Monday, December 10, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Monday, December 10, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, 3,000 US troops supposedly entered Iraq (from Kuwait) last week, the Pentagon publishes the memo of understanding signed with Iraq last Thursday, Barack got his goal: more US troops in Iraq, Nouri tried to think of another reason why Iraqis shouldn't talk about Iraqi women being tortured in prisons (it distracts from the overall thoughts on human rights!), Senator Patty Murray notes the just released homelessness rates for veterans in the US, and more.
How many US troops remain in Iraq? December 12, 2011, Ted Koppel filed an important report on Rock Center with Brian Williams (NBC) about what was really taking place in Iraq -- what 'reporters' insisted on calling a 'withdrawal' but what the Pentagon had termed a "drawdown." Excerpt.

MR. KOPPEL: I realize you can't go into it in any detail, but I would assume that there is a healthy CIA mission here. I would assume that JSOC may still be active in this country, the joint special operations. You've got FBI here. You've got DEA here. Can, can you give me sort of a, a menu of, of who all falls under your control?

AMB. JAMES JEFFREY: You're actually doing pretty well, were I authorized to talk about half of this stuff.

As September drew to a close, Tim Arango (New York Times) reported that the US had just sent in a Special-Ops division into Iraq. Yesterday Press TV reported:
Over 3,000 US troops have secretly returned to Iraq via Kuwait for missions pertaining to the recent developments in Syria and northern Iraq, Press TV reports.
According to our correspondent, the US troops have secretly entered Iraq in multiple stages and are mostly stationed at Balad military garrison in Salahuddin province and al-Asad air base in al-Anbar province.
Noting those 3,000 troops going into Iraq, The Voice of Russia adds today, "Another 17,000-strong force is preparing to cross the Kuwait-Iraq border over time, Iraqi press says."
Thursday DoD and the State Dept had officials in Iraq. The Defense Dept issued the following that day:
Under the auspices of the Strategic Framework Agreement, the Governments of the United States of America and the Republic of Iraq reaffirmed their commitment to an enduring strategic partnership during the second meeting of the Defense and Security Joint Coordination Committee on December 5-6, 2012 in Baghdad.
The meetings held at the Iraqi Ministry of Defense were co-chaired by Iraqi Defense Minister Saadoun Al-Dlimi, the U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller, and the Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller.
Defense and Security Cooperation is one of the cooperation areas that were agreed upon in the Strategic Framework Agreement signed in 2008 between the United States Government and the Government of the Republic of Iraq in order to strengthen cooperation in areas of mutual interest for the two countries.
The United States and Iraq discussed efforts to continue strengthening their security cooperation, enhance Iraq's defense capabilities, modernize Iraq's military forces, and facilitate both countries' contributions to regional security. The two delegations explored U.S.-Iraq training opportunities and Iraq's participation in regional exercises.
The United States and Iraq also discussed the strong and growing foreign military sales program, a symbol of the long-term security partnership envisioned by both countries. The United States stated its support for Iraq's efforts to meet its defense and security needs.
Both delegations reviewed regional security issues. They exchanged views on the conflict in Syria and its effects on regional stability, with both sides urging an end to the violence and support for a political transition that would represent the will of the Syrian people. The two sides agreed to continue consulting closely on regional security matters.
The capstone event was the exchange of a Memorandum of Understanding signed by Defense Minister Saadoun Al-Dlimi and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. This agreement represents the enduring strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq, and provides mechanisms for increased defense cooperation in areas including defense planning, counterterrorism cooperation, and combined exercises.
Finally, the United States and the Republic of Iraq committed to convene a third recurring Defense and Security Cooperation Joint Coordination Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., during 2013 to continue discussions on the enduring security and military cooperation between the two countries.
As we noted in real time, Saadoun al-Dulaimi is not Minister of Defense he is 'acting Minister of Defense.' Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." We also noted that the DoD link did not work. It does now. It's a brief document.
The White House got what they wanted: The right to add US troops on the ground in Iraq. Read over section two.
The Participants intend to undertake the following types of defense cooperation activities:
a) reciprocal visits and meetings by high-ranking delegations to military facilities and institutions;
b) exchanges of instructors, training personnel, and students between Participants' military academies and related institutions;
c) counterterrorism cooperation;
d) the development of defense intelligence capabilities;
e) cooperation in the fields of defense-related research and development and technology security;
f) acquisition and procurement of defense articles and services;
g) exchanges of information and experiences acquired in the field of military operations, including in connection with international humanitarian and peacekeeping operations;
h) training and exchange of information regarding the development of military health services, military health facilities, and military medicine training opportunities;
i) training and exchanges of information regarding staff organization and human resources for regulation and management of defense personnel;
j) cooperation for the development of logistics support and sustainment systems;
k) defense planning;
l) joint exercises; and
m) cooperation in the area of social, athletic, and military culture activities.
That's very clear if you understand contracts.
Sadly, with the 2008 Status Of Forces Agreement, we learned that most people -- including reporters -- don't understand contracts. For that reason we did multiple and repeated walk throughs. We explained the aspect of options. At one point, we even used Rick Springfield as an example. We tried to make it interesting and basic. And we went over it over and over. In the community, people understood. Outside the community, our thanks for that was to have United For Peace and Justice loons attack us. The SOFA, they just knew, meant after three years, it's over. Were they lying or were that they stupid?
I'm going to repeat what I said when I got the most ticked off: When you've broken a multi-million dollar contract with a coporation and walked without a lawsuit because you knew what you were doing, then sit yourself down next to me and tell me about contract law. Until then, you should probably just try to nod along to a conversation that is clearly over your head. And if it helps, I didn't just break the contract, I kept the bulk of the money.
As we saw in 2011, the White House was attempting to re-negotiate the SOFA or come up with a new agreement. As we said here, that was a possible outcome. The White House team got caught on the immunity issue in 2011. They also had a more active press which was being fed details of the negotiations by some who did not support US troops remaining in Iraq (for various reasons -- often solely because they didn't want Barack to look like a liar in his 2012 re-election bid). So that ended up being the sticky point. The press then falsely reported negotiations were over. After their false report, we were at the hearing where both General Martin Dempsey (Chair of the Joint Chiefs) and DoD Secretary Leon Panetta testified that negotiations were still going on (Panetta would state in that November Senate Armed Services Committee hearing that he believed some agreement would be reached in 2012). A ton of reporters were present at the hearing but only one reported that aspect: Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times. The hearing made all three broadcast networks' evening news -- and they all avoided the actual news that the negotiations continued. Instead, they focused on a 'testy' exchange between Panetta and Senator John McCain that was forgotten before the hearing ended (both men were laughing about the exchange in the second round of questions). That really didn't matter but ongoing negotiations did. (For coverage of that hearing, see November 15th's "Iraq snapshot," November 16th's "Iraq snapshot," November 17th's "Iraq snapshot," Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)," Kat's "Who wanted what?" and Third's "Editorial: The silences that enable and kill," "Enduring bases, staging platforms, continued war" and "Gen Dempsey talks "10 enduring" US bases in Iraq.")
Kid yourself that the news media in America is serving the public and informing them.
The left's been taken over by a toxic strand in the last four years: Hatred of women. You see it over and over especially when it comes to the lives of Iraqi women. Thanks to the United States government, Iraqi women have lost their most basic rights and Iraq has elements that wants to create a home grown Taliban to control women. In that environment, a US ambassador to Iraq has to be above board. You cannot send a man (and the administration refuses to nominate a woman -- four times now, Barack has refused to nominate a woman for the post) if his mere presence means Iraqi women are not safe if they visit the Baghdad embassy. Brett McGurk.
The toxic strand silenced the bulk of the left on McGurk. He never should have been considered for the post. But the left with outlets like The Nation and Democracy Now didn't want to tell their audiences what was what. But when it turned out that married Brett McGurk had an affair with married reporter Gina Chon while McGurk was working for the administration, it should have raised serious questions.
The toxic left has been happy to document Lara Logan's sexual activities. She slept with a contractor! When do I care about Lara Logan's sex life? When she gets into bed with a US official. Until then, she can sleep with whomever she wants and more power to her. But Gina Chon worked for the Wall St. Journal. The paper was the only one who gave damn about ethics. The sick Victor Navasky made sure that CJR would look the other way -- we've all been looking the other way for years as Victor's been a menace to women, haven't we? But the  Wall St. Journal grasped that you can't sleep with a source and you can't let the source vet your copy -- especially when your source is a government employee. That's why Gina's no longer with the Wall St. Journal.
Sending 'swinging' Brett back to Iraq as the US Ambassador would have been a threat to Iraqi women. This scanald was huge in Iraq. While idiots took to the airwaves to whine that Gina could sleep with whomever she wanted (forgetting the fact that Brett was a source, a government employee and was shown her copy in advance, before her editors even saw it, so he could provide 'input'), the issue was Brett cheated on his first wife while in Iraq. He was now, if Barack Obama got his way, going back to Iraq. Every Iraqi woman meeting with him would be assumed to have slept with him.
In Iraq, that can get a woman killed.
But where was The Nation, where was Democracy Now, where was the so-called Progressive, go down the list. None of them, as evidenced by their silence, gave a damn about Iraqi women. They were prepared to back Barack in sending an ambassador to the country that women could never meet with unless they wanted to risk their lives.
Because United For Peace and Justice grossly misinformed the American public, they didn't know who Brett was. UFPJ should have been telling them about Brett in 2008. The SOFA almost faltered once -- only once was it in serious danger.
No, that doesn't fit with the 'hard bargain' Nouri was driving meme which a bunch of crazies pushed (and, continue to which makes them look insane and like the flash card for raving "America-haters" -- when you need to believe an untruth just because it makes it appear someone 'stuck it to' the US, that's how you get the right-wing calling you "America-haters" or worse so self-check frequently because the rest of us on the left suffer enough without your crazy leading us to all be tarred and feathered). Nouri drove no hard bargains. Nouri wanted the troops there. As he demonstrated twice before with the UN extensions. If you don't know about those two extensions, you need to go to the outlet you counted and demand accountability. We don't have enough space in this snapshot to spoon feed visitors and passerbys.
But the only real time the SOFA was in jeporady was when the immunity for US troops came up. Brett's the one who found the legal language to satisfy the US government and provide Nouri with cover (the Blackwater shooting spree in Baghdad had caused many to question immunity). For having done that in the past, the supposedly anti-war left (does it exist anymore on Pacifia or in magazines -- I don't think so -- but it does remain at the grass roots) should have opposed Brett McGurk.
Just for having done that in 2008, they should have opposed him. When you factor in that he was nominated after Panetta declared in an open Senate hearing that the US was still in negotiations with Iraq over US troops, the last thing anyone against the Iraq War should have wanted was to send contract 'fixer' Brett to Iraq as the US Ambassador.
But it didn't matter to them. Where are there ethics?
I have no idea. But we've repeatedly noted where Brett's been: Iraq. And that he's worked on the negotiations.
Nouri always wanted to do the contract via Memo Of Understanding. But some in the White House -- the same raising objections to the immunity aspect in October 2011 -- felt it had to go through Parliament. It would never pass Parliament. In part because so little passes Parliament. So Brett's been very resourceful.
And some of the usual American stupid will insist that the Memo Of Understanding is being misunderstood by me. I can be wrong and I often am. But I do understand contracts and I do comprehend what I'm reading when I read the latest Memo Of Understanding.
There will be 'attachments' added to the Memo but, for now, the big news is Barack Obama got what he wanted and did so while tricking the American public.
We stood alone in pointing out that while Candy Crowley wanted to fact check Mitt Romney, she had no interest in fact checking Barack on Iraq. This despite the fact that Tim Arango's report noting Special-Ops back in Iraq and that negotiatons were ongoing to send even more troops into Iraq -- that report was only weeks old. Crowley allowed Barack to claim that all US troops were out of Iraq (a lie -- as Wiliam Rivers Pitt observed at Truthout last week, "if you think we're not still at war in Iraq, I can introduce you to some military families who are still posting love-you-be-safe letters to that particular delivery code"), she didn't question the ongoing efforts to negotiate with Iraq on sending more troops in, she didn't question anything. She didn't do her job and none of the other moderators did because they also avoided Iraq. Yet Crowley was the worst because she wanted to be a participant and assigned herself the role of fact checker -- but she only fact checked one side.
Where are the US reports -- confirming or rejecting foreign reports -- about 3,000 US troops just going into Iraq last week? Probably in the same trash can the stories about last week's memo are in. Again, let's not pretend that the US media is interested in an informed public. They're not. They suck up to power and that's really all the bulk of them do. And, on the left, we get outraged when a Republican is in the White House and we yell and scream about how embarrassing the media is. But when it's a Democrat in the White House, suddenly we are outraged that they're even expected to be accountable. We no longer care about ethics or about the pbulic being informed. Instead, we're all supposed to run defense for the president. Don't confuse that with ethics, don't confuse that with independence. Accept it for what it is: whoring.
The world has more than enough cheap whores and they don't help the people of Iraq and they don't stop wars. We need to hold everyone's feet to the fire and a bit of advice to the Cult of St. Barack: It's a bit hard to hold his feet to the fire when you're so busy sucking his toes.
Today was Human Rights Day and the United Nations noted:



Human Rights Day presents an opportunity, every year, to celebrate human rights, highlight a specific issue, and advocate for the full enjoyment of all human rights by everyone everywhere.

This year, the spotlight is on the rights of all people -- women, youth, minorities, persons with disabilities, indigenous people, the poor and marginalized -- to make their voices heard in public life and be included in political decision-making.
These human rights -- the rights to freedom of opinion and expression, to peaceful assembly and association, and to take part in government (articles 19, 20 and 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) have been at the centre of the historic changes in the Arab world over the past two years, in which millions have taken to the streets to demand change. In other parts of the world, the "99%" made their voices heard through the global Occupy movement protesting economic, political and social inequality.

Al Mada reports that women's organizations gathered in Najaf yesterday for a conference to prevent violence against women. One attendee explained that when her husband beat her she found no assistance from her family, her community or even the law. She is divorced now. For some women, divorce in Iraq can mean losing the children. Being divorced can also be a social stigma. The conference called on the clergy to educate regarding violence against women

The conference also found that laws need to be changed. MP Batoul Farouk attended the conference and she noted that the Parliament is attempting to pass more equitable laws but that their application is often impacted by customs and traditions. Staying on the topic of women and their rights, the next four paragraphs are from an article we wrote at Third yesterday.

Al Mada reports that Saturday in Falluja, women demonstrated to demand an investigation into the treatment of women in Iraqi prisons and detention centers. If you count on US press outlets, you won't learn of that protest or even why it took place. But, in reality, this is an issue that has been building for several weeks now.

November 27th, All Iraq News reported that the Women, Family and Children's Committee was calling for the Ministry of Justice to make prisons and detention centers open to legislative committees so they can see what the conditions are. All Iraq News also noted MP Safia al-Suhail is calling on the Ministry of Women to focus on eliminating violence against women in prison. November 29th, Alsumaria reported that Iraqiya MP Hamid al-Mutlaq accused security forces of raping and torturing women prison and he traces the culture back to the torture of Iraqis by Americans at Abu Ghraib prison.

November 30th, Al Mada reported that a fight broke out in the halls of Parliament between State of Law (Nouri al-Maliki's political slate) and Iraqiya (led by Ayad Allawi) and that it was over the issue of what is happening to Iraqi women in prisons and detention centers as well as an allegation that State of Law had attempted to bury the report and refusing to allow Parliament's Committee on Women to issue the report on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25th). Dar Addustour added that the Committee report is said to have found that women are being arrested without judicial warrants and that, while in prison, women are being tortured to force confessions against their husbands.

And the government's response? Saturday, December 1st, Nouri gave a speech (that has since been called out by many including Moqtada al-Sadr, Jalal Talabani, Massoud Barzani and Ayad Allawi) in which he threatened to arrest those members of Parliament who had discussed the violence against women in Iraqi prisons and detention centers.
Today, Nouri felt the need to make another speech. Alsumaria reports he decried the recent talk about voiolations of human rights in Iraqi prisons and said such talk was narrowing the concept of human rights. All Iraq News continues that Nouri lamented the lack of focus on the victims of terrorism. He then launched into his usual attack on the Ba'ath Party. Al Rafidayn has him also questioning publicly whether or not Moqtada al-Sadr is trustworthy.

Imagine that, Nouri wanting people to talk about something other than Iraqi prisons. He's got a long history of running secret prisons. (Ned Parker's Iraq reporting for the Los Angeles Times repeatedly touched and exposed the secret prisons. He was also one of the few American reporters to write seriously about the Ministry of the Interior.) Barack Obama ignored that public record when he backed Nouri for a second term. The Iraq Times reports that there are rumors of another secret prison as families of tens of thousands of Iraqis who've disappeared believe their loved ones are being held. Yes, Nouri would have a reason to distract from the reports that women are being tortured in Iraqi prisons.

Nouri has started many crises in Iraq. The latest crisis was ignited by his sending forces (Tigris Operation Command) into the disputed areas. A military stand-off between his forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga is ongoing. Al Rafidayn reports KRG President Massoud Barzani visited Kirkuk today to inspect the Peshmerga who are stationed around the province. This follows Nouri's attack on Barzani to the Kuwait press on Sunday. Nehro Muhammad (Rudaw) notes that Halgurd Hikmat, Peshmerga spokesperson, declared today that the KRG "will not give in to demands by Baghdad to withdraw its Peshmerga troops from all disputed territories." AFP offers this thought, "The visit may increase already-high tension with Baghdad, which has seen both sides deploy military reinforcements to areas in north Iraq" Dar Addustour adds Iraqi President Jalal Talabani is in discussions with Iraqiya head Ayad Allawi on how to best resolve the crisis. Al Mada notes that Talabani met with Communist Party officials in Baghdad yesterday. Why would he be there? It could be any number of reasons.

But if you were Nouri al-Maliki and your hold on power was said to be slipping, you'd look at Jalal's meeting with the Communist Party and conclude that Jalal's sounding out to see where everyone stands on a no-confidence vote to remove Nouri from office. Nouri's notoriously paranoid -- as well documented in the State Dept cables -- but you don't have to be paranoid to look at Jalal's meeting with the Communist Party in the midst of this Baghdad and Erbil crisis to realize the only thing of value the Communist Party can offer currently is their support for a no-confidence vote.

In today's violence, All Iraq News reports a Mosul attack left two police officers injured. Alsumaria adds that a Baghdad roadside bombing injured one police officer.
Today Nouri pretended to care about Palestinians. I'm not in the mood to cover his propaganda. He has been prime minister for over six years now. And Palestinians in Iraq were herded into camps, really unprotected from the elements and treated worse than animals. (Here and here for more on the topic.) When they've managed to leave those camps, it has not been pretty. Just a few months ago, Ali Abunimah (Electronic Intifada) was reporting on one group of Palestinian refugees. In an attempt to muster some regional support for his iffy position, Nouri wanted to grandstand on the back of Palestinians after being behind their mistreatment in Iraq for over six years now.
The US State Dept issued the following this afternoon:
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
December 10, 2012
Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources Thomas Nides departed for Baghdad, Iraq today where he will meet with senior Iraqi officials to discuss areas of mutual interest in the U.S.-Iraq relationship. Deputy Secretary Nides will also meet with Ambassador Beecroft and senior embassy leadership for a progress report on our efforts to streamline our presence in Iraq and to discuss ways to accelerate these efforts going forward.
Upon departure from Iraq, Deputy Secretary Nides will lead a delegation of U.S. Government officials to the annual Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), to be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on December 11-12. Deputy Nides will be joined by U.S. Department of Commerce Under Secretary for International Trade Francisco J. Sánchez; Assistant Secretary of State for Economics and Business Affairs Jose W. Fernandez; Executive Vice President of OPIC (Overseas Private Investment Corporation) Mimi Alemayehou; and also from the Department of State, Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary for Science, Space and Health in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, Jonathan Margolis; Special Representative for Global Partnerships Kris Balderston; Special Advisor on Global Youth Issues Zeenat Rahman; and Special Representative for Commercial and Business Affairs Lorraine Hariton.
In 2009, President Obama elevated entrepreneurship as a critical pillar of U.S. global engagement to deepen ties between the United States and the international community. Since then, the U.S. Government has committed to supporting entrepreneurship to help channel the creativity, innovation, and potential of millions of individuals around the world to create economic opportunity. The GES is the leading U.S. Government-supported forum for promoting economic growth through entrepreneurship. The Summit provides an opportunity to link U.S. economic leadership with an encouraging trend towards entrepreneurship in Muslim-majority countries.
The U.S. Government remains committed to supporting innovation and entrepreneurship through our many agencies, organizations and programs dedicated to promoting sustainable growth, expanding trade, and improving the investment climate.
Viewers may follow the conversation on Twitter using the hashtag (#GES_EVA).
For further information, please contact Jeffrey Ladenson at, 971-(0) 50-616-2935.
Lastly, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and her office issued the following today on homelessness:
Monday, December 10, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
HOMELESS VETERANS: Chairman Murray Statement on Decline in Homeless Veterans Population
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD), made the following statement after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, released the 2012 Annual Homeless Assessment Report (AHAR). The report showed a 7.2 percent decline in veterans homelessness since 2011 and a 17.2 decline since 2009. However, the report also details a 1.4 percent increase among persons in families.
"Those who heroically served America in the military should not find themselves struggling to find a bed to sleep in or a meal to eat," said Chairman Murray. "With new servicemembers returning home every day and the economy on the road to recovery, it is critically important to continue supporting programs like HUD-VASH and the SSVF. I am grateful for the progress we have seen, because these programs have been working. However, I am deeply concerned about the data indicating an increase in homeless families. I firmly believe the success of our nation's families and the future of our economy are rooted in the investments we make in basic necessities like education and housing. And I remain committed to providing Ameirca's families and veterans with the sense of security and dignity they all deserve."

Megan Roh
Deputy Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray