contact their next of kin. We understand the other two who died are likely to be security people. But they're trying to contact their next of kin before they release those names.
INSKEEP: So the timeline that U.S. officials give suggests an incident that escalated fairly quickly. You're saying within maybe 15 minutes there were rocket-propelled grenades being fired. It became this battle for control of a building. You said that Sean Smith, the U.S. embassy employee, was killed at that time, that the ambassador disappeared, two other Americans died along the way along with a number of Libyans.
Elise Labott: Can you talk a little bit more about the security that was at the Embassy? It seems that for an area such as Benghazi, where there was a lot of instability, there were very few guards there. And can you talk about whether the U.S. asked Libya, the Libyan Government, earlier in the week for extra security precaution and whether that – extra security precautions or security personnel and whether that request was fulfilled?
Victoria Nuland: Well, let me start by reminding you that we are extremely cautious in any circumstances about talking publicly about our security arrangements. You can understand that the more you talk about these things, the more difficult it is to maintain security at your facilities. So --
Elise Labott: It does seem though that there were very few security personnel at this location.
Victoria Nuland: I'm going to reject that, Elise. Let me tell you what I can about the security at our mission in Benghazi. It did include a local Libyan guard force around the outer perimeter. This is the way we work in all of our missions all around the world, that the outer perimeter is the responsibility of the host government. There was obviously a physical perimeter barrier, a wall. And then there was a robust American security presence inside the compound. This is absolutely consistent with what we have done at a number of missions similar to Benghazi around the world.
Elise Labott: Could you talk about whether a request was made to the Libyan Government as early as Sunday or Monday and whether that – for additional security precautions, given the fact that there was some trouble in the area, and whether that request was fulfilled?
Victoria Nuland: I'm not prepared to talk about specific diplomatic engagements between us and the Libyans on security, either before or after.
Elise Labott: Well, I mean, I have to take issue with that, because there have been several incidents, including you from the podium, throughout the Arab Spring where you've said –
Victoria Nuland: Right.
Elise Labott: -- that you've talked about discussions with the various governments –
Victoria Nuland: Right.
Elise Labott: -- about needing additional security precautions – the Syrians, for instance –
Victoria Nuland: Right.
Elise Labott: -- which was one of the reasons that you closed your Embassy, because those precautions were not taken. So why would this be any different?
Victoria Nuland: Elise, I'm happy to see whether there's more that we can share on this, but I don't have it today.
The attack was supposedly a violent response to a film/video posted online, made by an American or someone in the United States.
Al Mada notes that a group of Iraqi scientists led by Khalid al-Mulla stated that the US needed to use all means necessary to stop the film and others like it. The group lumps the US into abuse by "Zionists" globally -- while wanting tolerance for their own religious beliefs. All Iraq News notes the Iraqi Parliament is calling for the US Congress to stop the film. Freedom of speech has obviously not been explained well. Alsumaria reports hundreds turned out in Kut today to protest the film. All Iraq News notes Sadrists in Karbala launched a protest as well. For the record, there were no protests reported objecting to the murders of four Americans. For the record, the scientists and the Parliament was not reported to have made any comments condemning the four deaths. AGI reports, " Hundreds of people took to the streets in Baghdad, in the suburb district of Sadr City, burning US flags. Protests jointly staged by Sunni and Shia Muslims were also reported in Iraq's southern city of Basra." You can briefly see the Baghdad protest in Danielle Nottingham's CBS report (link is video).
In addition, the Voice of Russia reports that al Qaeda in Mespotamia linked group Asaib al-Haq's has issued a message from their leader attacking a film that those who rioted and murdered used as their excuse for their actions. The leader of Asaib al-Haq appears to threaten Americans. Appears to? The English language is not mastered in this statement: "The offence caused to the messenger (Prophet Mohammad) will put all American insterests in danger and we will not forgive them for that." Forgive who? The Americans most likely but the poorly worded statement could also be seen as saying that "them" is the film makers. Most likely? They are the League of Righteous. You may remember that they killed five American soldiers. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." You may remember that the US military had the leader, his brother and a number of other members in custody and Barack Obama made a deal with the League to release them so they would release the corpses of four dead citizens of the United Kingdom. You may remember how the leader grumbled publicly about the deal made and refused to release the fourth body for over a year. AP adds, "The U.S. Embassy in Baghdad remains the world's largest American diplomatic mission, with an estimated 15,000 employees."