Wednesday, November 14, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, a rape takes place and a father is ordered to execute the person found to be the rapist, terrorist Daqduq killed 5 Americans but Barack's big concern was that Iraq not release him from prison until after the election, Daqduq has been released, 5 dead Americans don't matter to the White House press corps which refuses to ask Barack about the release at today's press conference, Barack stands by Susan The War Hawk Rice (for now), and more.
Today Iraq was yet again slammed with bombings. In a month of violence that had already seen 80 die so far through yesterday (Iraq Body Count's count), bombs left many dead and injured. It didn't look like it was going to be that kind of day to the security forces and Nouri's government. Early this morning in Baghdad, Alsumaria was trumpeting the fact that 3 members of al Qaeda in Iraq had surrendered outside of Ramadi. How quickly it all changed.
Wang Yuanyuan (Xinhua) offers, "The deadliest attack occurred in the oil-rich province of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, when four car bombs killed a total of nine people and wounded some 32 others, a provincial police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity." Al Rafidayn also calls that the deadliest attack of the day. When the press is ranking the day's attacks, you know it's a day of deadly violence and Deutsche Welle adds, "The violence comes a day before Muharram, the Islamic new year."
Jane Arraf (Al Jazeera) reports, "In Kirkuk, a city disputed between Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, there were at least three car bombs: one against the offices of a major Kurdish party, one targeted a Turkmen party office, and another that hit a major road. That was in addition to car bombs in the city of Hilla, a Shia town. And one here in Baghdad that targted an army general [General Qassim Nouri -- Prensa Latina reports that the general's bodyguard was killed in the bombing]. All in all, these seem to be the major targets that have been frequent targets of violence: security forces, Shia and, increasingly, political parties in Kirkuk." All Iraq News says 9 people were killed and thirty-eight were injured. Shukriyah Rauf tells AFP, "My child was killed! His friends were killed! There is no security hear, our homes were destroyed!"
On the Hilla bombing, Reuters quotes city official Hamza Kadhim stating, "A car bomb exploded near a secondary school for girls and a crowded poultry market, leaving four dead, including innocent students. It's a real vicious terrorist act." Press TV adds eleven female students were left injured in the attack. All Iraq News reports the bombing left over 12 dead and over sixty injured.
So much of the violence is not reported. For example, today Lauren Williams (Daily Star) reports a rape that took place last month which led to a father killing his 14-year-old son -- neither the rape nor the murder ("execution") of the 14-year-old garnered attention from the press in October:
When a young boy was raped by a member of rival tribe last month in the city of Ramadi, in Iraq's vast Sunni heartland of Anbar province, tribal authorities were called on to settle the situation.
Fourteen regional tribal sheikhs convened an emergency judicial session and delivered a swift, unanimous verdict.
The perpetrator was sentenced to immediate execution at the hands of his father, to avert any further retributive violence.
Amnesty International has condemned a wave of bomb attacks across Iraq that has reportedly killed at least 14 people on the eve of the Islamic New Year.
The deadliest attack took place in the northern city of Kirkuk, where, according to media reports, four bombs planted in parked cars went off simultaneously, killing at least nine people and wounding scores more.
Meanwhile in the mainly Shi'a southern city of Hilla, a car bomb reportedly exploded near a school and a crowded market, leaving at least four people dead, among them schoolchildren.
Explosions were also reported in the capital, Baghdad, and in the town of Balad Ruz, in the province of Diyala. The attacks appear to have targeted both Iraqi civilians and members of the security forces.
Amnesty International Middle East and North Africa Director Philip Luther said:
"Deliberate attacks on civilians can never be justified.
Such attacks show utter contempt for humanity and must be roundly condemned.
"We urge the Iraqi authorities to conduct a prompt, thorough and impartial investigation.
"Those suspected of being behind the attacks must be brought to justice in proceedings that meet international standards of fairness, and without the imposition of the death penalty."
Dropping back to earlier violence, Christine Show (Daily Mail) reports, "The wife of a U.S. Army captain who was killed while deployed in Iraq is stunned that the person named responsible for his death will be freed. Charlotte Freeman of Temecula, California expressed her dismay when she learned on Wednesday night that Ali Mussa Daqduq was cleared of all charges in the 2007 attack that killed Brian Freeman, 31, and four other U.S. soldiers."
On May 7th, Suadad-al Salhy, Patrick Markey and Andrew Heavens (Reuters) reported that Iraq's 'justice' system has cleared Ali Mussa Daqdug of all charges related to the "2007 kidnapping attack that killed five U.S. troops." This was actually the second time that those said to be responsible for the five deaths. Ali Mussa Daqduq is alleged to have been working with the League of Righteous (once known as "the Special Groups network") and the US had the leader and high ranking members in a US prison in Iraq. Had. Though right now there are many complaints regarding the decision to set Ali Mussa Daqdug free (he remains behind bars currently while the decision is appealed), the White House ordered the release of the leader of the League of Righteous, his brother and other high ranking LoR members. That's in the summer of 2009. Barack Obama is president.
Why did they do it? The White House set them free in order to help England with their outstanding issues. The White House made the call that 5 British citizens were more important than 5 US ones and they entered into negotiations with the League of Righteous. All but one of the five Brits were already dead. One of the dead wouldn't be released until a few months ago. The League of Righteous would announce Barack went back on his promises to them so they weren't releasing all five. After the bulk of US troops left Iraq in December 2011, the League of Righteous finally released the fifth corpse.
This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S. and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it. At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson, Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were: Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N. Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York; and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did? Somebody needs to answer for it."
Having made the decision to release those five in 2009, the Obama administration had no qualms about handing Ali Musa Daqduq over to the Iraqi legal system despite the fact that it was considered a good guess that he'd walk. December 16, 2011, Liz Sly and Peter Finn (Washington Post) reported on the US handing Ali Musa Daqduq over to the Iraqis:
He was transferred to Iraqi custody after the Obama administration "sought and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes," according to Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington.
Kitabat reported in May that Nouri caved to pressure from Tehran and that's why he was released. It was also noted that a number of US Senators were asking the White House not to turn Daqduq over to Iraq but to move him to Guantanamo or another facility.
May 18th, Mike Jaccarino (Fox News -- link is text and video) quotes Charlotte Freeman stating, "It was like a pit (opening) inside of me. I briefly read it and couldn't read on. I couldn't go there. It wasn't like he was dying again. It was more shock that these people get away with what they do. There's no justice. It's amazing and shocking to me that someone who did what he did could go free."
Sunday, Gordon reported that the White House were informed Iraq was not going to continue to hold him and that US Ambassador to Iraq Robert S. Beecroft had been told to meet with Nouri about keeping Ali Musa Daqduq in prison. Gordon observed:
The case is politically delicate for the White House not just because of the allegations against Mr. Daqduq but also because of the timing. Some Iraqi officials have previously suggested that they would seek to mollify the Obama administration by putting off releasing Mr. Daqduq until the presidential campaign was over, but American officials repeatedly insisted that they did not want him released at all.
We've noted before, when he was first cleared, that asking Iraq to hold someone who had been cleared of charges was ridiculous. What message does that send? "Justice matters except when the US government doesn't like the decision."? If the Iraqi courts are going to be told that their decisions are subject to the approval of another government, then they're never going to progress. As noted in the July 12th snapshot:
I am very sorry that the families did not see justice. I'm very sorry that Barack Obama traded others involved in the killings (he let go the head of the League of Righteous and others who were involved in this attack -- let them go in the summer of 2009 from US prisons and did so -- as they would reveal themselves -- because he wanted the 5 kidnapped British citizens released by the League). I'm sorry that American lives mattered so little to Barack Obama. I'm sorry that he wants to grandstand on the backs of US service members after releasing the ringleaders involved in killing 5 Americans.
But at this point, it's too late. The legal system is followed or it isn't. The US is interfering with Iraqi law and the legal system. Not to try to save someone from being executed but to try to prevent someone from being released. If Barack didn't want him released, he should have kept in US custody. Barack chose not to and the man was turned over to Iraq. He's now stood in trial twice. He was found not guilty. By the rule of the law, he's free. I don't like it, I don't think it's fair, but it's the law.
There are many things the US could have done including bringing Daqduq to the US for a trial instead of handing him over. That was also when Antony Blinken (National Security Adviser to US Vice President Joe Biden) stated that they were asking Iraq to extradite Daqduq to the US. There was a real request? And Iraq turned it down? We're supposed to believe that?
And Barack? First, he traded custody of killers -- plural -- of 5 Americans in order to help the British. Then he failed to take the necessary steps to punish the alleged ring leader. After, when it was getting press attention, he had Blinken lie. And, on top of that, grasp what Michael Gordon was reporting. There was a deal in place with Nouri that said Daqduq would not be released until after the US presidential election.
What a lot of things President Obama seems to have been holding back until after his re-election. Each day brings something new.
There has been the news of an attack by Iran on a US drone in the Persian Gulf. Then there is the Petraeus affair – known about for months, but only leading to the CIA chief's resignation immediately after Obama's re-election. The Benghazi hearings are yet to come.
And now another surprise. It transpires that the Iraqi government, a body which is only in power because of the sacrifice of thousands of American, British and other allied troops, is releasing from custody a senior Hezbollah terrorist who was in detention for killing American troops.
Alsumaria reports that US President Barack Obama has confirmed his support for Iraq via a phone call between Nouri and US Vice President Joe Biden who stayed he will visit soon and that a defense delegation will also be visiting Iraq. However, Neil Munro (Daily Caller) reports that Nouri spoke with Biden when Nouri called because Barack "spurned a congratulatory phone call" from Nouri. The White House issued the following on the phone call yesterday:
For Immediate Release
November 13, 2012
Readout of Vice President Biden's Call with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki
Vice President Biden today spoke by phone with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki. Prime Minister Maliki congratulated the Vice President and President Obama on their re-election. The two leaders agreed that the coming years presented an opportunity for both nations to enhance our strategic partnership across a range of issues of mutual concern and pledged to continue the close consultations conducted in recent months by a series of senior U.S. visitors to Baghdad. Both leaders also reiterated the importance of implementing the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Framework Agreement, in all its dimensions, and noted that upcoming meetings would be dedicated to that objective.
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Can you assure the American people that there have been no breaches of national security or classified information in the scandal involving Generals Petraeus and Allen? And do you think that you as Commander-in-Chief and the American people should have been told that the CIA chief was under investigation before the election?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I have no evidence at this point from what I've seen that classified information was disclosed that in any way would have had a negative impact on our national security.
Obviously there's an ongoing investigation. I don't want to comment on the specifics of the investigation. The FBI has its own protocols in terms of how they proceed, and I'm going to let Director Mueller and others examine those protocols and make some statements to the public generally.
I do want to emphasize what I've said before: General Petraeus had an extraordinary career. He served this country with great distinction in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and as head of the CIA. By his own assessment, he did not meet the standards that he felt were necessary as the Director of CIA with respect to this personal matter that he is now dealing with, with his family and with his wife. And it's on that basis that he tendered his resignation, and it's on that basis that I accepted it.
But I want to emphasize that from my perspective at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done. And my main hope right now is, is that he and his family are able to move on and that this ends up being a single side note on what has otherwise been an extraordinary career.
Q What about voters? Did they deserve to know?
THE PRESIDENT: Again, I think you're going to have to talk to the FBI in terms of what their general protocols are when it comes to what started off as a potential criminal investigation. One of the challenges here is, is that we're not supposed to meddle in criminal investigations, and that's been our practice. And I think that there are certain procedures that both the FBI follow, or DOJ follow, when they're involved in these investigations. That's traditionally been how we view things, in part because people are innocent until proven guilty, and we want to make sure that we don't pre-judge these kinds of situations. And so my expectation is, is that they followed protocols that they already established.
[. . .]
Q Thank you, Mr. President. Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham both said today that they want to have Watergate-style hearings on the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and said that if you nominate Susan Rice to be Secretary of State, they will do everything in their power to block her nomination. As Senator Graham said, he simply doesn't trust Ambassador Rice after what she said about Benghazi. I'd like your reaction to that. And would those threats deter you from making a nomination like that?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, I'm not going to comment at this point on various nominations that I'll put forward to fill out my Cabinet for the second term. Those are things that are still being discussed.
But let me say specifically about Susan Rice, she has done exemplary work. She has represented the United States and our interests in the United Nations with skill and professionalism and toughness and grace.
As I've said before, she made an appearance at the request of the White House in which she gave her best understanding of the intelligence that had been provided to her. If Senator McCain and Senator Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me. And I'm happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. Ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi, and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.
And we're after an election now. I think it is important for us to find out exactly what happened in Benghazi, and I'm happy to cooperate in any ways that Congress wants. We have provided every bit of information that we have, and we will continue to provide information. And we've got a full-blown investigation, and all that information will be disgorged to Congress.
And I don't think there's any debate in this country that when you have four Americans killed, that's a problem. And we've got to get to the bottom of it, and there needs to be accountability. We've got to bring those who carried it out to justice. They won't get any debate from me on that.
But when they go after the U.N. Ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they've got a problem with me. And should I choose, if I think that she would be the best person to serve America in the capacity of the State Department, then I will nominate her. That's not a determination that I've made yet.
Q I want to take Chuck's lead and just ask a very small follow-up, which is whether you feel you have a mandate not just on taxes but on a range of issues because of your decisive victory?
But I want to stay on Benghazi, based on what Jon asked because you said, if they want to come after me, come after me. I wanted to ask about the families of these four Americans who were killed. Sean Smith's father, Ray, said he believes his son basically called 911 for help and they didn't get it. And I know you've said you grieve for these four Americans, that it's being investigated, but the families have been waiting for more than two months. So I would like to -- for you to address the families, if you can. On 9/11, as Commander-in-Chief, did you issue any orders to try to protect their lives?
THE PRESIDENT: Ed, I'll address the families not through the press. I'll address the families directly, as I already have. And we will provide all the information that is available about what happened on that day. That's what the investigation is for.
But as I've said repeatedly, if people don't think that we did everything we can to make sure that we saved the lives of folks who I sent there and who were carrying out missions on behalf of the United States, then you don't know how our Defense Department thinks or our State Department thinks or our CIA thinks. Their number-one priority is obviously to protect American lives. That's what our job is. Now --
THE PRESIDENT: Ed, I will put forward every bit of information that we have. I can tell you that immediately upon finding out that our folks were in danger, that my orders to my national security team were do whatever we need to do to make sure they're safe. And that's the same order that I would give any time that I see Americans are in danger, whether they're civilian or military, because that's our number-one priority.
First off, Sean Smith's mother, Pat Smith, has been very clear on CNN speaking with Anderson Cooper that the White House has ignored her after one brief meeting. Tyrone Woods' father, Charles Woods, feels lied to. There were four Americans that died. The media ran with the parents of Chris Smith because (a) they're elitists (he was the Ambassador) and (b) that's who the White House tried to make the spokespeople because they'd sing the tune the White House wanted. But Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods and Sean Smith also died in that attack. It was very telling that for all the talk of 'service' the press likes to pretend they give a damn about, they were happy to ignore Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty who are both veterans of the military. Very telling.
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.
Beside the lies she was spreading, grasp that five days after the attack, she's telling America -- with no apology or remorse -- that the FBI and US government have no one on the ground in Libya for the investigation. Five days after. That's outrageous. And "telling"? Only after Bob Schieffer pressed her. Let's also remember what she said on NBC's Meet The Press six days after the attack, "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."
But it had nothing to do with the video. Susan Rice is a liar. And you damn well better believe there will be pushback if she's nominated. I have a home in the DC area but I'm not part of the DC bubble and, outside of the bubble, if you speak to veterans, students and others groups -- as we do week -- you'll find out real quick that Susan Rice is a lightening rod.
Senator John McCain's office issued this statement from McCain today in response to the press conference:
I have always said that the buck stops with the President of the United States, particularly for his contradictory statements in the Rose Garden, on '60 Minutes' and in later venues alleging that the obvious terrorist attack in Benghazi was triggered by a spontaneous demonstration and a hateful video, or that we didn't know the cause. Those statements clearly did not comport with the facts on the ground. We owe the American people and the families of the murdered Americans a full and complete explanation, which for two months the President has failed to deliver. Given all these facts, a Select Committee must be appointed in order to obtain a full and complete accounting which would be credible with the American people.
And speaking of Benghazi, it's our view that U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice either intentionally misled Americans when she went on five national talk shows five days after the Sept. 11 attack on the U.S. consulate there -- or she was simply parroting the empty talking points that the White House had stuffed into her hands prior to her appearances.
We're not sure which is worse, but we're quite sure that stain on Rice's otherwise impressive resume disqualifies her from serving as this nation's top diplomat.
I've never bought they myth that Barack's a genius. But is he that stupid? They've run off anyone who could help the White House -- Valerie Jarrett's run off everyone -- but no one can explain to the apethetic Barack that any goodwill he thinks the election brought him will vanish if he pursues the Susan Rice nomination?
We included Barack's remarks about Petraeus. Then-General David Petraeus became a high profile figure when he was the top US commander in Iraq from February 2007 to September 2008. More recently, he's known for other things. The scandal has forced him to resign as CIA Director. It also means that an honor he was to receive has been put on hold. The Royal United Services Institute in London explains:
General Petraeus was due to visit London this month to receive the Chesney Gold Medal award from the Royal United Services Institute for his role in devising and implementing the US counter-insurgency doctrine that was used to turn around the war in Iraq and reshape the campaign in Afghanistan. In light of recent developments, the presentation on 26 November of the RUSI Chesney Gold Medal for General Petraeus' distinguished lifetime service and contribution to international defence and security will now be postponed.
The presentation of the award to General Petraeus will take place on a date to be determined, in early 2013, at the Tower of London.
For further information on the rescheduled dinner please look for updates on www.rusi.org/events