Saturday, April 04, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Saturday, April 4, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, looting and burning homes takes place in Tikrit, what the no-thanks for US air support in Iraq probably means, Judith Miller does not repent nor recant, and much more.

Oh, Judith.

What is there to say?

If there's anything worse than becoming a joke, it has to be turning yourself into a parody.

Judith Miller's published a 'thought piece' for those who've never thought and for those who've always been spoon fed their thoughts.

What really is the point of her piece on the Iraq War and "stubborn myths"?

For those late to the story, the Iraq War was built upon lies.

The Bully Boy Bush Administration and the bulk of Congress -- and the bulk of Congress -- sold an illegal war to the world.  To do that, they needed to silence dissent and they needed to saturate the public with their message.  A compliant and pathetic media -- which we still have in the US -- desperate to be 'cool kids' with whomever is in power -- ibid -- rushed to see who could be the most helpful.

Some lied.

Some were attack dogs whose purpose was to smear anyone who spoke out.  The Dallas Morning News, for example, ran a little pipeline operation where they attacked anyone in the arts who spoke out.  It was known in real time.  It's only become more infamous as one of the key participants has become a raging alcoholic (karma?) and can't stop talking -- at the new paper the boozer now works for -- about what they did back then at the Dallas Morning News.

Along with the attack dogs, you had the court stenographers.  There were two kinds here -- the liars and the idiots.

Judith Miller was an idiot.

Got a whopper no one will believe?  Feed it to Judy, she'll swallow it! She'll swallow anything!

And she did.


She wrote one bad report after another.

None of them should have been published.

Jill Abramson tried to position herself as having opposed Miller.  She tried to do that after Miller's reporting was in shreds -- reality left reporter Judith Miller dead from a thousand paper cuts.

But in real time Abramson didn't try to stop Miller's bad reporting from being published.  Jill can lie all she wants -- and she is a liar -- but the reality is she also had the power to assign other reporters and to have them do real reporting.  Jill didn't do that either.

There were whispers (untrue) that Miller was getting things in print because she'd had an affair -- in the long ago past.  That was a lie.  Miller got stuff in the paper because the paper wanted her star turns.  She didn't sleep her way to publication.

And the paper -- Jill and all the people in charge -- are as responsible for Miller's reporting as is Judith Miller.  They could have fact checked it, they could have assigned other reporters, they had any number of options to address any problems.

But they looked the other way.

And in fairness to the New York Times, they weren't the only paper doing so.  And the broadcast and cable talk shows and alleged news programs rushed to do the same.

Today, Barack Obama can say anything -- true or false -- and the press treats it as gospel.

That's not a new development.

Fox and others are up in arms about how Barack gets away with this and that.

But they didn't give a damn when it was Bully Boy Bush getting the same press treatment.

The problem is the press.

And maybe a wiser Judith Miller could have addressed that.

Instead, what she mainly accomplishes with her latest writing is proving this site right.

We noted she wasn't a liar.

We noted she was a bad reporter who believed anything she was told.

Her 'thought' piece only backs that up.

A book is to follow, but the piece says everything that needs to be said.

Did you know that Bully Boy Bush was a victim?  He was misled and misinformed?

This is exactly why Judith Miller is a lousy reporter.

She could make that claim about herself.

Some might believe it, some might not.

But she has the capabilities to make that claim about herself.

She can't see inside Bully Boy Bush's brain or his alleged soul.

She writes as if she can or as if she's done this groundbreaking investigative reporting that documented this for her.

Yet again, it's just Judith's demons running free.

Miller was supposed to be a reporter.

Not a columnist, a reporter.

That means trafficking in the facts, not in opinion.

But the facts didn't interest her.

She always 'massaged' them and let claims -- presented as fact -- overtake her alleged reporting.

This was true when she was the poster girl of the left writing for The Progressive.

She carried it with her to the New York Times.

She didn't carry any real journalistic skills with her and never felt the need to practice the core journalistic principle of skepticism.

The essay/column/piece was supposed to demonstrate that Judith Miller is a reporter and it only demonstrated that she remains a fool.

We've been very fair to Judith Miller here.

I defended her right to refuse to testify.  We opposed her being put behind bars for refusing to divulge a source.

We have repeatedly noted that Judith Miller wasn't the worst of her peers.

For example, the Amy Goodman's of the world  rushed forward to say no one died for Jayson Blair's lies.

Jayson Blair, like Miller, is a former 'reporter' for the New York Times.

What Jayson Blair did was far worse than what Judith Miller did.

Jayson Blair knowingly lied in reports he filed.

Knowingly and intentionally, he lied.

There is no defense for that.

Were he a columnist, we could argue whether he was spinning or not -- and were he a columnist, I wouldn't even engage in that conversation because I'd expect a columnist to spin for any number of reasons -- including being entertaining.

But he was a reporter and his pieces were filed as reports.

And he lied.

Repeatedly and consistently, he lied.

If Miller had lied, we still would have defended her right to refuse to name a source.

But Miller didn't lie.

She was stupid.  She was foolish.  She was desperate for applause that her 'star turns' in print had prepped her for.

She wasn't a liar.

Her latest writing makes it clear that she's not a liar.

It also makes clear that she's not a reporter.

And it makes clear that she's one of the stupidest people to walk the face of the earth currently.

People can make mistakes.

People can be stupid (I'm stupid all the time).

People can do all of that and even not learn from it.

That will never make them worse than a reporter who knowingly and intentionally lies.

And you have to wonder what it says about the Amy Goodmans, alleged reporters, that they would make a case for a reporter like Blair who knowingly lied in his reporting?

Miller didn't lie.

She was stupid and foolish.

And clearly didn't learn a thing from her experience.

If she had, she'd stick to what she knew.  If she speculated, she'd label it speculation.

Instead, 'all knowing' Judy is back to insisting she sees reality.

She saw WMDs in Iraq -- she presented it as reality.

That was then.

Today, she sees into the heart of Bully Boy Bush and knows exactly what he was told and what he believed.

Reporting is realizing that you don't know everything.

Judith should go into creative writing so that she can molest her creative muse for as long as she so desires.

I'd really hoped that Judith Miller would emerge from this entire debacle with some form of wisdom.  That would be something worth sharing.  She could explain to other reporters and future reporters how a journalist needs to be skeptical and how a reporter needs to self-check repeatedly to ensure that she or he is not being sold a bill of goods.

There are so many lessons she could have learned and could have imparted.

Instead, she's still insisting that whatever happened is something that happened because of somebody else.

Now I'm all for let's not dogpile Judith Miller.

I've said here repeatedly that Miller wrote reports -- bad reports -- but she was not the one waiving them into print, she was not the one booking herself on Oprah and Meet The Press, etc., and on and on.

Miller was one bad reporter in a pool lousy with bad reporters.  And, to her credit, she was one of the dumb ones as opposed to the group of reporters who knowingly lied.

So  I don't pin all the problems of the press with regards to the Iraq War on her.

And I'm also aware that she became the scapegoat because she was a woman.

If you doubt that, note the 'left' attacks on Maureen Dowd led by the losers at Media Matters and sexist Bob Somerby.

Maureen is to be attacked?

I'm struggling to think of any national columnist who called out the Iraq War more than Maureen.

That doesn't make her above criticism.

But her gender does mean she gets attacked constantly and her attackers don't even give her credit for what she did do.

As he rushed to defend Susan Rice, Bob Somerby had the nerve to suggest that Maureen had never written of Condi Rice.

We called that lie out the day he wrote it.

Maureen did more than anyone -- way more than weak-ass Paul Krugman.  (And if that's news to you, pick up a copy of Dowd's Bushworld: Enter At Your Own Risk.)

But she gets no credit for it.  And some of her worst attackers are men who blogged in support of the Iraq War.  Yes, Ezra, we mean you.  Yes, Matthew, we mean you.

Judith Miller was part of a large pack of bad reporters but she's the only one who went down and that did have a great deal to do with gender.

(The sexism was also evident in the reaction to her arrogance -- some would label it 'confidence' -- which angered so many of her critics -- "I was proved right" -- while her frequent co-writer Micheal Gordon's arrogance was taken in stride and considered normal -- his arrogance when it was on display in an interview with Amy Goodman -- and Goodman crumbled under that arrogance.)

It would have been something if Judith Miller had arrived at an awakening -- or gained even a tiny bit of insight.

Instead, she's the explanation of why the same stupid things -- like war -- happen over and over again:  So many of us refuse to learn from mistakes.

Or as Shirley Bassey once sang with Propellerheads, "it's all just a little bit of history repeating."

And Iraq repeats.

Tuesday, Iraq's Prime Minister offered a Tweet.

PM Al-Abadi announces the liberation of Tikrit and congratulates Iraqi security forces and popular volunteers on the historic milestone
207 retweets145 favorites

Of course, Tikrit wasn't liberated.

So Wednesday, the Iraqi government again announced that Tikrit had been liberated:

"Here we come to you, Anbar! Here we come to you, Nineveh, and we say it with full resolution, confidence, and persistence."
That's Iraq's Minister of Defense Khalid al-Obeidi as quoted by the AP.
And yes, he does sound a bit like Howard Dean.
AP notes he dubbed today in Tikrit a "magnificent victory."
They're far too kind to note that yesterday was also dubbed a victory.
BBC News does note that, claims aside, "Troops are still fighting to clear the last remaining IS holdout in the city, but Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was filmed raising an Iraqi flag there."

And from Thursday's snapshot:

AFP reports what took place yesterday in Tikrit:

Pro-government militiamen were seen looting shops in the centre of the Iraqi city of Tikrit on Wednesday after its recapture from the Islamic State jihadist group in a month-long battle.

The militiamen took items including clothing, shampoo and shaving cream from two shops in central Tikrit before driving away.

Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted about the militia looting and offered a photo:

: تكرار حالات السلب والنهب التي تنتهجها القوات الحكومية والميليشيات التابعة لها عند دخولها مناطق النزاع.
47 retweets18 favorites

Friday, AP reported that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Friday morning that the government "will begin arresting and prosecuting anyone who loots abandoned properties in the newly-recaptured city of Tikrit."  We noted it was a pass, that the law -- the existing law -- apparently does not take effect until 48 hours after liberation.

Today, Lydia Willgress (Daily Mail) notes, "Shia paramilitary fighters looting and setting fire to buildings in Tikrit are 'out of control', an official said.  Ahmed al-Karim, head of the Salahuddin provincial council, said the fighters had burnt 'hundreds of houses' in the last two days."  And Middle East Monitor reports:

Earlier, the Iraqi governor of Saladin left his own province in disgust over the looting spree being carried out allegedly by the Shia militia.
Ahmed Abdel-Jabbar al-Karim, chief of Saladin's provincial council, told the Anadolu Agency late Friday that he along with Governor Raed al-Jabouri left the province in protest against al-Hashid al-Shaabi's alleged looting and burning spree in Tikrit.
Al-Karim had also blamed the central Iraqi government of not doing enough to stop the militia's illegal actions. "Governor Raed al-Jabouri told Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi about the violations and left the province when no stopped the militia from robbing and burning shops in Tikrit," he said.

According to al-Karim, the Shia militia also clashed with him and al-Jabouri when they tried to stop their rampage in central Tikrit. The militia men allegedly used abusive words, laced with sectarian references, with the senior Iraqi officials, which then quickly turned into a physical clash that left several body guards injured.

Hopefully, for the militia thugs, those clashes took place in the 48 hours when Haider al-Abadi was suspending the rule of law.

Let's be really clear that saying 'Starting now the law applies' is embarrassing.

Everyone who took part should be punished.

Deutshce Welle quotes Ahmed al-Kraim ("head of Tirkit's governing council") stating, "Houses and shops were burnt after they stole everything. Our city was burnt in front of our eyes."  Ned Parker, Michael Williams and Reuters correspondents in Tikrit report more specifically:

Near the charred, bullet-scarred government headquarters, two federal policemen flanked a suspected Islamic State fighter. Urged on by a furious mob, the two officers took out knives and repeatedly stabbed the man in the neck and slit his throat. The killing was witnessed by two Reuters correspondents. 
The incident is now under investigation, interior ministry spokesman Brigadier General Saad Maan told Reuters.

Since its recapture two days ago, the Sunni city of Tikrit has been the scene of violence and looting. In addition to the killing of the extremist combatant, Reuters correspondents also saw a convoy of Shi'ite paramilitary fighters – the government's partners in liberating the city – drag a corpse through the streets behind their car.

No doubt Barack's special envoy John Allen will term the above "excesses."

As he did to Congress last week.

Iraqi Shia militia are reportedly withdrawn from Tikrit after (predictable) looting & violence
107 retweets 41 favorites

And, yes, it was predictable.

More to the point, Kenneth Roth repeatedly warned against it.  Noted how it had happened previously.

He wasn't the only one warning ahead of time.  Sunday, Maria Fantappie and Peter Harling's "If Shi'ite militias beat Islamic State in Tikrit, Iraq will still lose" (Reuters) observed:

The military campaign is thus exacerbating the sense of powerlessness, disenfranchisement and humiliation among Sunni Arabs that gave rise to Islamic State.
The growing tendency in Baghdad and the south to equate Shi’ite militias with the national army, to declare oneself a patriot while expressing gratitude to Iran for its intervention, and to subsume national symbols under Shi’ite ones — with black, yellow and green flags referring to Hussein ibn Ali ibn Abi Taleb, Shiism’s third Imam, increasingly crowding out the Iraqi flag — is reshaping Iraqis’ national identity in ways that will vastly complicate well-intentioned efforts to advance inclusive politics and governance.
The overwhelmingly Shiite ground forces battling ISIS in Sunni Tikrit have become increasingly powerful as the government army has disintegrated. The militias have a brutal record of sectarian bloodletting, including burning and bulldozing thousands of homes and other buildings in dozens of Sunni villages after American airstrikes drove ISIS out of the town of Amerli in northeastern Iraq last summer. If that happened in Tikrit, the United States would be blamed for helping to trigger yet another cycle of horrific sectarian violence.

There were others as well.

Yet that it happened in Tikrit is being portrayed as 'surprising.'

So much about the 'liberation' of Tikrit is seen as 'surprising.'

Including the way 'success' is credited.

A few hundred Islamic fighters managed to thwart and hold off a little over 30,000 security forces (soldiers and militias) who, for three weeks, were led by the combined military strategy genius of Baghdad and Tehran.

The forces suffered huge losses.

So much so, that the operation was put on 'pause' because the forces were reluctant to move forward.

And though a Shi'ite militia leader (and Iraq's Minister of Transportation) -- as well as an Iranian designated by the US government as a terrorist -- mocked the idea of US air support, in the end Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi went begging to the United States for that air support.

And only once that was received did the bogged down operation begin moving.

But that reality is not being portrayed in Iraq.  Rod Nordland and Falih Hassan (New York Times) reported:

But to hear some of the Iraqi forces here tell it, the Americans deserve little or no credit. And many of the Shiite militiamen involved in the fight say the international coalition’s air campaign actually impeded their victory — even though beforehand they had spent weeks in a stalemate with militants holed up in Tikrit. Some even accuse the United States of fighting on the side of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.
Still, most of the militiamen now pouring into this city in the Sunni heartland along the Tigris River were not even in the real battle over the past week, and the only shots they fired were into the air on Thursday — which they did with abandon.

The ingratitude, as we noted earlier this week, is telling.

As is the spinning that being bogged down was part of the plan all along.

No, it wasn't.

They announced the mission would take a few days.

It took weeks.

They announced they'd reach the center of the city in the first five days.

They didn't reach it until after the US started dropping bombs.

The ingratitude is telling.

From Tuesday's snapshot:

Loveday Morris (Washington Post) notes, "Militia leaders refused to admit Tuesday that they were still working under American air cover. One coalition strike occurred overnight as the pro-government forces advanced, according to Col. Wayne Marotto, a spokesman for the coalition operation."
They weren't the only ones failing to note the air strikes.
In his public remarks, Haider al-Abadi thanked the Iraqi security forces as well as the militias.
He pointedly did not think the US pilots -- this despite his begging for this help and assistance.

So the forces don't acknowledge the US assistance and the prime minister doesn't acknowledge it and it all seems so familiar because it is.

We covered the November 30, 2011 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the MiddleEast and South Asia in the December 1st snapshot and noted that Ranking Member Gary Ackerman had several questions. He declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the [police training] program?  Interviews with senior Iaqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter didain for the program.  When the Iraqis sugest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that might be a clue."  

The State Dept's Brooke Darby faced that Subcommittee. 

Ranking Member Gary Ackerman noted that the US had already spent 8 years training the Iraq police force and wanted Darby to answer as to whether it would take another 8 years before that training was complete?  

Her reply was, "I'm not prepared to put a time limit on it."  

She could and did talk up Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Adnan al-Asadi as a great friend to the US government.  But Ackerman and Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot had already noted Adnan al-Asadi, but not by name.  That's the Iraqi official, for example, Ackerman was referring to who made the suggestion "that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States."  He made that remark to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.

Brooke Darby noted that he didn't deny that comment or retract it; however, she had spoken with him and he felt US trainers and training from the US was needed.  The big question was never asked in the hearing: If the US government wants to know about this $500 million it is about to spend covering the 2012 training of the Ministry of the Interior's police, why are they talking to the Deputy Minister? (That would be Nouri al-Maliki.  He was Prime Minister and he refused to nominate anyone to the post of Deputy Minister so that he could control himself.  Adnan al-Asadi was never confirmed by the Parliament because he was never nominated.  He was a puppet.)

And Brooke Darby either lied or was lied to.

Because the Iraqis refused the training.

See the e June 29, 2012 snapshot  for what happened to the US building to train the Iraqis in.  Spoiler alert: it was given away.

So in 2011, there were signs that the Iraqis didn't want US help on training.

Those signs weren't heeded.

Today there are signs of the same.

They're not being heeded.

In addition to underscoring how the Barack Obama administration refuses to learn -- they're so Judith Miller -- it underscores something else.


Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.  

The State Dept took over the US operation in Iraq on October 1, 2011.  The start of the fiscal year.

They were given millions and millions of US taxpayer dollars for their mission in Iraq.

And yet Hillary refused to provide specifics to Congress.

Kind of like her e-mails, she deemed them 'private.'

And that might have been forgiven if the mission were a success.

But it wasn't a success, was it?

The program wasted money and went on longer than it should have -- no one was showing up for training -- and when Tim Arango and the New York Times reported on that, the State Dept insisted Arango had it wrong (he was correct).

She wants to be president.

She wanted to be when she was Secretary of State.

Yet preparing for a planned run did not make her treat the US taxpayer -- or the taxpayers' money -- with any great care or oversight.

And the end result was that the State Dept mission in Iraq was a failure.

And a huge one as the ongoing violence demonstrates.

Yet some people want to claim her tenure as Secretary of State gives her foreign policy experience?

Yesterday, Margaret Griffis ( counted 27 violent deaths across Iraq.