Thursday, October 11, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, October 11, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri continues his shopping spree, cholera continues in Iraq, Barack's lies to voters about Iraq get noted, we return to the hearing about the attack on the US Consulate in Libya, and more.
Yesterday the House Oversight Committee gathered for a hearing.  What was the hearing about?
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  On September 11, 2012, four brave Americans serving their country were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya.  Tyrone Woods spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since 2010, he protected the American diplomatic personnel.  Tyrone leaves behind a widow and three children.   Glen Doherty, also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic, had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  His family and colleagues grieve today for his death.  Sean Smith, a communications specialist, joined the State Dept after six years in the United States Air Force.  Sean leaves behind a widow and two young children.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man I had known personally during his tours, US Ambassador to Libya, ventured into a volatile and dangerous situation as Libyans revolted against the long time Gaddafi regime.  He did so because he believed the people of Libya wanted and deserved the same things we have: freedom from tyranny. 
Issa also noted that some Americans were injured in the attack. Appearing before the Committee 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.   In yesterday's snapshot, we covered a portion of the hearing.  In addition, last night Kat reported on the hearing with "What we learned at today's hearing," Ava reported on it with "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing" and Wally reported on it with "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment."  What does this have to do with Iraq?
A great deal.  No other foreign country has such a large group of people with the US State Dept in it.  Two weeks after the Consulate in Libya was attacked, rockets were launched at the US Consulate in Basra   The White House falsely blamed the attack in Libya on an "angry mob" that got out of control while protesting a video on YouTube.  There was no protest in Libya -- and as Issa noted in yesterday's hearing, the State Dept stated they did not believe there was and did not advance the notion that there was.  But there was a protest at the US Embassy in Baghdad.  Some may scratch their heads over that.  That embassy is in the Green Zone, a heavily guarded section of Baghdad that most Iraqis cannot even enter.  The protest at the US Embassy was one lone person, an MP with Moqtada al-Sadr's bloc.  Whether it has to do with the lies the White House repeatedly told or with the realities of what went down, the events in Libya could have taken place at the Basra Consulate or at any other location across the globe. As Issa noted in the hearing yesterday,  "[. . .]  there are hundreds and hundreds of facilities similar to this around the world, there are thousands of personnel serving this country who -- at any time, in any country -- could be a target." A point made even clearer today with Jeffrey Fleishman and Zaid al-Alayaa (Los Angeles Times) reporting, "A Yemeni security investigator at the U.S. Embassy here was shot and killed Thursday by masked men on a motorcycle in the latest assassination by militants of political and security targets in cities across the country." (Cedric and Wally covered the Yemen violence this morning.)  
I had no interest in the Democratic Committee members yesterday.  As Ruth pointed out in her post last night, PBS' The NewsHour missed the news from the hearing because they instead focused on turning the hearing into a horse race.  There were not equal sides in the hearing.
You had one side focused on finding out what happened and how.  You had another side focused on creating drama -- drama is what PBS focused on leaving their audience highly uninformed.  I was being kind and just emphasizing what mattered in the hearing -- no Democratic contribution to the hearing mattered.  But if you're not getting how bad it is -- from Wally, Ava and Kat's reporting -- then let's note that nonsense began the minute a Committee Democrat spoke.
Ranking Member Elijah Cummings:  Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman.  And let me be very clear, you said that your side of the aisle grieves the loss of our fellow countrymen.  It's not just your side of the aisle, Mr. Chairman, it's this side of the aisle and our entire country.
Cummings came in spoiling for a fight.  Issa didn't say "my side of the aisle."  He didn't even say "aisle."  Does Cummings need a hearing aid or is "dais" an unfamiliar term?  The Committee members face the witnesses table.  The Committee members are on a raised platform -- a "dais," Cummings -- and at higher level than the witness -- for psychological intimidation, to be honest.  So Chair Darrell Issa stated, "We join here today expressing, from this side of the dais, our deepest sympathies for the families," and the term was "dais."  This side.  That means all the Committee members (and staff) seated and facing the witness table.  Is that clear now?
So which is it, Cummings?   Do we need to buy you a hearing aid or a dictionary?  Let us know and maybe don't use your time to lecture others that "we should listen carefully" unless you're trying to pay homage to Gilda Radner's Emily Latella.
DC Rep Eleanor Holmes Norton is a joke and makes DC a joke.  Don't give us all a lecture about how the right questions need to be asked when you never ask a question and yield your time.  Don't think an hour into the hearing when you want to speak again that you're bringing up Mitt Romney -- no one else had -- is seen as anything but what it was, partisan whoring.  If you're supposed to represent DC, starting acting a hell of a lot more mature, start being a lot more professional.  We've already had Eleanor offer junk science and get smacked down by the FBI during Barack's term.  She seems bound and determined to top that.  You'd think she'd be interested in trying to appear professional.  Instead, she makes herself -- and DC statehood by proxy -- a joke.  Over 20 years in office, over 75 years old, maybe it's time for her to consider retirement?
Only one Democrat did not self-disgrace, US House Rep Dennis Kucinich.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Mr. Kennedy has testified today that US interests and values are at stake in Libya and that the US is better off because we went to Benghazi.  Really?  You think that after ten years in Iraq and eleven years in Afghanistan that our country, the US would have learned the consequences and limits of interventionism.  You would think that after trillions have been wasted on failed attempts at democracy building abroad while our infrastructure crumbles at home, Congress and the administration would re-examine priorities.  Today we're engaging in a discussion about the security failures of Benghazi.  There was a security failure.  Four Americans including our ambassador, Ambassador Christopher Stevens, were killed.  Their deaths are a national tragedy.  My sympathy is with the families of those who were killed.  There has to be accountability.  I haven't heard that yet.  We have an obligation to protect those who protect us.  That's why this Congress needs to ask questions. The security situation did not happen overnight because of a decision made by someone at the State Dept.  We could talk about hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts for funding for embassy security over the last two years as a result of a blind pursuit of fiscal austerity.  We could talk about whether it's prudent to rely so heavily on security contractors rather than our own military or State Dept personnel.  We could do a he-said-she-said about whether the State Dept should have beefed up security at the embassy in Benghazi.  But we owe it to the diplomatic corps who serves our nation to start at the beginning and that's what I shall do.  The security threats in Libya including the unchecked extremist groups who are armed to the teeth exist because our nation spurred on a civil war destroying the security and stability of Libya. And, you know, no one defends Gaddafi.  Libya was not in a meltdown before the war.  In 2003, Gaddafi reconciled with the community of nations by giving up his pursuit of nuclear weapons. At the time, President Bush said Gaddafi's actions made our country and our world safer. Now during the Arab Spring, uprisings across the Middle East occurred and Gaddafi made ludicrous threats against Benghazi.  Based on his verbal threats, we intervented.  Absent constitutional authority, I might add. We bombed Libya, we destroyed their army, we obliterated their police stations.  Lacking any civil authority, armed brigades control security.  al Qaeda expanded its presence.  Weapons are everywhere.  Thousands of shoulder-to-air missiles are on the loose.  Our military intervention led to greater instability in Libya. Many of us, Democrats and Republicans alike, made that argument to try to stop the war.  It's not surprising given the inflated threat and the grandiose expectations inherent in our nation building in Libya that the State Dept was not able to adequately protect our diplomats from this predicatable threat.  It's not surprising.  And it's also not acceptable. It's easy to blame someone else -- like a civil servant at the State Dept. We all know the game. It's harder to acknowledge that decades of American foreign policy have directly contributed to regional instability and the rise of armed militias around the world.  It's even harder to acknowledge Congress' role in the failure to stop the war in Libya, the war in Iraq, the war in Afghanistan, the war in Pakistan, the war in Yemen, the war in Somolia and who knows where else?  It's harder to recognize Congress' role in the failure to stop the drone attacks that are still killing innocent civilians and strengthening radical elements abroad.  We want to stop the attacks on our embassies?  Let's stop trying to overthrow governments.  This should not be a partisan issue.  Let's avoid the hype. Let's look at the real situation here. Interventions do not make us safer. They do not protect our nation.  They are themselves a threat to America.  Now, Mr. Kennedy, I would like to ask you, is al Qaeda more or less established in Libya since our involvement?
Patrick Kennedy: Mr. Kucinich, I will have to take that question for the record. I am not an intelligence expert.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich: Oh.  You don't have the intelligence, you're saying?  Well I'm going to go on to the next question --
Committee Chair Darrell Issa: Mr. Kucinich, I think the other two may have an opinion.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Well I wanted to ask Mr. Kennedy.  Next question, Ambassador Kennedy, how many shoulder-to-air missiles that are capable of shooting down civilian passenger airlines are still missing in Libya?   And this happened since our intervention.  Can you answer that question?
Patrick Kennedy: No, sir. I'll be glad to provide it for the record.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich: You're saying you do not know?
Patrick Kennedy: I do not know, sir. It's not within my normal purview of operations with the State Dept.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  Does anyone else here know how many shoulder-to-air missiles that can shoot down civilian airliners are still loose in Libya?  Anyone know?
Eric Nordstrom:  The figures that we were provided are fluid but the rough approximation is between ten and twenty thousand.
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:   The gentleman's time has expired.  Did you want them to answer anything about al Qaeda growth?
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:  If anyone there knows.
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  If anyone has an answer on that one, they can answer and then we'll go on.
US House Rep Dennis Kucinich:   Yeah, is al Qaeda more or less established in Libya since our involvement?
Lt Col Andrew Wood:  Yes, sir.  There presence grows everday. They are certainly more established than we are.
Only Dennis Kucinich conducted himself in a consistent manner.  Regardless of was in the White House, Dennis would have made the same remarks to the same events. 
The rest of the Democrats came in eager to attack the Republicans on the Committee and eager to discredit the hearing.  It was not pretty and did not speak to the better qualities of the United States of America.  It did not speak to 'obstructionist Republicans.'  It did demonstrate that members of the Committee on the Democratic side were more interested in covering for the White House than they were in demanding answers as to how four Americans ended up dead.  It was not a glorious moment for DC.  Since we're spending a second day on the hearing and since we've already done one day's worth of work on this issue, we can take a moment to note that the Democrats were disruptive and distractive.  And that's about all that's worth noting about their embarrassing behavior.
Let's do two excerpts from the hearing for when the State Dept's Lamb was being questioned. 
Chair Darrell Issa: Ms. Lamb, yesterday you told us in testimony that you received from Mr. Nordstrom a recommendation but not a request for more security and you admitted that in fact you had previously said that if he submitted a request, you would not support it.  Is that correct?
Charlene Lamb: Sir, after our meeting last night, I went back and re -- At the time --
Chair Darrell Issa: First, answer the question.  Then I'll let you expand.  Did you say that yesterday?  That you would not support it if he -- if he gave you the request?
Charlene Lamb:  Under the current conditions, yes.
Chair Darrell Issa:  Okay.  And then last night, you discovered what?
Charlene Lamb:  I went back and reviewed the July 9 cable from which I was referring and that was not in that cable.  I've been reviewing lots of documents.
Chair Darrell Issa: Well we have a July 9th cable.  It's one of them that I put in the record --
Charlene Lamb: Yes.
Chair Darrell Issa: -- that in fact has the word "request."  It doesn't meet your standards of perhaps what you call a formal request, you described that, but it does request more assets.  If you looked at the July 9th cable -- and this less than 60 days, roughly 60 days beforehand -- it says summary and action request, "Embassy Tripoli requests continued TDY security support for an additional 60-days."  Now yesterday you told us, under penalty of perjury essentially, that it wasn't a request, it was a recommendation.  Does the word request mean request?  And are you prepared to say today that they requested these assets above and beyond what they had on September 11th rather than that they simply recommended?
Charlene Lamb: Sir, we discussed that there was no justification that normally comes with a request.  That cable was a very detailed and complex cable outlining --
Chair Darrell Issa:  Right. Well we've now read that cable.  And you're right, it is detailed and in several more places expresses concerns.  The September 11th cable from the now deceased Ambassador expresses current concerns on that day.  Repeatedly in the cables that were denied to us, what we see is people telling you that al Qaeda type organizations are coming together.  Now the problem I have is that the State Dept is basically saying that, "Mr. Nordstrom didn't do his job, he didn't make a formal request with justification. The Ambassador didn't do his job.  He didn't make a good enough case."  And that's what you're standing behind here today?  In addition to saying, "Well there were five people there therefore --"?  A embassy -- a compound owned by us and serving like a consulate was in fact breached less than 60 days before -- aproximately 60 days before -- the murder of the ambassador in that facility.  Isn't that true?  
Charlene Lamb: Sir, we had the correct number of assets in Benghazi at the time of nine-eleven for what had been agreed upon.
Chair Darrell Issa: Okay, my time has expired.  To start off by saying that you had the correct number and our ambassador and three other individuals are dead, people are in the hospital recovering because it only took moments to breach that facility somehow doesn't ring true to the American people. 
We'll jump ahead to right after Patrick Kennedy confirmed that privately he was terming the attack a terrorist attack. 
US House Rep Dan Burton: [. . .] because today, as I listen to people, and you, Ms. Lamb, have described these attackers in a number of ways but you don't mention terrorist at all?  Why is that?  I mean the compound had been attacked once before and breached.  And these people had all these weapons -- projectiles, grenades.  All kinds of weapons.  Why would you call this anything but a terrorist attack?  And why do you call them attackers?
Charlene Lamb:  Sir, I have just presented the fact as they've come across. I am not making any judgments on my own and I am leaving that --
US House Rep Dan Burton: Okay.  Well let me ask a couple of other questions. There were 16 troops that were there at that compound and they requested them to be kept there.  And they sent a suggestion to you that they be kept there.  And then you responded saying that if that was presented to you, you would not accept that.  Was that your sole decision? 
Charlene Lamb: Sir, they were not in Benghazi.  They were in Tripoli.  I just want to make sure that we're --
US House Rep Dan Burton: I understand.
Charlene Lamb: Okay.  And when the cable came in where RSO Nordstrom laid out all of his staffing requirements and needs, I asked our desk officer to go back and sit down with him or through e-mails and telephone conversations to work out all the details and line up exactly how many security personnel, armed security personnel did he need --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  Okay, okay.  But you did not agree with that assessment that they needed those there.
Charlene Lamb:  No, sir.  We had been training people --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  I just --
Charlene Lamb:  -- people, Libyans to replace them.
US House Rep Dan Burton:  No.  Did you not say that if that was presented to you, you would not accept it?
Charlene Lamb:  He was posing --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  Did you or did you not say that?
Charlene Lamb:  Yes, sir, I said that personally I would not support it.  He could request it --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  Why is that? Why is that?
Charlene Lamb:  Because --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  You know about all these other attacks which had taken place.  There had been twelve or fourteen.
Charlene Lamb:  We had been training the local Libyans and arming them --
US House Rep Dan Burton:  Well now --
Charlene Lamb:  -- for almost a year.
US House Rep Dan Burton:  -- let me interrupt to say that the local Libyan militia that was there, many of them that were there were supposedly told by friends and relatives that there was going to be an imminent attack on that compound.  And so many of them left.  They didn't want to be involved in the attack --
Charlene Lamb:  Sir, with due respect -- Wait-wait-wait.
US House Rep Dan Buton:  -- so I don't understand why you say out of hand that there was no need for those 16 troops to be there.
Let's move to the man the Democrats on the Committee thought they were serving -- when, in fact, they're supposed to serve the people and they take an oath to uphold the Constitution.  Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor have an important new book entitled The Endgame.  It's a major book that should be inspiring discussions and agreements and disagreements, the op-ed pages and public affairs programs should be focused on this book.  Instead it's largely greeted by silence because the authors commit a mortal sin: They dare to criticize Barack.
But you can't tell the story of Iraq without taking on Barack and his craven nature.
Maybe it would just be considered a venial sin if it weren't an election year?  But here are Gordon and Trainor telling the story of how Barack lied to people and what a big fake he is.  For example, you may remember then-Senator Hillary Clinton came out against the Status Of Forces Agreement in theory (it had been written at that time).  She stated, rightly, that treaties go through the Senate per the Constitution.  She said it and Barack, who never had an independent or original thought of his own had to play myna bird, began repeating it.  Others were in agreement as well.  Senators Joe Biden, Russ Feingold, the entire Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  That's because the Bush administration was going to by-pass the Senate.  And Congress -- House and Senate -- didn't approve of that.
And then Barack got the nomination and created a little page at the website where he and Joe were going to continue to oppose this.  The Constitution, he insisted, must be honored.
Until, of course, that pesky Constitution might cause a problem for Barack.  From the book:
Another important step to facilitate an agreement [with Iraq] was quietly taken by the Obama team.  Throughout the campaign, Obama and his aides had publicly insisted that the SOFA needed to be subjected to Congressional review.  But that raised the possibility that the Iraqis might make politically painful concessions only to see the Americans balk.  Colin Kahl, a political science professor who had been advising the Obama campaign, had been invited by Odierno to Baghdad to participate in a strategy review in October  And he soon concluded that it was in the campaign's interest to support the negotiating efforts in Baghdad.  The SOFA the Bush administration was working on was consistent with Obama's approach and if it failed now the new president would need to spend the first few months of his administration trying to resurrect the agreement -- or dealing with the chaos in Iraq that might result from a hasty American pullout.  Kahl sent the Obama campaign an email urging that it avoid criticism of the agreement.  "If we win the election we don't want to have our Iraq policy consumed by renegotiating the agreement in the early portion of 2009," he wrote.
Suddenly, the Constitution no longer mattered.  But thought this became campaign strategy in October, please note, Barack (and Joe) would wait until after the election to strike the promise from the campaign site. 
What is easiest for Barack is the road to take.  Protecting the Constitution was the road not taken.  Treaties go through Congress and Barack was a constitutional professor (he was no such thing, but the press did love to lie).  Barack was going to restore the Constitution!  Yet before he even won the election, he'd already decided to screw over the Constitution because heaven forbid that his administration might have to do some heavy lifting and negotiate a treaty if the Bush one fell apart in the Senate.
The deceit never ended with Barack.  The first thing I'll do, my first day in office -- he loved to say that, remember?  He loved to say it.  He just never meant it.  Again, before the election Barack and his enablers found a way to screw over the voters who believed he'd made a promise to pull all troops out of Iraq in 16 months, one brigade a month.  From the book.
While the candidate had billboarded the sixteen-month deadline, Kahl was familiar with the fine print.  There was wiggle room to be had and in a confidential memo to the new White House team Kahl pointed it out.  In accordance with sound bites from the campaign, the White House Web site noted Obama's timeline, but notably did not set a start date.  Aligning the start of any withdrawal with the day the president announced his Iraq plan -- not inauguration day -- would add a month or so.  What is more, Obama had never committed himself to the pullout of all American troops from Iraq.  The candidate had discussed retaining some kind of residual force in Iraq to protect American diplomatic personnel and to target terrorists. 
Gordon knows that because Gordon conducted that lengthy interview.  But most voters only knew the tent revivals Barack offered as he channeled Burt Lancaster's Starbuck in The Rainmaker as he went town to town running his con.
The book's a very important document.  People should be reading it, discussing it, arguing over it.  But it's an election year and the Cult of St. Barack has decreed that thou must not question the Christ-child.
And no one must question why Iraq's on a spending spree and not bringing any of those petro-dollars to the US which, you may remember, has still not recovered from the Great Recession.  Dar Addustour notes Nouri al-Maliki left Moscow yesterday for Prague.  In Russia, Iraq's prime minister and chief thug completed weapons deals valued at $4.2 billion.  RIA Novosti observes, "Arms industry analyst Ruslan Pukhov of the Center for Analysis of Strategy and Technologies, a Moscow-based think tank, said the deal showed Baghdad's desire to break Washington's monopoly of arms supplies to the new government there." Defense Industry Daily offers up "Baby Come Back: Iraq is Buying Russian Weapons Again:"

The first challenge the deal must overcome is Parliamentary. Maliki can sign the deal, but Iraq's legislature has to authorize the money for the purchases in its budgets. There has already been some pushback from that quarter, and time will tell how Maliki fares.
The next challenge will involve fielding, though this an easier hurdle. Iraq never really stopped operating Russian weapons, including tanks, artillery, helicopters, and guns. Some were scavenged and restored from the Saddam-era military. Others were provided by US allies. Still others, like Iraq's Mi-17 helicopters, were bought using the USA itself as an intermediary. What's different about these buys is that they involve a direct relationship with a new source for support, and also involve new roles within Iraq's reconstituted military. Working our those kinks, and training to use their equipment's full capabilities without endangering their own forces, is going to take work and time.

At The National Interest, Paul Pillar is more interested in figuring out what the deal means:

We can draw several implications from this news. One is that it fills in further the picture of what legacy was left in Iraq by the U.S. war that ousted Saddam. The regime that emerged from the rubble is not only increasingly authoritarian and narrowly sectarian and not only chummy with Iran; it also is becoming a client of Moscow. A trifecta of failure.
A second lesson concerns the notion that committing military support to a new regime in the making is essential for having a good relationship with it and to be considered a friend rather than a adversary once such a regime comes to power. This idea is being heard increasingly as an argument for doing more to assist rebels in Syria. We need to get in on the ground floor with the new bunch and accept risks and commit major resources, it is said, in order to be held in favor by whatever regime emerges from that rubble. But the United States got in on the ground floor more than once in Iraq—with the Baathists in 1958 and with the successors to Saddam after he was overthrown. In the latter case it did so with the expenditure of enormous resources. And look how much friendship and influence it bought.

BBC's Rami Ruhayem shares, "Until recently, Mr Maliki seemed to possess a magical ability to keep both Washington and Tehran happy.  But recent events suggest Baghdad could eventually face the unnerving possibility of having to choose one or the other." All Iraq News reports that Nouri has met with the Czech Republic's Prime Minister and explained that they wish to increase economic and military ties.  In Prague today, he's also declared that he hopes to work with the Czech Republic in building oil refineries in Iraq.  AP adds, "The prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Iraq say their countries are negotiating a possible deal for the Iraqi military to acquire Czech-made subsonic L-159 military airplanes."  AFP quotes Nouri declaring, "A certain agreement has been reached."  

As Nouri goes on a weapons spending spree, Iraq still can't provide its people with the basics.  Electricity goes in and out.  Potable water is a dream in many areas.  Potable water is especially an issue this time of year as the annual cholera outbreak arrives in Iraq.  All Iraq News reports that water trucks are being used in Baghdad.  These trucks contain potable water -- safe drinking water.   Al Mada reports that Baghdad is very afraid of a cholera outbreak as Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk have seen outbreaks and at least two people have recently died due to cholera.  Alsumaria reports that local government in Babylon is assembling a body to address any cholera outbreaks.  A national plan to address the health crisis remains absent -- this despite the fact that the cholera outbreaks are now a yearly occurrence and have been for years now.  Only in Nouri's Iraq.  But, hey, Nouri is stockpiling weapons.
As usual, what Nouri can't address, the KRG has to.  Press TV (link is transcript and video) reports:
Government ministries in Iraq's Kurdistan Region are pulling together to prevent the spread of cholera. Over 70 people are being tested for cholera every day amid an epidemic in the region's Sulaymaniyah province. Those affected are scattered throughout the province, making it difficult to pin point the exact source of the outbreak.
Turning to violence,  All Iraq News reports that 1 lawyer, Mohammed Mjul Sultan, was shot dead in Mosul today and a Mosul roadside bombing left four police officers injured. Alsumaria reports another Mosul bombing left two police injured, another Mosul roadside bombing left 2 dead, 1 corpse was discovered in Mosul, the son of  a Kirkuk police director was kidnapped, and mass arrests saw 77 Iraqis hauled from their homes.
In other news, Focus Information Agency notes the Turkish Parliament voted today to continue -- for at least another year -- "the government's mandate to order military strikes against Kurdish rebels holed up in neighboring Iraq."  Hurriyet Daily News explains, "Parliament authorized cross-border operations into northern Iraq in 2007 and has extended the mandate each year since then. The motion would authorize the government to determine the scale, scope and timing of military action. The current mandate of the motion expires Oct. 17."  The Voice of Russia says Turkish war planes again bombed northern Iraq today.
Meanwhile, it's not up there with one of Chris Hill's many infamous tantrums while he was the US Ambassador to Iraq but it is rather disturbing.  AFP report that Robert Beecroft, the new US Ambassador to Iraq arrived in Iraq today "and was sworn into his new position."  To quickly recap, Brett McGurk couldn't keep it in his pants and he ended up losing his nomination.  (Most were surprised that Barack would ever nominate someone who had savaged him in a column but that's Barack, he only respects the people who don't give him love -- ah, Daddy issues.)  September 11th, the White House announced they were nominating Beecroft for the post.  Despite many being out of DC to campaign for re-election (a third of the Senate seats will be elected in November), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chair John Kerry moved heaven and earth to get a hearing up and going for September 19th.  Days later, September 22nd, Beecroft was confirmed by a voice vote.  Good for Kerry for pulling it off -- the hearing, the vote -- and so quickly but while he was busting his butt, did anyone realize Beecroft was not in any hurry to get to Iraq.  September 22nd he was confirmed and October 11th he arrived.  He has now topped Chris Hill's travel record (however, unlike Hill, he did not tell the Committee that the minute he was confirmed he would hop a flight to Iraq -- Hill did make that promise, Hill did break that promise).
In the US, there's a presidential election weeks away.  The Green Party candidate is Jill Stein.  Libby Liberal is supporting her.  Libby has an action she'd like others to take part in:
I am proposing several actions for citizens troubled by the NewsHour's blackout of third party candidates. A blackout of the issues of the constituencies of third party candidates.
I propose similarly concerned fellow citizens:
Boycott the PBS NewsHour between October 15th and 19th, 5 broadcast days.
Email a complaint to the NewsHour about the lack of coverage of third party candidates (come on, it will only cost you a few minutes):
Send a U.S. snail mail complaint (again a matter of minutes and a stamp):
MacNeil/Lehrer Productions
2700 South Quincy Street
Arlington, VA 22206
Contact PBS Ombudsman, Michael Getler:
Getler's address & phone:
Public Broadcasting Service
2100 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202
She has an analysis of PBS that you should read but I'm stopping her suggestions there.  She goes on to suggest local PBS stations be contacted.  Great idea if it were the summer.  It's too late for your local stations to do anything.  A few months back, they might have some pull.  But with the elections weeks away, PBS content supplier is the one to contact, not your local stations.  (However, contacting local stations may help local Greens get covered and that might be what Libby's going for.)