Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, October 31, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, kebabs are out, al Qaeda is back, corruption never left Iraq, nor did US troops (despite Beecroft's claims otherwise), we look at Benghazi, terror and more.
Save us all from the sexism.  Last night, Ann, Marcia, Ava and I weighed in on a sexist get-out-the-vote ad and I would have hoped that lengthy piece could be it on the topic for a bit.  But sexism never ends, instead it seems to roll in with the tide. 
Yesterday's snapshot noted Nussaibah Younis' "Time to Get Tough on Iraq" (New York Times) which is an important column.  And one of many important pieces of writing Nussaibah's contributed over the years -- such as at England's Guardian newspaper.  But today Jacob Hornberger (Media With Conscience News) decides to 'tackle' the article in the way only certain men can -- by completely misunderstanding everything about the article and about Nussaibah.  So when Hornberger writes of Nussaibah, "He wants the U.S. government to get tough . . ."? 
I'm sorry Hornberger, I would assume if you were someone who regularly writes about the Middle East -- and Libertarian Hornberger frequently does -- that you'd know a few things.  One thing you might know, for example, is that Nussaibah -- which has a variety of spellings -- is one of the oldest female names in Arabic culture.  Yeah, Nussaibah Younis, the "he" Hornberger is raging against is actually a she.
If you doubt it, you can check out her profile at the Guardian or her Twitter feed.  She is not a man and it's telling that when Hornberger encounters a name that he clearly doesn't recognize, his factory setting is to automatically assume it's a man.
I'm sorry Jacob Hornberger is so uninformed.  I'm sorry that he's unaware that Nouri is not the near Ghandi Hornberger wants him to be.  (Ghandi didn't run secret torture chambers.) Most of all, I'm sorry he's so foolish.  Throughout his column, he yammers away about how this is 'democracy' and now the Americans object.  No, democracy is not Nouri.  Nouri was not the choice of the Iraqi voter.  Iraqiya beat Nouri's State of Law.  There should have been no second term for Nouri.  But the White House wanted Nouri to have a second term.
John Barry observes in "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."
Hornberger's never heard of that, never heard of Nussaibah Younis, never heard of Nouri's secret prisons apparently (well documented for many years now) and, again, assumed for some reason that the journalist had to be a man.  Don't mean to give Jacob Hornberger a shock here, but women have been journalists for many years now.  Anne Newport Royall dates back to the 1800s as a journalist, for example, and may be the first woman to interview a sitting president (John Quincy Adams) and, of course, the Dorothy Dix columns Elizabeth Meriweather Gilmer began writing in 1896; Dorothy Thomas who wrote the "On the Record" column for the New York Herald Tribune beginning in 1936 and many more. Since Nussaibah Younis wrote a column for the New York Times, let's note Pulitzer winner Anne O'Hare McCormick who moved to the Times in 1921 and to the paper's editorial pages in 1936.  She won the Pulitzer for foreign correspondence in 1937 for the columns she wrote.  In the New York Times obituary on O'Hare McCormick (May 30, 1954), the paper noted:
Although partisan spokesmen disagreed with the views she set down thrice weekly in her editorial-page column "Abroad," and in her editorials on the two other days of her work week, none ever failed to pay her tribute for sharp reporting and "coolheaded analysis of the news."
In the course of her brilliant newspaper career she became the expert the experts looked up to. Although she had no formal, professional training for newspaper work, she schooled herself for years before filing her first cable. The stature of her work was such that only a year after she joined the editorial page staff of The Times in 1936 she won the Pulitzer Prize for foreign correspondence. She was the second woman to receive a Pulitzer Prize in journalism.
In 2012, it should not be shocking that a woman would write a column.  As Stevie Nicks sings in "Two Kinds of Love" (written by Stevie, Rick Nowels and Rupert Hine, first appears on The Other Side of the Mirror), "Who in the world do you think that you are fooling? Well I've already done everything that you are doing."
The sexism involved is not a minor thing.  The same wing of Libertarians who insist upon seeing Nouri as the great man (emphasis on man) who will stand up to the US government tend to be the most sexist in their assumptions and in their remarks.  There's a certain radio host, for example, "ya'll," who twangs his undying love for Nouri based on something other than reality.  It may be sexual frustration or some desire to act out power-struggles in the bedroom, I have no idea.  But this is not an isolated case, this happens over and over with this sub-set of Libertarians.  And they give the larger group a bad name because many people think this is the Libertarian line on women.
In Iraq, Muhammed Abdulla (UPI) reports that kebab shops are being shut down in the Kurdistan Regional Government due to "uncleanliness and selling expired food."  People report not feeling it was safe to eat at the shops and one woman explained she found mice feces in a kibab. 
While the kibab shops are temporarily closed, polling stations will be opening in a few months.  Al Mada reports a date for provincial elections has been set: April 20, 2013.  KUNA reports that the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq, Martin Kobler, declared the news was welcome and "urged that civili society organizations [. . .] encourage and highlight the participation of all Iraqis, particularly women, in the coming elections."
Martin Kobler's the UN's Vanna White.  He can be found daily applauding anyone who steps up to the wheel for a spin.  He's got no real opinions to express on other issues like the rampant corruption in Iraq. 
UPI notes a new report says "al Qaeda is mounting a comeback in Iraq."  It's the latest quarterly report from the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.  We covered it in yesterday's snapshot so today we'll note some reporting on it.  Sam Dagher and Ali A. Nabhan (Wall St. Journal) emphasize the corruption the report found "with almost $800 million flowing out of the country illegal each week."  All Headline News notes the millions "are being laundered abroad," according to the report.  David Isenberg (Huffington Post) adds, "Since 2004, the work of SIGIR's Investigations Directorate has resulted in 97 indictments, 75 convictions, and more than $180 million in court-ordered fines, forfeitures, and other monetary penalties."
From corruption to corrupted trust, US Ambassador to Iraq Robert S. Beecroft has only just started his job and already he's managed to destroy the trust of Iraqis.  As the ambassador, Beecroft is the face of America in Iraq.  In such a role, he needs to conduct himself in a manner that instills trust.  He made a fool of himself in today's news cycle as a result of telling Alsumaria yesterday that claims that there are US troops in Iraq are just unfounded, false rumors?  Al Mada also covers his statements.

Not only was Moqtada al-Sadr calling last week for US forces to leave Iraq, but Iraqis -- unlike Americans -- have read in their press in recent weeks about US troops going to Baghdad International Airport over the Syrian flights.  They've read about US troops going to the border Iraq shares with Syria.  In addition, earlier this year, a CIA or State Dept helicopter crashed in downtown Baghdad.  Yet again, the American press didn't care.  The Iraqi press was all over it and especially over the uniformed military -- that they identified as American troops -- that came along in a second helicopter and resecued the people in the first.  Not only was this covered by the Iraqi media but so were the subsequent statements by various MPs about American forces remaining in Iraq.

In addition to the 200 or so that guard US embassy staff, you have serveral hundred there as 'trainers' and assisting on weapons purchases. 

In December of last year, Ted Koppel reported on how all US forces would not be leaving Iraq in  a report he filed for Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC):

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.

That report was all but ignored by the media in the US outside of NPR (Ted discussed it on Talk of the Nation).  But it got serious attention in Iraq.

September 26th, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.

With the exception of Tom Hayden's brief piece for The Nation, this was ignored in the US press.  But guess what press didn't ignore the article?

That's right, the Iraqi press.

In addition, Micah Zenko (Council on Foreign Relations) observed this month, "The United States currently has 225 troops, 530 security assistance team members, and over 4,000 contractors to equip and train Iraqi security forces via the Office of Security Cooperation Iraq."
So Beecroft did a really stupid thing insisting there were no US troops in Iraq.  Iraqis know better.  He now looks like a liar.
And it really wasn't the day for an American to look like a liar in Iraq.   All Iraq News reports Iraqis state they have found Israeli recording devices on the F-16s the US has supplied so far.  The Iraqi Air Force leadership has sent a letter objecting to the device to Lockheed Martin, manufacturers of the F-16s.  Fars News Agency adds, "Iraq's air force has found out Israeli company RADA has planted information recording systems in its F-16 fighters recently purchased from the American Lockheed Martin Company."
As it heats up and the US government strives to be seen as an honest broker, they have to do so as Beecroft made a statement that will strike many Iraqis as ridiculous including some who will feel that the lies continue even when the faces of the officials change.
Iraq Body Count counts 1 police officer killed yesterday in a Hit bombing.  AP reports 2 Ministry of Industry employees were shot dead today in Baghdad and 2 road construction workers were shot dead outside Mosul.
Turning to US television, Andrew Kirell (Mediaite -- link is text and video) notes on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last night, Leno's opening monologue included, "'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is back.  Not for gays in the military.  It's President Obama's new policy for questions about Libya: don't ask, don't tell!"  What happened in Libya?
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. 
That's US House Rep Darrell Issa speaking at the House Oversight Committee (he is the Chair of the Committee) on October 10th.  We covered the hearing in the October 10th and October 11th snapshots -- a lot of people seem to 'know' what was said in that hearing but they weren't present and their 'facts' don't fit what unfolded in the hearing.  Issa's a Republican.  A lot of people want to reduce it to Republican or Democrat.  That's because a lot of people -- not the only ones -- asking questions are Republicans and a lot of people -- not the only ones -- screaming "LOOK THE OTHER WAY!" are Democrats.
Someone e-mailed to attack what I've written and insist that I'm wrong about what the State Dept knew and that I'm a Republican.  I'm a Democrat.  I know a great deal more about what the State Dept knows than what I've written here.  What I've written here has largely been what was put before Congress.  (In the days ahead of the hearing, I probably dropped hints.  I know Elaine did a post based on our discussion about what was going to come out in that hearing and she wrote it the night before the hearing. I assume that I probably dropped hints in entries here about what was coming out.)  Because you don't know something, that doesn't mean you scream, "Liar!"  I could care less what anyone thinks about me (I'm not campaigning for office and, as noted before, I function best in situations where I'm not loved).  But you've had ample time to find out what was said in the hearing.  The hearing should be archived and up at the House Oversight Committee's webpage so you should be able to stream it.  You may not like what the State Dept witnesses said but that doesn't mean that they said it.
As for my position being 'Republican' or something surprising, go back to July 26th.  I wrote "The threat against the US and the failure of 'trusted voices'."  The Islamic State of Iraq issued a threat to the American people and most US outlets didn't even report it.  Those who alluded to it later on called it "al Qaeda in Iraq."  Strange that a group linked to al Qaeda in Iraq can be called "al Qaeda" but the Benghazi suspects who are linked to al Qaeda?  Scotty Shane and other 'reporters' want to draw a line there. to insist, 'Don't call them al Qaeda!' -- while their own outlets refuse to use the term "Islamic State of Iraq" and instead call that "al Qaeda"?  Oh, yeah, let's pretend not to notice the hypocrisy there.  In the July 26th entry, I wrote the following:
Look at how the US press is failing.  There may be a threat to the US on domestic shores coming out of Iraq.  (There may not be.)  And the tape was released Sunday.  Where's the network television coverge.  At least Bennett and the Los Angeles Times covered the hearing. (And the Tribune is syndicating the story so you'll read it in various newspapers across the country.)   But where are the other news outlets doing their own coverage?
And where is their inernational news coverage?
Not the crap ass, Carrie Nations, rush to the scene of natural disaster and shed a few crocodile tears and wail "Oh, the humanity!" b.s. that the press specializes in but the real reporting that they were supposed to be doing, that they were supposed to return to, after 9/11.  Remember the 'never again' nonsense?  Remember how they were going to return to their roots?
Maybe they did, after all the roots of American journalism are tabloid journalism.
If there's another attack on US shores, the 'winners' are the conservatives in Iraq because, in their periodicals, they never forget the potential of another terrorist threat.  Should one be executed on US soil, they will have 'bragging rights' and be on the ground ready to discuss what happened, to explain how they had already been covering it and everyone else will largely be scrambling.  So who controls the narrative in that situation?
The right-wing.  And that is disgusting because it demonstrates that the left has not learned one damn thing from 9-11.  Who do we have that can speak as an authority if an attack happened at noon today?  Who at the opinion journals cover this?  No one.  The Nation can offer one useless piece of crap every two weeks but can't do a piece on safety and, as everyone should avhe realized after 9-11, a sense of safety is as important in the US as it is anywhere else.
The wallowing in fear after 9-11 allowed so much that is currently wrong with our country to take place.  That especially includes the PATRIOT Act and the rounding up of Muslims.  But there has been so much more.  And yet, on the left, we'd rather waste our space -- our limited space -- on some nonsense like lies about the death of a dog on a family vacation (I'm referring to the nonsense about Mitt Romney's dog -- nonsense that invaded the Senate yesterday) than address what matters.
The left really needs to grow the hell up and grasp that if terrorist attack in the US, the vast majority of Americans -- who don't fall into the left or right holding tanks -- are going to be in front of their TVs attempting to find out what's going on and they're not going to take seriously the musings of a 'Mad Professor' (to name one of many worthless Nation magazine columns) or the pith of the MSNBC no-stars.  In fact, they're going to remember all the stupid jokes the MSNBC 'anchors' (talk show hosts) have wasted everyone's time on when they could have been addressing reality.  I'm referring to the evening and prime time MSNBC shows.  I'm not talking about, for example,
Andrea Mitchell's show.  Andrea is a news reporter and usually knows what's actually news as opposed to what's the hype of the week.  But the rest?
You discredit yourself daily by being unable or unwilling to do anything other than pose as the latest Comedy Central hire.
That was two months before Benghazi.  I think my position was very clear.  And I'm not an authority on the topic but by default I have become one of the main left voices.  Ruth's another.  I don't think Larry Johnson identifies as left (No Quarter).  If he does, he's certainly more knowledgable on the topic than I am.  But these are serious issues and for all the money wasted on non-think tanks for the left, we don't have people stepping up and addressing the serious issues.  I cannot be the left voice against terrorism.  We're all in trouble if that comes to pass.  But I can and have pointed out it is past time that voices step up in this area.
Exactly what I said was going to happen has.  We've got smarmy little MSNBC hosts offering snark and being pompous.  And Americans wants answers.  They see the right wing asking questions.  They see the left dimissing it.  It's time for left leadership on this issue, there is none currently.  Dismissing it and attacking the right for asking questions or leveling charges is not addressing the topic.  It is a serious topic, it goes to all of our safety.  We can be snarky and bitchy and useless.  But you damn well better get it through your head just once, if we were better prepared on the left on September 10, 2001, the fear mongering wouldn't have worked, the PATRIOT Act wouldn't have been pushed through (by Democrats and Republicans) because we would learn to talk seriously about terrorism and its dangers in a manner that offered perspective and information, not fear and fright.  Fear and fright is what drove the country into the mess that it has still not emerged from.  So all you idiots who think snark and hypocrisy is going give you 'pull' with viewers if and when there's another 9-11 on US soil, you better think again because all you're doing is saying to the American people -- over and over -- "I'm too stupid to discuss serious, weighty issues like this.  But let me offer some snark and let's giggle."
I've covered Benghazi seriously.  If I can do it, anyone should be able to.
Eternal failed candidate for public office James P. Thurber Jr. (Mercury News) wants everyone lining up behind Barack.  He leaves out that he's a Democrat who's run for public office (repeatedly -- always a failed campaign, one of the biggest jokes coming out of California from either major party).  Thank you, Thurber, for that totalarian message.  I'm sure that Republicans will pull out this nonsense at some point in the future to justify whatever Republican president wants.  In the meantime, on the left, we're not supposed to be marching behind anyone.  We're supposed to be citizens in a democracy who demand sunlight and transparency.  Think Progress likes to pretend it's left, but it's just a schill for the Democratic Party.  Always remember, Congressional Democrats were exploring impeaching Bully Boy Bush ahead of the invasion of Iraq. Think Progress is part of the Center for American Progress whose first President and CEO was John Podesta.  Podesta's the one who threw the fit when Ramsey Clark and others were explaining how to go about impeachment if Bush insisted upon invading Iraq.  Podesta went nuts and started screaming that impeachment could not happen, it would hurt election efforts! Podesta went nuts when asked if Iraqi lives mattered at all and declared that his concern was getting Democrats into public office.  In other words, there are no ethics for the Center for American Progress or for Think Progress.  They are whores.  Complete whores.  And they have blood on their hands, the blood of the Iraqi people.
With that in mind, Hayes Brown posts video of and offers praise for Condi Rice.  She thinks people need to wait and see what investigations find out.  It's a "reasoned response," Hayes Brown wants you to know. 
It's no such thing.  And shame on Brown.  One of the few illuminating moments of the public testimony that the 9-11 Commission recieved was when Condi Rice appeared before them and played her "No one could have guessed" card yet again.  No one could have guessed that terrorists would hijack jets and fly them into a building.  No one could have known, Condi insisted covering her own ass (she was National Security Adviser at the time of the attacks).  After she had sung that tired song several times too many, Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste asked her if she recalled the title of the August 6, 2001 Presidential Daily Briefing. Condi infamously responded, "I believe the title was 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States'."
No surprise, she was wrong even on that: Title was "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the US."  Condi is the last one anyone should cite on topics of terrorism and the public's right to know.   Think Progress cites her because they're playing politics.  To them, this is just about making sure Barack doesn't face any tough questions.
Leaving partisans (Thurber) and a partisan site (Think Progress) for a real media site by a journalist who stirves to be objective, Rachel Manteuffel of the Washington Post, your little tirade does no one any good.  It didn't reach comical.  It certainly wasn't factual.  No one who regularly reads the Washington Post can claim that the paper has ignored Benghazi or refused to call it a terrorist attack.  That 'honor' would go to PBS' The NewsHour (refer to Ruth's many posts on that, she monitored it repeatedly).  But are people asking what you imply they are as you try to be funny?  Or are they saying, "Yes, there's been Benghazi coverage but it's been dismissive and unquestioning."  If it's the latter, I know the circulation figures and the Post can't afford to run off any readers -- online or in print.  So if it's the latter, you might try leaving stand up to comedians and actually addressing what criticisms the e-mails and phone messages are making. For the record, my opinion, the Post has done a better job of covering this issue than any daily newspaper.  Manteuffel should have been able to have made that case with examples but she was too busy writing a column that was beneath her and attempting to be humorous when she should have been doing the job she was hired for.  And if that assessment hurts feelings at the newspapers, sorry but I didn't get out of bed this morning to kiss boo-boos and make everything all better.
As I end my comments I have some suggestions for those who seek to exploit the ambassador's death for political purposes. First of all they should heed the admonitions of Stevens' parents: The attempts to "place blame are unproductive" and the blatant attempts to exploit the ambassadors death are "abhorrent." We all would be better off if we returned to the bygone ethic of past leaders who sought to unite our nation on issues of foreign policy, not divide it. I hope, if nothing else, these tragic events make those exploitative voices reconsider their efforts to diminish the amount of resources our country commits to its foreign service.
Well justice is blind. Which is how an idiot writes 19 paragraphs on Chris Stevens and the tragedy.  You know what, it was a tragedy for Glen Doherty as well -- but the dumb ass judge doesn't mention Glen.  It was a tragedy for Tyrone Woods -- again, someone the judge never makes time to mention.  It was a tragedy for Sean Smith -- yes, he's another ignored by the judge.
Betty addressed this issue last night with another idiot.  Don't think Americans don't see what happens before their eyes.  You show up with bad columns filled with Chris Stevens.  You use him as a club to silence others while pretending you care about what happened last month.
But if you cared, it takes only a few seconds to type the names: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods.  Those three man died in the attacks.  It wasn't just Chris Stevens.  And America knows that and when they watch you render invisible those three men, they know you're full of s**t and that you're the one playing politics because if you honestly gave a damn, no one would ever be pointing out that you refuse to name all four of the victims.
The Dumb Ass in the Robe wants you to listen to the parent of the fallen.  As long as the parent is Chris Stevens.  Don't listen to Charles Woods who feels the government is lying to him about what happened to his son Tyrone.  Don't listen to Pat Smith who feels the White House has refused to give her an honest answer about what happened to her son Sean.  And certainly don't listen to Sean's father Ryan Smith who becomes the latest parent to speak out today.  Tara Dodrill (Inquisitr) reports:
The grieving father is also a former US Marine. He wants the Obama administration to explain what happened at Benghazi and why multiple calls for help were denied, according to WTSP News. Ryan Smith had this to say during an interview with the news station:
"They haven't done anything. My son and them dialed 911 for help and they wouldn't help them. I want whoever did this, whoever didn't answer their phone, I want them brought to justice too. He was murdered. He was murdered. I want them to get the people who did this."
Smith contacted Florida Representative C.W. Bill Young and asked for help getting answers to his questions. Young reportedly became a willing ally in the father's struggle to garner more information.
But, of course, Ryan Smith doesn't matter.  Pat Smith doesn't matter.  Charles Woods doesn't matter.  Because their sons are rendered "three other people" when the press writes yet another piece about Chris Stevens.  Don't think the American people don't notice the way Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith and Glen Doherty are ignored -- not even mentioned by name -- in article after article pretending to be about the Benghazi attaack.
Four Americans died in the September 11, 2012 attack.  Chris Stevens' death is no more tragic and no more upsetting than the deaths of Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Tyrone Woods.  And all four were killed because they were Americans.  This was a terrorist attack.  It has national security implications.  There is no need for Americans to sit silently on the sidelines and pretend that -- for the first time ever -- the government is going to function just fine without any citizen oversight.  Questions are being asked because they need to be.