Thursday, November 14, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, November 14, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Matt Olsen talks to Congress about al Qaeada, Brett McGurk thinks he can solve the problems of Iraq's religious minorities by just meeting with Catholics, the US government has top secret information about the September 1st attack on Camp Ashraf, the process of elimination means that the information is about Nouri's participation in the murders, Barack Obama covers up for Bully Boy Bush like a true friend or maybe just like a man in love, and much more.

Before we get to yesterday's hearing on Iraq, let's start with an example.  There's a small yard three homes face.  Daisy uses a third to grow rose bushes, Millie opts for tomatoes, Diane grows cabbage.  There's a well that all three use to water their plants in order to avoid dragging a water hose across the street.  Then one day Diane walls off the well and puts a padlock on the gate.  The neighborhood gets together to make peace and Diane agrees to share the water.  But she doesn't follow up on that and begins making other demands, saying the roses belong to her and so do the tomatoes.

The neighborhood tries to fix the peace again -- "fix" being the key word.

They say to the three women that the actions are hurting the neighborhood.  They insist that peace is imperative.  From now on, they say, for peace, Daisy will give Diane a third of her roses and Millie will give Diane a third of her tomatoes.

And that, the neighborhood insists, will bring peace.

That's not peace.  That's a bully, a mafia, a crook that's already refused to follow agreements now getting more concessions.

Nouri al-Maliki is Diane.

After his State of Law lost the 2010 elections, he brought the entire government of Iraq to a political standstill for 8 months as he refused to step down so that a new prime minister could be named.

The White House backed him and went around to the leaders of the political blocs, telling them that Nouri could hold out for another eight months, insisting that if they loved Iraq, if they cared about it, they needed to give Nouri a second term.

And, look, they'll put it in writing, make it a contract, and make sure that the needs of each bloc are addressed by getting legal concessions from Nouri that will be in the contract.

That contract is the US-brokered Erbil Agreement.  It gave Nouri the second term that the voters didn't give him.  But he stalled on implementing the promises he made.  He insisted they would take place but first he needed to name a Cabinet, first his Cabinet needed to get focused, first he needed to address government corruption (to get protesters off the streets), first . . .

He was supposed to implement it in November 2010.  By the summer of 2011, with it still not implemented, Iraqiya (the slate that won the 2010 elections), the Kurds and cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr were publicly demanding that Nouri implement The Erbil Agreement.

This is the political crisis and it continues because Nouri still hasn't honored his promises.

Iraq's main ethnic and sectarian groups - Kurds, Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims- each with its own militias, have to share power. Iraq cannot be ruled by one side, nor divided among all. It was in dire need of visionary, credible and strategic leadership to unite people and lead the transition to democracy. That collective effort was, and still is, absent, creating competitive and even violent approaches to power. One of the enduring sources of instability in Iraq is the policies and tactics of the political class to either maximise gains, or stop the other side from doing so, all at the expense of the common good.
Many of Iraq's problems stem from its political leaders who are exploiting the ethno-sectarian divisions in their favour to grab more power. Their failure to craft an inclusive democracy has deepened rivalries and given rise to sectarianism, ethnic chauvinism and authoritarianism. Even the constitution which has established a term of reference to solve the power-sharing problems, has been breached time and again.

No, that's lying.

If you've already compromised in good faith and honored your part of a legal contract only to have the other party refuse to own their part?  You don't compromise again.

To compromise again is to fail the people you represent, the people who are counting on you.  

There should be no agreements or compromises until Nouri honors what he's already promised.

And that means actions.   That does not mean a new contract where Nouri gets what he wants and says he'll honor the promises he already made.

The Kurds fell for that last time.

Nouri took an oath to uphold the Iraqi Constitution when he was made prime minister in 2006.  The Constitution -- then and now -- includes Article 140 which addresses how you resolve oil-rich Kirkuk -- a disputed province claimed by both the central government out of Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government.  The Constitution compels Nouri to hold a census and referendum to resolve the dispute.  And it also calls on the prime minister to do this by the end of 2007.

Nouri never did it.

And it was stupid on the part of the Kurds to think that someone who refused to honor the Iraqi Constitution would now honor a contract.  Yes, the White House told Kurdish leaders The Erbil Agreement was a legally binding contract and, yes, the White House lied that they would back The Erbil Agreement 100%.  

But when someone's legally required to do X and they haven't?  You don't sign any agreement with them until they do X.  

The Erbil Agreement was bad enough but now here comes a 'helper' via Al Jazeera -- which can report from Iraq but so rarely does.  And the 'helper' has a grand plan: From where you're standing right now, compromise!

But all but Nouri are standing on less ground than they had in 2010 and they don't need to disappoint their followers by giving up any more ground.

US House Rep Grace Meng:  Regarding the issue of Iraqi Jewish artifacts that are currently on display in The National Archives, I want to especially acknowledge and thank Congresswoman [Ileanna] Ros-Lehtinen, Congressman [Steve] Israel and Senator [Chuck] Schumer for their leadership on this issue.  Rescued from Baghdad in 2003, the collection of ancient artifacts include letters, books and personal photos that were left behind by Jews after WWII who experienced extreme anti-Semiticsm including harassment and violence.  It is imperative that these artifacts are returned to the descendents of the Jewish community from which they were wrongly confiscated and not the Iraqi government.  We must ensure that justice for the Iraqi Jewish community.

Meng was speaking at yesterday's House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and North Africa hearing.  US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is the Subcommittee Chair and US House Rep Ted Deutch is the Ranking Member and the witness appearing before the Subcomittee was Brett McGurk.  Yesterday we focused on the Jewish Archive aspect.  

Today, we're going to focus on religious minorities and Camp Ashraf.   Religious minorities have long been under attack.  Will McGurk's words reassure? 

US House Rep Steve Chabot:  While Iraqi Christians find themselves in an increasingly hostile environment, the Kurdish region was a safe haven for Christian refugees in Iraq.  However, a number of bombings against Christians in Kurdish -- in the Kurdish region have changed the security situation for Christians.  And with reports of discrimination, Christians no longer feel safe even in the -- in the Kurdish region.  What's the administration doing to help Christians and other minorities in Iraq and what is the Maliki government doing to protect Iraqi religious minorities?

Brett McGurk:  Well, thank you, very important, uh question, and at the State Dept we are focused on this every single day I try to meet with the Iraqi Christian community here in the United States.  When I'm in Iraq, I try to meet with the Christian leaders.  Our Ambassadors engage with them on a regular basis.  On my last trip, I met with Bishop [Bashar]  Warda who's in Erbil  And we-we asked him, what do you really need from us?  And he needed some more facilitation with the Kurdish government and he needed some help to resolve some land disputes.  And they have now set up a joint-commission to do just that.  Uhm, the prime minister met Archbishop [Louis Raphael] Sako -- the main Christian leader in Iraq -- to talk about threats to the Christian community.  Uh, the real problem in Iraq now is that every community is under threat.  The casualties that have taken place this year in Iraq are a threat to everybody but the Christians in particular and some of the other minority communities such as the Shabaks and the Yazidis are under real threat from these al Qaeda groups.  We are talking with the Christian -- the Iraqi Christian community here and also Christian leaders in Baghdad about what we can do to harness local forces to protect their local communities and then working with the Iraqi government to get resources into those communities.  And we've made some progress over the last three to four months but I-I -- I just -- Our eyes are wide open that this problem isn't -- Again, the more that al Qaeda gains strength and, uh, gains roots in western Iraq, the greater the threat will be.  That's why we have to go after that in a very serious way.

Sako is the main Christian leader in Iraq?  That's certainly going to be news to a lot of others in Iraqis?  But Shabaks and Yazidis aren't Catholic.  How will they be helped when their needs aren't explored.  If you're not talking to them and their leaders, how are you helping them?  You're not.

In Mosul today, NINA reports, four homes were blown up. Who lived in them?  Shabaks.  They're being targeted and the State Dept isn't even listening to them.  Or most Christians because they're really not in Baghdad these days.  The migration was started long ago but really accelerated after October 31, 2010 when Our Lady of Salvation Church was attacked in Baghdad.

Not only are these Christians in large and increasing numbers, their needs are going to be different than those living in Baghdad.  They are refugees.  And what is the State Dept doing about that?  Nothing and apparently because they're not even aware of them or the need to converse with them.

Let's move over to the Ashraf residents.  As of September, Camp Ashraf in Iraq is empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty).  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

The September 1st attack was not minor to the Subcommittee.  Chair Ros-Lehtinen told McGurk she wanted regular updates on the T-walls and how many are being put up to protect the Ashraf community from mortar attacks. He stated that there were "about 14,000 now" ready to be assembled and put up.  But US House Rep Brad Sherman pointed out there were 17,000 T-walls up when he last visited Iraq, up at Camp Liberty, but now they're are less than 200.  Clearly, T-walls were taken down (by the orders of Nouri al-Maliki although McGurk insists it was because of the desires of the Ashraf community).  US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher had one of his constituents stand.  The man lost family in the September 1st attack. He was one of the Ashraf community supporters who regularly attend hearings wearing yellow (they also turned out in full force to protest Nouri's visit to DC).  US House Rep Ted Poe noted them in his remarks to McGurk,  "These people that are here, working people, Americans, and they are concerned about people that they love in Iraq.  And they constantly are losing friends and family members to attacks."  These attacks have lasting effects and the State Dept has done very little.

US House Rep Joseph Wilson:  . . . but a real tragedy has been the murders at Camp Ashraf.  Since December 2008, when our government turned over the protections of the  camp to the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly assured the world that he would treat the residents humanely and also that he would protect them from harm.  Yet it has not kept the promise promise as 111 people have been killed  in cold blood and more than a thousand wounded in five attacks including the September 1st massacre, what is the United States doing to prevent further attacks and greater loss of life in terms of ensuring the safety and security of the residents

Brett McGurk:  Congressman, first let me say thank you for your-your service and your family's service.  Speaking for myself and my team who've spent many years in Iraq and have known many friends we've lost in Iraq, it's something we think about every day and it inspires our work and our dedication to do everything possible to succeed under very difficult circumstances.  Regarding Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty, the only place for the MEK and the residents of Camp Liberty to be safe is outside of Iraq.  Camp Liberty is a former US military base  We lost Americans, right nearby  there, as late as the summer of 2010.  We lost a number of Americans to rocket fire and indirect fire attacks and our embassy compounds were the most secure facilities  in the country as late as the summer of 2010, that was when we had about 60,000 troops in the country in the country doing everything that they possibly could do to hunt down the rocket teams that we knew were targeting us.  Uh, there are cells in Iraq  -- we believe directed and inspired from Iran -- which are targeting the MEK, there's no question about that.  And the only place for the MEK to be safe is outside of Iraq.  That is why the State Dept and the Secretary have appointed a colleague of mine, Jonathan Winer, to work this issue full time. to find a place for them to go. Right now, there's about 2900 residents at Camp Liberty and Albania's taken in about 210, Germany's agreed to take in 100 and that's it.  We need to find a place for these - these people to go.  It is an urgent and humanitarian issue, an international humanitarian crisis.  And I went to the camp to meet with the survivors, to speak with the families, and what they told me and I promised them to do everything I possibly could to get them to safety.  Uh, it is incumbent upon the Iraqi government to do everything it possibly can to to keep them safe -- and that means the T-walls and the sandbags and everything else.  Uh, but the only place for the residents to be safe is outside Iraq.  Since the tragic attacks at Camp Liberty on September 1st 1300 Iraqis were killed, 52 people were massacred at Camp Ashraf.  This was a tragic, horrifying act.  But since then, 1300 Iraqis in the country have been killed.  The country is incredibly dangerous and the MEK, to be safe, have to leave Iraq and we want to find a place for them to go.  

US House Rep Joseph Wilson:  Well I appreciate your commitment to that.  After the September 1st massacre, the State Dept called for an independent investigation by the United Nations.  74 days on, nothing's been done, let alone an independent investigation.  Could you tell this Committee whether any independent probe has been carried out or not?  If so, by whom and what is the finding?  If not, why not?  Five attacks have been launched against the residents and not one person has been arrested.  What do we do to maintain promises of protection?

Brett McGurk: Uh, Congressman, shortly after the attack, we worked with the United Nations to make sure that they got a team up to Camp Ashraf within 24 hours of the attack to document exactly what happened because there was a lot of stories about what happened.  They went there took photographs of the bodies to make sure that it was documented as to how these people were killed and there's no question about it.  We have looked very closely at all of our information I know that I've-I've had the opportunity to brief some members of the Subcommittee in a classified setting which I'd be pleased to do again to update you on the information that we have.  We did call for an independent investigation and for the UN to be involved in this process.  The UN was also involved in making sure that the survivors got out of Camp Ashraf and out of harms way to get to get to Camp Liberty.  But, again, Congressman, I would welcome the opportunity to brief you and discuss with you in a classified setting everything we know that happened on September 1st.

Here's a question.  Why did it take the September 1st attack for the State Dept to hired someone to work on the issue?  In fairness to Secretary of State John Kerry, maybe the question should be why, in four years, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't hired anyone?  Or how about why did she fight a federal court for years before taking the MEK off the terrorist list?

And if this i really considered "an international humanitarian crisis" by the State Dept, could Brett or John inform the spokespersons for the State Dept because Iraq rarely comes up and Camp Ashraf  is not a topic -- Iraqi Christians as well -- that interests the spokespersons.

Seems to me if you have a semi-daily press briefing by the Dept, you use that briefing to highlight "an international humanitarian crisis."  

I'm also confused why you need to go into a classified briefing to discuss an attack on Camp Ashraf?

McGurk hurled every imagination you could think of at Iran in one remark or another.

So he's not protecting Iran.

Who's he protecting?

It would appear he doesn't want to speak publicly about how Nouri al-Maliki allows and aids attacks on the Ashraf community.

This was made even more clear in another exchange.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  You believe them that that there's really a security reason that they haven't put those T-walls up at Camp Liberty?

Brett McGurk:  No, I do not think that there are legitimate security reasons that the T-walls have not been put up.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher: You sounded to me when I was listening to you -- and I listened very closely to what you said -- that we can't blame the leadership -- the Maliki leadership for the lack of security at Camp Liberty?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, no.  And in fact my conversation with Maliki was that you need to get as many T-walls into that facility as possible without any excuses.  Period.  Full stop.  So I -- if I -- You may have heard me say something differently but I --


US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  Maybe I'm misinterpreting what you said.  Now tell me this.  Those troops that came into Camp Ashraf and murdered 52 unarmed MEK refugees, you hold that this was done by a rogue element in the Iraqi army or do you think the Maliki regime is complicit in this murder?

Brett McGurk:  I don't believe there was a rogue element.  I think a lot of this goes back to the background of the situation.  Camp Ashraf was seen as a forward operating base to the MEK --

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  I don't need a background on it.  I'm not trying to find out.  It's clear that we had Iraqi soldiers going in there murdering people who are unarmed, tying their hands behind their back and then blowing their brains out.  This is an atrocity.  It's a crime against humanity.  Now, I don't need a background to find out the background on Camp Ashraf.  Do we hold that government responsible or is this a rogue element?  And if it was a rogue element in the military, what has the Maliki regime done to deal with that?  

Brett McGurk:  Congressman, I would -- I would welcome the opportunity to speak with you in a classified setting and tell you everything we know about this attack including who committed the atrocity. 

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  You know, I'm not asking for all the information that you know.  I'm asking who we're holding accountable.  And we aren't.  Clearly  we are sending a message to the Maliki government that it's okay because we're not doing anything about it.   We have -- we have -- Here's a picture of a gentleman who used to work up here and we have -- and I submit this right now, Mr. [Acting] Chairman [Ron DeSantis], for the record -- a gentleman who used to work on Capitol Hill representing the MEK and we saw him on many occasions.  And guess what? [Pointing to photo] Here's his body at Camp Ashraf where they have murdered him -- brutally tied his hands behind his back and blown his brains out. We need -- we need to -- If we excuse this by lack of attention, we are sending our own message as to what values we have and we're sending other dictators and terrorists a message as well about American weakness. I am not satisfied with what this administration is doing.  And one last note, Mr. Chairman, and that is: These people are under attack.  I think at the very least, and this is my opinion right now, we should take the people in at Camp Liberty.  Let's just take them in.

Again, McGurk had no problem launching any and every allegation at Iran in his comments to the Subcommittee.  So what's the classified issue?  It really appears the State Dept knows what the press does, Nouri was responsible for the September 1st attack.  

There was another exchange on the topic of Ashraf that we need to include.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  I've been to Iraq a lot.  I've seen a lot of people in Iraq.. and I met with Maliki.  I was with Mr. Rohrabacher.  We met with Maliki and we asked him this one question:  Can we go see the people at Camp Ashraf?  And he said: Absolutely not. In fact, he got so incensed that we asked that question when we were on a helicopter to the north to see the Kurds, he went to the State Dept and asked us to leave the country.  We were kicked out of the country.  So when you see him get a little emotional -- and me as well -- here we are giving billions to a country where the president -- or the prime minister -- refuses to let members of Congress see what's taking place in Camp Ashraf.  That's the background.  Five attacks on Ashraf and Liberty.  Five. Over a period of years.  Not one criminal has been brought to justice.  Not one.  We don't even know their names or who they are.  If the Iraqis were serious about investigating, they would at least bring in somebody.  If those investigators worked for me when I was a prosecutor, they'd have been fired several attacks ago. These people that are here, working people, Americans, and they are concerned about people that they love in Iraq.  And they constantly are losing friends and family members to attacks.  Meanwhile, the United States?  I'm not sure what we're doing.  I now understand that not any of the witnesses have been talked to about the latest attack.  These are real people that are killed and I'm sorry for the graphicness of this poster but this has happened at Camp Liberty where the people were in the clinic and they were assassinated [the poster he held showed 4 people on the ground dead].  They were tracked down and murdered.  Now we would think, being the freedom loving country we are, that we would be opposed to this type of activity and we would do a little bit more to pressure it because it is our responsibility. You have made a comment that we are not taking these people into the United States because they used to be a foreign terrorist organization but the State Dept through the Secretary of State can waive that as they did with 12 previous people who came in.  When I've talked to other countries about why don't you take these folks from the MEK?  You know what the first thing they say is?  'The United States is hypocritical.  They say that people ought to take them but you won't take any of them.'  Got a good point.  When we talk to the Germans and the British and the French and the people in the Netherlands that they ought to take the former MEK, when they say 'well you're not taking any of them.  Good? It's an excellent point.  I find it hard to believe that the Iraqi security forces are unaware of this attack when they had to go through numerous checkpoints to get to the place where they murdered these folks.  The Iraqis are responsible for guarding them and they were missing in action, they all went on a doughnut break at the time that these homicides occurred -- they're always missing.  And there's a debate about the seven who were taken and captured I've become a real big fan of the French Foreign Affairs Minister -- especially with this last situation where he stopped this bad deal with Iran -- in a letter to some of his people in the Parliament, he makes the comment that, as far as he's concerned, these 7 are still in Iraq. My question is: Have these seven people been rescued to your knowledge -- no matter where they are?

Brett McGurk: No.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Has anybody in the State Dept interrogated the survivors as far as a criminal investigation gone on?  Have we sent in all of the investigators that we have?  Or any of the investigators -- what happened?  What did these people look like, etc, etc?

Brett McGurk: Uh-uh, we have turned our -- as much information as we possibly can to find out where these seven people are and I'd be happy as I've done with some members of the Subcommittee to brief you in a classified setting. 

US House Rep Ted Poe:  That's not my question.  My question is have they been asked specifically about the murders in the camp that they survived?  About who they were?  What they looked like? What they said?  What language were they speaking?  Interrogated about those basic criminal investigation questions?  

Brett McGurk:  We have asked, uh, our contacts with the MEK that we deal with to put their contacts and those who have information in contact with our experts at our embassy to connect some of the dots.

US House Rep Ted Poe: We've waived 12 and allowed them to come into the United States.  Why haven't we waived that for more people who want to come?

Brett McGurk:  Congressman, I want to be very precise in my language.  When I said that a legal fix would help given the FTO designation, we are under, we are deliberating about our policy regarding entry into the United States and we are -- no decision has been made.  That is why I cannot discuss this further here.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  But it's the law, is it not, that the Secretary can waive that under the current law right now?  That's not any big secret.

Brett McGurk:  There are mechanisms under which a limited number of people would be able to come into the US, yes. 

US House Rep Ted Poe:  So what do we tell these folks?  Freedom loving folks in a place where they don't want to be.  We won't take them.  We can't get other countries to take them.  And you want to know what they're waiting for? The next attack if we don't hold Maliki accountable. I just want to make this comment.  I don't know if you've seen this letter or not but 44 of us -- 22 Democrats and 22 Republicans-- have sent a letter to the President of the United States saying, 'No more money to Iraq until there's accountability for the murders in Camp Ashraf.'  Have you seen that letter?

Brett McGurk:  I have seen that letter. 

Briefly during the hearing, US House Rep Ron DeSantis was acting Chair when the Chair had to step out of the hearing.  DeSantis is also an Iraq War veteran.  US House Rep Adam Kinzinger also serves on the Subcommittee and he is an Iraq War veteran.  We may include Kinzinger tomorrow.  Of DeSantis?  We'll note Brett's an idiot.

And policy is being made on his stupidity.

To DeSantis, Brett McGurk explained that the suicide bombers in Iraq?  They're foreigners.  They're foreign males who can't do anything else (like be a mechanic, Brett offered), so they come into Iraq and become a suicide bomber.

Hey, last month, schools were targeted.  One successfully for the suicide bomber in that it resulted in killings.  Less than two weeks ago, another one unsuccessfully for the suicide bomber in that the bomber was caught.  From the November 4th snapshot: " Al Mada notes that a female suicide bomber was caught yesterday before she could blow herself up in front of a primary school."  Oh.  And get this.  She was Iraqi.

Brett's so deeply stupid.  And his stupidity is used as the baseline when making policy, that's really frightening.

We're covering the hearing one more time.   It's an important hearing.  And it's one the press has ignored.  Did Cheryl Mills ask them not to cover that  too?

Who knows, but it was an important hearing.   We were at a hearing this afternoon which got a little attention thanks to an AP report.  Everyone's re-writing AP and including the one line quote.  No one's noting the hearing itself because they weren't there and AP didn't identify it.  It was an afternoon hearing of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee and the witnesses were Matt Olsen, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, FBI Director James B. Comey and Acting Homeland Security Secretary Rand Beers.  Olsen did not just bring up Iraq in his prepared testimony.  He was giving a survey of al Qaeda in many countries.  Here's what he noted about al Qaeda in Mesopotamia: 

al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is at its strongest point since its peak in 2006 and this year has significantly increased its pace of attacks. The group is exploiting increasingly permissive security environments in Iraq and Syria to fundraise, plan, and train for attacks. AQI has maintained an experienced cadre of operatives in Iraq. The group's amir last year initiated a campaign of attacks against prisons to free members, which culminated this July in high-profile coordinated attacks on two Iraqi prisons that freed hundreds of prisoners. In addition, AQI continues to operate in Syria, where the group has recruited many foreign fighters, including Westerners. AQI's growing cadre of Westerners in Syria probably bolsters the group's pool of external operatives who could be used to target the west.

Violence?  Margaret Griffis ( reports 67 killed in Iraq today in violence with another 152 injured.

From the reality of the illegal war, let's move to the fairytale. 

And I'm so sad
like a good book
I can't put this 
Day Back
a sorta fairytale
with you 
a sorta fairytale
with you 
-- "A Sorta Fairytale," written by Tori Amos, first appears on her album Scarlet's Walk

For those who can't remember, let's revisit former President Bill Clinton's 2008 remarks:

"But since you raised the judgment issue, let's go over this again. That is the central argument for his campaign. 'It doesn't matter that I started running for president less a year after I got to the Senate from the Illinois State Senate. I am a great speaker and a charismatic figure and I'm the only one who had the judgment to oppose this war from the beginning. Always, always, always.' "
[. . .]
"Second, it is wrong that Senator Obama got to go through 15 debates trumpeting his superior judgment and how he had been against the war in every year, numerating the years, and never got asked one time, not once, 'Well, how could you say that when you said in 2004 you didn't know how you would have voted on the resolution? You said in 2004 there was no difference between you and George Bush on the war and you took that speech you're now running on off your website in 2004* and there's no difference in your voting record and Hillary's ever since?' Give me a break.
"This whole thing is the biggest fairy tale I've ever seen."

"*" It was 2003 when it was first disappeared as Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) has pointed out.

Barack Obama lied throughout 2008 -- it was a fairytale, his so-called objection to the Iraq War.  Bill Clinton called it correctly.  Barack gave into some elderly and overweight smelly radicals (I knew them years before, trust me, they stink) and appeared at a 2002 'rally' (15 or so people) to 'speak out' against the Iraq War before it started.

By the time it started he was on board 100%.  He was now running for the US Senate.  That's when Elaine and I encounter him -- after a hard sell on him from people whose names we're never supposed to mention -- and the first thing we want to know about is Iraq.  But the war's started, he tells us, so it's too late for objections, it must be "successfully prosecuted."  We immediately left and didn't write a check.

We were face to face with the fraud and that might explain why we were immunized from The Cult of St. Barack that emerged in 2007 and 2008.

We knew he was a cheap liar using the Iraq War to get elected.

All these years later, it's still hard for The Cult to admit St. Barack wasn't against the Iraq War.

Not only did he not vote to defund the war when he finally got into the Senate but full of crap Barack rescued the Bully Boy Bush administration by refusing to hold them accountable for their crimes.

He also never met an Iraq War supporter he couldn't find a job for in his administration: John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, Chuck Hagel . . .

The list is endless.  Ann Wright resigned from the State Dept in objection to the Iraq War.

Barack had no post for her in the government -- despite Ann being not only a diplomat but, prior to that, Col Ann Wright in the US military.

Somehow that resume didn't impress Barack.

In the latest news of Barack's support for the Iraq War, Al-Arabiya News explains:

The United States is behind the delaying a key report's release showing how the UK went to war with Iraq, London-based daily The Independent reported on Wednesday.
White House and State Department officials are behind the blocking of the four-year Chilcot inquiry, which the UK's Cabinet Office has been criticized for halting.
The newspaper saw drafts of the report earlier this year which challenged the official story of the UK's entry into the Iraq war, mainly related to exchanges with then-PM Tony Blair and former president George W. Bush.

Don't worry, this is more three-dimensional chess from Barack, his Cult will explain.  They will tell us that this is part of a larger scheme to lull Bully Boy Bush into a false sense of security and then, just as Bully Boy Bush is convinced he'll escape scott free for his crimes, Barack will dispatch a drone! Or Samantha Power to bore Bush to death with a speech!

Please, Barack's a War Hawk himself. That's all he is and now he covers for the War Crimes of Bully Boy Bush.  Sisters under the skin, the two of them.

Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) walks through the latest here.  Richard Norton-Taylor (Guardian) reports:

The former Labour foreign secretary, Lord Owen, has criticised Tony Blair and the coalition over the refusal to release key evidence about what Blair told George Bush in the runup to the invasion of Iraq.
Blair's position was an "intolerable affront to democratic accountability", Owen told the Guardian.
It has also emerged that Lord Butler, the former cabinet secretary who chaired an inquiry into the use of intelligence before the invasion, has accused Blair of deliberately preventing his ministerial colleagues from seeing important data at the time.
In a move prompted by last week's disclosure by Sir John Chilcot, chair of the Iraq inquiry, that he was still in dispute with Whitehall over release of the Blair-Bush records, Owen has written to David Cameron about the role played in such deliberations by the cabinet secretary, who is currently Sir Jeremy Heywood. Chilcot has made it clear, in public letters to Cameron, that Heywood was at the centre of discussions not to disclose the records of conversations between Blair and Bush. Owen points out that Heywood was Blair's principal private secretary in 10 Downing Street from 1999-2003, "the very time when the decisions to go to war were being taken".