Tuesday, October 16, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, three Nouri had arrested have their names cleared, the governor of the central bank is replaced, England gives up their Basra consulate, the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi continues to garner interest, name the idiot writer who tries to find the 'bright' side of the assault on the US Consulate by chirping, "But no one died in their sleep," and more.
Let's start with cholera.Al Mada reports that UNICEF declared that the cholera problems will not go away in Iraq while the poor sanitation continues. The World Health Organization explains, "Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhoea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients." Al Mada explains that the Ministry of Health is implementing a plan which includes visiting schools to provide information to students (who would then speak with their families). That is a nice start but it really looks like the Ministry of Health is actually letting UNICEF do the work and letting UNICEF foot the bill. The article notes that UNCIF is sending water kits and water purification tablets and water (2 million liters per day) into effected areas in Iraq. AFP notes that there have been 4 deaths and 272 confirmed cases including thirty-one that are children.
Violence was widespread across Iraq yesterday. Iraq Body Count counts 17 dead from Monday's violence. 17 dead would normally be reason for headlines. They also count 88 dead from violence so far this month. All Iraq News reports 2 Amiriyah bombings left five people injured and 2 Latifiyah bombings have left three people injured. Alsumaria notes the Amiriyah area has been blocked off by security and that the number injured has risen to six. Alsumaria adds 2 police officers were shot dead (guns with silencers) in Baghdad during a football game, a Baghdad bombing injured one police officer, 4 corpses (shot dead) were discovered in a car in the Sulaymaniyah village of Gafran and there were 28 arrests throughout Iraq.
In other news, Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall Street Journal) report that Abdul-Baset Turki ("head of the Supreme Audit Board") has been named interim central bank governor. They quote Kurdish MP Mahmoud Othman declaring, "This is another sign that things are not going in the right direction and that politics is affecting everything." Why? Because the position wasn't empty this morning. Hadeel Al Sayegh (The National) reports Parliament held a vote and decided to replace Sinan al-Shabibi. Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi is quoted stating, "The parliament today made a unanimous decision to vote for Abdelbasset, who is already handling many financial governmental decisions including the country's fiscal budget. Subsequently, a decision was made to remove powers from Mr Al Shabibi as central bank governor." Ammar Karim (AFP) reports al-Shabibi is now in Europe (he was in Japan when the arrest warrant was noted -- in Japan at a conference) and that Parliament's integrity commission is stating it's "not about money, but about procedures that led to the weakening of the dinar against the dollar." Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall Street Journal) state, "The Iraqi dinar, which currently trades at around 1,200 to the dollar, fell as low as 1,280 earlier this year amid allegations that neighboring Iran and Syria, both subject to international sanctions that restrict their access to hard currency, were using local fronts to participate in the Iraqi central bank's auctions."
Iyad Allawi, the leader of the opposition Iraqiya bloc, said the independence of the bank, which was necessary to maintain the exchange rate and prevent inflation, was threatened by the move against Mr Al Shabibi.
Magda Al Tamimi, a member of the parliamentary finance committee, agreed.
"The decision to issue a warrant for arrest against Sinan Al Shabibi and a number of officials at the central bank, was planned and ordered from some political forces," said Ms Al Tamimi.
"It is a political decision and not professional. Although we recognise the existence of some corruption cases in the bank, we are not happy and have reservations about this method, because of its impact on Iraq's reputation and the national economy."
Aseel Kami (Reuters) adds, "Since an inconclusive 2010 election, opponents of Maliki, a Shi'ite, have accused him of failing to fulfil power-sharing agreements in Iraq's delicate sectarian and ethnic balance among Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish political blocs. He accuses them of blocking his attempts to make the government work. Some lawmakers said the central bank should stay independent despite the dismissal." in 2011, Nouri publicly tried to take over the Central Bank and to take over the electoral commission which brings us to other news of the day, Al Rafidayn notes that Faraj al-Haidari, Karim al-Tamimi and Osama al-Ani have been cleared of charges by an appeals court. Faraj al-Haidari was president of the Electoral Commission. al-Tamimi and al-Ani served on it. From the April 16, 2012 snapshot:
Yesterday Farah al-Haidari and Karim al-Tamimi were released from jail as was expected -- AFP reported Friday that they would "be jailed until Sunday, a fellow commission member told AFP." As noted in Friday's snapshot, last Tuesday the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy Martin Kobler was praising the Independent High Electoral Commission to the United Nations Security Council and discussing how important it was to the upcoming provincial elections next year and then the parliamentary elections scheduled for the year after. So news that Nouri's had two members of that commission arrested on Thursday, as reported in real time by Raheem Salman (ioL news), was startling and alarming. Karim al-Tamimi serves on the commission while Faraj al-Haidari is the head of the commission.
How outrageous were the arrests? Saturday, Al Mada reported that Moqtada al-Sadr declared that the arrests were indications that Nouri al-Maliki might be attempting to delay the elections or call them off all together. He makes it clear that the the arrest needs to be based on eveidence and not on some whim of Nouri's and that it shouldn't be done because Nouri desires to "postpone or call of the election." Xinhua reported, "The government in Iraq's northern semi-autonomous Kurdistan region said Saturday that it has called on the central government in Baghdad to release the electoral commission's head and another member arrested on corruption charges." The Oman Tribune notes that the KRG issued the following statement on Friday: "The decision of the authorities in Baghdad to issue a detention order against Faraj Al Haidari and Karim Al Tamimi amounts to a gross violation and dangerous infringement of the political process. Such a decision is targeting the independence of the electoral commission ... We call (on the authorities) to reconsider the detention order immediately and refrain from persisting in insulting the democratic operation." As Mohamad Ali Harissi (AFP) observed, "Key political factions accused the premier of moving towards a dictatorship with the arrest of Iraq's electoral commission chief, a charge the prime minister denied on Saturday." W.G. Dunlop (AFP) quoted Iraqiya MP Haidar al-Mullah stating, "When the head of the independent electoral commission is being targeted, it means it is a message from the one who is targeting him that he is above the law and above the political process. The one who is standing behind this is the head of the State of Law coalition (Maliki), because he wants to send a message that either the elections should be fraudulent, or he will use the authorities to get revenge on the commission. This arrest is an indication that the judiciary has become an obedient tool in the hands of Mr Nuri al-Maliki."
Al Rafidayn explained Nouri al-Maliki released a statement Saturday decrying those who doubted the arrests were sound.
Again, their names have been cleared by an appeals court.
Staying with the political, Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports the other political blocs are accusing Nouri's State of Law of preventing progress on proposed legislation due to a walk out State of Law staged. Iraqiya says State of Law's goal Monday was to disable the Parliament with their walk out.
From yesterday's snapshot: Today Al Mada reports Yassin Majeed, an MP with Nouri's State of Law, is declaring that KRG President Massoud Barzani is a threat to Iraq. Majeed held a press conference outside Parliament to denounce Barzani. Alsumaria notes that among Barzani's supposed outrageous offenses is objecting to the infrastructure bill and objecting to the recent weapons shopping spree Nouri's been on ($1 billion dollar deal with the Czech Republic, $4.2 billion dollar deal with Russia). All Iraq News notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani issued a statement noting that, at a time when they are trying to resolve the current political crisis, the remarks are not helpful.
Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports today that State of Law is rushing to walk away from Majeed's remarks after Talabani and Iraqiya both called out the "reckless" remarks yesterday. Alsumaria reports Iraqiya stated there was no way to justify the remarks and called on everyone to condemn the remarks and this method to destroy a foundation of unity. In addition, All Iraq News notes the Kurdistan Alliance announced yesterday that there is no political difference between Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani and that the Allliance's statement was in response to the verbal attack on Barzani from Majeed. Hussein Ali Dawed (Al-Montior) notes Talabani statined "he considered these statements a 'call to war'." State of Law has never walked away from their constant smack talk before. The difference here appears to have been a united push back from the blocs at the same time that Nouri wanted it to appear he was trying to reach an understanding with everyone and be a national leader. Majeed's remarks were in keeping with State of Law's trash talk in the past. A month ago -- or maybe a month from now -- they wouldn't have raised an eyebrow and are part of State of Law's never-ending attacks on other politicians.
Iraq is a huge country and what we're doing by making these changes is to make sure we can cover all parts of it even more effectively than we've done up to now. We can make sure we're covering Basra by deploying more people in Baghdad.... It's not a zero sum game. Many British companies have told us that they would rather we had a presence in Baghdad and that we beef that up. So we're doing that as well as increasing our support for Erbil. Businesses value our influence in Baghdad, they know key decisions are made there more than in Basra and being able to cover both more effectively we will actually be doing better for British companies, better for Britain and helping the long term development of Iraq all at the same time. What's very important is that we maintain an influence and work with the people who are on the ground. It used to take 48 hours to get from Baghdad to Basra because we had to fly people through a different route in order to keep them safe. Now you can do it in an hour. And you can stay there and people will be safe. Our team in Baghdad will do the job in Basra that needs to be done. It's a very important area for us with the oil fields, with the potential for infrastructure development. We're already doing well with contracts there. It is right that we look at the resources we've got and we're able to deploy them effectively. If we weren't able to change resources we wouldn't be able to respond to the differing needs and demands. What we will see is British companies and our own diplomats continuing to build the relationships they need.
Speaking to the BBC, Burt went on to defend what's being called "fly-in, fly-out diplomacy." The Argus notes that the decision "was condemned by former Foreign Office minister David Mellor as 'short-sighted' and 'deeply damaging' to British interests."
In England, This Is London reports: "Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett this afternoon surprised MPs by signalling the countdown to a withdrawal from Iraq. She told the Commons that Basra, where the bulk of the UK's 7,200 personnel are stationed, could be handed over from British military control to Iraqi forces as early as next spring." Basra has been a violent area for British soldiers (and for Iraqis). Earlier this month, on England's Rememberance Sunday, four British troops were killed while on a boat patrol in Basra and three more were wounded. The four killed included Sharron Elliott who was "the second British female servicewoman to die in action." The other three were Jason Hylton, Ben Nowak, and Lee Hopkins. Mortar attacks have been common in Basra and, in August, a British soldier died as a result of wounds received from mortar rounds. In October, a British soldier died in Basra from road traffic. The end of October was also when the British consulate in Basra was evacuated after it was decided it was no longer safe after two months of mortar attacks. (In August, British troops 'evacuated' from their base in Amara due to repeated mortar attacks.)
In other violence, despite the British military flacks that were so eagerly allowed to spin in this morning's New York Times, Haidar Hani (AP) reports: "Looters ravaged a former British base Friday . . . taking everything from doors and window frames to corrugated roofing and metal pipes". As Ross Colvin (Reuters) reported yesterday, the base, which had come under nightly, heavy attacks, was abandoned. The AP story today notes: "Iraqi authories had complained that the British withdrawal had caught them by surprise" and allows flack Charlie Burbridge to holler Not-true-we-gave-them-24-hours-notice! Well, Charlie, on a rental, you usually have to give a minimum of 30 days notice. But it is good to know that as they packed up everything they could carry, someone did think to make a quick call saying, "Hey, we're about to split. If there's anything you want, better grab it quick, dude!"
Basra and the southern region in general were never easy locales for the United Kingdom.
Consulates were already being analyzed for costs due to the global recession (some estimates say the UK will save 6 million pounds by closing the Basra consulate). No doubt the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya also factored in and added safety issues to the cost issues as various countries rethink the nature of their presence on foreign soil. Days after the Libya attack (14 days, September 25th), rockets were fired on the US Consulate in Basra.
Chaning topics, if press stupidity and press whoring were executable crimes, there'd be a lot more people on death row today and two who would be facing the needle/gas chamber/electric chair? The editorial board of the Los Angeles Times and The Atlantic's Garance Franke-Ruta. Franke-Ruta is disgusting. She brings up the father of the late US Ambassador Chris Stevens saying that his son's death shouldn't be made "into a campaign issue" but slides past because she wants to do just that. Grasp that.
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.
Realize please that you come off like a stuck up bitch every time you say "an attack that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others." What is that? "And the rest here on Gilligan's Island"? You can't list three more names? They aren't important to you? They're just props? That's what it sounds like. If you gave a damn about four Americans and were writing because you gave a damn, you'd list their names.
If you want to honor the dead, you don't do it by rendering them nameless. And you don't write sentences like this, "Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Monday said the first line-of-duty death of a U.S. ambassador since the Carter Administration was on her." It's the bad writer who's turning it into Chris Stevens and Three Backup Singers. We'll deal with Hillary in a bit.
Let's deal with the father's feelings first: Important in the private world. Note that we're not even mentioning the man's name. But here's reality, 4 Americans died -- and, everybody get it through your damn heads, it wasn't just Chris Stevens. You've got four families. I believe the mother of Sean Stevens wants answers -- wasn't that what she told Anderson Cooper on 360 last week? But even if all four were calling for a press black out, too damn bad.
This was not a suicide. This is four Americans killed in an attack in a foreign country, killed because they were Americans. Your child and your memories of them are for your private consumption, fine. But a terrorist attack isn't Little Susie or Little Johnny pissed themselves at school and let's not embarrass them by telling the whole world. This was a terrorist attack and that made it an international concern and a public event.
Unlike me, GF-R can't find a clue so she pretends like the father's making a request that would or could be honored. But she then dismisses the request. That's pretty craven. Some might argue that what she's about to share is politicizing the deaths -- GF-R says tilting her head and biting her cringing lips, but -- "But this isn't how you put out a self-serving account."
How stupid is this woman?
If you want to put out a self-serving account, how do you do it? You do an on-background briefing. Then it's never traced back to you. And that's what she's praising. A State Dept "on-background briefing" from last week. Again, how stupid is this woman?
In a democracy, government is supposed to take place in the open. We don't rush to embrace one or several officials who won't even go on the record.
It only gets worse as she tries to make it better. This woman earned a college degree? Seriously? The same woman who wants to argue, "But no one died in their sleep." That's her spin? That's her 'up' in the equation? What a moron.
And what an offensive column. "But no one died in their sleep." Well, Garance, as far as we know, no one died in their sleep in the Twin Towers, at the Pentagon or in the planes on September 11, 2001 either. That didn't make that attack any less tragic. What a moron.
"While Republicans continue to charge administration cover-up and denial, the State Department's moves have repeatedly undermined both charges," the idiot writes. Did she attend the hearing? Of course not. If she had actual facts, she'd never be able to do that 'creative writing' that's become her hallmark. I was at the hearing. (Community coverage includes: "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot," "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing," "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment" and "What we learned at today's hearing.") I also know what was said on the Sunday chat & chews. The Republican members of the House Oversight Committee praised the State Dept and Hillary by name. (The only exception being US House Rep Jason Chaffetz.) Darrell Issa, the Committee Chair, started the hearing by thanking Hillary and the State Dept for what they were doing and for the information they were providing. So exactly what Republicans in Congress is the idiot GF-R referring to? Oh, that's right, the ones talking in her head.
And after Hillary's media appearances late yesterday, did the Republican Congress members pile on? Not according to Hillary Is 44 which notes:
Consider Senator Lindsay Graham. Early yesterday Graham sent Obama a letter asking Obama whether he knew of the previous attacks on the Benghazi compound and if so what Obama did about it?
"Her remarks drew a quick response from three Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee, including ranking member John McCain.
Clinton's statement of responsibility was "a laudable gesture, especially when the White House is trying to avoid any responsibility whatsoever," the Arizona senator said in a joint broadside with Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire. However, they added, "The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the commander-in-chief. The buck stops there."
The Sept. 11 attack on the consulate in Benghazi, in which U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were killed, was a tragedy. Was it also preventable? At a congressional hearing last week, Eric Nordstrom, the State Department's former regional security officer in Libya, criticized his superiors for ignoring his concerns about the growing risk of armed militias and extremist groups in Benghazi. But he also acknowledged that posting a few more Americans at the site would not have been sufficient to repel the onslaught by heavily armed extremists.
No, the editorial board wasn't at the hearing. No, Eric Nordstrom did NOT say "that posting a few more Americans at the site would not have been sufficient to repel the onslaught by heavily armed extremists." He didn't say it, he didn't acknowledge it. He allowed that it might not have made a difference. That's not the same thing. Nor was he the only security witness at the hearing. There was also Lt Col Andrew Wood.
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.
So you had one security witness stating it might not have made a difference and another stating it would have made a difference, no maybes about it. The editorial board is less than honest -- not since a sex scandal in a hotel -- well a nudity scandal, the prostitute had left -- back before Barack was in the White House has the Los Angeles Times editorial board been such a joke. And, let's repeat, four people died. Say their names, write their names. Do not pretend you're 'honoring' the four when you reduce them to 'Chris Stevens and three people I don't care enough to even try to name.' The four names are Glen Doherty, Chris Stevens, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods. If that's too many names for your meager minds to hold, then you don't need to be writing about the Benghazi attack to begin with.
No one plays word games better than lawyers and Hillary has a law degree and was a practicing attorney for many years. In other words, let's go to the State Dept press briefing today:
MS. NULAND: All right, everybody. Happy Tuesday. The Secretary is just finishing her program in Latin America and will be returning later this afternoon. I have – or later this evening – I have nothing for you at the top.
QUESTION: Can I ask you about the series of interviews she gave on this trip? We didn't have one, so we didn't get a chance to ask her directly. But she said she took responsibility related to the Benghazi attack. I just wanted to be clear on what she's taking responsibility for.
MS. NULAND: Well, if you have a chance to get up on our website, you will see transcripts of five TV interviews that the Secretary gave yesterday, as she always does when she's traveling and she has TV crews with her or TV correspondents with her. I think she was extremely clear what she's taking responsibility for. She is the head of this Department. She takes responsibility for this Department fully. She's never made any secret of that. That's been her position all the way through this.
QUESTION: What is she taking responsibility for, though? She just said, "I take responsibility," full stop.
MS. NULAND: Brad, you can go back and reread that interview. The question was clear.
QUESTION: I have reread it.
MS. NULAND: The answer was clear. I'm not going to try to improve on it here.
QUESTION: Why won't you?
MS. NULAND: Because she was –
QUESTION: She doesn't finish the thought.
MS. NULAND: She was extremely clear what she takes responsibility for, which is the operation of this Department, all of the men and women here, and certainly she is personally, as she has said again and again and again since September 11th, committed to getting to the bottom of who did this and learning the lessons that we need to learn from it.
QUESTION: So you said she takes responsibility for the operation of this Department and the people who work here. So she wouldn't be taking responsibility for things like intelligence assessments, per se, because that is something that might not be done by this building; is that correct?
MS. NULAND: Brad, I am not going to stand here and parse the Secretary's words. She was very clear in her interviews.
QUESTION: Well, if she was so clear, why can't you answer a question like that?
MS. NULAND: I want you to go back and read the interviews.
QUESTION: I have read all of them.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. I think she was very clear.
What did Hillary take accountability for? What she appears to have taken accountability for is her department. I think, I could be wrong and often am, Larry Johnson is responding to the press summaries and interpretations as opposed to Hillary's words.
On September 12th, as revealed in last week's hearing, the State Dept was briefing Congress that the attack was a terrorist attack (Patrick Kennedy specifically was doing that). I believe, and I could be wrong, that Hillary is stating, "I am responsible for my department." As in, "I am responsible for my department and other Secretaries are responsible for their departments and the President is ultimately responsible for all." As explained in last week's hearing, the attack was monitored live and footage exists of the attack -- a little over 50 minutes of footage. The FBI has told Congress they are not holding onto the footage or preventing anyone from seeing it. But an unidentified element of the Executive Branch is keeping it off limits to the public and to Congress. It appears to me -- and I could be wrong and often am -- that Hillary was taking accountability for what she was responsible for and indicating that she couldn't take responsibility for things others were responsible for.
If I was responsible for the State Dept, I would be very glad to know that we were telling Congress the truth from the start and that, even in our overseas interviews such as William J. Bruns' interview to Al Jazeera last month, we did not blame the attack on a YouTube video or a protest over a YouTube video.