Wednesday, October 10, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Nouri spends crazy in Russia, while Iraq claims they can't pay Kuwait what they owe, the $4 billion plus contract not going to the US is noted by international observers but the US State Dept plays dumb, the administration's lies about the attack on the US Consulate in Libya get some exposure, and more.
US House Rep Mike Kelly: And I'm kind of surprised. You know, I come from western Pennsylvania and people look at things in maybe a little different fashion. When I'm not down here in Washington DC amid all these brains and all the intelligence and you get back home and you talk to people, if I were to say to you, Lt Col Wood, "What does 9-11 mean to you?"
Lt Col Andrew Wood: This last 9-11?
US House Rep Mike Kelly: No, just 9-11. Like I would say "December 7th, what does December 7th --," 9-11?
Lt Col Andrew Wood: It's an attack on the United States of America.
US House Rep Mike Kelly: Mr. Nordstrom?
Eric Nordstrom: The same.
US House Rep Mike Kelly: Ms. Lamb?
Charlene R. Lamb: The same.
US House Rep Mike Kelly: Ambassador?
Patrick Kennedy: Absolutely, sir.
US House Rep Mike Kelly: Okay, so if you can all connect the dots right here, why in the heck did it take so long for all these highly briefed and intelligent people to figure out that it actually wasn't a 15-minute YouTube video? And that it actually was a 9-11 event? A terrorist attack? I don't know that this stuff about what's classified and not classified is getting confusing for me because I sat in a members only briefing and I -- Mr. Chairman, I ask you -- and this is on September the 20th with Secretary [Hillary] Clinton and some other personnel -- is this something we're allowed to talk about or not allowed to talk about?
Chair Darrell Issa: Uh, if it was in a classified setting, the only thing that I would think that would be appropriate is any inconsistencies you've seen in testimonies today you could relate. Otherwise, the specifics, I couldn't judge it --
US House Rep Mike Kelly: Okay. Well it comes down to this: What caused this? And Ms. Lamb, I read through your testimony and it would be horrible to sit there and watch it, in real time, what was going on. And I read another account -- this is kind of strange -- that same night -- this is about the Ambassador. At 8:30 pm, the Ambassador said goodnight to a visiting Turkish diplomat. Outside the compound. And the streets are empty. But at 9:45 pm, noises, gunfire and an explosion were heard by the agents located in the TOC building and -- TOC in building B. It is absolutely preposterous to me that we would watch Ambassador Rice go out and say what happened five days later, that I would sit in a briefing and was [told], 'No, you have it all wrong. This is not a terrorist attack. This is a result of a 15-minute YouTube.' Now we are either in denial or, unfortunately, and I know some of the members are concerned because I got to tell you, it's very unfortunate that terrorists don't recognize that this is an election year. And they tend to just do what they want anytime they want to us. And when we have a weakened position around the world, and when we leave our embassies and our consulates as unprotected as we do and then we say, "You know what? This is terrible because this is 27 days before an election, why are we bringing it up now?" And I ask the same question, where the heck were we before 9-11, this 9-11? Why weren't we questioning it then? My goodness, 230 security incidents in Libya between June of 2011 and July of 2012. Of those attacks, 48 took place in Benghazi. 2 of which at the US diplomatic compound and the scene of the September 11, 2012 attacks and we are still saying, 'I think it's the result of the video that was on YouTube'? And this is based on intelligence? Now, listen, I gotta' ask you Ambassador Kinney because you say you couldn't possibly have had a different idea about it than Secretary Rice did when she went before the nation on September 16th. I'm going to tell you, this thing smells. From every single angle. If it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck. And for you to come in here and say, "Well, it was based on some of the things I knew but I can't tell you all that I knew"? We've got four Americans dead. And I'm gonna' tell you. It's very upsetting for me to go back home and look at those people in the eye. People who don't do what we do hear with all the intelligence and all the briefings, just guys that go out and work every day and women that go out and work every day and they can come home and they can figure it out? But we're still trying to figure it out? And you watch it in real time? And the account wasn't there that night of the ambassador saying goodbye to a Turkish friend outside the gates and everything was quiet? But, my goodness, those terrorists or those Islamic extremists got a hold of that video and between 8:30 and 9:40 they decided to just go crazy? And Africa's on fire? And, Mr. Nordstrom, thank you for pointing out, as Mr. [Mitt] Romney did, that hope is not a strategy. And I feel sorry for you and Lt Col Wood to have to come here because it is you who are on the ground. You're not watching in some far away room in real time, you're people are there in real time. We've watched our colleagues be killed. And the question doesn't become "What is it that we didn't know?" It is because we have become lax. We have dumbed down. We have turned down the dial.
That was from this morning's House Oversight Committee hearing in the September 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the US Consulate in Libya in which Glen Doherty, Ambassador Chris Stevens, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods were killed. Darrell Issa is the Committee Chair. Appearing before them were the State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for International Programs Charlene R. Lamb, the State Dept's always less than truthful Patrick Kennedy (Under Secretary for Management), Regional Security Officer Eric Nordstrom, and the US military's Lt Col Andrew Wood.
For days after the attack on the consulate, the White House spun that it was due to a 'movie' that turned out to be a YouTube clip -- not before the compliant press was offering up least one individual who was yammering away that he'd seen the entire movie. Susan Rice went on the Sunday public affairs shows five days after the atack to continue to insist that the YouTube video caused a protest in Libya, the protesters got out of hand and that was what happened to the US Consulate in Libya and why four Americans were killed.
During that period, we got speeches about tolerance and bad YouTube and the White House tried to bully YouTube into taking the clip down. The lies never stopped. Nor did US President Barack Obama's campaigning -- which incorporated the lies. Immediatly after the attacks -- which are seen as an attack by al Qaeda -- Barack jetted off to Las Vegas for fundraisers and campaign rallies. It was in Las Vegas that he boasted, "A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead."
Guess when you're claiming to have finished off al Qaeda, the truth that it was a terrorist attack on the Libyan consulate doesn't fit with your spin or your campaign rhetoric. And that's how a lie takes hold. Barack would then rush off to a campaign event in Colorado where he would repeat the same boast, "And while a new tower rises above the New York skyline, al Qaeda is on the path to defeat, and Osama bin Laden is dead."
Four days later in his weekly address (September 15th), he would note the attack, refer to the "angry mob" and declare:
This tragic attack takes place at a time of turmoil and protest in many different countries. I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths. We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion – including Islam.
Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women. There is no excuse for attacks on our Embassies and Consulates. And so long as I am Commander-in-Chief, the United States will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans.
But it wasn't an "angry mob" and it wasn't a reaction of offense to a YouTube video that led to the attack. Barack was wording carefully the way Bush did. Because Barack knew he was selling a lie. So he uses inference to indicate that the attack was a mob of protesters, angered that a video had insulted their religion. The next day, September 16th, Susan Rice would appear on CBS Face The Nation:
BOB SCHIEFFER: And joining us now, Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador, our U.N. ambassador. Madam Ambassador, he says this is something that has been in the planning stages for months. I understand you have been saying that you think it was spontaneous? Are we not on the same page here?
SUSAN RICE (Ambassador to the United Nations): Bob, let me tell you what we understand to be the assessment at present. First of all, very importantly, as you discussed with the President, there is an investigation that the United States government will launch led by the FBI, that has begun and--
BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): But they are not there.
SUSAN RICE: They are not on the ground yet, but they have already begun looking at all sorts of evidence of-- of various sorts already available to them and to us. And they will get on the ground and continue the investigation. So we'll want to see the results of that investigation to draw any definitive conclusions. But based on the best information we have to date, what our assessment is as of the present is in fact what began spontaneously in Benghazi as a reaction to what had transpired some hours earlier in Cairo where, of course, as you know, there was a violent protest outside of our embassy--
BOB SCHIEFFER: Mm-Hm.
SUSAN RICE: --sparked by this hateful video. But soon after that spontaneous protest began outside of our consulate in Benghazi, we believe that it looks like extremist elements, individuals, joined in that-- in that effort with heavy weapons of the sort that are, unfortunately, readily now available in Libya post-revolution. And that it spun from there into something much, much more violent.
BOB SCHIEFFER: But you do not agree with him that this was something that had been plotted out several months ago?
SUSAN RICE: We do not-- we do not have information at present that leads us to conclude that this was premeditated or preplanned.
She'd go NBC's Meet The Press the same day and declare, "This is a response to a hateful and offensive video that was widely disseminated throughout the Arab and Muslim world Obviously, our view is that there is absolutely no excuse for violence and that -- what has happened is condemnable, but this is a -- spontenaeous reaction to a video, and it's not dissimilar but, perhaps, on a slightly larger scale than what we have seen in the past with The Satanic Verses with the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Now, the United States has made very clear and the president has been very plain that our top priority is the protection of American personnel in our facilities and bringing to justice those who attacked our facilitiy in Benghazi."
Pressed by host David Gregory, Susan Rice stuck to the lie and insisted "our current assessment is that what happened in Benghazi was in fact initially a spontaneous reaction to what had just transpired hours before in Cairo, almost a copycat of -- of the demonstrations against our facility in Cairo, which were prompted, of course by the video." She'd go on other shows that day and stick to the cover story, the lie, that a YouTube video caused an angry group of protesters to attack the US Consulate in Libya, resulting in the deaths of four Americans. Pointing the finger at a man who was seen as a hate merchant (the one responsible for the video -- I say "seen as a hate merchant" because I haven't viewed the video and have no intention of every watching it) gave the White House a scapegoat. And they really needed one because security precautions were not taken.
So Jay Carney picked up the lie ("It is in response to a video, a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting," September 14th press briefing). But it's Carney's spinning on September 18th that really took it to another level:
Q Jay, I want to go back to Libya. On September 10th, you put out a press release saying that the President had a meeting with senior officials to figure out the security posture around the 9/11 anniversary. And in that press release you said that "steps were taken to protect U.S. persons and facilities abroad. The President reiterated that departments and agencies must do everything possible to protect the American people both at home and abroad." So in retrospect, given the tragedy, did the administration drop the ball on what you promised on September 10th that you had improved security at these installations?
MR. CARNEY: They were numerous steps taken, as there have been every year on the anniversary of 9/11, and as there have been at different times on the calendar when it is judged by the experts that taking additional steps, security steps, is the right thing to do. As for specific measures taken at specific facilities, diplomatic facilities, I would refer you to the State Department.
Q Separate from the FBI investigation you mentioned to Mary a few moments ago, is there any sort of inquiry going on here at the White House among the President's national security team to get to the bottom of -- you told the American people on September 10th, "We've taken steps to protect Americans here at home and abroad." Obviously, with four Americans tragically being killed, the steps were not good enough. So is there an inquiry going on here to figure out what went wrong?
MR. CARNEY: Well, I think that you're conveniently conflating two things, which is the anniversary of 9/11 and the incidents that took place, which are under investigation in terms of what --
Q Which happened on the anniversary.
MR. CARNEY: -- which are under investigation, and the cause and motivation behind them will be decided by that investigation.
It is certainly -- I would point you to what Ambassador Rice said and others have said about what we know thus far about the video and its influence on the protests that occurred in Cairo, in Benghazi and elsewhere. And all I can tell you is that steps are taken, both seen and unseen, in advance of and in preparation for times like the anniversary of 9/11 when it is judged that there might be greater threats. And those steps are based on the threat assessments that we have at the time. But I would refer you in terms of specific security for specific facilities to the State Department.
September 18th, two days later, and Carney was pointing to Susan Rice's b.s. to provide cover for an administration -- one in which the president was already accused of not receiving the daily intelligence briefing because he allegedly wanted to do other things. Susan Rice put out the story the White House wanted. Once the story was out there, the White House would repeatedly reference Rice.
Reporting on today's hearing, Jake Tapper and Mary Bruce (ABC News) note: Lt Col Wood testified he was removed from Libya in August "against his wishes and, he says, the wishes of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens." They note:
Wood said that when he heard of the attack on the Benghazi post on September 11, it was "instantly recognizable" that it had been a terrorist attack.
"Mainly because of my prior knowledge there," Wood said. "I almost expected the attack to come. We were the last flag flying. It was a matter of time."
One cable, written by then Amb. Gene Cretz, noted that three Mobile Security Detachments [MSD], consisting of 18 personnel, and the Site Security Team [SST], consisting of 16 personnel, were about to leave their temporary assignments. He said that the Libya mission needed both an extension of those forces and an increase in the number of permanent security officials in Libya.
We're going to note another exchange in today's hearing:
US House Rep Dennis Ross: Mr. Nordstrum, earlier in your testimony you were discussing your recollection of the conversation that you had had with two agents in the room regarding the denial of the extension of the SST. Now it was your understanding that you were not to request an extension at that point, is that correct?
Eric Nordstrom: That's correct.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: And who was on the other end of the line that told you that?
Eric Nordstrom: I was on the telephone call with DS Lamb [DSLAM?].
US House Rep Dennis Ross: Was Ms. Lamb on the phone call with you?
Eric Nordstrom: That is DS Lamb.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: Okay, sorry. So she did tell you that?
Eric Nordstrom: That's correct.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: Okay. Now she, just the other day in an interview with the Committee, indicated that on your July 9th cable to Washington requesting security personnel, you didn't formally request an SST extension, in fact, you just made a recommendation. Can you explain that there's a difference between recommendation and request?
Eric Nordstrom: In Post felt that that was a pretty clear request for resources.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: Had you done it before with the idea that it was a request?
Eric Nordstrom: I believe it was also titled "Request For Continued TDY Staffing."
US House Rep Dennis Ross: And it was a denial of that extension?
Eric Nordstrom: Well actually, we never actually received a response.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: Other than -- other than that phone conference that you were on?
Eric Nordstrom: Correct. We never received a response to that cable.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: And as a result of that phone conference where you were denied, did you seek any further effort to follow up or make a re-request?
Eric Nordstrom: I believe actually, to clarify, the telephone call was prior to sending in the cable. What we decided since we continued to get resistance, instead of specifically asking for SST or MSD or whatever, we just said, 'You know what, give us the thirteen bodies, where ever they come from.' And that's the way in which we crafted the cable.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: Now Ms. Lamb, you testified in an interview with this Committee that you trusted your RSOs in the field such as Mr. Nordstrom. Now how do you square that statement with you telling Mr. Nordstrom that you would not support an extension of the SST?
Charlene Lamb: The cable that he sent in indicated that any of the categories --
US House Rep Dennis Ross: But before the cable was the phone conversation.
Charlene Lamb: That's -- that's correct.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: And you wouldn't support his request or recommendation at that time.
Charlene Lamb: Because we had Department of State diplomatic security assets that could do the same functions of the remaining --
US House Rep Dennis Ross: And that was explained to him as well?
Charlene Lamb: Yes, sir.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: Now, Lt Col Wood, I understand that you were the senior officer of the SST team. Is that correct?
Lt Col Andrew Wood: That's correct, sir.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: And do you have any reason to believe that if you had to go up your chain of command at AFRICOM for a request from the State Dept that they extend the tour of duty of an SST, that your chain of command would not grant that?
Lt Col Andrew Wood: Absolutely Gen [Carter F.] Ham was fully supportive of extending the SST as long as they felt they needed them.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: So the resources were available for the SST?
Lt Col Andrew Wood: Absolutely.
US House Rep Dennis Ross: And had they been there, they would have made a difference, would they not?
Lt Col Andrew Wood: They made a difference every day they were there, when I was there, sir. They were a deterrent effect.
Turning to Iraq where Alsumaria reports violence today included a Baghdad roadside bombing which injured a police officer, a Baghdad armed clash at a checkpoint which left 1 soldier dead, and there were 12 mass arrests.
Iraq has had a wave of executions, at least 23 since Thursday with more death row prisoners just moved from Tikrit to Baghdad. Today Human Rights Watch issued a call for a moratorium on the death penalty in Iraq:
Serious questions about whether Iraq's justice system meets international fair trial standards highlight the urgent need for a moratorium on capital punishment.
The Iraqi authorities executed six prisoners with no prior notice on October 4, 2012, eleven prisoners on October 7, and another six prisoners on October 8. According to a statement released by Justice Ministry officials on October 8, Iraq has executed 23 people convicted of "criminal and terrorist offenses" since October 4, bringing the total as of Monday's executions to 119 in 2012 and making the country a leading user of the death penalty in the region.
"The Iraqi authorities' insistence on carrying out this outrageous string of executions, while unwilling to reveal all but the barest of information, underlines the opaque and troubling nature of Iraq's justice system," said Joe Stork, deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa division at Human Rights Watch. "Rather than executing people, Iraq should focus on reforming its security and judicial systems to protect its citizens from increasing human rights violations."
Iraqi officials contend, when challenged about the death penalty, that it is rooted in cultural tradition. But the prevalence of unfair trials and torture in detention, particularly in national security and terrorism-related cases, raises serious concerns and makes the lack of transparency in Iraq's imposition of the death penalty particularly egregious, Human Rights Watch said.
The Justice Ministry provided few details about the people it executed in the first week of October. A statement released that day named only one, Abd al-Rahman Yassin Turky, saying he had been convicted for detonating a car bomb close to the Foreign Ministry in 2009. The ministry's statement said that another of those executed was one of the prisoners who escaped from Tikrit prison at the end of September, who had been "recently re-apprehended by security forces." The statement provided no further details on the identities of those executed, saying only that all had been convicted of offenses punishable under the counterterrorism law. The Ministry provided no details about the people executed on October 7, stating only that they had been convicted of terrorism after "carrying out killings and explosions against the Iraqi people." In a statement released on October 8, the ministry provided the initials of two of those executed, claiming they had been convicted of kidnapping and murder. The other four persons were convicted of terrorism charges, according to the statement, which otherwise gave no identifying information about the people executed on Monday.
"The government should disclose the identities, locations, and status of all prisoners on death row, the crimes for which they have been convicted, the evidence supporting their conviction, and details of any impending executions," Stork said.
They also need to put a moratorium in place on false boasting. AFP reports, "Iraq insisted on Wednesday its oil output could reach up to 10 million barrels per day by 2020, far highter than a prediction from the International Energy Agency which outlined several risks." Whether this is possible or not, it is a comedown from the previous promise by Nouri al-Maliki's Cabinet that they'd be at 17 million barrels per day in four years. And of the IEA report, Kirsten Korosec (Smart Planet) observes:
The outlook provided by the IEA isn't all sunshine and rainbows. How this plays out will be highly dependent on the speed at which impediments to investment are removed, market conditions and Iraq's ability to maintain political stability and develop its workforce, the IEA said. It also will require substantial investment in oil infrastructure, roads and the country's decrepit electricity grid.
Iraq's electricity grid is especially problematic. Prolonged power outages occur daily in many parts of the country. The IEA estimates Iraq needs 70 percent more net power generation capacity to meet demand. The country will have to install 70 gigawatts of generation capacity and move away from a predominantly oil-fired power mix to efficient gas-fired generation, the IEA said.
This means, Iraq will have to invest a lot into the energy sector — an average of $25 billion per year through 2020 — if it hopes to meet its potential.
All that oil, all that income, and the Iraqi government wants to whine it can't pay its bills? A. Saleh (Kuwait Times) reports that, pleading that rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure will be costly, Iraq is moving to reduce the compensation payments they owe to Kuwait.
They just don't have the money, you understand, to pay compensation for their war on Kuwait, even though the United Nations has ordered compensation be paid. They just don't have the money. But Prensa Latina observes, "Russia will deliver gun-missile Pantsir-S and combat helicopters Mi-28NE air-defense systems to Iraq in arms deals worth $4.2 billion signed earlier this year, said the government today." Defense World adds, "The contracts, among the biggest ever signed between Iraq and Russia, were signed in April, July and August by Iraq's acting defense minister, according to documents released on Tuesday during al-Maliki's visit." Ilya Arkhipov (Bloomberg News) explains, "The deals are the biggest military contacts since the 2003 U.S.-led overthrow of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein." M.K. Bahdrakumar (Asia Times) shared this opinion:
The stunning news will send US politicians into a tizzy. Reports say the phone kept ringing in Maliki's office in Baghdad as soon as it transpired that he was to travel to Moscow and something big could be in the works. Queries were coming in from the US State Department and the National Security Council as to what warranted such a trip at this point in time. The point is, Maliki still remains an enigma for Washington. He is no doubt a friend of the US, but he is also possibly more than a friend of Iran. Now, it seems, he is also fond of Russia - as Saddam Hussein used to be.
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, with regard to U.S.-Iraqi military support, Iraq overall has initiated some 467 foreign military sales cases with the United States. If all of these go forward, it will be worth over $12.3 billion, so obviously our own military support relationship with Iraq is very broad and very deep. We've seen the press reporting that one of the subjects on Prime Minister Maliki's agenda for his Moscow trip is military sales, but I'll have to send you to the Russians for what it is in particular they're talking about.
QUESTION: But aren't you at least annoyed that Iraq, after so much U.S. investment in blood and treasure, is actually going to conduct a deal or sign a deal with Russia on – over military sales going back – a throwback to the Cold War era?
MS. NULAND: Again, Said, we're doing some $12.3 billion worth of military business with Iraq, so I don't think one needs to be concerned about that relationship being anything but the strongest. With regard to what they may be seeking from the Russians, I would send you to the Russians and to the Iraqis.
Keep spinning, Nuland, keep spinning. A four billion dollar deal? Do you know how many jobs that would mean in the US? Do you realize how many trillions the US government has poured into Iraq (most for war, yes, but it was the illegal war that allowed them to put the chicken s**t exile Nouri al-Maliki into place as a leader)? Do you realize how many billions the State Dept continues to spend in Iraq? And Russia got the four billion contract? Good for Russian workers and their economy but don't pretend that a four billion dollar contract wouldn't have resulted in a ton of jobs in the United States. Dmitry Babich (Voice of Russia) offers, "Interestingly, Iraq's unexpectedly independent stance sheds a new light on the American occupation of Iraq and its consequences. Obviously, instead of a strong ally, free of Iranian influence and completely drawn into the orbit of American influence, Washington has got in Baghdad the exact opposite of its desires." The White House that overturned the 2010 Iraq election results to keep Nouri prime minister can't even get a moderate return on their investment.
Amid a visit to Russia, Mr. Maliki has warned Turkey not to blow-up its differences with Syria and drag NATO into the conflict.
The veiled support for the Syrian government came soon after Baghdad revived its military ties with Moscow. Mr. Maliki, a close ally of Iran, asserted that Syria was not threatening Turkey, which should not seek NATO's intervention.
This Thursday's vice presidential debate in Kentucky reads like bad joke: The Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) has pledged to "provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners," but continues to refuse an open and fair debate with all candidates on enough ballots to win -- guaranteeing we will not see any women, poor, or working people behind the podium.
We must change that. Until the debates are open and fair, we won't see a sincere discussion of fighting to end poverty in America. Or an honest debate of reproductive rights or equal pay for equal work (in fact, gender issues weren't mentioned even once in last week's debate).
~ We need comprehensive Medicare for all. With the Green New Deal, we can replace profiteering by private health insurance companies with a just and humane health care system.
~ We can end grinding poverty with a Full Employment Program. Over 48 million people live in poverty today, but with the Green New Deal, we can create good jobs building green infrastructure, clean manufacturing, and public works programs.
~ Selling out our teachers and public workers to "balance the budget" is no solution to our money problems. With the Green New Deal, we can break up the banks "too big to fail" and end bailouts for the financial elite.