Saturday, April 14, 2012

Even Moqtada al-Sadr is calling Nouri out

It's not as if Iraq wasn't already in the midst of ongoing political crisis. Now Nouri al-Maliki's really bringing things to a boiling point. Mohamad Ali Harissi (AFP) reports, "Key political factions accused the premier of moving towards a dictatorship with the arrest of Iraq's electoral commission chief, a charge the prime minister denied on Saturday." As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Tuesday found the UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy Martin Kobler praising the Independent High Electoral Commission and discussing how important it was to the upcoming provincial elections next year and then the parliamentary elections scheduled for the year after. So news that Nouri's had two members of that commission arrested on Thursday, as reported in real time by Raheem Salman (ioL news), was startling and alarming. The two arrested Karim al-Tamimi and the head of the commission Faraj al-Haidari.

Al Mada reports
that Moqtada al-Sadr declared on Saturday that the arrests were indications that Nouri al-Maliki might be attempting to delay the elections or call them off all together. He makes it clear that the the arrest needs to be based on eveidence and not on some whim of Nouri's and that it shouldn't be done because Nouri desires to "postpone or call of the election." Al Rafidayn explains Nouri al-Maliki released a statement today decrying those who doubted the arrests were sound. The Baghdad court that Nouri controls made no attempt to even pretend to be impartial or about justice. This system is a nightmare and needs to be called out. It's very distressing that the Western press has refused to do so. The Supreme Judicial Council announced yesterday that Faraj al-Haidari had used UNHCR money to purchase plots of land and that he will face a seven year prison term for those actions.

That is not a judiciary. Again, it is past damn time that the Western media loudly condemned the Iraqi judiciary.

A judiciary hears evidence at a trial and makes a conclusion. A judiciary never declares before a trial has been held that someone is guilty and will be going to prison. If you've made that determination before a trial, there's no need for one. That's not justice and it's not reflective of the Iraqi Constitution -- that every one of those dumb asses on the Baghdad courts took an oath to uphold -- which insists that all are innocent until proven guilty.

Though the Western press looks the other way, this is not a minor detail.

If there is not an impartial judiciary in place willing to hear evidence, arguments and counter-arguments and then form a conclusion based upon the facts presented, there's no judiciary at all. It's a Kangaroo Court that merely rubber stamps the whims of Nouri al-Maliki.

The Western press didn't call it out when the same judiciary held a press conference -- with nine judges speaking -- to declare Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi guilty of terrorism. The Western press refused to note that the press conference proved al-Hashemi was correct that he would not get a fair trial. A judiciary cannot announce guilt before a trial's ever been held and be seen as functioning or fair.

Not only should the Western press be condemning these petty tyrants serving as judges, the Iraqi Parliament should be bringing them up on charges of impeachment and evicting them from office. They clearly refuse to follow the Constitution. If they can't follow the Constitution on something so basic as every Iraqi is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. These 'justices' should be paraded before the Parliament and asked what is so damn confusing to them about the Constitution's Article 19 whose fifth clause reads: "The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial. The accused may not be tried on the same crimefora second time after acquittal unless new evidence is produced."

They should be asked: "Do you not understand what that means?" If they claim they do understand it, they should then be asked why they don't follow it?

Judges do not hold press conferences in most countries. They certainly don't hold a press conference ahead of a trial to announce that the accused is guilty. Not even the most repressive regimes do that. Even they have enough brains to know how bad that looks.

But the ignorance and stupidity of the Baghdad judiciary shines through, revealing to the entire world that they are corrupt, refuse to follow their own Constitution and are unable to do anything other than what Nouri al-Maliki tells them.

If Iraq's so fond of executions, maybe it's time to line up 'judges' who don't follow the Constitution. Surely, if executions are the way to deal with the Iraqi people, they should be the way to deal with Iraqi officials who break their oaths to the Constitution.

(I do not support the death penalty. I am pointing out that the Iraqi people suffer a barbaric penalty that the higher ups don't.)

But expecting the Western press to pipe up is like expecting the spineless to stand. Doubt it? W.G. Dunlop (AFP) quotes Iraqiya MP Haidar al-Mullah stating, "When the head of the independent electoral commission is being targeted, it means it is a message from the one who is targeting him that he is above the law and above the political process. The one who is standing behind this is the head of the State of Law coalition (Maliki), because he wants to send a message that either the elections should be fraudulent, or he will use the authorities to get revenge on the commission. This arrest is an indication that the judiciary has become an obedient tool in the hands of Mr Nuri al-Maliki," he said. Today, we skipped the phase when dictatorship is born, and now we moved to the phase when dictatorship is growing in the hands of the prime minister." What did Dunlop do wrong?

Not a thing. But he's with AFP, as is Mohamad Ali Harissi. Why are they the ones all over the story? Where's the rest of the Western media?

This should remind you of how when Nouri al-Maliki swore out an arrest warrant on Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi and demanded that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post. the US broadcast TV networks ignored it. How they were still pimping the 'glorious' exit of US troops from Iraq and weren't going to spoil the wet dream by letting a little thing like reality interfere. (If you're late to the party, you can start with "How do you spell 'lie'? ABC, CBS and NBC" to get up to speed.)

Al Mada reports UNAMI states they're watching the situation closely. Maybe they can Western news outlets how to do the same?

On the topic of Tareq al-Hashemi, AP notes that he has met with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Reuters notes a Baiji sticky bombing which claimed 1 life and left fourteen other people injured. AP adds a Khaldiyah (Anbar Province) roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 Iraqi police officers.

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The fallen and those that survived

On the latest broadcast of Correspondents Report with Elizabeth Jackson (Australia's ABC -- link is audio), Stephanie Kennedy visits the section of Arlington Cemetery where the fallen from the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War are buried. Excerpt.

Stephanie Kennedy: They died on the battlefields in dusty deserts and on unforgiving mountains on foreign soil. But their final resting place is here, in the rolling meadows of Arlington Cemetery. Tucked away in a pocket of this hallowed ground is what's become known as "The Saddest Acre in America." Section 60 is in the south-east part of this vast cemetery. It's the burial ground for more than 800 American soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cemetery officials have very strict rules about adding decorations on gravestones here but, in this little corner, they've turned a blind eye. And the manicured grounds are the same as is the perfect symetry of the headstones. But what's different here is the personal touches left by the families of the fallen. Mementos of lives lived adorn many of the graves: laminated photographs of soldiers in uniform in happier times, with families and wives and fiancees, there's childrens' drawings, and even a can of tobacco on one grave, unopened beer bottles and with Easter came chocolate eggs and balloons. And here's a stuffed bear -- he's actually fallen over so I'll just prop him back up. It's actually -- It's actually a little Easter bunny -- or a big Easter bunny. There are cards and letters too. This one reads: "Beloved son, your smile lit up our world. Life is not nearly so bright without you. We love and miss you so much."

Iraq War veteran Stan Giles (Knox News) reflects on Iraq and declares all US troops have left Iraq. However, Marines guard the embassy, Special-Ops remain in Iraq, military 'trainers' remain in Iraq, the CIA and FBI remain in Iraq and contractors, thousands and thousands of contractors, remain in Iraq. Equally true, members of Parliament were calling for an investigation into the US helicopter that emergency landed in the center of Baghdad and the people in it were quickly whisked away in another US helicopter and Iraqis believe that the CIA was in the car stopped in Baghdad where the people inside were supposedly all diplomatic staff but carried firearms. (Whether the belief is true or false it is a reality that the entire car could not have been diplomatic staff. As a young lamb sent to slaughter before the US Congress -- a low ranking State Dept employee -- explained months ago, no one working for the embassy or its consulates would travel anywhere without security guards. The fact that no security guards were in the car and no security car was tailing them means it was CIA, FBI or Special-Ops.) Giles concludes:

Today when asked about my thoughts on the Iraqi war, my stock answer is this: Quality historians will need about 50 years to gain adequate perspective to accurately assess it. We are far too close to draw accurate conclusions. But what I do believe is that in the meantime we need to seek to fund the Veterans Administration on a long-term basis because there are boatloads of wounded, mostly young veterans who will need care for many decades to come.

Yesterday, USA Today offered "Chat with a Wounded Warrior" an online discussion where readers were able to ask questions of journalist Chuck Raasch and Iraq War veteran Bryan Anderson. Raasch reported last month on how Anderson had become a motivational speaker after surviving a bombing in Iraq:

Four years later [after 9-11], Anderson was on his back on a Baghdad sidewalk, both legs and his left hand blown off when the truck he was driving was hit by an improvised explosive device. Frantic buddies saved his life. "My mom's going to kill me," he remembers thinking.
In that moment that changed everything, Bryan Anderson's road back became part of a wounded nation's story. Anderson, 30, and scores of other wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan are doing what they can to make it remain so and relate their struggles to the challenges of others.

In the online discussion Friday, many shared their own stories and the stories of loved ones:

Comment From Becky Stanton: Hi Bryan. I want to thank you for being such an inspiration to others and sharing your story. My 20 yr old nephew Cody Stanton lost both legs and two fingers on his left hand when he stepped on an IED in Afganistan on Jan. 26, 2012. Someone gave Cody a copy of your book No Turning Back when he arrived at Walter Reed in Md. At night in ICU when Cody was in too much pain to sleep I would read from your book to him. Cody was able to relate to you because he is also MP and ARMY and he said your stories were very simular. Your book helped us get through a very difficult time. You let me know that Cody could still live a very full and productive life, that this was not an end for him, but that he would just have to learn to do things differently. Cody and his mother moved into his apt at Walter Reed last week where he will continue his rehab. Untill Cody's accident I had no idea how many of our soilders are getting blown up & the injuries they are left with. Your book and sharing your story gives both our wounded and their famillies hope for their future. Thank you so much for sharing your "extraordinary" life with Cody and me.

Bryan Anderson: See hearing things like that make it all worth it and I'm glad to have shown you Cody can still live. That's huge just to know it can be done it gives you a goal to reach or something to stride for[.]

[. . .]

Comment From Tim Johnson: Can you explain what type of wheelchairs you use and how your artificial legs work. Why and when do you use one or the other?

Bryan Anderson: Well I have a manual chair power chair and prosthetics. I don't use legs much bc they hinder me there less efficient. I use a manual traveling its much easier and power at home when I wanna be lazy :) I do use legs when I want or for sports specific activities. I can just get up and walk away and if I were wearing pants you would know much was wrong just that I walked a tad slower than the reg

Comment From Lou: Any advice or lessons learned on public speaking?

Bryan Anderson: I had a just do it additude so I just did it. The more you do it the easier it gets. Practice is key and try not to panic or fluster your self. I just think of it as like I'm just telling my friends a story [.]

For more from Bryan Anderson, you can visit the No Turning Back website where you'll find his blog, his bio, contact information and more. And the book he wrote with David Mack, No Turning Back: One Man's Inspiring True Story of Courage, Determination, and Hope, came out last August and is on sale at Amazon (on sale for $13,98 currently, list price is $25.95).

The following community sites -- plus On The Wilder Side, Adam Kokesh, Fresh Air and Chocolate City -- updated last night and today:

Carole King quickly. I thought we were doing a book discussion of her new book (A Natural Woman, released Tuesday) at Third. We're not. So let me correct what I noted here earlier this week. Instead, Jim's assigned the book to Ava and I for a review. Meaning, we have to do a critical work. I read the book two weeks ago. In a book discussion, I can stand behind the lie of: 'I've really only read a few chapters and enjoyed them.' And offer nothing further. I can't do that if I'm supposed to co-write a review. In other words, this is going to be a critical piece. I stand by every word Ava and I wrote in "Trapped in an AA meeting with Judy Collins." If that offended you and you needed nothing but applause for your fave, you shouldn't read the Carole King piece tomorrow. If you're not adult enough to handle a critique, then don't read it. As with Collins, I know Carole. Carole's written a much better book and it's a book I recommend everyone read but what's on the page, though readable and interesting, isn't going to receive universal praise from me. In part because I do know Carole -- and apparently remember a great deal more of her life than she does (not surprising, it's not for nothing that Elaine and Rebecca nicknamed me Memorac -- after the computer in Desk Set -- back in college). Carole's shoddy memory is why she uses one device that reviewers have ignorantly praised. Her book is Carole at the Troubadour for the first time. That's the key to understanding the book. The key to understanding Carole is another issue. If you're a grown up fan of Carole's, you'll probably enjoy the piece. If you're someone who can only take lavish praise, you should avoid it. That's your heads up. (And there will be praise for parts of what she's done. This is not a slam Carole piece. It is book criticism which is not a book report or a write-up for 16 Magazine.) And my remembering it better doesn't mean I'm co-writing some expose on Carole. It does mean there's a glaring absence throughout the book and we will be pointing it out. It's not some deep, dark secret but it does go to why the book has the title it does and it does go to the limitations of the book.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Friday, April 13, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's power-grab leads to more arrests, Nouri's 'promise' not to seek a third term is ignored as a third term is pushed, pilgrims are attacked in Iraq, and more. 
As a friend who covers Iraq (but isn't there currently) said of the big news today, "You could say the s**t hit the fan but it seems to do that every week now since US forces left."  Since most US forces left.  And that's not an argument on my part for the US to send in more troops.  It is noting that both Bush and Barack bear responsibility for the problems in Iraq because both administrations supported Nouri al-Maliki.  Even after his secret prisons were known, even after the torture was known, even after he consolidated control of the security forces, even after he was rejected by the voters, the White House backed him in 2010.  The election results meant that Iraq could have been freed of the US-installed tyrant.  But Barack Obama decided to back Nouri.  Despite the will of the Iraqi voters as expressed in the March 2010 elections.
Well's it's hit the fan again.  Repeatedly today.  For context, let's drop back to Tuesday when UN Secretary-General's Specail Envoy Martin Kobler was telling fairy tales to the United Nations Security Council.  US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice presided over the meeting.
Martin Kobler:  Madam President, it goes without saying that there can be no democracy without free, fair and competative elections.  This makes UNAMI's work to provide election support all the more important for consolidating democracy in Iraq. At the request of the Council of Representatives [Parliament], UNAMI has been serving as advisor and observer in the selection process of the board of commission of the Independent High Electoral Commission before the expiration of the current board's term this month. The participation of UNAMI and the NGOs in the selection process is a clear sign to ensure transparency in the process.  The final vote and selection of the nine new commissioners -- which was expected by the end of this month --  is unlikely to take place.  However, in order to avoid delays in the upcoming elections in the Kurdistan region in September and the provincial elections in early 2013, the Council of Representatives is encouraged to extend the mandate of the current board of commissioners to enable it to initiate preparations for the conduct of those polls. 
Oh, what pretty little words.  Oh, what pretty little fantasies.   Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

In more dist[ur]bing power-grab news, Raheem Salman (ioL news) reports, "The head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and one of its members were arrested by police on Thursday on corruption charges, IHED officials said, in the latest apparent move for more government control of independent bodies. Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki won a court ruling in January 2011 that put the IHED and other entities, including the central bank, under cabinet supervision, raising concern over attempts to consolidate power by the Shi'a premier."
Yes, two arrested.  Two arrested who were supposed to oversee the upcoming elections in the KRG and in the rest of Iraq.  These are provincial elections.  The last ones were in 2009 (early 2009 for the bulk of Iraq, the summer for the KRG).  And there are no new commissioners in part because UNAMI couldn't get its act together.  And now Nouri's arrested two of the commissioners whose terms were supposed to carry over for these upcoming elections.

AP notes that the two are Karim al-Tamimi and the commission's chief Faraj al-Haidari.   Yeah, the chief of the commission.  Kind of important role, kind of an important person.  He and Nouri have a history, of course.  Nouri's angered pretty much everyone -- even erstwhile ally Motada al-Sadr -- in his too-long reign.  Reuters observes, "Critics fear that the premier may be showing autocratic tendencies in some of his actions and view Maliki's control over key security ministries with suspicion." AFP does a service by explaining the history behind what went down, "There is bad blood between Haidari, a 64-year-old Shia Kurd, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri a-Maliki's State of Law list over his refusal to carry out a national recount after 2010 parliamentary polls, in which the premier's list came in second to rival Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya list."
For those who've forgotten the March 2010 parliamentary elections, they played out like a little psy-ops operations -- in fact, you have to wonder if the US government just provided support on that or if they actively devised the plan? 
Nouri is the head of Dawa.  It is the political party he belongs to.  They are Shi'ites.  They had all these plans for the 2010 elections but they hadn't done well enough for Nouri in 2009 (provincial elections).  Nouri misread the 2009 results.  Dawa wasn't the big problem.  The big problem was sectarianism.  Iraq's rejected it.  That's why a number of sure-thing pre-election announcements were revealed as empty gas baggery once the ballots were counted and the tallies released.
But Nouri lives in a bubble where he convinces himself that he's the fairests of them all and that his enemies are evil Snow Whites.   He convinced himself that Dawa was being rejected because, unlike himself, they weren't 'strong.'  He was the Iraqi strong-man who had restored order and surely the people loved him for it right?  No, he's never been popular with the Iraqi people.  In 2006, the US imposed him on Iraq to prevent the popular choice from becoming prime minister.
Convinced that he and he alone knew the right thing to do, he refused to run with Dawa and instead invented State of Law, a political slate headed by him, a slate whose very name would trumpet his 'accomplishment' of ruling Iraq with an iron fist.
A new slate emerged to rival him: Iraqiya.  Ayad Allawi is the head.  He might not have been the original head.  That's not meant as an insult to him, that's just noting that a number of members of Iraqiya were forbidden by Nouri al-Maliki's Justice and Accountability Commission from running.  They were (prepare to shudder) terrorists!
Or that's what Nouri and his cronies insisted.  Strange, some of them were members of Parliament but now were accused of being unrepetant Ba'athists plotting the return of the Ba'ath Party.  Were that true (it wasn't), why not make your allegation and let the people decide?
Probably because Nouri grasped that even the Ba'ath Party was more popular in Iraq than Nouri was.  Al Jazeera did their last good reporting on the political issues and divisions with regards to the February and March 2010. They probably had to.  The bulk of their viewers are Arabs.  Arabs around the world have been outraged by Nouri's actions -- a fact that the US press doesn't like to inform you of.   Which is how you get garbage like, most recently, "The Arab League Summit in Baghdad was a huge success!" followed by the whisper of, "Except none of the leaders of major Arab states attended."
The Arab world has seen a very different war than the US has and that includes not just who gought and who died but also the political policies and witch hunts that the US press has largely ignored.  The US press pretends that Arab fighters cross over into Iraq to be part of al Qaeda in Mesopotamia and they site the anti-Arab SITE (run by the discredited Ritz Katz) as 'proof' for whatever false claims they make.  Soemtimes they get honest enough that a few US outlets will say "al Qaeda linked" as opposed to declaring them "al Qaeda." It's all b.s. and nonsense.  Arab fighters enter Iraq, throughout the long war and ongoing occupation, for one reason only: They preceive their Arab brothers and sisters to be victimized in the 'new' Iraq.
And they have that perception because that is what has taken place and what is taking place.  The US press deludes Americans into thinking something puzzling took place when what happened is the most natural and obivous reaction and, if you remove the heightened term 'al Qaeda,' you have the story of every invasion and every response to it throughout history.  But they want to play dumb and pretend that something puzzling and new and never-before-seen is taking place.
No such thing is or has happened.
In fairness to Shi'ites in Iraq, they lived as an oppressed people for years.  It's very rare that an oppressed people learns from the experience.  (A modern exception is South Africa where, after apartheid was finally overturned, the people sought justice and not vengence, equality and not oppression.)   Equally true, most Shi'ites aren't taking part in oppressing anyone.  Most Shi'ites are trying to go about their daily lives without getting killed the same as the Sunnis and other groupings. 
Iraq is a country of widows and orphans.  The current war, the sanctions before that and the Gulf War ensured that Iraq would remain a young country because so few people would live to an old age.  The median age in Iraq is approximately 20.9 years.  Again, it's a very young country age wise.
So all of the past oppressions could be distant enough that the Iraqi people could work together.  The thing that prevents that, the thing always prevented that, has been the exiles the US placed in charge of the country. 
Too damn scared to fight Saddam Hussein, they fled the country decades ago.  Lived in Iran, Syria, England, etc. while they plotted to get other countries to over throw Iraq's president Saddam Hussein.
"Saddam tried to kill me!" Nouri has whimpered when telling his life story to a few members of the press.  Yeah, maybe so.  But your response was to run like a coward (he'd spend 8 years in Iran alone).  Your response wasn't to stand up and fight.  You're response wasn't to leave with dignity by making a life another country.  You fled like a coward and spent years nursing your hatred.  That's what you brought back with you to Iraq.  that's all Nouri brought back, a grudge he's picked and nursed for decades.  What kind of idiots would ever think someone like that should run a country?

Oh, that's right.  The US government.
And not by accident.  We commented on Nouri's paraonia months after he became prime minister in 2006.  It was obivous to the naked eye.  Thanks to WikiLeaks, we now know that as early as 2007, State Dept cables were noting Nouri's paranoia.  Nouri was put in charge because he was paranoid.  When you install a puppet, you don't want someone with a strong, positive self-image.  They're harder to control. Hugo Chavez has a healthy ego.  He was not installed by the US and cannot be co-opted by the US government because he doesn't have those inner demons.  Nouri does.
With Nouri, the US always knew how to appeal to his vanity, how to prey on his fears.  Want something done, tell Nouri that he looks weak, tell him that the Kurds are disrespecting him, feed his inner doubts and he will act.
He haas no core strength and he no ethics or beliefs he stands by.  He is nothing but id and he responds not only instinctually but also instantly.  That's why he became prime minister and that's why, in 2010, the White House backed him to continue as prime minister.  A psychological dossier exits on Nouri and made him the best (meaning most pliable) choice for US interests.  (I dispute that conclusion/finding.  He accomplishes nothing.  If the US government has certain goals that they want achieved via a puppet, they need a puppet who can accomplish something.  Instead Nouri's technique of stalling leads to paralysis which is why the US puppet has still not been able to deliver and oil & gas law all these years later.)
The Iraqi people were supposed to be scared of Iraqiya.  Members were being purged from the election.  (If you were labeled a 'terrorist,' your name was pulled from the ballots.)  The political slate was scrambling to find people to run.  Nouri controlled state-TV and controlled the message.  It should have been a landslide victory for Nouri -- as he was insisting it would be.  As Quil Lawrence (NPR) reported the Monday after the Saturday elections (when no ballot totals existed) it was.
It wasn't.  The Iraqi people continued the trend of 2009.  The parliamentary elections reflected the provincial elections.  In most cases, Iraqis didn't want sectarian rule.  They were exhausted by it, they were tired of it and they were tired of living in fear (fear being the only thing Nouri had to campaign on)..  They rejected it.  And they rejected Nouri's State of Law.
Which is why it came in second to Iraqiya.  For some reason -- attempts to whore for the US government? -- a number of reporters feel the need to insist that Iraqiya only won a few seats more than State of Law!
So what?  It had many, many more votes. Since when do we refer to the voters desires by noting seats and not vote totals?
By votes, which is how the Iraqi people expressed themselves, Iraqiya was the clear winner and the direction the country to go in.  Iraqiya, headed by Shi'ite Ayad Allawi, was a mixture of various sects.  It was a party that spoke to national identity.  They did this by the candidates they put forward, they did it by the spokespeople they put forward.  Even now, the most prominent woman in Iraqi politics is the spokesperson for Iraqiya: Maysoon al-Damluji.
State of Law is the past, always refighting old battles, always seeking revenge.  Iraqiya was a way forward for the country, representing a national identity ("We are Iraqis") and representing that all were taking part, regardless of sect, regardless of belief or religion, regardless of gender.  Iraqiya's message was: "We are Iraq.  We are the party of all Iraqis."
And then there was Nouri with his announcements that a terrorist attack would be taking place any second -- trying to use fear the way Bully Boy Bush did in the 2004 US elections. 
That's why Iraqiya won despite all the problems they faced -- losing candidates (and that includes their candidates that were murdered in February -- no one killed State of Law candidates), losing the media wars, being outspent (Nouri bribes with potable water at election time, suddenly your village has water when Nouri shows up and he tells you that you will have water after the elections -- of course that doesn't come to be but he's all about the election cycle and not the future).
Iraqiya's victory was a huge victory and the press belittled it with "they only won a few seats more."  THe press belittled because the US government was backing Nouri al-Maliki.  Imagine if Iraqiya had run against Saddam Hussein and had the same outcome as they did in 2010?  You don't think the world press would have been all over the surprise upset?  Of course, it would have.  But in 2010, the press curbed itself and took a surprise out-of-no-where win and demoted it to "no big deal."
Doing that allowed Nouri to steal the election.  He first dug in his heels.  He then announced the results of the Supreme Court he controls.  Suddenly it was learned that Nouri had brought lawsuits regarding the process oof selecting a prime minister.  No one knew about those lawsuits before hand.  Damned  the court he controlled didn't find in his favor.
There was the issue fo the Constitution but Nouri just ignored it.  And dug his heels in creating Political Stalemate I which lasted eight months.  During that time, the US and Iranian governments worked together to press everyone to give Nouri a second term as prime minister.  The US held no sway over Moqtada al-Sadr but Iran did.  So Moqtada's announcement that he would not back Nouri was set aside.  The vote Moqtada held in April 2010, where he asked his followers to pick who he should back for prime minister also got set aside.  While Iran worked on a number of Shi'ites (and Iran and the US worked on Amar al-Hakim, the head of ISCI), the US worked on the Kurds and Iraqiya.  It was time to move forward was the message repeated over and over. 
'Look, it's just a four year term.  And if you give on this, if you show you're the better person, we will make sure that you receive concessions. In fact, we'll even make sure it's put in writing.'
Hence the Erbil Agreement which ended Political Stalemate I.  A document with many concessions that allowed Nouri a second term.  He honored the agreement . . . long enough to be established as prime minister for a second term.  Then he trashed it and refused to deliver on what had been promised to the other political blocs.
To the Kurds, the promises in the Erbil Agreement covered a number of things but most importantly, it mean the question of Kirkuk would finally be addressed.  The Kurds don't consider it disputed territory, they consider it to be their land.  That was made very clear by KRG President Massoud Barzani when he spoke in the US last week.  And even more so when he took questions on the issue of Kirkuk and the Erbil Agreement:
President Massoud Barzani: Article 140 is a Constitutional Article and it needed a lot of discussions and talks until we have reached this.  This is the best way to solve this problem. It's regarding solving the problems of the territories that have been detached from Kurdistan Region.  In fact, I do not want to call it "disputed areas" because we do not have any disputes on that. For us it is very clear for that. But we have shown upmost flexibility in order to find the legal and the Constitutional solution for this problem.  And in order to pave the way for the return of these areas, according to the Constitution and the basis of law and legally to the Kurdistan Region.  And we have found out that there is an effort to evade and run away from this responsibility for the last six years in implementing this Constitutional Article.  And I want to assure you that implementing this Constitutional Article is in the interest of Iraq and in the interest of stability.  There are people who think that time would make us forget about this.  They are wrong.  Time would not help forget or solve the problem. These are Kurdish countries, part of Kurdistan and it has to return to Kurdistan based on the mechanism that has been stipulated in the Constitution. And at the end of the day, as the Constitution stipulates, it's going back to what the people want to determine.  So there is a referendum for the people of these areas and they will decide. If the people decide to join Kurdistan Region, they're welcome and if the people decide not to, at that time, we will look at any responsibility on our shoulders so people would be held responsible for their own decisions.   As far as the second part of your question, the Erbil Agreement.  In fact, the agreement was not only for the sake of forming the government and forming the three presidencies -- the presidency, the Speakership of Parliament and premier.  In fact, it was a package -- a package that included a number of essential items.  First, to put in place a general partnership in the country.  Second, commitment to the Constitution and its implementation, the issue of fedarlism, the return of balance of power and especially in all the state institutions,the establishment in [. . .] mainly in the armed forces and the security forces, the hydrocarbons law, the Article 140 of the Constitution, the status of the pesh merga.  These were all part of the package that had been there.  Had this Erbil Agreement been implemented, we would not have faced the situation that we are in today.  Therefore, if we do not implement the Erbil Agreement then there would certainly be problems in Iraq.
The Kurds have been the US government's biggest supporter in Iraq -- that's before the invasion, during the invasion and all the time that's followed.  They wrongly thought that meant the US would look out for them and ensure that the Constitution and the Erbil Agreement were honored.  They were wrong and they've slowly realized that.  They've grasped that the US forever bends to Nouri and that, at present, it has no desire to stop.
That realization -- one that Iraqiya appears to have reached as well -- makes the ongoing political crisis all the more dangerous.  And with Nouri now going after the independent commission overseeing elections, things are going to get a lot more dangerous.
An interesting development this week,  Al Mada reports that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq is accusing State of Law of making the National Alliance less popular with the Iraqi people as a result of the war with the Kurds and Iraqiya. If someone were trying to figure out the reason for this public declaration, two spring quickly to mind. One, ISCI is speaking for others within the National Alliance and attempting to send Nouri a message that he needs to dial it back. Two, ISCI has already made a decision to replace Nouri and these statements are to prepare the public for that soon-to-emerge event.  There are other possibilites, we're focusing on those two.

Why might they be concerned enough to be acting out either of the two scenarios? As Al Mada points out, Nouri sent to an independent MP with the National alliance (Ablzona al-Jawad) to the press yesterday to declare that Nouri is the only one who can lead.  This is about a thrid term, as the MP makes clear.  The third term's not that far away.  Elections are now supposed to take place in 2014 -- though it may be 2015 or maybe Nouri will just call them off completely?
Nouri wants a third term.  Nouri wants to be the New Saddam, actually.  He hopes to go on and on and on in office.  How else to keep his corrupts sons and cousins on the payroll?  How else to fleece so much from the people of Iraq who live in poverty in an oil rich country while Nouri's own life is "palatial."

Nouri can't just run for a third term.  There has to be a roll out.  Because as Iraqis began protesting in January against him, against his fabeled "law and order" (they demanded to see their loved ones who'd been disappeared into the 'legal' system), against his corruption, and this took place while other leaders in the region were being challenged and overthrown.  The protests in Iraq only grew in size and number.  And what did Nouri do?
In March 2011, the New York Times editorial board offered "Mr. Maliki's Power Grab:"

Instead of taking responsibility, Mr. Maliki charged that the protests were organized by "terrorists." He ordered the closing of the offices of two political parties that helped lead the demonstrations.
His only concessions were vows not to seek a third term in 2014 and to cut his pay in half. That was not persuasive, especially given his many recent power grabs.
The press never followed up on the pay cut but how could they?   No one knew then and no one knows now how much Nouri legally takes from the Iraqi treasury.  But, as the editorial board noted, he did make a laughable claim that he wouldn't seek a third term.  He made that claim to Sammy Ketz of AFP which quickly reported it. And other outlets quickly followed suit.  But the day after he made that announcement,  Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) reported that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, was declaring, "We would like to correct this article. Maliki said, 'I think that the period of eight years is adequate for the application of a successful program to the prime minister, and if he is not successful, he must vacate his place'."
From the February 7, 2011 snapshot:

Of course no one does easy, meaningless words like Nouri. Saturday, his words included the announcement that he wouldn't seek a third term. His spokesperson discussed the 'decision' and Nouri himself announced the decision to Sammy Ketz of AFP in an interview. Ketz reported him stating he won't seek a third term, that 8 years is enough and that he supports a measure to the Constitution limiting prime ministers to two terms.

Well Jalal Talabani declared he wouldn't seek a second term as President of Iraq in an interview and then . . . took a second term. Point, if you're speaking to a single journalist, it really doesn't seem to matter what you say. Did Nouri announce his decision to the people? No, is quite clear that an advisor made an announcement and that Malliki made no "public statement" today.

In other words, a statement in an interview is the US political equivalent of "I have no plans to run for the presidency" uttered more than two years before a presidential election. That's Iraqi politicians in general. Nouri? This is the man who's never kept a promise and who is still denying the existence of secret prisons in Iraq.
Deyaar Bamami ( notes the Human Rights Watch report on the secret prisons and that they are run by forces Nouri commands.
And Nouri couldn't even make it 24 hours with his latest 'big promise.' Sunday, Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) reported that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, declared today, "We would like to correct this article. Maliki said, 'I think that the period of eight years is adequate for the application of a successful program to the prime minister, and if he is not successful, he must vacate his place'." Of course he's not announcing that. He's a thug. His previous four year term was an utter failure.

That's not speculation, that's not opinion. He agreed to the benchmarks that the White House set. He was supposed to achieve those in 2007. Those benchmarks, supposedly, were what would determine whether or not the US tax payer continued to foot the bill for the illegal war. But he didn't meet those benchmarks and apologists rushed forward to pretend like they weren't a year long thing and that, in fact, he had 2008 as well. Well 2008 came and went and the benchmarks were still not met. Nor were they in 2009. Nor were they in his last year in 2010.

That's failure. When you agree you will meet certain things -- such as resolving the Kirkuk issue -- and you do not, you are a failure. Not only did he fail at the benchmarks, he failed in providing Iraqis with basic services. He failed in providing them with security.

There is no grading system by which Nouri can be seen as a success.

But just as he will not admit to or own his failures from his first term as prime minister, do not expect to own or admit to his failures in his second term. In other words, Little Saddam wants to be around, and heading the Iraqi government, for a long, long time.

And, as 2011 entered its final month,  Al Mada reported Nouri al-Maliki's legal advisor Fadhil Mohammad Jawad had stressed to the press that there is no law barring Nouri from a third term as prime minister.  And at that moment, the trial balloon was officially floated.
Now we have it advanced even further by a Member of Parliament.  And Nouri's arresting members of the electoral commission.  And not a word, not a peep from the State Dept or from UANMI or from the United Nations.
It really is something how the world has destroyed Iraq.
We noted a friend at the top explaining how bad things had gotten since the bulk of US forces left Iraq.  (Special Ops, 'trainers,' Marines to protect the embassy, the CIA and the FBI remain in Iraq as do thousands of contractors working for the State Dept.)
That was always going to happen, violence and power-grabs were always going to take place after most US forces left.  We've argued and advocated for US forces to leave and to leave immediately.  Most US forces leaving Iraq is not why you have the problems you have today. The problems you have right now go to Nouri al-Maliki and no one else in Iraq.  Nouri is the cause of the problems.  And the cause of Nouri is the US government.
The Bush administration demanded he be named prime minister in 2006.  The Barack administration demanded he remain prime minister in 2010. 
With US forces gone, Nouri no longer has to deal with the US military command.  Nouri faced more calls for equality and fairness from US General Ray Odierno than he ever did from US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill. Odierno put pressure on him. And, yes, he could do that in part because he had forces Nouri needed the influence of.  So those who want to say Iraq might be better off with a larger number of US forces on the ground may be right in the short term -- but that would also require having DoD in charge of them.  Because Odierno did not represent the State Dept.  And Barack has put the State Dept in charge of all operations in Iraq.
But possibly, for the short term, Iraq would be more peaceful right now -- at least in terms of the political process -- if a larger number of US forces were on the ground in Iraq and under DoD command.  However, the struggle taking place currently would still take place at some point because US forces would have to leave at some point.
The mistake the US made after the initial mistake of starting an illegal war was to then go on and back Nouri al-Maliki whom the US government knew was deranged but thought they could control.  "Control" not to protect the Iraqis, mind you, but control in terms of use him to influence Iraqi policies -- especially with regards to energy.  That selfish choice (and idiotic one because Nouri can't influence anything, that was evident by 2007 if you paid attention) has doomed the Iraq people in the current situation that they're in.  Barring a no-confidence vote the only hope Iraq has is the 2014 elections (if they take place) and, even then, you're asking Iraqis to risk violence to vote four years after they did just that and the US refused to respect their vote, the US refused to recognize their vote and the US government instead insisted that the losing political slate get to hold onto the post of prime minister.
Iraq today is a story of violence inflicted upon the average Iraqi by the US government and by puppets of the US govenrment.   Reuters notes an armed attack on a bush of pilgrims headed to Samarra which left 5 dead and six injured and an armed attack on pilgrims headed to Kerbala which left 2 of them dead and six more injured. Alsumaria reports that 1 soldier was shot dead today in Mosul.
In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  The Committee notes:
Committee on Veterans' Affairs
United States Senate
112th Congress, Second Session
Hearing Schedule
Update: April 12, 2012
Saturday, April 21, 2012
10:30 am MST
2465 Grant Road
Billings, Montana
Field Hearing: Improving Access to Quality Health Care for Rural Veterans
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
10 am EST
Senate Dirksen Office Building Room 138
VA Mental Health Care: Evaluating Access and Accessing Care
Matthew T. Lawrence
Chief Clerk/System Administrator
Senate Committee on Veterans Affairs

Nouri's never-ending power grab

Iraq, where the violence never ends. Reuters notes an armed attack on a bush of pilgrims headed to Samarra which left 5 dead and six injured and an armed attack on pilgrims headed to Kerbala which left 2 of them dead and six more injured. Alsumaria reports that 1 soldier was shot dead today in Mosul. And the targeting never ends. Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

In more distrubing power-grab news, Raheem Salman (ioL news) reports, "The head of Iraq's Independent High Electoral Commission (IHEC) and one of its members were arrested by police on Thursday on corruption charges, IHED officials said, in the latest apparent move for more government control of independent bodies. Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki won a court ruling in January 2011 that put the IHED and other entities, including the central bank, under cabinet supervision, raising concern over attempts to consolidate power by the Shi'a premier."

Ah, the power grab. What's really interesting, when you read all the accounts that have come out since Salam broke the news yesterday is how they avoid Martin Kobler. It was, after all, Martin who was just praising Nouri and the Electoral Commission to the United Nations Security Council, bragging about how Kobler was 'easing' things along by selecting new members for the commission. Painting rosy pictures. You'd never know a power-grab was in progress in Iraq to have listened to Kobler. Maybe the reality there is that no reported listened to Kobler. There were only a handful present and, judging by what they filed, they really tuned Kolber's stated remarks and just quoted from his written submission.

AP notes that the two are Karim al-Tamimi and the commission's chief Faraj al-Haidari. Reuters observes, "Critics fear that the premier may be showing autocratic tendencies in some of his actions and view Maliki's control over key security ministries with suspicion." AFP does a service by explaining the history behind what went down, "There is bad blood between Haidari, a 64-year-old Shia Kurd, and Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri a-Maliki's State of Law list over his refusal to carry out a national recount after 2010 parliamentary polls, in which the premier's list came in second to rival Iyad Allawi's Iraqiya list."

And the political crisis continues in Iraq. Al Mada reports that the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq is accusing State of Law of making the National Alliance less popular with the Iraqi people as a result of the war with the Kurds and Iraqiya. If someone were trying to figure out the reason for this public declaration, two spring quickly to mind. One, ISCI is speaking for others within the National Alliance and attempting to send Nouri a message that he needs to dial it back. Two, ISCI has already made a decision to replace Nouri and these statements are to prepare the public for that soon-to-emerge event.

Why might they be concerned enough to be acting out either of the two scenarios? As Al Mada points out, Nouri sent to an independent MP with the National alliance (Ablzona al-Jawad) to the press yesterday to declare that Nouri is the only one who can lead.

Now you might be thinking, 'Oh, he's just showing support for Nouri as talk of a no-confidence vote increases.'

But he's not talking about that. He's talking about the supposed 2014 elections (the 2010 elections were supposed to take place in 2009). He's stating that Nouri is the only one who can lead Iraq and that there is nothing in the Constitution forbidding a third term.

4-13-2012 CORRECTION: Paragraph below states wrongly that AFP reported the promise being called off. I was wrong. AFP reported the promise not to run for a third term when Nouri gave an interview to Sammy Ketz of AFP. It was Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) who then reported that Nouri's spokesperson, Ali al-Mousawi, was stating that wasn't a promise but an observation about the process and goals. That was my error and my mistake. My apologies.

Iraqis took to the streets in numbers that alarmed Nouri. He immediately promised he would address corruption within 100 days (a stalling technique, the 100 days came and went and he did nothing) and he declared that he wouldn't seek a third term. Immediately, within 48 hours, his people were telling the press that it wasn't a promise. AFP broke that story but the rest of the Western press chose to ignore it and continue to praise Nouri for his promise and tell you what a 'statesman' Nouri was.

The whoring never ended.

Nouri's lawyer declared last year that Nouri could seek the post of prime minister a third time. Why? He wasn't asked that. he raised that to the press.

Because Nouri never intended to keep the promise. And now he's got a bribed member of the National Alliance going out and making the case that only he can lead.

Of course, if the power-grab continues much more, it doesn't really matter. Elections will be nothing but a joke in Iraq if they're even held.

The following community sites -- plus Susan's On The Edge, Reporters Without Borders and -- updated last night and this morning:

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Falluja: The War Crime that refuses to be under rug swept

Karlos Zurutuza (IPS) has an important article entitled "Those Laboratory Mice Were Children:"

At Fallujah hospital they cannot offer any statistics on children born with birth defects – there are just too many. Parents don’t want to talk. "Families bury their newborn babies after they die without telling anyone," says hospital spokesman Nadim al-Hadidi. "It’s all too shameful for them."
"We recorded 672 cases in January but we know there were many more," says Hadidi. He projects pictures on to a wall at his office: children born with no brain, no eyes, or with the intestines out of their body.
Facing a frozen image of a child born without limbs, Hadidi says parents’ feelings usually range between shame and guilt. "They think it’s their fault, that there’s something wrong with them. And it doesn’t help at all when some elder tells them it’s been ‘god’s punishment’."
The pictures are difficult to look at. And, those responsible for all this have closed their eyes.
"In 2004 the Americans tested all kinds of chemicals and explosive devices on us: thermobaric weapons, white phosphorous, depleted uranium...we have all been laboratory mice for them," says Hadidi, turning off the projector.

Though little covered by Western media, the issue of the birth defects from the illegal war of 'liberation' never stops being a story in the Iraqi press. Little covered because they were War Crimes but also because they expose the lie that the US government was ever even remotely concerned about the Iraqi people. Last year, Gene Clancy's "Evidence shows U.S. weapons cause birth defects in Fallujah, Iraq" (Workers World):

Dr. Bassem Allah, the senior obstetrician who is chief custodian of Fallujah’s newborns, finds the cases both perplexing and disturbing. During medical school he had to search Iraq for a case study of an infant with a birth defect. “It was almost impossible during the 80s,” he told the Guardian. “Now, every day in my clinic or elsewhere in the hospital, there are large numbers of congenital abnormalities or cases of chronic tumors. Now, believe me, it’s like we are treating patients immediately after Hiroshima.”
Birth defect rates in Fallujah have become increasingly alarming over the past two years. In the first half of 2010 the number of monthly cases of serious abnormalities rose to unprecedented levels. In Fallujah’s general hospital, 15 percent of the 547 babies born in May had a chronic deformity, such as a neural-tube defect — which affects the brain and lower limbs — cardiac or skeletal abnormalities or cancers. (Guardian, Dec. 30) In addition to these conditions, research has shown startling increases in children born with cleft palates, multiple fingers and toes, encephalitis and leukemia.
The Dec. 30 Guardian reports that no other city in Iraq has anywhere near the same levels of reported abnormalities. Fallujah sees at least 11 times as many major defects in newborns as world averages, research shows.

Martin Chulov was the reporter on the piece
Workers World is noting. He also covered the story in 2009. Dahr Jamail has often covered the birth defects (and the destruction of Falluja). At the start of this year, he reported for Al Jazeera on babies born with congenital abnormalities:

Most of these babies in Fallujah die within 20 to 30 minutes after being born, but not all.
Four-year-old Abdul Jaleel Mohammed was born in October 2007. His clinical diagnosis includes dilation of two heart ventricles, and a growth on his lower back that doctors have not been able to remove.
Abdul has trouble controlling his muscles, struggles to walk, cannot control his bladder, and weakens easily. Doctors told his father, Mohamed Jaleel Abdul Rahim, that his son has severe nervous system problems, and could develop fluid build-up in his brain as he ages, which could prove fatal.
"This is the first instance of something like this in all our family," Rahim told Al Jazeera. "We lived in an area that was heavily bombed by the Americans in 2004, and a missile landed right in front of our home. What else could cause these health problems besides this?"
Dr Alani told Al Jazeera that in the vast majority of cases she has documented, the family had no prior history of congenital abnormalities.

Tim King ( is another journalist whose covered the story many times (such as here). Falluja was assaulted repeatedly, most infamously twice in 2004. The first time was in the spring of that year, the second time was after the 2004 US presidential election. Julian Assange's "Leak: Complex Environments: Battle of Fallujah I, April 2004" (WikiLeaks) reports on the first assault:

Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld launched the failed April 2004 assault on the Iraqi town of Fallujah before marines were ready because it had become "a symbol of resistance that dominated international headlines" and similar considerations eventually destroyed the operation — both according to a highly classified U.S. intelligence report into the defeat.
"During the first week of April, insurgents invited a reporter from Al Jazeera, Ahmed Mansour, and his film crew into Fallujah where they filmed scenes of dead babies from the hospital, presumably killed by Coalition air strikes. Comparisons were made to the Palestinian Intifada. Children were shown bespattered with blood; mothers were shown screaming and mourning day after day."
Coalition air strikes were conducted during the three week cease-fire, which was a "bit of a misnomer" and the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal contributed to the politically driven final peace settlement. The settlement left Coalition Provisional Authority chief Paul Bremer "furious".
By the end of April, 600-700 Iraqis and 18 marines had been killed inside the town with 62 marines killed in the broader operational area and 565 wounded in action.
Fallujah's defenders were diverse but united to oppose the U.S. offensive. They included former regime soldiers, "nationalists, local Islamic extremists, foreign fighters and criminals" together comprising not so much a military organization, but "an evil Rotary club".
The revelations come from a highly classified report on the attack released today by the open government group Wikileaks, which has in the past month released a number of sensitive U.S. documents including manuals for Guantanamo Bay, Camp Bucca prison and Department of Defense detainee operations.
The report was penned last year by the U.S Army National Ground Intelligence Center and is classified "SECRET/NOFORN" -- meaning the report was not to be shared with Coalition partners.
The Fallujah assault was initiated when on March 31 2004 four private military personnel from the U.S firm Blackwater were killed in the town and photos of their burnt bodies received international coverage.
The report said the coverage had prompted Rumsfeld, General Abizaid and the then Coalition Provisional Authority Chief Paul Bremer to order an "immediate military response".
The report not only blames media driven political pressures for launching the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force before it was ready, but states similar political considerations led to a cease-fire five days later.
The three week official cease-fire was "a bit of a misnomer", with Coalition air strikes continuing and snipers on both sides making movement hazardous. On the town's resistance, the report claims the number one "enemy strategy" was "to gain media attention and sympathy" in-order to push political pressure "to a boiling point."
Contributing to the peace settlement at the end of the month was British opposition to the battle, an Iraqi Shia uprising over the forced closure of the newspaper "al-Hawza" and Abu Ghraib.
Paul Bremer was "furious when he found out about it, but he was in little position to overturn it since he had insisted on the cease-fire in the first place. Complicating matters was the fact that the Abu Ghraib scandal broke on 29 April, consuming the attention of senior leaders in the U.S. government. Bremer could not organize a consensus to overturn the Fallujah decision."
During the battle U.S. psychological operations loud speakers "blasted rock music or taunted the insurgents into attacking with insults about their marksmanship."
Marines used the M1A1 Abrams tank as bait, to lure defenders out into the open, however this ruse didn't work for long as "The enemy.. would initiate an ambush with small-arms fire on one side of a tank in order to get the tank crew to turn its armor in the direction of fire. They would then fire a coordinated 5 or 6 RPG [rocket propelled grenade] salvo into the exposed rear of the tank".
The report states "Approximately 150 air strikes destroyed 75 buildings, including two mosques" and that the operation "stirred up a hornets nest across the Al Anbar provence".
Concluding, the report states "Information operations are increasingly important in a 21st Century world where cable television runs 24 hours a day..the Iraqi government was nascent and weak and they offered no political cover for U.S. commanders to finish the operation in a reasonable time period... Abu Ghurayb.. and the Shia uprising further enflamed a politically precarious situation and could not have happened at a worse time for Coalition forces."
U.S. forces retook Fallujah during November 2004 in what was to be the most bloody battle of the occupation.

The Falluja story has refused to stay under rug swept. And that's not surprising. The destruction and what has followed was seen by too many and is too well medically documented. Not surprising at all. And at some point, the second assault in 2004 will be as well documented.
And certain stenographers who lied and won prizes for lying? They'll have the shame they deserve. They deserved it in real time but think how much more shameful it'll be a decade or two after their lies made it into print? They've moved on with their lives taken on 'teaching' positions (pseudo motivational, self-referential lectures) and the air of respectability. And that all comes crashing down. It's so much more humiliating than when they were a struggling and whoring 'reporter.' And so much more costly because they've crafted this false image and are now so dependent upon it. They're invested in it. The only woman who really ever knew him left in disgust and now he surrounds himself with women he can fool but it's a little hard to get into bed with the Whore of Falluja, it's a little hard to feel it for a man who lied to cover up the realities of destruction and who enlisted in the cause of destroying generations of children.

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