Tuesday, November 27, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, whispers that Nouri's allies have lost patience, torture in Iraqi prisons receives some attention, in the US a lawsuit calls for equality in the armed forces, Susan Rice (and her supporters) don't seem to grasp what they're going into, the White House states that 47 days after a terrorist attack killed 4 Americans the US government still doesn't know what happened or how to prevent another similar attack, and more.
If there is one thing I've learned about the differences between us all throughout my years of service, it's this: putting the right person in the right job has very little to do with one's gender, race, religion, or other demographic descriptor. It has everything to do with one's heart, character, ability, determination and dedication.
That's the problem with the military's combat exclusion policy. It makes it that much harder for people to see someone's abilities, and instead reinforces stereotypes about gender. The policy creates the pervasive way of thinking in military and civilian populations that women can't serve in combat roles, even in the face of the reality that servicewomen in all branches of the military are already fighting for their country alongside their male counterparts. They shoot, they return fire, they drag wounded comrades to safety and they engage with the enemy, and they have been doing this for years. They risk their lives for their country, and the combat exclusion policy does them a great disservice.
The changing roles women have been required to play in the current wars have been addressed in reporting, documentaries and before Congress. For one example, we'll drop back to April 23, 2009, US House Rep John Hall chaired the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs hearing. John Wilson (Disabled American Veterans) explained the struggle women in the military have as a result of the notion that they aren't 'in combat.' From his opening statement:
The female soldiers who accompany male troops on patrols to conduct house-to-house searches are known as Team Lioness, and have proved to be invaluable. Their presence not only helps calm women and children, but Team Lioness troops are also able to conduct searches of the women, without violating cultural strictures. Against official policy, and at that time without the training given to their male counterparts, and with a firm commitment to serve as needed, these dedicated young women have been drawn onto the frontlines in some of the most violent counterinsurgency battles in Iraq.
Independent Lens, an Emmy award-winning independent film series on PBS, documented their work in a film titled Lioness which profiled five women who saw action in Iraq's Sunni Triangle during 2003 and 2004. As members of the US Army's 1st Engineer Battalion, Shannon Morgan, Rebecca Nava, Kate Pendry Guttormsen, Anastasia Breslow and Ranie Ruthig were sent to Iraq to provide supplies and logistical support to their male colleagues. Not trained for combat duty, the women unexpectedly became involved with fighting in the streets of Ramadi. These women were part of a unit, made up of approsimately 20 women, who went out on combat missions in Iraq. Female soldiers in the Army and Marines continue to perform Lioness work in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I would like to highlight the issues faced by Rebecca Nava as she seeks recognition of her combat experience and subsequent benefits for resulting disabilities. Then US Army Specialist Nava was the Supply Clerk for the 1st Engineering Battalion in Iraq. In conversations with her and as seen in the film Lioness, she recounts several incidents. Two of those incidents are noted in my testimony today.
The first is the roll-over accident of a 5-ton truck that was part of a convoy to Baghdad. In this accident, the driver was attempting to catcuh up with the rest of the convoy but in doing so lost control of the vehicle. The five ton truck swerved off the road and rolled over, killing a Sergeant who was sitting next to her, and severely injuring several others. Specialist Nava was caught in the wreckage. She had to pulled through the fractured windshield of the vehicle. While not severly injured in the accident, she did suffer a permanent spinal injury.
Another incident occurred wherein she was temporarily attached to a Marine unit and her job for this mission was to provide Lioness support for any Iraqi women and children the unit contacted. It was a routine mission patrolling the streets of Ramadi. Before she knew it, the situation erupted into chaos as they came under enemy fire. She had no choice but to fight alongside her male counterparts to suppress the enemy. No one cared that she was a female -- nor did they care that she had a Supply MOS -- their lives were all on the line -- she opened fire. The enemy was taken out. During this fire fight she also made use of her combat lifesaver skills and provided medical aid to several injured personnel.
This and other missions resonate with her to this day. When she filed a claim with the VA, she was confronted with disbelief about her combat role in Iraq as part of Team Lioness. Specialist Nava filed a claim for service connection for hearing loss and tinnitus but was told that she did not qualify because of her logistics career field. Since she does not have a Combat Action Badge, she cannot easily prove that the combat missions occurred which impacted her hearing.
John Hall was among those who worked very hard in the House to recognize the changing role for women in the military. In the Senate, Senator Patty Murray was noting this changing role and the difficulties of getting the VA to recognize it -- long before she became Committee Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Two examples. At the May 21, 2008 Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs, Senator Patty Murray observed that in today's conflict, "Some units, including military police, are using an increased number of females to fill jobs that were traditionally held by male personnel. And because of the conflicts of today, we have no clear frontlines and women, like all of our service members, are always on the frontline -- riding on dangerous patrols, guarding pivotal check opints and witnessing the horrows of war first hand." And fron the July 14, 2009 Senate Veterans Affairs Committee hearing:
Senator Patty Murray: Dr. Hayes, as you know, the military currently bars women from serving in combat. We all know, however, that in today's wars there is no front line on the battlefield, we know that women are serving right along side of male colleagues and they are engaging in combat with the enemy. But unfortunately the new reality of this modern warfare isn't well understood here at home including by some in the VA. This knowlege gap obviously impacts the ability of women veterans to receive health care and disability benefits from the VA. What are you doing, Dr. Hayes, to ensure that all VA staff -- both in the VHA and in the VBA -- are aware that women are serving in combat and that they're getting the health care and benefits that they've earned?
June 3, 2009, appearing before the House Veterans Affairs Committee, Vietnam Veterans of America's Marsha Four, R.N. offered this historical context, "The nature of the combat in Iraq and Afghanistan is putting service members at an increased risk for PTSD. In these wars without fronts 'combat support troops' are just as likely to be affected by the same traumas as infantry personnel. They are clearly in the midst of the 'combat setting.' No matter how you look at it, Iraq is a chaotic war in which an unprecedented number of women have been exposed to high levels of violence and stress. Nearly 200,000 female soldiers have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan . . . this compared to the 7,500 who served in Vietnam and the 41,000 who were dispatched to the Gulf War in the early 90s. The death and casualty rates reflect this increased exposure."
Today, the ACLU filed on behalf of four service members in an attempt to remedy the inequality in the current system:
SAN FRANCISCO – The Defense Department's longstanding policy barring women from thousands of ground combat positions was challenged today in a federal lawsuit by four servicewomen and the Service Women's Action Network.
The plaintiffs are represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Northern California and the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP.
The four servicemembers have all done tours in Iraq or Afghanistan -- some deploying multiple times --where they served in combat or led female troops who went on missions with combat infantrymen. Their careers and opportunities have been limited by a policy that does not grant them the same recognition for their service as their male counterparts. The combat exclusion policy also makes it harder for them to do their jobs.
One plaintiff, Maj. Mary Jennings Hegar, is an Air National Guard search and rescue helicopter pilot who flew Medevac missions in Afghanistan. In 2009, her helicopter was shot down while rescuing three injured soldiers, and she and her crew were forced to engage in combat. Hegar, who returned fire after sustaining shrapnel wounds, was awarded the Purple Heart and Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor, and was returned to flying status within a week. Despite that, the combat exclusion policy prevents her from seeking some combat leadership positions.
"Ever since I was a little girl I wanted to be an Air Force pilot, and I have proven my ability every step of the way," said Hegar. "The ability to serve in combat has very little to do with gender or any other generalization. It has everything to do with heart, character, ability, determination and dedication. This policy is an injustice to the women who have come before us and who continue to put their lives on the line for their country."
Women make up more than 14 percent of the 1.4 million active military personnel, yet the rule categorically excludes them from more than 238,000 positions. Consequently, commanders are stymied in their ability to mobilize their troops effectively. In addition, servicewomen are:
denied training and recognition for their service
put at a disadvantage for promotions
prevented from competing for positions for which they have demonstrated their suitability and from advancing in rank.
"These women served their country bravely and honorably and have demonstrated their ability to distinguish themselves under fire just as much as their male comrades," said Ariela Migdal, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Women's Rights Project. "This antiquated policy doesn't reflect the nature of modern warfare or the actual contributions of women in uniform."
Two of the plaintiffs led the Marine Corps Female Engagement Teams (FET) in Afghanistan. The FETs lived with and conducted missions with combat infantrymen. Another plaintiff was sent on similar missions in the Army, accompanying combat troops in Afghanistan. Because these were considered temporary duties outside of the servicewomen's official specialties, their combat experience is not given official recognition.
"It's unfair that a serviceman can be promoted for putting his life on the line in a combat situation, but a servicewoman who performs just as well on the battlefield is told that her service doesn't count," said Elizabeth Gill, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.
Other plaintiffs include:
Marine Capt. Zoe Bedell, who served in Afghanistan as the officer in charge of an FET. Her teams lived with infantrymen for several weeks and frequently encountered combat situations.
Army Staff Sgt. Jennifer Hunt, who served in Afghanistan, where she went with soldiers on combat missions in remote mountain areas, and in Iraq, where her vehicle was hit by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED). Hunt was awarded the Purple Heart for shrapnel injuries sustained in that attack.
Marine 1st Lt. Colleen Farrell deployed to Afghanistan, where she led an FET that was regularly in danger of drawing enemy fire, being ambushed or hit by IEDs. Although the teams she commanded lived and worked alongside infantrymen, they were prevented from fully participating in training with those troops.
"Combat exclusion is an archaic policy which does not reflect the realities of modern warfare, the values which our military espouses, or the actual capabilities of our service women," said Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women's Action Network and former Marine captain. "Rather than enforcing a merit-based system, today's military bars all women regardless of their qualifications from access to prestigious and career-enhancing assignments, positions and schools, and is thus directly responsible for making servicewomen second-class citizens."
Iraq was slammed with bombings today as explosions went off across the country. In Baghdad, Xinhua reports 3 car bombings which have left "at least 19 people killed and 72 injured." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) explains the bombings were "outside three Shiite mosques in the capital of Baghdad:" Zahraa Shi'ite mosque, Ali-Basha Shi'ite mosque and Sodani Shiite mosque. The Voice of Russia adds, "The bombs planted in three cars went off almost simultaneously in the north of the city when dozens of believers were taking part in the Ashura ceremony commemorating imam Hussein ibn Ali, the grandson of Prophet Mohammed, who is worshipped by Shiites."
Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports 3 car bombs exploded there, leaving 4 people dead and forty-one more injured. Tawfeeq adds, "A clash between the regional and federal governments started nearly 10 days ago when Tigris Operations Command carried out military operations in Kirkuk and disputed areas around the city." Alsumaria notes that at least fifty-five have been left injured. Reuters notes two of the three bombs exploded near the Kurdistan Democratic Party's office -- that is one of the two main political parties in Iraq. The other, the PUK, is headed by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani while KRG President Massoud Barzani is the head of the KDP. All Iraq News states that the bomb was oustide the Patrioti Union of Kurdistan's headquarters -- which would be Talabani's party. The Iraq Times offers this morning that Kirkuk is witnessing violence due to the crisis between the Baghdad-based government and the KRG. Alsumaria notes that the KRG has issued a statement condemning the bombings in Kirkuk. RT offers three Reuters photos of the Kirkuk aftermath.
In addition, Alsumaria notes that a Mosul roadside bombing has left two people injured and they update that to note 2 Iraqi soldiers and 1 civilian are dead from the bombing and eleven people are injured. That's important to note because these are early numbers and the tolls (death toll and wounded toll) in today's violence may rise. All Iraq News notes that a Ramadi car bombing has left 1 dead and fifteen injured. Alsumaria adds that a Baquba roadside bombing has left two police officers injured. All Iraq News notes multiple bombs in Tuz Khurmatu while AFP elaborates, "Also on Tuesday, six roadside bombs targeted Iraqi army and police in the disputed town of Tuz Khurmatu, wounding two members of the security forces, police Lieutenant Colonel Khalid Al Bayati said." And Alsumaria notes a Salahuddin Province bombing (south of Tikrit) has left one person injured.
Today's violence will distract from the many reports yesterday that the conflict between the Baghdad-based central government of Iraq and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (three provinces in nothern Iraq that have been liberated/semi-autonomous since the first Gulf War). Harriet Fildes (Eurasia Review) explains:
The recent increase of Iraqi troops in resource-rich contested areas is fuelling fears that the subsequent escalation of tension could develop into full-scale war between the Shiite Iraqi government and the area known as Iraqi Kurdistan.
Iraqi encroachment on the city of Kirkuk is one of the reasons for the recent escalation as the Kurdistan Regional Government has issued a number of statements compelling Iraq to back away from this area, threatening war should it continue with its current aggressive policy.
Alsumaria reports that today a delegation representing the Peshmerga (Kurdish elite forces) met at the Ministry of Defense in Baghdad with officials from that Ministry to continue talks in an attempt to work towards ending the current standoff. For the same reasons, All Iraq News notes, Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi met with the United Nations's Gyorgy Busztin. In a statement after the meeting, al-Nujaifi noted that they discussed his recent meetings (last week) with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and KRG President Massoud Barzani and that they also discussed torture in Iraqi prisons.
Women are said to be primary targets of torture in Iraqi prisons. All Iraq News reports that a workshop combatting sexual violence that the British Embassy co-sponsored yesterday, British Ambasssador to Iraq Simon Cowles quoted Nouri's own words about the violence targeting Iraqi women and Cowles went on to declare that words have to be put into practice. TheIraq Times notes the increasingly louder outrage over the Iraqi security forces illegally arresting Iraqi women and torturing them in Nouri's prisons and detention centers. The paper adds that Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq has called out Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi saying they have failed the female prisoners who are being raped and tortured. On this issue, from yesterday's snapshot:
Still on the Iraqi Parliament, Saturday All Iraq News reported that the Women, Family and Children's Committee is calling for the Ministry of Justice to make prisons and detention centers open to legislative committees so they can see what the conditions are. In addition,All Iraq News noted MP Safia al-Suhail is calling on the Ministry of Women to focus on eliminating violence against women in prison. Today Alsumaria reports that Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq accused security forces of raping and torturing women prison and he traces the culture back to the torture of Iraqis by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison. On Sautrday, the article notes, Iraqiya MP Ahmed al-Alwani discussed the large number of women who have been raped in Iraqi prisons and are in fear of further assaults.
On 25 November 2012 The Iraqi News Network published an urgent statement of the Iraqi NGO Journalism Freedoms Observatory(JFO). This Journalist Advocacy group asks Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki to immediately interfere and investigate the circumstances behind the arrest of Sabah Hasan,a journalist arrested on 20 February 2012, almost ten months ago. She used to live and work in Baghdad, but she was transferred to the notorious Tasfirat prison in Tikrit, that witnessed at the end of September the largest prison break in recent history, when over 100 inmates allegedly escaped. She was brutally tortured in the Major Crimes Directorate, which is located in one of Saddam's palaces. JFO demands that the officers who tortured her should be submitted to interrogations. Some of them are already in jail because of the escape of some prisoners a few weeks ago.Sabah Hasan was accused of crimes she didn't commit. JFO states that the victim's daughter, Shatha Salah, used to work since the last four years with her mother as a photographer for the Free Opinion Newspaper that is issued and distributed in Baghdad and other governorates. Shatha assured that she has medical reports confirming the terrible torture her mother has been facing for months. They have beaten her mother, burned her with cigarettes all over her body,taking off all her clothes and wrapping her in a blanket to be transferred to Tikrit Prison while everyone was watching. Her daughter added that the injuries covered 85% of her mother's body. Shatha said that Tikrit Operations Leader Kareem Al-Khazraji assisted her to take her mother to Baghdad after they were sure that she didn't commit any crime. Now she is at the headquarters of the Fifth Brigade of the Iraqi Army in Al-Sayidiyah District. Sabah was arrested last February while she was trying to bring back a car for one of her relatives thatwas taken by the Traffic Office after a traffic violation. Sabah was shocked to find out she was wanted in Tikrit for having a role in the killing of the brother of Nahida Al-Daini, a member of the Iraqi Parliament. Later investigations proved that Sabah had nothing to do with that assassination, but then she was accused of other crimes without any evidence. Sabah works in Baghdad as a Chief Editor for theFree Opinion Newspaperduring the past four years. She has six children and a handicapped husband. Her daughter told JFO that her mother now experiences terrible conditions in one of the detention centers related to the Ministry of Interior, because there are not enough cells for the female prisoners in Shaab Stadium Tasfirat Prison. This was confirmed by a source in the Ministry of Interior who stated that there are no places available for female prisoners in this detention, called Site 4. He also added that human rights organizations should raid this prison and immediately start an investigation to take serious actions against the brutal prison guards and the forces of the Ministry of Interior, which are under the command of Maliki. Shatha is trying to contact some Parliament members and political personalities who could help with her mother's release, and bring to justice the persons who tortured her and caused terrible psychological and physical pain. JFOis making the same demands through the Legal Centre and a team of lawyers who will defend her do their best to get her released,and bring the criminals to the court.
Sunday theIraq Times noted that Nouri's Dawa Party was targeting Al Baghdadi and the paper noted they stood in solidarity with the cable outlet. Iraqi Times notes that the cable outlet was prevented by security forces working for Nouri's office from entering Kadhimiya and filming. (This is the city that the US set up the base Camp Justice and where Saddam Hussein was executed.)
The Iraq Times notes an 'accomplishment' that they pin on Nouri: 600,000 families headed by a widow and extreme poverty. The rate of poverty? It's highest in southern Iraq, 56%. (In the KRG, the article notes the poverty rate is under 10%.) And they say he has mortgaged Iraq's education to the World Bank.
With those 'accomplishments' on his CV is it any surprise that Al Mada is reporting rumors that the National Alliance leaders (Shi'ite leaders who make up the coalition supporting Nouri) are becoming very concerned about how Nouri's 'managing' Iraq.
In the US today, MSNBC News offers the usual trash we've come to expect -- no link to trash. But do the idiots in charge of the trashy network really think tabloid journalist Martin Bashir ranting and raving -- at high volume -- in that thick accent -- helps?
It doesn't. It just reminds people that Martin Bashir needs to become a US citizen (and give up British citizenship) or he needs to take his ass back to England (yes, I know he burned those bridges, that's how the trash rolled onto US shores). Truly, Americans are not going to embrace some prissy pontificator from another country ranting and raving nightly about US politics. I'm sorry MSNBC didn't grasp that when they hired him. But all his yelling does for most Americans is make them wonder, "Why isn't Mr. Drama in his own country? Who the hell asked him to stick his nose in our business? Didn't we fight the Revolutionary War just so the British couldn't tell us what to do or what to think?"
I have no idea why MSNBC would give a foreigner an opinion show. But keep it up, let him screech (at high volume) about the 'witch hunt' and, as he grows ever more strident, watch Americans tune him out. In the 90s, when MSNBC couldn't stop attacking the Clintons, the network was at least smart enough not to give Christopher Hitchens a show. Americans don't take well to busybodies and that's how Martin Bashir -- a tabloid journalist of questionable ethics -- is seen.
Bashir and others are toeing the administration line that Susan Rice is being treated unfairly by Republican Senators John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte. And the reason? The administration whispers 'racism' to journalists.
Let's make a list of "racist" senators, let's all be like the White House. The following are or were racist senators:
Why are the above racist?
They voted against confirming Condi Rice for Secretary of State in January 2005.
Now they're also non-Republicans. (Jim Jeffords had left the Republican Party and was an indepedent at that time.) So some might argue that, if they were against Condi for anything other than her record, it was for partisan reasons.
But if we're just going to stand in the center of the town square and scream "Racist!" at people, then let's scream at the ones above to because fair is fair.
With the exception of Robert Byrd (who is now dead and who I didn't care for) and Jeffords who I don't know, I will say that none of the above are racist. But I would also argue that racism is not at the root of the opposition to Susan Rice (nor was it at the root of the opposition to Condi Rice).
Susan Rice is Black. She's also a Democrat. She's also immensely unqualified to be Secretary of State should she be nominated for the office. Bashir can't tell you that because -- well there's so very much Bashir doesn't know. But he loves to chatter. Can't get his ass to Senate hearings but he loves to chatter. Can't tell you that the State Dept is over Iraq, can't tell you how much money that involves -- tax payer money -- can't tell you what the Office of Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction has stated in repeated reports. But he can gas bag.
He can't tell you that last week at the United Nations, Susan Rice was the person ensuring that a global moratoreum on the death penalty sunk. Bashir won't talk about Susan Rice's involvement in the Libyan War.
Let's deal with a few of the many reasons that Susan Rice is unqualifed to be Secretary of State (though, as Elaine has noted, she could be Secretary of War in a heartbeat). Rice is a War Cheerleader. Rice refused to stand against the Iraq War. She wasn't in government at the time. She was a frequent guest on NPR. She refused to call out Bully Boy Bush going to war on Iraq.
Exactly how many people who got it wrong on Iraq does Barack Obama plan to reward. And those members of the Cult of St. Barack intend to stay silent on this forever? He wouldn't be in the White House today if it weren't for the Iraq War. You'd think he could pay down that debt in some small manner but instead he just keeps appointing one pro-Iraq War person after another.
The State Dept has a huge budget and it's really not a justified or an accountable budget. It's become like the CIA (shh, no rumors) since Barack came into office. Congress really doesn't know where the money is going and when they try to find out, they get the same stone walling that the SIGIR does. Not only does Rice have no record of transparency, she's also got no record of handling such a huge department and especially such a huge budget. You need someone with some understanding of money.
Then there is the issue of diplomacy. It's not been mastered by the blustering bully that is Susan Rice. As Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) has observed, "To further circumvent international law and other hindrances to imperial reach, Washington devised the doctrine of 'humanitarian' military intervention -- where Susan Rice makes her mark as madwoman, demanding blockades and air strikes against Sudan, invasion of Somalia, embargoes on little Eritrea, and regime change in Libya." Susan Rice's image is as a bully and someone who doesn't give a damn about people. US House Rep John Conyers has, on his website, a letter he and 103 other House Representatives signed July 17th and sent to Susan Rice "encouraging her to urge the United Nations to take a leading role in addressing the cholera crisis in Haiti." And what was Rice's response?
There are many, many other issues. But let's deal with Benghazi. Susan Rice is based in NYC at the United Nations. That's because she's the United States Ambassador to the United Nations. There is nothing in her job description that makes her an 'expert' on Libya. Yet she ws dispatched by the White House to appear, September 16th, on CBS' Face The Nation, NBC's Meet The Press, ABC's This Week, CNN's State of the Union, Fox News Sunday to discuss the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Begnhazi in which Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty and Chris Stevens were murdered.
Responding to charges that she lied, the White House (and Rice herself last week) have insisted that she merely repeated what she was briefed on. As Isaiah notes in "The Idiotic Susan Rice" editorial cartoon, she's saying she didn't lie, she's just really stupid.
And she is stupid because she went on five live programs to 'talk to America' and she was out of her depth. The White House should probably explain real soon why Rice spoke to the American people and not then-CIA Director David Petraeus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano or President Barack Obama. Barack wants credit for linking it to terrorism prior to Rice's appearence. Alright then, why wasn't someone qualified and elected or appointed to a position covering that terrain sent out to the Sunday talk shows?
Let's come back to questions in a moment and move over right now to some cold hard truth. Whether Hillary Clinton was effective or not as Secretary of State, no one currently knows. What's taken place over the last four years is a lot of work on her part that will be evaluated in the years to come -- did this sprout here did that grow there. She did work hard. Some will think she worked on important issues, some will think she wasted America's time and money. (I like Hillary, I would hope her work was successful.) What we know right now is that she is immensely popular. Not just in the US but around the world.
That's because Hillary brought her own star power into the office. She was the wife of a governor, she was the former first lady of the United States for eight years, she was a woman who went and ran successfully for Congress, winning two elections to the US Senate. She was an advocate for children and women. She brought all of this and more to the office of Secretary of State. People who like Susan Rice would do well to advocate for her for another post. It will be very difficult for a woman -- any woman short of Michelle Obama -- to follow Hillary as Secretary of State. There has been no female Secretary of Defense. There has been no female CIA Director. People who claim to care about Susan Rice better grasp that Hillary's replacement -- whomever it is -- likely will not be Cheryl Ladd. Hillary's replacement is more likely going to be Shelley Hack -- derided and mocked no matter how she performs. Michelle Obama is the only woman in the government who brings that kind of star power. (And maybe Michelle should be Secretary of State? Right away we know State gets the president's attention. I'm not joking, by the way. I'm deadly serious. Michelle has spent four years as a goodwill ambassador, she's known around the world, she's highly educated, she was a practicing attorney which is its own form of diplomacy. She'd be highly effective in the role if she wanted it.)
So if you like Susan Rice, if you care about her, you should really be trying to help her into a position where she can be a trail blazer and a first (Mad Maddy Albright was already the first woman to be Secretary of State, Condi Rice was already the first African-American woman to be Secretary of State) and not into a post where she's going to be repeatedly compared to someone who has natural star power, someone who could and did charm Gore Vidal (who went into meeting her convinced he wouldn't like her and came out raving how gracious and kind she was).
Now let's go back to questions.
The questions that remain to be answered and that the President insists are answered have to do with what happened in Benghazi, who was responsible for the deaths of four Americans including our Ambassador and what steps do we need to take to ensure that something like that does not happen again?
That's Jay Carney. The White House's plus-size spokesmodel (as Cedric and Wally have dubbed him). And it must be great to be the White House. All the Benghazi focus on Rice. Hours and hours wasted on MSNBC with nonsense.
Rice hasn't even been nominated for the post. But she certainly does distract from the fact that the US was attacked on September 11th and it's now 47 days later and the official White House position, per Jay Carney, is that they don't know "what happened in Benghazi, [or] who was responsible for the deaths" or "what steps do we need to take to ensure that something like that does not happen again?"
It's 47 days after the terrorist attack. And they don't know what steps to take? How non-reassuring for American diplomats around the world. How pathetic.
If Bully Boy Bush -- or his henchman toady Ari -- had declared on November 27, 2001, "We don't know who attaacked the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, we don't know who was responsible for the deaths and we don't know what steps we need to take to ensure that an attack like that doesn't happen again," how long do you think it would have been before Congress was openly discussing impeachment?
Maybe Jay Carney, not Senate Republicans, is the one "obsessed" with Susan Rice? Clearly, the White House is not doing their job. Not only did they fail to anticipate the attack despite all the mounting indicators leading up to the attack but 47 days later the official White House spokersperson faces the press -- by proxy the American people -- and declares that they have no idea, all these weeks and weeks later, how it happened or who was behind it?
The kind term is "incompetence." A more harsh charge that could be tossed around would be "dereliction of duty."