Thursday, October 02, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, October 2, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Australia is set to join in the bombing of Iraq, Leon Panetta tells some uncomfortable truths, Salon sends the lightest weight in their bordello out to 'argue' against Panetta, the administration finally wants to focus some on diplomatic efforts at a political solution in Iraq, and much more.

US President Barack Obama's Better Living Through Bombing 'plan' just officially got another partner.

  • Australia cabinet gives approval for fighter jets to join air strikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq
  • : PM Tony Abbott has announced Australia will begin air strikes and deploy special forces in Iraq.

  • While Australia joins the UK and US in the bombings, , DPA reports that Germany's Minister of Defense Ursula von der Leyen declared today that her country will be sending an unspecified number of "military doctors" into northern Iraq.

    The contrast between Germany's approach and Barack's is telling.

    Let's move to this:

    The deal never materialized. To this day, I believe that a small U.S. troop presence in Iraq could have effectively advised the Iraqi military on how to deal with al-Qaeda’s resurgence and the sectarian violence that has engulfed the country.
    Over the following two and a half years, the situation in Iraq slowly deteriorated. Al-Maliki was responsible, as he exacerbated the deep sectarian issues polarizing his country. Meanwhile, with the conflict in Syria raging, an al-Qaeda offshoot—ISIS, or the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria—gained strength. Using Syria as its base, it began to move into Iraq in 2014, grabbing power in towns and villages across Iraq’s north, including Mosul and Tall ‘Afar. These were strategically important cities that U.S. forces had fought and died to secure.

    That's from an excerpt of Leon Panetta and Jim Newton's Worthy Fight -- from an excerpt which Time magazine has published. (October 7th, Penguin Press publishes the book.)  Panetta has served in the US army (where he rose to the rank of First Lieutenant), the US House of Representatives, as the Director of Office of Management and Budget during Bill Clinton's presidency, as the White House Chief of Staff during Bill's presidency, as the Director of the CIA during Barack Obama's presidency and finally as Secretary of Defense during Barack's presidency.  As disclosed before, I know Leon and have known him for years.

    The deal?

    The deal Panetta's referring to.

    Leaving thousands of US troops in Iraq after December 31, 2011.

    Panetta explains he wanted it, others in Defense and State wanted and US President Barack Obama had an attitude if they put it together he was for it but he wasn't going to help them in any way.

    The lackadaisical president?

    Yes, that is Barack.  What people who have left the administration attempt to figure out is Barack so tentative because he's afraid of making a mistake or is he just bored?

    The American people thought -- those who voted for him -- that they had someone who would fight for them and then discovered he could rouse himself for the corporations -- who donated so often and so well to his campaigns -- but he had no stomach for fighting for the people.

    The book -- yes, I've read it -- goes beyond Iraq -- and will be carried beyond Iraq -- to paint a portrait that the mainstream press has largely shielded the public from.

    Which is why the whores of Salon come out swinging.

    Like den mother Joan Walsh, the kids of Salon barely pass for half-wits.

    Simon Maloy is the joke chosen to feed comfort food to Salon's uninformed readers.

    Simon kicks off things with a factual inaccuracy -- what most would call a lie:

    Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta caused quite a stir today when he wrote a piece for Time magazine laying blame for the current chaos in Iraq at the feet of the Obama administration.

    That's it, that's the moron the whores of Salon send out?

    Leon wrote a book -- co-wrote.

    "Wrote a piece for Time"?

    Time is excerpting the book.

    How damn stupid is Simon Maloy?

    And how the hell did even the gutter trash of Salon see fit to let this surface?

    After insulting Republicans -- that's all Joan Walsh decaying and demented crew can handle -- Simon then wants to lie some more or just flaunt his damn stupidity -- and he's pretty damn stupid:

    To sum up the situation: in late 2008, George W. Bush and Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki signed a security agreement stipulating that all U.S. troops would be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2011. Starting in 2010, the Obama administration began negotiating with the Iraqis to rejigger the agreement to allow a small residual force of American soldiers to remain behind. Those negotiations were ultimately unsuccessful. By October 2011 both sides had agreed that all troops would be gone by the end of that year, in accordance with the original security agreement.

    Is that summing up?

    Is it, really?

    It's lying, that's for damn sure.

    Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta: Senator, as I pointed out in my testimony, what we seek with Iraq is a normal relationship now and that does involve continuing negotiations with them as to what their needs are.  Uh, and I believe there will be continuing negotations.  We're in negotiations now with regards to the size of the security office that will be there and so there will be -- There aren't zero troops that are going to be there. We'll have, you know, hundreds that will be present by virtue of that office assuming we can work out an agreement there.  But I think that once we've completed the implementation of the security agreement that there will begin a series of negotiations about what exactly are additional areas where we can be of assistance? What level of trainers do they need? What can we do with regards to CT [Counter-Terrorism] operations? What will we do on exercises -- joint-exercises -- that work together?

    "By October 2011 both sides had agreed that all troops would be gone by the end of that year, in accordance with the original security agreement," Simon scribbles.

    Then why did Leon tell the Senate Armed Services Committee the sentences I just quoted above?

    They're from the November 15, 2011 snapshot.

    That snapshot is covering that day's Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.  [Community reporting on that hearing also includes the November 16, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," the November 17, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," by Ava in "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," by Wally with "The costs (Wally)," by Kat in "Who wanted what?" and by Third Estate Sunday Review in "Enduring bases, staging platforms, continued war" and "Gen Dempsey talks "10 enduring" US bases in Iraq."]

    Both sides had not agreed by the end of October 2011, negotiations continued.

    I'm real sorry that Simon and Salon are cheap, lying whores who never do the work required.  You'd think if you'd signed on to whore and lie for Barack, you'd put a little more effort into lying convincingly.

    Simon's a piece of trash.

    He's aware of that hearing.  In limited form.

    He's basically cribbed Kat's report noted above.

    He 'magically' notes the exchange she reported on, that she quoted.

    But she did it back in November 2011.

    And she also understands the context which has escaped a thief and liar like Simon who goes around grabbing the work of others but, having not been at the hearing or even went to the archives to watch the hearings, he doesn't understand the exchange at all.

    Simon's a liar. He's a thief.  He's a whore.

    He couldn't work anywhere but Salon.

    And that the left puts up with Salon because it tells pleasing lies about the White House?

    Joan Walsh should have been escorted to a padded cell years ago.

    Maybe when she was attacking Latinos and Latinas?  She doesn't want you to know about that.  She probably doesn't stand by that xenophobia now either.

    But then she doesn't stand by anything.  She recasts herself daily based on the shifting winds of popularity.

    America needs reporting.  It can take informed commentary as well.  But this nonsense of partisan attack squads passing themselves off as journalists?

    These people are whores.  Whether they're whoring for Bully Boy Bush or whoring for Barack Obama, they're whores.  They may tell you a pleasing lie -- a whore will say whatever it takes to turn a trick -- but they don't inform you, they don't make your life or anyone else's better.

    Since February 2003, I have publicly spoken out against the Iraq War -- then it was the impending war, now it's the never-ending war.  Since November 2004, I've been online here and, starting in January 2005, helping at Third.

    I didn't pull punches or kiss as when Bully Boy Bush was running the illegal war and I don't now that it's Barack.  My positions don't change because the White House flips parties or the House or whatever.

    There is no consistency to Salon -- it's not the only bordello posing as a news or media outlet.

    As someone who has thought about Iraq every day (and written about it every day) -- regardless of whether it's a 'hot topic' or not -- it bothers me tremendously when little whores bring their disease ridden bodies out in public and attempt to rewrite basic facts to benefit whatever politician they're having wet dreams over today.

    Iraq matters.

    It matters all by itself, without noting US losses (no one should have died in the illegal war).

    It matters because it's not a thing, it's not an object.

    It is a land where millions of people try to live -- in spite of the bombings by this faction or that faction or the US government or the British government or . . .

    Salon and the other whores reduce Iraq to a political football, something they can attack Republicans with or improve Democrats' image with.

    Iraq is not a political football.

    It is the home to millions.  It was the home to over a million Iraqis who died in this illegal war, this unprovoked attack on their country.

    I don't have any respect for some cheap whore who wants to turn it into 'Barack was right!' or 'Bush was right!'

    They have never suffered the way the Iraqi people have suffered and continue to suffer.

    If you're so divorced from humanity that you can't recognize their suffering, at least have the brains to stop using them to prop up your political paper dolls.

    14-year-old Abeer Qassim Hamza al-Janabi was gang-raped by US soldiers while her parents and five-year-old sister were murdered in the next room and then Abeer was murdered.

    That 2006 War Crime?  Salon gave it 9 mentions.  Two of those were with regards to Brian De Palma's classic film Redacted.  Only 1 of the 9 was a piece about Abeer.  In the other 8, she's an aside.

    That's how Salon 'covered' it.  One brief report in 2006 and then name dropping her in 8 more articles -- briefly name dropping her.

    We didn't ignore Abeer here.  And we followed the Article 32 hearing on the War Crimes, we then followed the courts-martial on it and the civil criminal case against ringleader Steven Dale Green.

    When Nouri al-Maliki was targeting Iraqi youth who were either gay or perceived as gay, we spent months covering it here.


    They had US politicians to whore for.

    Over and over, as Iraqis suffered, Salon turned a blind eye.  Now they want to act as experts on Iraq?  A whore will tell you anything up until the point that the money changes hands.

    Rebecca Kaplan (CBS News) reports  -- reports -- on Panetta's remarks here.

    Partisans have attacked Senator John McCain for his remarks about the agreement not reached with Iraq.  They have called him a liar and worse.  I've called him many things here (check the archives) and few of them nice but I have defended him from the claims that he's lied re: the agreement process. I don't like John McCain (I do like and know Cindy McCain), I would never vote for John McCain but, unlike Salon, I'm not interested in authoring political erotica.  McCain was not lying and today he and Senator Lindsey Graham issued this statement:

    Washington, D.C. ­– U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) today released the following comment on statements made this week by former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Ambassador Ryan Crocker confirming that the Obama Administration could have reached an agreement to leave residual forces in Iraq, but never made a full effort, despite being warned that failing to do so may lead to the situation we are in today in Iraq:
    “The latest statements by two of the most respected national security officials to serve under President Obama definitively refute the falsehood that this Administration has told the American people for years about their efforts to leave a residual force in Iraq,” said Senators McCain and Graham. “As we have said all along, and as Secretary Panetta and Ambassador Crocker have now confirmed, the Obama Administration never made a full effort to leave a residual force in Iraq, despite being warned that failing to do so would risk exactly the scenario we’ve seen unfold today, with the emergence of terrorist safe-havens as Iraq slides back into chaos, threatening America’s national security.”
    Below are Secretary Panetta’s book excerpt in TIME Magazine and Ambassador Crocker’s Defense One interview.

    At some point, the whores will start the 'what difference does it make' and 'let's not rehash the past' arguments -- as they realize they have no ground to stand on, they'll shift to silencing the topic itself.

    But what happened does matter and understanding it can help with what's happening currently in Iraq.

    Barack keeps insisting he has a 'plan.'  Like Bully Boy Bush, he doesn't.  Like Bully Boy Bush, he's merely passing it on to the next occupant of the White House.

    Jen Psaki, State Dept spokesperson, offered an overview of the 'plan' today that made more sense than anything anyone else in the administration has been able to offer:

    Finally, as you may all have seen, Special President – Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL General John Allen and Deputy Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk arrived in Iraq today for intensive consultations with Iraqi Government officials and regional Iraqi leaders on how the United States can support Iraq in the fight against ISIL. That Special Envoy Allen went to Iraq for his first international trip in his new capacity speaks to the importance of – the United States places on coordination with and support for Iraq as we build this global coalition to degrade and defeat ISIL. General Allen and Ambassador McGurk’s discussions in Iraq and elsewhere will follow on the coalition-building efforts that President Obama and Secretary Kerry led at the NATO summit in Wales, during meetings in Jeddah and in Cairo, and most recently in New York at UNGA.
    From Iraq, General Allen and Ambassador McGurk will travel on to Brussels for meetings with NATO and EU leadership, where the focus will be cracking down on ISIL’s foreign fighter pipeline and countering its financing streams. Then they will travel on to Amman for consultations with Jordanian officials and key regional players. From Amman they will travel to Cairo to meet with Egyptian Government officials and the Arab League ambassadors. Their conversations there will follow on President Obama’s recent meeting with President Sisi in New York and Secretary Kerry’s discussions during his last trip to Cairo. They will finally conclude their visit in Turkey, a key NATO ally, where they will meet with Turkish military and political leaders to discuss their potential contributions to the international coalition, including combating the threat from foreign fighters. In Turkey, they will also meet with Syrian opposition leaders, both affirming our continued support for their brave efforts in the fight against ISIL and continuing our ongoing dialogue about the best ways to support these efforts.

    In conversations with General Allen and Ambassador McGurk – in these conversations they will have they will discuss coalition cooperation across the five lines of effort – not just military support for our partners, but also – with our partners, I should say, but also stopping foreign fighters, slashing ISIL’s access to financing, maximizing humanitarian assistance and protection for vulnerable victims of the conflict, and exposing ISIL’s extremist, nihilistic message for what it really is. There’s been lots of attention paid to the military component, as we’ve discussed in here, but this trip is about more than that. It’s about expanding this coalition and about building on the five lines of effort that they’re focused on. They will also finally return to the region later this month to meet with other key coalition partners as well, so this will be the first of a number of trips.

    Let's hope the administration is finally going to work the diplomatic angle.

    Psaki was speaking at today's State Dept press briefing.

    She raised the issue of Iraq herself and did so before taking questions.

    Maybe she felt she had to since all week long reporters at the briefings have ignored Iraq?

    We'll note this from today's briefing:

    QUESTION: When he will be arriving to Ankara, Ambassador McGurk and General Allen?

    MS. PSAKI: Next week. But again, we’re still finalizing some specifics about the trip. So I think we’ll have more technical updates with each day about who’ll they be meeting with and what day they’ll arrive, et cetera.

    QUESTION: Should we assume that each city one day? I mean, Iraq, Baghdad, Brussels, Amman, Cairo, and Ankara (inaudible)?

    MS. PSAKI: About that, but some may spend more than one day. So again, I said the end of the trip is Turkey, so I would assume the end of next week.

    QUESTION: And – but the meetings with the president, the prime minister, is there any --

    MS. PSAKI: Again, as I just said, because we’re talking about a week and a half from now or near the end of next week, I think we’ll have more updates on specific meetings as we get a little bit closer, and as soon as we have that information, we’ll make it available.

    QUESTION: So it’s almost one month that – when President Obama started to discuss this issue with the Turkish side since the Wales summit. So how do you see right now the – where we are in terms of the fight against the ISIL in terms of the contribution coming from Ankara?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think, one, we welcome the Turkish parliament’s vote to authorize Turkish military action, as I mentioned. Turkey has – and their leaders – have indicated they want to play a more prominent role with the coalition. We welcome that. They’re an important counterterrorism partner, an important NATO ally, so we understand the sensitivity that they had for several weeks with – the country had with their diplomats, and now we’re ready to move forward. And they’ve indicated they want to be an active partner.

    QUESTION: Do you believe that – are you on the same page with the Turkish leadership in terms of the priorities in this fight? I mean, ISIS is obviously the priority for U.S. side, but do you think that the Turks also are seeing ISIS as a priority while --

    MS. PSAKI: I think Turkey, from all of our discussions with them, certainly understands the threat posed by ISIL. But I would point you to them for more on that particular question.

    Brett McGurk Tweeted earlier today:

    It's good to see the administration finally addressing the diplomatic angle.  And hopefully it's not too late.

    Diplomacy might have some impact -- it probably would have at an earlier date -- but the 'plan' itself remains a joke.  Peter Certo (link goes to the Institute for Policy Studies) points out:

    Obama says the plan is to hammer IS targets from the air while bolstering partners on the ground—including the Iraqi Army, Kurdish fighters in Iraq, and “moderate” Syrian rebel groups—in a bid to roll back the advance of IS throughout Iraq and Syria without putting U.S. “boots on the ground” (never mind those 1,600 troops and advisers that have already been sent to Iraq, along with a likely undisclosed number of special forces).
    As my colleague Phyllis Bennis is fond of saying, you can’t bomb extremism out of existence. She’s right.
    For one thing, bombs cause civilian casualties, which are inherently radicalizing. “The U.S. bombs do not fall on ‘extremism,’” Bennis has written of the strikes on IS’ capital in Syria. “They are falling on Raqqa, a 2,000 year-old Syrian city with a population of more than a quarter of a million people—men, women, and children who had no say in the takeover of their city by ISIS. The Pentagon is bombing targets like the post office and the governor’s compound, and the likelihood of large number of civilian casualties, as well as devastation of the ancient city, is almost certain.”
    A protracted air campaign is likely to cause a raft of unintended consequences. In Yemen and Pakistan, for example—the targets of the vast majority of U.S. drone strikes on alleged al-Qaeda “militants”—civilian populations have grappled with severe trauma and stress from living under the constant hovering drones. Terrorist recruiters have repeatedly sought to exploit this trauma—especially among the thousands of Yemenis and Pakistanis who have lost innocent loved ones. The best that can be said of these years-long campaigns from a national security perspective is that they’re holding actions. Al-Qaeda has certainly not been destroyed in either country, and it’s entirely possible that the drones themselves are providing a continued rationale for the group’s survival. It’s unclear why the Obama administration seems to think it can effect a different outcome in the vastly more complicated theater of Iraq and Syria.
    Then there’s the problem of what comes after the bombs. If IS falls back under the weight of U.S. airstrikes, who moves in to secure the territory on the ground?
    In Iraq, there are a few possibilities at this stage: the Iraqi Army, one of a number of Shiite paramilitary groups, or, in the north, Kurdish peshmerga fighters.

    We saw the limitations of the Iraqi Army most dramatically earlier this summer in Mosul, where, after firing scarcely a shot, some 30,000 Iraqi soldiers turned the city—and millions of dollars worth of U.S.-supplied military equipment—over to just 800 attacking IS soldiers. In the years leading up to its capture of the city, IS had freely operated a lucrative protection racket among Mosul’s private businesses and cut deals with corrupt local leaders and members of Iraq’s security forces. So despite the Iraqi Army’s heavy footprint in Mosul—including a burdensome and much loathed system of traffic checkpoints—IS had been consolidating power there long before formally taking over.

    On the Iraqi forces, Ryan Crocker tells Bernard Gwertzman (Council on Foreign Relations):

    If you look at it from former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s perspective, with Iraq’s history of military coups, his own coming of age as a member of a sectarian and persecuted political party, you are going to see an enemy behind every bush.
    When he chose his commanders, he didn’t choose them on the basis of their leadership capability or their battlefield experience. It was loyalty. Could he be absolutely certain that they would never turn against him?

    [Maliki] put individuals with no command ability [and who] were not a threat to him into command positions—when you look at what happened in June, it wasn’t the rank and file that broke first, it was the leadership. Division commanders suddenly decided they needed to be in Baghdad before they ever engaged with ISIS.

    We'll close with an Iraq War veteran (still) being held in Mexico.


    Image from Free USMC Sgt Andrew Tahmooressi Facebook page.  
    Iraq and American Veterans of America issued the following:

    IAVA Urges Mexico to Release Imprisoned U.S. Marine

    CONTACT: Gretchen Andersen (212) 982-9699 or
    IAVA Urges Mexico to Release Imprisoned U.S. Marine 
    New vets stand by Jill Tahmooressi in her quest to free her son 

    New York, NY (Oct. 1, 2014) – Today, the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere heard testimony from Jill Tahmooressi on the imprisonment of her son, U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi, who has been detained in Mexico since March. IAVA released the following statement from CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff:

    “IAVA stands strongly with U.S. Marine Sergeant Andrew Tahmooressi’s mother, Jill, in her relentless quest to have him freed from prison in Mexico. Ms. Tahmooressi’s articulate and strong appeal for her son – who has been wrongly imprisoned for mistakenly crossing into Mexico in March – not only pulls at the heartstrings; it angers all veterans who should be able to count on their government to have their backs when they return from active duty. Andrew is one of our own, and America should never leave one of our own behind.
    “Andrew’s combat-related PTSD was acquired in defense of his country, and he needs to return to the United States immediately for treatment. We urge President Obama to intervene directly with Mexico, cut through the red tape, and get Sergeant Tahmooressi back on U.S. soil. America’s veterans have not forgotten him, and the President should not forget about him either. Andrew deserves to come home, get treatment, and have a chance to live a productive life.”

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.