Friday, February 07, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Friday, February 9, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the protests continue in Iraq, there's news on the Jewish archives, we continue to examine how Brett McGurk misled Congress about Iraq, we also note Human Rights Watch's report on the abuse of Iraqi women, and much more.

January 16th, Senator Pat Toomey introduced Senate Resolution 333 on behalf of himself and Senators Richard Blumenthal, Chuck Schumer, Mark Kirk, Ben Cardin, Marco Rubio, Pat Roberts, Tim Kaine, Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez:.

Strongly recommending that the United States renegotiate the return of the Iraqi Jewish Archive to Iraq.
Whereas, before the mid-20th century, Baghdad had been a center of Jewish life, culture, and scholarship, dating back to 721 B.C.;
Whereas, as recently as 1940, Jews made up 25 percent of Baghdad’s population;
Whereas, in the 1930s and 1940s, under the leadership of Rasheed Ali, anti-Jewish discrimination increased drastically, including the June 1–2, 1941, Farhud pogrom, in which nearly 180 Jews were killed;
Whereas, in 1948, Zionism was added to the Iraqi criminal code as punishable by death;
Whereas, throughout 1950–1953, Jews were allowed to leave Iraq under the condition that they renounce their citizenship;
Whereas, as result of past persecution, few Jews remain in Iraq today, and many left their possessions and treasured artifacts behind;
Whereas the Ba’ath regime confiscated these artifacts, later dubbed the Iraqi Jewish Archive, from synagogues and communal organizations;
Whereas, on May 6, 2003, members of the United States Armed Forces discovered the Iraqi Jewish Archive, which included 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents, in the heavily damaged and flooded basement of the Mukhabarat (secret police) headquarters;
Whereas, under great urgency and before adequate time could be dedicated to researching the history of the Iraqi Jewish Archive, an agreement was signed between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority on August 20, 2003, stating that the Iraqi Jewish Archive would be sent to the United States for restoration and then would be sent back to Iraq after completion;
Whereas, the Iraqi Jewish community is the constituency of the Archive and is now represented by the diaspora outside Iraq;
Whereas, the current Government of Iraq has publicly acknowledged the importance of the Archive and demonstrated a shared respect for the wishes of the Iraqi Jewish diaspora by attending the December 2013 burial of several Torah fragments from the Archive in New York;
Whereas United States taxpayers have invested $3,000,000 to restore the Iraqi Jewish Archive, and the National Archives and Records Administration has worked diligently to preserve the artifacts;
Whereas the National Archives and Records Administration is displaying the Iraqi Jewish Archive in Washington, DC, from October 11, 2013, to January 5, 2014, and in New York City from February 4, 2014, to May 18, 2014; and
Whereas the Iraqi Embassy to the United States has said that the Iraqi Jewish community, like other communities in Iraq, played a key role in building the country, shared in its prosperity, and also suffered exile and forced departure because of tyranny: Now, therefore, be it
That the Senate—
strongly urges the Department of State to renegotiate with the Government of Iraq the provisions of the original agreement that was signed between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority in order to ensure that the Iraqi Jewish Archive be kept in a place where its long-term preservation and care can be guaranteed;
recognizes that the Iraqi Jewish Archive should be housed in a location that is accessible to scholars and to Iraqi Jews and their descendants who have a personal interest in it;
recognizes that the agreement between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority was signed before knowing the complete history of the Iraqi Jewish Archive;
reaffirms the United States commitment to cultural property under international law; and
reaffirms the United States commitment to ensuring justice for victims of ethnic and religious persecution.

January 27th, other Senators began joining the resolution: Senator Jim Inhofe, Jerry Moran, Bob Casey, Daiel Coats, Orrin Hatch, Ed Markey, Roger Wicker, Chris Murphy, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, James Risch, Tom Coburn, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Chris Coons, Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley, Mike Johanns, Patty Murray and Bill Nelson.  Rebecca Shimonsi Stoil (Times of Israel) reports today, "Late Thursday night, the Senate unanimously adopted the resolution" and that, barring "a re-negotiation of terms, the items are scheduled to be returned to Baghdad in June, a move that many fear will threaten their very existence."
There is a time issue.  As Josh Robin (Daily Beast) reports today, "A U.S. State Department official, insisting on anonymity, said in an email the Obama administration understands 'the sensitivities surrounding these items,' adding discussions are likely to intensify as the visit of the director of Iraq’s National Library and Archive approaches. The date for his trip hasn't been set."

Does US President Barack Obama understand "the sensitivities surrounding these items"?

And if so, why the hell should that reassure anyone.

What Josh Robin's reporting is not comforting and is, in fact, disturbing.

It's more foot dragging from Barack and his administration.

We need to include something right here.

US House Rep Brad Sherman:  There was bipartisan support for leaving a residual force in Iraq.  That required a Status Of Forces Agreement with the Maliki government.  And the Status Of Forces Agreement would have had to have included immunity for our soldiers so that they would not be subject to Iraqi courts.  We ask our soldiers, Marines, Airmen, etc. to take many risks.  One of them we don't ask them to take is the idea that their actions would be  held up to judgment in a court in Iraq or a court in Afghanistan for that matter.  We didn't get a Status Of Forces Agreement.  Some -- One theory is the administration blew the negotiations.   The other argu -- view is the Maliki government was in place when this government got there.  Maliki didn't have to give immunity to our troops and chose not to. We've seen that these immunity agreements are-are difficult for a host country to provide. [Afghanistan leader Hamid] Karzai isn't providing them.  And there are several elements of Iranian history going back seventy or eighty years when the Shah was held up to great ridicule for providing such immunity agreements.   Did we fail to get a Status Of Forces Agreement because we blew the negotiations or given the political reality starting with Maliki was there simply no way to get the immunity?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, first, you're keying on the history is really important here.  The history of immunity agreements, particularly in this region, is really what colors the entire debate.  The negotiation in 2007 and 2008 took almost 18 months.  And while we got those two agreements got passed -- the security agreement which allowed our forces to stay for three more years with immunity and a permanent Strategic Framework Agreement -- they barely passed.  And they passed on the last possible day and almost by the skin of their teeth.  And I was working on that issue with Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker for almost 18 months --

US House Rep Brad Sherman:  This was passing the Iraqi parliament?

Brett McGurk: Yes, the Iraqi parliament.  Um, our legal requirements in, uh, in 2011 were that another follow up agreement would have to go through the Iraqi parliament.  It was the assessment of the Iraqi political leaders and also of our leadership that it was unlikely to pass and, therefore, the decision was made that our troops would leave by the end of -- by the end of 2011.  But we still have a permanent -- a permanent Strategic Framework Agreement.  That agreement has passed the Iraqi parliament, was ratified in 2008 and it provides us a strong basis for providing security systems to the Iraqis.  It does not provide us the basis for having boots on the ground in a training presence but we do train Iraqi special forces under our Office of Security Cooperation through the [US] Embassy [in Baghdad] and we're also in discussions with regional partners for having a training presence.

When we objected to McGurk as Barack's (failed) nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq, we pointed out the SOFA and the e-mails from the Cult of St. Barack poured in insisting that McGurk had nothing to do with the SOFA, some idiots even insisted that McGurk hadn't been in Iraq.  Then news emerged of how he cheated on his wife in Baghdad, under the Bully Boy Bush administration, by sleeping with then-reporter for the Wall St. Journal Gina Chon and they dropped that complaint in their e-mails but insisted McGurk hadn't been working on a new SOFA.

There he is his words.  But more importantly, his words prove (a) that we were right, Nouri is no hero -- suck on it and your lies, Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio -- and did not stop the SOFA and (b) it proves Senator John McCain is right about how it went down.

On (a), we've had to suffer with Nouri fan bois like Scott Horton.  Desperately immature boys gripping their tiny penises, in search of a Daddy and seizing on Nouri as a hero.  He is a tyrant.  As Leon Panetta made clear in Congressional testimony, Nouri was not the stumbling block.  The stumble was the Parliament.

Approval would not come from it, not enough to get a winning vote.

On (b), I'm not a fan of McCain's I have criticized him here many times.  He is a War Hawk and he's mean-spirited. But his argument has been that the current administration failed with the SOFA and he has criticized the way they attempted it.  He also attributes motive -- that Barack wanted to keep a campaign promise so he tanked the SOFA.  I disagree with the motive and I don't know how anyone but Barack proves or disproves the motive.

But Brett McGurk is talking about two SOFA's.  McCain's complaint was that Barack started late and that the negotiations were not serious.

That's true.  They started in the summer of 2011.  That was much too late.  As McGurk notes above, they spent almost 18 months -- he, then-US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and others -- negotiating the first SOFA.

By contrast, not even six months were spent negotiating on a second SOFA before the October 2011 announcement that it hadn't worked.

The inept administration (and I'm glad they were inept with attempting a SOFA) still hasn't learned a damn thing.  Four months from now, the documents are scheduled to leave.  You can't postpone these talks.

But that's what the administration has done yet again.

Connolley questioned McGurk Wednesday at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.  The sole witness appearing before the Committee  was US State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk.  Committee Chair Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel were among those noted in Wednesday's snapshot. with an emphasis on the Congress' opinion of Nouri (not good) and Camp Ashraf. Thursday's snapshot covered the hearing with regards to the Jewish archives.  This time, we'll report on a few other aspects and we may report on the hearing in at least one more snapshot.

Let's stay with Connolly and note this exchange.

US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  Elections in April?  Still on schedule?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, we, our team at the Embassy, is talking every day to the United Nations Assistance Mission-Mission in Iraq and the Iraqi High Electoral Commision which are planning the elections and the information I have received most recently is that we have tens of thousands of displaced families from Anbar Province.  We have been assured by those planning the elections that displaced people will still be able to vote and their vote will count as if they were in their home province.  So we are still confident the elections will be held on April 30th.  And our consistent position, our firm position, is that those elections have to be held on April 30th.  There should not be a delay.

Some fear a delay.  I'm fearful that Nouri's going to again prevent Anbar and Nineveh from voting -- as he did in the 2013 provincial elections.  Yes, after international pressure, they were allowed to vote in June.  The other provinces -- except for the KRG which votes on its own schedule in provincial elections and Kirkuk which Nouri prevented from voting -- voted in April.

Yesterday, we noted this from last month's "Will Nouri call off elections in provinces he's unpopular in?" (January 25th):

Duriad Salman and Ammar al-Ani (Alsumaria) report al-Nujaifi gave two interviews today, the first to Sky News and the second to Alsumaria.  Osama al-Nujaifi noted Nouri cannot continue to act unilaterally, that there are checks and balances in the system and he was concerned that Nouri thinks he's "singular" when it comes to decision making and that this could lead Nouri to attempt to postpone the upcoming election citing "poor security."  Nouri did just that last year.  And he wasn't supposed to.  He ruled that Anbar and Nineveh could not vote.  Under pressure from the US, specifically Secretary of State John Kerry, Nouri relented and, months later, allowed the two provinces to vote.
He never should have been allowed to postpone them.  He doesn't have that power.  The Independent High Electoral Commission is the only one that does and, as their name notes, they are supposed to be "independent."
If Nouri tries to keep provinces from voting, it will be worse than last time and it will be worse then cancelling the election all out.  It will be corrupt.
He penalized the two provinces he was most disliked in last year.  Those were provincial elections, citizens were voting on who to represent them in their provincial governments (think state governments if you're in the US and confused).  These parliamentary elections are like federal elections.  And if Utah wasn't allowed to vote to send people to the House and Senate, it wouldn't be a real election in the US.
In a later report, Duriad Salman and Ammar al-Ani report that the 'independent' commission is now saying that one or more provinces could be prevented from voting in the parliamentary elections.

The idea is being floated.  Twice, Brett McGurk was asked about elections.  We noted one in yesterday's snapshot and another today.  Never once did McGurk inform Congress that this idea was being floated -- let alone that the IHEC declared that it could possibly happen.

There will not be free or fair elections unless everyone votes on the same day.

Today, All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya MP Salim Dali declared the attack on Anbar Province was Nouri's attempt to delay the parliamentary elections.  He tells All Iraq News:

The government is trying to disturb the situation such as the situation in Anbar starting from arresting MP, Ahmed al-Alwani, which will negatively affect holding the elections.

More than 200 thousand refugees have left Fallujah city which raises the question about the way of holding the elections in this city and the other cities of Anbar. 
Witnessing the same situation of the former elections where they were postponed in Nineveh and Anbar provinces.

Iraqiya, for those who don't know or forgot, defeated Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 elections which should have resulted in Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi being the prime minister.  But Nouri refused to step down after losing -- for eight months he refused to step down bringing the government to a halt (this is known as the "political stalemate" and set a record at the time for the longest period in any country between elections and the forming of a government) and he had Barack's backing so he got away with it.  Barack ordered US officials to negotiate a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement) that went around the Constitution and the Iraqi voters (and any notion of democracy) which decreed a second term for Nouri.

In this year's planned elections, it is the post of prime minister, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports, that is the supreme prize:

The ultimate goal for almost all parties competing in the elections, due to be held at the end of April, is clear though:  the Prime Minister’s chair. After eight years of leadership from current prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki it is clear to most ordinary Iraqis, and therefore also to their politicians, that this is the most powerful position in the country. Over the past decade the executive branch of Iraq’s government has shown that it seems to have more power over what goes on in the country than Iraq’s parliament.

And how will the next Iraqi Prime Minister be chosen? Doubtless the person will be chosen by the members of political alliances that form after the upcoming federal elections. Right now the shape of those alliances are far from clear cut. Additionally the fact that Iraq’s current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is so deeply unpopular and that his mostly Shiite Muslim political alliance has been crumbling, alongside the differences in opinion among Iraq’s Sunni Muslim politicians, means that voters will definitely see some new alliances formed.

Analysts inside and outside the country are already coming up with a number of scenarios they believe may occur.

If Brett McGurk were honest, not only would he have informed the Congress on Wednesday about the IHEC stating it would be acceptable to deny a province the right to vote in the parliamentary elections, he would have also noted that in the two previous parliamentary elections, the desires and wishes of the Iraqis were ignored as the White House imposed Nouri as prime minister in 2006 and again in 2010.

Brett's not an honest man.  As his ex-wife can probably attest, he struggles with the truth.  But turns out, he's got a sense of humor.  Warped, yes, but a sense of humor.  We'll note this long exchange but, believe me, the set up pays off, you will howl.

US House Rep Juan Vargas: I personally am very concerned about the Christian community.  The Christian community has been slaughtered.  I mean the Christians that we saw killed on Christmas. You know, very unified attacks on Christians, 37 murdered.  The Chaldean community  before the war was about a million Chaldean Christians.  Now I think there's less than half, maybe a third of that,.  We're very thankful in San Diego that many Chaldeans have been able to come to San Diego and a great community is forming there and continues to form. I'd like to hear from you what we can do and what we should do and what we're not doing to help not only the Christian community, but especially the Christian community, but other communities as well.  I mean, what-what else should we be doing?

Brett McGurk: Uh, Congressman, thank you.  I-I've visted the Chaldean community in Michigan.  I would welcome the opportunity to come to your district to visit the community there.  Uhm --

US House Rep Juan Vargas: You're invited then.

Brett McGurk: Uh, extremist groups, as I've mentioned, are threatening Christians, Muslims, everybody in the region.  It is a phenomenon throughout the region, this is a regional problem. And one thing we're trying to do is work with the Christian leaders in Iraq is make sure that they have the resources they need from the central government and also the Kurdish Regional Government and making sure that there areas are as secure as possible.  In Iraq, the Chaldeans and other Christian minority groups are located in the Ninewah Plains.  Uhm, there is an al Qaeda extremist presence south of there.  We are working to try to make sure that local people, Christians in that community, have the resources they need to protect themselves and to police their own communities.  And we've made some progress there in that area over the last six months.  In the north, in Erbil and the Kurdish Region, uhm, when I was in Iraq a few months ago, I spoke to, as I mentioned earlier, with Archbishop [Bashar] Warda of the community there and linked him up with the Prime Minister so that they could talk about schools for the community and making sure that they're getting the resources that they need from the Kurdish Regional Government.  What we can do is a neutral group in Iraq with relationships between everybody because we've been there for ten years and are seen as a neutral player, one of the very few, is try to make sure that the connections are made between the governments provincial, regional and national. so that the Christian and minority communities have the resources they need to protect themselves but also for schools and for children and for everything else.

US House Juan Vargas:  Now I do have to say that I've heard from many that the central government, they claim that the central government is not doing much of anything at all to help the Christians.  In fact, just the opposite, that they leave them exposed, that their churches are exposed, that the schools are exposed.  I mean could you comment on that?  That they haven't been doing enough, not nearly enough, to protect the Christian community and especially the churches?

Brett McGurk:  Uhm, since a series of church bombings if I recall correctly in 2009 or 2010, uh, the Iraqis have really buttressed the Christian sites in Iraq.  Uhm, but as you mentioned, there are still attacks --

US House Rep Juan Vargas:  The Christian attacks, I believe, killed 37 --

Brett McGurk:  That's right

US House Rep Juan Vargas:  Christians.

Brett McGurk:  I have found the prime minister, when you discuss this issue with him, fairly emotional about wanting to protect Christians just like everyone else in his country.

Just like everyone else in his country?

Oh, that Funny Man Brett McGurk.

The killers of journalists go unpunished.  I will assume Congress is noting their own disdain for the press by refusing to cover that reality in any of the last five Congressional hearings on Iraq.

Yesterday, Human Rights Watch issued their 105-page report (PDF format warning) "‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System,"  Does Brett want tell us how much Nouri cares about women in Iraq?

Before he preps that joke, he might want to read the report.  If that's too much work for him, he can just start with the opening of the report's summary:

In May 2012, Hanan al-Fadl (not her real name) was grocery shopping in a market in central Baghdad when security forces dressed in civilian clothing seized her, bundled her into a car, and drove her to the office of a state institution, she told Human Rights Watch. 
There, she said, they beat her, shocked her with electric cables, and drenched her in cold water in an effort to force her to admit that she had taken a bribe. Hanan, a manager at a state-affiliated company that approves construction projects, said she realized she was paying the price for refusing to waive through a project in which the contractor had used sub-standard materials. “I made a mistake,” she said. “I didn’t know someone important in the government had a stake in the project.” Beaten and tortured for hours, Hanan said she refused to confess—until her interrogators threatened her teenage daughter. 

They pulled up her picture on my mobile, and said, “Is this [name withheld]?” They knew her name, where she went to school, everything. They said “We can take her just like we took you.” I would have said anything at that point. 

After holding her for more than a day, security forces took her to a judge, who refused to acknowledge bruises and swelling on her face, she said. She did not have a lawyer. Four months later, a Baghdad court convicted her of forgery and sentenced her to three years in prison, based solely on her “confession” and the testimony of a “secret informant.” When Human Rights Watch visited Hanan, she had been detained in Baghdad’s Central Women’s prison for more than a year. 
Hanan is one of thousands of Iraqis imprisoned by a judicial system plagued by torture and rampant corruption. Last April, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a scathing indictment of Iraq’s “not functioning” justice system, citing numerous convictions based on confessions obtained under torture and ill-treatment, a weak judiciary, and trial proceedings that fall far short of international standards.

Or maybe Funny Brett would prefer to dive deeper into the report?  Say page 19 through 22?

Human Rights Watch found that security officials in the Interior and Defense ministries round up women, especially family members of male suspects, without an arrest warrant, deny women access to a lawyer, and fail to bring detained women before an investigative judge according to Iraq’s Code of Criminal Procedure. At least 15 female detainees, their families, and lawyers told Human Rights Watch that they were detained as a part of a round-up of an entire family or village. Security officers conducted warrantless raids in neighborhoods and detained some residents for several days.  
Ten women reported that security forces questioned them not about their activities, but about their relatives. 34 Security forces released some of the women without ever charging them, and charged others with “covering up ” for their husbands or other male family members, effectively punishing them for familial associations rather than any wrongdoing. 
A former judge, who asked not to be identified, said: 

If someone is arrested as part of an emergency operation, no matter how urgent, an investigative judge must still issue an arrest warrant.  In exceptional cases, where there is an explosion, for example, the arresting unit can collect testimonies at the scene while they await the issuance of arrest warrants. But what happens in fact is that they arrest them and later have a judge provide a warrant that justified the arrest.  

He added that security forces “often arrest a large number of people in an area where an incident occurs without an arrest warrant.” 
A lawyer, who asked not to be identified, said that this practice was especially frequent in arrests of women. “They arrest the women just to get at one person – their husband, or their brother,” he said.  Another lawyer who also requested anonymity said: 

Individual officers have taken the law into their own hands to arrest the wife and children to put pressure on the husband, but the wife is not responsible.  ...If a man is arrested and won’t confess, they bring his wife in. 

Arrests of women because of their relationships to suspects, without any evidence that they have committed a crime, amount to collective punishment, and violate international human rights law’s guarantee of the rights to liberty of person and the right to a fair trial.  These prohibit arbitrary detention and require that detention only be in accordance with clear domestic law, that detainees be in formed immediately of the reason for their detention and are promptly brought before a judge and charged with a criminal offense. Such arrests also violate Iraqi laws protecting these rights, including provisions of Iraq’s Constitution and Code of Criminal Procedure.  
On November 3, 2012, federal police invaded 11 homes in the town of al-Tajji, 20 kilometers north of Baghdad, and detained 11 women and 29 children overnight in their homes. The lawyer representing the women told Human Rights Watch that people were detained from every house in the village.  
After detaining 12 of the women and girls, aged 11 to 60, for several hours in their homes, police took them to a police station where they held them without charge for four days.  Throughout their detention, police put plastic bags over each of their heads until they began to suffocate, and electrocuted and beat some of them, according to the women’s accounts. 
Majida Obeidi, 22, detained as part of the Tajji operation, told Human Rights Watch that at around midnight on November 3, a large number of security forces raided the village and invaded the house where she was staying with her four young children and her husband’s 12-year-old second wife.  Some wore the uniform of the National Guard, others were Special Forces, and some wore civilian clothes, she said. 

I think there were about 10 or 15 soldiers. Zahra [the second wife] and I were alone in the house with my children. They blew open the doors and streamed in. They demanded to know where my husband was, but they didn’t know his name, and they asked where we kept the weapons. They looked for the weapons under the floor and ripped bricks off the house but they didn’t find anything. 

They held them overnight in her home, and then took Majida and her children, along with 11 other women and 25 of their children, to the federal police brigade headquarters in the Kadhimeyya compound, also known as Camp Justice, in Baghdad. Police held them there for four days, and then transferred them to the al-Shaaba al-Khamsa detention facility in the same compound. Police released the children after three days, but detained 12 of the women for a month before bringing them before an investigative judge. Majida said the officers repeatedly questioned her about her husband, and then accused her of being a terrorist.

Why don’t you show us the bodies of the Shia you slaughtered -- where have you hidden them?” They said horrible things to me.... I don’t want to repeat them. They called me daughter of a bitch, daughter of a whore. 

The judge charged the women with terrorism under article 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Law for “covering up” for their husbands. 
A high-level government official confirmed the details of the women’s detention and added that according to the brother of one woman, a colonel in Kadhimeyya offered to release his sister if he paid him US$6,500.  The statements of dozens of officials, lawyers, detainees, and their families indicate that bribery of this nature is common. The brother paid, but the colonel did not release his sister.

Nouri's 'concern' for Iraqi women isn't just appalling, it's criminal and the US government is in violation of the law by providing him with financial aid and weapons.

Do you wonder about the US press?  Not one member has bothered to ask the State Dept (which is over Iraq, in the executive branch) about this report or the legal implications of it.

Not one.

Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) notes the report:

A separate HRW report, released Feb. 6, 2014, documented cases of abuse against Iraqi women — both Shiite and Sunni — during detention. The report revealed that thousands of Iraqi women have been arrested and detained illegally, and many have suffered torture and been raped. The report concluded that corruption was rampant in the Iraqi judiciary, for a number of convictions based on confessions under duress have been recorded. Moreover, the documents demonstrate that international laws and conventions are not followed in Iraqi courts.
Surprisingly, Iraqi officials accusrd HRW of relying on false and biased information, even though they referred to HRW reports when Saddam Hussein was in power and they were in opposition to the regime.
In the latest developments on such matters, Iraq's Court of Publishing and Media issued two arrest warrants in early February 2014: the first against Judge Munir Haddad, who approved the death sentence of Saddam Hussein; and the second against Iraqi journalist Sarmad al-Tai, a known critic of the government’s political and economic performance.
The warrants charged them with “defaming” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In the instance of Tai, it was the first time the defamation charge has been used since 2003. Tai was even charged based on laws issued under the former regime. 
Maliki’s media adviser, Ali al-Moussawi, defended the warrants, saying, “The prime minister is an Iraqi citizen, and like anyone he may defend himself through legal and judicial means. … That would strengthen the role of law and the judiciary because everyone is subject to them.” 

Let's go back to Wednesday's hearing.

US House Rep Gerry Connolly: And if I understand your testimony correctly, we're now relying on tribal support to dislodge the occupying forces in Falluja.  How in the world -- Isn't that an indictment of the investments we've made in the Iraqi military  and its inability to hold its own territory secure?

Brett McGurk:  Well the Iraqi military would have the equipment and the numbers to go into Falluja tomorrow and clean out the streets.  Uh, we believe that were they to do an assault like that would actually exaserbate the problem --

US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  I guess, excuse me a second, Mr. McGurk, I don't mean -- But before you get there, how did it happen in the first place?  How is it that the Iraqi government was not able to secure something as symbolically important if not really important as Falluja?

Brett McGurk:  Uhm, Congr -- As I tried to explain in my testimony, there was a series of incidents throughout 2013 including a protest movement which kind of added to the political instability in the -- in the region.  And in Falluja in particular, it is an area, as we know, any outsiders coming in to Falluja are resisted and that includes the Iraqi army, it includes us, wit includes, we hope now, these al Qaeda extremists.  All I can say is we are where we are right now and we're helping the Iraqis develop a plan right now developing a plan -- one that will lead -- I say, "tribal fighters" but what I really mean is that the local people, local population who know the street are able to actually identify the foreign elements and push them out.  But right now in Falluja, it's a mix of al Qaeda, former insurgent groups and former Ba'athists networks who are in control of the streets there.  It has always been a difficult place.  And, uh, so it's always been a difficult territory.

US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  The tribal support we're relying on, what is their attitude toward the Maliki government?  I mean because doesn't some of that support, cooperation, isn't some of that a reflection of how they view the central government?

Brett McGurk:  Yes.  There's certainly -- there's tremendous mistrust in the area of Falluja towards the central government, there's no question about that.

US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  And does that impede our work to try to dislodge the occupation forces in Falluja?

Brett McGurk: Uh, it does.  It makes -- it makes it harder.  As I said,  some tribes are actually working with the extremists, some are now working to oust them, many others are on the fence.  And that's why it is incumbent  on the central government, through resources and through dialogue and communication to mobilize the population against them.

Brett says the protest movement -- which was sparked by the torture and rape of women and girls in Iraqi prisons and detention centers -- "kind of added to the political instability."

The protest against the torture of women contributed?

You have to be pretty ____ dumb and a real whore -- and we all know Brett's a whore -- to get away with that one with a straight face.

No, Nouri's treatment of women absolutely added to the political instability.

Even in the face of  Norui calling them "terrorists," in the face of Nouri's assaults, in the face of the violence, nothing can stop the ongoing demonstrations that kicked off December 21, 2012 and have continued ever since.  Including today.

  1. الجمعة الموحدة في منطقة العامرية غرب العاصمة بغداد.

Protesters turned out in Amiriya today.  Yes, they do protest in that section of Baghdad and let's all just pretend that Nouri ordering two mosques raided in Amirya today had nothing to do with that.

Iraqi Spring MC notes that protests also took place in Baiji, Jalawla, Baquba and Rawa.

For 'fun,' Nouri ordered the military to also raid two mosques in western Baghdad (Amiriya).

No where is sacred in Nouri's Iraq, everyone is a victim and everyone is a target.

There is no respect for anything, certainly not for human life.  Nouri makes that clear every day.

Nouri's forces conducted 110 bombings in Anbar today, NINA notes.

It didn't always turn out the way tyrant Nouri al-Maliki hoped.  But when does it ever?

Even so he must be licking his paws in sorrow because, while he's happy to bomb and kill civilians, it's hard to picture him humping someone's leg excitedly when he heard the news that, as Iraqi Spring MC reports, Nouri's helicopters accidentally bombed some of Nouri's forces to the north of Falluja -- bombed and killed.

As if he wasn't already having enough problems recruiting volunteers for his killing squads.

That's not all he bombed.  Iraqi Spring MC reports he bombed the power station in Falluja and the city is now without electricity.

That qualifies as a War Crime as well.  But he's gotten away with collective punishment (a War Crime) because so many have been too stupid or too scared to call him out.

The death and dying continue.

National Iraqi News Agency reports Falluja General Hospital received 5 dead and twenty-injured people as a result of Nouri's shelling of the city (the dead and wounded included children and women),  Nouri's military shot dead 4 people in eastern Ramadi, a Sadr City car bombing left 2 people (one a police member) dead and seven more injured, 1 person was shot dead in Muqdadiyah, a Hammam al-Aleel roadside bombing left the brother of the area's police chief injured, an armed clash in Garma left 6 rebels dead and four Sahwa injured, Joint Operations Command declared they shot dead 2 suspects in Mosul, a Baiji car bombing targeted Maj Gen Hamid Mohammed Kemer didn't harm the officer but left three soldiers injured, 1 candidate with the Ahrar bloc was assassinated in Baghdad (Ghazaliya area), and clergy members Sheik Shehab Mahmoud al-Hamdani and Sheikh Abu Noah al-Hamdani were shot dead in Hamman al-Aleel. All Iraq News adds a Tuz Khurmato bombing killed 4 people and left twenty-three more injured.

One of the  only ones to really confront Brett and his lies on Wednesday was US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher.

US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  Let me just say that the idea that -- we're talking about Camp Ashraf -- it just seems to me that fundamentally you're suggesting that our approach to stop the massacre, the ongoing massacre of the people at Camp Liberty that we basically have to go to the Maliki government and ask them?  The problem is they're not providing enough security.  The Maliki government is responsible for these deaths.  I don't understand.  The military -- the Iraqi military invaded Camp Ashraf and murdered people.  These are the people under Maliki's command did that.  They recently went into the fifty or so that were left at Camp Ashraf, tied their hands behind their back and shot them in the back of the head. And it was Maliki's own military, we know, who did that.  We know that the Camp Ashraf and these people were attacked numerous times by the Iraqi military.  This isn't rather Maliki and his people are not protecting the MEK.  This is a crime against humanity.  These are unarmed refugees and which Maliki's own troops are murdering.  And I'm not talking about rockets we don't know where they come from, we're talking about actual -- by the way, I would suggest  that they probably know about those rockets as well -- Maliki, let's make it very clear, as far as I'm concerned and as far as many people in Washington are concerned,  Maliki is an accomplice the murders that are going on.  And as an accomplice, we should not be treating him as begging him to have a residual force of US troops in order to help his regime?  I don't understand why the United States feels -- why we feel compelled to be part of all of this?  Why do we feel compelled that we have to go in and be in the middle of this fight between people who are murdering each other?  Thirty to forty suicide bombers a month? Thousands of people are losing their lives to this insanity.  Why should the United States, tell me, this is my question, why does the United States feel that we need to become part of this insanity?  And does that not instead turn both of the parties against us?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, Congressman, the suicide bomber, uh , phenomenon is complete insanity.  Uh, I agree with you.  When you look at Iraq and look at the region and you define our interests -- and I don't go to any leader and beg for anything.  We protect and advance US interests as we define them.  And in Iraq, whether you like it or not, oil, al Qaeda, Iran, vital US interests are at stake in Iraq.

Note where Brett went first: Oil.

It's always oil with the War Hawks.

Let it be noted that unlike so many of his colleagues, Rohrabacher didn't ply Brett with compliments, gushing of how he informed he was (he wasn't and neither were they or they would have asked better questions) or thank him for his service, etc.

Brett's a whore.  A whore knows how to seduce.  And from the distance, for example, the members of Congress mistake smarmy for charm and fail to notice that the forelock in the front is now separated from the rest of the hair on Brett's head by a deep island of scalp or the bald spot in the back.

Dreaming of all the pleasure I'm going to have
Watching you hairline recede 
My vain darling
-- "Just Like This Train," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Court & Spark

Joni was singing of the supremely vain -- so vain, he might think the song was about him, might he?, might he? -- James Taylor; however, it also applies to Brett.