Monday, May 13, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Monday, May 13, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri wants Jalal replaced, a late breaking announcement is made regarding Jalal as the day ends in Iraq, a father whose son was killed in the Hawija massacre tells his story, State of Law wants Nouri to have a third term, the White House sicks the Justice Dept on the Associated Press, Barack gets pressed on the IRS targeting of conservatives, Pat Smith explains it wasn't Mother's Day yesterday without her son, and more.

The so-called 'war on terror' wounds another democratic institution.   Mark Sherman (AP) reports that his news organization's phone records for April and May 2012 were seized by the US Justice Dept.  Sherman quotes a statement from Associated Press President and CEO Gary Pruitt: 

 There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters. These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP's newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP's activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.

 Revelations of the seizure emerge ten days after World Press Freedom Day. The news also emerges after AP won their 51st Pulizter Prize -- last month photo journalists Rodrigo Abd, Manu Brabo, Narciso Contreras, Khalil Hamra and Muhammed Muheisen were honored,  and it emerges after AP photo journalist David Guttenfelder was awarded the Infinity Award for Photojournalism only days ago.  167 years ago this month, the Associated Press began as "five New York City newspapers got together to fund a pony express route through Alabama in order to bring news of the Mexican War north more quickly than the U.S. Post Office could deliver it. In the decades since, AP has been first to tell the world of many of history’s most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul."  Over 30 correspondents have died in those years in the pursuit of news stories. The story of the Associated Press is the story of changing technology, "AP delivered news by pigeon, pony express, railroad, steamship, telegraph and teletype in the early years. In 1935, AP began sending photographs by wire. A radio network was formed in 1973, and an international video division was added in 1994. In 2005, a digital database was created to hold all AP content, which has allowed the agency to deliver news instantly and in every format to the ever expanding online world."

So what led to the US government's assault on the First Amendment?  The AP believes it is this report by Adam Goldman and Matt Apuzzo from May 2012 which opened with, "The CIA thwarted an ambitious plot by Al Qaeda's affiliate in Yemen to destroy a U.S.-bound airliner using a bomb with a sophisticated new design around the one-year anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden, the Associated Press has learned."

What's the problem with the story?  That the government didn't want AP to cover it for another 24 hours.  At the start of the month a year ago, AP learned of this story -- presumably from US government sources.  The report ran May 7th, a day before the administration planned to grab headlines with a news conference announcing the foiling of the plot.  (As Goldman and Apuzzo noted in their original report, the White House and the CIA knew AP would be reporting this and AP delayed the story for a week at their request.)  Though this appears to fall into what has already been established in Brave New Films' documentary War On Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State, the US Justice Dept insists in a statement that they have done nothing wrong.  They tell the Australian Business Insider:

We take seriously our obligations to follow all applicable laws, federal regulations, and Department of Justice policies when issuing subpoenas for phone records of media organizations.  Those regulations require us to make every reasonable effort to obtain information through alternative means before even considering a subpoena for the phone records of a member of the media.  We must notify the media organization in advance unless doing so would pose a substantial threat to the integrity of the investigation.  Because we value the freedom of the press, we are always careful and deliberative in seeking to strike the right balance between the public interest in the free flow of information and the public interest in the fair and effective administration of our criminal laws.

The targeting of the venerable news organization comes as the White House is already reeling from another abuse scandal: the IRS went after conservative political organizations.  That scandal emerged Friday.  Lucy Madison (CBS News -- link is text and video) quotes US President Barack Obama declaring today, "If in fact IRS personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that's outrageous and there's no place for it."  If?  Chip Reid (CBS News -- link is text and video) reported Friday on the emerging scandal and included the IRS' Lois Lerner stating of her agency's inappropriate behavior, "They used names like tea party or patriots. And they selected cases simply because the application had those names in the title. That was wrong. The IRS would like to apologize for that." Over the weekend, Gregory Korte (USA Today) reported that while Lerner maintained that the targeting took place only in 2012, she "was briefed in 2011" of the same actions taking place that year.  Though no supposedly left or liberal groups were targeted, Lerner has insisted on Friday that this wasn't partisan or political.  Juliet Eilperin (Washington Post) reported yesterday afternoon, "The documents, obtained by The Washington Post  from a congressional aide with knowledge of the findings, show that on June 29, 2011, IRS staffers held a briefing with senior agency official Lois G. Lerner in which they described giving special attention to instances where 'statements in the case file criticize how the country is being run'."  That makes it partisan.  In addition, we've repeatedly noted here the violations in tax exempt status on the left.  Whether it's then-WBAI executives going on the air of WBAI (a public radio station with tax exempt status) to endorse Barack Obama in the 2008 general election or NOW repeatedly claiming an 'oopsie' each presidential year as it goes around saying "NOW has endorsed" whatever Democrat when, in fact, NOW can't endorse. NOW can't have its tax exempt status and make those endorsements.  That's why they created NOW PAC -- which is cheap and shoddy way -- but legal -- to get around that.  So NOW PAC makes the endorsements but the president of NOW always knows no one knows or gives a damn about NOW PAC so, for example, then-NOW president Kim Gandy went on NPR in 2008 to discuss  the endorsement. From the interview Renee Montagne did with Gandy for Morning Edition on September 16, 2008:

Ms. KIM GANDY (President, National Organization for Women): Good morning, Renee. 

MONTAGNE: Who will NOW be endorsing? 

Ms. GANDY: NOW is going to be endorsing the Obama-Biden ticket a little bit later on this morning. 

MONTAGNE: Just list for us briefly the main positions held by Barack Obama that you think would make him the right man to become president, and alternatively, John McCain, why he's the wrong man.

Repeating, NOW does not endorse.  From their own FAQ sheet, "NOW's Political Action Committee, or NOW/PAC, supports candidates in federal elections (for Congress and the Presidency).  You must be a member of NOW to contribut to NOW/PAC.  NOW/PAC is the only part of the national organization that can endorse federal political candidates."

Do you get that?  Because NPR didn't.  And when the then-president of NOW Kim Gandy announces on the airwaves that NOW has endorsed, NOW has violated its tax exempt status.

That's where you pull the tax exempt status.  These PACs never should have been created to begin with, they're dishonest and spit on the spirit of the law and make a mockery of our elections and they are as damaging as so-called 'soft money.'  But once they were allowed, the deal was, the PAC endorses, not the organization.  NOW's tax exempt status should have been pulled over that.  And that's before you get into the use of NOW -- the organization's -- data base being used to promote NOW PAC's actions and those letters and e-mails also failing to note the it's "NOW PAC" and not NOW doing the endorsing.

So, yes, this was partisan.  If you abused your tax status to help Barack's election, the IRS didn't investigate you.   But if you used it to speak out against the government, then they harassed you.  For audio reporting of this scandal, click here for The Takeaway with John Hockenberry's discussion with correspondent Todd Zwillich.

As the scandal over the IRS targeting the White House's political opponents continues to make waves, the White House now takes aim at the Associated Press.

Meanwhile, four years and two days after a man took aim and launched a killing spree that left five dead, there is a conviction.  Kim Murphy (Los Angeles Times) reports US Sgt John Russell has been declared guilty today for the murders of 5 US service members in Iraq.  Dropping back to the May 11, 2009 snapshot:

Today the US military announced a Camp Liberty shooting at 2:00 p.m. Iraq time in which five US service members were shot dead.  In a second announcement, they added, "A U.S. Soldier suspected of being involved with the shootings is currently in custody."  Luis Martinez and Martha Raddatz (ABC News) encourage people to watch ABC World News Tonight with Charles Gibson this evening for a report on the shooting.  Tom Leonard (Telegraph of London) states three more US soldiers were wounded in the shooting as does CNN; however, Jenny Booth (Times of London) goes with "at least two others were wounded" and she quotes Lt Tom Garnett (military spokesperson) stating, "The shooter is a US soldier and he is in custody."  CNN states the shooting took place at a clinic for US service members seeking assistance with stress.  Ernesto Londono (Washington Post) cites a US military official: "The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the incident shook up soldiers, many of whom are in their third and even fourth tours.  Some broke down in tears, he said."  Yochi J. Drezen (Wall St. Journal) draws the conclusion that many are drawing (and they may be right or they may be wrong) which is that it was likely fratricide, "Such crimes were more common during the Vietnam War, but have occurred only sporadically in Iraq. In 2003, Sgt. Hasan Akbar killed two soldiers and wounded 14 others in a grenade attack in Kuwait; he was convicted and sentenced to death. In 2006, Staff Sgt. Alberto Martinez was charged with murdering two officers in a suspicious explosion in Tikrit, though he was later acquitted. And last year, an American soldier was arrested in the shooting deaths of a pair of other soldiers at a base near the Iraqi city of Iskandariya."

AFP explains, "Russell, who has previously denied responsibility, admitted the killings last month, in a plea deal worked out by his lawyers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM), in the northwestern US state of Washington."  BBC News adds, "Russell, a 14-year-veteran, will now begin the sentencing phase of his court martial, where a judge will determine whether he will spend the rest of his life in prison or have the possibility of release one day."

The five killed were identified in two separate news releases by DoD in May 2009.  First, the Navy member killed:

Commander Charles K. Springle, 52, of Wilmington, N.C., died May 11 from injuries sustained from a non-combat related incident at Camp Liberty, Iraq. 

A day later, DoD identifed the four members of the Army who were killed:

                Maj. Matthew P. Houseal, 54, of Amarillo, Texas. He was assigned to the 55th Medical Company, Indianapolis, Ind.;

                Staff Sgt. Christian E. Bueno-Galdos, 25, of Paterson, N.J. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany;

                Spc. Jacob D. Barton, 20, of Lenox, Mo. He was assigned to the 277th Engineer Company, 420th Engineer Brigade, Waco, Texas; and

                Pfc. Michael E. Yates Jr., 19, of Federalsburg, Md. He was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 66th Armor Regiment, 172nd Infantry Brigade, Grafenwoehr, Germany.

In May of 2009, CBS Evening News featured a report by Bob Orr in which Orr spoke with people who knew Sgt John Russell -- including his son John Michael Russell.  Excerpt.

22-year-old John Michael Russell: For him to do something like that, he couldn't have been in his right state of mind. They had to -- they had to put him to a breaking point and just -- he just had to have lost it. Just lost all train of thought to do anything like that.

Bob Orr: [Sgt] Russell's father said he may have snapped fearing his military career could be ended by a stress diagnosis

Kim Murphy notes that at Sgt Russell's "mother and sisters" were present in court today as the verdict was announced.

Many were present in Iraq after the 2003 invasion that kicked off the illegal war.  Some were journalists.  Michael Kambler is the author of  a new book but I don't promote books by liars so, woops, no link for you.  Today he was a guest on The Leonard Lopate Show (WNYC). along with photojournalists Alan Chin and Ashley Gilbertson.  If you don't like the lack of link (I was asked by a WNYC friend to link) consider that I could quote the photo journalist who says that they have to be present to change things -- no, that's not journalism and if employers heard that, the journalist wouldn't be employed anymore because he would be seen as biased (and he is).  The main takeaway from the broadcast was that when four journalists (we're counting Lopate) gas bag, intelligence isn't required.  (Second minor takeaway, if you're for the war -- like Kambler and Gilbertson were -- you get assigned to cover it.  Kambler worked for the New York Times.)  Let's again note the US Congressional Research Service report by Kenneth Katzman from last month entitled "Iraq: Politics, Governance, and Human Rights:"

General [Martin] Dempsey's August 21, 2012, visit focused on the security deterioration, as well as the Iranian overflights to Syria discussed above, according to press reports.  Regarding U.S.-Iraq security relations,  Iraq reportedly expressed interest in expanded U.S. training of the ISF, joint exercises, and accelerated delivery of U.S. arms to be sold, including radar, air defense systems, and border security equipment. [. . .]
After the Dempsey visit, reflecting the Iraqi decision to reengage intensively with the United States on security, it was reported that, at the request of Iraq, a unit of Army Special Operations forces had deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence, presumably against AQ-I.  (These forces presumably are operating under a limited SOFA or related understanding crafted for this purpose.)  Other reports suggest that Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) paramilitary forces have, as of late 2012, largely taken over some of the DOD mission of helping Iraqi counter-terrorismf orces (Counter-Terrorism Service, CTS) against AQ-I in western Iraq. Part of the reported CIA mission is to also work against the AQ-I affiliate in SYria, the Al Nusrah Front, discussed above.
Reflecting an acceleration of the Iraqi move to reengage militarily with the United States, during December 5-6 2012, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and acting Under Secretary of State for International Security Rose Gottemoeller visited Iraq and a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed with acting Defense Minister Sadoun Dulaymi.  The five year MOU provides for:

* high level U.S.-Iraq military exchanges
* professional military education cooperation
* counter-terrorism cooperation
* the development of defense intelligence capabilities
* joint exercises

The MOU appears to address many of the issues that have hampered OSC-I from performing its mission to its full potential.  The MOU also reflects some of the more recent ideas put forward, such as joint exercises.

We've covered the above repeatedly, not just the report but also when the above incidents first emerged.  As for the MOU, dropping back to the April 30th Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions.  At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

At Third on Sunday, Ava and I called out Jonathan S. Landay for his ridiculous and false claim made on The Diane Rehm Show (NPR) Friday that all US troops were out of Iraq "Media: The destruction of McClatchy will be broadcast, not printed (Iraq)."

Let's stay with bad reporting.  Patrick Cockburn is seen as pro-Shi'ite by Sunni Arabs in the Middle East and for some reason that's confusing to some Americans who swear the Independent reporter is just as fair as can be.  From Cockburn's most recent report on the Middle East, we'll note and comment on this.

The so-called trigger line dividing Kurdish-controlled territory in the north from the rest of Iraq is more and more like a frontier defended on both sides by armed force.   Baghdad infuriated the Kurds last year by setting up the Dijla (Tigris) Operations Command, which threatened to enforce central military control over areas disputed between Kurds and Arabs.

Bagdhad did, did it, Cockburn?  No.  Nouri created those.  He enraged members of Parliament -- Sunnis and Kurds, yes, but other minorities as well as some Shi'ites -- because he can't name a commander by himself, he needs Parliament's approval.  They were not consulted, there was no vote.  Bahgdad didn't 'infuriate' the Kurds, Nouri al-Maliki did.  And he infuriated the Sunnis as well and others.  But somehow in pro-Shi'ite Cockburn's non-balanced reporting, Nouri's actions are always brushed over.

Dividing lines got more complicated in Iraq after the Hawaijah massacre on 23 April left at least 44 Sunni Arab protesters dead.

Patrick Cockburn wasn't at Hawija.   It's interesting that he goes with 44.

The April 23rd massacre of a sit-in in Hawija resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP has been reporting 53 dead for several days now -- indicating that some of the wounded did not recover. Over the weekend, UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured). So Kirkuk's Department of Health would appear to be the expert on this death toll but not for Cockburn.  And not because he has a higher number but because he downplays the number.  He also fails to note that the dead included 8 children.

And there's a bigger problem in that sentence and the one that follows.

This came after four months of massive but peaceful Sunni protests against discrimination and persecution. 

Who massacred in Hawija?  Nouri's forces.  But you won't find that in Patrick Cockburn's 'reporting.'  To read his reporting, apparently the activists died because they killed themselves or maybe a spaceship came down from the skies and took 'em out?

Over and over, his copy minimizes Nouri's actions.  It's why Sunni Arabs see him as so biased.  It has been going on for years and years now.  That is the perception and that's why the perception exists.

People like Patrick Cockburn who repeatedly minimize Nouri's actions and absolve of responsibility are responsible for the massacre and for any more that follow.  Despot Nouri continues his assault on the protesters or, as he likes to call them, 'terrorists.'  Citing Sheikh Abdul Razzaq al-Shammari, National Iraqi News Agency reported Saturday that Nouri's forces "stormed the home of one member of the organizing committee for Anbar sit-ins" and quotes al-Shammari stating, "The force that raided the home arrested his eldest son as he was out of his home, after broke doors and tampering the furniture" and took the man's passport.  There was no arrest warrant, no search warrant, no legal authorization for the raid.  Alsumaria reports on the illegal raid here.  Sunday,   Iraqi Spring MC's Facebook page reports that since 5 a.m. Iraq time, forces have been circling Baaja village in Baji, that SWAT forces and the military have been backed by aircraft as they have conducted raids, searches and arrests.  Meanwhile NINA reports that the Anbar sit-in committee has issued a statement via spokesperson Mohammed al-Dulaimi, "We firmly condemn what security forces committed yesterday, of executing a number of citizens in the province of Nineveh . . . this crime reflects the politicization of the army and its interference in political affairs." (Baji is in Salahuddin Province.  They're referring to incidents in Nineveh Province, just so there's no confusion.)  The demands of the protesters are basic and include the release of those who are charged with no crimes, they also demand the release of Iraqi women and girls due to the torture and rape that's taking place in Iraqi prisons and detention centers.  Today Alsumaria reports the Ministries of Justice and Interior announced that the totals they've now released are 5,650 people who have not been charged (224 of that number are women).  As always, they refuse to issue a list with the names of the released.  No word on whether or not these people who have been held in prison while never charged with crimes -- some held for years in prison -- had to provide 'bail' money to get out as was the case in the first releases.  Sheikh Abdul Malik al-Saadi declared today that the government needs to respond to the demands of the protesters (and that the protesters need to avoid the use of inflammatory language).  He also affirmed the right to protest and decried the intimidation efforts of security forces to follow them to their homes after a protest.  He is calling for a committee of goodwill to address the issues.

Alsumaria reports a large number of Iraqiya members walked out on the Parliament session today in protest of the refusal to label the Hawija massacre as "a crime against humanity."  Iraqiya MP Haidar al-Mulla is quoted vowing that the blood fof the martyrs will not be in vain.  The Hawija massacre took place on Tuesday, April 23rd.  But the lead up really began Friday, April 19th, when Nouri's forces first attacked the Hawija sit-in killing 1 protester and wounding three others. From that point until after the massacre, people were not allowed into the sit-in and were not allowed to leave.  This includes a delegation of MPs from Parliament who traveled from Baghdad in an attempt to bring medical supplies and to see with their own eyes what was going on.  Nouri's forces refused to allow the MPs to enter the area.

Today the BRussells Tribunal carries a translation of one activist who was an eye-witness to what went down:

I am Thamer Hussein Mousa from the village of Mansuriya in the district of Hawija. I am disabled. My left arm was amputated from the shoulder and my left leg amputated from the hip, my right leg is paralyzed due to a sciatic nerve injury, and I have lost sight in my left eye.
I have five daughters and one son. My son’s name is Mohammed Thamer. I am no different to any other Iraqi citizen. I love what is good for my people and would like to see an end to the injustice in my country.

When we heard about the peaceful protests in Al-Hawija, taking place at ‘dignity and honor square’, I began attending with my son to reclaim our usurped rights. We attended the protests every day, but last Friday the area of protest was besieged before my son and I could leave; just like all the other protestors there.

Food and drink were forbidden to be brought into the area….

On the day of the massacre (Tuesday 23 April 2013) we were caught by surprise when Al-Maliki forces started to raid the area. They began by spraying boiling water on the protestors, followed by heavy helicopter shelling. My little son stood beside me. We were both injured due to the shelling.

My son, who stood next to my wheelchair, refused to leave me alone. He told me that he was afraid and that we needed to get out of the area. We tried to leave. My son pushed my wheelchair and all around us, people were falling to the ground.

Shortly after that, two men dressed in military uniforms approached us. One of them spoke to us in Persian; therefore we didn’t understand what he said. His partner then translated. It was nothing but insults and curses. He then asked me “Handicapped, what do you want?” I did not reply. Finally I said to him, “Kill me, but please spare my son”. My son interrupted me and said, “No, kill me but spare my father”. Again I told him “Please, spare my son. His mother is waiting for him and I am just a tired, disabled man. Kill me, but please leave my son”. The man replied “No, I will kill your son first and then you. This will serve you as a lesson.” He then took my son and killed him right in front of my eyes. He fired bullets into his chest and then fired more rounds. I can’t recall anything after that. I lost consciousness and only woke up in the hospital, where I underwent surgery as my intestines were hanging out of my body as a result of the shot.

After all of what has happened to me and my little son – my only son, the son who I was waiting for to grow up so he could help me – after all that, I was surprised to hear Ali Ghaidan (Lieutenant General, Commander of all Iraqi Army Ground Forces) saying on television, “We killed terrorists” and displaying a list of names, among them my name: Thamer Hussein Mousa.

I ask you by the name of God, I appeal to everyone who has a shred of humanity. Is it reasonable to label me a terrorist while I am in this situation, with this arm, and with this paralyzed leg and a blind eye?

I ask you by the name of God, is it reasonable to label me a terrorist? I appeal to all civil society and human rights organizations, the League of Arab States and the Conference of Islamic States to consider my situation; all alone with my five baby daughters, with no one to support us but God. I was waiting for my son to grow up and he was killed in this horrifying way.

I hold Obama responsible for this act because he is the one who gave them these weapons. The weapons and aircrafts they used and fired upon us were American weapons. I also hold the United States of America responsible for this criminal act, above all, Obama.

And he should hold Barack Obama responsible.  Not only did Barack give Nouri a second term as prime minister (via The Erbil Agreement -- after Nouri's State of Law was bested in the 2010 elections by Iraqiya, Iraqiya had the Constitutional right form the government but Nouri created an 8 month political stalemate, while Barack backed Nouri, and then the US-brokered the contract which circumvented the Iraqi Constitution and gave Barack a second term as prime ministers), but Barack also ignored the protesters. Even when they carried signs proclaiming "Obama, if you Cannot Hear Us Can you Not See Us?Sunday, April 21st, a State Dept friend called me and said the US was monitoring Hawija closely and considered it a hot spot.  So how did the massacre happen two days later?

Ali Ghaidan was the one Nouri put in charge of the Hawija massacre and NINA notes that Haidar al-Mulla declared that they were not ready to prepare to the era of Saddam Hussein and make Ali Ghaidan the new Chemical Ali. "Chemical Ali" is what Ali Hassan al-Majid al-Tikriti was called (mainly for the chemical attack on the Kurds but he was known to torture and convicted of genocide).  In his 2007 trial (he was hanged in 2010), he let it rip, swearing ("F**k" the international community) and attacking his opponents with degrading terms.

One of those opponents he denounced was Iraqi President Jalal Talabani whom Chemical Ali loathed because Jalal was a Kurd.  Jalal's back in the news today.  All Iraq News reports Jalal will be on media outlets shortly, or that's what Kurdistan Alliance MP Muhsin al-Sadoun is declaring.

Why is this big news today?  Because Nouri wants a new president of Iraq. Earlier today. All Iraq News reported on the call for President Jalal Talbani to be replaced.  Who's calling for it.  The Supreme Judicial Council that Nouri controls.  Alsumaria notes the court is demanding the Parliament replace Jalal.  Last year,  Talabani suffered a stroke.  The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.  Friday,  All Iraq News noted that the PUK's Najm al-Din Karim declared today that the rumors are false and that "Talabani enjoys good health and has continuous improvement" and "Talabani's health continues to improve day after day."  Kitabat reported this morning that the court's demand notes Jalal's "lengthy absence."  They also note that MP Khaled Huani (with Parliament's Legal Committee and part of the Kurdistan Alliance -- Jalal is a Kurd) declared that the Committee read the court's request, discussed it and then rejected it on the grounds that the request was illegal and unconstitutional.  This evening, al-Sadoun tells All Iraq News that Jalal's doctors say his health is improving and he will be making media appearances shortly.

 Nouri's efforts to displace Jalal come as Al Rafidayn reports Nouri's fighting back rumors about his own health.  (The rumors are that he's seriously ill and will be leaving the country for medical treatment.)  If the rumors were true, that would be interesting -- Iraq's president and Iraq's prime minister both out of the country seeking medical treatment.

Saturday brought  news that State of Law was backing Nouri for a third term as prime minister.    NINA reported that State of Law MP Salmand al-Mosawi announced today that they will nominate Nouri al-Maliki for a third term as prime minister. For some reason, the western press didn't consider that news. Dropping back to February 5, 2011:

This week has seen a lot of words but not a lot of action. Words include the announcement that Nouri won't seek a third term. Why does it matter who he said it to?
Announced by who? The Los Angeles Times isn't clear. He said it to Sammy Ketz of AFP in an interview. Ketz reports 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.

Dropping back to February 6, 2011:

That was written yesterday and Nouri couldn't even go 24 hours sticking to his 'promise.' Ben Lando and Munaf Ammar (Wall St. Journal) report 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.

The next month, the New York Times' editorial board's "Mr. Maliki's Power Grab" would note:

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. 

It was not persuasive, it was not plausible and now he's breaking his 'promise.'   Iraq Times throws back Nouri's own words at him, how he declared (February 2011) that the Constitution did not prevent him from seeking a third term but his personal decision was not to do so.  He also stated that he was going to attempt to change the Constitution to limit the prime minister to two terms.

National Iraqi News Agency reports a Tikrit roadside bombing left one police officer injured, a Mosul roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 people (two were police officers), a Tikrit armed attack claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured,  a Mosul bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured, an armed attack in Anbar Province left four Iraqi soldiers injured, a Ramadi suicide bomber took his own life and the life of an Iraqi soldier as well (and left three more soldiers injured), and a Riyad attack left Riyadh Council member Abdel-Elah Mohamed Abdallah Obeidi dead and Council member Habis Naji al-Obeidi injuredBaghdad News adds that a Baquba bombing injured three farmers.  Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 188 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month.  That averages out to 15.67 deaths per day so far this month.

There's so much more to note but we'll switch to the Libyan War.  Peace didn't come as a result of that and 4 Americans were killed on September 11, 2012: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  In "Media: The Destruction of McClatchy will be broadcast (it all hits the fan)" yesterday, Ava and I weighed in on some aspects of the hearing and Dona roundtabled with Wally, Kat, Ruth, Ava and myself in "Report on Congress." From the latter especially, I want to call out something from the radio.  This is how ridiculous the push to ignore Benghazi is, at least three times now Diane Rehm has allowed callers to toss out that Ambassador Chris Stevens' death is his own fault.  Three times she has taken that and allowed her panel to treat it as a serious subject.  The reason I'm weighing in now is because this was addressed in the hearing last Wednesday and the plan was to open a facility in Benghazi before the end of 2012.  That was Hillary Clinton's wish conveyed to Chris Stevens after he took the post.  In addition, Gregory Hicks testified, "Washington was fully informed that the ambassador was going to Benghazi, we informed them August 22nd or there abouts."  There is a strong push -- by people who dismiss the attacks as yesterday's news and unimportant -- to pin the blame on Chris Stevens.  You can be sure that had they ever bothered to learn the names of the other three, they'd be blaming them as well.  Friday on the second hour of The Diane Rehm Show, McClatchy's Jonathan S. Landay was presented as an expert on Wednesday's hearing -- by Diane and by himself -- and he didn't raise any of this.  He didn't challenge it or pushback on that notion.  (The Washington Post's Anne Gearan wasn't at the hearing but she did push back against the caller's assertion that its Chris Stevens' fault that he's dead.)

Sean Smith was Pat Smith's son.  She appeared yesterday on Huckabee (Fox News -- link is video) and spoke about how the government has not provided her with answers.  I'm editing out Mike Huckabee's remarks because (a) we're very short on space and (b) we'll be able to concentrate more on Pat Smith's remarks.

I want to wish [former Secretary of State] Hillary [Clinton] a happy Mother's Day.  She's got her child.  I don't have mine because of her.  [. . .]  She blamed the video, just like all the rest of them [when she spoke to Pat Smith the one time on September 14th, in front of cameras at Dover Air Force Base] and she also told me that she would get back to me, she was going to keep on checking on it and she would get back to me with answers. She has not.  Neither has anybody else. [. . .] Only one person contacted me, it was a clerk of some kind that read to me from the timeline that I already had, the timeline of the second day after it. [. . .] I want someone to admit that they blew it and that they made the wrong decision. I know that these are hard decisions to make. I could probably never make those kind of decisions.  But I do know that they [the victims] asked for help, they were refused. I want to know why, why were they refused?  [. . .]  But the government does not care.  They don't care about us people at all.  All they had to do is tell me what happened and I would have gone away.  But they didn't even bother.  I was an unimportant person.  And now I'm an unimportant person that doesn't have a child for Mother's Day and I'm -- I feel it so deeply.  They-they cannot understand how I feel. [. . .]  It's too late for my son.  I know that.  But we have more out there and they're going to be treated the same way.  People, rise up and let them know you don't want that.

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