Thursday, July 24, 2014

More US troops sent into Iraq

Felicia Schwartz (Wall St. Journal) reports:

The Pentagon said 20 additional military advisers recently arrived in Iraq, bringing total U.S. military personnel there to 825. Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said there are now 90 advisers working with Iraqi military forces, assessing their capabilities, and 160 Americans are assigned to joint operation centers in Baghdad and Erbil.

Yeah, the numbers keep going in one direction: Up.

As the official number climbs closer to 1,000, it's worth noting what US President Barack Obama told the American people June 19th, "We have had advisors in Iraq through our embassy, and we’re prepared to send a small number of additional American military advisors -- up to 300 -- to assess how we can best train, advise, and support Iraqi security forces going forward."

Up to 300.

That's what he said last month.

Up to 300 he told the American people and it's already up to 825.

Those who remember how US 'advisers' in Vietnam became large numbers of troops won't be very surprised -- except maybe by how quickly -- and with very little attention -- "up to 300" has become almost three times the number he told the American people.

Straight answers are hard to come by with this administration.  Yesterday, the State Dept's Brett McGurk appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) notes:

But Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Brett McGurk, who has been the administration’s point man on the ground in Iraq over the past several months, was reluctant to agree publicly with multiple congressional calls for Maliki to go.
[. . .]
Through two four-year terms in office, Maliki’s Shiite-led government has systematically disenfranchised minority Sunnis, a fact the administration acknowledges has lessened their willingness to join the fight against extremists of the Sunni-dominated Islamic State organization that has bulldozed its way to power in much of northern and western Iraq in recent months. In some cases, Sunni tribal groups that once fought extremists with U.S. forces in Iraq have joined the extremists.

In yesterday's snapshot, we noted:

Uh, Brett, you're State Dept.  You don't know a damn thing about the military.  If you did, you'd be the 'trainer' doing the 'assessment.'
In addition, it is widely known that Brett is cozy with Nouri and has skewed reports in the past to make Nouri look better to the administration.  Sort of like he attempted to do with the Congressional Committee today.  Too bad for Brett that so few were willing to indulge him this go round.

An e-mail insists that's not true, Brett's new to Iraq and a host of other incorrect statements.

Brett was in Iraq, for the US government, going back to the Bully Boy Bush days.  He would go on to be a key player in the negotiations for the Status Of Forces Agreement.  If that's still news to you, Google "Brett McGurk" and "Gina Chon."

Under Bully Boy Bush, Brett got special coverage from the Wall St. Journal via Gina Chon who let him vet her copy before she submitted it to her editor and up the chain.  That's why, when the affair was exposed during Brett's failed nomination for US Ambassador to Iraq, the paper met with Gina and explained: You can leave right now or we can fire you.

Gina chose to leave.

A reporter does not let a government official vet their copy.  Gina also didn't inform the Journal of the affair or that she was sleeping with a source or any other issues -- ethical issues -- that came into play.

As for Brett's closeness to Nouri?

If nothing else, the e-mailer should have been aware that when Barack nominated Brett for Ambassador to Iraq, the response from many Iraqi politicians -- including Ayad Allawi -- was to publicly rebuke the nomination and to note that Brett was overly close to Nouri.

Now you don't have to know any of that.  It is all public knowledge.  But you don't have to know it.  And you can write in to the public e-mail account and insist that I must be wrong -- and I can be wrong and often am -- but maybe before you insist that I've lied you take a moment or two to figure out whether maybe, possibly, you just missed the last few years of Iraq and that's the actual problem?

In other news, Sinan Salaheddin and Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) report an attack on a Taji prison convoy has left at least 60 people dead.

The following community sites -- plus the Guardian,, the House Veterans Affairs Committee , Jody Watley and Black Agenda Report -- updated:


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