Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, March 12, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Anbar continues, Nouri trying to create a crop of 9-year-old child brides gets some press attention, in the US Senator Patty Murray continues to fight for veterans, in the US House a Subcommittee doesn't care that the State Dept's budget figures make no sense (not even from page to page in the budget request), Secretary of State John Kerry plays at being an 80s super woman, and much more.

There are War Crimes taking place in Iraq as Nouri's assault on Anbar Province continues.  Nouri and his Cabinet approved a bill, now sent to Parliament, to strip mothers and wives of their rights and to allow fathers to marry girls off as young as nine-years-old.  Elections are supposed to take place April 30th.  The Kurds are refusing to be bullied by Nouri or his budget threats.  Moqtada al-Sadr is standing up to Nouri.  Those are just some of the big issues in Iraq right now.

Into this mix, Greg Mitchell wades in today at The Nation.  Which of the above issues does he grab?

None of them.

He's doing a media critique.

Okay, that's good.  That's needed.  The US media has done a lousy job covering Iraq since their drawdown at the end of 2008 (the US media's drawdown).  So thank goodness Greg Mitchell is making time to seriously address what is taking place today.

Oh, wait, he's not.

He's jerking off to 2002 pre-Iraq War coverage.  He wants you to know that Judith Miller wasn't the only reporter involved in selling the illegal war.

Wow, that blows my mind.  What acid did Greg hand out with that blog post?

We don't have to trip to fall back to a July 9, 2005 entry here:

Miller is responsible for her reporting. She is not, however, responsible for the reporting of others. It's an easy out to act as though Miller persuaded the nation. The Times does have a reach but other papers and TV (and radio) do as well. Making her the fall guy for every bad reporter is letting a lot of people off. Offering that her story, wavied around by Dick Cheney, silenced dissent means you know of a Meet the Press rule that I don't. I'm not aware of any rule that Tim Russert has to operate under which says, "If a guest cites the New York Times, the debate is over."
Miller wrote her stories (and Howell Raines was fine with running them -- some occur under Keller's tenure but the bulk that people complain about are under Raines' tenure). Hold her accountable for them. But she didn't anchor and report for Nightly News. NPR didn't offer up an hour or two to her daily to produce, report and star in The Judith Miller Report. Miller wasn't laughing it up with the weather man on Good Morning America before tossing to a breaking report, live from D.C., reported by Judith Miller.

I'm not defending her reporting. But there's a tendency to overlook the others involved. I don't know if that results from people being late to criticism of the reporting on the lead up to the war or what. It can't just be a case of "bash the bitch" because there are a number of women who cheerleaded into war and while one now deceased columnist may get a pass since she's no longer around, a lot of the reporters are still around, still on your TV, still on your radio, still in print.

For those late to the party on the American pastime of "bash the bitch," you can use that link and you can also check out Ava and my "TV: Katie Was a Cheerleader."

So it only took until 2014 for Greg Mitchell to discover it wasn't just Judith Miller.   Most Americans require 12 years to make it through school.  How many years did it take Greg?

And who he is fooling with this babble when Iraq's on fire right now?

All he's done is pull quotes from a Howard Kurtz article everyone (including us) noted years ago.

The right-wing website Thy Black Man pointed out today, "Seems like there is rarely a mention of Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Libya in the mainstream news anymore, and more importantly, from the oral cavities of U.S. politicians."  I doubt the website was asking that Greg Mitchell indulge in an acid flashback.

That he or The Nation magazine thinks anything he did made a contribution goes a long way towards explain the Death of Independent Media.

Contrast Greg's self-made state of uselessness with this:

The context that kind of led to the situation began over a year ago -- but essentially with the current present situation a little over a month ago -- the Iraqi government started shelling the city of Fallujah. They circled it off and claimed that the city had been taken control of by ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a group that was affiliated with al Qaeda, that they had taken control of the city.
The reality is, while ISIS did have a small presence within the city, the city remained largely under control of the tribes in the area and of course the people living in the city and so they were trying to deal with the situation themselves. They did not want those people present in the city either but nevertheless the Maliki government sealed off the city, stopped medical supplies from being allowed in, started shelling the city and as of just a few days ago according to doctors that I interviewed in the city there were 109 civilians had been killed and 632 wounded including several dozen women and children killed and wounded.

So it’s a crisis situation. It’s ongoing. It’s displaced about 300,000 people around Al Anbar province. The UN has called for an end of what the Maliki government is doing as have other NGOs operating in the areas but unfortunately it is ongoing as we speak.

That's Dahr Jamail speaking  on Unauthorized Disclosure to hosts Kevin Gosztola (Firedoglake's Dissenter) and Rania Khalek (Dispatches from the Underclass).  If I misunderstood the credits, please e-mail again to correct me.  What I do know is Unauthorized Disclosure is welcoming to all -- it's an audio program you can stream and they also provide a transcript if you're unable to stream or if streaming doesn't help you due to hearing issues/challenges.

As Dahr rightly noted in the interview, "The UN has called for an end of what the Maliki government is doing as have other NGOs operating in the areas but unfortunately it is ongoing as we speak."  The Nation hasn't covered it.  The US government hasn't called for an end.

As his assault on Anbar Province continues, so do Nouri al-Maliki's War Crimes.  The thug and prime minister of Iraq continues to resort to the crime of collective punishment.  Today that means his military shelling of Falluja residential neighborhoods today left 1 child dead, two children injured, one woman injured and one man injured.

Collective punishment is illegal and defined as a War Crime.  When Nouri practices collective punishment, he is in violation of the following:

Hague Regulations (1899)
Article 50 of the 1899 Hague Regulations provides: “No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, can be inflicted on the population on account of the acts of individuals for which it cannot be regarded as collectively responsible.” 

Hague Regulations (1907)
Article 50 of the 1907 Hague Regulations provides: “No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.” 

Geneva POW Convention
Article 46, fourth paragraph, of the 1929 Geneva POW Convention provides: “Collective penalties for individual acts are also prohibited.” 

Geneva Convention III
Article 26, sixth paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention III states: “Collective disciplinary measures affecting food are prohibited.” Article 87, third paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention III provides that “[c]ollective punishment for individual acts” is forbidden. 

Geneva Convention IV
Article 33, first paragraph, of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV provides: “Collective penalties … are prohibited.” 

Additional Protocol I

Article 75(2)(d) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides: “The following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever, whether committed by civilian or by military agents: … collective punishments”. 

Additional Protocol II

Article 4(2)(b) of the 1977 Additional Protocol II provides: “The following acts against the persons referred to in paragraph I are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever: … collective punishments”. 

Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone

Article 3 of the 2002 Statute of the Special Court for Sierra Leone provides: The Special Court shall have the power to prosecute persons who committed or ordered the commission of serious violations of article 3 common to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 for the Protection of War Victims, and of Additional Protocol II thereto of 8 June 1977. These violations shall include:

Jane Arraf (Washington Post) quotes the Muslim Scholars Association's spokesperson Muthana al-Dari in her report on Anbar:

"Maliki has attacked the people, so the people defended themselves, rose up and revolted. So it has now been transformed into a revolution," Dari said.
Since the start two years ago of widespread Sunni protests, the country's Sunni leadership has fragmented, and many have become more radicalized. Many tribal leaders are still allied with the Iraqi government, and the scholars association and those fighting Iraqi government forces are believed to represent a much smaller constituency.

Dropping back to yesterday's snapshot:

If you ever doubted Nouri al-Maliki's ability to lead, it's on full display right now.  Tomorrow is the big terrorism conference that Brett McGurk's endlessly praised Nouri for.  The State Dept's Brett has praised this effort to bring the region's countries together to address the issue.
But today comes the news that two won't be participating.  NINA reports Qatar and Saudi Arabia have decided not to participate.  This decision comes after Saturday's broadcast of Nouri al-Maliki's interview where he slammed Qatar and Saudi Arabia repeatedly.  (See Saturday's "Nouri 'celebrates' International Women's Day" and "Iraq snapshot.")
He couldn't even keep his big mouth shut until after the conference.

And the fall out just keeps coming.  Al Arabiya News reports, "The UAE recalled its ambassador to Iraq on Wednesday in protest against Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s accusations of Saudi Arabia that the kingdom supports terrorism."  Gulf Times notes:

State Minister for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash handed ambassador Mowafak Mahdi Abboud a memorandum protesting Maliki’s “claims that Saudi Arabia supports terrorism,” the official Wam news agency said.
“Such remarks are false and not based on a proper assessment of the situation in the region concerning terrorism, especially as Saudi Arabia plays a significant role in combating all forms of terrorism,” said Gargash.

 Arab News adds, "Bahrain also strongly condemned Saudi bashing by Al-Maliki and his false accusations against the Kingdom."  Nouri's big mouth has tanked his own conference.  He's such a failure.  Despite that, Nouri intends to dig the hole even deeper.

Turning to Nouri's attempt to create 9-year-old child brides in Iraq, Human Rights Watch weighed in yesterday with "Iraq: Don’t Legalize Marriage for 9-Year-Olds" and that's already had an impact.  RTT notes, "The draft law would cover Iraq's Shia citizens and residents, a majority of the population of 36 million. It includes provisions that prohibit Muslim men from marrying non-Muslims, legalizes marital rape by stating that a husband is entitled to have sex with his wife regardless of her consent, and prevents women from leaving the house without permission from their husbands. The law would automatically grant custody over any child age two or older to the father in divorce cases, lower the marriage age to nine for girls and fifteen for boys, and even allow girls younger than nine to be married with a parent's approval."  

Diana Moukalled has a column on the move which is carried by Asharq Al-Awsat and Al Arabiya News. The column notes:

The suggested Iraqi draft law strips women who belong to the Ja’afari Shi’a sect of their basic marriage, divorce and inheritance rights, and worst of all, permits the marriage of nine-year-old girls. One cannot but be shocked by the delinquency of those who approved the draft law, and yet here it is now on its way to parliament for approval.

At Rudaw, Ruwayda Mustafah Rabar weighs in on the measure and its meaning:

Female activists in Baghdad gathered at Parliament to protest a proposed Ja’fari Personal Status Law which will permit the marriage consummation for girls as young as nine-years-old. The women wore black, to mourn the regression of women’s rights in Baghdad. It is perhaps strange that with the fall of Saddam Hussein women’s rights have regressed, as opposed to progressing. While other countries’ judicial systems attempt to elevate the status of women by ensuring they are treated equally before the law, in Baghdad women’s rights violations are sanctified through the law.
What was perhaps the most saddening part of the protest was the low turnout, the lack of male presence to stand by women in the fight against patriarchy. Instead, a few women gathered, all of them were from the ‘older generation’ and they held homemade placards. It is no surprise that the current political climate in Iraq deters women, especially young women, from feeling comfortable enough to become socio-politically active.
Patriarchy is on the rise in Iraq because of the influx of religious thought which is not only interpreted at the expense of women’s rights but also heavily influenced by sectarian, as well as cultural, beliefs. When society fails to recognize the human rights of women, you would be correct to assume that a higher law, applicable to all citizens, would enshrine such rights. But unfortunately this is not the case for Iraq.

On violence, through Tuesday, Iraq Body Count counts 381 violent deaths for the month thus far.  Today?

National Iraqi News Agency reports a Baiji suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 3 police members with seven more left injured, a Tikrit bombing left two members of the police injured, 1 woman was shot dead in al-Baaj, 1 man was shot dead in al-Qahera, the Second Infantry Command announced they killed 3 suspects "southeast of Mosul," a Tuz Khurmatu roadside bombing left 3 people dead, the Ministry of the Interior announced they shot dead 1 suspect in Salahuddin Province, a Heet car bombing claimed the life of 1 police member and left five more people injured, armed clashes in Ramadi left 3 rebels dead and two Iraqi soldiers injured, Joint Special Operations Command announced they killed 20 suspects in Anbar, a Mosul bombing killed 3 people, and a Baquba sticky bombing killed 1 woman and left eight more people injured.

Still on violence, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) issued the following today:

The Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, today voiced concern for the safety of media workers in Iraq following the killing of two Iraqi cameramen, Muthanna Abdul Hussein and Khaled Abed Thamer, on 09 March.

“I condemn the killing of Muthanna Abdul Hussein and Khaled Abed Thamer,” the Director-General said. “The number of media workers killed in Iraq is a source of grave concern. I call on the authorities once again to ensure that those responsible for the death of journalists be brought to justice. Decisive action is needed to ensure that the media can carry out their work and the public can remain informed.”
Muthanna Abdul Hussein and Khaled Abed Thamer, cameramen for Al-Iraqia TV were killed in a suicide bomb blast in a checkpoint at the city of Hilla.
The Director-General has condemned the killing of 18 journalists in Iraq since January 1, 2013.
Media contact: Sylvie Coudray, s.coudray(at),  +33 (0)1 45 68 42 12
UNESCO is the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom. Article 1 of its Constitution requires the Organization to “further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion, by the Charter of the United Nations.” To realize this the Organization is requested to “collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of peoples, through all means of mass communication and to that end recommend such international agreements as may be necessary to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image…”

Now we're going to note a press release which is really important.  After which, I'll explain about a House Subcommittee hearing today where the State Dept showed their contempt for the tax payers and the Congress and the Subcommittee was too busy grinding their own axes to even note the State Dept budget despite the fact that this was the topic of the meeting.  First though, we're noting this from Senator Patty Murray's office:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                        CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Wednesday, March 12th, 2014                                                            (202) 224-2834
VIDEO: EASTERN WASHINGTON: Murray Presses Top VA Officials on Spokane Medical Center, Walla Walla Vets Home
Murray: “You told me there was no evidence that any medical center would be unable to provide the care we expect.  Unless your view has changed, Spokane’s assessment seems to disagree.

Murray: “How are we going to ensure that we’ve got the funds for state veterans homes like Walla Walla?”

(Washington, D.C.)—Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs (SVAC), pressed U.S. Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Under Secretary for Health Robert Petzel on continuing issues at the Spokane VA Medical Center, including understaffing and budget shortfalls, and critically needed federal funding for the planned Walla Walla State Veterans Home.
“The Spokane medical center recently prepared a draft response to questions from the network about their budget.  They talk about the significant challenges of declining budgets, numerous staffing vacancies, and, leading the network in new veteran patients,” said Senator Murray. “I want to ask you what you and the network are going to do to get Spokane the resources that they do need?”

“I am concerned about the future of the Walla Walla State Veterans Home, especially because the budget request proposes reducing funding for state veterans homes grants.  These veterans have been waiting a long time for this facility, and we have more than a thousand veterans who need care,” said Senator Murray.  “So I want to ask whether the system is correctly prioritizing state home projects – do we have enough flexibility?  And how are we going to ensure that we’ve got the funds for state veterans homes like Walla Walla?”

Full text of the exchange below:
Sen. Murray:  
“Secretary Shinseki, several times we have discussed my concerns about getting medical centers the resources they need to provide top-quality care for our veterans.
“The Spokane Medical Center recently prepared a draft response to questions from the network about their budget.  They talk about the significant challenges of declining budgets, of numerous staffing vacancies, and, leading the network in new veteran patients.
“And they said, and I’ll quote it: ‘Overall, senior management is very aware of the budget shortfall and is taking actions to limit the deficit.  However, most actions will significantly limit staffing levels and access to care.  These actions will have – and have had – a significant negative impact on morale and will drive some dissatisfaction amongst patients.’

“Dr. Petzel, I asked you about a similar budget problem at Indianapolis at the hearing on the 2012 budget, and you told me there was no evidence that any medical center would be unable to provide the care we expect.  Unless your view has changed, Spokane’s assessment seems to disagree.
“I want to ask you what you and the network are going to do to get Spokane the resources that they do need?”

Asst. Sec. Petzel:
“Senator Murray, thank you. I am assuming that that’s some employee’s assessment of the situation, it’s not the senior leadership’s assessment of the situation.”

Sen Murray:
“It is the senior leadership’s assessment.”

Asst. Sec. Petzel:
“I am not aware of this. We do believe, and the budget was distributed back in October, and at that time, there was a consensus of the network directors and the facility directors that they had sufficient funds.”

Sen. Murray:  
The questions were asked to them by the VISN, and they responded back, so it was the senior leadership at Spokane VA Center, saying very clearly they do not have the dollars to be able to do the duties that they need.”

Asst. Sec. Petzel:
“I will have to go back and talk with both the network and with Spokane. This is information that is new to me.”

Sen. Murray:
“OK, well, their draft response also calls for a discussion about the mission of the medical center. 
“It asks if they will remain a full service medical center, and whether programs and services should be eliminated.  That is deeply concerning to me.
Are there any plans to reduce services at the Spokane medical center?”

Sec. Shinseki:
“We have no plans to do so.”

Sen. Murray:
“I need you to follow up on that and let me know what’s happening that they are facing such a budget shortfall, and it was very clear in the documents that we’ve seen that they are facing an extreme budget shortfall that is hampering their ability to care for the veterans in that region.”

Asst. Sec. Petzel:
“We will follow up.”

Sen. Murray:
“I also wanted to ask both of you about the Walla Walla State Veterans Home. As you know, I’m very concerned about that, especially because the budget request proposes reducing funding for state veterans homes grants.
“These veterans have been waiting a very long time for this facility, and we have more than a thousand veterans who need care. 
“So I want to ask whether the system is correctly prioritizing state home projects – do we have enough flexibility?
“And how are we going to ensure that we’ve got the funds for state veterans homes like Walla Walla?”

Asst. Sec. Petzel:
“Senator Murray, you and I have discussed on numerous occasions the Walla Walla State Veterans’ Home, and I share your angst about that particular project. 
“We are looking at whether there is a solution that will allow us to use the 2014 money in order to accomplish that construction but we’re not finished looking at what the alternatives are.
“Obviously after we’ve done that, and discussed it with the Secretary, we will get back to you.”

Sen. Murray:
“We need to know where that’s going, and overall, not just that one, but all of them, how are we going to deal with these veterans homes with declining budgets?
“I think that as members of Congress, we need to know what the need is and then we need to figure out how to fund it rather than just being told everything’s OK. I want to know specifically about Walla Walla, what we’re going to do, but also the funding in general.”

Sean Coit
Press Secretary
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray

RSS Feed for Senator Murray's office

That's the end of the Murray office press release.  It's an important issue, we include it in full and I'll make it its own entry tomorrow.  In tomorrow's snapshot, I hope to cover a hearing I attended today -- but I attended more than one today and we're going with the one that let's us talk about Iraq.

Secretary of State John Kerry appeared this morning before the House Appropriations State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Subcommittee.  US House Rep Kay Granger is the Subcommittee Chair and US House Rep Nita Lowey is the Ranking Member.  Kerry was the only witness as he begged for money -- tax payer money.

The theme of the hearing was: Let's All Pretend Iraq Doesn't Exist.

I was tipped off to that theme last night by a State Dept friend when I noted I was going to have to be in two places at once -- the veterans hearing and the State Dept budget hearing.  "Iraq," I was told, "frankly doesn't matter to him [John Kerry] and he'll only bring it up if asked."

Looking at the roster of the Subcommittee members, it was obvious that Israel would be at least the first hour.  So I attended 90 minutes of the veterans hearing (while asking a friend at Kerry's hearing to text me if Iraq came up).

It did.  Briefly in Kerry's opening remarks:

We have kept our funding request in line with what was appropriated to the Department and USAID in Fiscal Year 2014 within our base request of 40.3 billion. And the additional part of our request for OCO, Overseas Contingency Operations, totals 5.9 billion. And with OCO funding, we support programs, as you know, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, as we continue to right-size those commitments.

That one sentence was it for his opening remarks.

If you don't get how John Kerry ran from Iraq, notice what he had to say about the Syrian refugee crisis (and I'm using his prepared remarks that were marked up by my friend to note the changes between prepared and delivery):

For the Syrian people, for Lebanon, Turkey, for Jordan, coping with how to keep their societies running and keep extremists at bay while they host millions now of refugees, our support is critical to that. We’re the largest donor in the world. And that helps us, because it is critical to us that Lebanon and Jordan remain stable.

How do you talk about Syrian refugees and not note Iraq?

The only real mention of Iraq was from US House Rep Frank Wolf who kept mentioning the Iraq Study Group (which accomplished nothing, a fact Wolf misses) because he wants a Syrian Study Group and, get this, he wants US President Barack Obama to ask  Bully Boy Bush to head that Syrian Study Group.

US House Rep Barbara Lee doesn't give a damn about war these days.  Judging by her tired and expanding face, all she cares about is eating.  She didn't even note Ukraine.  I walked in when Barbara Fake Ass Lee was testifying (speechifying?  It wasn't questions).  I did a double take.  I don't know if she's had plastic surgery or if she had just pulled her hair back to harshly but her eye brows were up at least a half inch more than usual and it really did look like a botched face lift. If so, I'm glad she found a hobby to fill her time now that she no longer uses it to call out war.  And I'm especially glad she looks butt ugly.  In time, you do get the face you deserve and it's sitting on her neck right now.

Prior to my arrival, the topics were (going by the texts my friend sent me and his notes) Israel, Israel, Israel, that soda boycott (which Lowey did not support), Israel, Egypt, Egypt, Israel, Ukraine, Iran, Cuba, Israel, North Korea, Venezuela -- with the exception of Israel and Egypt it was basically war requests from members of the Subcommittee -- Democrats and Republicans -- to go to war on these countries.  Into that mix, Babsie Lee offered nothing on peace, just scratched herself a lot as she babbled on about Uganda (and it's LGBT issues). After I arrived?  War on Argentina because they don't fulfill their debts and even more nonsense, if you can believe it.  It's amazing how this Subcommittee thinks the answer to everyone of the petty grudges is to put US boots on the ground.

The US government does nothing to improve the lives of the Iraqi people -- despite the fact that billions of US tax dollars flow to Iraq for that supposed purpose.

So what does the State Dept work on?

They're lackeys for corporations.  The State Dept works on debt collection -- a fact John Kerry felt was worth bragging about.

Secretary of State John Kerry:  With our urging, Argentina has taken some positive steps.  In October they settled a long running investment dispute with three US companies and implemented -- in January of this year -- implemented an improved inflation index in order to address inefficiencies in its IMF reporting and so forth.  But we continue to urge them to fulfill their global, international responsibilities.

US House Rep Debbie Wasserman Schultz wants war on Venezuela and demonized their president right after Kerry said the Venezuelan government needed to stop demonizing people.  Debbie Washerwoman needs to learn to wash that ratty, oily hair.  It looks like the Exxon Valdez took a dump on her head.

Kerry pulled the little stunt he's so fond of doing since become Secretary of State -- a stunt he wouldn't have stood for as Chair of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee.

See, Secretary John is an 80s power woman in a Nolan Miller dress with bulky shoulder pads.  Secretary John is not just an 80s power woman, John's an 80s super woman, rushing here, there and everywhere.  It's like a bad movie and he really needs an overweight sidekick (Baraba Lee, you're being paged!) to pull it off his whole: I'm so busy, I can't stay for the full hearing, I'm just too important and too busy to appear before Congress for a full hearing.  In other words,  John looks like a real bitch when he pulls this.

What John forgets?

If you pretend you have to leave, then you leave.  You don't insist that everyone be quick and that you'll reply in writing because you're in such a rush and then go on to yack  for 7 minutes straight because you didn't like a statement a member of the Subcommittee made.  He didn't like the doubts about Barack's foreign policy or Iran and felt the need to bore everyone with just how yawning inducing he can be ". . . we're helping Tunisia, we're working on Libya, I just came from a conference on Libya . . ."

Pretending, in that bitchy manner, that your time's too valuable for Congress is misguided unless you're looking to add "Bitch" to your professional title.  But what's even worse is pretending you have to go and then refusing to stop speaking.

It was during this marathon jaw boning that Kerry brought up Iraq for the second time.

Secretary John Kerry:  We have inspectors -- not as frequently as the other two but sufficiently - in Iraq in the plutonium reactor.  They are not able to complete the plutonium reactor.

Well thank goodness for that.  They're not able to complete the plutonium reactor.

Except . . .

"They" isn't Iraq.

He said "Iraq."

He meant Iran.

He didn't want to talk about Iraq and a useless Subcommittee didn't want to either.

Iraq's all over the State Dept's FY2015 budget.  Let's note some of it.  For the "Overseas Contingency Operations funding," the report notes:

In Iraq, OCO funding of $501.4 million supports operational requirements, movement security, equipment and associated Operation and Maintenance, physical and technical security, static guards, and security operations in Basrah and Erbil. The request is $4.4 million above the FY 2014 level and funded through Worldwide Security Protection, consistent with FY 2014 Congressional action.

That's a half billion right there on Iraq.  Right there.

But the useless members of the Subcommittee wanted you to instead know that they pledge alliegence to the government of Israel, that they want war on Venezuela's democratically-elected government and that the grudge-fu**ing of Cuba will never, ever end as long as they draw breath.

A half billion's a lot.  It's not all.  I told another State Dept friend I was going to review the budget and he couldn't stop laughing.  It's a fudged budget and it doesn't even add up on paper.

What?  I was confused.

He flipped to a table in the back which notes $250 million is the amount being requested for "Foreign Military Financing" for Iraq.

I was confused still.  He flipped several pages and pointed this section out to me:

The FY 2015 Foreign Military Financing (FMF) Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request of $537 million is for Iraq and Pakistan.

Pakistan ($280 million): Given the ongoing transition in Afghanistan and continued terrorist attacks against civilian and military targets throughout Pakistan, FMF is essential to Pakistan’s efforts to increase stability in its western border region and ensure overall stability within its own borders. The $280 million Pakistan request will enhance the Pakistan Army, Frontier Corps, Air Force, and Navy’s ability to conduct counterinsurgency (COIN) and counterterrorism (CT) operations against militants throughout its borders, especially in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, improve Pakistan’s ability to deter threats emanating from those areas, and encourage continued U.S.-Pakistan military-to-military engagement. FMF will continue to focus on seven priority areas identified and agreed to with the Government of Pakistan, including precision strike; air mobility and combat search and rescue; counter-improvised explosive devise and battlefield survivability; battlefield communications; night operations; border security; and maritime security/counternarcotics in support of CT aims.

Iraq ($267 million): The $257 million requested for Iraq in FY 2015 broadly focuses on helping the Iraqis improve the capability and professionalism of their military and builds upon the efforts made since 2003 by the U.S. military, coalition forces, and Iraqi military operations and initiatives. Of the Iraq request, $7 million will fund administrative costs associated with the Office of Security Cooperation in Iraq, which also supports implementation of Iraq’s own significant and ongoing purchases through the Foreign Military Sales program. FMF will help ensure that a strong U.S.-Iraq relationship is in place as Iraq continues to rely on its own fiscal resources to contribute to peace and security in the region. The program will focus on the development of enduring logistics capabilities and institutions to sustain U.S. and Iraqi post-war investments; professionalizing the security forces; and strengthening the United States' long-term strategic partnership with Iraq.

Do you get that.  The table's saying $250 million.  The text is saying $267 million.

They don't give a damn.

This is what they turned into Congress.

The figures within the report turned in can't even be reconciled within the report/request itself.

And Congress is so damn stupid that they don't even notice it.  (No, I might not have caught it on my own. But, to the relief of most Americans, I'm also not a member of Congress so it's not like it's my job to pay attention to the budget the State Dept misrepresents to Congress.)

There are 'glitches' like that throughout the report.

This is US taxpayer money and this budget demonstrates how much scorn the administration has for the American people.  They don't even care that their own figures within the report don't add up.

And they know Congress will spread or bend over (to each their own desired position) and just holler "Yes!" in an orgasmic orgy of spending -- of wasting -- the tax payers money.

Can you image a business -- a legitimate one -- turning in a budget that didn't add up, whose figures said one thing in one section and another thing in another?

(If you want to crunch numbers, PDF format warning, you can find the budget online here.  You'll find many interesting tidbits such as 1.4 million for Iraq's "International Military Education and Training," 11 million for "International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement" and 22.5 million "Economic Support Fund.")

One thing to remember, something the Subcommittee members all seemed to forget, this was billed as a "budget" hearing.  But outside of two Democrats whining on behalf of the farmers in their communities, no one felt the need to even acknowledge the money issues.