Thursday, September 05, 2013

Iraq snapshot

Thursday, September 5, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraqis fear what happens if the US attacks Syria, the Pope calls for peace talks with Syria and rejects military strikes, Barack Obama is shunned at the G-20, John Kerry is called a liar by the President of Russia, Nancy Pelosi wants to compete in a dick swinging contest, and much more.

US President Barack Obama wants war on Syria.  It's wrong for many reasons.  One that no one seems to be raising is cost.  The authorization the White House wants from Congress -- passed by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- does not prohibit "boots on the ground."  Secretary of State John Kerry had a meltdown over 'no boots on the ground' being in the authorization during the Senate committee's hearing on Tuesday.  He also spoke in terms of actions additional to a 'precision strike' which is why it is a 90 day authorization that Barack's enablers have passed.  It has not passed the Senate, it has not passed the House.  Judging from complaints to the public e-mail account, either local anchors across the country are really stupid or they're being intentionally stupid to imply it's a done deal.  All that being voted out of Committee does is send it to the Senate floor for a vote.  Being voted out of Committee does not change a bill into a law.  Jason Ditz's Antiwar piece that just went up may make that clearer.  Opening sentence: "After yesterday’s 10-7 committee vote set the stage for a tight vote in the Senate about the Syrian War, the issue may end up entirely academic, as ABC News is the first to call it, and based on the public comments the war is headed for a defeat in the House of Representatives."

Many are noting the lack of restrictions to the authorization Barack Obama wants. (See Jason Ditz' "Senate Committee Approves Loophole-Ridden Syria War Resolution" at  Who's going to point out the blank check aspect?  Congress controls the purse.  The measure the White House wants and that the Senate committee passed is a blank check and isn't the US supposed to be in the midst of a fiscal crisis?

You've not only got the failed economy, you've also got sequestration.  Across the board cuts.

So why is the US Congress being asked to authorize any new action without such an action having a clear and public price tag?

The US economy remains in the toilet, services are being cut (further cut) across the country and more cuts are due to come shortly and on top of this outstanding (unpaid) bill, Barack wants to toss on military actions when there is no threat to Syria?

And the White House will not return to extend the 90 day authorization.  It will just plow on through if it feels the need.  Meaning ten years from now someone may write a letter to the Seattle Times' editors on the money spent on the Syrian War the way Kathy Swoyer writes them now:

Today in Iraq, 10 years later, countless lives --  military and civilian--  have been and continue to be lost, hundreds of millions of our tax dollars were spent, and Shiite/Sunni violence is rearing up again. Al-Qaida terrorism is now robust.
What, exactly, have we gained?

The biggest threat to the US economy has been and remains Barack Obama.

He now wants to turn that destructive force on Syria.

The years long effort for war on Syria has already run up a large tab -- in money and resources.  In resources, you have John Kerry and the State Department spending 2012 and this year attempting to persuade foreign countries into supporting war and pressuring them to cut off ties to Syria.

That has a huge cost.  Might life be better for the Iraqi people if high-profile US visits to Iraq in the last two years had been about the needs of the Iraqi people and not the US government's need for war with Syria?  And what was Nouri given to make him announce (briefly) that they would stop flights from Iran to Syria?

If diplomacy had been used for humanitarian reasons, then high-profile US visits would have been about wrongful imprisonments, the need to stop torturing, the need to stop shooting at Iraqis taking part in a sit-in and, at the very least, the need to provide the people with basic public services (electricity, potable water, etc.).

A lot of liars in Congress and in the press want to insist attacking Syria would be a "humanitarian action."  They ignore the reality of what they're demanding.  As Steve Chapman (Chicago Tribune) observes, "It may look antiseptic from Washington, but only because the Syrians have no means to respond [to an attack] in kind.  But to anyone in Syria, there will be no doubt that we are waging war."  Activist, author and candidate for governor in California Cindy Sheehan weighs in on these 'humanitarian concerns'  at Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox:

Now, Obama and Pelosi want to kill Syrian children so their government doesn’t kill them? I don't want the Syrian government or US supported rebels to kill anyone, but I am sure that dying by a US made and launched missile is much more compassionate than any other way? Obviously the “problem” that the US has, is not that it loves children so much, but that it’s Murder, Inc and wants a global monopoly on carnage.
 To me, and many others who really pay attention to needs of children, what is urgent is for the US to stop all its wars that harm families all over the world, even here. Why do you think our economy is tanking and the social safety nets are being greatly reduced or eliminated? Our overwhelming monetary and psycho investment in the military industrial complex!

FYI, Cindy's campaign site is here.  If  the liars in Congress and the press have are so concerned about 'humanitarian' intervention in Syria, why have they expressed no humanitarian concerns about Iraq?

KUNA reports the European Union's High Representative Catherine Ashton issued a statement condemning Tuesday's attacks in Iraq.  Her statement in full [PDF format warning] can be found here:

I condemn in the strongest terms the series of car bombings that killed many civilians on Tuesday in predominantly Shia districts of Baghdad.  My thoughts go out to the many innocent victims and I express my condolences to their families.
I am seriously concerned by the escalation of violence in Iraq over the past months which is fueling sectarianism and undermining the stability of the country.  I call on all political, religious and community leaders to increase their efforts to end this dangerous cycle of vilence.  I am confident that the Iraqi people will remain steadfast in their rejection of sectarian violence and work towards a successful transition to democracy and long term stability for the benefit of all of Iraq's citizens.

The US government has nothing to say about Tuesday's attacks which killed 87 people (Iraq Body Count tally).  It rarely has anything to say about anything to do with Iraq.  Yes, Sunday, they did issue the following:

Press Statement

Marie Harf
Deputy Spokesperson, Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
September 1, 2013

The United States strongly condemns the terrible events that took place at Camp Ashraf today, which according to various reports resulted in the deaths of and injuries to numerous camp residents. Our condolences go out to the families of the victims and those who were injured in today’s violence.
We are deeply concerned about these reports and are in regular contact with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq (UNAMI), as well as Government of Iraq officials. We support UNAMI's efforts to conduct its own assessment of the situation and call on the Government of Iraq to fully support those efforts.

We further call on Iraqi authorities to act with urgency to immediately ensure medical assistance to the wounded and to secure the camp against any further violence or harm to the residents. We underscore the responsibility of the Government of Iraq and all relevant stakeholders to ensure the safety and security of residents at both Camp Ashraf and Camp Hurriyah, and we affirm the call by UNAMI for a full and independent investigation into this terrible and tragic event. Those found to be responsible must be held fully accountable.

But before you applaud them, that's idiotic.

All the ones arguing humanitarian grounds for Syria -- including the ridiculous US House Rep Debbie Wasserman-Schultz with her "as a Jew" statement -- need to ask where is the humanitarian concern for the Ashraf community?

The United States could actually put more boots on the ground in Iraq as a result of that attack.  International law would allow that (some legal scholars would argue that international law compels it).

I must have missed Debs Wasserman weighing in on the attack, "as a Jew," right?

Adam Schreck (AP) reported Tuesday that the United Nations just confirmed the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.  Al Mada noted Monday that Nouri's declared he should be over the Iraqi investigation since he's commander-in-chief.  And that's exactly why he shouldn't be over it.  Tuesday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq issued a statement which included:

 Reiterating his previous statement, the UN Envoy expressed his outrage at the brutal killing of the camp’s residents. Mr. Busztin took note of the statement issued by the Government of Iraq announcing it has initiated its own investigation into the tragic events and acknowledging its responsibility for the safety of the camp’s residents. “I call on the Iraqi government to ensure that a thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into this atrocious crime is conducted without delay and that the results of the investigation are made public”, he said.

Deb Wasserman may not grasp the basics so let's review slowly.

Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. 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."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."

"As a Jew," Debbie Wasserman, shouldn't attacks on encampments of persons alarm you?  Attacks carried out by government forces?  Shouldn't that bother you?  Or do use Nazi Germany allusions as rarely as you use soap and water?  There is no oil crisis, we need only figure out how to tap into all the oil on Debbie's face and in her hair and the term "energy crisis" will be a relic of the past.

Liars supporting an attack on Syria say that a red line has been crossed?

How many times is Nouri al-Maliki going to be allowed to attack the Ashraf community before your so-called 'humanitarian' concerns kick in?  Unlike Barack's claim that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has gassed (and killed) a community, there are no doubts as to what Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has done.  Despite giving his word to the US government at the end of 2008 that he would not attack the Ashraf community, he has repeatedly done so.  He has killed them repeatedly -- so much so that it could be argued the world's 'exit plan' for the Ashraf community is passage by bullet.

Independent Catholic News reports today:

A spokesman for Archbishop Vincent Nichols said: “The Iraqi government has a moral and legal duty to protect the residents of Camp Ashraf. The Baghdad authorities must ensure the safety of the residents to prevent any more violence being inflicted on them and to facilitate their swift resettlement in a third country, under international supervision.”
The Anglican Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, said he was "troubled by reports of the latest attacks" - "and by news that Iraq has been denying the Ashraf residents the right to family visits and full access to proper medical treatment".
Bishop Pritchard said that he would like to see United States' forces "take back responsibility for protecting Camp Ashraf".

Yet Debbie Wasserman-Schultz hasn't said one word -- "as a Jew" or as a member of the US government, she's not said one word.  John Kerry hasn't said one word.  The US government has a legal obligation to the Ashraf community.  By international law, they are bound to secure the safety of these residents.  Barack cites no international law aspect to his desire to attack Syria because there is no such law.   And, get honest, there's no real humanitarian concern about Syria or the residents of Syria.

The liars can't fight with facts so they make emotional appeals.  You see that on every level.  Marcia noted last night that Russian President Vladimir Putin rightly called out the lies John Kerry has been spouting off lately.  Today, Matthew Lee (AP) reports the official State Dept response to that: spokesperson Jen Psaki declared Kerry to be "a decorated combat veteran who has had more than words aimed at him."  Oh, alright then.

What the hell does that have to do with whether or not he's a liar?  And, excuse me, but in the United States, roughly 40% of the population feels that "decorated combat veteran" Kerry lied about his Vietnam experiences, he is widely and publicly denounced by other veterans of that war, and didn't he toss ribbons of honor in a protest?  Yeah, he did.  So maybe next time Jen has no logical response to "Kerry lied," she can describe him as "a half-decorated combat veteran"?

And please grasp how sad and disgusting Psaki's words are.  She is trying to shut down a discussion by gasping "combat veteran!"  Sorry, Jen, it's not a protective shield.

More importantly, how dare the supposed diplomatic branch of the United States try to hide behind the Pentagon?  That's the best they can offer?  Well that's Barack's administration for you: The Worst  and The Dullest.

And sadly, they can't even lie well.  Bully Boy Bush has them beat clearly.  Grasp the current administration is not just liars, they are bad liars.  John Glaser ( compares Kerry's lying to Congress to Director of National Intelligence James Clapper's lies -- and no one in this administration ever gets punished for lying but damned if Barack doesn't go after truth tellers like whistle blowers Chelsea Manning and Ed Snowden and reporters like the New York Times' James Risen.   Former US House Rep Dennis Kucinich offers a piece on ten claims they are making that have not been backed up.  Here's the first one:

The questions the Obama administration needs to answer before Congress can even consider voting on Syria:

Claim #1. The administration claims a chemical weapon was used.

The UN inspectors are still completing their independent evaluation.

Who provided the physiological samples of sarin gas on which your evaluation is based? Were any other non-weaponized chemical agents discovered or sampled?

Who from the United States was responsible for the chain of custody?

Where was the laboratory analysis conducted?

Were U.S. officials present during the analysis of the samples? Does your sample show military grade or lower grade sarin gas?

Can you verify that your sample matches the exact composition of the alleged Syrian government composition?

Dennis is out of Congress.  Sadly, 73-year-old Nancy Pelosi remains there.  Vast amounts of plastic surgery have obscured her age (though not made her look young or even younger).  They apparently have obscured her judgment as well.  David Jackson (USA Today) notes she gushed that Barack is one "tough hombre."

We get it, Nance, no one sports a bigger strap-on dildo than you, you are the exception that proves Freud's laughable penis envy theory, we get it.  But as you praise Barack's Hombre Diplomacia grasp it's no different than the Cowboy Diplomacy of Bully Boy Bush which you used to call out.

Like John Kerry, Nancy Pelosi is Catholic.  Vatican Radio reports, "Pope Francis renewed his appeal for peace in Syria and throughout the world on Wednesday, once again inviting Christians of every denomination, believers of every religious tradition and all people of good will to take part in the worldwide fast and vigil of prayer and penance for peace, which he has called for September 7th, the vigil of the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lady, whom we venerate as Queen of Peace."  Independent Catholic News adds, "There will be prayers for peace in St Peter's Square and in the great Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, this Saturday.  The Grand Mufti of Syria, Ahmad Badreddin Hassou, spiritual leader of Sunni Islam, has welcomed the Pope's appeal and will be there praying and fasting for peace in his country. In an official letter sent,through the Apostolic Nunciature in Damascus, the Mufti said he is preparing to participate in the special pro-Syria day on September 7, and proposes organizing an interfaith meeting with the Hoiy See."  And AFP quotes the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Monsignor Mario Toso, declaring, "The Syria conflict has all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions. The solution to Syria's problems is not in armed intervention. Violence will not decrease and there is a risk of a conflagration that extends to other countries."

Many world leaders are in St. Petersburg today for the G-20.  Russian President Vladimir Putin is presiding.  Reuters notes, "Pope Francis, in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin for the G20 conference, urged world leaders to "lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution" in Syria."  Vatican Radio has posted the letter in full and we'll include this section:

From this standpoint, it is clear that, for the world’s peoples, armed conflicts are always a deliberate negation of international harmony, and create profound divisions and deep wounds which require many years to heal. Wars are a concrete refusal to pursue the great economic and social goals that the international community has set itself, as seen, for example, in the Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, the many armed conflicts which continue to afflict the world today present us daily with dramatic images of misery, hunger, illness and death. Without peace, there can be no form of economic development. Violence never begets peace, the necessary condition for development.
The meeting of the Heads of State and Government of the twenty most powerful economies, with two-thirds of the world’s population and ninety per cent of global GDP, does not have international security as its principal purpose. Nevertheless, the meeting will surely not forget the situation in the Middle East and particularly in Syria. It is regrettable that, from the very beginning of the conflict in Syria, one-sided interests have prevailed and in fact hindered the search for a solution that would have avoided the senseless massacre now unfolding. The leaders of the G20 cannot remain indifferent to the dramatic situation of the beloved Syrian people which has lasted far too long, and even risks bringing greater suffering to a region bitterly tested by strife and needful of peace. To the leaders present, to each and every one, I make a heartfelt appeal for them to help find ways to overcome the conflicting positions and to lay aside the futile pursuit of a military solution. Rather, let there be a renewed commitment to seek, with courage and determination, a peaceful solution through dialogue and negotiation of the parties, unanimously supported by the international community. Moreover, all governments have the moral duty to do everything possible to ensure humanitarian assistance to those suffering because of the conflict, both within and beyond the country’s borders.

Barack is attending the G-20 as well.  This spring, he was shunned at the G-8 (when it was group photo time, other leaders made a rush to walk in order not to be walking with Barack -- this was even evident in the photos the White House posted).  AFP reports today, "World leaders arrived Thursday for a dinner hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin where they would discuss the crisis in Syria, with US President Barack Obama showing up alone and well after the main group."  David Jackson and Zach Coleman (USA Today) report:

President Obama renewed efforts Thursday to persuade global allies to back a military strike on Syria over the use of chemical weapons, a strategy he is also pushing with members of Congress in the United States.
Attending a G-20 summit in Russia otherwise devoted to the global economy, Obama said before a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that he looked forward to "an extensive conversation" about Syria.
That includes "our joint recognition that the use of chemical weapons in Syria is not only a tragedy but also a violation of international law that must be addressed," Obama said.
No wonder they avoid him.  Yesterday, he tried to pretend his ridiculous red line was somehow the world's red line.  This was addressed on Jake Tapper's The Lead (CNN -- link is text and video):

President Barack Obama argued Wednesday that any red line he drew against chemical weapons use in Syria was based on international norms, saying: "I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line."
One year ago, in Agusut 2012, Obama said, "A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized ... That would change my calculus."
"What he's trying to do is depersonalize this. He's come under a lot of criticism. People are saying it's your red line, you set it, now we have to take military strikes so you don't lose your credibility," said CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger. "In fact, it is his red line. He drew the red line, he spoke about it – the two are not mutually exclusive. It could be the world's and his. He is going to Congress asking for this military action. I think he owns the request," said Borger. "What he was trying to do is say to Republicans in particular, 'You don't need to do this for me. Take me out of this.'"

And there is Iraq.  Yesterday Adam Schreck (AP) Tweeted:

Krishnadev Calamur (NPR) looks at the region and how they view an attack on Syria.  We'll note the section on Iraq:

Iraq has been careful to maintain neutrality in Syria, but its prime minister blamed the recent increase in violence on what was happening next door.
"The internal situation in Syria is playing a major role with what's happening in Iraq," Nouri al-Maliki said .
He was also critical of the proposed in Syria.
"The military solution is a dead end that has nothing in it but the destruction of Syria," he said. "Nothing is obvious on the horizon other than destruction, catastrophe and a civil war that has no winner."
Maliki previously would further destabilize the region.
In recent years, Iraq has drawn closer to Iran, and, , has granted Iran access to its airspace to deliver weapons and fighters to Assad.
It's worth pointing out that the Obama administration, in its attempt to make a case for military action in Syria, has insisted it , where the U.S. spent more than eight years until the withdrawal of troops in 2011.

 On this, Nouri's position is the position of a number of Iraqis.  But it is not the position of Iraq.  The KRG only recently made a statement to the effect of they will stay out of it.  The Kurds in Iraq generally speaking support the Kurds in Syria.  In Iraq, the Kurds have a semi-autonomous area.  In Syria, they do not.  The US-invasion of Iraq toppled the presidency of Saddam Hussein and his government which was seen as serving the Sunni population.  After the invasion, the (US-installed) Shi'ites took over.  They are the majority population in Iraq.  In Syria, it's the other side of the coin with an estimated 74% of the population being Sunni Muslim.  Some Sunnis in Iraq support the Sunnis in Syria and some Iraqi Sunnis cross the border to fight in the Syrian War.  (Some Iraqi Shi'ites also cross the border to fight in Syria's civil war.)

The whole point here is that when you step away from leaders, you find a wider view and it's really simplistic to say: This is the Iraq view.

NPR would have been better off presenting Nouri's view as Nouri's and noting that Moqtada al-Sadr and Ayad Allawi are among those in agreement with him.  In the Sadr bloc's statements made yesterday, the Sadr bloc specifically noted that there was a wide range of opinions re: Syria within the National Iraqi Alliance -- a Shi'ite alliance of various political groups including Moqtada's bloc, Nouri's State of Law,  Ibrahim al-Jaafari's National Reform Trend, Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress, and Ammar al-Hakim's Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq. 

Today, Tim Arango (New York Times) goes into more detail and facts than the NPR analysis did:

Now that the United States is considering missile strikes on Syria, Iraqi Shiites like Abu Mohaned say they see history repeating itself -- even if across a border -- and they are prepared to once again take on a familiar adversary. If the United States strikes Syria, Iraqi Shiites will see it as their fight, too, and pour across the border to assist Mr. Assad, many people here said.
“No honorable man will accept what the Americans want to do in Syria,” Abu Mohaned said, reflecting the view of Iraq’s Shiite majority who see any threat to Mr. Assad as an intervention on the side of a Sunni-led, Al Qaeda-aligned rebellion.

It's a strong analysis which should be read in full.  Al Mada reports that the Iraqi Council for Peace and Solidarity issued a statement today saying a military strike on Syria would be harmful, would not restore order and, without UN approval, would be illegal.   It should also be noted that Iraq already has enough problems to address without a US attack on Syria.  Mashreq Abbas (Al-Monitor) observes:

Here, in a country such as Iraq, there is talk of “dictatorial” solutions to the Iraqi crisis. This nation is dreaming of a savior — similar to Egyptian Defense Minister Abdel Fattah al-Sisi — to stage a coup and bring the crises back to ground zero.
On Aug. 31, some Iraqi state institutions were indirectly talking about a “dictatorship is the solution” hypothesis, even if masked by numerous national and democratic slogans.
On this date, just hours before the start of protests across the country — organized by youth groups and calling on the government to cancel pensions for members of parliament and special rank civil servants — Iraq’s chief prosecutor issued a statement requesting that protesters postpone their movement until the security situation stabilizes.
His statement included expressions such as: “postponing protests until times of safety and stability,” “a high sense of national responsibility to confront the growing terrorist threat backed by foreign states” and “whoever fails to fulfill his duty to protect Iraq, its people and properties will be thrown into the trash bin of history and will be cursed; no one will feel sorry for him.”
This statement coincided with another issued by the Iraqi Interior Ministry for the same purpose. This last statement included even more threatening expressions such as warnings that Baathists and terrorists could infiltrate the protests.

Kitabat reports that Basra is witnessing a series of assassinations and the targets are "peaceful Sunni men."  The weapons of choice are said to be guns with silencers.  The report states that government officials know of these assassinations, know who is behind them and yet turns a blind eye allowing the criminals to have no fears of punishment.

 The Vatican spoke out against war with Iraq as well.  No one in the administration seemed to concerned back then.  They probably won't now.  But were I a practicing Catholic, like John Kerry, I think the call from the Vatican would have some resonance.  When the head of your church/faith is calling for peace talks, how do you blow that off?

Last night, Ruth weighed in on how Texas and Mississippi National Guard are at present not honoring marriage equality.  Senator Patty Murray serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (and chaired it until becoming, this year, the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee).  Her office issued the following on the new order regarding the military and marriage equality:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                            CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Thursday, September 05, 2013                                                                               (202) 224-2834
Senator Murray’s Statement on VA Benefits for Same-Sex Spouses
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement after U.S. Attorney General Holder announced yesterday that President Obama has directed the Justice Department to stop enforcing Department of Veterans Affairs provisions which deny full access to spousal benefits for same-sex married couples:
“This long-awaited move by the Obama Administration is a major step towards finally ensuring each of our heroes and their spouses receive the same quality care and services once they leave the military – no matter who they love. And after pressing Secretary Shinseki to expedite the process for dignified, same-sex burials in our national cemeteries, I am thrilled yesterday’s news will no longer force veterans to face uncertainty when mourning the loss of their spouse. Our veterans and their families, who selflessly served our nation and have given so much, will finally be afforded the benefits they have so rightly earned. This is not only a matter of fairness and equity, it is simply the right thing to do.”

Meghan Roh
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office