Thursday, August 11, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, August 11, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi government destroys another Sunni mosque, the US State Dept releases their report on religious freedom, the US State Dept explains they know Hillary and her staff didn't violate the law because -- well because they just know it and no reviews are needed, and much more.

Apologies for yesterday's snapshot when we noted Donald Trump's bad joke.

We noted that, in May of 2008, Hillary Clinton had explained she was still in the race against Barack Obama for the 2008 Democratic Party's presidential nomination because, in June of 1968, RFK was assassinated.

Her comment -- not a joke -- outraged many.

That is all correct.

What I did not know was Mike pointed out in "Why hasn't Hillary called out Bob Beckel for calling for the assassination of Assange," that one of her campaign high levels was calling for the assassination of Julian Assange.

My apologies because this raises a completely different issue.

Yes, Mike and antiscoialista are correct about the hypocrisy of Hillary.

But there's another issue.

She's running to become president.

It's not just that her crony is calling for the assassination of Julian Assange.

She wants to become the head of the US government.

The US government has a legal system.

What the disgusting Beckel apparently didn't learn in rehab was the Constitution.

Did Hillary?

If she wants to become president of the United States, the American people need to know she will fairly enforce the legal system.

Julian Assange has been found guilty of no crimes by any court of law -- US or international.

It appears that yet again we have the Clinton standard -- where rules are tossed aside.

If that's not the case, if Hillary is committed to the US legal system, she needs to condemn Beckel's remarks.

Maybe she's too busy dealing with her latest 'lost' e-mails that she wishes were lost but are not.

From yesterday's US State Dept press briefing:

QUESTION: And I support you in that effort. The Clinton emails. (Laughter.) Does -

QUESTION: Just the subject she wanted to go to. (Laughter.)

MS TRUDEAU: Thank you, Matt. (Laughter.)

QUESTION: Right. I think she was trying to skip out before this came up. (Laughter.) But all right, so I want to ask you about one of the emails, and I know you addressed this briefly yesterday. One came from – that the critics have seized on came from Doug Band of the Clinton Foundation, asking Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills in an email to, quote – it’s saying, “It’s important to take care of” – and then the name is redacted, and he is obviously pushing to get this person a job in the State Department. And then Huma replies, basically, they’re working on it.
Can you tell us why the State Department redacted that name, and whether or not this person wound up getting a job or not?

MS TRUDEAU: Okay. Well, I can’t speak to specific case – cases. I’m also not going to speak to specific redactions. I will note though, broadly, the department regularly hires political appointees with a range of skill sets for a broad variety of jobs. It’s not unusual for candidates to be recommended to the department through a variety of avenues.


QUESTION: Hold on, because that answer --

QUESTION: Let me just follow up, Matt. Sorry.

QUESTION: All right.

MS TRUDEAU: Hold on one second, and then I’ll get there, Matt.

QUESTION: The Clinton campaign is on background saying today it’s a – it was a young advance staffer, not a donor or a foundation employee. I guess I just – I need a little help understanding why this person’s name cannot be shared.

MS TRUDEAU: I can’t speak to specific cases, and I certainly can’t speak to comments from the – from the campaign.

QUESTION: Would it be wrong to assume that, then, that this is a case simply of nepotism or something like that? I mean, what – how are we then supposed to interpret what --

MS TRUDEAU: You – I can’t speak to specific cases, Justin.
Matt, did --

QUESTION: But it’s the State Department’s decision to redact those names, and nobody else’s decision.

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. And I’m not going to speak to specific redactions nor specific cases.

QUESTION: Well, I’m just curious. Were you answering his question “was this person hired,” without getting into who it was?

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah, I can’t speak to specific cases or specific --

QUESTION: This is pretty – in fact, it’s pretty non-specific since we don’t know what the name is. It’s specific as to --

MS TRUDEAU: But you’re asking about a specific hiring action?

QUESTION: I’m asking if the person referred – if you know if the person referred to in this email whose name has been redacted ended up getting a job here.

MS TRUDEAU: I have no information to speak to specific cases.

QUESTION: But you just said --

QUESTION: But it’s --

QUESTION: In your answer to Justin, you said that the State Department hires from all sorts of places.

MS TRUDEAU: From all sorts of avenues. We receive recommendations from a variety --

QUESTION: But this person wasn’t hired, then?

MS TRUDEAU: I have no information --


MS TRUDEAU: -- on that specific case or any specific case.

QUESTION: But if the person is not named, then it’s not specific.

MS TRUDEAU: I think we’re parsing.


MS TRUDEAU: More on Clinton emails?

QUESTION: No, it’s not really parsing. It’s – I mean, it – it’s specific to people who are non-career State Department employees who were hired after this email. That’s the universe. And the question is: Is this person referred to one of them?

MS TRUDEAU: Again, I am unable to speak to specific cases.

QUESTION: Well, how then can you disabuse us of the notion that there’s any impropriety here?

MS TRUDEAU: Because the department regularly hires political appointees with a range of skill 
sets from a broad – for a broad variety of jobs.

QUESTION: But why should we trust that’s – that that’s – why should we believe that that statement exonerates any – her – the Clinton – of any impropriety? I mean, we don’t know who it is. How then can we read that as it’s all good?

MS TRUDEAU: I’m just not going to speak anymore to specifics on this.
Do we have more on Clinton emails?

QUESTION: Yes, we do.

MS TRUDEAU: Of course, we do. Do you mind if I go to Abigail first?


MS TRUDEAU: Go ahead, Abigail.

QUESTION: Do you have any response to criticism by some that suggest there was a relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department at the time? There was an email that came out in this recent set that is between the – an executive at the Clinton Foundation and Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills where he is requesting to set up a meeting between a billionaire donor and the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon. Do you have any response to --

MS TRUDEAU: So very similar to what I said before, I’m not going to speak to specific emails. However, I think you guys know State Department officials are regularly in touch with a wide variety of outside individuals and organizations, including businesses, nonprofits, NGOs, think tanks. The nearly 55,000 pages of former Secretary Clinton’s emails released by the department over the past year give a sense of the wide range of individuals both inside and outside of government that State Department officials are in contact with on a range of subjects.

QUESTION: So you don’t feel like this email or you don’t feel like there was impropriety in the relationship between the Clinton Foundation and the State Department at the time?

MS TRUDEAU: We talk to a wide range of people, at my level, at various levels in the department – NGOs, think tanks, business leaders, experts on a variety of subjects.

QUESTION: But that’s not her – that’s not her question.

QUESTION: Except in this – and importantly, in this case, Secretary Clinton made a pledge that she would not personally or substantially in any way involve herself with the Clinton Foundation. So it’s not just any outside organization. It’s the specific organization that she said ahead of time she wouldn’t have contact with. So doesn’t that – doesn’t this, then, seem to violate that pledge?

MS TRUDEAU: So again, to reiterate, department officials are in touch with a wide range of individuals. I’d note that former Secretary Clinton’s ethics agreement did not preclude other State Department officials from having contact with Clinton Foundation staff.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

QUESTION: Can you at least try to answer Abigail’s question, which was: Has the department looked into this and determined that there was no impropriety?

MS TRUDEAU: The department is regularly in touch with people across the whole spectrum, Matt.

QUESTION: That’s not the question. The question is whether or not you’ve looked into this – the building has looked into it and determined that everything was okay, that there was nothing wrong here.

MS TRUDEAU: We feel confident in our ability and our past practice of reaching out to a variety of sources and being responsive to requests.

QUESTION: I’m sorry, are you – am I not speaking English? Is this – I mean, is it coming across as a foreign – I’m not asking you if – no one is saying it’s not okay or it’s bad for the department to get a broad variety of input from different people. Asking – the question is whether or not you have determined that there was nothing improper here.

MS TRUDEAU: We feel confident that all the rules were followed.

QUESTION: That’s (inaudible).


QUESTION: Thank you.

MS TRUDEAU: Are we – we’re still doing Clinton emails? I’ll come back to you, Abigail. Go ahead, Arshad.

QUESTION: So Judicial Watch released 10 additional pages of emails this morning.


QUESTION: In one of them, it documents that Secretary Clinton’s – former Secretary Clinton’s then-chief of staff Cheryl Mills was advised of a FOIA request in which the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington had sought, quote, “records sufficient to show the number of email accounts of or associated with Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton and the extent to which those email accounts are identifiable … of or associated with Secretary Clinton.” That – the email that chief of staff – then-chief of staff Mills received was sent on December the 11th, 2012, and according to the emails released, I believe she acknowledged it and said thanks in response.
So if she was aware, as she was because she was notified of this FOIA request asking about the different email accounts that were associated with Secretary Clinton at the time, why did the department subsequently tell the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington that there were no responsive records?


QUESTION: Because she knew, because she – we know for a fact – emailed with Secretary Clinton on her private account. So – and we also know that she, as a lawyer, is the person who helped make the determinations on which of the emails on the private server constituted federal records and should therefore be turned over to the archives, many of which have now been made public. So why, if she knew in December of 2012 that there were requests for clarity on how many accounts Secretary Clinton had, did the State Department not forthrightly and honestly answer that request rather than just saying there were no responsive records?

MS TRUDEAU: Okay. A lot there, so I’m going to give you a fulsome response on that. In 2012, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, known by the acronym CREW, sent FOIA requests to a number of agencies seeking information about email use by agency heads. This FOIA request, as it relates to the State Department, has been covered extensively in the press and reviewed previously by State’s inspector general. The documents released today show what the OIG already reported in January 2016, that former Secretary Clinton’s chief of staff Cheryl Mills was informed of the request at the time it was received and subsequently tasked staff to follow up. The OIG report also found no evidence that S/ES, L, and IPS staff involved in responding to requests for information, searching for records, or drafting the response had knowledge of the secretary’s email use. Ms. Mills has testified about this topic previously; that testimony is publicly available.
I can’t speculate what may or have – may not been known about that email use. What – but I would note that the January IG report found no evidence that any senior State Department officials who exchanged emails with the secretary reviewed the search results or approved the response to CREW. Nothing in these documents alters the facts as found by the IG. So it’s in the IG report.

QUESTION: I get that it was covered in the IG report. What I don’t understand, though – I mean, the IG report also concluded that the response that there were no responsive records was, quote, “inaccurate and incomplete.” And my question goes to why someone who was aware of that specific FOIA request, who was aware of the specific request for information regarding how many emails – email accounts the secretary had or were associated with her, would not have disclosed to S/ES, L, the FOIA people, or anybody else the fact of the private server so that federal records could in fact be made available in response to the FOIA request.

MS TRUDEAU: So I think what you’re asking about is why wasn’t that FOIA request amended.

QUESTION: No, I’m not asking that. I’m asking why the person – a person who was both in a position to know about the FOIA request and who was well aware and frequently corresponded with former Secretary Clinton on her private account did not make the existence of that account available and known to the people whose legal responsibility it was to respond honestly, accurately, and completely to a FOIA request. That’s my question, not why wasn’t it amended. Why wasn’t it correctly responded to in the first place?

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. It’s a good question. I don’t have an answer for you. As I note, we – the IG found no evidence that any senior department official reviewed the search results or approved the response to CREW.

QUESTION: What about non-senior people?

MS TRUDEAU: I have no process chart, flow chart, on how that FOIA request was responded to, but it was taken a look at. The IG reported this in January 2016 and did note that result.

QUESTION: Can I also ask back on the hiring?

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. I want to Abigail too unless we answered – okay.

QUESTION: I mean, essentially that.

QUESTION: Go ahead.

QUESTION: I was just going to say I guess it just stands out that it seems like a pretty broad request, so it seems like something you would flag if the response was no records in response to that. It seems like something that a FOIA person would note is unusual or that there might be an issue or a problem there.

MS TRUDEAU: Again, I can’t speak to process. I would note that this was extensively covered, though, in the January 2016 IG report.
Go ahead, Nick.

QUESTION: But that didn’t ultimately put any blame on Cheryl Mills, did it – that IG report?

MS TRUDEAU: I’d refer you to the IG report itself.

QUESTION: Because it really looks like she was not speaking up.

MS TRUDEAU: I’m – yeah, I’m not going got characterize the IG report. They would speak for themselves.
Go ahead, Nick.

QUESTION: You mentioned that State receives a lot of recommendations for candidates and things like that. I mean, what sort of guidelines do you have in place to make sure that when you act on those claims, the department or staff in the department are not drifting into nepotism or, I mean, a hiring decision --

MS TRUDEAU: Yeah. I think the department has public guidelines that are online in terms of appointments. I would direct you there. In terms of questions on screening for nepotism, which you raised, we follow federal law.

QUESTION: Or cronyism.

QUESTION: And have you been – have you been reviewing those guidelines in the wake of some of these email disclosures to make sure they’re adequate?

MS TRUDEAU: I’m aware of no review.
Was that a question, Arshad?

QUESTION: Well, I just wanted to make sure that your answer covered not merely nepotism, which refers to family members, but also cronyism, which refers to associates.

MS TRUDEAU: I would say that we live up to our federal obligations.

QUESTION: I looked up nepotism. It can be friends too --

MS TRUDEAU: Thanks, Justin.

QUESTION: -- in the broad sense of the definition.

QUESTION: So in other words, in – also in this hiring situation, you’re confident nothing was – that the department is – the department --

MS TRUDEAU: We feel confident that we followed State Department guidelines and federal law.


QUESTION: Have you looked into it on that one instance? You can’t say that you --

MS TRUDEAU: I’m not aware of any review going on now.

QUESTION: Okay. So you’re confident you lived up to the guidelines even though you haven’t reviewed it?

MS TRUDEAU: I am not aware of any review, but I am confident that we followed the guidelines and the State Department’s internal procedures as well as lived up to federal law.

QUESTION: So you’re confident that you followed the guidelines even though you’re not aware of any review?

MS TRUDEAU: Correct.

We'll stop there.

State Dept spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau explaining to the world that no investigation or review was conducted to determine whether guidelines were followed, that none needs to be, because she just knows -- a bird told her? -- that nothing untoward was done.

That's now the standard apparently.

As noted in yesterday's snapshot, 12 newborns perished in Baghdad Wednesday due to a fire at a maternity hospital.

  1. "I waited for ages to have this baby and when I finally had him, it took only a second to lose him"
  2. When newborn baby is killed, regardless how, life promise fade away: Hospital fire kills 11 babies in

Parents mourn babies who died in hospital fire

Ghazi Balkiz, Arwa Damon and Emanuella Grinberg (CNN) report:

Shaima Hussein should have left Baghdad's Yarmouk hospital on Wednesday cradling her newborn son.
Instead, she left clutching a bundle of paperwork, the bureaucratic remains of a young life cut short.
    Hussein's son was among 11 babies who died of suffocation after a fire broke out in the hospital's maternity ward. 

    AFP adds, "Officials and staff suggested the fire equipment was inadequate and Health Minister Adila Hamoud swiftly went on television to announce her resignation."

    Let's move to religion and note some background offered by the US State Dept:

    The U.S. government estimates the population at 37 million (July 2015 estimate). According to 2010 government statistics, the most recent available, 97 percent of the population is Muslim. Shia Muslims, predominantly Arabs but including Turkmen, Faili (Shia) Kurds, and others, constitute 55 to 60 percent of the population. Arab and Kurdish Sunni Muslims make up approximately 40 percent of the population, with approximately 15 percent of the total population representing Sunni Kurds, approximately 24 percent Sunni Arabs, and the remaining 1 percent Sunni Turkmen. Shia, although predominantly located in the south and east, form the majority in Baghdad and have communities in most parts of the country. Sunnis form the majority in the west, center, and the north of the country.
    Christian leaders estimate there are fewer than 250,000 Christians remaining in the country. The Christian population has declined over the last 10 years from a pre-2002 estimate of 800,000 to1.4 million. Approximately 67 percent of Christians are Chaldean Catholics (an eastern rite of the Catholic Church); nearly 20 percent are members of the Assyrian Church of the East. The remainder are Syriac Orthodox, Syriac Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Armenian Orthodox, Anglican and other Protestant. Only 50 Evangelical Christian families reportedly remain in the IKR, down from approximately 5,000 in 2013.

    Yes, it's time for the annual "International Religious Freedom Report" and this is from the executive summary on Iraq:

    The constitution declares Islam to be the official religion, and states no law may be enacted contradicting the “established provisions of Islam.” The constitution guarantees freedom of religious belief and practice for Muslims, and for Christians, Yezidis, and Sabaean-Mandeans. The law, however, prohibits the practice of the Bahai faith, and the Wahhabi branch of Sunni Islam. The constitution guarantees freedom from religious coercion and requires the government to maintain the sanctity of religious sites. There were reports of several instances of police or armed groups killing or physically abusing Sunni prisoners while in custody. International and local nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported the government continued to use the anti-terrorism law as a pretense for detaining Sunnis without access to due process. Yezidi, Christian, and Sunni leaders continued to report harassment and abuses by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga and Asayish forces. Media and government officials reported Peshmerga and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) prevented displaced Sunni Arabs, Turkmen, and others from returning to their homes in some liberated areas. Representatives of minority religious communities reported the government did not generally interfere with religious observances and provided security for places of worship including churches, mosques, shrines, and religious pilgrimage sites and routes, but minority groups stated they also faced harassment and restrictions from the authorities in some regions. The KRG banned five imams for defamation of minority groups, but restricted the activities of some non-Muslim minorities in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR). Sunni Arabs reported some government officials used sectarian profiling in arrests and detentions and used religion as a determining factor in employment decisions. International human rights groups said the government failed to investigate and prosecute ethno-sectarian crimes, including those carried out by armed groups in areas liberated from [. . .] (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant).
    Throughout the year, the government fought numerous battles to regain control of significant terrain lost to [the Islamic State]. At the same time, [the Islamic State]  pursued a campaign of violence against members of all faiths, but against non-Sunnis in particular. In areas under its control, [the Islamic State]  continued to commit killings and mass executions, and to engage in rape, kidnapping, and detention, including mass abductions and enslavement of women and girls from minority religious communities. [The Islamic State] also continued to engage in harassment, intimidation, robbery, and the destruction of personal property and religious sites. In areas not under [The Islamic State] control, it continued suicide bombings and vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) attacks against all segments of society. [The Islamic State] also targeted religious pilgrims and pilgrimage sites for attack. The United Nations Assistance Mission to Iraq (UNAMI) reported [Islamic State] IEDs caused at least 5,403 casualties (1,167 killed and 4,236 wounded), amounting to half of all verified casualties in the first half of the year.
    According to media and human rights organizations, the deterioration of security conditions was accompanied by societal violence, mainly committed by sectarian armed groups, in many parts of the country. Armed groups continued to target Sunnis for execution-style killings and the destruction of homes and businesses. Non-Muslim minorities reported threats, pressure, and harassment to force them to observe Islamic customs. In many regions minority groups, whatever their religious adherence, said they experienced violence and harassment from the majority group in the region.
    The U.S. President in a speech at the UN called on the country’s political, civic, and religious leaders to take concrete steps to address the danger posed by religiously motivated extremists, to reject sectarianism, and to promote tolerance between religious groups. Senior Department of State officials visited the country to urge the government to protect the country’s diverse religious communities. The U.S. Ambassador, and officers of the embassy and consulates general, continued to meet regularly with the government ministries and members of parliament to emphasize the need for the security, full inclusion, and protection of the rights of religious minorities. U.S. officials in Baghdad, Basrah, and Erbil also held regular discussions with government officials, waqf (religious endowment) leaders, and UN officials coordinating international assistance to address the distribution of humanitarian aid. The Ambassador and embassy and consulate general officers issued public statements condemning abuses of religious freedom by [the Islamic State]. Embassy and consulate general officials maintained an active dialogue with Shia, Sunni, and religious minority communities, emphasizing tolerance, inclusion, and mutual understanding. Embassy assistance programs supported minority religious communities and ethno-sectarian reconciliation.

    The entire focus is on the Islamic State.

    Even when they note others have seen persecution from others, right?

    Just roll right over it, that's the State Dept's embarrassing way these days.

    They just look the other way and ignore.

    Sunni Mosque ( Imam Bukhari ) Burned by Shia Militias backed by Gov. in

    And then wonder why they are seen so poorly around the world.

    Yesterday, the US Defense Dept announced:

    Strikes in Iraq
    Fighter aircraft and rocket artillery conducted 11 strikes in Iraq, coordinated with and in support of Iraq’s government:

    -- Near Baghdadi, a strike destroyed an ISIL rocket cache and damaged an ISIL rocket rail.

    -- Near Hit, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL refueling point.

    -- Near Kisik, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle and three ISIL weapons caches.

    -- Near Mosul, a strike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.

    -- Near Qayyarah, two strikes destroyed four ISIL generators, 17 ISIL oil tankers, five ISIL rocket rails, five ISIL rockets, an ISIL excavator and an ISIL mortar system and denied ISIL access to terrain.

    -- Near Ramadi, two strikes struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed two ISIL fighting positions, three ISIL weapons caches, an ISIL vehicle, an ISIL vehicle storage area and seven ISIL rocket rails and damaged an ISIL fighting position and an ISIL tunnel entrance.

    -- Near Sinjar, a strike struck an ISIL bomb factory.

    -- Near Sultan Abdallah, a strike struck a large ISIL tactical unit and destroyed seven ISIL assembly areas and three ISIL vehicles and suppressed an ISIL mortar position.

    -- Near Tal Afar, a strike struck an ISIL vehicle bomb factory.

    Task force officials define a strike as one or more kinetic events that occur in roughly the same geographic location to produce a single, sometimes cumulative, effect. Therefore, officials explained, a single aircraft delivering a single weapon against a lone ISIL vehicle is one strike, but so is multiple aircraft delivering dozens of weapons against buildings, vehicles and weapon systems in a compound, for example, having the cumulative effect of making those targets harder or impossible for ISIL to use. Accordingly, officials said, they do not report the number or type of aircraft employed in a strike, the number of munitions dropped in each strike, or the number of individual munition impact points against a target. Ground-based artillery fired in counterfire or in fire support to maneuver roles is not classified as a strike.

    The following community sites updated: