Friday, December 12, 2008

US Forces could remain in Iraq for 10 more years

In the first statements that point out to Iraq’s need for US Forces in the country since the declaration of the US-Iraqi security pact, Cabinet spokesman Ali Al Dabbagh said Iraq will need US troop presence to help build up its military forces past the newly agreed three-year deadline for the withdrawal of US troops.
Al Dabbagh, representing Prime Minister Nuri Al Maliki in Washington, said some U.S. forces could be needed for 10 years stressing that the terms of any extended presence would be negotiated between the next Iraqi and US governments in 2011 since the security pact has not tackled this issue. He added that until that time, the number of troops needed and the level of cooperation and support required would be clearer.
Al Dabbagh statements came at a time when the International Security Council is getting ready to adopt during a meeting scheduled next week a resolution to end multinational forces mission in Iraq upon the request of Baghdad. Iraqi Ambassador to the UN Hamed Al Bayati affirmed in a statement to the Kuwaiti News Agency (Kuna) that Iraq has sent a similar letter to the Security Council Chief. He added that the letter has been distributed to members and will be official early next week. Al Bayati affirmed that Al Maliki has noted in a letter to the Security Council that the extension of multinational forces mission has been done for the last time and while their mission will end late this month.

The above is "Iraq: US Forces could be needed for 10 years" (Alsumaria) and that should be the headline on the front page of every US paper. It should result in the worthless beggars of Panhandle Media taking to public airwaves and their websites to explore what they refused to in real time (yes, Amy Goodman, you, the Queen of All Beggars, are included on that list).

They pimped the treaty. Amy Goodman and all the rest did exactly what they have spent years condemning Judith Miller for -- lack of skepticism and running with the official 'version' of the truth the White House was pimping. They have spent how many years ripping Judith Miller apart?

So watch as they all pretend yesterday's events didn't take place. Yesterday's snapshot noted Reuters' report on the remarks (report by David Morgan and Anthony Boadle) and let's revisit "Iraq may need US troops for decade - Iraqi official:"

Iraq will need a U.S. troop presence to help build up its military forces past the newly agreed three-year deadline for the withdrawal of American soldiers, a senior Iraqi official said on Thursday.
Ali al-Dabbagh, spokesman for the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, said some U.S. forces could be needed for 10 years but told reporters that the terms of any extended presence would be negotiated between the next Iraqi and U.S. governments.
[. . .]
"We do understand that the Iraqi military is not going to get built out in the three years. We do need many more years. It might be 10 years," Dabbagh said at a Pentagon press briefing.
Iraqi officials had spoken about the potential need for a lengthy U.S. troop presence before the new SOFA agreement. But Dabbagh's comments appeared to be the first to address the potential need for a residual U.S. presence since the pact was announced.

"Dabbagh's comments appeared to be the first to address the potential need for a residual U.S. presence since the pact was announced." For those who spent too long probing the esoterics of reporting in J-school, let's speak slowly: That's breaking news. And yet, see how they run like pigs from a gun, see how they fly, I'm crying. [Added: "see how . . ." is Lennon & McCartney's "I Am the Walrus."]

Campbell Robertson's "A Panel on Iraqi Detainees Meets" (New York Times) includes mentions of the Pentagon briefing but, curiously, Campbell (who has lied about the treaty repeatedly in print) can't make room to include that very important statement. He can tease and fluff military press releases into 'reporting,' he just can't cover actual news. Even worse is Julian E. Barnes of the Los Angeles Times who needs to be asked: "Is your desire for war with Iran so great that you somehow missed the actual news from the briefing?" He really needs to explain how Ali al-Dabbagh is worthy of quoting only when he backs up US claims (the same, tired claims we've heard for over three years now -- never proved, just tossed around).

On the topic of the treaty, Martha passes on this e-mail from American Freedom Campaign:

The document parading around as the U.S.-Iraq agreement is not valid under the U.S. Constitution. Its legitimacy is based solely on the silence of lawmakers (and members of the media), who seem to be paralyzed by the fear of having an independent and intelligent opinion. Fortunately, one lawmaker has broken the silence and has acknowledged the truth before everyone's eyes.

It is now time for others, including you, to join their voices with hers.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the pending U.S.-Iraq agreement, decrying the fact that the Iraqi Parliament was being given the opportunity to vote on whether to approve the agreement while Congress was being denied - and was refusing to fight for - the same opportunity.

Well, thanks to our efforts and the leadership of Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), the U.S. House of Representatives may finally get to voice its opinion on President Bush's unconstitutional usurpation of Congress's legislative power.

Yesterday, Rep. Lee introduced a resolution related to the U.S.-Iraq agreement, inspired in part by AFC's call for a "signing statement" resolution. The primary purpose of this resolution is to express the sense of the House that President Bush does not have the power under the Constitution to negotiate and sign such a far-reaching agreement with another nation without seeking congressional approval of the agreement.

Passage of this resolution -- most likely following re-introduction in January -- will send a message to the Bush administration, the incoming Obama administration, and the rest of the world that the agreement holds no legal weight under U.S. law and will be considered merely advisory by Congress.

In truth, even without passage of this resolution, Congress shall not be bound by its terms. No president can unilaterally commit $10 billion per month in U.S. treasure to keep our troops in another nation. The United States has never been a monarchy or a dictatorship and we are certainly not going to accept any similar kind of system today.

Putting aside the question over whether this agreement is currently binding or not, it is important that as many lawmakers as possible openly reject the constitutionality of the agreement. So please tell your U.S. representative to co-sponsor, support, and vote for Rep. Lee's signing statement resolution (H.Res. 1535) by clicking on the following link:

Once you have sent your message, please forward this email widely to friends and family. In the alternative, you can use the "Tell-A-Friend" option on the AFC Web site that will appear after you have sent your message.

Thank you so much for taking action.

Steve Fox
Campaign Director
American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

Thursday Mike noted Zoltan Grossman's "Biden's Wars" (ZNet):

It was always a mistaken and shallow analysis to demonize Bush and Cheney as the root of all evil, implying that removing them from office would excise unilateral militarism from foreign policy. Personalizing the problem was especially misleading for Americans who had not yet come of political age during previous Democratic administrations. It was Jimmy Carter who declared an "Energy War," established the Central Command in the Middle East, accelerated the nuclear arms race, and revived draft registration. It was Bill Clinton who repeatedly bombed Iraq, enforced draconian sanctions on the Iraqi people, and bombed Serbia and a few other countries. The problem with Democratic politicians is not only that they rarely stand up to Republican wars, it is that they have initiated wars of their own.
If the peace movement relaxes for even one minute because of the Democratic victory, it could demobilize the millions of people -- particularly younger people -- who have joined the movement since the Iraq occupation began. Note that the new administration is proposing to withdraw "combat" troops from Iraq, but keeping other "residual" troops and mercenaries in the new military bases (and adjacent countries) that could continue intervening in Iraq -- perhaps curbing the "war" but not the occupation. The national security establishment wants Obama to extend his 16-month withdrawal timetable, and to send fresh forces (such as Stryker brigades) in 2009 for occupation duty.
The new administration plans to direct General Petraeus to initiate a new "surge" in Afghanistan, to transfer more occupation troops to that quagmire and escalate yet another disastrous war. It plans to continue or expand the dangerous attacks initiated by Bush against "insurgent refuges" in Pakistan and Somalia. And it could offer the precedent of so-called "humanitarian" interventions to justify meddling in Sudan, Georgia and possibly Syria and Iran. Below, I spell out some of these past, present and future "humanitarian" interventions -- which are anything but.

I'm limited in what I'll say here (Jim's claimed a topic for this week's editorial at Third) but you should be able to apply Grossman's commentary above to what came before it in the entry.

Let's turn to reports.

The Pentagon's inspector general said yesterday that the Defense Department's public affairs office may have "inappropriately" merged public affairs and propaganda operations in 2007 and 2008 when it contracted out $1 million in work for a strategic communications plan for use by the military in collaboration with the State Department.
"Without clearly defined strategic communications responsibilities, DoD may appear to merge inappropriately the public affairs and information operations functions," the inspector general said in a report released yesterday. Strategic communications programs, which have become a major part of the Pentagon's information operations carried out in the "war of ideas" in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, should be under the oversight of the undersecretary of defense for policy, the report added.

The above, noted by Lloyd, is from Walter Pincus' "Pentagon May Have Mixed Propaganda With PR" (Washington Post) and there's more than just the report on abuse that's been issued. On that report, Joby Warrick and Karen DeYoung's "Report on Detainee Abuse Blames Top Bush Officials" (Washington Post) opens:

A bipartisan panel of senators has concluded that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the harsh treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that their decisions led to more serious abuses in Iraq and elsewhere.
In the most comprehensive critique by Congress of the military's interrogation practices, the Senate Armed Services Committee issued a report yesterday that accuses Rumsfeld and his deputies of being the authors and chief promoters of harsh interrogation policies that disgraced the nation and undermined U.S. security. The report, released by Sens. Carl M. Levin (D-Mich.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), contends that Pentagon officials later tried to create a false impression that the policies were unrelated to acts of detainee abuse committed by members of the military.

Public broadcasting notes. NOW on PBS starts airing tonight on most PBS stations (check local listings):

Just this week, a top UN official predicted that by the middle of this century, the world should expect six million people a year to be displaced by increasingly severe storms and floods caused by climate change. But for many island nations in the South Pacific, climate change is already more than just a theory—it is a pressing, menacing reality. These small, low-lying islands are frighteningly vulnerable to rising temperatures and sea levels that could cause flooding and contaminate their fresh water wells. Within 50 years, some of them could be under water.

This week, NOW travels to the nation of Kiribati to see up close how these changes affect residents' daily lives and how they are dealing with the reality that both their land and culture could disappear from the Earth. We also travel to New Zealand to visit an I-Kiribati community that has already left its home, and to the Pacific Island Forum in Niue to see how the rest of the region is coping with the here-and-now crisis of climate change.

Washington Week also begins airing tonight on some PBS stations (others tend to air it as a Sunday morning chat & chew) and joining Gwen will be Pete Williams (NBC News), Christi Parsons (Chicago Tribune), David E. Sanger (New York Times) and John Maggs (National Journal).

The incredibly talented Aimee Mann has an NPR special this weekend and this is noted by an NPR friend:

Live Saturday: Aimee Mann's Christmas Concert

Listen Online At 8 p.m. ET

**Remind Me With: Google Calendar, Outlook or iCal

Aimee Mann (300)
Courtesy of the artist

Aimee Man performs live at the Keswick Theater this Saturday, Dec. 13.

Concerts Calendar

See a list of upcoming concerts and add them to your calendar.

WXPN, December 11, 2008 - Aimee Mann doesn't seem like the type to gravitate toward Christmas music — there's nothing Bing Crosby or Mannheim Steamroller about her. Yet for the third year in a row, she's about to perform material from her beautiful 2006 holiday album, One More Drifter in the Snow, and more at the Keswick Theater in Glenside, Penn. Hear the complete concert, webcast live by WXPN this Saturday, Dec. 13, starting at 8 p.m. ET. Nellie McKay and Grant-Lee Phillips will join Mann onstage for special duets.

After Mann left the popular '80s band 'Til Tuesday, she became a more folk-tinged singer-songwriter on her 1993 debut solo album, Whatever. Throughout her solo career, she's built up a strong catalog of bewildering narratives, morally ambiguous characters and brutally honest lyrics. Her latest album, @#%&*! Smilers, moves away from the sprawling concepts of 2006's The Forgotten Arm and gets back to songwriting basics. It sounds more like a collection of songs that grow on you than a massive work taken in one dose.

When Mann originally came up with the idea for her Christmas album, she wanted to hearken back to the classic holiday music of the '40s and '50s.

"I wanted to do a Christmas record that reflected the whole range of emotions that people have around Christmas," Mann says. "I thought a lot about the feeling I had about Christmas as a kid, the almost spooky beauty and mystery that the holiday has, and wanted to do something that echoed that musically."

One More Drifter in the Snow features the intimate and sometimes carnival-esque arrangements fans know her for, but with a lighter and warmer feeling. Classics such as Jimmy Webb's "Whatever Happened to Christmas" and "You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch" (featuring Grant-Lee Phillips as the narrator) sit alongside a Mann original, "Calling on Mary."

Related NPR Stories

That's currently buried at the NPR site. Supposedly it will be fixed. (It's not even a top article on the Music page. You have to click on the link at the bottom of the Music page under "Coming Soon" -- coming soon? Try tomorrow. Aimee Mann is one of the country's most gifted songwriters and Kat's reviewed her latest CD as well as The Forgotten Arm. (I know and like Aimee but, as already noted, that plug's at the request of an NPR friend.) The concert webcasts tomorrow night.

On broadcast TV (CBS) Sunday, 60 Minutes:

Barney Frank
Lesley Stahl talks to Rep. Barney Frank (D.-Mass.), whose position as House Financial Services Committee Chairman puts him right in the middle of the huge and controversial government bailouts, first for the financial industry and now for Detroit's automakers. | Watch Video
Where's The Bottom?
The mortgage mess that touched off the financial meltdown is far from over, with a second wave of expected defaults on the way that could deepen the bottom of this recession. Scott Pelley reports.
Coach Carroll
Byron Pitts profiles USC college football coach Pete Carroll, who, in addition to his success in making the Trojans a football dynasty, is making positive contributions toward decreasing gang violence in Los Angeles. | Watch Video
60 Minutes, this Sunday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

Yesterday Stan's offered "Grab bag" (and also check out his "Films on sick-out day"). Other community posts from last night:

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