In the Los Angeles Times, Tina Susman's "Release of Iranian raises questions in Iraq" explores the meaning of the release of alleged Iranian arms smuggler (alleged by the US military) Nader Qorbani from military custody:
Qorbani was detained at the Baghdad airport, but various U.S. and Iraqi officials have given different accounts of whether it was U.S., Iraqi or private security forces that took him into custody. U.S. officials have said he was handed over to the Iraqi government, which said he was freed Friday.
On Monday, the hard-line Iranian newspaper Kayhan said Iranian intervention was responsible for Qorbani being freed. It said Qorbani was an innocent contractor responsible for the "repairing and maintaining of the holy sites in Iraq," Iran's neighbor.
U.S. military officials, who heralded Qorbani's Nov. 18 capture with a press release headlined, "Forces detain Iranian involved in lethal aid shipments," said his job was a cover for smuggling weapons into Iraq in boxes of building materials. It said Qorbani was carrying cocaine and was attempting to leave Iraq when he was arrested at the airport.
American military and political officials in Baghdad have refused to say publicly whether Iranian pressure led to Qorbani's release.
And we'll stay with mystery crimes to note this from today's "Around the World" briefs round up in the Washington Post:
The Washington Post reported Sunday that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) had quietly shipped in three C-130 cargo planes loaded with guns and bullets from Bulgaria, stirring concerns among U.S. officials over possible armed confrontation between the Kurds and the Iraqi government.
Government spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh said officials would not oppose the Kurds arming their police if it was aimed at strengthening national or regional security.
"I don't deny there is some tension between the KRG and the federal government due to many issues," Dabbagh said. "It won't reach to a level of conflict."
That's referring to Ernesto Londono's "Kurds in N. Iraq Receive Arms From Bulgaria: 3 Planeloads of Munitions Worry Officials in Baghdad" which Lloyd highlighted here Monday morning.
Now we're returning to the topic of the treaty. (Why am I reminded of the group therapy scene in Death Becomes Her?) This is from US House Rep Joe Sestak's "Acute flaw in Iraq deal over forces" (Philadelphia Inquirer):
On Nov. 16, the Iraqi cabinet approved a U.S.-Iraqi status-of-forces agreement. This week, as the Iraqi parliament considers it for final approval, I am once again voicing my grave concerns about the agreement.
This is probably the last chance I and other lawmakers will get to voice our objections. President Bush has chosen to craft the document as an executive agreement instead of a treaty, which means it will not require congressional ratification.
I have always believed that the war in Iraq is a tragic misadventure that has siphoned off vital military capability from Afghanistan - especially our ability to patrol the border with Pakistan, where al-Qaeda's leadership has found a long-standing haven. That said, from my 31-year military background, I also understand the need for a deliberate withdrawal from Iraq that does not put our troops in unnecessary danger.
Our continued presence in the region will therefore be necessary for a limited period of time. And due to the imminent expiration of the U.N. mandate that permits U.S. troops to remain in Iraq legally, we must have a new legal agreement to remain after Dec. 31.
However, this status-of-forces agreement is simply not the best means of achieving that.
Americans should be very concerned that, in an attempt to highlight Iraqi autonomy and the increasing bilateral ties between our countries, President Bush has put our uniformed men and women in legal peril.
The final version of the agreement will permit the Iraqi courts to exercise jurisdiction over American soldiers under limited circumstances. What those circumstances are remains unclear, as do the crimes for which they may be prosecuted.
That is one of many considerations not explicitly laid out in the text of the agreement, and it's likely there will be future conflicts between the two governments over matters of interpretation.
Procedural standards, such as rules of evidence to be used in trials of American soldiers, are also notably lacking. The agreement merely stipulates that a committee "shall establish procedures and mechanisms" at a future date. The agreement can hardly be described as comprehensive.
Ike Skelton, chair of the House Armed Services Committee, has also raised the above objections. Others on the record include US House Reps Bill Delahunt and Rosa DeLauro who penned July 8th's "The Wrong Partnership for Iraq" (Washington Post). November 19th, Delahunt chaired a committee hearing on the treaty (see that day's snapshot) and DeLauro's office issued the following statement that day:
Bush Administration should submit accord to Congress for approval and seek extension of UN Mandate
Washington, DC -- Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3) issued the following statement after attending a briefing with other Members of Congress by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Deputy National Security Advisor for Iraq and Afghanistan Lieutenant General Douglas Lute on the U.S.-Iraq Security Agreement. The accord sets the parameters for the redeployment of U.S. combat troops out of Iraqi cities by June 30, 2009 and for the complete withdrawal from Iraq of all American troops by the end of 2011. It also includes provisions relating to legal jurisdiction over U.S. personnel and control over military operations. The agreement would replace the U.N. Mandate providing the legal authority for U.S. combat operations in Iraq, which is set to expire on December 31, 2008.
"Our brave men and women in uniform have performed brilliantly and after more than five -and-a-half years of war I am pleased to see the Bush Administration finally acknowledge that it is in our national interest to set a timeline to responsibly redeploy our forces out of Iraq. Many questions remain, however, over an agreement that I believe must be approved by Congress in order to have the force of law. Yet, the administration, which has utterly failed to consult with Congress on this issue, has no intention of submitting the accord for approval."
"The Iraqi Parliament is beginning a robust debate over the agreement, literally breaking out into a physical confrontation earlier today. According to the Iraqi Constitution, a 2/3 majority vote is still needed to both pass a law regulating the ratification of international agreements in general and to approve the U.S-Iraq security agreement itself."
"While I applaud efforts in Iraq to uphold the country’s new constitution, I am deeply troubled by the Bush Administration’s disregard for ours. I have heard from scholars, legal experts and others on this matter and believe there is no precedent for an agreement such as this that authorizes offensive U.S. combat operations without congressional approval."
"It is highly unlikely that the agreement will be approved by the Iraqi Parliament before it recesses in less than a week and by the U.S. Congress before the U.N. Mandate expires on December 31. I strongly urge the administration to once again work with the Iraqi Government and the UN Security Council on a brief extension of the UN Mandate, the sole instrument providing our troops with the legal authority to fight in Iraq, while giving both legislative bodies the necessary time to carefully review, deliberate over and vote on the accord. An agreement of this magnitude for the future of both countries deserves that much."
Congresswoman DeLauro earlier this year introduced the Iraq Strategic Agreement Review Act to ensure congressional consultations and approval of the agreement (H.R. 4959) and joined Congressman Bill Delahunt (MA-10) in introducing the Protect Our Troops and Our Constitution Act (H.R. 5626), which similarly calls for a congressional voice in the agreement and an extension of the U.N. Mandate. She has also participated in several House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee hearings on the accord.
Last week US House Rep Barbara Lee's office released the following:
Renews call for passage of H.R. 6846 prohibiting President from unilaterally deploying U.S. armed forces or expending public funds to guarantee the security of Iraq
Washington D.C. -- Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) today issued the following statement criticizing the terms of the U.S.-Iraq security agreement approved yesterday by the Iraqi Cabinet and is now awaiting approval of the Iraqi Parliament. Congresswoman Lee renews her call for swift action of legislation she recently introduced, H.R. 6846, the "Iraq Security Agreement Act of 2008," when the Congress convenes this week. This legislation will prohibit the unilateral deployment of U.S. armed forces or the expenditure of public funds to guarantee the security of Iraq without prior approval of Congress.
"Although a final version of the agreement reached by the Administration and the Government of Iraq has yet to be publicly announced and made available, reports of the content along with leaked copies of the agreement lead to the conclusion that this agreement will be unacceptable to the American people in its current form and should be rejected.
"For starters, the Bush agreement commits the United States to a timetable that could leave U.S. troops in Iraq until Dec. 31, 2011. Aside from the fact that the America people are plainly fed up with this unnecessary war and occupation in Iraq and want to see it ended, occupying Iraq for three more years under the Bush plan would cost American taxpayers $360 billion based on current spending levels. That money obviously could be better spent digging our economy out of the ditch the policies of the Bush Administration has put it in.
"Second, the Bush agreement undermines the constitutional powers of the next president by subjecting American military operations to 'the approval of the Iraqi government,' by giving operational control to 'joint mobile operations command centers' controlled by a joint American-Iraqi committee. Throughout history, American troops have been placed under foreign control in peacekeeping operations only where authorized under treaties ratified by the Senate. No American president has ever before claimed the unilateral power to cede command of American troops to a foreign power.
"When Congress next convenes this week, it should consider and pass H.R. 6846, which I have introduced in the House and Senator Biden has introduced in the Senate, which will prohibit the unilateral deployment of U.S. armed forces or the expenditure of public funds to guarantee the security of Iraq without prior approval of Congress."
By the way Abeer Mohammed and Mudhafer al-Husaini's "18 Are Killed in 3 Bombings in Baghdad" in this morning's New York Times (or whomever wrote it) does a much better job of portraying Iraqi objection than the nonsense yesterday. Had the Times not tried to play some shell game on readers, that would have been the thrust of this morning's earlier entry.
Those who want to make their voice heard on the treaty can use the links provided by the American Freedom Campaign:
Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed!
We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled.
The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes. Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties.
If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops. Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress.
Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action. Thank you. Steve Fox
American Freedom Campaign
FYI, in Iraq today, Antonio Guterres begins a visit that will last through Thursday, he is the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees and we'll be there in that capacity. UNHCR notes:
High Commissioner António Guterres arrives in Baghdad today for a 3-day visit that will include meetings with top government officials and a review of UNHCR's work with our national and international staff in the country.
The Iraq mission is the third by Guterres in 18 months and will include field visits aimed at getting a better perspective on programmes for internally displaced Iraqis as well as prospects for the possible eventual return of refugees.
There are more than 2 million IDPs and close to 2 million Iraqi refugees outside the country, according to figures provided by host governments.
In the New York Times, Thom Shanker reports on the White House's efforts to alter their 'coalition of the willing' lists without notification of alterations. And, a point Ava and I have made for 12 months now, Barack's campaign was not a small-donors campaign. That was always a lie. It was a lie when Liar Goody repeated it non-stop on Democracy Now! and it remains a lie. The New York Times again revists via Michael Luo today. Luo notes "only 26 percent of the money" in the primaries "and 24 percent" in the general election "came from contributors whose total donations added up to $200 or less." Lies. Lies Goody has never and will never correct. And the Times didn't just stumble upon this, they've been reporting on it for some time (since 2007). Goody was one of the worst (and repeat) offenders and this is one example, "TV: Democracy Sometimes?:"
On January 3rd, Goodman interviewed Allan Nairn and Kelley Beaucar Vlahos allegedly about the advisers working for the presidential candidates. Beaucar Vlahos is a conservative so we'll mainly focus on the embarrassment that was Nairn. But note, Goodman wants to start with Hillary and brings in both guests for that. Then Goodman decides it's time for Obama and she shuts Beaucar Vlahos out of the discussion. She'll move on to John Edwards (tossed to Nairn) and wait until both candidates have been discussed at length before she'll ask Beaucar Vlahos "would you like to add to any of the advisers Allan just talked about? And then we'll move on to the Republicans." After Beaucar Vlahos notes that they are all the same and the immense money that they all have, Goodman will put forth the lie that Obama gets huge amounts of monies from the grassroots (Goodman regularly cites The New York Times, she's aware of their article about Obama calling t-shirt, bumper stickers, and other sales "donations" to create the impression of small donors and she should also damn well be aware of the huge amounts of monies he's receiving from Big Business). She'll toss to Nairn to praise the alleged miracle of small donors and Nairn will get off this howler:
He actually doesn't need to finance his campaign, to go to the hedge funds, to go to Wall Street. But he does anyway. And he does, I think, because if he doesn't, they wouldn't trust him. They might think that he's on the wrong team, and they might start attacking him. He is someone who, in terms of the money he needs for his campaign, he could afford to come out for single-payer healthcare, for example, but he doesn't. He doesn't need money from the health insurance industry, that's wasting several percentage points of the American GDP in a way that no other industrial rich country in the world does, yet he chooses not to do that, because he doesn't want to be attacked by those corporations.
Nairn is (illogically and with no basis in reality) arguing that, yes, Obama does take big money but he only does so because, if he didn't, big money would attack him. It's a laughable 'theory' and a generous one -- one that's not extended to other candidates.
Remember that when Allan Nairn tries to rewrite history on the corporatist War Hawk he helped install. Remember that Allan and Amy could play Look-At-Us-Only-We-Care-For-East-Timor to get some headlines (and CBS Evening News coverage) a little while back but they LIED and IGNORED Barack's connections to East Timor. While raking Hillary's advisors over the coals, the two who supposedly give a damn about East Timor were perfectly willing to stay silent about Barack's advisors responsible for the slaughters in East Timor.
There's some revisionary b.s. going on online -- including from the drug addict who'll never work in that town again -- and it's not going to play. You're not going to now act surprised that Barack's a corporatist War Hawk. Nor, after having thrown leeches on Hillary day after day, are you going to get away with, "I never really said there was a big difference between them." You're not going to rewrite history and get away with it. You lied repeatedly to install Barack. You better start praying he doesn't declare war on Iran and praying hard because not only will that be blood on your hands, it will lead to some of the strongest criticism you've ever experienced and you're already tawdry reputations will be slashed even further.
It's not that you were wrong, it's that you lied. Repeatedly. And there is a price to pay for that.
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