Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The State Dept issued a statement then pulled it and hopes they've buried it

Late today, the US State Dept issued the following:

Press Statement
Jen Psaki
Washington, DC
December 25, 2013

The United States welcomes the meeting today in Baghdad between Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government. We strongly support the efforts by all parties to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement to increase oil exports and share revenues equitably with all Iraqis consistent with the Iraqi constitution. We further urge all parties to view the meeting today as a positive step forward and to continue their active engagement to promote prosperity for all Iraqi citizens in a manner that bolsters the stability of a unified and federal Iraq.
The United States also welcomes the important visit to Baghdad today by the Prime Minister of Jordan, Abdullah Ensour, and a number of other Jordanian Ministers, to discuss cooperation in the fields of security, energy, and trade, with particular attention to joint pipeline and railway projects. As a steadfast partner of both the Republic of Iraq and the Kingdom of Jordan, the United States is prepared to help further advance our many mutual interests in the weeks and months ahead.

Why did the State Dept issue that?

They have no interest in public statements about Iraq.  They haven't even raised  Iraq  -- Jen Psaki or Marie Harf -- in a single State Dept press briefing they've presided over this month.

So why that?

On a holiday?

Because they issued (and then pulled) an earlier statement today -- a statement on Iraq.  They're trying to put a little distance between themselves and the earlier one.

What's going on?

Let's start with the hopes of the Pope.  Pope Francis delivered his holiday message which included:

Looking at the Child in the manger, our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick. Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!
Too many lives have been shattered in recent times by the conflict in Syria, fueling hatred and vengeance. Let us continue to ask the Lord to spare the beloved Syrian people further suffering, and to enable the parties in conflict to put an end to all violence and guarantee access to humanitarian aid. We have seen how powerful prayer is! And I am happy today too, that the followers of different religious confessions are joining us in our prayer for peace in Syria. Let us never lose the courage of prayer! The courage to say: Lord, grant your peace to Syria and to the whole world.
Grant peace to the Central African Republic, often forgotten and overlooked. Yet you, Lord, forget no one! And you also want to bring peace to that land, torn apart by a spiral of violence and poverty, where so many people are homeless, lacking water, food and the bare necessities of life. Foster social harmony in South Sudan, where current tensions have already caused numerous victims and are threatening peaceful coexistence in that young state.
Prince of Peace, in every place turn hearts aside from violence and inspire them to lay down arms and undertake the path of dialogue. Look upon Nigeria, rent by constant attacks which do not spare the innocent and defenseless. Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favorable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq, once more struck by frequent acts of violence.

Matthew Reis (Latin Post) reports the Pope delivered his message to the 70,000 gathered at St. Peter's Basilica -- as well as to those listening around the world.  The Voice of Russia offers an audio report here.   Al Jazeera notes, "Over the last ten years many of Iraq's Christians have fled violence in the countries major cities for safety in the Kurdistan Region."

And today?  From Rafid Jabboori's BBC Arabic (video) report:

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby: This morning, Christmas Day, in Baghdad, where there have been Christians since the first century, a church was bombed.  Christians in that region are massacred and attacked, driven out from an area in which their presence has always been central. undoubted, essential, richly contributing and faithful

But that proved incorrect.   David Maddox (Scotsman) noted, "The biggest attack saw a car bomb go off near a church just as worshippers left a Christmas Mass, in the Baghdad suburb of Dora, killing at least 26 people and injuring more than 38."

However, AFP states it was two bombings in Dora  targeting a market and that "Archdeacon Temathius Esha, an Assyrian priest in Dura, and Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako both also insisted that the church was not the target."  Xinhua goes with:

The deadliest attack occurred around noon when a car bomb went off near Mar Youhanna church when Christian worshippers were leaving after celebrating Christmas day in Doura district in the southern part of Baghdad, killing up to 27 people and wounding 56 others, a police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Meanwhile, three roadside bombs went off in a quick succession at a busy marketplace in the same predominantly Christian district, killing 11 people and wounding 14 others, along with damaging nearby shops and stalls, the source said.

Predominantly Christian?  Latin American Herald Tribune also makes that point, "Al-Dura is a majority Sunni neighborhood that has a large Christian community and several churches."  Lateef Mungin (CNN) has a video and text report here.

Deutsche Welle notes, "The minority Christian population of Iraq has sharply declined following years of sectarian violence which followed the 2003 United States-led invasion of the country."  Channel News Asia offers specific numbers, "Before 2003 more than a million Christians lived in Iraq. Now there are around 400,000, according to Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, head of one of the world's oldest Christian communities."  Vatican Radio observes, "Churches have been targeted across the country since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003."

So here's the statement issued earlier by the State Dept:

The United States Embassy condemns in the strongest terms today's attacks in the Dora area of Baghdad that targeted Christians celebrating Christmas. We extend condolences to the victims and their families and wish a rapid recovery for those who were injured.

The Christian community in Iraq has suffered deliberate and senseless targeting by terrorists for many years, as have many other innocent Iraqis. The United States abhors all such attacks and is committed to its partnership with the Government of Iraq to combat the scourge of terrorism.

Why did they pull it?  Even if a church was targeted -- which may not be the case as later reports today pointed out -- Christians were targeted and the bombings were targeting a Christian community.

The NewsHour (PBS) noted the statement in "U.S. State Department condemns attack on Christians in Iraq" with, Shortly after the St. John's bombing, the U.S. embassy in Iraq issued a statement condemning the attack."  That link no longer pulls up the statement, just takes you to the main page of the State Dept's press releases.  This morning, Alexander Smith (NBC News) also noted the now pulled statement.  Before noon today (PST), Paul Richter (Los Angeles Times) filed his report which opened, "The State Department condemned twin Christmas Day attacks on Christians in Iraq that killed at least 37 people."  He then quoted the statement now pulled -- pulled at the State Dept's website and never posted to the US Embassy in Baghdad's website.

So what happened?

It's Christmas Day, there's no real work going on in the US government.  I called various State Dept friends one asked for three hours and, when he called back, he offered this reconstruction.

1) The attack on a church required a statement.  2) As the statement was being prepared, it was learned that a Christian community was attacked -- but it may not have been an attack on a church.  3) Being Christmas Day -- a major Christian holiday (the other being Easter) -- it was felt the statement needed to go out.  4) Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug and prime minister of Iraq, was enraged.  5) This was conveyed by the Iraqi Embassy in DC.  6) A statement on Christians attack also didn't match the claim Barack would make in his weekly address about the Iraq War being over.

So a release calling out an attack on a Christian community got pulled.

I don't think the White House grasps how offensive that is.  Or maybe they think they'll get away with it like they usually do because the press never holds Barack accountable for anything.

If you doubt that, at the end of September 2012, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported:

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

That was the end of September 2012, ahead of the presidential debates.

Yet, as Ava and I pointed out in "Let the fun begin (Ava and C.I.)," no one wanted to talk about it:

September 26th it was in print.
Days later, October 3rd, Barack 'debated' Mitt RomneyAgain October 16thAgain October 22nd.
Not once did the moderators ever raise the issue.
If Barack's sitting before them and he's flat out lying to the American people, it's their job to ask.  They didn't do their job.  Nor did social menace Candy Crowley who was apparently dreaming of an all-you-can-eat buffet when Barack was babbling away before her about how he wouldn't allow more "troops in Iraq that would tie us down."  But that's exactly what he's currently negotiating.
Maybe Candy Crowley missed the New York Times article?  Maybe she spends all her time pleasuring herself to her version of porn: Cooking With Paula Deen Magazine?
That is possible.
But she was only one of the three moderators.  Bob Schieffer and Jim Lehrer also moderated.  Of course, they didn't foolishly self-present as a fact checker in the midst of the debate  nor did they hit the publicity circuit before the debate to talk about how they were going to show how it was done.
Poor Crowley, a heavy weight strutting into a non-competition will always look woefully misdressed.
Barack lied and Americans will face that or not.

The attacks on the Christian community in Baghdad?  That was only part of today's violence.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baghdad (eastern Baghdad) grenade attack left 2 people dead and seven injured, an attack on a Tikrit checkpoint left 2 police officers dead and one Iraqi soldier injured, an Ishaqi motorcycle bombing left 8 people dead and thirteen injured, a Mosul car bombing injured twelve people on a bus, a Mendily home invasion left 5 people dead,1 person was shot dead in Baquba, and, dropping back to last night, 1 Iraqi soldier shot dead in Kirkuk.

So that's 56 reported dead and 103 injured -- on what many around the world see as a day of peace.

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Under The Tree" went up last night and his "Not Born In A Manger" went up this morning.

The e-mail address for this site is