Monday, August 16, 2010

US recommends Iraq toss out the process and Constitution

Senior Iraqi politicians involved in forming a new government said they are weighing the creation of a new federal position that could break the nearly-six-month logjam over which faction gets the coveted premiership.
Since March elections, the two top vote-getting blocs have failed to secure the majority needed in Parliament to form a government. Politicians from some of the biggest factions have warmed to the idea of creating an executive post they hope would better balance out power between the two sides, said people taking part in negotiations.

The above is from Sam Dagher's "Iraq Weighs New Post to Help Form Government" (Wall St. Journal). Dagher reveals that the idea gained traction during Joe Biden's visit and that if it is put forward, some believe it will be Parliament's first order of business.

No one appears bothered by the larger reality. A political stalemate exists and the answer being pushed is not to obey the laws, not to follow the Constitution but to create a new post (with the apparent hope that Nouri willw ant the new post). That's the lesson the US government has imparted to Iraq.

March 7th, Iraq concluded Parliamentary elections. The Guardian's editorial board notes, "These elections were hailed prematurely by Mr Obama as a success, but everything that has happened since has surely doused that optimism in a cold shower of reality." 163 seats are needed to form the executive government (prime minister and council of ministers). When no single slate wins 163 seats (or possibly higher -- 163 is the number today but the Parliament added seats this election and, in four more years, they may add more which could increase the number of seats needed to form the executive government), power-sharing coalitions must be formed with other slates, parties and/or individual candidates. (Eight Parliament seats were awarded, for example, to minority candidates who represent various religious minorities in Iraq.) Ayad Allawi is the head of Iraqiya which won 91 seats in the Parliament making it the biggest seat holder. Second place went to State Of Law which Nouri al-Maliki, the current prime minister, heads. They won 89 seats. Nouri made a big show of lodging complaints and issuing allegations to distract and delay the certification of the initial results while he formed a power-sharing coalition with third place winner Iraqi National Alliance -- this coalition still does not give them 163 seats. They are claiming they have the right to form the government. In 2005, Iraq took four months and seven days to pick a prime minister. It's now 5 months and 9 days.

And in an attempt to end the stalemate by September (not this week, by sometime in September), the US is 'suggesting' that the whole process be chucked aside and a new position created out of whole cloth.

In London, Andrew Gilligan (Telegraph of London) rushes in to insist David Kelly was not murdered but still advocates for an inquest. As a general rule, Gilligan should find another topic to write about. He's done more than enough damage when it comes to David Kelly. The late doctor disputed Tony Blair's lie -- proven a lie in the Iraq Inquiry -- that Iraq could attack England with WMD in 45 minutes. Andrew Gilligan reported on the 'sexed up' documents and eventually revealed Kelly as his source. Kelly was found dead under questionable circumstances and the official story is he took his own life. If you're late to the story, CNN has a timeline of major events here. The editorial board of Gilligan's own paper argues for an inquest:

Almost from the moment his body was discovered in woods near his home in July 2003, conspiracy theories have surrounded the death of Dr David Kelly. The government weapons inspector had been disgracefully exposed by ministers as the source of critical comments about the so-called "dodgy dossier" on the Iraq War. His death seemed, to all intents and purposes, a suicide prompted by the inordinate pressure to which this very private man had been subjected as a consequence.
This was, indeed, the conclusion reached by Lord Hutton in his inquiry into the circumstances of Dr Kelly's death, which superseded the normal requirements for an inquest. In retrospect, it was a mistake to have combined the findings as to the cause of death with a wider investigation into the political shenanigans that led to his being drawn into such fierce political controversy. They should have been held separately to establish clearly how Dr Kelly died.

The Guardian polls its readers on where it's "now time for an inquest into David Kelly's death?" and it currently stands at 86.7% say: "Yes, a formal inquest is the best way to resolve unanswered questions" while 13.3% say: "No, Hutton's findings were sufficient." James Slack and Miles Goslett (Daily Mail) report on another poll, "According to an exclusive Mail opinion poll, only one in five people accepts the Hutton Inquiry's finding that the government weapons inspector took his own life. The survey also reveals that eight out of ten people want a full inquest. With senior MPs making the same demand, the Coalition is under strong pressure to act. It comes as a medical report says it was 'impossible' that Dr Kelly bled to death in the way described by the inquiry." Simon Walters and Glen Owen (Daily Mail) report that MP Michael Howard is attempting "to force a full inquest into the death of Ministry of Defence weapons expert Dr David Kelly."

As Simon Alford (Times of London) reminded last December, "Dr Kelly was identified as the source for a report by Andrew Gilligan on the Today programme in May 2003, in which it was claimed the Government wanted the weapons dossier "sexed up". Dr Kelly denied the claims and on July 15 2003, three days before he was found dead, he appeared before the Foreign Affairs Committee." And in September of 2003, Warren Hoge (New York Times) reported on Gilligan's testimony to the Hutton Inquiry:

Mr. Gilligan's apology came in response to an earlier disclosure that after he had testified to the foreign affairs panel himself, he sent an e-mail message to three of the committee members suggesting a tough line of questioning to entrap Dr. Kelly.
"It was quite wrong to send it, and I can only apologize," Mr. Gilligan said today. "I was under an enormous amount of pressure at the time. I simply was not thinking straight, so I really want to apologize for that."

Repeating, Andrew Gilligan needs to find a new topic.

Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Lying Photo Ops." We'll note this from Sherwood Ross' "Pentagon Holding America Hostage To Its Ceaseless War-Making" (Intel Daily):

Besides holding Afghanistan and Iraq hostage, the Pentagon today is holding American civilization itself hostage to its imperial designs. That’s because war beggars civilized life and ceaseless war beggars civilization unceasingly. As the great political commentator Walter Lippman put it during the Viet Nam War, “All the plans of the Great Society here at home, all the plans for the rebuilding of backward countries in other continents will all be put on the shelf, because war interrupts everything.” In the American Warfare State that prevails today most of every tax dollar collected goes to wage war and the Pentagon spends more for war than all 50 states combined spend for peace. No better example exists than the protest of 750 scientists at the National Institutes of Health who said their basic infectious disease research had been subverted by spending on bioterror research. War interrupts everything: rebuilding our cities, public schools and community colleges, water-works and sewerage systems, housing, mass transit, hospitals, new business start-ups, and the funding of the fine arts.
Lippman went on to give advice that nearly every occupant of the White House has since disregarded: “We are not the policeman of mankind. We are not able to run the world, and we shouldn’t pretend that we can. Let us tend to our own business, which is great enough as it is. It is very great. We have neglected our own affairs. Our education is inadequate, our cities are badly built, our social arrangements are unsatisfactory. We can’t wait another generation.”
Today, with 30 million Americans unemployed, underemployed, or dropped out of the labor market, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich writes, “America’s biggest---and only major---jobs program is the U.S. military.” If you want to enlist to kill people, Uncle Sam has got a warplane for you to fly; if you’d prefer to make living room furniture, forget it. Adding up 1.4 million troops on active duty, 833,000 in the reserves, and 1.6 million more employed by defense contractors, Reich calls this a “giant undercover military jobs program,” asserting that it is “an insane way to keep Americans employed” because “it creates jobs we don’t need.” “We don’t have an overt jobs program based on what’s really needed,” the labor authority writes.

And Dr. Francis A. Boyle was on Al Jazeera's Behind the News last Tuesday (August 10th) discussing the Special Tribunal for Lebanon:

Dr Boyle says that the STL has been "under the control and domination of the
United States right from the beginning when Bush junior's administration set it
up to apply pressure on Syria." He says now that Obama's administration is
cooperating with Syria, it is trying to redirect the accusation towards
Hezbollah "for political reasons" and to "neutralize Hezbollah's popular support
in Lebanon, even if this is done at the expense of further destabilization of
Lebanon." Boyle says Nasrallah's presumptions "should certainly be
investigated." He says he doubts this will happen, however, "because this is a
political process from the beginning." He says the first report of the UN
investigation commission into Al-Hariri's assassination relied on some
"baseless" circumstantial evidence to accuse Syria.

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