Monday, September 22, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Monday, September 22, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Falluja continues to be bombed, Barack's bombing have had no real impact on Iraq and much more.

David D. Kirkpatrick and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report, "After six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government's forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines."  The two go on to note that it may have stopped or diverted a "march toward Baghdad" but the bombings have not stopped the Islamic State which has seized Sichar.

They write that today "the government acknowledged that it had lost control of the small town of Sichar" and they note the large number of Iraqi soldiers the Islamic State continues to kill.

Where do you go from there?

Let's go to a former US President: Jimmy Carter who declared today in video posted at

Because when ISIS forces go into a city and take it over and then the United States goes over there with bombers and drops bombs, we are likely to kill more civilians than we do ISIS members.  And that's why it's very necessary to have our own people on the ground that can give us -- give us accurate information about exactly where to let a missile land or a bomb land to make sure it kills the ISIS terrorist instead of normal civilians.

At least Jimmy noted civilian casualties.

Because civilian casualties -- though overlooked by the press and ignroed by the White House -- do exist.

Sunday, NINA reports, the military's (continued) bombing of Falluja's residential neighborhoods left 1 civilian dead and ten more injured.  Monday, mortar and rocket attacks left 7 civilians dead ("including a woman and a child") and twelve more people injured.

Again, David D. Kirkpatrick and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report, "After six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government's forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines."

It's not working.

Is it legal?

Probably not.

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed included  the legality of Barack's current war actions.

Heidi Boghosia:  Michael, the US recently began bombing the Islamic State or ISIL with the promise that there will be no ground troops. Let's talk a bit about the legality of this.

Michael Ratner:  I think the legality of this is important but of course the first thing is this was a promise not to use any ground troops that was -- Obama made that publicly -- and a few days later, perhaps two days later, Gen Martin Dempsey, who's head of the Joint-Chiefs of Staff, said he would not rule out the use of ground troops and said, that if necessary, he would recommend that to the president.  The Times then wrote a very strong editorial saying, here we go again, a slippery slope into a ground war, an endless war in the Middle East.  Not that I didn't think they had ground troops in there already, they did.  They called them advisors.  Who knows what they are doing?  I know my experience with "advisors" whether back in Vietnam or El Salvador is they don't just stand there with no weapons.  They often accompany the troops.  They give advice. And, if fired upon, they have the right to fire back. 

Heidi Boghosian:  And are they -- the advisors -- sort of top level military personnel?  Who are they exactly?

Michael Ratner:  I don't think they're necessarily top level  Some are, but some are training units, etc. So I think already we are having a certain number of so-called "ground troops" there.  But certainly, Gen Dempsey's statements indicate that we're only seeing the beginning and, as usual, the US population is "being lulled into" another major ground war in the Middle East.  One question as lawyers -- and this is technically a lawyers' show -- is the question of the legality of what the president is doing.  I've spent -- a number of us have -- a lot of our lives trying to restrain US war powers and the US, particularly the president or the Congress together, going to war around the world.  And it's been a task that's been particularly unsuccessful starting with Vietnam where we brought case after case and only at the end of the war really did Congress finally act to restrict the president, after there were secret wars carried out in Cambodia, in Laos, not just Vietnam.  As the devastation became too great, as the opposition here became great, and, really, as the Vietnamese started to win the war. 

Heidi Boghosian:  Now, Michael, lets just give a basic lesson in government structure.  Right now, what could Congress do to restrain the president?

Michael Ratner:  Let's step back one second, Heidi, and that is where I'm going.  Right now, the president has not asked for any authority from Congress to either bomb targets in Iraq that he claims are Islamic State targets or, presumably, if they've begun it, bombing in Syria -- again targets that they claim are Islamic State targets.  He has not asked for any authority.  He has , of course, had to use some funding that Congress, I think,  will  approve if he asks for more.  That is not considered "giving authority" by Congress just because they fund a war, that's some specific legislation.  But let's talk about what the president should be required to do and essentially how my office, other people, and I've litigated a dozen case around the world have utterly failed to be able to force the president to obey the Constitution or to force the president and the Congress to obey the UN Charter which also has a prohibition on the use of force. Coming out of Vietnam, Congress did a sort of mea culpa.  They said, 'Well, the president dragged us into this war.  We passed this Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which was this open-ended resolution that the president said he could do whatever he wanted in Vietnam.  And he kept fighting the war based on this one broad authorization the Congress gave him over a false incident that took place when one Vietnamese boat supposedly -- but did not -- actually fire on a US ship.  President went to the Congress and they passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. They fought that war for years based on that open-ended resolution. 

Heidi Boghosian: Sort of like the Weapons of Mass Destruction justification. 

Michael Ratner:  Like that exactly.  That resolution, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, you could liken to the authority that Congress gave the president to go to war in Afghanistan called The Authorization To Use Military Force.  But let's keep stepping back to Vietnam.  So after Vietnam, it cost some 50,000-plus  American lives, possibly 2 million Vietnamese lives, the devastation of our country politically and in the streets but particularlly of course in Vietnam where it's still paying a very heavy cost from Agent Orange to the numbers of people killed.  So Congress then passes what's called a War Powers Resolution.  People here that bandied about a lot.  What the War Powers Resolution did was Congress said, "Look it, we don't want to be in the situation of Vietnam again.'  The president, yes, is required to go to Congress before he can go to war with any country.  That's Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the US Constitution.  The framers were very clear, 'We don't want a president making war on his own.  We want war to be harder to make not easier.  We think it's harder to make if the people who are actually representatives of people and who are paying the costs and are losing their children will have to consent to that war.

And we'll pick up from there later in the week (hopefully tomorrow).

Michael wondered about Syria and bombing and today the State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted:

Meanwhile, David D. Kirkpatrick and Omar al-Jawoshy (New York Times) report, "After six weeks of American airstrikes, the Iraqi government's forces have scarcely budged the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State from their hold on more than a quarter of the country, in part because many critical Sunni tribes remain on the sidelines."

So why is it still taking place?

At what point is Barack's 'plan' supposed to kick in?

Because it's a failure right now.

In other news, The Lead with Jake Tapper (CNN) reports:

In an interview on CBS News' "60 Minutes" that aired Sunday evening, Panetta told Scott Pelley that he "really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq."
The United States withdrew its last combat troops from Iraq in 2011 after an agreement could not be reached with Iraqi President Nuri al-Maliki about residual U.S. troops.

But former CENTCOM commander Gen. Anthony Zinni (Ret.), who opposed the Iraq War in 2003, disagrees with Panetta.
"If you're using that as a reason that that would have prevented what ISIS did, I think you're after the wrong rationale," Zinni said in an interview with CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."

Wait, I'm confused, Zinni opposed the Iraq War?  'Cause I didn't see his ass at any rallies or marches.  I did see him on TV.  Not saying, "Don't go to war."  Not, after it started, saying, "Stop the war!"

He never did that.  It's a myth, it's a lie.  He's a War Whore.  He's been exposed as such.  He retired long ago and, as a New York Times expose a few years back noted, he can be bought.

Now if this is all too much, if you've been raised on fairy tales, click here for a lengthy -- very lengthy -- 2003 interview he gave to The NewsHour (PBS).  Find in there one time when he says the war is wrong -- not illegal, just wrong.

He never does.

He quibbles about this or that but the myth of him as 'against the war' -- this man who supported Bully Boy Bush's "surge" in Iraq -- are just outright lies -- mainly told by little boys who need a daddy figure.

And, for the record, saying in October 2002 that the US needed to send more troops than Bully Boy Bush was planning into Iraq is not anti-war.

That same month, he also delivered a speech.  From The History Commons:

In a speech during the Middle East Institute’s annual conference, retired Marine General Anthony Zinni presents an extensive argument against the Bush administration’s plans for invading Iraq. He makes several salient points. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet In order for the planned military operation against Iraq to be successful it must have international support. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet In order to ensure a quick war, the US must use overwhelming force. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet Civilian casualties, collateral damage, and destruction of the infrastructure must be kept to a minimum. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet Israeli involvement would create massive instability. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet The invasion must not provoke a reaction from the Arab world. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet The transition to a post-Saddam Iraq will not be easy. He explains: “If we think there is a fast solution to changing the governance of Iraq, then we don’t understand history, the nature of the country, the divisions, or the underneath-suppressed passions that could rise up. God help us if we think this transition will occur easily.” [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet The burden of the war and post-war reconstruction must be shared. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet It will not be possible to simply impose a democracy on Iraq. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet Anti-American militant groups cannot be defeated by military means alone. He asks several questions that are rarely asked in public: “Why are young people flocking to these causes? Could the issues be political, economic and social? Could disenfranchisement or oppression be what drives them rather than the religious fanaticism that may be the core element to only a few? How do we cooperate to fix these problems? How do we help a part of the world that’s trying to come to grips with modernity?” [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet He questions whether an invasion is even necessary, instead suggesting that there are numerous other issues to deal with of higher priority. [Zinni, 10/10/2002]
bullet Finally, he says that violence and war are not the solution. “Like those generals who were far greater than I am, I don’t think that violence and war is the solution. There are times when you reluctantly, as a last resort, have to go to war. But as a general that has seen war,… I will tell you that in my time, I never saw anything come out of fighting that was worth the fight.” [Zinni, 10/10/2002]

Iraqi Minister Abdul Tawab Mullah Hawaish, who is in charge of Iraq’s weapons programs, invites reporters and members of the Bush administration to visit two of the alleged WMD sites, Furat and Nasser al-Azim. Bush had referred to the sites in his October 7 speech (see October 7, 2002). “The American administration are invited to inspect these sites,” Hawaish says, “As I am responsible for the Iraqi weapons programs, I confirm here that we have no weapons of mass destruction and we have no intention to produce them…. I am saying here and now that we do not have weapons of mass destruction and we do not have programs to develop them.” [BBC, 10/10/2002; Reuters, 10/10/2002] But the White House rejects the offer. Press Secretary Ari Fleischer says, “This matter is not up to Iraq…. It is… up to the United Nations to decide.” [White House, 10/10/2002] Reporters, however, accept the offer and tour the Nasser State Establishment, a facility that Iraq claims produces goods for civilian use as well as components for conventional weapons. [Reuters, 10/10/2002]

That was an anti-war speech?

Have we all gotten that stupid?

No.  And, writing in January 2004, Justin Raimondo ( called the general a "critic" of the war, not antiwar.

As far Zinni's assertions, I believe Panetta was arguing that several thousand US troops on the ground in Iraq would have given them influence over Nouri al-Maliki.  I'm opposed to US troops on the ground in Iraq -- or in Iraqi air space -- for any reason.  But I'm not going to lie about Leon or pretend he said something that he didn't.

A lot of people are willing to lie about anything.  As we noted last night 'journalist' David Corn went on MSNBC's Up to bray like a neocon.  This is different, he insists, this violence is needed.

The perfect response to Corn's crap comes via Twitter.

  • Poor Iraq, keeps getting beaten up by her American boyfriend, who then cradles her saying "Baby, I'm gonna do good this time, I swear."

  • Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al Abadi Receives Australian Defense Minister September 22, 2014 

     Prime Minister Dr. Haider al-Abadi met in his office today the Australian Defense Minister Mr. David Johnston. During the meeting, they discussed security cooperation between Iraq and Australia to counter the threat of the ISIS criminal gangs, and they also discussed the international efforts to combat terrorism and its impact on Iraq, on the region and on the world. The Prime Minister stressed the importance of respecting Iraq's sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in its internal affairs, which is one of the principles of our efforts in the coming period. Dr. Al Abadi reiterated the rejection of any interference in Iraq affairs indicating that our security forces and the forces of the popular mobilization have the ability to win the battle against the enemy. For his part, Mr. Johnston expressed his country's readiness to assist Iraq in the field of security and provide all kinds of assistance needed by the Iraqi government. Media Office of the Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al Abadi

    The prime minister's office issued the above.

    law and disorder radio
    michael s. smith
    heidi boghosian
    michael ratner