Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, August 16, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue but all goes on hold as we have to address Hillary Clinton and Iraq -- no, not the 2002 vote, that's the least of War Hawk's problems.

Don't you just love journalism?

If it weren't for 'reporting' they'd all be up on morals charges.

  1. Trump now attacking Obama for pulling troops out of Iraq - a war he said he never wanted to fight (except when he wanted to fight it)

Don't you love little Zeke and his lying brood.  Two-bit whores who stick their bare asses in the air to figure out which way the wind's blowing?

They use Iraq to beat up Donald Trump.

As though he voted for it?

As a member of Congress, he voted for it?

As though he occupied the Oval Office and continued it?

It's cute the way Zeke puts on his fishnets and slings that ass over to the nearest street corner.

At least Zeke could probably score a few bucks others (say David Corn) couldn't score ten cents for a half-and-half on prom night.

When the media wants to attack Donald -- and make no mistake, they are attacking him.

In fact, let's pause a moment to note James Petras' "Can Coups Defeat Elected Governments?" (DISSIDENT VOICE).

Never in the history of the United States, has a President and Supreme Court Judge openly advocated the overthrow of a Presidential candidate. Never has the entire mass media engaged in a round-the-clock one-sided, propaganda war to discredit a Presidential candidate by systematically ignoring or distorting the central socio-economic issues of their opposition.
The call for the ouster of a freely elected candidate is nothing more or less than a coup d’état.
Leading television networks and columnists demand that the elections be annulled, following the lead of the President and prominent Republican and Democratic Congressional and Party leaders.
In other words, the political elite openly rejects democratic electoral processes in favor of authoritarian manipulation and deception. The authoritarian elite relies on magnifying tertiary, questionable personal judgement calls to mobilize coup backers.
They systematically avoid the core economic and political issues which candidate Trump has raised – and attracted mass support – which challenge fundamental policies backed by the two Party elites.

That's only one example.  Those concerned with fairness are appalled by the media's behavior.

When the media wants to attack Donald, they treat Iraq as a fixed moment.

They act as if everything from the 2002 authorization vote (Hillary Clinton remembers that, she was for the Iraq War) to today has been one static moment.

It hasn't been.

Can someone criticize Barack Obama for the withdrawal of troops?

This is America and we have free speech.

But more to the point, I'm opposed to the Iraq War and have given a strong chunk of time to doing my part to raise awareness and end this illegal war.

Did I applaud Barack's withdrawal?

No, I did not because there was a drawdown, not a withdrawal, and because unlike good with his mouth Zeke I'm aware that Barack began sending US troops back in right before the 2012 election.  I know that because Tim Arango reported it for THE NEW YORK TIMES and quoted the then-top US commander in Iraq.

Let's note what Tim Arango reported:

Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.        

You may have missed it because of Jill Abramson.

Before she was fired in disgrace, Jill spent her time 'saving' Barack.

Reporters were repeatedly frustrated by the way she killed their stories or ordered them rewritten to the point that they went from strong reporting to tired and dull pieces.

This was true throughout her tenure as executive editor but especially true in 2012 because, as she repeatedly explained, it was an election year.

So the news that Barack had sent US troops back in did make the paper in September of 2012.

It was just buried in the middle of a report on Syria.

Fired and billed as a racist (yeah, she is one), Jill now dwells in her own version of purgatory (penning puff pieces on Hillary Clinton for THE GUARDIAN).

That's the thing about whores, they may escape the cops but reality always busts them.

There was no withdrawal.

The Pentagon rightly termed it a "drawdown."

Ted Koppel, as it was taking place, explained on both NBC and NPR, that the US would keep a remaining military presence in Iraq.

Whores like Jill worked overtime to ignore that.

I noted here, repeatedly, that Barack needed to immediately withdraw US troops and needed to so so because, the minute troops were gone, Iraq was going to be a mess.

By doing it immediately, he would be able to say, "This is what American citizens wanted."

He didn't do that.

He didn't even do what he promised in his campaign.  (Hillary was making the same promise, for those who've forgotten.)

What he did instead was tinker.

The Great Barack could of course fix things, right?


So he tinkered and played and made it his own war.

The press loves to whine that the date for 'withdrawal' was from Bully Boy Bush.

In doing so, they ignore that the US government negotiated for a longer term stay both before and after the drawdown.

I was at the hearing that the press turned into "McCain Got Mean!!!!"

John McCain and Leon Panetta were laughing in the second round of that hearing but the press had already left and wanted to focus on that as opposed to Leon's remarks that the US government was still -- post-drawdown -- in talks about US troops presence in Iraq.  [If you missed that 2011 hearing, see the November 15th "Iraq snapshot," the November 16th "Iraq snapshot" -- excerpt below from the November 16th snapshot -- and the November 17th "Iraq snapshot" and Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's "Who wanted what?" ].

The press treats Iraq as static because it benefits their political heroes.

It doesn't benefit the truth.

But that's how empire works.

Do you really think, at the height of the British Empire, reporters were telling the truth about how this was being done to enrich a few?

Reporters are whores, they just usually fail to satisfy the customers -- so they're bad whores.

And they so pollute the system that when a few real reporters try to cover a story there's no way not to make mistakes.

It was way too hard...it was way too tough...
On this she had not bargained
But she was like some missionary dancing to the beat of some
man's ancient drum
And she tries hard to tell this story...but it's a hard one to tell
She consults her book of Miracles...
Cry...and the wind says fly on
Well now you're on your own
You're back out on the road again for a million reasons
Well you're back out on the road again
And you try to tie together some connections...
You get some ribbons and some bows and get back out on the road again

-- "Juliet," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her album THE OTHER SIDE OF THE MIRROR

It's a hard story to tell.

But Jeff Gerth (PROPUBLICA) and Joby Warrick (WASHINGTON POST) team up in an attempt at it:

A week before the last U.S. soldiers left his country in December 2011, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki traveled to Washington to meet the team that would help shape Iraq’s future once the troops and tanks were gone.
Over dinner at the Blair House, guest quarters for elite White House visitors since the 1940s, the dour Iraqi sipped tea while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke of how her department’s civilian experts could help Iraqis avoid a return to terrorism and sectarian bloodshed.
Iraq would see a “robust civilian presence,” Clinton told reporters afterward, summing up the Obama administration’s pledges to Maliki. “We are working to achieve that,” she said.

Less than three years later, the relatively calm Iraq that Maliki had led in 2011 was gone. The country’s government was in crisis, its U.S.-trained army humiliated, and a third of its territory overrun by fighters from the Islamic State. Meanwhile, State Department programs aimed at helping Iraqis prevent such an outcome had been slashed or curtailed, and some had never materialized at all.

It's a strong article.

It's also an incomplete article.

It paints Hillary correctly as wanting a US presence in Iraq.

Where it fails is rushing to the White House slashing the program -- and the why of it.

As 2012, progresses, the White House walks further and further away from Iraq.

That's 2012.

In October 2011, the State Dept takes over the US mission in Iraq.

Where is that in the article?

And where in the article does it note the 2011 performance of the State Dept to Congress?

Congress is over the money.

And Congress wanted to know what the US mission in Iraq was.

Have we all forgotten that?

We can offer dozens of hearings that we covered in real time but let's go to the December 1, 2011 snapshot which covered the November 30th hearing of the  House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East ans South Asia.  The State Dept was represented by Brooke Darby.

US House Rep Gerald Connolly: Madame Deputy Assistant Secretary, welcome. Is it your testimony here today that the State Dept is fully committed to transparency and accountability with respect to any and all programs it has oversight and responsibility for in Iraq?

Brooke Darby: We take our responsibility for accountability and cooperation with all of the  audit entities, with Congress very, very seriously.

US House Rep Gerald Connolly: No, ma'am, that was not my question.  Is it your testimony that you're fully committed to transparency and accountability with respect to those responsibilities?

Brooke Darby: We are absolutely committed to accountability.

US House Rep Gerald Connolly: Full accountability?  Full transparency and accountability?
Brooke Darby:  I'm not sure -- I'm not sure how you define that so . . .

US House Rep Gerald Connolly:  Well I guess I'm not sure why you avoid the word.  That was my question and you've ducked it three times.  Are we or are we not, is the State Dept committed to full transparency and accountability to the tax payers in the United States and the people who served in Iraq or not?

Brooke Darby:  We absolutely are accountable to the tax payers, to our Congress and to all of the oversight bodies who are looking into how we are spending our dollars, whether our programs are achieving success.  We are absolutely --

US House Rep Gerald Connolly:  Alright. I'll sort of take that as a commitment. 

This was characteristic of Hillary's tenure as Secretary of State.  The Congress was unable to get answers -- especially ahead of the transfer of Iraq from a DoD-led mission to a State Dept-led one and in all the time that followed that transfer.

It was in that 2011 hearing that this important statement was made:

Ranking Member Gary Ackerman:  He [Bowen] has testified before other bodies of Congress, he has released written quarterly reports, as well as specific audits and the message is the same: The program for which the Department of State officially took responsibility on October 1st is nearly a text book case of government procurement -- in this case, foreign assistance -- doesn't buy what we think we're paying for, what we want and why more money will only make the problem worse.  Failed procurement is not a problem unique to the State Department.  And when it comes to frittering away millions, Foggy Bottom is a rank amateur compared to the Department of Defense. As our colleagues on the Armed Services committees have learned, the best of projects with the most desirable of purposes can go horribly, horribly off-track; and the hardest thing it seems that any bureaucracy can do is pull the plug on a failed initiative.  How do we know the Police Development Program is going off-track?  Very simple things demonstrate a strong likelihood of waste and mismanagement.  Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we intend to train -- support the program? Interviews with senior Iraqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter disdain for the program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a clue.

This was before Barack began slashing.

As for slashing of the police program that took place in 2012, that program (see above) was a State Dept failure and the Iraqis had told the US government that they wouldn't be participating (and still the State Dept wasted money on it).

In May of 2012, Tim Arango's "U.S. May Scrap Costly Efforts to Train Iraqi Police" appeared. With the scoop,  Arango reported that the police training program has already cost US taxpayers $500 million since October alone and was an utter failure with Iraqis having ceased attending training on US facilities and Americans unwilling to train the Iraqi police on Iraqi facilities due to safety concerns.  Arango's article forced the State Dept and spokesperson Victoria Nuland to address Iraq in their daily briefing (here for transcript and video):
QUESTION: Yeah. Iraq.
QUESTION: I realize this was addressed by the Embassy yesterday, but I just want to get from here -- you know what I'm talking about, yes? -- in terms of the elimination, or reported elimination, of the Iraqi police training program. This -- the report said that it was being considered that the whole program could be -- could vanish, that it could go away. The Embassy, while it denied that, didn't say that it wouldn't be substantially cut or whittled down to a mere fraction of what it originally had been planned to be. Can you just clarify what exactly is -- what are the plans for the police training program?
MS. NULAND: Well, first let me clarify we have no intention to cancel our police training program in Iraq. What we are engaged in, in collaboration with the Iraqis, is a right-sizing exercise for this program along with all of our programs. As you know, we are absolutely committed to, first of all, supporting Iraqi self-reliance. So if they tell us they need less support, we are going to downsize. And in this case, they are asking us to continue the advisory and training program but to downsize it, and also to saving the U.S. taxpayer money wherever we can.  So I can't give you a final size for this. We are in the evaluation process now, working with the Iraqis. But we do anticipate we're going to be able to downsize it considerably while continuing to be able to support the Iraqis on the police training side.
QUESTION: Okay. This is the second time in -- since the beginning of the year that this particular publication has written something about the Embassy which you had a serious dispute with. Both times it has been cast -- the reports have cast these reductions or slashing of personnel as serious miscalculations by the Administration in terms of its Iraq policy. What's your feeling about that, that characterization of it?
MS. NULAND: Well, again, it's important to appreciate that we are in a new phase with Iraq. We're in a phase where it is up to the Iraqis to decide precisely what kind of footprint they want by foreign support, foreign countries offering support, offering assistance in the context of their overall approach to their sovereignty. So we very much need to respect that this is a collaborative decision how much support they want on the police training side.  So we're trying to be in step with their increasing self-reliance. We're trying to do this in a negotiated, phased, managed way. But we're also trying to make clear to Iraqis that we think we have valuable training, valuable advice to offer, as we do to some hundred countries around the world. So we're going to work this through, but I think folks need to get on the program that we have a sovereign Iraq who's going to make its own decisions about how much outside support it wants.
QUESTION: All right. So you agree or disagree with the characterization that this is -- that this represents a serious political -- or a serious policy miscalculation?
MS. NULAND: Well, of course I'm going to disagree with that. Thank you.
QUESTION: Was the report correct that the Administration has spent $500 million so far on the police training program?
MS. NULAND: I don't have the total amount here, but as you know, we've been involved in police training from the beginning of the Iraq operation, as far back as 2003. I can take the question if it's of interest to you to sort of tote it all up. But we were involved in police work ourselves, police training for the Iraqis from the beginning, the standing up of their own professional police forces. I don't think anybody in that country wanted to submit themselves to the old Saddam-ite police, so it needed a bottom-up work and cleansing. So --
QUESTION: One other thing. The report alleged that much of the training provided by the United States, and in particular by the State Department since the departure of the U.S. military from Iraq, was not helpful to the Iraqis, that it consisted of retired or late-in-their-career American state troopers telling war stories about how they conduct their activities in the United States. And it cited one anecdote in which it said that the two key indices of someone possibly going to -- planning to launch a suicide bombing were: one, that they would withdraw a lot of money from the bank; and two, that they'd go out and get drunk. And it suggested that those were perhaps not very apposite indicators for Iraq where: one, a lot of Iraqis don't have bank accounts; and two, a lot of Iraqis don't drink. Do you -- how do you address the criticisms in the story that regardless of how many millions were spent on this, that the training wasn't actually all that useful?
MS. NULAND: Well, first of all, I'm not going to get drawn into parsing the anecdotes in a story with which we took considerable issue, both in its macro assertions and in many of its details. We had considerable difficulties with that story, as the statement from Embassy Baghdad made clear.  With regard to the integrity of the police training that we do -- we have done in Iraq over these many years, we stand by it. The Iraqis have a new, modern, more democratic police force largely as a result of the support of the international community led by the United States. I'm obviously not in a position to speak to every individual involved in this, but all over the world we rely on the expertise of retired officers from the United States, from other countries, who are willing to participate in these training programs. And they participate on the basis of their experience in democratic law enforcement, not to hang around and tell inappropriate war stories. So we stand by the program. And if you'd like more on the numbers, et cetera, we can get you a separate briefing.
QUESTION: Can I just -- the last one this?
QUESTION: Just given the severity of the differences that you had with this, has there been any contact between the Department or anyone -- any senior officials in the Department and the editorship of the publication in question?
MS. NULAND: Well, I'm not going to get into our discussions with the --
QUESTION: Well, have you asked for a correction or clarification or --
QUESTION: Or a retraction?
MS. NULAND: We have made absolutely clear in our public statements and in our messages to that publication how we feel about the story.
QUESTION: But does that mean that you've asked for a retraction or a correction or some kind of -- I mean, after the first one, you demanded one. And you were quite open about it, and you got one.
MS. NULAND: Yeah. I think we're still working on that set of issues.

I'm real sorry that the Mikas and David Corns and other lazy ass whores don't want to know what happened in Iraq -- didn't pay attention in real time and don't care enough to do the research today.

But we've covered Iraq every damn day.

And Hillary has a great deal to answer for.

And Iraq has not been static.

This has been tried, that has been tried, this has been dropped, that has been dropped.

Donald Trump, his remarks on Iraq, are not the problem.

The inability of the bulk of the press to process and inform themselves is the problem.

The press refuses to make Hillary answer for Iraq and that is a problem.

And you can believe that US troops should have been withdrawn and disagree with the way Barack eventually did it.

I do.  I argued he needed to do it even faster than he promised so that when Iraq went into turmoil he could say the American people wanted this.

And Iraq was always going to go into turmoil because the US military had been used to prop up puppet governments.