Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, September 22, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, spin continues, the Guardian gets exposed as the Judith Miller it was in the lead up to the Iraq War, a whistler-blower goes public on the cooking of Barack's intel, and much more.

Sarah Westwood (Washington Examiner) speaks with whistle-blower retired Army Sgt 1st Class William Kotel:

Kotel, who was noncommissioned officer in charge of the Joint Targets Enterprise, said warnings about imminent terror attacks in Iraq were required to be routed through a maze of Pentagon channels, a process that could take weeks, instead of communicated directly with military units in harm's way.
He said the policy of substituting economic or environmental information for terror-related intelligence in reports was never made explicit by Central Command's leadership, but that he and his colleagues had "implied orders" not to report facts on the ground in Iraq.

The problem, Kotel said, is not necessarily that final reports were being edited for political reasons. Instead, it's that key intelligence wasn't allowed in those reports in the first place.

Reports of cooked intel has plagued the White House for weeks now.  Last Wednesday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing (covered in the Thursday and Friday snapshots) and the topic was repeatedly raised with one of the witnesses, Gen Lloyd Austin.  Two examples, first Committee Chair John McCain:

Chair John McCain: Indeed this Committee is disturbed by recent whistle-blower allegations that officials at Central Command skewed intelligence assessments to paint an overly positive picture of conditions on the ground.  We are currently investigations these allegations which we take with the upmost seriousness.  The Department of Defense should as well.  And if true, those responsible must be held accountable.

Second, Senator Clair McCaskill:

Senator Claire McCaskill: I understand from your testimony, Gen Austin, that you can't comment on the IG investigation this accusation that people are putting pressure on intelligence analysts to change the tenor of their reports.  It's a serious allegation that strikes at the core of our government in terms of our ability to oversee and make decisions around the use of our military. I want to say, at the end of this investigation, when you can discuss it, I just want to put on the record that I, for one, am going to be watching very carefully about any potential retaliation against any of the men or women that may have come forward with allegations.  It is incredibly important that whistle-blowers be protected in this space and -- depending upon what the investigation finds -- I understand that maybe there are other factors that I am not aware of -- but I just want to put on the record that I will be paying very close attention to how these whistle-blowers are treated in the aftermath of this investigation.

In one of the strongest pieces on the issue, last week John R. Schindler (New York Observer) offered:

It’s happening again. A White House fumbling with the violent mess of Iraq finds itself surrounded by mounting accusations that it’s played dirty games with intelligence. A Pentagon facing charges that its analysts have skewed assessments on Iraq to tell top policymakers what they want to hear, rather than what is really happening in that troubled country.
If this sounds terribly familiar, it should. Only a dozen years after the George W. Bush White House was buffeted by allegations that it had “cherry-picked” intelligence to justify its 2003 invasion of Iraq, Barack Obama is facing similar accusations. Intelligence Community analysts alleged that, in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom, they were pressured to exaggerate Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. Now, analysts claim that they have been pushed to present Obama’s war against the Islamic State as more successful than it really is.

Earlier this month Shane Harris and Nancy A. Youssef (Daily Beast) reported:

More than 50 intelligence analysts working out of the U.S. military’s Central Command have formally complained that their reports on ISIS and al Qaeda’s branch in Syria were being inappropriately altered by senior officials, The Daily Beast has learned.
The complaints spurred the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. The fact that so many people complained suggests there are deep-rooted, systemic problems in how the U.S. military command charged with the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State assesses intelligence.

Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reported September 11th:

Barack Obama’s intelligence chief is said to be in frequent and unusual contact with a military intelligence officer at the center of a growing scandal over rosy portrayals of the war against the Islamic State, the Guardian has learned.
James Clapper, the director of national intelligence, is said to talk nearly every day with the head of US Central Command’s intelligence wing, Army Major General Steven Grove – “which is highly, highly unusual”, according to a former intelligence official.
Grove is said to be implicated in a Pentagon inquiry into manipulated war intelligence.

In communications, Clapper, who is far more senior than Grove, is said to tell Grove how the war looks from his vantage point, and question Grove about Central Command’s assessments. Such a situation could place inherent pressure on a subordinate, sources said.

While some members of Congress have expressed outrage over the possibility that the intel was being cooked, others seem to have their heads so far up their ass that they can't see daylight.  Tim Mak (Daily Beast) quoted Senator Tim Kaine insisting, "Don’t you see why we need to do an authorization for this war? It’s spreading, it’s mutating. There’s new theaters of war that are engaged. If what [the whistleblowers are] saying is right, they’re saying that it’s a more complicated, protracted, long-term war than maybe people were led to think. If that’s the case, we ought to be doing an authorization.”

Kaine is like a deranged hobbyist these days trying to connect everything to his personal wants.

He's wanted an authorization for Barack's latest wave in the never-ending Iraq War.

So this month, in the face of cooked intel, Kaine is now arguing this is proof that Congress needs to authorize Barck's war -- because "it's mutating" -- for that reason it needs to be authorized?

Maybe Kaine's attempting to insist that an authorization would contain and prevent mutation?

If so, he's an idiot because that's never happened before and it wouldn't have happened now.

The White House -- whomever occupies it -- does whatever it wants with Congress either silent or carping.  Congress refuses to collectively hold the White House responsible for war and the Supreme Court will never make a ruling on an ongoing war (because they have no power to enforce a decision that went against the White House).

RT, in a report noting the false statements of US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry insisting 'success' in the war on the Islamic State, reminds, "Over 53,000 flights, 6700 strikes, and nearly $4 billion dollars later, Operation Inherent Resolve has yet to achieve any of its objectives."

Monday, Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef reported on some of what was being cooked:

Senior intelligence officials at the U.S. military’s Central Command demanded significant alterations to analysts’ reports that questioned whether airstrikes against the so-called Islamic State widely known as ISIS were damaging the group’s finances and its ability to launch attacks. But reports that showed the group being weakened by the U.S.-led air campaign received comparatively little scrutiny, The Daily Beast has learned.
Senior CENTCOM intelligence officials who reviewed the critical reports sent them back to the analysts and ordered them to write new versions that included more footnotes and details to support their assessments, according to two officials familiar with a complaint levied by more than 50 analysts about intelligence manipulation by CENTCOM higher-ups.

In some cases, analysts were also urged to state that killing particular ISIS leaders and key officials would diminish the group and lead to its collapse. Many analysts, however, didn’t believe that simply taking out top ISIS leaders would have an enduring effect on overall operations.

Let's stay with media and Iraq for a moment.  While Youssef and Harris have done strong reporting on the above, the media's coverage of Iraq has never been good or even okay.

It has most often been little more than a pack of lies.

For some idiotic reason, millionaire 'independent journalist' Amy Goodman, after the Iraq War started, began using Pacifica Radio airwaves to pimp the notion that the US needed the equivalent of the Guardian (British newspaper) and endlessly praised the paper's business model and politics.

There was nothing to praise.

We have spent years rebuking her lies over and over.

We pointed out that the Guardian never reported on the Downing Street Memo.


That story broke in England -- the revelation that Bully Boy Bush was using fixed intel to argue for war on Iraq -- but the Guardian never covered in their paper or in the Sunday Observer (which the Guardian also owns).  It was Rupert Murdoch's Times of London that broke the story on the Downing Street Memo.

As Amy Goodman repeatedly whored for that paper and presented it as an alternative to the notorious Judith Miller and the New York Times, she lied over and over.

The Guardian helped sell the Iraq War and it did so because it's the party organ for New Labour.

This is not to say good work is never done by the paper.  We highlighted Spencer Ackerman above, for example.  And I have three friends who still work for the paper (and quite a few who left the paper).  I have issues with some of correspondent Martin Chulov's Iraq coverage but, overall, it's been stronger than it has been weak (and we defended him and the paper when Nouri attacked it and went on to sue it).

But when we began calling it out and disputing Amy Goodman's claims, she still had a reputation (self-created and media advanced) as a truth-teller and the e-mails would come in insisting that the Guardian broke the Downing Street Memo story (they didn't -- again, they never even covered it).

Her reputation is in tatters on the left for a number of reasons today: (a) her support and advancing of the war on Libya, (b) her use of CIA contractors as guests (Juan Cole being only one example, (c) her extortion that led Pacifica Radio to turn their program Democracy Now! over to her and to pay her millions to continue to air it, (d) her inherent racism which allowed her to take control of a program created by a diverse staff in the 90s (none of whom saw the windfall when Goody -- with the help of closeted Communist and professional hag Leslie Cagan -- blackmailed Pacifica into turning ownership of the show over to her), (e) her continued insisting on millions from Pacifica each year even though Pacifica is struggling to stay afloat, (f) her whoring for her favorite politicians -- such as declaring Jill Stein the Green Party nominee when no nominee has been picked and other candidates had already announced they were running for the Green Party's 2016 nomination, (g) her lying to her audiences when she first presented Melissa Harris Lacewell (now Perry) as just a college professor with students in New Hampshire in January 2008 when she already knew Melissa had worked over six months on Barack Obama's campaign by that point (this is Melissa's first appearance in January 2008, not the second one where she and Melissa went to town on Gloria Steinem), (h) her decision to publish in Hustler magazine . . .

The list is endless.

It's why streaming is down for her hideous program and why its radio and TV audience has plummeted.  (She's able to blackmail Pacifica stations into playing the program twice a day by insisting that she'll give them more time to pay her the annual millions in exchange for more Pacifica airtime for her program.)

The revelation that she's a millionaire many times over via Democracy Now! didn't help nor did the fact that she doesn't pay interns help (see Charles Davis' "The Exploited Laborers of The Liberal Media" at Vice News).

She's basically a heartless pig  who has rushed to become one of the 1% while whining about Nike's practices -- and others.  Or, as Marc Cooper told LA Weekly last year, "Amy's an evil bitch. . . . She can fool a lot of people a lot of the time, but I know she's a thug."

That and her inability to focus on stories that matter, her inability to be honest about Iraq (here for one example of Ava and I calling her out on Iraq and here for our noting that again and noting how events proved us right) have really destroyed her self-created image and her standing.

At CounterPunch, Jonathan Cook has an article which notes:

In autumn 2002 Ed Vulliamy, a correspondent for Britain’s Sunday Observer newspaper, stumbled on a terrible truth that many of us already suspected.
In a world-exclusive, he persuaded Mel Goodman, a former senior Central Intelligence Agency official who still had security clearance, to go on record that the CIA knew there were no WMD in Iraq. Everything the US and British governments were telling us to justify the coming attack on Iraq were lies.

Then something even more extraordinary happened. The Observer failed to print the story.

Again, the Guardian owns the Sunday Observer.

Cook's explaining the reality of the Guardian.

Goodman never will.

Her (small) listeners and viewers have never heard that story.

Barring strong criticism and pressure, they never will.

Her entire Last Journalist Standing and 'breaking the silence' pose has been revealed as nothing more than a con game.

While the US hasn't seen a strong peace movement since Barack began running for president in 2007, we've at least seen fakes and whores exposed for what they really were.

Moving on, this morning we offered "Haider thinks its death or his 'reforms' -- could be both" and a few e-mails noted a later report by Al Arabiya which opened:

The U.S. embassy has foiled two attempts to assassinate Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a high-level Iraqi official told the London-based Asharq al-Awsat in an interview published Tuesday.
The official, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, said the first operation to eliminate Abadi, who took power last September and has been hailed for his sweeping reforms, was in its early stages.
However, the second bid – at Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone - to assassinate the premier was “advanced” in reaching its target, and led to the arrests of suspects, who are army officers.

Did I know about that?

I knew the talk of it.  I didn't -- and don't -- believe it's accurate.  I have a friend at the State Dept who appears to believe it's true and spent last week trying to sell me on it.  I have two other friends at the State Dept who feel, as I do, that this is nothing but spin that the US is pimping to try to make Haider (a US puppet) look more important than he actually is.

It's supposed to increase Haider's reputation and also push back against the press realizing very recently that Haider's 'reforms' aren't real reforms and are not addressing the demands of the protesters -- a point that the protesters have been making for some time but very few western reporters have bothered to report on.

There's news on the Kurds and oil.  I'm not covering it.  Read this Bloomberg article, it's the best of the coverage on the topic.  Why aren't we covering it?

I haven't read the actual verdict.

The reason we knew the original verdict would be overturned (it was against the Kurds and it was overturned) was because I read the verdict and saw where it was shaky and where the Kurds could appeal.  I'm really not interested in pouring over a verdict right now.

Equally true, the verdict can be appealed.

If/when it is, there's the issue of standing right at the front of all the other issues. (If the sale to Israel -- and not the US -- mooted the case then why is a verdict being rendered?  Were I an attorney for the KRG, that would be my first issue raised.  When something's moot, it's moot.  You're not a little moot or half-way moot.  And when a case is moot, a court dismisses the case.)

We will note Josh Rogin and Eli Lake's Bloomberg New report that Ambassador John Allen (wrongly billed by the press as "Gen" when he is retired as a general but active as an Ambassador or Envoy -- he has been working for the US State Dept) will be leaving his post:

The timing of Allen’s departure could not be worse for the Obama administration. The incoming Marine Corps Commandant, Lieutenant General Robert Neller, testified last month that the war is at a “stalemate.” Last week, the head of the U.S. Central Command, General Lloyd Austin, testified that of the 54 Syrian rebels trained and equipped by the U.S. military, only “4 or 5” were still in the fight. And now the Pentagon is investigating allegations by dozens of intelligence analysts that their reporting on the progress in the war effort was altered before being given to top officials.

Lastly, today's violence includes a battle in Baiji.  Xinhua reports the battle left "at least 4 IS militants and 14 security members wounded, the source said citing initial reports"