Starting off with the roots of the illegal war.
In the place of real reporting.
Mushy soft focus moments
Not The Way It Was.
Of the facts that are well known.
Facts that never will be buried
Of The Way It Was.
Can it be that spin can triumph fact
If we carefully rewrite each line.
If he had the choice to do it all again
He would -- he could.
May be full of lies and yet
If we push hard enough
Others will simply forget.
So it's the spin
We will hold onto
Whenever we discuss
The Way It Was.
The Way It Was.
In September 2005, Colin Powell took to 20/20 and mother confessor Barbara Walters in an attempt to improve his public image. It was pure garbage and Ava and I documented that in "TV Review: Barbara and Colin remake The Way We Were." That Colin Powell lied was not in doubt. It's why he took to acknowledging a "blot" on his record and going so far as to admit that his statements were wrong. They weren't just wrong, they were lies. He went before the United Nations February 5, 2003 and made the case for war and he lied over and over and over. In September 2005, with the Iraq War having proven to be a disaster, with Cindy Sheehan shining a light on the realities of the illegal war and the mood in the country firmly against the war, Colin decided it was time to pretend he was told wrong because he felt "fool" was a better image than "liar."
But Colin Powell lied. He knew he was lying. He knew why he was lying. As Dick Cheney told him, he was the most believable (at that point) in the administration. Only Colin could make the case for illegal war and impress the press. He lied and knew he was lying. July 15, 2004, Greg Miller (Los Angeles Times) reported:
Days before Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was to present the case for war with Iraq to the United Nations, State Department analysts found dozens of factual problems in drafts of his speech, according to new documents contained in the Senate report on intelligence failures released last week.
Two memos included with the Senate report listed objections that State Department experts lodged as they reviewed successive drafts of the Powell speech. Although many of the claims considered inflated or unsupported were removed through painstaking debate by Powell and intelligence officials, the speech he ultimately presented contained material that was in dispute among State Department experts.
[. . .]
In their critique, State Department analysts repeatedly warned that Powell was being put in the position of drawing the most sinister conclusions from satellite images, communications intercepts and human intelligence reports that had alternative, less-incriminating explanations.
In one section that remained in the speech, Powell showed aerial images of a supposed decontamination vehicle circling a suspected chemical weapons site.
"We caution," State Department analysts wrote, "that Iraq has given ... what may be a plausible account for this activity -- that this was an exercise involving the movement of conventional explosives."
The presence of a water truck "is common in such an event," they concluded.
Why are we having to go after all this garbage again?
In 1987, No Way Out made Kevin Costner a star. Brian De Palma's The Untouchables had already made him a leading man that year but to become a star, you really do have to be f**kable. No Way Out presented Costner as f**kable. It also featured a curious subplot that Gene Hackman and Will Patton acted out. Hackman plays Secretary of Defense, Patton plays his General Counsel Scott Pritchard. And Hackman is out of control and doing illegal things and Patton protects him over and over, cleans up the mess over and over (at the very end you learn Patton is in love with Hackman and that they probably had a physical relationship). Colin Powell has his own Scott Pritchard, Lawrence Wilkerson who was Colin's Chief of Staff when Colin was Secretary of State.
After Powell declared his blot, the obsessive love slave Lawrence Wilkerson began making the rounds trying to spit polish his boss' tarnished image. It was always laughable. Norman Solomon (Cold Type) pointed out in November 2005, how ridiculous it was:
Rest assured that if the war had gone well by Washington's lights, we'd be hearing none of this from Powell's surrogate. The war has gone bad, from elite vantage points, not because of the official lies and the unrelenting carnage but because military victory has eluded the U.S. government in Iraq. And with President Bush's poll numbers tanking, and Dick Cheney's even worse, it's time for some "moderate" sharks to carefully circle for some score-settling and preening.
But Wilkerson's been allowed to whore and whore by a number of people who have no ethics. Ray McGovern is the latest to step forward and embrace Powell (to the point on penetration? Is McGovern the "honey pot" he accused two women of being?). We need to ask again, who the hell let CIA McGovern into the left? He's gone on KPFA, KPFK and WBAI to attack two women who may have been raped and, in the process, made comments about Vietnam that a lefty wouldn't make. Who the hell brought him over to the left? Today he takes Larry Wilkerson at face value (yet again, Larry gives Ray a facial) and makes the case for Colin being tricked and not a liar. Ray's crap first appeared -- where else -- at Robert Parry's Consortium News. Robert Parry went nuts long ago. His image will never be repaired. But once upon a time, when he still lived in the real world, he co-wrote articles with Norman Solomon and he was familiar with Ron Kovic. Ron Kovic knows the truth about liar Colin Powell and has told it now for decades. It has been published at Robert's site in the past but it wouldn't today because they've decided to get in bed with Colin's pal Larry. It's amazing how Larry has spun for eight years on behalf of Collie Powell and how people have allowed him to get away with it.
That's not just sloppy journalism, but it is that. Ava and I cover TV at Third and we do that every week and treat everything the same -- meaning research, meaning telephone calls,meaning the basic work required. When we took on Colin Powell in September 2005, we knew we'd have to watch his interview with Barbara Walters. How could we write, report and analyze it without watching it? "Journalist" Robert Parry did. He used an ABC press release to write an article about it. I think that goes to the ethics involved. I don't believe that 20/20 segment was even 20 minutes long. It aired on a Friday, we covered it two days later (Third publishes on Sunday). Robert Parry covered it three days later (a Monday). And wrote a lengthy article about it. But never watched the interview.
The thing about not watching an interview is you miss when the subject is uncomfortable, you miss the hesitation, you miss the word stumbles. You miss the tells, the signifiers. By not watching, you're also dependent on someone else's 'facts' and 'interpretations' which may or may not be correct. I don't know why someone would choose to write at length about an interview that aired on TV and was also streamable online without having watched it. But when someone does that, I don't call them a "reporter" or a "journalist." I think there's a basic level of work required to earn either of those titles.
I think the lack of standards at Consortium go a long way towards explaining how Ray McGovern ended up there as a columnist, how Lawrence Wilkerson ended up there and how useless the site has become.
They're now engaging in revisionary tactics on the Iraq War. They're trying to redeem a power broker who could have refused to offer false testimony to the UN, who could have stepped down as Secretary of State, who could have done any number of things. We don't need revisionary tactics. We need the truth. It is clear that Constortium News and Ray McGovern are incapable of providing the truth -- or even basic facts. If you dobut it, they're using their space not to call attention to what's happening to girls and women in Iraqi prisons (torture and rape), not to call attention to the ongoing protests in Iraq, not to call attention to the imprisonment of journalist Nadir Dendoune. No, they're using their space to call for Colin Powell to be cleared of suspicion, to whitewash his image. They could shine a spotlight on the people who need it but instead they suck up to the powerful and serve up revisionary history. They've made themselves useless.
People died, people were injured. Birth defects will continue for years now. Iraq was turned into a land of widows and orphans but, by all means, let's all instead fret about Colin Powell who makes millions each year speaking at various 'inspirational' conventions and offering up 'motivational' talks when not churning out, via cut and paste, another 'book' he's 'co-authored.' There's a thing called perspective and anyone who believes Colin Powell suffers from the Iraq War needs to check themselves. On this week's Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox, Cindy speaks with Michael Parenti (archives are here).
Michael Parenti: More than half of the people of Iraq are either dead or in exile or homeless or devastated in one way or another. They have no communities left, they have no schools, they have no hospitals -- I mean, it's just horrible what's happened to Iraq --
Cindy Sheehan: -- and cancers and other diseases because of the poisons and the depleted uranium and birth defects in the children.
Michael Parenti: That's right. Yes. And birth defects galore are coming -- just as the same things you still see in Vietnam.
Iraq wasn't their topic, but when it came up, Cindy Sheehan and Michael Parenti knew who the suffering was and who it wasn't.
Iraq continues to suffer. Today the country was yet again slammed with violence. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports, "At least 23 people were killed and 49 wounded when a suicide bomber blew himself up among members of a local Awakening Council in Taji, Iraq, on Monday." "Awakening" is also known as "Sahwa" and "Sons of Iraq" (and "Daughters of Iraq"). At the April 8, 2008 Senate Armed Services hearing when Gen David Petraeus, then the top US commander in Iraq, was explaining Sahwa.
In his opening remarks, Petraues explained of the "Awakening" Council (aka "Sons of Iraq," et al) that it was a good thing "there are now over 91,000 Sons of Iraq -- Shia as well as Sunni -- under contract to help Coalition and Iraqi Forces protect their neighborhoods and secure infrastructure and roads. These volunteers have contributed significantly in various areas, and the savings in vehicles not lost because of reduced violence -- not to mention the priceless lives saved -- have far outweighed the cost of their monthly contracts." Again, the US must fork over their lunch money, apparently, to avoid being beat up.
How much lunch money is the US forking over? Members of the "Awakening" Council are paid, by the US, a minimum of $300 a month (US dollars). By Petraeus' figures that mean the US is paying $27,300,000 a month. $27 million a month is going to the "Awakening" Councils who, Petraeus brags, have led to "savings in vehicles not lost".
AP notes the bomber wore an explosive belt. Prensa Latina explains, "Some members of the Sunni Sahwa militia were lining up to receive their wages, along with Iraqi Army soldiers, when the explosion took place." Bi Mingxin (Xinhua) also notes that they were lined up to pick up pay checks. AFP quotes Sahwa Ali Khalaf who was injured in the blast and states, "I blame the army. Normally, when we go (to collect our salaries), the army lets us enter the compound. This time, they left us outside and they blocked the entrance. In the meantime, when we were gathering, the attack happened."
Kareem Raheem, Patrick Markey and (Reuters) observe, "The seventh suicide bombing in a month was part of an surge in violence a year after U.S. troops pulled out of the OPEC oil producer, where Shi'ite, Sunni and ethnic Kurdish factions still struggle over how to share power." Press TV reminds, "Nearly two dozen people, including children, were killed and 80 others injured in attacks carried out in several cities and towns in the country on the last day of 2012. "
27 dead reported today -- 22 in attack on Sahwa in Taji, 1 dead in Baghdad, and 4 killed overnight in Kirkuk. Yesterday, death toll was 32.
Alsumaria adds that a Mosul armed attack has left a man and a woman injured and 1 government employee was shot dead in another Mosul attack.
Salam Faraj (AFP) points out of today's violence, "It also comes just a day after a coordinated assault on a police headquarters in a disputed city in the north killed 30 people amid a spike in violence nationwide." That was Kirkuk and Al Mada reported yesterday that the attack left over one hundred people dead or injured and that the Kurds are blaming the violence on the Tigris Operation Command. Al Jazeera added:
Al Jazeera's Jane Arraf, reporting from Baghdad, said she was receiving "conflicting reports on what exactly happened in the attack".
"This attack took place in the directorate of police, which is in a crowded area, lots of markets around. Civilians as well as police are thought to be among the dead," she said.
Mustafa Mahmoud (Reuters) quoted an unnamed police official stating, "A suicide bomber driving a vehicle packed with explosives hit the entrance of the headquarters and after the blast gunmen in explosive vests attacked with AK47s and grenades, but the guards killed them." Rudaw adds, "Witnesses said that the vehicle was painted like a police car, and that the insurgents wore fake police uniforms. Authorities suspect the aim of the mission was to take over the police compound." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed Kirkuk is oil-rich and "one of the disputed areas in the country between the central government and Kurdistan Regional Government."
Saturday, AFP reported that Iraq's Ministry of Defense, Health and Interior released their 'official' figures for deaths in January: 177. AFP noted their own total was 246. Prashant Rao and AFP have made their count transparent by posting it online. They deserve praise for that.
Iraq Body Count tabulates 341 violent deaths in Iraq for the month of January. Both counts are much higher than Iraq's 'official' count and that's why the world needs independent counts like AFP's and IBC's -- without them, the world's left with the 'official' count from three government ministries. Only the Ministry of Health has a minister. Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."
January 26th the Parliament voted to limit the three presidencies (President, Speaker of Parliament and Prime Minister) to two terms. Wael Grace (Al Mada) reported that 170 of the 242 MPs present voted in favor of the law. Ahmed Rasheed, Patrick Markey and Andrew Roche (Reuters) add, "Lawmakers from Sunni, Kurdish and Shi'ite parties voted for the law, but the legislation still needs the president's approval and will face challenges in federal court after Maliki's supporters rejected it as illegal." Nouri and his political slate State of Law have condemned the law and plan to appeal to the (Nouri controlled) Federal Supreme Court. Today, Alsumaria reports that Kurdistan Alliance MP Mahmoud Othman is stating that the law could be set aside if the three in the positions -- Osama al-Nujaifi, Jalal Talabani and Nouri al-Maliki -- would all agree to limit themselves to two terms. Why anyone would trust Nouri to keep a promise at this late date is beyond me. He broke The Erbil Agreement. Remember? His State of Law came in second to Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya. So Nouri couldn't have a second term as prime minister. (Also Moqtada al-Sadr and Ibrahim al-Jabaari were against Nouri.) But he dug his heels in and -- with the support of US President Barack Obama -- refused to honor the results of the election for eight months. He refused to allow the country to name a prime minister. Then the US brokered the Erbil Agreement. They told the leaders of the political blocs that Nouri was prepared to drag the stalemate out for 8 months more or even longer. It was time to be mature, the US officials said, give Nouri (the big baby who wasn't playing fair) a second term and he will agree to give you things you want and, look, the whole thing will be in writing, a binding contract, and you have the word of the White House and the President of the United States that this contract is legal and we will stand behind it.
So they signed off and Nouri got his second term and then he trashed the agreement. And now his word is to be trusted? Or how about when Sammy Ketz (AFP) interviewed Nouri al-Maliki on February 6, 2011? What did Nouri say then? "The constitution does not prevent a third, fourth or fifth term, but I have personally decided not to seek another term after this one, a decision I made at the beginning of my first term. I support the insertion of a paragraph in the constitution that the prime minister gets only two turns, only eight years, and I think that's enough." Again, why would anyone ever trust Nouri's word? Didn't he sign a $4.1 billion arms contract with Russia just months ago that immediately became questionable and remains in doubt? Why would anyone trust Nouri?
Over the weekend, Alsumaria noted that Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi states Nouri is attempting to intimidate those MPs who voted to limit the three presidencies to two terms. The three presidencies are the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker of Parliament. Iraqiya is the political slate that came in ahead of Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 parliamentary elections. Al Mada adds that Allawi sent a memo to the National Alliance stating it is time they selected a replacement for Nouri.
Karin Laub and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reported Saturday that Nouri declared a revolt against his government -- as may be taking place in Syria -- "will not happen." He had the nerve to say, "What happened in Syria will not happen in Iraq. In Iraq, there is freedom. There are no detained journalists or politicians."
Oh, how Nouri loves to lie. French journalist Nadir Dendoune? Nouri's not aware that he's "detained" Nadir for weeks now? From last Monday's snapshot:
As we noted this morning, Nadir Dendoune, who holds dual Algerian and Australian citizenship was covering Iraq for the fabled French newspaper Le Monde's monthly magazine. His assignment was to document Iraq 10 years after the start of the Iraq War. Alsumaria explains the journalist was grabbed by authorities in Baghdad last week for the 'crime' of taking pictures. (Nouri has imposed a required permit, issued by his government, to 'report' in Iraq.) All Iraq News adds the journalist has been imprisoned for over a week now without charges.
Nadir is the latest journalist to be targeted in Nouri's Iraq. A petition calling for his release has already gathered 15,594 signatures and a Facebook page has been created to show support for him. The Journalistic Freedoms Observatory in Iraq, Reporters Without Borders and The Committee to Protect Journalists have called for his release.
Alsumaria reported Sunday that the Association for the Defence of Press Freedom was demanding Nadir's release and stating that his arrest exceeds the law and is unconstitutional. Al Mada adds that Australia's Foreign Ministry has expressed concern via Australia's Embassy in Baghdad. AFP quotes Muayad al-Lami who heads the Iraqi Journalists Syndicate stating that he was questioned by the police on Sunday "and today he should be presented before a judge. Hopefully he will be released this week." However, in an update AFP reveals that the appearance has been postponed -- supposedly it will take place tomorrow.
What's more astounding? That Nouri lied so boldly or that AP just repeated it and didn't bother to point out that Nadir is being "detained."
Reuters reports Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's website was hacked Saturday by TeaM KuWaiT HaCkErS who posted a photo and a message: "You want to be like Bashar al-Assad. You are a destroyer. Bashar is finished and victory is very close. God help you sons of Iraq against the tyranny." AP described the photo as "a picture of wailing black-clad women in mourning." Dar Addustour noted that this is the second time in the last weeks that Nouri's website has been hacked and that the hack comes as Iraq already faces turmoil. AFP observes, "The discord comes amid weeks of demonstrations in Iraq's majority-Sunni north and west originally railing against the targeting of their community by the Shiite-led authorities but have increasingly called for the premier to go." Kamal Naama (Reuters) offers, "The protests are evolving in the most serious test yet for Maliki and his fragile government that splits posts among Shiites, Sunnis and ethnic Kurds, who were already deadlocked over how to share power for more than a year."
Today Kitabat reports MP Jawad Alshahyla is calling Nouri al-Maliki out for his statement that Iraqis protesting currently and Kurds -- all Kurds -- are not part of Iraq. Jawad Alshahyla is part of Moqtada al-Sadr's parliamentary bloc. Friday Iraq saw the largest turnout yet for the ongoing weeks of protest. Alsumaria reports that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi visited Samarra on Saturday as part of the government's process of listening to the demonstrators. al-Nujaifi was flanked by government and tribal officials and, holding a microphone, spoke directly to those engaged in an ongoing sit-in. Osama al-Nujaifi is Sunni and a member of Iraqiya. While al-Nujaifi was received with respect, another wasn't so lucky. Deputy Prime Minister of Energy Hussein al-Shahristani is seen as another powerless Nouri al-Maliki lacky. He was given time. In the middle of January, protesters met with him in Salahuddin Province and Anbar as well. But that was before he'd demonstrated to the protesters that he really didn't listen. So protesters refuse to listen to him now. They will, and have, met with the United Nations Secretary-General's Special Envoy Martin Kobler, but they're not interested in Nouri's flunkies. al-Shahristani is a member of Nouri's State of Law. Sunday, Al Mada reported al-Shahristani was able to meet some officials in Mosul and also some people claiming to speak for the protesters; however, the protesters not only refuse to meet with him, they also state no one has been given the power to speak on their behalf.
The protests are fueled by many things but the moment the match hit the gas was when Nouri's forces targeted the staff of the Minister of Finance Rafie al-Issawi. Pakistan's The News explains, "The demonstrations were the latest in a wave of rallies that have continued largely uninterrupted since late December, sparked by the arrest of a group of guards of Finance Minister Rafa al-Essawi, a senior Sunni leader. Maliki faces myriad problems, including vocal opposition from many of his erstwhile government partners less than three months before key provincial elections. Iraqi authorities have taken several steps aimed at curbing the protests. " Al Mada reports that al-Issawi declared Saturday that protesters will not leave the streets until their demands are met. That would be very smart, for protesters to grasp Nouri throws around empty promises very easily. They should demand solid results. Especially when All Iraq News' reports that State of Law MP Salman al-Mousawi has declared that all the demands by protesters are "unreal" and unrepresentative of the Iraqi people.
World Bulletin reports, "Secretary General of and the Spokesperson for the pashmarga ministry of the regional administration in north of Iraq, Jabbar Yaver on Monday said that no results have been achieved in talks on military issues between the Iraqi Kurdish regional administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki."
Journalists? Le Monde's Nadir Dendoune has been held for three weeks now. As for politicians, Nouri and his kangaroo court have forced Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi out of the country, not to mention forcing Nouri's former spokesperson Ali al-Dabbagh to flee the country at the end of last year as Nouri attempted to shove the corruption in the Russian arms deal off on his spokesperson.
In addition, there are the continued tensions between Baghdad and Erbil -- Nouri's done a great deal to ensure that the central Baghdad government is at odds with the KRG. Over the weekend, All Iraq News reported that the Kurdistan Regional Government announced Nouri had gone back on his agreement with them regarding oil. Today World Bulletin reports, "Secretary General of and the Spokesperson for the pashmarga ministry of the regional administration in north of Iraq, Jabbar Yaver on Monday said that no results have been achieved in talks on military issues between the Iraqi Kurdish regional administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki." The Peshmerga is the elite Kurdish fighting force. Many of the conflicts between the KRG and Nouri are touched on in the interview Hevidar Ahmed (Rudaw) does with Kurdistan Democratic Party spokesperson Jaafar Ibrahim:
Rudaw: There are a number of complicated problems between Kurdistan and Iraq. What is the KDP doing about them?
Jaafar Ibrahim: For the KDP the current internal affair is very important. How do we deal with this situation and move it forward? That is very important to us.
Rudaw: What do you mean by internal affairs?
Jaafar Ibrahim: The upcoming provincial elections and the issues between ruling parties and the opposition parties. The upcoming provincial election will be a basis for parliamentary elections and the Kurdistan presidency elections. Also, the issues between the ruling and opposition parties, if they continue, will leave a negative impact on Kurdistan. Therefore, these two issues are the most important issues to us right now.
Rudaw: After Talabani’s hospitalization, the KDP’s president and leadership visited Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party several times. Does Talabani’s absence in Iraq pose any danger to Kurdistan?
Jaafar Ibrahim: Talabani has his own importance in the Kurdistan region, Iraq and the whole region. Talabani’s role is necessary for Kurdistan and Baghdad. Besides that, PUK is an important ally to KDP. We value our alliance with PUK. However, KDP believes that there are capable men in the PUK who can replace Talabani. PUK can play its role even when Talabani is away. They can preserve the alliance between KDP and PUK. We were waiting for Talabani to solve the issues between Baghdad and Kurdistan. If the problems deepen, they will leave negative impacts on the Kurdistan Region. Currently, the relation between Arab Sunnis and Shiites is moving towards civil war. The situation between the Kurdistan Region and Iraq is on the verge of explosion. It’s true that there have been meetings, but no concrete results have been gained. Until now, the Iraqi government’s military threat against the disputed areas still exists. There are many worries if the disagreements between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Region lead to a very unpleasant situation.
the los angeles times
iraq body count
the associated press
sameer n. yacoub
the iraq times