Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, December 9, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, a recording surfaces of Iraq's former prime minister allegedly conspiring with its current prime minister, Barack wants (at the least the option of) US troops in combat on the ground in Iraq, we cover the Senate hearing on the Islamic State (the afternoon one, anyway) and much more.

This afternoon, Senator Robert Menendez declared, "I know some may see this as limiting but at the end of the day, Americans will not be supportive of an authorization of an endless war."

He was speaking at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee  hearing on the Islamic State and the administration's lack of authorization of force, from Congress, to conduct the current bombings taking place in Iraq.  Secretary of State John Kerry was appearing before the Committee "to provide the administration's views," as Committee Chair Robert Mendendez explained.

But he appeared to believe he was elsewhere -- possibly on a parade float?

Kerry was looking around, grinning and waving.

As Menendez declared Americans would not "be supportive of an authorization of an endless war."

As Menendez declared, "They do not want us to occupy Iraq for decades."

Has John Kerry morphed into Johnny Kardashian?

"I think the American people expect their Congressional leaders to engage fully on this issue," Chair Menendez  said as Kerry all but pulled out a compact and mirror

AUMF is the "Authorization of the Use of Military Force."  ISIL is one of the names tossed around for the Islamic State.  With that in mind, we'll note these remarks from the hearing.

Chair Robert Menendez:  Well thank you, Mr. Secretary, let me just say there is I think undoubtedly and I'll let members express themselves, there is a bold bipartisan view that we need to defeat ISIL and I think there is no debate about that.  And virtually every political element from the spectrum those who might be considered dovish to those who might be considered hawkish -- and everybody in between -- I think, has a common collective goal of defeating ISIL.  Now I must say that the administration has not sent us -- five, six months into this engagement -- an AUMF.  And had the administration sent us an AUMF maybe we would be better versed as to what the administration seeks or does not seek and that would be the subject of Congressional debate.  But that has not happened. And with reference to my distinguished Ranking Member's comments?  You know, if we wait for that and it's not forthcoming by this or any other administration then the absence of getting an AUMF from the executive branch and Congress not acting because it's waiting for an AUMF from the executive branch would in essence create a de facto veto of the Constitutional prerogatives and responsibilities that the Congress has.  And so, there are many of us on the Committee who, in the absence of receiving a AUMF for the purposes of understanding the administration's views felt that it is Congress' responsibility to move forward and define it.  Now no one has worked harder in the last two years as a chairman of this Committee to make this a bipartisan effort not just on the AUMF but across the spectrum.  And I'm proud to say that we have -- working with the Ranking Member, we have virually passed out every major legislation on some of the critical issues of our time from the AUMF on Syria and the use of chemical weapons to OES reform to Kor -- to North Korea to Iran -- On a whole host of issues, we have been bipartisan.  Virtually ever nomination except for three -- of hundreds -- have largely been on a bipartisan basis.  So there's no one who has striven harder in this process.  But there are some principled views here that may not be reconcilable.  And it starts with when the administration itself -- and I think you've reiterated what you've said -- earlier in your previous visit here that the president has been clear that his policy that the United States military forces will not be deployed to conduct ground combat operations ISIL.  That it will be the responsibility of local forces because that's what our local partners and allies want.  What is best for preserving our coalition and most importantly what is in the best interests of the United States.  Now there are those members of the Committee and the Congress who have a much different view than that.  They would have a very robust and open ended -- uhhhhh-- use of combat forces in this regard.  And if the administration wants that then it should come forth and ask for that.

Menendez was speaking after Kerry finished reading his opening statement.

Combat forces?

The Chair must have been mistaken, right?

Surely the White House doesn't want US forces in combat on the ground in Iraq, right?

Kerry, reading from his opening statement:

On the issue of combat operations, I know that this is hotly debated, with passionate and persuasive arguments on both sides. The President has been clear that his policy is that U.S. military forces will not be deployed to conduct ground combat operations against ISIL. That will be the responsibility of local forces because that is what our local partners and allies want, what is best for preserving our Coalition and, most importantly, what is in the best interest of the United States . However, while we certainly believe this is the soundest policy, and while the president has been clear he's open to clarifications on the use of U.S. combat troops to be outlined in an AUMF, that does not mean we should pre-emptively bind the hands of the commander in chief oo  or our commanders in the field -- in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee. 

If you found Kerry confusing, you weren't the only one.

Secretary John Kerry:  Let me try to help you a little bit on this.

Ranking Member Bob Corker:  Well help me this way:  Are you going to ever explicitly seek an authorization from Congress?

Secretary John Kerry:  We're seeking authorization now.  With respect to  --

Ranking Member Bob Corker:  So you are.  And if you didn't receive the authoirzation, will you continue the operation?  That's a --

Secretary John Kerry:  The authorization for what we're doing nowin both Iraq and Syria?

Ranking Member Bob Corker:  That's correct.

Secretary John Kerry:  Absolutely we will continue it because we believe we have full authority under the 2001 AUMF and parts of the 2002 AUMF but here's where I want to help you.

Ranking Member Bob Corker:  Good.

Secretary John Kerry:  If Congress passes a new Dash specific AUMF we will support the inclusion of language in the AUMF that will clarify that the Dash specific AUMF rather than the 2001 AUMF is the basis for military force.  And I think that will give comfort to a lot of people.  Second, we will also support the repeal of the 2002 AUMF as part of an effort to clarify the ISIL specific AUMF would be the only source of legitimacy for the use of military force against Dash and therefore we would live under the confines of what we pass here.

John wants to play like Congress is confused.

No, the senators knew what they were talking about.

US President Barack Obama told the American people no US troops would be on the ground in combat.

He made that promise.

And now they want to change it.

Throughout the hearing, Kerry repeatedly insisted that the use of ground troops needed to be put into the AUMF.  Such as when he insisted, "It does not mean we should pre-emptively bind the hands of the commander-in-chief or our commanders in the field in responding to scenarios and contingencies that are impossible to foresee."

If refusing to send US troops into combat on the ground in Iraq would "bind the hands" of anyone then maybe that needs to be taken up with Barack Obama who is the one who made the promise.

In fact, when he did, there was criticism from some member of Congress -- mainly Republicans -- that he had tipped his hand, let the enemy know how far he'd go.

If Barack wants to take back his promise, the coward needs to stand before the American people and make that announcement.

Congress should not provide him cover to break his promises, cover to lie.

John Kerry was full of lies throughout the hearing.

In the exchange we quoted above, Kerry offered that if they got the AUMF they wanted, the administration would support doing away with the 2001 AUMF.

If anyone's forgotten, in 2013 the White House was insisting they wanted it done away with.

This has been one of those pet projects of the increasingly ridiculous US House Rep Barbara Lee.

She wants it repealed -- or says she does.

She's too ridiculous to stand up and fight.

So to appease her for being such a good whore for the administration (she's the June Cleaver of war with her constant since 2009, "I'm telling you Barack and Joe, if US forces aren't out of Afghanistan within 12 months, I'm coming upstairs and your rooms better be clean!"), the White House stated they supported the repeal as well.

But nothing ever happened and nothing most likely will.

If the White House really wanted to act in good faith, they'd push for repeal immediately, not promise that they might do something -- might -- after they get what they want.

John tried real hard to be respectful in front of the Committee.

But he can't help lecturing and hectoring.

It's why the 2004 invented quote ("Who among us doesn't like NASCAR?") stuck to him, it was pompous and stuffy and sounded completely like him.

He tried to pretend he was 'helping' Corker but he just came off smug and condescending.

There was a lot of pretending.

"No more war!" screamed/whined Medea Benjamin before the hearing started.  "US intervention is counterproductive!"

"This Committee will come to order," Chair Menendez announced.

Immediately, the 2-person contingent of CODEPINK -- Medea and Ann Wright -- took their seats.

Medea then spent a good portion of the hearing a few seats behind Kerry holding up an 8 x 10 piece of pink construction paper with "Secretary of War?" written across from it.

Apparently, Medea was too tired to attempt two fingers behind John's head to give him bunny ears.

She had no sign for Senator Barbara Boxer which goes to how inept CodePink is.

CodePink's taken John Kerry many times before.  Not only did we see that tired repeat when he was a senator, they even took on his sister Peggy.

When will they take on our 'friend' Barbara Boxer?

Since 2006, I have sat through one hearing after another where our great left hope Boxer made one xenophobic or pro-war statement after another.

Yes, she became an embarrassing whore for war after Barack was sworn in.  But even prior to that, Ms. Anti-War was not anti-war and she also made very disgusting remarks about, for examples, Asians.

Boxer was an embarrassment from the moment she walked in looking like Ming the Merciless from Flash Gordon.  Pay attention, America, this is what too much plastic surgery does to you, pulls your eyebrows up and gives your face a ridiculous stretched look.

There's something very sad about a woman or a man over 70 attempting to rewrite history.

But there was Boxer wanting to impart 'wisdom' while decrying 'evil' as she explained, "I come from an inner city -- when I was a kid growing up -- and if you got the biggest bully on the block, that helped a lot with the other bullies."

If you got him?

What does she mean?  Slept with him?

Does she mean beat him up?

Is she trying to tell us that Ira and Sophie Silvershien Levy's little girl was busting chops in Brooklyn back in the 40s?

Who knows what the damn fool's saying or trying to say?

She kept insisting that this had to be said -- that she grew up in the inner city? -- because her constituents were demanding it.

I've not seen that and she's my senator.

Boxer wanted to offer one freak out story after another about vaginas and torture and, honestly, she seemed like one of those elderly people who spend too much time watching the Law & Order franchise and confuse TV with life.

She wanted the world to know she was bothered by the treatment of women by the Islamic State.

Now to do that she has to vocalize because all those face lifts have rendered her face immobile and she's left with that shocked expression from everything being pulled one time to many.

But it was all the more appalling when you consider Saja al-Dulaimi.

We covered this last week.  Saja is an Iraqi woman.  That is agreed upon.  She was leaving Syria and was seized (kidnapped) by the Lebanese military with assistance (at least 'intel' but there are rumors of more) from the CIA.  With her was at least one of her children (some reports say three children).

She was thought, by the American government, to be one of the wives of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

This was her 'crime.'  She herself was suspected of nothing.  Her child (or children) were suspected of nothing.  But for 10 days before the press learned of her existence, she and her child or children were held by a foreign military and DNA samples were forcibly taken from them.

After the Lebanese military went public, the Iraqi government said she was not the wife of al-Baghdadi.

Even now, the details remain confusing.

What is not confusing is that the US government is not supposed to kidnap people -- even the relatives of suspect -- and they are not supposed to use people as "bargaining chips" -- which the press repeatedly explained was the point of kidnapping Saja.

None of that bothered Barbara Boxer.

Yet her role in Congress demands that she police the actions of the US government.

Let's stay with Saja because there's news there.

The White House and the Lebanese government grasped over the weekend that they'd gone way too far.

While Saja's kidnapping didn't even register offense in the United States,  it exploded on Arabic media.

Outrage, scorn and mockery were all over Arabic media -- aimed at Barack, aimed at a lawless US government, and so much more -- and this caused everyone involved in the kidnapping to rethink what they were doing.

First up, the Lebanese government began lying.  Al Arabiya wrote, "The officials said the woman had entered Lebanon illegally, and authorities were studying whether to deport her to Syria or give her refugees status in Lebanon."  Really?  Is that what they said this week?

After last week's non-stop bragging, on the record, that they would use Saja as a "bargaining chip"?

World Bulletin reported today:

A Lebanese military court on Tuesday ordered the release of an ex-wife of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the ISIL militant group's top leader, a judicial source has said.
"The court decided to free al-Baghdadi's ex-wife Saja al-Dulaimi and Alaa Oqaily, the wife of a senior ISIL leader," the source told The Anadolu Agency.

Barbara Boxer needs to retire.  Until she does, she needs to understand she can't condemn violence against women or the kidnapping of women unless she's willing to condemn the executive branch she's supposed to provide oversight on.

If you're not getting how stupid she is, this is what she felt was worth sharing in this afternoon's hearing:

You know I believe President Obama has the authority because I voted to give any president the authority to go after the outgrowth of al-al Qaeda.  So I feel he's got it.  But, having said that, this is a threat to humanity that I don't think humankind has ever seen.

Uh, Nazi Germany?  Seizing Warsaw, bombing London, killing millions of Jews as well as gypsies and lesbians and gay men.

The US, the USSR, England and countless others had to band together to confront and destroy the Nazis.  But Boxer thinks the ragtag Islamic State is the worst thing humanity has ever seen?

And her "any president" remark should mean CodePink at least puts her name on a piece of a construction paper in what now passes for 'activism' on the part of that group.

There's a lot more to say about the hearing and we'll cover it in at least one more snapshot this week.  I'd love to more than that but I'm also hoping to cover another hearing that took place this morning.

As the senators acted as if they were saving Iraq, a new wrinkle might beg the question: Why?

Nouri al-Maliki is the former prime minister of Iraq and forever a thug.  In his second term, he led Iraq to the brink of destruction.  He did.  It's on him.  We've gone over this repeatedly -- and we did so in real time as Iraq was suffering.  Barack Obama finally dropped his backing of Nouri last spring.  This was the levee break, the moment when those who had covered for Nouri -- US pundits and reporters, for example -- could suddenly tell the truth.

But not all the truth.

Paint him as a mini-tyrant but don't notice his most severe crimes or you might get asked why you were silent as this all went down.

Barack was out, in August Haider al-Abadi became the new prime minister -- in part to put Nouri's reign of terror behind the country, to give it a fresh start.

Why is one dime being spent on this 'new Iraq'?

Kitabat reports on the story the gabbing senators missed but so did all the US outlets.

A video recording has surfaced of a conspiring Nouri with an equally conspiring Haider al-Abadi.  The video recording is said to show the two men agreeing no real change will come to Iraq.

This really needs to be addressed.

The recording is out there.  It needs to be addressed.

But the western press won't even cover it.

Apparently, they feel they're 'protecting' their readers, listeners and viewers by refusing to tell them truths out of Iraq.

Let's go back to the hearing.  John Kerry wanted to insist progress was being made in Iraq.

He could and did offer numbers on the bombings the US and others are carrying out.

He just really didn't have any political solution progress to speak of it.

This despite Barack insisting the only answer in Iraq is a political solution.

Maybe the lack of movement there is why Barack wants to send US troops into ground combat in Iraq?

Secretary John Kerry:  In Iraq, progress also continues in the political arena. Last week, after years of intensive efforts, the government in Baghdad reached an interim accord with the Kurdistan Regional Government on hydrocarbon exports and revenue sharing. That is good for the country’s economy but even more for its unity and stability. 



I actually don't disagree.

But me, someone who loathes Nouri al-Maliki, knows Nouri wasn't the real problem there.

The accord Kerry's gah-gah over?

It could have happened under Nouri.

But it was the State Dept and the White House that ensured it wouldn't.

Victoria Nuland repeatedly condemned the Kurdish government.

The State Dept stuck their nose in ExxonMobile's business in an attempt to stop the Kurds from selling their oil.

They lied -- the State Dept and the White House -- to Nouri leading him to announce that the President of the United States would stop ExxonMobile.

Nouri's an idiot.

But he also lived in a country where the government controlled the oil sector.

So he honestly believed that Barack could interfere in business dealings of ExxonMobile.

When Nouri made his ridiculous announcement, Victoria Nuland had to clarify publicly that the President of the United States was not in charge of ExxonMobile.

Secretary John Kerry:  In addition, the new Defense minister is a Sunni whose appointment was an important step towards a more inclusive government. With his leadership and that of the new Interior minister, the process of reforming the nation’s security forces has a genuine chance for success. 

But the man nominated at the same time, nominated to head the Ministry of the Interior, is part of a Shi'ite militia.

So it's kind of a wash there, isn't it?

There's the September 13th announcement by Haider that the Iraqi military would (finally) stop bombing Falluja's residential neighborhoods.  He did promise that.

Of course, the bombing never stopped.

And today Kitabat reports Falluja General Hospital received the corpses of 9 civilians and treated 32 more people -- all victims of the Iraqi military's larest bombings of Falluja.

In some of today's other violence, Alsumaria reports a sniper outside of Kirkuk shot dead 1 student and wounded two more, a Kazimiyah mortar attack left eight people injured, the Ministry of Defense announced 51 militants were killed in Salahuddin Province and Anbar Province,

Outgoing US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited Iraq today.  We'll close with some photos from DoD's Twitter feed.