Saturday, August 11, 2012

A deadly attack and Nouri strokes tensions further

Violence continued in Iraq today.  AFP reports that 6 swimmers were shot dead in and quotes the police chief of Tuz Khurmatu stating, "This is a terrorist act, not a criminal act.  Two gunmen attacked them while they were swimming."  Alsumaria reports that there were four shooters on two motrocycles.  Bryar Mohammed and Qader Ismael (AKnews) report that the four men began questioning all present to find out which teenagers and children were Shi'ite and from Amrlin village.  Those that were were then handcuffed and shot in front of everyone.  AP says 7 were shot dead but otherwise reports similar details.

Meanwhile next week's big stories out of Iraq may involve the Kurds and Turkey.  Sweet Nouri, the US-installed thug, spent Saturday spreading the love.  Alsumaria reports on their sit-down interview with Nouri al-Maliki who used the interview to blast the Kurds and Turkey and declare that the KRG is not an independent state and he ("we") will not allow it to be.   He accused Turkey of harming relationships between Baghdad and the KRG and creating instability. Dar Addustour notes Nouri calling Turkey's actions aggrevations.   Kitabat reports on the interview and notes that Nouri declared if Turkey wants to have a relationship with Iraq it must go through Baghdad.  

The KRG is a semi-autonomous region which earned its liberation in the early 90s.  Baghdad, of course, was 'liberated' by the US invasion and that's when Nouri returned and, three years later, installed as prime minister by the US government (re-installed in 2010).   The KRG is three provinces in nothern Iraq.  They share a border with Turkey. 

To underline Nouri's accusation, he sent out one of his spokespeople.  Al Rafidayn reports that  Nouri's spokesperson Ali al-Moussawi went to the press declaring that the KRG is part of Iraq and no different from Basra and that Turkey is doing harm.  al-Moussawi doesn't mention that there have been efforts in Basra to explore splitting off and becoming semi-autonomous.

The political crisis continues and that's just one aspect.  Ayad al-Tamimi (Almada) reports Iraqiya spokesperson Maysoon al-Damaloui states that Iraqiya has not seen the supposed list of reforms the National Alliance Reform Commission has come up with but they have read the same media reports other iraqis have and they've also held meetings with members of the National Alliance andthat they do not have great optimism over the list as a supposed solution.  Al Mada also notes that Iraqiya is calling for Nouri to release the imprisoned who have not been found guilty and to do so in the spirit of the holy month of Ramadan.  This follows Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi's call during Friday prayers for the government to release the detainees being held who have not been found guilty.

Provincial elections are supposed to take place in March 2013, months from now.  And yet the Parliament hasn't been able to pass an elections law.  As a result of this and other problems, a 35-day extension was recently passed for the current (but supposed to be expired) Electoral Commission.  The Chair of the Commssion has stated that this is not enough and a patchwork that accomplished very little.  In addition, the UN has been calling on Iraq to pass an elections law.  Among the hold ups?  Representation issues.  Kitabat reports that the Iraqi Turkman Front announced today that they would not allow the formation of a new Electoral Commission unless Turkmen were represented.  The Turkman most likely would depend upon the support of Iraqiya (they have worked together repeatedly in the last four years) to attempt to stop a proposed law.  (Another Turkmen group is the Turkmen Democratic Movement.  They tend to work in coalition with the Kurds in the Iraqi Parliament.  They've issued no statement at present but while they are rivals to the Iraqi Turkman Front, this is one issue that both Turkmen groups might work together on.)

This is an important column by Ali Hussein (Al Mada) about attacks on the press, Nouri's continued attacks on the press.  Nouri's stomped his feet and gotten his way.  This is the thug that Bush backed and that Barack backed.  Bush installed him, Barack kept him (in 2010, Nouri's slate did not come in first and he would not be prime minister now without the White House which ignored the Constitution to create the Erbil Agreement that gave Nouri a second term).

The following community sites -- plus Cindy Sheehan, ACLU, Pacifica Evening News, Jody Watley and Susan's On The Edge -- updated yesterday and today:

US Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office notes:

Friday, August 10th, 2012 (202) 224-2834

TUESDAY: JBLM: Murray in Lakewood to Highlight Importance of Military and Community Partnerships
Senator Murray will attend a meeting of the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership
(Washington, D.C.) – On Tuesday, August 14th, 2012, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee and a senior member of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, will attend a meeting of the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership (SSMCP) in Lakewood to discuss the importance of military communities working together with the common purpose of improving the availability of critical resources to local servicemembers and veterans. SSMCP has gained Joint Base Lewis-McChord leadership’s respect in finding constructive paths forward to solving community problems that involve their soldiers, airmen, employees and families. Senator Murray will discuss her work to support the military community, including her work on veterans employment, ending veteran homelessness, and servicemember and veterans’ behavioral health care.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Andrew Neiditz, City Manager, City of Lakewood
Anthony Chen, Director, Pierce County Health Department
BG Bret Daugherty, The Adjunct General, Camp Murray (State)
COL Edward Peterson, Deputy Chief of Staff, JBLM Garrison
Dawn Masko, City Administrator, City of DuPont
Debbie LeBeau, Superintendent, Clover Park School District
Don Krupp, Manager, Thurston County
Gary Brackett, Manager, Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce
Kevin Dayton, Regional Administrator, WSDOT
Kevin Phelps, Deputy County Executive, Pierce County
Lon Wyrick, Director, Thurston Regional Planning Council
Rick Allen, Executive Director, United Way of Pierce County
Scott Spence, City Manager, City of Lacey
T.C. Broadnax, City Manager, City of Tacoma
Tom Knight, Chief of Staff, JBLM Garrison
Cathy Wolfe, Commissioner, Thurston County
Doug Richardson, Mayor - City of Lakewood
Pat McCarthy, Executive, Pierce County
Robert Thoms, SSMCP Coordinator
WHAT: Senator Murray will attend a meeting of the South Sound Military & Communities Partnership
WHEN: Tuesday, August 14th, 2012
10:15 AM PT
WHERE: Lakewood City Hall
3rd Floor Conference Room
6000 Main Street SW
Lakewood, WA 98499
Kathryn Robertson
Specialty Media Coordinator
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington D.C. 20510

The e-mail address for this site is

I Hate The War

The Pig-Pen Ambassador
Yesterday's snapshot noted the idiot Chris Hill -- the pig-pen Ambassador (above) -- appearing at an Apsen Institute conference that CSPAN broadcast.  A number of people have written into the public account to express outrage with his characterization of Operation Charge of the Knights.  That's what I was speaking of yesterday when I discussed how insulting and contradictory his remarks were to the testimony of then-General David Petraeus.  The attack on Basra was a big issue in 2008 when then-US Ambassador Ryan Crocker and Petraeus, the then-top US commander in Iraq, spent nearly a week in April appearing before Congressional committees.  One person who identified as a veteran who served in Iraq wanted it stated that Hill's remarks were "a stab in the back to the American military."   That was a fairly typical sentiment in the e-mails to the public account and I don't think I would disagree with that opinion.

Chris Hill was so unqualified to be Ambassador to Iraq.  He is a public embarrassment.  But he just gets worse shooting off his mouth while the man who nominated him -- Barack Obama -- is attempting to self-present as knowledgable in foreign affairs.

Chris Hill, it should be remembered, was a non-stop embarrassment.  For example, while in Baghdad, he and a State Dept employee dressed up in outfits that mocked the assassination of John F. Kennedy -- a State Dept employee did that, an ambassador. 

chris hill

 The caption and photo are from Peter Van Buren who posted the photo to his blog here and here.
(He is the author of  We Meant Well: How I helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People.)  Chris Hill is disgusting and there are so many things in that CSPAN conference, so many statements by him that are offensive.

Such as when he backs up Nouri's verbal attacks on the US military.  You might want to stream to that if you haven't already.

Someone e-mailed wondering why I didn't provide a transcript to all of his awful remarks?

No, thank you.  I was angry enough just listening to them.  I should have noted ook, Breathing The Fire: Fighting to Survive and Get Back To The Fight.  That's Kimberly Dozier's book.  I will note it in Monday's snapshot.  But I couldn't believe the crap out of Hill's mouth and was streaming quickly as I dictated the snapshot.  I had to stop streaming, he's so digusting, and we focused on the third parties instead.

But Chris Hill is the embarrassment on the Obama's administration.  His actions in Iraq and out of Iraq are a huge embarrassment and you have to wonder if someone at the White House wouldn't advise Chrissy to take a lower profile until after the election or if someone at the Mitt Romney campaign might stream the CSPAN conference and use it to demonstrate the type of nominees Barack names?

I think you could do a commercial just based on the photo of Chris Hill dressing up in Baghdad to mock the assassination of JFK.  

But if you want to know why the work of Ryan Crocker went down the toilet in Iraq, look no further than Chris Hill, the bumpkin who fell for Nouri al-Maliki and stroked him instead of challenging and pressuring him. 

It's over, I'm done writing songs about love
There's a war going on
So I'm holding my gun with a strap and a glove
And I'm writing a song about war
And it goes
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Na na na na na na na
I hate the war
Oh oh oh oh
-- "I Hate The War" (written by Greg Goldberg, on The Ballet's Mattachine!)

The number of US service members the Dept of Defense states died in the Iraq War is [PDF format warning] 4488.

The e-mail address for this site is

The e-mail address for this site is

Friday, August 10, 2012

Iraq snapshot

Friday, August 10, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, the US State Dept issues a warning, look who's spinning the illegal war now,  the effects of the KBR burn pits claim another life, and more.
Starting in the United States.  Mark McCarter (Huntsville Times) reports, "Russell Keith, who served as a paramedic in civilian life and during two tours of duty in Iraq, died Wednesday at age 53.  He suffered from Parkinson's disease that he believed was related to his exposure to burn pits while serving in Balad."  Services will be held tomorrow at 11:00 a.m. at Laughlin Service Funeral Home with the burial at Jefferson Memorial Gardens. 
November 6, 2009, we covered the Democratic Policy Committee hearing that Russell Keith testified at.  He explained,  "While I was stationed at Balad, I experienced the effects of the massive burn pit that burned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The ten-acre pit was located in the northwest corner of the base. An acrid, dark black smoke from the pit would accumulate and hang low over the base for weeks at a time. Every spot on the base was touched by smoke from the pit; everyone who served at the base was exposed to the smoke. It was almost impossible to escape, even in our living units,"
Then-Senator Byron Dorgan was the Chair of the DPC and he stated at that hearing:
Today we're going to have a discussion and have a hearing on how, as early as 2002, US military installations in Iraq and Afghanistan began relying on open-air burn pits -- disposing of waste materials in a very dangerous manner. And those burn pits included materials such as hazardous waste, medical waste, virtually all of the waste without segregation of the waste, put in burn pits. We'll hear how there were dire health warnings by Air Force officials about the dangers of burn pit smoke, the toxicity of that smoke, the danger for human health.  We'll hear how the Department of Defense regulations in place said that burn pits should be used only in short-term emergency situations -- regulations that have now been codified. And we will hear how, despite all the warnings and all the regulations, the Army and the contractor in charge of this waste disposal, Kellogg Brown & Root, made frequent and unnecessary use of these burn pits and exposed thousands of US troops to toxic smoke.
Dire warnings were ignored.  Service members and contractors came back to the US with sicknesses resulting from that exposure and they have had to fight continually to try to have their illnesses and conditions recognized.  Russell Keith was part of those who came forward and spoke out.  He also was part of the class action lawsuit against KBR.  KBR has still not had to pay for their actions. 
The US government has thus far refused to create a burn pit registry.  When we speak to veterans groups, I note that 2013 might be a good year for that registry.  Senator Jim Webb refused to allow it to come out of Committee back when then-US Senator Evan Bayh proposed it and appeared before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee to advocate for it.   June 13th, Senator Mark Udall appeared before the Committee advocating on behalf of a registry:
Senator Mark Udall:  Sitting in the audience today is Master Sergeant Jessey Baca a member of the New Mexico Air National Guard and his wife Maria.  [to them] Just give everybody a waive here, you two.  Master Sgt. Baca was stationed in Balad, Iraq and exposed to burn pits. His journey to be here today was not easy.  He has battled cancer, chronic bronchitis, chemical induced asthma, brain lesions, TBI, PTSD and numerous other ailments. Maria has traveled that difficult road with him.   They know first hand the suffering caused by burn pits and they need to know the answers.  It is because of them and so many others like them that we are here today.  Last year, I introduced S. 1798, the Open Burn Pits Registry Act with Senator Corker.  Representative Todd Akin introduced it in the House.  It is not a partisan issue.  We have each met with veterans and active duty members of the military and they have told us how important it is that we act now.  In both Afghanistan and Iraq, open air burn pits were widely used at forward operating bases.  Disposing of trash and other debris was a major challenge.  Commanders had to find a way to dispose of waste while concentrating on the important mission at hand.  The solution that was chosen, however, had serious risks.  Pits of waste were set on fire -- sometimes using jet fuel for ignition.  Some burn pits were small but others covered multiple acres of land. Often times, these burn pits would turn the sky black.  At Joint Base Balad Iraq, over 10 acres of land were used for burning toxic debris.  At the height of its operations, Balad hosted approximately 25,000 military, civilian and coalition provision authority personnel.  These personnel would be exposed to a toxic soup of chemicals released into the atmosphere.  According to air quality measurements, the air at Balad had multiple particulates harmful to humans: Plastics and Styrofoams, metals, chemicals from paints and solvents, petroleum and lubricants, jet fuel and unexploded ordnance, medical and other dangerous wastes.  The air samples at Joint Base Balad turned up some nasty stuff. Particulate matter, chemicals that form from the incomplete burning of coal, oil and gas garbage or other organic substances, volatile organic compounds such as acetone and benzene  -- benzene, as you all know, is known to cause leukemia --  and dioxins which are associated with Agent Orange.  According to the American Lung Association, emissions from burning waste contain fine particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and various irritant gases such as nitrogen oxides that can scar the lungs. All of this was in the air and being inhaled into the lungs of service members.  Our veterans have slowly begun to raise the alarm as they learn why -- after returning home -- they are short of breath or experiencing headaches and other symptoms and, in some cases, developing cancer.  Or to put it more simply, by Maria Baca, when she describes her husband's symptoms, "When he breathes, he can breathe in, but he can't breathe out.  That's the problem that he's having.  It feels like a cactus coming out of his chest.  He feels  these splinters and he can't get rid of them."  The Dept of Army has also confirmed the dangers posed by burn pits.  In a memo from April 15, 2011, Environmental Science Engineering Officer, G. Michael Pratt, wrote an air quality summary on Baghram Airfield.  And I would respectfully ask that the full memo be included in the record.  Referring to the burn pits near Baghram Airfield,  he said there was potential that "long-term exposure at these level may experience the risk for developing chronic health conditions such as reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, atherosclerosis  and other cardio pulmonary diseases.  Many of our service members are coming home with these symptoms.  I believe, like you do, Madam Chair, that we are forever in debt for their service, so we must ask the question, "How did these burn pits impact the health of our returning heroes?"  This bill is a step towards finding the answers we owe them.  The legislation will establish and maintain and Open Burn Pit Registry for those individuals who may have been exposed during their military service.  It would include information in this registry that the Secretary of the VA determines is applicable to possible health effects of this exposure. develop a public information campaign to inform individuals about the registry and periodically notify members of the registry of significant developments associated with burn pits exposure.  It is supported by numerous groups including BurnPits 360, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Association of US Navy,  Retired Enlisted Association, the Uniformed Services Disabled Retirees and the National Military Family Association.  Madam Chair and Ranking Member Burr, thank you for your attention to this important issue.  I look forward to working with both of you and members of your distinguished Committee on this important legislation.  Thank you and a pleasure once again to be with you today. 
In 2013, Webb will be gone.  His war on veterans -- he lashed out at VA Secretary Eric Shinseki for Shinseki's efforts to recognize all who were suffering from Agent Orange exposure during Vietnam and his penny-pinching opposition to a Burn Pit Registry -- is why Webb didn't run for re-election.  He did not have the votes in his home state, largely due to his actions against veterans.  With Webb gone, I believe Senator Jon Tester's opposition to the registry crumbles (I could be wrong) and that it's much easier to get it passed.   The problem with that is, not only can you not take back the years where they were ignored or lied to, you also can't bring back those who've died from those burn pits.   This is the Laughlin Service Funeral Home's obituary for Russell Keith:  
Leon Russell Keith, 53, of Huntsville, passed away Wednesday. Mr. Keith devoted his life to helping others by serving as a paramedic. He spent three years in Iraq serving the needs of the sick and wounded. Mr. Keith was a staunch Alabama football fan. He was also a member of the Fraternal Order of Eagles Local 3263.
Survivors include his wife of 25 years, Vickie Keith; daughter, Renatta Keith of Huntsville; sons, Chad Keith of Decatur, Chris Keith (Rachel) of Decatur and Carlton Keith of Huntsville; granddaughter, Isabella Wood; mother, Geraldine Lowe of Morrison, CO; sister, Wendy Greene of Florida and brothers, Howard Keith of Morrison, CO and Jimmy Keith of Boston, MA.
Visitation will be from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. Friday at Laughlin Service Funeral Home. The funeral service will be at 11:00 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home chapel with Pastor I.V. Marsh officiating. Burial will be in Jefferson Memorial Gardens in Trussville.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. (
Javier Blas (Washington Post) reports, "Iraq has overtaken Iran as the second-largest OPEC oil producer for the first time since the late 1980s, a symbolic shift that signals the huge impact of Western sanctions on Tehran and the steady recovery of Baghdad's energy industry."  Steve Hargreaves (CNN Money) adds, "Iraqi oil production inched over the 3 million barrel a day mark in July, according to numbers released Friday by the International Atomic Agency.  That's 300,000 barrels per day higher than the country's average output in 2011."  And that has to pass for progress in Iraq.  Not that the Iraqi people see any monies.  Nouri's Cabinet just announced that there would be no surplus oil revenues to divide among the people.  Moqtada al-Sadr rebuked that claim publicly but you know Nouri never share what he can steal.  So this is another example of no progress in Iraq.   The US State Dept says "no progress" as well.   Yesterday they issued a travel warning on Iraq which included:
The Department of State warns U.S. citizens against all but essential travel to Iraq given the security situation. Travel within Iraq remains dangerous. This Travel Warning replaces the Travel Warning dated January 19, 2012, to update information on security incidents and to remind U.S. citizens of ongoing security concerns for U.S. citizens in Iraq, including kidnapping and terrorist violence. The United States completed its withdrawal of military forces from Iraq as of December 31, 2011. The ability of the Embassy to respond to situations where U.S. citizens face difficulty, including arrests, is extremely limited.
Some regions within Iraq have experienced fewer violent incidents than others in recent years, in particular the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR). Although violence and threats against U.S. citizens persist, reported instances have lessened in the past six months. U.S. citizens in Iraq also remain at risk for kidnapping. Methods of attack have, in the past, included roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs), including explosively formed penetrators (EFPs); magnetic IEDs placed on vehicles; human and vehicle-borne IEDs, mines placed on or concealed near roads; mortars and rockets, and shootings using various direct fire weapons. Numerous insurgent groups, including Al Qaida in Iraq, remain active throughout Iraq. Although Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) operations against these groups continue, terrorist activity persists in many areas of the country. While terrorist violence occurs at levels lower than in previous years, it occurs frequently, particularly in the provinces of Baghdad, Ninewa, Salah ad Din, Anbar, and Diyala.
The security situation in the Iraqi Kurdistan Region (IKR), which includes the governorates of Sulymaniya, Erbil, and Dohuk, has been more stable relative to the rest of Iraq in recent years, but threats remain. U.S. government personnel in northern Iraq are required to be accompanied by a protective security escort when traveling outsidesecure facilities. Although there have been significantly fewer terrorist attacks and lower levels of insurgent violence in the IKR than in other parts of Iraq, the security situation throughout the IKR remains dangerous. Increasingly, many U.S. and third-country business people travel throughout much of Iraq; however, they do so under restricted movement conditions and almost always with security advisors and teams.
U.S. citizens should avoid areas near the Turkish or Iranian borders. The Turkish military continues to carry out operations against elements of the Kongra-Gel terrorist group (KGK, formerly Kurdistan Workers' Party or PKK) located along Iraq's northern border. Additionally, extensive unmarked minefields remain along the same border. The Governments of Turkey and Iran continue to carry out military operations against insurgent groups in the mountain regions. These operations have included troop movements and both aerial and artillery bombardments. Borders in these areas are not always clearly defined. Iranian authorities previously detained, for an extended period, U.S. citizens who were hiking in the vicinity of the Iranian border in the IKR. The resources available to the U.S. Embassy to assist U.S. citizens who venture close to or cross the border with Iran are extremely limited. 
The U.S. Embassy is located in the International Zone (IZ) in Baghdad. The IZ is a restricted access area. Iraqi authorities are responsible for control of the IZ. Travelers to the IZ should be aware that Iraqi authorities may require special identification to enter the IZ or may issue IZ-specific access badges. Individuals residing and traveling within the IZ should continue to exercise good personal safety precautions.
The U.S. government considers the potential threat to U.S. government personnel in Iraq to be serious enough to require them to live and work under strict security guidelines. All U.S. government employees under the authority of the U.S. Chief of Mission must follow strict safety and security procedures when traveling outside the Embassy. State Department guidance to U.S. businesses in Iraq advises the use of protective security details. Detailed security information is available at the U.S. Embassy website.
The ability of the U.S. Embassy to provide consular services to U.S. citizens throughout Iraq, including Baghdad, is particularly limited given the security environment. The U.S. Consulates in Basrah Erbil, and Kirkuk cannot provide routine services such as passport applications, extra visa pages, and Consular Reports of Birth Abroad. U.S. citizens in need of these services while in Iraq must travel to the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The Embassy's website ( includes consular information and the most recent messages to U.S. citizens in Iraq. U.S. citizens in Iraq who are in need of emergency assistance should call 0770-443-1286.
For information on "What the Department of State Can and Can't Do in a Crisis," please visit the Bureau of Consular Affairs' Emergencies and Crisis link at Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll-free in the United States and Canada or, for callers outside the United States and Canada, on a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays).
They have to issue that warning because there is still no progress in Iraq.  On the violence front, 
 Alsumaria notes that a suicide bomber drove a car up to a mosque in Muwafaqiya (east of Mosul) and detonated, taking his/her own life and the lives of 5 worshipers while leaving twenty-five more injured. Reuters updates that to 5 dead and seventy injured.  Al Jazeera adds that "part of the mosque building collapsed over the heads of the worshippers as they were leaving." KUNA notes that the statement from Niniveh Province Governor Atheel al-Nujaifi "condemned that deadly attack of the Shiite place, warning that the attack is meant to instigate tension between Iraqis of different sects."  The governor is the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.     Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes a Dujail attack in which 4 Sahwa ("Awakenings," "Sons Of Iraq") were shot dead and a Muqdadiyah roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left two more injured. AFP adds that Haditha city council member Nabil Shaakar was shot dead with his two brothers left injured.

There's no progress in the political stalemate either.  Dar Addustour notes the interrogation of Nouri before the Parliament has been tabled until they can see what the Reform Commission will propose.  Lots of luck with that.  Al Mada reports the National Alliance is declaring that the Reform Commission is proposing three special committees be formed.  Great!  Maybe they can waste months in 'studying' the problem which is about as far as anything ever gets in Nouri's Iraq.  Al Mada also notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi put out a press release praising Moqtada al-Sadr, noting that Moqtada had attempted to chart a path best for Iraqis and that Moqtada's father (Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr) was one of the martyrs from the reign of Saddam Hussein.

Alsumaria notes that Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi declared in morning prayers today that the Iraqi government should release the many detainees they continue to hold imprisoned that have never been found guilty of anything.  You might remember that was among the demands the protesters made in February 2011.  Nouri promised action.  There was none.
And there is no link to a story many noted in the public e-mail account.  Australia's ABC had a report and maybe it was solid and maybe it wasn't.  But it's a topic that can split so you need to know what you're talking about.
Newsflash: Andrew Cockburn is not dead.  He is the husband of journalist Leslie Cockburn and they are the father of actress Olivia Wilde.  His brother Alexander passed away July 21st.  When you're expert on a religious issue advances (a) that the most suffering in the world among religions are Christians, I'm willing to include it as I would any other religion in Iraq.  But when your expert who says that also feels the need to note Andrew Cockburn's passing ("two weeks ago") and offers praise for him -- At some point, people are going to say (rightly), "You don't even know which Cockburn passed away, how can I trust you on another detail?"

Turning to the topic of Camp Ashraf.  The US wants to move all residents to Camp Liberty.  Who are the residents?  Iranian dissidents who've been in Iraq longer than Nouri al-Maliki who fled Iraq years ago and only returned in 2003 after the US invaded.  The US disarmed them and promised them protection.  That protection still hasn't come.   July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out." Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observes that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."
Today AFP reports, "Ten UN human rights experts on Friday denounced the 'appalling situation' of 3,400 Iranian refugees in Iraq amid fears of a fresh 'massacre' by security forces."  The statement included, "We call for immediate intervention of the UN Secretary General, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the international community to prevent another humanitarian disaster."
Yesterday, CSPAN offered a panel of non-experts and, as a CBS News friend who passed it on, that was fitting since CSPAN believes "James Jeffries" is a former US Ambassador to Iraq.  (His name is James Jeffrey.  It's not even "Jeffreys."  Jeffrey.)  AP's Kimberly Dozier moderated the panel which also include the internationally famous War Criminal John Negroponte.  And we might normally assumed Negroponte was the worst panelists.   In 2004, when War Criminal Negroponte was appointed as ambassador, there were numerous headlines.  Like Michel Choussudovsky's "Bush appoints a Terrorist as US Ambassador to Iraq" (Centre for Research on Globalisation). 
But Negroponte, the War Criminal, was but a flea on the ugly underbelly of the conference.  It needs to be noted that the US has only had one ambassador to Iraq who was opposed to the Iraq War before it started.  Do you know who that was?
Ryan Crocker.  Appointed by Bully Boy Bush.
Barack Obama got the Democratic Party nomination because of his mythical opposition to the Iraq War.  If you're late to the party, sell your spin somewhere else I am especially not in the damn mood today.  When Barry Kiss Ass was running for the US Senate, his handlers planned a big money event for him and all who attended would get face time with this wonderful, amazing, anti-war politician.  Elaine and I went, checkbooks in hand, prepared to max out but who we encountered was not an anti-war candidate.  He told us that the US was in Iraq now and didn't matter.  What didn't matter  to us was another piece of s**t lying politician and Elaine and I immediately left the fundraiser without donating a cent. 
And his attitude/belief expressed then is why a President Barack was never going to nominate anyone worthy to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.  Ann Wright, for example, may have done everything right but he was not going to ask her to come back as the US Ambassador to Iraq.  (She resigned over the Iraq War right before it started.)  No, the DLC-er Barry  Kiss Ass was going to nominate War Hawks and that's what he did.  That's why his choices were so linked to George W. Bush.  Three people nominated, all of them War Hawks. 
Only two were confirmed: James Jeffrey and Chris Hill.  The event took place early in the afternoon yesterday (starting, in fact, around 11:55 a.m.) and apparently that was so as not to interfere with Chris Hill's afternoon nap.  John Negroponte -- whom I believe has blood on his hands that will never wash off -- looked almost civilized when up against the Pig-Pen Ambassador.
Kimberly Dozier, as moderator, wanted the discussion to start on a few things that all could agree upon.  And most could but not little Chrissy Hill. While Negroponte and Cambone could talk about intelligence failures and Curveball, Chrissy had an agenda of his own.
Chris Hill:  I don't -- I don't think it was about -- just about intelligence. I think that was part of the issue, the interpretation of the intelligence.  I think that was part of the issue.  The interpretation of the issue, the intelligence, the fact that we had sensors really turned up in the wake of 9-11 and we're listening to a lot of different things. So the question was how you interpreted the things you were listening to. But I think it was -- the decison was a much -- it was based on a much broader concept of we have this Saddam Huseein in this critical country.  He, uh, had, uh, a reputation for -- you know, for murdering people en mass.  I mean anyone who's been to Iraq for five minutes and can see what this person did -- I mean, I went up to Hywaptchua where he had used gas against the Kurds.  So, I mean, there's a real compelling reason why you'd want to go after this guy.  Uh, and so and-and, also in the wake of 9-11, I mean, the mood was, we can't let people like that stay out there.  So the real issues [wheezes and sighs as he pauses] I think ultimately -- You know, I saw a number that cost us 1.8 trillion and I think you can ask the question from that perspective is-is -- was it the right thing to do?  But I-I -- you know, when you're there, when you look at some of these just heinous operations that Saddam had you do have the sense that, 'Okay, we're doing the right thing and maybe some things went awry but  it was kind of the right thing to do and I -- You know, this current mood in our country where we look at these kinds of things now and we say, "My God! What was -- What possessed us to this?" You know you have to be careful about presentism.  You have to think about what the mood was at the time.  And he was a -- Saddam Hussein was a person who -- You know, I think arguably and in the wake and the mood after 9-11 was someone we wanted to take off of the board.
That idiot was a US Ambassador to Iraq and the idiot and liar was nominated by Barack.  That idiot who didn't have the decency to even note the deaths -- not US or Iraqi -- and it took Kimberly Dozier to point out the deaths.  That idiot who wants to rewrite history and pretend like the things that took place never could have been forseen. 
Chris Hill is an ass.  He will always be a dumb ass and the University of Denver will be a joke for hiring him as faculty. (Academic institutions aren't supposed to welcome dishonesty or an unwillingness to evaluate past events.)  This isn't presentism.  In reality, there was huge opposition to the Iraq War before it started.  I was on campuses speaking out against it in February 2003 -- one month before it started.  I spoke to college students who were against it as well.  Now some of them may qualify as geniuses but I'm back of the bus and even that's just barely.  So if idiot me was able to see how it was built on lies, Chris Hill, don't pretend no one could have known.
Within 24 hours of then US Secretary of State Colin Powell lying to the United Nations in February 2003 (his self-described 'blot'), his claims had been rebutted.
For Chris Hill to lie the way he did and try to spit polish the government's choice to start an illegal war is disgusting. 
Grasp that honor is not an applique you can apply after the fact. 
While Hill lied and spun, even John Negroponte -- even John Negroponte -- could demonstrate more honesty.  (The intel was wrong.  But it was not wrong by accident.  It was wrong because it was cooked to fit the administration's desire for war.  Negroponte can only admit that it was wrong, that the intelligence was a  "notorius enough mistake to cause the revamping of the intelligence community."  That's still more than Chris Hill can provide.  And he was a huge supporter of the Iraq War in 2002.  Again, the only Ambassador to Iraq that the US has had so far who opposed the start of the Iraq War was Ryan Crocker.)
Hill lied and lied non-stop.  And sucked up to Nouri al-Maliki like crazy.  Someone needs to tell Dumb Ass, that he wasn't in Iraq in 2008.  So when he wants to impugn the reputations of Ryan Crocker and the then-top US Commander in Iraq General David Petraeus (now CIA Director David Petraeus) by hauling the crazy out his ass, someone needs to call him out.  I really cannot believe what a whore Chris Hill is and a whore for Nouri al-Maliki.  He painted Petraeus -- David Petraeus -- as a scared coward who was reluctant to take on Moqtada al-Sadr but brave Nouri to the rescue.
Chris Hill is appalling.  We sounded alarms in 2009 when Barack nominated him.  We have stated since then that the manic depressive needs help.  Now he's taking his crazy out in public and someone needs to step in.  Take his keys away, he's not fit to drive.  (And David Petraeus should demand an apology.  And I'm no David Petraeus groupie, check the archives.  We've long praised Holly Petraeus for her work -- his wife -- but we were never fans of her husband and the e-mails from Centcom never stopped coming with this public relations officer or that one insisting we were unfair to Petreaus here, there and everywhere.)
 In the US there are many third party and independent candidates making a run for the presidency.  We're following two.  Jill Stein has the Green Party's presidential nomination and her running mate is Cheri HonkalaRoseanne Barr has the nomination of the Peace and Freedom Party and her running mate is Cindy Sheehan.  We're following them because four women is exciting and it's news and I'm feminist which means I shouldn't be spending my time fluffing for the patriarchy.  Today let's enjoy the fact that there are two tickets of women running for the highest office.  
Roseanne was on Piers Morgan Tonight (CNN) last night.  Piers was obsessed with love and I wonder if it had been a male candidate if that would have been the focus of so much of the interview?  CNN notes that Roseanne managed to declare, "I was asked to carry the water and carry a message during this election and to make socialist solutions part of narrative, because they're being left out and they work."  And while he focused too much on love in my opinion,  Piers can still assert he let Roseanne present her case, that's more than some feminist outlets can claim.  Judging by a press release from the Freedom Socialist Party today, Roseanne's getting the Peace and Freedom Party nomination has ticked off some:
Barr, who reinvented herself as a socialist in the few weeks before the PFP vote, did not show up for a candidates' forum the night before the convention. She was represented there by her vice-presidential partner, anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan. On Saturday, Aug. 4, the opening day of the convention, Barr's appearance was preceded by a security detail while delegates sat waiting for her to arrive, which she did in a flurry of media. She left after giving her speech, and took the media attention with her, headed for the taping of a Comedy Central roast in her honor. Delegates were unable to ask her questions.
Barr had originally announced as a candidate for the Green Party nomination, but lost decisively to Jill Stein, whom Barr had pledged to support should Stein become the nominee. Barr did not attend the Green Party convention in July.
Now Barr is promising to do major fundraising and help register voters for PFP, a California-based left electoral coalition that is in a fight for its life thanks to new state ballot laws hostile to minor parties. The Durham-López team had argued for making a PFP registration drive part of a bold two-year grass-roots campaign statewide, explicitly anti-capitalist and feminist, to protest the rigged electoral system and organize with others to demand relief for those hit hardest by war, bailouts for corporations, and austerity for workers.
And Jill Stein's campaign has released the following:
Today the Stein campaign announced success in petition drives led by Greens and Volunteers for Jill Stein groups in Alaska, Kansas, Maryland, Washington, and Wisconsin. In each of these states, state elections authories have received more than enough qualified signatures to place the Green Party or the Stein/Honkala ticket on the ballot. 
"As of today, voters in at least 30 states will see Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala on their ballot lines," said Erika Wolf, associate campaign manager. 
The ballot drives in Maryland and Washington states were led by their respective state parties, and supported by Stein volunteers. The ballot drive in Wisconsin was a combined effort, and the petitioning efforts in Alaska and Kansas were led and heavily financed by the Stein campaign itself, with support from local Green parties and the national Green Party of the United States.
"This is the August crunch, when the final 20 state ballot lines can either be won or lost, and we need every dollar and every volunteer we can get, right now, to make sure this campaign is truly national," said campaign manager Ben Manski. 
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Nouri's Iraq: No progress

If any single story illuminates Iraq during Nouri's second term as prime minister, it may be AFP's about the Olympics.  Grasp that Iraq sent 8 athletes to the Summer Olympics in London and that Dana Abdul Razak set the record for Iraq in the 100 meters.  AFP reports:

"When we follow the game at home, every five minutes the electricity is gone," said Lami, a 37-year-old truck driver who was at a cafe in central Baghdad to watch Olympic football.
The Iraqi national grid only supplies a few hours of electricity per day, interrupted by multi-hour outages, and Iraqis either have to make up the shortfall with private generators or do without electricity during the cuts.
"The electricity in Iraq has become like a chronic disease, and all the people are suffering," said Lami, an ardent football fan who was sitting with five of his children around a table near a television showing the Olympics, smoking flavored tobacco from a water pipe.

The story can be seen as how important Iraqis are in Nouri's Iraq.  Still no dependable public services but, for the world stage, Nouri puts forward 8 athletes to give the impression Iraq is showing progress.

There's no progress.  No progress on the security front.  Alsumaria notes that a suicide bomber drove a car up to a mosque in Muwafaqiya (east of Mosul) and detonated, taking his/her own life and the lives of 5 worshipers while leaving twenty-five more injured.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes a Dujail attack in which 4 Sahwa ("Awakenings," "Sons Of Iraq") were shot dead and a Muqdadiyah roadside bombing which claimed the lives of 3 police officers and left two more injured. AFP adds that Haditha city council member Nabil Shaakar was shot dead with his two brothers left injured.

There's no progress in the political stalemate either.  Dar Addustour notes the interrogation of Nouri before the Parliament has been tabled until they can see what the Reform Commission will propose.  Lots of luck with that.  Al Mada reports the National Alliance is declaring that the Reform Commission is proposing three special committees be formed.  Great!  Maybe they can waste months in 'studying' the problem which is about as far as anything ever gets in Nouri's Iraq.  Al Mada also notes Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi put out a press release praising Moqtada al-Sadr, noting that Moqtada had attempted to chart a path best for Iraqis and that Moqtada's father (Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr) was one of the martyrs from the reign of Saddam Hussein.

Alsumaria notes that Imam Mahmoud al-Issawi declared in morning prayers today that the Iraqi government should release the many detainees they continue to hold imprisoned that have never been found guilty of anything.  You might remember that was among the demands the protesters made in February 2011.  Nouri promised action.  There was none.

No progress.  The story of Nouri's Iraq.

With yet another example of that, Adnan Hussein (Rudaw) reports:

A Kurdish representative in the Article 140 committee claims that the delay in implementing the article is a pressure card being used by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki.
However, another member of the committee describes the delay as simply a result of “carelessness.”
After the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003, 43 percent of areas historically claimed by Kurds were considered "disputed" and tied to Article 140 in the constitution. Article 140 was to have been implemented by the end of 2007, after a three-step process -- normalization, census and referendum.

Another example of the lack of progress and failure to follow the Constitution is not "carelessness," it's disregarding an oath Nouri took twice, at the start of each term as prime minister.
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Veterans Jobs Corps Bill, California sues veterans 'charity'

shinseki murray

Above is the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki, Senator Patty Murray and workers (including veterans -- possibly all veterans, the VA didn't say) at the Port of Seattle Marine Maintenance Facility yesterday morning.  Senator Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and the event was to talk about S.3429 - the Veterans Jobs Corps bill.  This is the bill Senator Bill Nelson out of Florida introduced and that Senator Murray and Senator Chuck Schumer are co-sponsoring.

What would the bill do if enacted?

It calls for the VA to create a jobs corps for veterans that would provide employment opportunities "in conservation, resource management, and historic preservation projects on public lands and maintenance and improvement projects for cemeteries under the jurisdiction of the National Cemetery Administration; and as firefighters and law enforcement officers."  How will it be paid for?  The bill states, "There is available without further appropriations to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to carry out this section, $1,000,000,000 for the period of fiscal years 2012 through 2017."  And where would the money go?  A limitation of "not more than five percent may be spent to administer the veterans job corps."

I was hoping we could grab the news coverage of it but there isn't any.  That's the Seattle Times, that's KOMO and all the Seattle stations (including the CW which is really just their CBS affiliate when it comes to news).  So the Secretary of the VA and the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee join with veterans for a press conference in Seattle on a Thursday and no one in Seattle can cover it?  I'm scrolling through and I don't see any big event news wise -- a la "Big Fire at Old Mill!" -- that could have pulled all the focus.  Instead, looking at yesterday's coverage, it strikes me (non-Seattle resident) as a rather slow news day and I'm confused as to how the VA Secretary's visit would go uncovered?

Kamala Harris is the Attorney General in California.  Yesterday the AG Office noted that she "filed a civil lawsuit seeking the removal of officers and directors of Help Hospitalized Veterans, a California charity. The complaint alleges that those running the organization engaged in self-dealing, paid excessive executive compensation and engaged in fraudulent fundraising and other unlawful activities."  We'll note the press release in full in a moment.  I'm reading over the court filing right now [PDF format warning, here] and it notes spouses Roger and Elizabeth Chapin as well as Michael Lynch, Robert Beckley Jr., Thomas Arnold, Leonard Rogers, Gorham Black III, Robert Frank are those individuals named as defendants and Frank & Company P.C., Creative Direct Responses Inc. and Does 1 through 50 are among the entities named.

Tony Perry (Los Angeles Times) provides this background:

Help Hospitalized Veterans, established in 1968 to provide “gift packs” for service personnel in Vietnam, has long been criticized for the relatively small percentage of its funds that are used directly for support programs.
In 2011, the tax-exempt group reported revenue of $45 million, including $30 million in cash donations. But the watchdog group CharityWatch says only 35% went to programs for military personnel, compared with the 65% that many similar groups report.
Filings to the IRS and the attorney general’s office used “accounting tricks” to inflate the amount of money supposedly spent on military personnel, including arts and crafts kits for hospitalized veterans,  according to the lawsuit.

Ronald Grover (Reuters) notes the HHV head Roger Chapin "is also accused of diverting the charity's funds through a separate charity called Conquer Cancer and Alzheimer's Now. 
The former president was accused of paying himself more than $493,000 from the cancer charity. That charity received the money from American Target Advertising, a fund-raising firm run by conservative political fundraiser Richard Viguerie, who is not named in the suit."  And here's the press release from the California Attorney General's office in full:

Thursday, August 9, 2012
Contact: (415) 703-5837
RIVERSIDE -- Attorney General Kamala D. Harris yesterday filed a civil lawsuit seeking the removal of officers and directors of Help Hospitalized Veterans, a California charity. The complaint alleges that those running the organization engaged in self-dealing, paid excessive executive compensation and engaged in fraudulent fundraising and other unlawful activities.
The lawsuit also seeks to recover more than $4.3 million in funds improperly diverted from Help Hospitalized Veterans. Those funds were meant to support several programs serving veterans and active-duty military, including providing arts and craft kits to hospitalized veterans. Instead, they were used to enrich the organization’s officers and fundraisers.
“The officers of Help Hospitalized Veterans improperly diverted money that hard-working and patriotic Americans donated to support injured vets,” said Attorney General Kamala D. Harris.  “We must protect veterans, active-duty military and donors from scam artists who see them as little more than prey for their financial frauds.”
The lawsuit alleges that the directors and officers of Help Hospitalized Veterans breached their fiduciary duty by wasting its charitable assets on such things as golf memberships and a condominium (for use by officers), and authorizing excessive executive compensation to the group’s former President (Roger Chapin) and its current President (Michael Lynch). 
The suit alleges Chapin received more than $2.3 million in excessive compensation during the final seven years of his tenure and excessive compensation to Lynch totaled over $900,000.  Chapin is additionally charged with self-dealing as a result of substantial diversions of the charity’s funds to entities in which he had a financial interest. Those diversions include loans Help Hospitalized Veterans made to a firm called American Target Advertising, which was making substantial payments to Chapin. American Target Advertising is a for-profit business (founded by Chapin’s close friend Richard Viguerie) that directs Help Hospitalized Veterans’ vast direct-mail fundraising operation.
The lawsuit further alleges that the nonprofit used increasingly-common accounting gimmicks to inflate the amount of income purportedly spent on providing veterans’ services while artificially minimizing the amount reportedly spent on fundraising. For example, Help Hospitalized Veterans’ use of one of these gimmicks resulted in decreasing its reported fundraising costs from 65 percent of total costs to less than 30 percent. As a result, the filings to both the IRS and the Attorney General’s office were substantially false. Donors and charity watchdog groups rely on both of those reported expenditure categories in evaluating a charity’s efficiency. 
Controversy around the performance of veteran’s charities like Help Hospitalized Veterans was brought to the public’s attention in 2007 by Rep. Henry A. Waxman who, as Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Hearings, held hearings into their fundraising practices and overhead.   
The lawsuit seeks general and punitive damages, restitution, civil penalties and the removal of those officers and directors named in the lawsuit.
Named defendants in the lawsuit include: Help Hospitalized Veterans; its former president Roger Chapin (California); former employee Elizabeth Chapin (California); current president Michael Lynch (California); the following officers or directors of the charity: Robert Beckley, Jr. (Arizona), Thomas Arnold (Florida), Leonard Rogers (Florida), and Gorham Black (Florida); accountant Robert Frank and the company Frank & Company, PC (Virginia); and direct-mail professional fundraiser Creative Direct Response, Inc. (Maryland).
The Complaint alleges seven causes of action:  (1) breach of fiduciary duty (against Help Hospitalized Veterans directors and officers); (2) aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty (against Frank and Frank & Co.); (3) engaging in self-dealing transactions in violation of Corporations Code section 5233 (against Chapin); (4) excessive executive compensation in violation of Corporations Code section 5235 (against Chapin and Lynch); (5) wrongful acquisition of property/unjust enrichment (against Chapin and his wife Elizabeth); (6) misrepresentations in solicitations to donors in violation of Government Code section 12599.6 (against Help Hospitalized Veterans, its directors and officers, and Creative Direct Response); and (7) unfair business practices (against all defendants other than Elizabeth Chapin and Creative Direct Response).
More than 2 million of the nation’s 22 million veterans live in California, the highest number for any state. Protecting these veterans, and active-duty military, from financial scams has been a priority for Attorney General Harris. This focus resulted from a survey of veterans who work in the Department of Justice that was undertaken to inform Department efforts on the matter.  Attorney General Harris and Holly Petraeus of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently spoke at Travis Air Force Base to warn of financial scams that target military members.
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