Monday, October 19, 2015

Iraq snapshot

Monday, October 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, War Criminal Tony Blair gets media attention (but not enough), we survey panhandle media to see which outlets that beg for your money bothered to cover the latest Iraq revelations, five months and counting and the Iraqi forces still can't take Ramadi, a journalist en route to Iraq dies mysteriously in Istanbul, and much more.

Jon Stone (Independent) reports that Andrew MacKinlay, Labour MP during the lead up to the Iraq War, has declared himself "ashamed" for having faith in Tony Blair:

Andrew MacKinlay, who sat on the foreign affairs select committee in the run-up to the war, told LBC Radio that a new memo shows Tony Blair “duped” him along with the rest of the country. 

“Looking at this these documents this morning and everything else that has gone before we know that this was a complete and utter deceit to me and to others,” he said.

What's he talking about?

Telesur notes, "A 2002 memo from former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to President George Bush suggests that then-U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair had already committed support for an invasion of Iraq – almost 1 year before the invasion took place.

News of the agreement surfaced Saturday.

Sunday saw a denial on behalf of Blair.  Olivia Goldhill (Quarts) reports:

A spokeswoman from Tony Blair’s office said in an email to Quartz that the memo did not contradict what Blair has said in public. “This story is nothing new. The memo is consistent with what Mr. Blair was saying publicly at the time and with Mr. Blair’s evidence to the Chilcot Inquiry,” she said, referring to Britain’s public inquiry into the Iraq war.

But others aren't so quick to buy that spin.  Rowena Mason (Guardian) reports:

Alex Salmond, the SNP’s foreign affairs spokesman and Scotland’s former first minister, said “the net was now closing” around Blair and added to concern over Chilcot’s conduct.
“The memo contradicts claims from Mr Blair that all that time he had been seeking diplomatic ways to avoid an invasion. It also adds weight to the evidence given by Sir Christopher Meyer, the former UK ambassador to the United States – to the Chilcot inquiry – that the military timetable and preparation for invasion took precedence over any diplomacy and specifically over the timetable for the weapons inspectors led by Hans Blix,” Salmond said.

And BBC News notes, "BBC political correspondent Chris Mason said the document appeared to offer a revealing insight into how Mr Blair was perceived at the very highest level in Washington, in the year before the Iraq War."  Samuel Osborne (Independent) adds, "Mr Blair, who served as prime minister between 1997 and 2007, has repeatedly denied rushing to war in Iraq."

What stood out most about the story this morning is how it echoed The Downing Street Memo in that major American outlets avoided it.  This morning, the only US outlet covering it seriously was the Associated Press (click here for Danica Kirka's story).

Since then?

Global Research has covered the story.  Dissident Voice carries a serious examination by Felicity Arbuthnot which ties up many ends and also notes:

Also notable is that so keen was Tony Blair to ally George W. Bush in invasion-plotting that he left the UK during the ten days national mourning for Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. The longest living member of the Royal family had died on March 30, 2002. Queues lined to pay their last respects as she lay in state in Westminster Abbey, the Monarchy grieved and Her Majesty’s Prime Minister, Blair, boarded a ‘plane to the US.

Jennifer Deutschmann covers the subject for Inquisitr.  Sophia Tesfaye publicly embarrasses herself (it's all about the GOP race for president!!!!!) at Salon but Salon's where all the non-thinkers go.  That said, she should be greeted with rotten fruit wherever she dares to show her face after taking the revelations and trying to turn them into whore points for the Democratic Party.  She's a real piece of trash so it's good that she works at a garbage dump.  For an example of crazy on the right-wing side of the spectrum, you can check out the loony tunes Michael Rubin serves up at Commentary.

And what of 'brave' McClatchy Newspapers?

As we've long noted, McClatchy didn't do a damn thing to report the truth in the lead up to the Iraq War.

Knight-Ridder did.

And McClatchy purchased the Knight-Ridder chain in June of 2006.

But McClatchy was as cowardly as most other outlets -- cowardly and craven -- in 2002 and 2003.

They remain so today.

The lack of interest from US outlets is appalling given that the US Defense Dept announced Sunday:

Airstrikes in Iraq
Bomber, fighter, attack, ground-attack and remotely piloted aircraft conducted 18 airstrikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:
-- Near Beiji, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL bunker, an ISIL heavy machine gun, three ISIL weapons caches, and an ISIL tactical vehicle.
-- Near Habbaniyah, a strike destroyed an ISIL mortar system.
-- Near Kisik, two strikes suppressed an ISIL sniper position and an ISIL light machine gun position.
-- Near Mosul, three strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed three ISIL heavy machine guns, six ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL tactical vehicle.
-- Near Qayyarah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL roadside bomb and an ISIL vehicle.
-- Near Ramadi, three strikes destroyed an ISIL supply cache and denied ISIL access to two separate terrain locations.
-- Near Sinjar, five strikes struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL command-and-control node, an ISIL cache, an ISIL assembly area, 26 ISIL fighting positions, an ISIL bomb factory, and suppressed an ISIL rocket position.
-- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

-- Near Tal Afar, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position.

And today the DOD announced:

Airstrikes in Iraq

Attack, bomber, fighter, remotely piloted aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 17 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of the Iraqi government:

-- Near Baghdadi, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an ISIL bunker and wounded an ISIL fighter.

-- Near Beiji, two strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed an ISIL mortar system.

-- Near Fallujah, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL weapons cache, an ISIL building, and an ISIL mortar system.

-- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an ISIL vehicle and wounded an ISIL fighter.

-- Near Ramadi, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units; destroyed four ISIL fighting positions, four ISIL buildings, four ISIL heavy machine guns, and two ISIL vehicles; and denied ISIL access to terrain.

-- Near Sinjar, four strikes struck two separate ISIL tactical units and destroyed 17 ISIL fighting positions, two ISIL vehicles, an ISIL assembly area, and two ISIL command-and-control nodes.

-- Near Tal Afar, four strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit, destroyed an ISIL vehicle and four ISIL fighting positions, and wounded an ISIL fighter.

In addition, Barack Obama continues to spend billions of taxpayer dollars to carry out his plan or 'plan' for Iraq.

And yet the news of the memo is not considered major news at all in the US.

And let's note our 'friends' and their silence.

The Progressive posted today . . . but couldn't be bothered to post about the revelations.

Ruth Conniff couldn't bother to Tweet about it.

It's not even as important as her obsession with David Brooks.

But remember that the current editor of The Progressive bragged on KPFA that no one she knew was touched by the Iraq War.

In These Times also can't be bothered with the Iraq revelations.

At The Nation, they can post a huge photo of Katrina vanden Heuvel's hagged out face (she's looking really bad -- it's called karma) but they ignore this topic, they ignore the revelations.

At Mother Jones, Kevin Drum and David Corn vie for the title of F**king Ugliest Person on the Face of the Planet so you might think they'd have plenty of down time -- but they don't use it to cover the Iraq revelations.  Nor does anyone else at Mother Jones despite their (laughable) boast of providing "fearless journalism."

Give credit to Deidre Fulton and Common Dreams for covering the topic (and, in addition, Fulton's written a very strong report).

Shame and scorn to the increasingly pathetic

They offer only one article:

  • Tony Blair Will Help US on Iraq, 2002 Memo Says

  • Oops!

    It's not their article.

    It's a link to The Daily Mail.

    The so called "Antiwar" website hasn't seen fit to write one damn word about the revelations.

    We covered it in Saturday's snapshot.

    It's Monday and they're still too weary to write about it.

    Poor little tykes.

    Amy Goodman did cover it briefly on Democracy Now! today:

    A newly published document shows former British Prime Minister Tony Blair vowed to support U.S. military action in Iraq in 2002—a year before the invasion. The memo, written by then-U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, was obtained by the Daily Mail as part of a batch of emails on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s private server. Powell writes, "On Iraq, Blair will be with us should military operations be necessary." The memo is dated a week before Blair met with President George W. Bush at Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, and publicly said, "We are not proposing military action at this point in time."

    So much for the so-called "war and peace report."

    And what of the paper that sold the illegal war?

    While the New York Times cannot make room for the revelations they do run Michael R. Gordon and Eric Schmitt's heavy panting:
    Struggling to regain the initiative after a long impasse in the battle against Islamic State militants, the Iraqi government and the American-led coalition are for the first time in months putting military pressure on the jihadists on multiple fronts, officials say. 
    Supported by increased American air power, Iraqi forces are on the outskirts of Ramadi, pressing to encircle the capital of Anbar Province, which the militants took in May, and cut it off from resupply and reinforcements.
    To the north of Baghdad, Iraqi military forces and Iranian-backed Shiite militias are trying to expand their foothold at the Baiji oil refinery after retaking it from the Islamic State on Friday.

    The two say that the Islamic State has 600 fighters holding Ramadi.  

    And they say that there are 10,000 Iraqi forces prepared to take it.

    As we noted at Third in "Editorial: Operation Inherent Failure:"

    For those who misplaced their trading cards, the assault on Ramadi began in May.

    They're still not in Ramadi -- the Iraqi forces.

    It's October.

    For those who struggle with basic math, let's count it out together: 1 (May), 2 (June), 3 (July), 4 (August), 5 (September) and 6 (October).

    But you can call it just five, if it makes it easier for you.

    Five months.

    Five months to try to take Ramadi.

    Five months and still on the outside of Ramadi.

    Meanwhile, Nina Golgowski (New York Daily News) reports:

    The organization's executive director, Anthony Borden, said Sutton would have known that they would have paid for a new flight which is a relatively common occurrence.
    "Clearly there would have been no issue (with money). It's really inconceivable. We change tickets all the time," he said.

    Sutton?  A 50-year-old British journalist who died in Istanbul under questionable circumstances.

    The Institute for War & Peace Reporting issued the following:

    We at the Institute for War & Peace Reporting are devastated to announce the death of our country director in Iraq, Jacky Sutton.
    Jacky, who was 50, was found dead at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport on October 17. She had flown from London to take an onward flight to her base in Erbil in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.
    The circumstances of her death are unclear, and we are trying to establish the facts.
    Jacky was appointed IWPR’s acting country director in Iraq at the end of June. She replaced Ammar Al Shahbander, who was killed in a car bomb attack on May 2. She had been in London to join Ammar’s family, friends and colleagues at a memorial service held for him at St Bride’s Church in Fleet Street last week.
    “Jacky was one of the top development professionals working on Iraq, and she devoted nearly ten years of her life to helping the country,” said Anthony Borden, Executive Director of the Institute for War & Peace Reporting. “She was extremely bright, highly competent, and well able to handle herself in difficult environments, and she was universally loved. We are in total shock.”
    Jacky Sutton was a veteran journalist and media development expert, and worked closely with IWPR long before joining us. She spent two years at the BBC World Service in 1998-2000, reporting from Africa and the Middle East as well as in London. She went on to serve with the United Nations in numerous senior roles that took her from Afghanistan and Iran to West Africa and Gaza, and in 2008, Iraq. After running a media and elections project for UNDP in Baghdad, she became country director for IREX and then a consultant for the International Foundation for Electoral Systems in Baghdad.
    Jacky earned multiple advanced academic qualifications including in constitutional law and international development, all of which brought intellectual rigour and a broad vision to her professional roles. Her LLM, for example, focused on Iraq’s regulatory framework for media and telecoms and its impact on freedom of expression. Most recently, she was working on a PhD on the position of female journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan, studying at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Australian National University in Canberra.
    Jacky was returning to Iraq full of plans for innovative new work, including projects to counter violent extremism that threatens a country to which she was so committed. Our condolences go out to her family and all those who knew her.

    Alexandra Topping and Constanze Letsch (Guardian) report, "Former BBC journalist Jacky Sutton, 50, is understood to have been found dead in a toilet at the city’s main airport. The circumstances of her death are as yet unknown. Local media reported that it appeared that Sutton, who is believed to have been travelling to Irbil, northern Iraq had killed herself after missing a flight connection, a claim colleagues said was unlikely."

    Jordan Hayne and Tegan Osborne (Australia's ABC) report that Ammar Al Sha held the position of Iraq director at IWPR before Sutton but he "was killed in a car bomb attack on Baghdad in May."  And they note:

    Friend and ANU colleague Susan Hutchinson told the ABC she was in "complete shock" over Ms Sutton's death, and had trouble believing her friend took her life.
    "I am unconvinced that she would have committed suicide ... I am sceptical of the idea. I absolutely think that there needs to be a full investigation," she said.
    "I hope that the (UK) Foreign Office has full access in order to be able to conduct a proper investigation about the circumstances in which Jacky died and I hope that that is done internationally and in a transparent and cooperative way."

    David Barrett (Telegraph of London) adds:

     Christian Bleuer, a research fellow at the Australian National University who knew her well, tweeted: "Toughest woman u could meet. Turkish police say she committed suicide cuz she missed her flight?"

    He added: "I'm not into conspiracies, but if the Turks say a security camera at Istanbul-Ataturk was 'malfunctioning', then Jacky Sutton was murdered." 

    Mark Duell, Laura Wells and Simon Tomlinson (Daily Mail) note additional doubts and calls for a thorough investigation.  Danica Kirka and Suzan Fraser (AP) add:

    "None of us believes she took her own life," said Vanessa Farr, who worked with Sutton in the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom. "But all of us know she was attracting negative attention for her absolute refusal, before U.N. officials, politicians and warlords alike, to stay silent in the face of what she was witnessing women suffer."

    Lastly, new content at Third:


  • eric schmitt