Saturday, August 03, 2013

I Hate The War

On Tuesday, whistle-blower and Iraq War veteran Bradley Manning was convicted in a military court of 20 of the 22 charges against him.  We covered this in Tuesday's snapshot.  A few e-mailers, not just visitors but some community members as well, are bothered by what they see as a lack of coverage since. Community members will get a ruling from Beth in next Thursday's gina & krista round-robin because I've forwarded your e-mails on to her.  (Beth has acted as our ombudsperson for this site since 2005.)  She may or may not agree with you, that's her call.  She's the community member who acts as the independent critic of this site.  Non-community members do not get any of the newsletters so I'll respond to your general comments here.

Brad was not dropped after Tuesday's snapshot.  He is part of these two Wednesday entries (I'd argue he's the focus):

Wednesday, we reported on the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.  From Trina 's Friday morning post:

It's a good column [Dave Lindorff's]  but what it actually reminded me of was the Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that C.I. reported on "Iraq snapshot," Wally's "THIS JUST IN! RUSS FEINGOLD WHERE ARE YOU NOW!" and Cedric's "Punchline: US Senate,Ava's "Blumenthal disappoints (Ava)," Wally's ""Leahy and Feinstein are disgraces," Ann's "The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing" and Kat's "The Constitution has been shredded."  Read their reports. The Committee didn't want to address how outrageous it was that spying was going on, they wanted to put a few limits on the spying so it could continue.  It was disgusting.

Sorry but I think we did a better job than anyone in covering that hearing.  Even the day after, there were people praising that nonsense hearing.  The House Judiciary Committee hearing (as Wally points out) was the real deal.  The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing was a fraud.  And I can tell you two members of the Committee share my opinion of that.

The issue (spying) was important enough that it was going to be included (and we've covered that issue for some time now).  It was also true that Brad and NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden were going to be mentioned at least in passing (and were) and that's noted as well.

I am not in the military court room.  I'm not offering reporting on Brad's trial.  Friday night or Saturday morning, I usually get an update (over the phone) of what's taken place that week.  I worked some of those details into Tuesday's snapshot.  But I'm not reporting on the trial.

There are people who are and you can refer to them.  After military judge Colonel Denise Lind made her Tuesday ruling, the case entered the sentencing phase.  We noted that on Wednesday and on Friday.

Thursday was August 1st.  Violence reached a record high for the year in Iraq for the month of July.  That was expected.  I always knew that Thursday's snapshot would be about recounting how it got to that point and about working in Kenneth Pollack's analysis.  I actually like Pollack's analysis.  It's a huge turning point in the US discussion of Iraq.  He's actually picked up many points that everyone's ignored for a long time.  I'm hopeful that an honest discussion of Iraq may take place before 2016.  After the way Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor's Endgame was ignored, I honestly was expecting the US press and talking heads to dummy up until after Barack was out of office.  And maybe that will still happen but Pollack's picked up a number of elements that anyone who speaks truthfully will need to include.  I'm not a Pollack fan.  I don't treat Brookings as the voice of God.  But I will praise this analysis because it offers more honesty than anything I've seen published in the US.  He's a centrist, I'm far-left.  He offered far more honesty than I ever would have expected.

Did it get coverage though?  I don't know.  I was working the phones for Brad and Ed all week long.  Another week, I would have been able to push Pollack's analysis.

Okay, the only thing I'm finding is the stupidity of Michael Maiello at Esquire.  From the title of his piece, I knew I would disagree with Maiello ("Kenneth Pollack: If Only We Could Reinvade Iraq") but I was curious to see how he was going to make this argument.

Maiello can't.  He's dishonest.  He emphasizes this by Pollack:

In an alternative universe, the United States might re-intervene in Iraq, redeploying tens of thousands of soldiers to restore everyone's sense of safety and allowing the political process to heal again. In this universe, the United States is never going to intervene in Iraq again, nor will the Maliki government ever request that we do so.

Using that quote, Maiello argues:

A decade has passed since Pollack's pre-war advocacy and all Pollack really wants is another run at the cradle of civilization. But don't worry, he assures us, nobody with any say in the matter will go there.

 That's not an honest misreading of the analysis, that's a complete twisting of it.

When we originally noted it (Tuesday morning when it was released), I complained (and stand by it) about all the pages on the Bully Boy Bush years:

 Among the analysis currently being offered by the Brookings Institute.  Kenneth M. Pollack offers (PDF format warning) "The Fall and Rise and Fall of Iraq."  (Yes, the title does recall the BBC's The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin from the seventies.)  Among the problems with the 21 page report?
How about the fact that we don't get to 2009 until the bottom of page 13?
That leaves only 8 pages for 'the fall' Iraq is currently in. Considering that Pollack calls Bully Boy Bush out in the paper, I don't know why we need to dwell on Bush. The reasons for the current problems aren't mysteries.

Do you get that?  Pollack condemns Bully Boy Bush.  In the report.  Having done so, I don't see the need to spend 13 out of 21 pages on the Bully Boy Bush years.
Iraq's current problems go to Barack.  You can blame Tony Blair and Bully Boy all you want.  
I'm not that stupid though.  To me, it's like with Judith Miller.

Year after year in the early years of the war, I would point out here, "If Judith Miller got the US over there, it's others that kept the US over there."

Judith Miller, for those who don't know, was a reporter who had a history at The Progressive magazine (which they ignored in their recent 150th anniversary look back) who found fame at the New York Times.  Being photogenic and covering the fear beat prior to 9-11 brought Miller a level of fame.  That fame was utilized by her to promote war with Iraq in 2002 and 2003.  

Judith Miller was not (a) a liar or (b) the whole press.

On the whole press issue, Judith Miller became the scapegoat.  She was not the only reporter or 'reporter' doing what she did back then.  A lot of people at the Washington Post, the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, etc. were really happy to have Judith become the scapegoat for everyone's professional sins and/or lies.  Judith being demonized meant they could slink away and not have to take accountability.  

Miller did appear on many TV programs.  She didn't book herself.  Oprah booked her and trashed an audience member who dared to question Miller's claims.  Oprah's never apologized for that and refuses to acknowledge it.  She made the decision to allow her trashy talk show to be used to pimp war and she's never apologized.  That's on Oprah.  And Chris Matthews and Tim Russert and all the other people who booked Miller and refused to question her.

The current editor of the New York Times likes to whine that Miller somehow got around her.  No, you were a lazy ass who didn't stand by journalism.  You were in charge of the bureau.  Miller's reporting is on you.  You can lie all you want and you'll fool a few people but anyone who knows anything about journalism knows you're whining in the years since is a lie. 

Here's reality conveyed to me by someone else in that bureau.  Jill Abramson knew war with Iraq was coming and didn't want to say anything against it.  So Jill stayed silent and let the stuff be printed and only when the war began going wrong did Jill suddenly have a 'problem' with the reporting.  In other words, had the war not gone wrong, Jill never would have said one word.

(If you need Jill's side of the story, you can refer to Maureen Dowd's column trashing Judith Miller in 2005.  Many people found that column odd for several reasons but Jill was Maureen's chief source for it.  I love outing people, don't you.)

Even at the New York Times, it was never all Judith Miller.  The first (false) link between 9-11 and Iraq, after all, the first front page story making that false claim (based on interviews with 'defectors') appeared in October 2001 and was written by Chris Hedges.

As for the Judith Miller being a liar assertion, that's false as well.  One of the most popular pieces we've done here was January 9, 2005's "Rudith Miller."  That's partly popular because it ties Scooter Libby to Judith Miller as her source (when no one was talking about -- I knew because of the friend who spilled the beans on Jill from that time -- the same person and I got together and talked about who Judith's source could be -- having seen her with Scooter, I was pretty sure it was Scooter and, when we compared notes, it was obvious that it was).  But in the parody piece,  I'm dealing with her 'reporting.'  How she buried critics of whatever she wanted to promote.  She only promoted what she believed.  When the war started, she was over there calling the shots.  Among the press?  No, with a unit she was assigned to cover.  She was demanding that they search here and there for WMDs.  

Judith didn't lie.  She honestly believed the lies.  Which makes her a fool.  She could have come back from that if she'd learned from it.

Or maybe she couldn't.  When she was being compelled (by a court) to give up her source, we defended her.  For that period, I noted here, I would not be offering any criticism of Judith Miller.  When she went to jail to protect her source, we continued to defend her.

Because journalists should protect their sources.

We covered Plamegate.  I was appalled by what was done to Valerie Plame.  We called out the liars repeatedly.

But we still supported the right of any journalist not to reveal their source.

That the left blogosphere *didn't* isn't that surprising in retrospect.  But at the time, I was shocked and even more so when various bloggers would e-mail me to say I was "harming" the cause.  A free press is needed, I'm sorry if that's confusing to you.  

But forget the blogosphere for a moment, Judith didn't get any real support.  She's married to Jason Epstein (co-founder of The New York Review of Books) and he did try to round up press support for her on this issue but was blown off.


Among other things, Jill Abramson had picked this moment to grind her axe against Judith.  

Miller was already pariah for what the press had done in the lead up to the illegal war (again, she was the scapegoat for every member of the press). And with that and with Jill trashing her, maybe there was no comeback for her.

There's no comeback for Bully Boy Bush.  Miller was a fool.  Bully Boy Bush was a liar and a War Criminal.  

But Iraq's problems today are about Barack.

You can make an argument that since it was the Bush people who demanded Nouri become prime minister in 2006 (Ibrahim al-Jaafari was the Parliament's choice), he bears some of the blame for Nouri today.

But the reality is the 2010 elections were a rejection of Nouri and his sectarianism.  That's what the voters rejected.  But second place Nouri was the choice of the White House.  So they ignored the voters, they ignored the vote count, they pissed on democracy and they demanded that everyone sign a legal contract giving Nouri a second term as prime minister.

That's all on Barack.

That was wrong and it is no way to promote democracy ("Vote today so that tomorrow a foreign government can pick your leader!").  But it might have worked somehow.  I didn't think so (and said so in real time) but I could have been wrong.  Wouldn't be the first time.

But Nouri refused to honor the contract.  To get the second term, he had to make concessions in writing.  But he never honored those.

It was Barack and his officials that told the Iraqi leaders that the US government would back the contract and that it was legally binding.  Without that promise, it never would have been signed.  And don't pretend Barack wasn't involved.  The day after the signing, the Parliament finally met.  Ayad Allawi walked out when Nouri refused to implement the concessions.  It was Barack -- as the Guardian and only the Guardian reported -- who got Allawi back into that session of Parliament.

The leaders were told that the concessions would come.  Be patient.  That was November of 2010.  By the summer of 2011, Moqtada al-Sader, the Kurds and Iraqiya (Ayad Allawi's coalition) had lost patience and began publicly demanding that The Eribl Agreement be implemented in full.  The US government played dumb.

The Kurds were so furious, this really harmed their relationship with  Joe Biden (who has a long standing relationship with them).
Barack backed Nouri over the choice of the Iraqi people.  He backed Nouri in 2010 even though Nouri's first term had been about Nouri repeatedly being found to be running secret prisons (see Ned Parker's strong reporting for the Los Angeles Times on that topic).  Nouri was a bad choice because he accomplished nothing in his first term, he was a criminal choice because the US government knew he was a human rights abuser who was using torture on the Iraqi people.

There is no excuse for this.

Pollack slams Bully Boy Bush repeatedly in the report.

The quoted section is misconstrued if you haven't read the report.  

Pollack's talking about the post-drawdown period and how so much was lost during that period.
If a Dumb Ass at Esquire wants to get all huffy about US troops going back in, he might try grasping that it already has happened, he might try grasping that an agreement's already been signed on that.
We covered it.  Where the hell was everyone else?

Pollack wrote a strong analysis.  He's not calling for a re-invasion.

Barack is doing what he said he would do.

Sadly, he outlined that to the New York Times and the two reporters interviewing candidate Barack cleaned up his statements.

Barack was asked if he'd go back into Iraq after a withdrawal.  (There was a drawdown, no withdrawal was done.)  Yes, he said, if terrorism warranted it.

And Tim Arango (New York Times) reports, right before the 2012 presidential debates, that Barack's sent another Special Ops team into Iraq and no one wants to talk about it.  In December, the US and Iraq sign a memo allowing for joint-patrols in Iraq and no one wants to talk about  it.
Let's spoon feed again,  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."
How stupid do you have to be to work for Esquire?  Apparently really stupid.  
We've also repeatedly noted the US Congressional Research Service report by Kenneth Katzman  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.

It's amazing that Esquire can work up outrage for Pollack's supposed suggestion of re-invading Iraq but can't show any outrage -- or acknowledgement -- over what has happened.

Pollack's report is important and needed to be covered.  The Senate Judiciary hearing needed to be covered.  There's a lot that needs to be covered.  Sorry, but I'm one person and I'm one person who is tired of online life, I'm one person who never intended to spend nine years online.  I've done as much as I can and am ready to pack it in.  The fact that Iraq has been so forgotten -- the country, the people, the US veterans who were deployed there (and those who remain there or in surrounding countries) -- has kept me going but I'm tired of it and want my own life back.  It's a lot of work going through e-mails alone.  Tossing content up here requires even more work.  I'm tired of it.

That doesn't mean: So I covered Brad just the right amount of time.  I may have, I may not have.  But I wanted to cover Adam Kokesh and what he's going through.  I included Lynne Stewart on Monday because I knew I probably wouldn't get time again during the week.  I had hoped to cover Heidi Boghosian's new book all week.  I only worked it in once.  It comes out Tuesday.  We'll cover it in Monday or Tuesday's snapshot if only a paragraph. (It's a great book.)  There is so much that needs to be worked in.  If I sound flippant, after nine years, to steal Kat's phrase from long ago, "It is what it is."  Otherwise you beat yourself up over and over and, trust me, I already have enough baggage.

Equally true, I'm not CODEPINK.

Here's their homepage currently.

You see July stuff, you see August stuff.
Where's Bradley?

I'm sorry.  I'm not impressed with David Coombs and have said so.  I have little interest in the day-to-day proceedings of a bumbler.  Equally true, I did not go KPFK's Connect the Dots with Lila Garrett and insist to the ridiculous Lila June 6th that Bradley had to have all of our attention and focus this summer.
That wasn't me.

That was Jodie Evans.  CODEPINK founder.  Don't you love the people who go on radio and tell everyone else what to do when they can't even do it themselves?
Me too.

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.

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