Saturday, March 22, 2014

Nouri finds another group to blame for his own failures

The Guardian notes:

The Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki accused unnamed government officials of deliberately hampering the political process, on his weekly televised address to the nation.
He said that some civil servants had "an intentional disrespect for citizens with the aim of turning them against the country's new political system and the current government", the Turkish Press reported.
Al-Malaki said that officials were neglecting public services with the intention of eroding public confidence in the government.

Nouri al-Maliki, if he opens his mouth, chances are he's blaming someone else.

Nothing is ever his fault.

This week, it's 'civil servants.'

Well, too bad Nouri was prime minister for the last eight years.  If he had been, he could have dealt with the issue.

Oh, wait, he has been prime minister since 2006.

So if civil servants are a problem, that's on him.  And he should have done something long ago instead of waiting until the last weeks of his second term to note the problem.

Nouri's mouth flaps a lot but nothing improves in the country.

Iraq Body Count notes, through Friday, 717 violent deaths for the month thus far.

Today's violence saw the murder of a journalist working for the US propaganda outlet.  In addition,  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Qayyarah roadside bombing left 2 Iraqi soldiers dead, police Colonel Ihsan Madhi was shot dead in Basra, a suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 3 other people and left twelve others injured "north of Baquba," an Anjana Village roadside bombing left five members of the same family injured, 1st Lt Maadh Hadi was left injured in a Kirkuk shooting, Baquba battles left 3 rebels and 1 police member dead (with two more police injured), 2 suspects traveling in a car were shot dead "near Qaratapa" by military helicopters, Sheikh Zaid Eidan al-Zaidi was shot dead in Arab Jabar Village, Brigadier Saad Maan states security forces killed 1 person "south of Baghdad" and 2 suspects "near the Jordanian hospital in Fallujah," a security source states 5 suspects were killed in Anbar Province by security forces,  1 Peshmerga was discovered "dumped on the road in the center of the province of Sulaymaniyah showing the traces of fire shoots on different parts of the victim's body," and the corpse of Bunyan Abdullah was discovered in Adghaliya Village ("signs of torture and gunshot wounds").

Nouri continues committing the War Crime of collective punishment and his shelling of residential neighborhoods in Falluja left five civilians injured today.

All Iraq News notes Nouri also slammed Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi for refusing to allow state TV Iraqiya to film Parliament.  The news of al-Nujaifi's ban broke earlier this week.

I didn't consider it news.  I don't consider it news now.

al-Nujaifi's actions were in response to Nouri banning all outlets from his terrorism conference except for Iraqiya (which his party controls).

It wasn't the end of the world.  Especially since State Of Law was already boycotting sessions of Parliament.

In an ideal world, there would be no response because Nouri wouldn't have banned others to begin with.

But it is news that, having banned all Iraqi and Western outlets from his two-day terrorist conference except for his own Iraqiya satellite TV, Nouri now wants to whine about Iraqiya being banned from filming inside Parliament.

There may or may not be an "I Hate The War" later tonight.  I'd love for it to happen but I've got plans for the next hours and then we've got to start writing Third and Ava and I are hoping to do 3 pieces.  One very short on this week's ethical media lapse that no one seems to have noticed, one on an announced series that hasn't started filming yet (it's a warning piece on the acting) and we'd like to weigh in on Pacifica in light of the lengthy article predicting its demise this week.

The following community sites -- plus Tavis Smiley, Pacifica Evening News,, Jody Watley, KPFK, ACLU, Jake Tapper and  Susan's On the Edge -- updated:

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    Nouri finally finds a journalist killing he can condemn

    One journalist after another has been killed in Iraq and Nouri al-Maliki's never cared.  In some cases, as with Hadi al-Mahdi, Nouri is likely the one who ordered the murder.

    But today, the prime minister and chief thug of Iraq, found a murder he could condemn, that of Mohamed Bedewi.

    There are a number of reasons this murder is being condemned and one big reason that's not being stated by the press.

    As NINA notes, Bedewi was the "director of Office of Radio al-Iraq  Al-Hur" and was shot in Baghdad by 1 member of the Peshmerga who was charged with protecting the area around President Jalal Talabni's Baghdad residence.

    Jalal Talabani is the President of Iraq.  December 2012,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17, 2012 (see the December 18, 20102 snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20, 2012, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  His residence proper is in northern Iraq in the Kurdistan Regional Government.   November 20th, his chief bodyguard was shot dead in Sulaimaniyah.

    Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) points out Talabani is Kurdish and so are his protection forces.

    It also helps that the Peshmerga has already turned the guard over to the police.  All Iraq News notes Nouri arrived on the scene (in time for the press to cover it).

    To provide a little perspective on how Nouri treats journalists, let's drop back to the September 8, 2011 snapshot:

    In Iraq, a journalist has been murdered.  In addition to being a journalist, he was also a leader of change and part of the movement to create an Iraq that was responsive to Iraqis. 
    Al Mada reports Iraqi journalist Hadi al-Mahdi is dead according to an Interior Ministry source who says police discovered him murdered in his Baghdad home.  Along with being a journalist, Al Mada notes he was one of the chief organizers of the demonstrations demanding change and service reform that began on February 25th -- the day he was arrested by Iraqi security forces and beaten in broad daylight as he and others, after the February 25th protest, were eating in a restaurant. The New York Times didn't want to tell you about, the Washington Post did.  And now the man is dead. Gee, which paper has the archives that matter to any real degree.  Maybe it's time to act like a newspaper and not a "news magazine" with pithy little human interest stories?  (That is not a dig at Tim Arango but at the paper's diva male 'reporter' who went on NPR to talk of an Iraqi college this week.)  So while the Times missed the story (actaully, they misled on the story -- cowtowing to Nouri as usual),  Stephanie McCrummen (Washington Post) reported:

    Four journalists who had been released described being rounded up well after they had left a protest at Baghdad's Tahrir Square. They said they were handcuffed, blindfolded, beaten and threatened with execution by soldiers from an army intelligence unit.
    "It was like they were dealing with a bunch of al-Qaeda operatives, not a group of journalists," said Hussam al-Ssairi, a journalist and poet, who was among a group and described seeing hundreds of protesters in black hoods at the detention facility. "Yesterday was like a test, like a picture of the new democracy in Iraq."

    A year after Hadi's murder, Prashant Rao (AFP) reported, despite claims that they weren't responsible and that they would get to the bottom of it, the government has still not solved the assassination (or, I'd argue, even really investigated).  Rao noted:

    Mehdi's friends and supporters insist he has not been forgotten, with the radio station he worked at planning a special day of programming, and journalists and activists organising events and demonstrations in his memory this week.
    "Hadi would say what people wanted to say but couldn't -- they didn't have his courage," said Karnas Ali, technical director at the Demozy radio station where Mehdi broadcast three 90-minute shows a week.

    Today's he's concerned.  Today Nouri cares.

    Nouri doesn't give a damn except that he can use it to punish Kurds.

    Oh, and one other thing.

    Nobody wants to say.  Everybody knows it.

    But no one wants to be unkind to the dead.

    Tough, we tell the truth.

    The dead isn't a journalist.  He's part of a propaganda outlet.

    The stations he works for is better known as "Radio Free Iraq."

    And if that sounds vaguely familiar, yes, it is one of those "Radio Free" propaganda stations that the US government waste taxpayer dollars on.  Some may remember Hillary Clinton's lunatic ravings against China's outlets and Russia's and demanding Congress -- in her best Nikita Khruschev shoe banging performance -- do more for the propaganda outlets of the US.

    Oh, and by the way, Ukraine's about to get Radio Free Europe -- but let's all pretend not to notice that too.

    What was the 'journalist' doing?

    Who knows maybe he was pursuing a story?

    Maybe he was spying for the US government?

    Regardless, he was shot in public and by a Kurd so it was a political win for Nouri even before the US government dialed up Nouri announcing this murder be punished.  It was after this call that Nouri got his ass to the scene of the crime.

    You should have known something more was going on then what the press was telling you just by the fact that Nouri was finally calling for the murderer of a journalist to be punished.

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    the washington post
    stephanie mccrummen

    Friday, March 21, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, March 21, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, the much maligned RT covered the anniversary of the Iraq War this week who else can make that claim?, burn pits are not being dealt with by the VA, and much more.

    This week was the anniversary of the start of the illegal war.  But, in the United States, there was very little notice of that.  Why?  Thursday night, Kat posted, "The US media forgets Iraq to sell war on Ukraine and Syria."

    While the American media was silent, US Labor Against the War was not:

      With heavy heart and renewed determination, the officers, staff, and affiliates of U.S. Labor Against the War mark the eleventh anniversary of the outbreak of the illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq. For many Americans, the withdrawal of U.S. combat forces from Iraq at the end of 2011 marked the end of U.S. involvement with, and responsibility towards, the Iraqi people.  We disagree.
    Even though our combat forces are out, the war continues to have catastrophic effects in Iraq, and for the families of tens of thousands of U.S. veterans. Millions of Iraqis grieve the loss of loved ones killed by the U.S. military, while Americans mourn the deaths of thousands of our soldiers. 
    The sectarian violence wracking Iraq has its immediate origins in the ignorant and hubristic policies imposed by U.S. occupation forces. The sectarian factionalism encouraged by the U.S. occupation has paralyzed the Iraqi political process, presided over by a dysfunctional government. Depleted uranium from U.S. munitions is a continuing, widespread, and profound threat to the Iraqi environment and people, and to returning U.S. troops. Iraqi workers, 80% of whom work in the public sector – the oil industry, transportation, heavy manufacturing, hospitals, schools, ports, social services - are forbidden from organizing unions and engaging in collective bargaining because the U.S. kept in force the 1987 Saddam Hussein decree that prohibits public sector workers from organizing unions. All this and more is the legacy of a war that has not ended for Iraqis, for which the American people and our government must take responsibility.
    The war, now officially over for more than two years, continues to have catastrophic effects in the U.S. as well. Our Iraq war veterans suffer loss of limbs and eyes, long-term traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress disorder. They suffer from homelessness, unemployment, and suicide disproportionate to their numbers in society. The economic wellbeing of the country is threatened by the overhang of debt created by the reckless funding of the war and the distorted federal budget priorities that fund U.S. militarized foreign policy, instead of devoting those resources to urgent domestic human needs.
    As we reflect on the terrible continuing effects of the Iraq war, we in U.S. Labor Against the War commit ourselves to continuing and deepening our partnerships within the labor movement and with peace, veterans, and community organizations. We will continue to work with our partners in the Iraqi labor movement and Iraqi civil society. We will not turn away from our longstanding commitments to peace and justice in Iraq, and for our veterans and the American people. We are determined to end our country’s militarized foreign policy, no matter where our government seeks to apply it, and to promote true security for our people through universal education, health care, and modern infrastructure.
    These are our commitments as we mark the eleventh anniversary of the U.S. war in Iraq.

    Another who wasn't silent?  Abby Martin.  She did cover the illegal war's anniversary.  She spoke with Iraq War veteran Ryan Endicott about the war on her show Breaking The Set (RT -- here for the episode at Hulu).  Excerpt.

    Abby Martin:  In a speech you gave in 2009 called "Just Another Tuesday," you recount your experience as an infantryman in Iraq and that you were once punished for arresting a man instead of killing him.  Can you expand on this?

    Ryan Endicott:  Well, you know, I was on post when this Iraqi came through my door in the post, I was at the Government Center in Ramadi which is the capital of the Anbar Province where Falluja is.  And when this man came into my post, at that point, I had been standing my post and somehow he had gotten through all the other security measures and gotten to my post. And so, you know, when I arrested him and put him -- detained him, my command told me at that point that it was my fault that I should have killed him.  He was in an area that is completely restricted for civilians.  No questions asked, it doesn't matter if he had a gun, that's out the door, the fact is, I should have killed him.  And you know, for me during that time period, that was really tough for me to deal with it.  I had to go through all the repercussions and treated as though what I did was wrong and, you know, how I was called a "girl" and all sorts of pejorative terms around this situation.  And so after that situation, what I think is really important is that this is just one instance of that.  And like how many soldiers across this country are coming down with orders from command telling them to commit these crimes, telling them to kill people -- who don't have weapons -- specifically because of where they are specifically because of how they've impacted this sort of post.  And so what is shows is there's a whole policy around the idea that-that soldiers can kill or can murder someone that doesn't have a weapon and that's totally explainable by the command. 

    One could argue Nouri al-Maliki learned to attack the Iraqi people by watching the US actions in Iraq.  That would explain his ongoing attack on Anbar Province and his lack of remorse over the deaths of so many innocent civilians.  As Betty noted, 15 civilians died and forty more were injured on Thursday in Falluja due to Nouri's mortar attacks and bombings of residential neighborhoods.  NINA reports that Nouri's bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja today left 3 civilians dead and eleven more injured.

    Earlier this month in Genevea, a number of people and organizations addressed the issue of Iraq before the United Nations Human Rights Council.  BRussells Tribunal has a page with the remarks on Iraq in text as well as videos of the remarks being delivered.  We'll note this statement which the Geneva International Centre for Justice offered:

    Thank you Mr. President.
    We thank the Special Adviser for his ongoing efforts in raising awareness on genocide and in preventing this crime. It has been said that significant progress has been made in the prevention and punishment of genocide - but recent events have shown that we still have a long road ahead of us. The current situation in Iraq is a clear example. It was described as rapidly plummeting towards genocide.
    Since the US-invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the De-Ba’athification process, attacks based on discrimination and sectarianism have become major elements in the country’s politics. This tensed situation escalated at the turn of the year 2013/2014 with a military operation undertaken by the Iraqi government in the province of Al-Anbar, under the pretext of combating terrorists.
    Mr. Special Adviser, an important element of the prevention of genocide is the identification of the early warning signs of this crime.
    Signs have shown for long enough now that the Iraqi forces are targeting a certain religious group. The authority promotes domination over the government by those affiliated to its own religious beliefs, while treating the opposition with utmost hostility and brutality. It has become obvious that the onslaught against supposed terrorists is a cover for the annihilation of the group opposed to the increasingly discriminating policies of the current authorities in Iraq.
    The acts of the government find their roots in official speeches which are filled with sectarian rhetoric. Such rhetoric clearly shows the intent to eradicate a certain group.
    This raises serious concerns as the situation clearly fulfils the elements of the crime of genocide.

    We would like you, Mr. Special Advisor, to consider this alarming issue in your work.
    We also wonder why, inspite of these distressing events, the UN has not yet taken firm action to relieve the plight of the victims of the Iraqi government’s attacks. The UN must not wait the occurrence of a situation similar to what happened in Rwanda.
    We therefore plead that the situation in Iraq be addressed immediately by the Council. In particular, we call on the Special Adviser to urgently take all adequate measures.
    I thank you for your attention.

    The issue does need to be addressed immediately, the people of Anbar are being terrorized.  This was supposed to be a 'brief' campaign but it started December 30th and still isn't over -- despite the fact that national elections are supposed to take place next month.

    These are War Crimes that Nouri's committing but noted anti-Sunni Patrick Cockburn can't call him out on that.  He can smear Sunnis as killed -- he can does in his most recent article -- but the most he can offer to criticize his would-be lover Nouri al-Maliki is that "the government" (not Nouri, some other head of the Iraqi government that the world missed) released a fake video showing they were in control of Falluja when the footage was actually of Afghanistan.

    Patrick Cockburn's desire to have his ass joined to Nouri's cock is mind blowing.  But he needs to stop pretending he's reporting.  He slams the protest movement as a front for terrorists forgetting to note that his love master Nouri killed children last April.

    That would be the April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll eventually (as some wounded died) rose to 53 dead.   UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

    Even when his biased mouth managed to leave Nouri's crotch long enough to report on Hawija (long after the massacre), Lie Face Cock Burn couldn't tell his readers that the dead included 8 children.

    Apparently, when you're Paddy Cock Burn, you know better than UNICEF.

    Or else you just don't care when children are killed.

    Paddy Cock Burn has been allowed by the British newspaper the Independent (ha!) to conduct a war against the Sunnis in print.  He's gone after them repeatedly and lied repeatedly.  When he hasn't lied, he's left out major points that would demonstrate Nouri was a criminal thug.

    Here's an amazing though for the US government.

    Instead of supplying the dictator Nouri with weapons, why didn't you demand that he nominate people to head the security ministries?

    Security doesn't fall apart over night.

    In March 2010, Nouri and his State of Law lost the parliamentary elections to Ayad Allwi and Iraqiya.  But Nouri refused to step down.

    Worthless US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill was caught by surprise (while dreaming of being taken by surprise by Nouri) but US General Ray Odierno had been asking repeatedly that the US government figure out how they would respond if this happened?

    No one but Odierno thought it was possible.

    Contrasted with everyone else in the administration in 2010, Odierno looks like a genius.

    Nouri refused to step down and brought the government to an eight-month stand-still (this is the political stalemate).  The US government backed Nouri up on this (so did the Iranian government) and Barack ordered US officials in Iraq to broker a contract (The Erbil Agreement) to go around the votes of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi Constitution in order that loser Nouri could get a second term.

    Had the Constitution been followed, he wouldn't be prime minister right now.  But since the Constitution wasn't followed, since he got his second term via The Erbil Agreement, he didn't have to abide the Constitution which dictates someone is named prime minister-designate and then has 30 days to form a Cabinet -- not a partial one, a full Cabinet.

    Nouri didn't do that.

    He refused to nominate people to head the security ministries.

    If he had and Parliament had confirmed someone as, for example, Minister of Defense, then only Parliament could remove them and this person would run the Ministry as he or she saw fit.

    By refusing to nominate anyone to Parliament, Nouri violated the Constitution and it was a power-grab -- as Ayad Allawi noted in real time while the dumb ass Western press instead wrote that Nouri would nominate people for those positions in a few weeks.

    A few weeks?

    Back in July, 2012 Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." 

    That didn't change.  He still hasn't nominated any people to head the security ministries.

    As 2010 drew to an end, he was supposed to fill those posts.  He didn't.

    And then we had 2011 when the violence should have been alarming but no one wanted to see the signs.  Then came 2012 and we were still Paul Revere here on the violence but no one wanted to see it.  

    In 2013, the violence reached 2008 levels.  Suddenly, the press was interested.

    The increase did not happen overnight.

    It did happen slowly and it did happen as Nouri failed to fill those security posts.

    So instead of promising him (in the November 1st White House visit) that he would get various weapons, the White House should have been insisting he fill those positions.  

    Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi wrote this week:

    The decline in the security situation in Iraq has occurred as part of the general decline in different aspects of life. If a government official is to be held accountable, then it should be Al-Maliki due to his wide constitutional power. The first step towards genuine change has to be the departure of Al-Maliki to allow someone more qualified to tackle the security issue head-on. That person needs to believe in peace and be willing to make tough decisions affecting every aspect of life, including the political, economic ,social, cultural and legal.

    Staying with security, let's look at today's violence.


    National Iraqi News Agency reports  a Missan bombing left 1child dead and another injured,  2 Nimra Thmanya car bombings left 1 person dead and eleven more injured, an Alasewid Village roadside bombing left 2 police members dead, a car bombing targeting the "bridge connecting Jalawla and Kalar districts" left two people injured, 2 Dibbs car bombings left 2 people dead and twenty-six injured, a Ramadi suicide bomber targeted a funeral and took his own life and the lives of 7 mourners with twenty-three more people injured (the funeral was for a Sahwa killed yesterday), 2 Tuz Khurmatu bombings left sixteen people injured,  and 1 suicide tanker bomber took his own life "at the top of Hamrin Mountains" and also killed Brigadier General Raghib al-Tamimi and his assistant.  Sameer N. Yacoub and Murtada Faraj (AP) add that the death toll increased by 2 in the attack on the Ramadi funeral and that the funeral was for Nasir al-Alawani.  On the mountaintop attack that killed Ragheb al-Omari and one of his assistants,

    National Iraqi News Agency also reports  1 suicide tanker bomber took his own life "at the top of Hamrin Mountains" and also killed Brigadier General Raghib al-Tamimi and his assistant,   On the mountain top attack, Sameer N. Yacoub and Murtada Faraj (AP) add that the death toll increased by 7 for a total of nine.  (AFP goes with "killing 12 people and wounding five, including the head of the federal police, Brigadier General Raghib al-Umairi, and his assistant.")  Duraid Adnan (New York Times) describes it this way, "At dawn, a suicide bomber drove a truck filled with explosives into a police station in northeastern Diyala Province, followed by gunmen who sprayed bullets from speeding S.U.V.s. Eleven police officers were killed, including the commander of the unit, officials said."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports the attack this way, "The deadliest attack occurred about 105 miles (170 kilometers) north of Baghdad in Anjana, where a suicide bomber drove a truck loaded with explosives into federal police headquarters, police officials in Tikrit and Baquba said. Officers were among the 14 people who were killed and 18 others wounded, the officials said."  Only Iraq Times notes this was the headquarters of the Tigris Operations Command -- they're the force that Nouri illegally formed (he needed Parliament's consent and didn't seek it out).


    National Iraqi News Agency reports Diyala Province security announced they killed 12 militants,  the army states they killed 10 suspects "south of Falluja,"


    National Iraqi News Agency reports the corpse of 1 Sahwa was discovered in "the orchards along Diyala River north of Muqdadiyah."  All Iraq News adds that 13 corpses were discovered in Mujamaat ("shot in the head"),

    The US government had no interest in building democracy in Iraq.  That's Barack Obama as surely as it is Bully Boy Bush.  Barack spat on democracy when he refused to honor the results of the 2010 parliamentary elections.

    They did and do, however, care about Iraq's oil.  Yesterday, Mike noted Kevin Gosztola's article about Brookings' Kenneth Pollack (read at either "Information Clearing House or "Firedoglake").  Kevin quotes Pollack telling Congress:

    Since 2003, the United States has invested an enormous amount in Iraq, and the future of Iraq remains of great importance to the interests of the United States and our allies. Iraq has replaced Iran as the second leading oil exporter in OPEC, and projections of future low oil prices are highly contingent upon the continued growth of Iraqi oil exports. Remembering that virtually every postwar American recession was preceded by an increase in oil prices, Iraq and its oil production remain critical to the prosperity of the United States.

    Kevin states of Pollack, "This was his first expressed concern: the future of oil production. He then proceeded to address the resurgence of al Qaeda and other issues in Iraq."

    What to do?

    We tell truth here.

    Kevin's wrong.  Those weren't Pollack's first remarks.  In fairness to Kevin, that's probably what the Congressional Record reflects and that's problem that needs to be addressed.  Once upon a time, the record served a purpose.  Today, it needs to be accurate.

    If Kevin consulted, the record, that's why he's wrong.  If, however, he just went to Brookings to grab Kenneth Pollack's prepared remarks (written remarks 'submitted for the record'), then I'm less likely to cut him slack.

    I was at that hearing.  It was December 12th.  Pollack actually said a lot of smart things and we quoted some of it in the December 16th snapshot.  I honestly would have let him slide on the oil remarks (had he made them) because he was focusing on more important things.

    But he didn't make the oil remarks.  They're in the written remarks submitted.  But he didn't read his written statement but instead spoke of al Qaeda in Iraq in his opening remarks.

    He never said, in the entire hearing, what Kevin quotes him saying.

    He had intended to, judging by his written remarks, but more pressing issues forced him to speak of the political issues and much more.

    A long with the fact that we have to be truthful, we also have to be fair.  I've knocked Pollack and others at Brookings many times and I'm sure I will again but I was at that hearing, I know what happened, I can pull out my notes and I know Kenneth Pollack did not open with oil.  It would be unfair to him for me to pretend otherwise.

    If Kevin got it from the Congressional Record, he (and everyone else) has every right to assume that is an accurate record.  However, it's not. He did not make those opening remarks, a correct record would note those remarks were submitted for the record but also note what he stated.

    Also covering oil last night was Ann who noted this from Project Censored:

    JUDICIAL WATCH, July 17,2003
    Title: Cheney Energy Task Force Documents Feature Map of Iraqi Oilfields
    Author: Judicial Watch staff

    Title: “Bush-Cheney Energy Strategy:Procuring the Rest of the World’s Oil”
    Author: Michael Klare

    Faculty Evaluators: James Carr, Ph.D., Alexandra Von Meier, Ph.D.
    Student Researcher: Cassie Cypher, Shannon Arthur

    Documents turned over in the summer of 2003 by the Commerce Department as a result of the Sierra Club’s and Judicial Watch’s Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, concerning the activities of the Cheney Energy Task Force, contain a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as two charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and “Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts.” The documents, dated March 2001, also feature maps of Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates oilfields, pipelines, refineries and tanker terminals. There are supporting charts with details of the major oil and gas development projects in each country that provide information on the project’s costs, capacity, oil company and status or completion date.
    Documented plans of occupation and exploitation predating September 11 confirm heightened suspicion that U.S. policy is driven by the dictates of the energy industry. According to Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton, “These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public.”

    Isobel Coles (Reuters) reports, "Kurdistan will export 100,000 barrels of oil per day through the Iraqi pipeline network from April 1 as a 'gesture of goodwill' while negotiations with Baghdad continue, a statement from the region's prime minister said on Thursday."  I have so much to say on that issue including US Vice President Joe Biden's broken promise to Iraq's President Jalal Talabani.  We don't have the time or space to unpack it now.  Maybe next week.  And maybe we can note MP Susan Saad then as well.  Ruth covered the Jewish Archives at her site Thursday night.  I hope we can cover that next week.

    Today, John Glaser ( observes, "The U.S.-backed dictator Nouri al-Maliki is ruling the country with an iron fist, putting his political opponents in jail, torturing prisoners, crushing free speech, and so on. The advocates of “democracy promotion” in Iraq, somehow, don’t have to answer for the fact that the Iraqi parliament is now considering imposing new laws that would allow girls to be forced into arranged marriages from the age of nine."

    And with that as a backdrop, Iraq plans to hold parliamentary elections April 30th.  Supposedly, elections will take place in all 19 provinces (the KRG increased by 1 province last week).  But Iraqi elections, to be legitimate, must include the displaced.  And they have in the past.  In fact, Nouri's attempt to short change refugees out of the country in 2009 pushed the parliamentary elections back to 2010 (Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi used his veto power to sink the bill).  Now it's been announced that Iraqi refugees in Syria will not be allowed to vote.  It is stated that Syria is just too dangerous for a polling station.  Syria, Jordan and Lebanon remain the three countries with the highest number of Iraqi refugees as a result of their sharing borders with Iraq (and as a result of governments like the US leaving them stranded -- both in terms of ridiculous regulations and, in Syria, by closing down the means the refugees had to apply for admission to the US).

    The editorial board of Arab News argues voting should be postponed and they recap some of the events since the 2010 parliamentary elections including this from December 2011:

    [. . ] Al-Maliki began the effective demolition of the National Unity government he headed by having an arrest warrant issued for Vice-President Tareq Al-Hashimi, a Sunni. Hashimi was accused of involvement in death squads. Helped by Kurds, he fled the country, only to be tried in his absence and found guilty.
    Al-Maliki pretended at the time that the prosecution was important because no one should be able to escape punishment for past crimes. But this argument was fatally weakened by the presence in his government of Shiite politicians who were equally suspected of involvement in the inter-communal violence that had threatened to tear the country apart. Besides, however terrible the crimes committed by all parties in Iraq, the country’s future could only be ensured by reconciliation. Iraq desperately needed to put its dark past behind and look to a brighter and more prosperous future.
    Unfortunately Al-Maliki hardly tried to convince skeptical Sunni politicians and voters that the prosecution of Hashimi was not motivated by the fact that the vice-president was a Sunni. That this was indeed the reality has since become even more apparent as Shia legislators have moved to exclude former and serving Sunni politicians, including former Finance Minister Rafie Al-Issawi from standing in next month’s elections. Former interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a Shiite, and leader of the National Iraqi Alliance, has himself warned that in the light of these moves against Sunni politicians, as well as the deteriorating security situation in the country, the vote cannot go ahead.

    How did Rafea al-Isawi and others get banned?  Niqash attempts to explain it:

    The Independent High Electoral Commission, or IHEC, the authority that is supposed to prepare Iraq for elections and run electoral procedures, such as voter registration and the actual voting, recently decided to ban a number of politicians from competing in the elections. These were independent Shiite Muslim MP, Sabah al-Saedi, Shiite Muslim MP, Jawad al-Shuhaili, who is aligned with the Sadrist bloc, MP Haider al-Mulla from the mostly-Sunni Muslim Iraqiya bloc, MP Rafea al-Isawi, also a Sunni Muslim from the Iraqiya bloc and one of the country’s most senior Sunni Muslim politicians as well as a former MP, Mithal al-Alousi, who made headlines in 2004 as one of the first Iraqi politicians to visit Israel and who previously headed the de-Baathification commission.

    IHEC says the reason for the ban on these politicians is because they have violated the rule about good conduct. However there are clearly some problems with this clause – many local legal and constitutional experts have already said that it is too general and that it could be used in myriad ways by the unscrupulous.

    Iraqi lawyer Munir Haddad, who is perhaps best known outside the country for his time as a judge, presiding over the trial of former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, told NIQASH: “Iraqi MPs should have been more careful when they voted on this article. It’s not clearly formulated enough.”

    “This paragraph is very general and it can be interpreted any way a person wants,” adds judge Abdul-Raheem al- Ukaili, who formerly worked with Iraq’s Commission on Integrity. “Unfortunately IHEC has interpreted this paragraph in an arbitrary way and it has been used against politicians who are well known for opposing the government.”

    Indeed it seemed to many that the “bad behaviour” these MPs had undertaken simply involved publicly criticizing Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or his allies.

    “Politicians who speak about corruption in the government are now people with bad reputations,” one of the banned MPs, al-Alousi, complained to NIQASH. “There is a deliberate plan to silence al-Maliki’s opponents and to ruin democracy in Iraq. We are going to file a lawsuit at the Supreme Federal Court to defend our rights and we hope this court won’t bow to political pressure,” he argued.

    "Niqash attempts to explain it"?  There's no byline.  An Iraqi offering the above has cause to worry.

    One aspect not dealt with is the so-called Independent High Electoral Commission.  No one wanted to pay attention -- even though Nouri had previously attempted to take it over -- when certain people were nixed from serving.  No one wanted to pay attention as Nouri stacked the commission.

    Despite his threats and his bullying, despite the fact that it was clear his attempts to take over the independent banks had already succeeded, no one wanted to pay attention.

    Hamza Mustafa (Asharq Al-Awsat) reports:

    In his second media appearance since he announced his intention to quit politics, Iraqi Shi’ite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr called on the people of Iraq to participate in the forthcoming parliamentary elections to prevent “thieves” and “beneficiaries” from gaining power.
    Sadr has been an increasingly fierce critic of embattled Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki, denouncing him earlier this month as a “dictator and a tyrant.” He has called for a series of anti-government protests each Monday, saying the Iraqi electorate should ignore “the negligence and disregard of some politicians” and participate in the forthcoming legislative elections, scheduled for April 30.
    “If elections are held without the participation of patriotic and loyal voters, the unfit will inevitably make it to power,” Sadr said.

    Moqtada al-Sadr remains Nouri's most formidable rival at present.  Kitabat notes that Moqtada delivered a sermon today decrying the elimination and exclusion of candidates and calling for the people to vote and make their voices heard.

    Turning to the issue of Iraq's girls and women:

  • "Passage of Jaafari law would be disastrous & discriminatory step backward for Iraq's women& girls"

  • Last night, Trina noted Martin Chulov (Guardian) had reported on the issue  and Trina observed:

    In the article, Nouri's spokesperson insists Nouri hasn't taken a position on it.
    Yes, he has.
    By letting it come to a vote, he took a position.
    By forwarding it to Parliament, he took a position.
    It's also said that he voted for when he brought it up for a vote in the Cabinet.  And, as Middle East Confidential notes, "It was proposed by Iraq’s justice minister, Head of the Fadila bloc, which has seven seats in the parliament and is a strong ally of the prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki."
    So let's cut the nonsense.

    Ghassan Tawfiq al-Husseini (Kitabat) writes about how this proposed law is harmful for Iraq (and also states Nouri voted for it in the Cabinet vote) and would divide the country and set it back.

    It's a strong column.  There was a column I wanted to highlight.  I read it this morning on the plane.  I've got 300 Iraqi newspaper pages in my browser and can't find it and don't have time to go through everyone of them.

    It was most likely Kitabat or Iraq Times.  The writer favors the law.  The writer feels Iraq is being shamed.  I appreciate the writer's feelings, but Iraq should be shamed on this.  The writer argued that if the age of nine (or eight) for marriage was too low, it could be changed to the onset of puberty.

    Most countries and most people around the world would tell you that is still too young.

    But let's set that aside real quick to note two other things in the law.  First, stripping mothers of their rights, custodial rights.  How is that good?  How is that helpful?

    And I'm not understanding how forced sex or rape is beneficial to a husband.  It's surely not beneficial to a wife.

    Putting that into law will make Iraq a laughingstock.

    The writer was concerned about how Iraq was being seen.  The writer should be concerned.  Legalizing rape is nothing any country is moving towards today except Iraq.  Passing the bill will mean the only thing Iraq will be noted for that's not shameful will be their new Guinness World Record of least wide ally in the world (it's in Baghdad).

    In other news, the National Lawyers Guild Tweeted:

  • Victory in SF! The City of Oakland will pay $4.5M to Iraq veteran and activist Scott Olsen, who was nearly killed...

  • WeCopWatch (Indybay Media -- link is text and video) adds:

    The City of Oakland has agreed to pay Scott Olsen $4.5 million to compensate him for devastating brain injuries he suffered when an Oakland Police officer shot him in the head with a “less lethal” munition on October 25, 2011, during a demonstration in support of Occupy Oakland. The lead filled “bean bag” round, fired from a 12 gauge shotgun, shattered Mr. Olsen’s skull and permanently destroyed part of his brain. The settlement in Olsen v. City of Oakland, 3:12-cv-06333, is pending final approval by the Oakland City Council. Mr. Olsen was represented by attorneys Jim Chanin, Rachel Lederman, and Julie Houk. (Ten-minute Olsen case video below.)

    As we rush to wrap up, Patrick Murphy's MSNBC talk show (Taking The Hill) will address a number of issues this Sunday:

  • Tune in! On Sunday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard joins 's to discuss Iraq lessons & the need for vets in Congress. 7a HST/1p EST

  • And we'll close with  this from Senator Tom Udall's office:

    WASHINGTON - In a letter to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Eric K. Shinseki today, U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations subcommittee, and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, pressed the VA for answers regarding its failure to diligently and expeditiously implement the Open Air Burn Pit Registry as mandated under Section 201 of PL 112-260, which Udall and Corker coauthored and introduced in 2011.
    "As you know from previous correspondence on this matter, the Open Air Burn Pit Registry was designed to identify and monitor veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who were exposed to toxic pollutants released by open air burn pits," Udall and Corker wrote. "This delay is deeply concerning, particularly when similar registries exist within the United States government. The lack of urgency and communication from the VA is even more troubling. Our veterans, Congress, and the public deserve to know why the Open Air Burn Pit Registry has been delayed and when it will be completed."

    "In an effort to address this failure, we ask that you provide Congress with information on the current status of the Open Air Burn Pit Registry, an accounting of problems that have arisen during the development of the registry, detailed information on remaining benchmarks to be completed before the Open Air Burn Pit Registry will become fully operational, and any information on how Congress can help to expedite the implementation of this critical program."

    On January 10, 2013, President Barack Obama signed PL 112-260 into law. The law provided the VA one year to develop, implement, and maintain an open burn pit registry of service members and veterans who may have been exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes from open air burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan. The registry has not yet been established.

    Full text of the letter is included below and HERE.

    Dear Secretary Shinseki,

    We write to you today regarding the failure of the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to diligently and expeditiously implement the Open Air Burn Pit Registry as mandated under Section 201 of Public Law 112-260.

    As you know from previous correspondence on this matter, the Open Air Burn Pit Registry was designed to identify and monitor veterans who had served in Iraq and Afghanistan and who were exposed to toxic pollutants released by open air burn pits. When President Obama signed PL 112-260 into law on January 10, 2013, it provided the VA one year to develop, implement, and maintain this registry. While the necessity for some delay is understandable, the VA has failed to adequately explain why the delay has occurred, which steps remain to be completed before the registry is available for the use of our veterans, and provide specific information on when the registry is expected to be completed.

    This delay is deeply concerning, particularly when similar registries exist within the United States government. The lack of urgency and communication from the VA is even more troubling. Our veterans, Congress, and the public deserve to know why the Open Air Burn Pit Registry has been delayed and when it will be completed. Furthermore, the VA has failed to develop the Open Air Burn Pit Registry after multiple congressional inquiries and letters calling for its timely creation and has not provided detailed information regarding the nature of the delay to Congressional offices who have requested such information.

    In an effort to address this failure, we ask that you provide Congress with information on the current status of the Open Air Burn Pit Registry, an accounting of problems that have arisen during the development of the registry, detailed information on remaining benchmarks to be completed before the Open Air Burn Pit Registry will become fully operational, and any information on how Congress can help to expedite the implementation of this critical program. We remain concerned about VA's implementation of this program and we urge you to diligently complete the Open Air Burn Pit Registry.

    Thank you for your timely response to this matter and your continued service to our nation.


    Bob Corker
    Tom Udall

     the new york times