Saturday, February 08, 2014

I Hate The War

Iraq is supposed to hold parliamentary elections April 30th.  These are the elections which determine who will represent various districts in Parliament and also they are supposed to determine who gets first crack at becoming prime minister.  A person from the party, slate or coalition that gets the most votes is supposed to be named prime minister-designate by the President of Iraq.  The named is then supposed to put together a Cabinet in 30 days.

This is the only thing the prime minister-designate has to do, per the Constitution, to move from prime minister-designate to prime minister.  (See Article 76.)

The Constitution does not say "a partial Cabinet."  Why would it?

This is the task that shows you have leadership skills and can work with others.

The prime minister-designate nominates people to head various ministries and then Parliament either votes the nominee into office or rejects the nominee.

This is the test and it is a wise test.

If you ever doubted the wisdom of the test, grasp that someone who is unable to form a Cabinet in 30 days is someone who will not be able to lead a functioning government.

Nouri al-Maliki proved that in 2010.

November 10, 2010 -- 8 months after the election,  Jalal Talabani named Nouri prime minister-designate.  Because Jalal Talabani has always been meek and weak, Jalal rushed in on November 25, 2010 and 'officially' named Nouri prime minister-designate.

Officially?  The tenth of November 2010, Jalal  made the announcement in front of the assembled Parliament.  It doesn't get more official than that.  The 25th of November 2010?  Jalal made it all by himself, without Parliament.

What was really going on?

Jalal was trying to breast feed Nouri again.

Nouri's wet nurse saw 15 days pass with little effort on Nouri's part to put together a Cabinet.  

So Jalal clutched Nouri to his breast, Nouri suckled on Jalal's nipple and Jalal reset the clock.

Allowing Nouri additional time.  December 21, 2010, after Jalal burped Nouri, wiped his ass and put a fresh diaper on him, Nouri announced his Cabinet.

But, funny thing, even with the extra days, Nouri wasn't able to put together a full Cabinet.

Now the truth here is that Nouri, having lost the 2010 elections to Ayad Allawi, refused to step down after the March 2010 elections and brought the entire country to a standstill for 8 months.  He was able to do that with the support of Barack who, apparently, didn't feel his moobs should be ignored and said, "Hey, Jalal, I've got nipples too! Pass him over!"

So putting on his stylish breast feeding blouse that had just arrived from, Barack cradled Nouri to his nipple and told US officials to move heaven and earth to work out a contract (The Erbil Agreement) which would circumvent the Iraqi Constitution, the Iraqi voters and every notion of democracy by giving the loser of the election the top office in the country.

Because the post of prime minister came not via votes, not as outlined in the Constitution, Nouri's spokesperson and party loyalists argued Nouri wasn't bound by the Constitution's Article 76 because The Erbil Agreement went around the Constitution.

That's why he didn't worry about the time passing in November while he made little effort to form a Cabinet.

Yes, I'm having fun with Jalal and Barack who didn't actually breast feed Nouri (though I'm sure both wanted to!).  Leaving the breast feeding and the changing of the diaper out of it, the above is true.  And as
John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast) noted:

Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

The Erbil Agreement is why things are so bad in Iraq now.  Barack Obama should never have urged it, he should not have allowed the US government to broker it.  Having made promises to back it, the White House then failed to do so.  In November 2010, Nouri didn't implement his promises.  He instead said they'd have to wait, the Cabinet had to be formed first and . . .

And then people waited and waited and waited.  And in the summer of 2011, cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, the Kurds and Ayad Allawi (leader of Iraqiya) began demanding publicly that Nouri implement what they were told was a legally binding contract.

It was at this point that Nouri's spokesperson announced that Nouri didn't consider the contract legal.  That it was in violation of the Iraqi Constitution so he was not bound by it.

He used it to become prime minister but then discarded it.

FYI, the little lying scum who made the announcement?

He's fled Iraq.  Nouri turned on him during the notorius $4 billion weapons deal with Russia.  When the original contracts were noted to be corrupt, when side deals began to be reported on -- in the Iraqi press, not the western press -- Nouri needed a fall guy -- in part because his son was said to be one of the ones getting a huge bribe out of the weapons deal.

Who did Nouri sacrifice?

His loyal flunky.

And seeing the writing on the wall as he was being accused of corruption and bribery, the spokesperson high tailed it to Qatar.

It's called karma and it will bite you in the ass.

Nouri didn't pass the test of Article 76.  Nouri couldn't pass the test.

Back in July 2012, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed, "Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions, including the ministers of defense, interior and national security, while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support."

His second (and many pray his final) term as prime minister is set to expire in mere months and he never, ever filled the post of Minister of Defense, Minister of Interior and Minister of National Security.

US taxpayers should be outraged by the post-drawdown money wasted on police training in Iraq.  Yes, eventually some of it came back or was spent elsewhere.  But training facilities were built, trainers hired, course work prepared, training scheduled and all for naught.

Why was that a surprise?

The police fall under the Ministry of the Interior and Nouri never nominated anyone to head it.  Parliament can't vote you in (or refuse you) if you're never nominated.

So the idiocy of the State Dept and the White House was on full display as they wanted to coordinate training with a ministry that had no minister.

Nouri never nominated people to head those posts.  It was a power grab (as Ayad Allawi immediately noted when the partial Cabinet was announced -- Allawi made the call while western, US 'news' outlets insisted that Nouri would name someone in two or three weeks -- they were wrong).

If you can't build a full Cabinet, you won't have a successful government.

The wisdom of Article 76 is backed up by the disaster that is Nouri's second term.

And now there is talk from his State of Law and the so-called Independent High Electoral Commission that elections can take place April 30th and don't need to include all provinces to be considered regular elections.
This week, as noted in Friday's snapshot,  the House Foreign Affairs Committee heard this exchange between US House Rep Gerry Connolly and US State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk

US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  Elections in April?  Still on schedule?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, we, our team at the Embassy, is talking every day to the United Nations Assistance Mission-Mission in Iraq and the Iraqi High Electoral Commission which are planning the elections and the information I have received most recently is that we have tens of thousands of displaced families from Anbar Province.  We have been assured by those planning the elections that displaced people will still be able to vote and their vote will count as if they were in their home province.  So we are still confident the elections will be held on April 30th.  And our consistent position, our firm position, is that those elections have to be held on April 30th.  There should not be a delay.

How un-independent has the IHEC become?  Brett called it "the Iraqi High Electoral Commission."  It's named is the Independent High Electoral Commission of Iraq.  xxxxx

Brett avoided many issues about the election when testifying to Congress.

He didn't, for example, bring up the Justice and Accountability Commission.

Despite their bad influence on the 2010 elections.

This is the body that the US government inspired when, under Bwana Paul L. Bremer, they implement de-Ba'athification.  It was supposed to expire after the 2005 elections and people thought it had.  In 2007, Nouri agreed to the White House list of benchmarks which included a call for de-de-Ba'athifaction, for reconciliation.

(The Ba'ath Party was Saddam Hussein's political party.)

In 2010, the Justice and Accountability reared its ugly head surprising many -- including Saleh al-Mutlaq.

The body still exists.

Why is the US government giving Nouri a single dime today?

He agreed to meet those benchmarks in 2007.  He never did.

In fact, the Justice and Accountability Act of 2008 created the body.  After Nouri had sworn in 2007 to the White House de-Ba'athification was over.

The White House came up with those benchmarks because Congress was making noises about defunding the war and they wanted measurables to judge whether or not to continue funding the illegal war.  (By mid-2008, no one in Congress even bothered to seriously ask about these benchmarks in public hearings except for US House Rep Lloyd Doggett out of Austin, Texas.)

Well the Justice and Accountability Commission is back.

Iraq Times reported Friday that they had banned 69 of the 379 candidates they had so far checked.

Apparently, the other 310 did not have criminal records, they had criminal MP3s which allowed them to be waived through.

Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) adds that many politicians are nervous such as Saleh al-Mutlaq.

Of course he's nervous.  He may be Deputy Prime Minister today but in the lead up to the March 2010 elections, he was not allowed to run.  The Justice and Accountabiitiy Commission declared him a "Ba'athist."

Back to Sabah who reports that the UNHCR has pointed out that, thus far, the JAC has not checked the names of prominent candidates.  (That would most likely mean Saleh al-Mutlaq's name has not yet been checked which would explain why he's worried.)

By the way, I don't care for Saleh these days because I feel he's been less than genuine with the Iraqi protesters.  But I also don't believe he is a scary 'Ba'athist' who should be prevented from running for office.  That is nonsense and it is just how, in 2010, Nouri attempted to sideline many of his rivals.

Oh, another fun fact, the head weasel on the JAC in 2010, Ali al-Lama,  can't participate this year.  He was brutally murdered May 26, 2011.  Again, it's called karma.

Sabah reveals they will be checking the names of 10,293 candidates in all.

He notes many observers fear the JAC is being used again as a net to remove the political rivals of Nouri.

It's a real shame that what Iraqis can read about in their press was not something Brett McGurk felt he should inform Congress of.

(Nouri nominated a friend to head the commission -- as we noted last Sunday.  That was days before Brett testified.  If he wasn't aware of that, he should have been.)

Looking at an early list -- small list of under 300 -- initially sent to JAC, you've got a list where the only thing that really stands out is the oldest candidate on that subset was born in 1940 and the youngest in 1982.  And then if you apply a little logic, why is anyone born in 1982 someone requiring a 'Ba'athist' check.  They were 20 years old in 2002.  If their birthday was in April or later, how close could they be to Saddam Hussein?

But to try to apply logic to the issue is to pretend that the Justice and Accountability Commission even attempts to work freely.

And anyone thinking of e-mailing regarding the first ban by the JAC and how all of our links here on it go to Arabic language articles, e-mail Prashant Rao over AFP's Iraq coverage or others.  It's not my fault they didn't cover the news.

Sunday's "Hejira" opened:

Today brought a little bit of news out of Iraq that will have a huge impact.  All Iraq News reveals Nouri al-Maliki has nominated Basim al-Badri to head the Justice and Accountability Commission.
Why does this matter?
For starters because this illegal commission -- their work was wrapped in 2005 and they were not supposed to continue -- popped up in 2010 and eliminated many candidates.  They eliminated Saleh al-Mutlaq, for example -- the current Deputy Prime Minister.  A few token Shi'ites were eliminated from running -- most of which were steadfast and vocal opponents of Nouri.  However, the bulk of the disqualified were Sunni politicians.

I don't know that the western media ever even covered that.

But the first list of banned candidates and the reactions are news and I have no idea why western, English language outlets have ignored it.

However, it really shouldn't be such a surprise that they're inaccurate and not telling people what they need to know about -- that has been their m.o. since the 2002 roll out that sold the illegal war.  Maybe Prashant can work that into a Tweet?

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] 4489.

The e-mail address for this site is

Prashant Rao's naive and Hannah Allem's got a grudge to f**k

Naive Prashant Rao works for AFP, fake ass Hannah Allem works for the run of the mill McClatchy Newspapers

Let's again state the facts.  McClatchy Newspapers from 2000 through May 2006 owned the following newspapers: The Sacramento Bee, Anchorage Daily News, the Rock Hill Herald, Hilton Head Island Packet, Raleigh News & Observer, the Merced Sun, Kennewick Tri-City Herald, Beaufort Gazette, Minneapolis Star Tribune  among others.

During this period, McClatchy did not do amazing run up to the Iraq War reporting or after-the-start of the illegal war reporting.

The reporting people wrongly credit McClatchy for?

It was being done in the San Jose Mercury News, in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, in the Akron Beacon Journal, the Kansas City Star, the Miami Herald, the Detroit Free Press, the Monterey County Herald, the Olympian and many other papers.  Over thirty papers were carrying the reporting that questioned the lies in the lead up to the war.

McClatchy had nothing to do with that.

It did not question the war.  It marched along with every other outlet.

These papers printing Warren Strobel and others?  These were Knight-Ridder newspapers.

In June 2006, Knight-Ridder sold newspapers to McClatchy as Knight-Ridder went out of business.

McClatchy has had a few good articles in the last two years.  But it's not doing what Knight-Ridder did and not only is not questioning power the way Knight-Ridder did, it's really not breaking news if you consider breaking news to be investigative journalism.

Knight-Ridder made news, McClatchy's comfort food.

Knight-Ridder had to endure charges that Nancy A. Youssef and others hated Bully Boy Bush and that's why they questioned power.

McClatchy fawns so over Barack that no one would accuse them of hating the White House.

So that's some background for this entry.

Here's some more.

I didn't sleep on the plane ride home. Until the assault on Anbar, I've never had a problem sleeping on a plane.  Now the horrors and War Crimes Nouri is committing haunt me and I can't get away from them.  So I got up Friday morning at five a.m. and I've still not been to sleep.

The good news   there is there will be an "I Hate The War" later.

A long one.

Zach was among the most vocal complaining that "I Hate The War" has sometimes shown up in the last months and sometimes not.

It shows up later today.  It's not done, but it will show up.

After reading Zach's e-mail Monday, I was thinking all week what I could cover in a "I Hate The War" entry.  And Thursday, when Human Rights Watch issued "‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System," I thought, "That's it!"

And this morning, I pulled up the report and left it up.

But this is the thing about "I Hate The War."  It really can't be planned.

Zach is a valued community member who has been a part of this site since 2004.

And I appreciate his e-mail on this issue.

But I've said it before, I'm not a jukebox.  You don't feed me some money and I spit out the tune you wanted to hear.

Along with the HRW report, I had also opened up a little over 40 windows of reports by Iraqi news outlets.  And I had opened up three compose screens in Blogger/Blogspot.

So even with a planned topic, one I care very much about, as I read various reports, it became clear that the topic was actually going to be the supposed April 30th elections.

And several hours into what's going to be "I Hate The War," I realized I didn't have one English language source.  An important event took place.

So I went to the gadfly of social media -- AFP's Prashant Rao.  I went to his Twitter feed to get a link for AFP's Friday report on an important incident.

But there was none.

And I couldn't believe it.

I kept scrolling through the Tweets.

In vain.

But then I came across fresh faced, dewy, innocent Prashant.

He was explaining that the main topic of Wednesday's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing -- a hearing I attended and have reported on in three snapshots -- was the Ashraf community.

  • From tweets on McGurk's Iraq hearing I'm struck by focus on MEK as opposed to, ummm, Iraqis. Will have to go over transcript later, I guess.

  • Oh, that sweet, little boy, in his footie pajamas.

    I'm reminded of a line from a film.  A film featuring the best performance by an actress in the 20th century. Jane Fonda deservedly won an Academy Award for Klute, (I also applaud her winning for Coming Home and think she was robbed because she deserved for her performance in The Morning After but her work in Klute rivals and goes beyond even Bette Davis' amazing work in The Letter.)

    Pimps don't get dates for you, cookie, they just take your money.

    She says that to the naive detective John Klute (Donald Sutherland offering an amazing performance)

    Klute thinks pimps provide prostitutes with 'dates.'

    Prashant thinks today's 'journalist' actually report -- and tell the truth.

    The Ashraf community as an issue will deal when we get to the whore.  Yeah, Hannah's a whore, she's not a reporter and she should be fired for a Tweet she did.

    But Prashant naively thought -- as he reTweeted Hannah over and over -- that he was getting the truth.

    He notes Jo Biddle and others were covering it but he keeps reTweeting Hannah Whore like crazy.

    I saw Jo Biddle's report on the plane today -- Al Mada runs it in Arabic.  No surprise, it's strong work.  Her work usually is.  I didn't look at her Tweets other than the few Prashant reTweeted.

    But the big issue at the hearing?

    Apparently no one covered it.  I would assume Jo found it nonsense and ignored it for that reason.  Hannah's obsessed with hatred for the Ashraf community -- she's been that way for years and it's well known that she is and has been prejudiced against them.

    That's why she made it all about Ashraf.

    Wednesday, I noted Ranking Member Eliot Engel's "crocodile tears" and that we weren't including those comments.  He tried the hardest to make it about Americans in Falluja in 2004.

    But he wasn't the only one.  That was the most common topic.

    Silly Prashant, Media Whores don't report the truth, they just use their outlets to grudge f**k their enemies.

    Ashraf was an issue and Ted Poe's remarks (US House Rep and also "Judge Poe") are the ones we're mostly likely to focus on if I have time Monday or Tuesday.  His remarks on Ashraf.

     Prashant doesn't have all the facts.

    But let's go to Hannah.

  • We're back on the . Group's lobbying has made it big topic at House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on al Qaida's resurgence in

  • That's reporting?

    As usual, the dope doesn't know what the hell she's talking about.

    Grasp this, Hannah's so stupid, she can't even conceal it in 140 characters or less.

    Her 'observation' is wrong to begin with.

    But that a reporter would type that?

    I don't get how it ever became acceptable to spit on the Ashraf community.

    I'm not talking about which hates them.

    I'm talking about reporters.  Tim Arango, for example, was called out by the New York Times' public editor because he failed to practice journalism with regards to the Ashraf community.  (And unlike Hannah, Tim Arango is actually a reporter.)

    The Ashraf community is made of Iranian dissidents.

    It was decided -- possibly because they're Marxist -- that MSM outlets could mock them openly in what was supposed to be 'reporting.'

    Hannah thinks those days would still exist if it weren't for the 'lobbying.'

    She's sort of like the man who mocks women and then blames "PC" for the fact that no one finds him funny.

    Prashant's not American so he may not grasp what the Congress does, but the Ashraf community is an issue to the Congress which realizes that Geneva kicked it on them, that the US government has legal obligations it has not honored.  Equally true, relatives are in districts -- US districts.  Dana Rohrabacher, for example, has a lot of relatives of that community in his district.  San Diego is another big one.  The MEK is not usually mocked by those of us from California because we're not new to them.  They've been covered for years -- even before the start of the war -- by California news outlets.

    And Congressional support for Ashraf is not new. Hannah can lie as long as her face is ugly and it won't change that reality.

    Hannah, you lazy ass, you can check the 2011 archives here.  That's before the 'lobbying.'  That's when I called out one of your kindred for attacking the Ashraf community and mocking them and wrongly stating that they had no support.  I note in that 2011 entry how much support they do have in the House and Senate.

    Again, that's 2011.

    Look it up,  I'm not going to spoon feed your lazy ass.

    Not after your b.s. Tweet.

    She hates them so much that she's even lying about them in a Tweet.

    Try to grasp that they've been repeatedly attacked and that their lives remain in danger -- 7 were kidnapped just last September.

    And Hannah thinks she can mock them.

    And be a considered a reporter.

    And be considered impartial.

    At Camp Ashraf, they were repeatedly attacked.  They're now at Camp Liberty and they're still not safe.

    US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher brought them up this hearing.  And he did last November as well.  In fact, that's when he showed the photos of the dead that were killed, hands tied behind their backs, shot in the back of the head execution style.

    Don't think Hannay reported on those remarks and I know she didn't report on that attack.

    After Falluja, I would say the second biggest topic was the 'wasted' aspect -- with many voicing how an opportunity had been provided but was wasted.  This was repeated over and over but probably this position (one I don't agree with) was best expressed by US House Rep Adam Kinzinger.  (And to be clear, he was Chair Adam Kinzinger at that moment.  Ed Royce is the Chair of the Committee but he had left the hearing and left Adam Kinzinger as Acting Chair.)  Adam -- I'm calling him that to avoid insulting him if I mispell his last name -- although he's seems like a nice person, like an Adam.

    Adam's a member of the Air Force, the way he worded it, he's still a member.  He served in Iraq.  He had a slapdown of Harry Reid (Senate Majority Leader) when he spoke of hearing a remark by Reid when he was headed (Adam was deployed) to Afghanistan.

    Though he spoke the most eloquently on this theme, it was noted over and over throughout the hearing.

    Like so many other things in the hearing, it wasn't noted by Hannah in her Tweets.

    After that?

    I'd say Iran was discussed the most.  It was discussed, of course, with regards to Ashraf, it was discussed with regards to militias in Iraq (most of that coming from Brett McGurk's mouth), it was discussed in terms of the flights over Iraq to Syria, it was discussed in terms of the nuclear talks with the US, it was discussed in terms that were beyond Brett's scope and he more than once insisted that the Congress member needed to seek out the intelligence community for the information he was seeking because McGurk didn't know.

    Saudi Arabia only had one mention.  It was asked if it was funding terrorism?  McGurk avoided the question basically.

    I'm trying to think what else but remember I'm on something like 30 or so hours straight without sleep.

    Oh.  Yeah, somewhere probably tied with Iran was the issue of residual forces, US forces.  And of course, one of the main topics was the Jewish archives.

    If you lump drones, missiles and Apache helicopters together under weapons, that may have gotten more attention than Ashraf.  Especially Brent's long explanation of how even one Apache helicopter is not a point of sale and the bye-bye but a way to tie Iraq to the US for multi-decades.

    Hannah didn't Tweet about that either.

    I reported on the hearing in Wednesday's snapshot, Thursday's snapshot and Friday's snapshot.

    Two confessions, Wednesday?  I thought it was Thursday when I dictated the snapshot.  You may notice that when I'm referring to having one more day this week to cover the hearing and then that I'd probably pick it up the next week.  Friday?  Connolly pops up all the sudden with no first name.  Why?  Originally, his remarks -- ones that got dropped -- opened the snapshot.  In the middle of dictating it, a friend on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee called and wanted to know why I hadn't noted the Thursday night Senate vote?  Because I didn't know about it.  All I read last week was Arab media except for the HRW report and anything someone pointed out to me -- like the dopey article in The New Statesman that three British community members e-mailed about wanting me to weigh in.  We quoted Alexandra Zavis this week, I'm thinking it was Thursday's snapshot but I'm tired.  I was dictating the snapshot when an LAT friend called and wanted me to include them.  I begged off saying that we didn't have space.  He told me the byline.  I said we'd make space and dictate whatever he wanted in the snapshot but read it slowly because I was going to have to repeat it into the other cellphone I was using to dictate the snapshot.  I wish I could have read Zavis' piece, I'm sure it was wonderful.  But I didn't have the time.  I really didn't have time or space to include it in the snapshot but Zavis does strong work and so I was more than willing to make the time and have the snapshot run long -- way long.  All week long.

    Does Prashant Rao not know -- forget Hannah's she's stupid and only going to grudge f**k Ashraf anyway -- that the US government recently made one person in charge over Ashraf?

    Does he not know that McGurk calls it one of the great humanitarian crises?  That he did that in November and he did it again last week?

    Does he not know that the United Nations also recently appointed one person whose entire job scope is Ashraf?

    Of course this was going to come up.  It is a legal and humanitarian issue.   And I'd like to note -- next week -- how Brett agrees with that but tried to spin it around.  A detail that Hannah didn't Tweet about either.

    The reason we cover hearings here?

    A friend's adult child was working  for a Congress member.  The AC asked me to include prepared remarks.  I was happy to help out and did the entire time that the AC was working.  A friend in the House said she was glad because Congress wasn't getting covered anymore. Paper's had cut back on staff and Congress wasn't getting the attention it once had. I've written about this before.  But the House Rep and I were having dinner and I had never thought about the cutbacks and we discussed that and I said I could try to do a little bit of coverage here.

    I did not want to, I did not wake up going, "I must do this!"

    A flaw was pointed out and I agreed to try to do my part to change that.

    But after my friend pointed it out, it was obvious.  There are important hearings that never get covered anywhere.  And there are hearings that I've attended that the 'reporting' was an embarrassment.  At its worst, the 'reporting' of a hearing is done by 'reporters' who aren't present.

    They grab the prepared remarks (opening statements) and build a 'report' around those.

    I have friends I'm happy to pass my notes over to.  And last week, I wanted so badly to cover Senator Bernie Sanders' press conference here.  I wasn't there.  I was still planning to cover it.  I was at a hearing that started at the same time and a friend had asked the day before if they could see my notes on the hearing
    and I said no problem but added could I see their notes on the press conference?  I was planning to cover it that way and to note that I was using a friend's notes.

    But since we started covering these hearings, I loan my notes out all the time.

    I'm a kinetic person, I can learn any lines just by moving while I say them.

    Sitting in a hearing is like death to me.  I take down every word said to stay focused -- and sometimes to stay awake.  So my notes are a transcript.  And maybe since I'm not using my notes as a way to also do my first draft of something I'm going to write, I actually here what's going on in the hearings.

    But Congressional hearings get far too little space in print and online text and far too little time in audio and video reports.  When they are covered, they're often miscovered.

    I know that from the hearings we've covered here versus the way they were covered elsewhere.

    For example, I've long noted that the US Congress does not care for Nouri al-Maliki.

    I wasn't revealing private conversations with members of Congress.  I was noting public remarks in hearings. I made a point this week to include some of the comments about Nouri himself that House members made in the hearing so people could grasp that although Nouri has been the pet of two administrations, he is not popular with Congress.  For obvious reasons.

    Now the fact that it was considered controversial or disputable when I originally made those comments here goes to how bad the Congressional reporting is today because this all should have been in the public record.

    It's why idiots have written attacks on Senator John McCain re: the failed SOFA.

    They thought they could go to town and mock him.  They didn't grasp that what he was saying -- factually -- was offered in public testimony by, among others, Leon Panetta.

    There was so much in that hearing that Americans needed to know.  (And Hannah, in that 2011 hearing, Ashraf was defended.  It was noted that everyone on the Committee -- Democrat and Republican and then-independent Joe Lieberman -- was following the Ashraf events and outraged that Nouri wasn't providing the protection he was supposed to.)

    But the press coverage?

    "John McCain got nasty on Leon Panetta!"

    Serious issues were turned into the gossip in Heathers proclaiming, "Did you hear! School's cancelled today because Kurt and Ram killed themselves in a repressed homosexual suicide pact!"

    This was the hearing where Senator Kay Hagan asked -- and had answered -- about US troops not coming home but getting staged, for example, in Kuwait so that they could go back in if ordered to.

    This was a major hearing and most Americans who try to follow the news never knew about it because serious issues were shoved aside so that 'reporters' could play gossips.

    So Prashant's more than just a little naive to honestly think that journalists are reporting on hearings.

    And Hannah?  She was just reworking her long standing grudge.

    The only real surprise for me -- other than Brett McGurk's continued sunny side up presentation that omits so much -- was that only two members of the Committee made real time for the issue of Iraq's Christians and other religious minorities.  That surprised me because in the past that's been a major issue for the House and also because the same Committee explores the topic of Christians in the Middle East next week.

    But Hannah Allem's misreporting?

    Not surprised at all.

    Her continued lying and attacking the Ashraf community?

    Only surprised that the Tweet didn't get her written up.

    Or that her factual problems weren't called out.  Here's Hannah quoting.

    McGurk: Some Anbar tribes are actually working w/extremists, some are working to oust them & some are on the fence.

    Problem?  He didn't use "some" three times, for starters.  Here's what he said with that sentence:

    As I said,  some tribes are actually working with the extremists, some are now working to oust them, many others are on the fence.

    I'm sorry but a quote has to be accurate to qualify as a quote.  It was stated in the exchange with US House Rep Gerry Connolly (another detail Hannah 'forgets').

    Maybe next time, Prashant will be less gullible?

    I've got some personal obligations with friends to take care of now.  "I Hate The War" (which isn't finished yet) and another entry will go up many hours from now.

    The e-mail address for this site is


    Friday, February 07, 2014

    Iraq snapshot

    Friday, February 9, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the protests continue in Iraq, there's news on the Jewish archives, we continue to examine how Brett McGurk misled Congress about Iraq, we also note Human Rights Watch's report on the abuse of Iraqi women, and much more.

    January 16th, Senator Pat Toomey introduced Senate Resolution 333 on behalf of himself and Senators Richard Blumenthal, Chuck Schumer, Mark Kirk, Ben Cardin, Marco Rubio, Pat Roberts, Tim Kaine, Barbara Boxer and Robert Menendez:.

    Strongly recommending that the United States renegotiate the return of the Iraqi Jewish Archive to Iraq.
    Whereas, before the mid-20th century, Baghdad had been a center of Jewish life, culture, and scholarship, dating back to 721 B.C.;
    Whereas, as recently as 1940, Jews made up 25 percent of Baghdad’s population;
    Whereas, in the 1930s and 1940s, under the leadership of Rasheed Ali, anti-Jewish discrimination increased drastically, including the June 1–2, 1941, Farhud pogrom, in which nearly 180 Jews were killed;
    Whereas, in 1948, Zionism was added to the Iraqi criminal code as punishable by death;
    Whereas, throughout 1950–1953, Jews were allowed to leave Iraq under the condition that they renounce their citizenship;
    Whereas, as result of past persecution, few Jews remain in Iraq today, and many left their possessions and treasured artifacts behind;
    Whereas the Ba’ath regime confiscated these artifacts, later dubbed the Iraqi Jewish Archive, from synagogues and communal organizations;
    Whereas, on May 6, 2003, members of the United States Armed Forces discovered the Iraqi Jewish Archive, which included 2,700 books and tens of thousands of documents, in the heavily damaged and flooded basement of the Mukhabarat (secret police) headquarters;
    Whereas, under great urgency and before adequate time could be dedicated to researching the history of the Iraqi Jewish Archive, an agreement was signed between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority on August 20, 2003, stating that the Iraqi Jewish Archive would be sent to the United States for restoration and then would be sent back to Iraq after completion;
    Whereas, the Iraqi Jewish community is the constituency of the Archive and is now represented by the diaspora outside Iraq;
    Whereas, the current Government of Iraq has publicly acknowledged the importance of the Archive and demonstrated a shared respect for the wishes of the Iraqi Jewish diaspora by attending the December 2013 burial of several Torah fragments from the Archive in New York;
    Whereas United States taxpayers have invested $3,000,000 to restore the Iraqi Jewish Archive, and the National Archives and Records Administration has worked diligently to preserve the artifacts;
    Whereas the National Archives and Records Administration is displaying the Iraqi Jewish Archive in Washington, DC, from October 11, 2013, to January 5, 2014, and in New York City from February 4, 2014, to May 18, 2014; and
    Whereas the Iraqi Embassy to the United States has said that the Iraqi Jewish community, like other communities in Iraq, played a key role in building the country, shared in its prosperity, and also suffered exile and forced departure because of tyranny: Now, therefore, be it
    That the Senate—
    strongly urges the Department of State to renegotiate with the Government of Iraq the provisions of the original agreement that was signed between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority in order to ensure that the Iraqi Jewish Archive be kept in a place where its long-term preservation and care can be guaranteed;
    recognizes that the Iraqi Jewish Archive should be housed in a location that is accessible to scholars and to Iraqi Jews and their descendants who have a personal interest in it;
    recognizes that the agreement between the National Archives and Records Administration and the Coalition Provisional Authority was signed before knowing the complete history of the Iraqi Jewish Archive;
    reaffirms the United States commitment to cultural property under international law; and
    reaffirms the United States commitment to ensuring justice for victims of ethnic and religious persecution.

    January 27th, other Senators began joining the resolution: Senator Jim Inhofe, Jerry Moran, Bob Casey, Daiel Coats, Orrin Hatch, Ed Markey, Roger Wicker, Chris Murphy, Roy Blunt, John Boozman, James Risch, Tom Coburn, Thad Cochran, Susan Collins, Chris Coons, Ted Cruz, Chuck Grassley, Mike Johanns, Patty Murray and Bill Nelson.  Rebecca Shimonsi Stoil (Times of Israel) reports today, "Late Thursday night, the Senate unanimously adopted the resolution" and that, barring "a re-negotiation of terms, the items are scheduled to be returned to Baghdad in June, a move that many fear will threaten their very existence."
    There is a time issue.  As Josh Robin (Daily Beast) reports today, "A U.S. State Department official, insisting on anonymity, said in an email the Obama administration understands 'the sensitivities surrounding these items,' adding discussions are likely to intensify as the visit of the director of Iraq’s National Library and Archive approaches. The date for his trip hasn't been set."

    Does US President Barack Obama understand "the sensitivities surrounding these items"?

    And if so, why the hell should that reassure anyone.

    What Josh Robin's reporting is not comforting and is, in fact, disturbing.

    It's more foot dragging from Barack and his administration.

    We need to include something right here.

    US House Rep Brad Sherman:  There was bipartisan support for leaving a residual force in Iraq.  That required a Status Of Forces Agreement with the Maliki government.  And the Status Of Forces Agreement would have had to have included immunity for our soldiers so that they would not be subject to Iraqi courts.  We ask our soldiers, Marines, Airmen, etc. to take many risks.  One of them we don't ask them to take is the idea that their actions would be  held up to judgment in a court in Iraq or a court in Afghanistan for that matter.  We didn't get a Status Of Forces Agreement.  Some -- One theory is the administration blew the negotiations.   The other argu -- view is the Maliki government was in place when this government got there.  Maliki didn't have to give immunity to our troops and chose not to. We've seen that these immunity agreements are-are difficult for a host country to provide. [Afghanistan leader Hamid] Karzai isn't providing them.  And there are several elements of Iranian history going back seventy or eighty years when the Shah was held up to great ridicule for providing such immunity agreements.   Did we fail to get a Status Of Forces Agreement because we blew the negotiations or given the political reality starting with Maliki was there simply no way to get the immunity?

    Brett McGurk:  Uh, first, you're keying on the history is really important here.  The history of immunity agreements, particularly in this region, is really what colors the entire debate.  The negotiation in 2007 and 2008 took almost 18 months.  And while we got those two agreements got passed -- the security agreement which allowed our forces to stay for three more years with immunity and a permanent Strategic Framework Agreement -- they barely passed.  And they passed on the last possible day and almost by the skin of their teeth.  And I was working on that issue with Ambassador [Ryan] Crocker for almost 18 months --

    US House Rep Brad Sherman:  This was passing the Iraqi parliament?

    Brett McGurk: Yes, the Iraqi parliament.  Um, our legal requirements in, uh, in 2011 were that another follow up agreement would have to go through the Iraqi parliament.  It was the assessment of the Iraqi political leaders and also of our leadership that it was unlikely to pass and, therefore, the decision was made that our troops would leave by the end of -- by the end of 2011.  But we still have a permanent -- a permanent Strategic Framework Agreement.  That agreement has passed the Iraqi parliament, was ratified in 2008 and it provides us a strong basis for providing security systems to the Iraqis.  It does not provide us the basis for having boots on the ground in a training presence but we do train Iraqi special forces under our Office of Security Cooperation through the [US] Embassy [in Baghdad] and we're also in discussions with regional partners for having a training presence.

    When we objected to McGurk as Barack's (failed) nominee for US Ambassador to Iraq, we pointed out the SOFA and the e-mails from the Cult of St. Barack poured in insisting that McGurk had nothing to do with the SOFA, some idiots even insisted that McGurk hadn't been in Iraq.  Then news emerged of how he cheated on his wife in Baghdad, under the Bully Boy Bush administration, by sleeping with then-reporter for the Wall St. Journal Gina Chon and they dropped that complaint in their e-mails but insisted McGurk hadn't been working on a new SOFA.

    There he is his words.  But more importantly, his words prove (a) that we were right, Nouri is no hero -- suck on it and your lies, Scott Horton of Antiwar Radio -- and did not stop the SOFA and (b) it proves Senator John McCain is right about how it went down.

    On (a), we've had to suffer with Nouri fan bois like Scott Horton.  Desperately immature boys gripping their tiny penises, in search of a Daddy and seizing on Nouri as a hero.  He is a tyrant.  As Leon Panetta made clear in Congressional testimony, Nouri was not the stumbling block.  The stumble was the Parliament.

    Approval would not come from it, not enough to get a winning vote.

    On (b), I'm not a fan of McCain's I have criticized him here many times.  He is a War Hawk and he's mean-spirited. But his argument has been that the current administration failed with the SOFA and he has criticized the way they attempted it.  He also attributes motive -- that Barack wanted to keep a campaign promise so he tanked the SOFA.  I disagree with the motive and I don't know how anyone but Barack proves or disproves the motive.

    But Brett McGurk is talking about two SOFA's.  McCain's complaint was that Barack started late and that the negotiations were not serious.

    That's true.  They started in the summer of 2011.  That was much too late.  As McGurk notes above, they spent almost 18 months -- he, then-US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker and others -- negotiating the first SOFA.

    By contrast, not even six months were spent negotiating on a second SOFA before the October 2011 announcement that it hadn't worked.

    The inept administration (and I'm glad they were inept with attempting a SOFA) still hasn't learned a damn thing.  Four months from now, the documents are scheduled to leave.  You can't postpone these talks.

    But that's what the administration has done yet again.

    Connolley questioned McGurk Wednesday at the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.  The sole witness appearing before the Committee  was US State Dept's Deputy Assistant Secretary for Iraq and Iran Brett McGurk.  Committee Chair Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel were among those noted in Wednesday's snapshot. with an emphasis on the Congress' opinion of Nouri (not good) and Camp Ashraf. Thursday's snapshot covered the hearing with regards to the Jewish archives.  This time, we'll report on a few other aspects and we may report on the hearing in at least one more snapshot.

    Let's stay with Connolly and note this exchange.

    US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  Elections in April?  Still on schedule?

    Brett McGurk:  Uh, we, our team at the Embassy, is talking every day to the United Nations Assistance Mission-Mission in Iraq and the Iraqi High Electoral Commision which are planning the elections and the information I have received most recently is that we have tens of thousands of displaced families from Anbar Province.  We have been assured by those planning the elections that displaced people will still be able to vote and their vote will count as if they were in their home province.  So we are still confident the elections will be held on April 30th.  And our consistent position, our firm position, is that those elections have to be held on April 30th.  There should not be a delay.

    Some fear a delay.  I'm fearful that Nouri's going to again prevent Anbar and Nineveh from voting -- as he did in the 2013 provincial elections.  Yes, after international pressure, they were allowed to vote in June.  The other provinces -- except for the KRG which votes on its own schedule in provincial elections and Kirkuk which Nouri prevented from voting -- voted in April.

    Yesterday, we noted this from last month's "Will Nouri call off elections in provinces he's unpopular in?" (January 25th):

    Duriad Salman and Ammar al-Ani (Alsumaria) report al-Nujaifi gave two interviews today, the first to Sky News and the second to Alsumaria.  Osama al-Nujaifi noted Nouri cannot continue to act unilaterally, that there are checks and balances in the system and he was concerned that Nouri thinks he's "singular" when it comes to decision making and that this could lead Nouri to attempt to postpone the upcoming election citing "poor security."  Nouri did just that last year.  And he wasn't supposed to.  He ruled that Anbar and Nineveh could not vote.  Under pressure from the US, specifically Secretary of State John Kerry, Nouri relented and, months later, allowed the two provinces to vote.
    He never should have been allowed to postpone them.  He doesn't have that power.  The Independent High Electoral Commission is the only one that does and, as their name notes, they are supposed to be "independent."
    If Nouri tries to keep provinces from voting, it will be worse than last time and it will be worse then cancelling the election all out.  It will be corrupt.
    He penalized the two provinces he was most disliked in last year.  Those were provincial elections, citizens were voting on who to represent them in their provincial governments (think state governments if you're in the US and confused).  These parliamentary elections are like federal elections.  And if Utah wasn't allowed to vote to send people to the House and Senate, it wouldn't be a real election in the US.
    In a later report, Duriad Salman and Ammar al-Ani report that the 'independent' commission is now saying that one or more provinces could be prevented from voting in the parliamentary elections.

    The idea is being floated.  Twice, Brett McGurk was asked about elections.  We noted one in yesterday's snapshot and another today.  Never once did McGurk inform Congress that this idea was being floated -- let alone that the IHEC declared that it could possibly happen.

    There will not be free or fair elections unless everyone votes on the same day.

    Today, All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya MP Salim Dali declared the attack on Anbar Province was Nouri's attempt to delay the parliamentary elections.  He tells All Iraq News:

    The government is trying to disturb the situation such as the situation in Anbar starting from arresting MP, Ahmed al-Alwani, which will negatively affect holding the elections.

    More than 200 thousand refugees have left Fallujah city which raises the question about the way of holding the elections in this city and the other cities of Anbar. 
    Witnessing the same situation of the former elections where they were postponed in Nineveh and Anbar provinces.

    Iraqiya, for those who don't know or forgot, defeated Nouri's State of Law in the 2010 elections which should have resulted in Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi being the prime minister.  But Nouri refused to step down after losing -- for eight months he refused to step down bringing the government to a halt (this is known as the "political stalemate" and set a record at the time for the longest period in any country between elections and the forming of a government) and he had Barack's backing so he got away with it.  Barack ordered US officials to negotiate a legal contract (The Erbil Agreement) that went around the Constitution and the Iraqi voters (and any notion of democracy) which decreed a second term for Nouri.

    In this year's planned elections, it is the post of prime minister, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports, that is the supreme prize:

    The ultimate goal for almost all parties competing in the elections, due to be held at the end of April, is clear though:  the Prime Minister’s chair. After eight years of leadership from current prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki it is clear to most ordinary Iraqis, and therefore also to their politicians, that this is the most powerful position in the country. Over the past decade the executive branch of Iraq’s government has shown that it seems to have more power over what goes on in the country than Iraq’s parliament.

    And how will the next Iraqi Prime Minister be chosen? Doubtless the person will be chosen by the members of political alliances that form after the upcoming federal elections. Right now the shape of those alliances are far from clear cut. Additionally the fact that Iraq’s current Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is so deeply unpopular and that his mostly Shiite Muslim political alliance has been crumbling, alongside the differences in opinion among Iraq’s Sunni Muslim politicians, means that voters will definitely see some new alliances formed.

    Analysts inside and outside the country are already coming up with a number of scenarios they believe may occur.

    If Brett McGurk were honest, not only would he have informed the Congress on Wednesday about the IHEC stating it would be acceptable to deny a province the right to vote in the parliamentary elections, he would have also noted that in the two previous parliamentary elections, the desires and wishes of the Iraqis were ignored as the White House imposed Nouri as prime minister in 2006 and again in 2010.

    Brett's not an honest man.  As his ex-wife can probably attest, he struggles with the truth.  But turns out, he's got a sense of humor.  Warped, yes, but a sense of humor.  We'll note this long exchange but, believe me, the set up pays off, you will howl.

    US House Rep Juan Vargas: I personally am very concerned about the Christian community.  The Christian community has been slaughtered.  I mean the Christians that we saw killed on Christmas. You know, very unified attacks on Christians, 37 murdered.  The Chaldean community  before the war was about a million Chaldean Christians.  Now I think there's less than half, maybe a third of that,.  We're very thankful in San Diego that many Chaldeans have been able to come to San Diego and a great community is forming there and continues to form. I'd like to hear from you what we can do and what we should do and what we're not doing to help not only the Christian community, but especially the Christian community, but other communities as well.  I mean, what-what else should we be doing?

    Brett McGurk: Uh, Congressman, thank you.  I-I've visted the Chaldean community in Michigan.  I would welcome the opportunity to come to your district to visit the community there.  Uhm --

    US House Rep Juan Vargas: You're invited then.

    Brett McGurk: Uh, extremist groups, as I've mentioned, are threatening Christians, Muslims, everybody in the region.  It is a phenomenon throughout the region, this is a regional problem. And one thing we're trying to do is work with the Christian leaders in Iraq is make sure that they have the resources they need from the central government and also the Kurdish Regional Government and making sure that there areas are as secure as possible.  In Iraq, the Chaldeans and other Christian minority groups are located in the Ninewah Plains.  Uhm, there is an al Qaeda extremist presence south of there.  We are working to try to make sure that local people, Christians in that community, have the resources they need to protect themselves and to police their own communities.  And we've made some progress there in that area over the last six months.  In the north, in Erbil and the Kurdish Region, uhm, when I was in Iraq a few months ago, I spoke to, as I mentioned earlier, with Archbishop [Bashar] Warda of the community there and linked him up with the Prime Minister so that they could talk about schools for the community and making sure that they're getting the resources that they need from the Kurdish Regional Government.  What we can do is a neutral group in Iraq with relationships between everybody because we've been there for ten years and are seen as a neutral player, one of the very few, is try to make sure that the connections are made between the governments provincial, regional and national. so that the Christian and minority communities have the resources they need to protect themselves but also for schools and for children and for everything else.

    US House Juan Vargas:  Now I do have to say that I've heard from many that the central government, they claim that the central government is not doing much of anything at all to help the Christians.  In fact, just the opposite, that they leave them exposed, that their churches are exposed, that the schools are exposed.  I mean could you comment on that?  That they haven't been doing enough, not nearly enough, to protect the Christian community and especially the churches?

    Brett McGurk:  Uhm, since a series of church bombings if I recall correctly in 2009 or 2010, uh, the Iraqis have really buttressed the Christian sites in Iraq.  Uhm, but as you mentioned, there are still attacks --

    US House Rep Juan Vargas:  The Christian attacks, I believe, killed 37 --

    Brett McGurk:  That's right

    US House Rep Juan Vargas:  Christians.

    Brett McGurk:  I have found the prime minister, when you discuss this issue with him, fairly emotional about wanting to protect Christians just like everyone else in his country.

    Just like everyone else in his country?

    Oh, that Funny Man Brett McGurk.

    The killers of journalists go unpunished.  I will assume Congress is noting their own disdain for the press by refusing to cover that reality in any of the last five Congressional hearings on Iraq.

    Yesterday, Human Rights Watch issued their 105-page report (PDF format warning) "‘No One Is Safe’: Abuses of Women in Iraq’s Criminal Justice System,"  Does Brett want tell us how much Nouri cares about women in Iraq?

    Before he preps that joke, he might want to read the report.  If that's too much work for him, he can just start with the opening of the report's summary:

    In May 2012, Hanan al-Fadl (not her real name) was grocery shopping in a market in central Baghdad when security forces dressed in civilian clothing seized her, bundled her into a car, and drove her to the office of a state institution, she told Human Rights Watch. 
    There, she said, they beat her, shocked her with electric cables, and drenched her in cold water in an effort to force her to admit that she had taken a bribe. Hanan, a manager at a state-affiliated company that approves construction projects, said she realized she was paying the price for refusing to waive through a project in which the contractor had used sub-standard materials. “I made a mistake,” she said. “I didn’t know someone important in the government had a stake in the project.” Beaten and tortured for hours, Hanan said she refused to confess—until her interrogators threatened her teenage daughter. 

    They pulled up her picture on my mobile, and said, “Is this [name withheld]?” They knew her name, where she went to school, everything. They said “We can take her just like we took you.” I would have said anything at that point. 

    After holding her for more than a day, security forces took her to a judge, who refused to acknowledge bruises and swelling on her face, she said. She did not have a lawyer. Four months later, a Baghdad court convicted her of forgery and sentenced her to three years in prison, based solely on her “confession” and the testimony of a “secret informant.” When Human Rights Watch visited Hanan, she had been detained in Baghdad’s Central Women’s prison for more than a year. 
    Hanan is one of thousands of Iraqis imprisoned by a judicial system plagued by torture and rampant corruption. Last April, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay issued a scathing indictment of Iraq’s “not functioning” justice system, citing numerous convictions based on confessions obtained under torture and ill-treatment, a weak judiciary, and trial proceedings that fall far short of international standards.

    Or maybe Funny Brett would prefer to dive deeper into the report?  Say page 19 through 22?

    Human Rights Watch found that security officials in the Interior and Defense ministries round up women, especially family members of male suspects, without an arrest warrant, deny women access to a lawyer, and fail to bring detained women before an investigative judge according to Iraq’s Code of Criminal Procedure. At least 15 female detainees, their families, and lawyers told Human Rights Watch that they were detained as a part of a round-up of an entire family or village. Security officers conducted warrantless raids in neighborhoods and detained some residents for several days.  
    Ten women reported that security forces questioned them not about their activities, but about their relatives. 34 Security forces released some of the women without ever charging them, and charged others with “covering up ” for their husbands or other male family members, effectively punishing them for familial associations rather than any wrongdoing. 
    A former judge, who asked not to be identified, said: 

    If someone is arrested as part of an emergency operation, no matter how urgent, an investigative judge must still issue an arrest warrant.  In exceptional cases, where there is an explosion, for example, the arresting unit can collect testimonies at the scene while they await the issuance of arrest warrants. But what happens in fact is that they arrest them and later have a judge provide a warrant that justified the arrest.  

    He added that security forces “often arrest a large number of people in an area where an incident occurs without an arrest warrant.” 
    A lawyer, who asked not to be identified, said that this practice was especially frequent in arrests of women. “They arrest the women just to get at one person – their husband, or their brother,” he said.  Another lawyer who also requested anonymity said: 

    Individual officers have taken the law into their own hands to arrest the wife and children to put pressure on the husband, but the wife is not responsible.  ...If a man is arrested and won’t confess, they bring his wife in. 

    Arrests of women because of their relationships to suspects, without any evidence that they have committed a crime, amount to collective punishment, and violate international human rights law’s guarantee of the rights to liberty of person and the right to a fair trial.  These prohibit arbitrary detention and require that detention only be in accordance with clear domestic law, that detainees be in formed immediately of the reason for their detention and are promptly brought before a judge and charged with a criminal offense. Such arrests also violate Iraqi laws protecting these rights, including provisions of Iraq’s Constitution and Code of Criminal Procedure.  
    On November 3, 2012, federal police invaded 11 homes in the town of al-Tajji, 20 kilometers north of Baghdad, and detained 11 women and 29 children overnight in their homes. The lawyer representing the women told Human Rights Watch that people were detained from every house in the village.  
    After detaining 12 of the women and girls, aged 11 to 60, for several hours in their homes, police took them to a police station where they held them without charge for four days.  Throughout their detention, police put plastic bags over each of their heads until they began to suffocate, and electrocuted and beat some of them, according to the women’s accounts. 
    Majida Obeidi, 22, detained as part of the Tajji operation, told Human Rights Watch that at around midnight on November 3, a large number of security forces raided the village and invaded the house where she was staying with her four young children and her husband’s 12-year-old second wife.  Some wore the uniform of the National Guard, others were Special Forces, and some wore civilian clothes, she said. 

    I think there were about 10 or 15 soldiers. Zahra [the second wife] and I were alone in the house with my children. They blew open the doors and streamed in. They demanded to know where my husband was, but they didn’t know his name, and they asked where we kept the weapons. They looked for the weapons under the floor and ripped bricks off the house but they didn’t find anything. 

    They held them overnight in her home, and then took Majida and her children, along with 11 other women and 25 of their children, to the federal police brigade headquarters in the Kadhimeyya compound, also known as Camp Justice, in Baghdad. Police held them there for four days, and then transferred them to the al-Shaaba al-Khamsa detention facility in the same compound. Police released the children after three days, but detained 12 of the women for a month before bringing them before an investigative judge. Majida said the officers repeatedly questioned her about her husband, and then accused her of being a terrorist.

    Why don’t you show us the bodies of the Shia you slaughtered -- where have you hidden them?” They said horrible things to me.... I don’t want to repeat them. They called me daughter of a bitch, daughter of a whore. 

    The judge charged the women with terrorism under article 4 of the Anti-Terrorism Law for “covering up” for their husbands. 
    A high-level government official confirmed the details of the women’s detention and added that according to the brother of one woman, a colonel in Kadhimeyya offered to release his sister if he paid him US$6,500.  The statements of dozens of officials, lawyers, detainees, and their families indicate that bribery of this nature is common. The brother paid, but the colonel did not release his sister.

    Nouri's 'concern' for Iraqi women isn't just appalling, it's criminal and the US government is in violation of the law by providing him with financial aid and weapons.

    Do you wonder about the US press?  Not one member has bothered to ask the State Dept (which is over Iraq, in the executive branch) about this report or the legal implications of it.

    Not one.

    Ali Mamouri (Al-Monitor) notes the report:

    A separate HRW report, released Feb. 6, 2014, documented cases of abuse against Iraqi women — both Shiite and Sunni — during detention. The report revealed that thousands of Iraqi women have been arrested and detained illegally, and many have suffered torture and been raped. The report concluded that corruption was rampant in the Iraqi judiciary, for a number of convictions based on confessions under duress have been recorded. Moreover, the documents demonstrate that international laws and conventions are not followed in Iraqi courts.
    Surprisingly, Iraqi officials accusrd HRW of relying on false and biased information, even though they referred to HRW reports when Saddam Hussein was in power and they were in opposition to the regime.
    In the latest developments on such matters, Iraq's Court of Publishing and Media issued two arrest warrants in early February 2014: the first against Judge Munir Haddad, who approved the death sentence of Saddam Hussein; and the second against Iraqi journalist Sarmad al-Tai, a known critic of the government’s political and economic performance.
    The warrants charged them with “defaming” Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. In the instance of Tai, it was the first time the defamation charge has been used since 2003. Tai was even charged based on laws issued under the former regime. 
    Maliki’s media adviser, Ali al-Moussawi, defended the warrants, saying, “The prime minister is an Iraqi citizen, and like anyone he may defend himself through legal and judicial means. … That would strengthen the role of law and the judiciary because everyone is subject to them.” 

    Let's go back to Wednesday's hearing.

    US House Rep Gerry Connolly: And if I understand your testimony correctly, we're now relying on tribal support to dislodge the occupying forces in Falluja.  How in the world -- Isn't that an indictment of the investments we've made in the Iraqi military  and its inability to hold its own territory secure?

    Brett McGurk:  Well the Iraqi military would have the equipment and the numbers to go into Falluja tomorrow and clean out the streets.  Uh, we believe that were they to do an assault like that would actually exaserbate the problem --

    US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  I guess, excuse me a second, Mr. McGurk, I don't mean -- But before you get there, how did it happen in the first place?  How is it that the Iraqi government was not able to secure something as symbolically important if not really important as Falluja?

    Brett McGurk:  Uhm, Congr -- As I tried to explain in my testimony, there was a series of incidents throughout 2013 including a protest movement which kind of added to the political instability in the -- in the region.  And in Falluja in particular, it is an area, as we know, any outsiders coming in to Falluja are resisted and that includes the Iraqi army, it includes us, wit includes, we hope now, these al Qaeda extremists.  All I can say is we are where we are right now and we're helping the Iraqis develop a plan right now developing a plan -- one that will lead -- I say, "tribal fighters" but what I really mean is that the local people, local population who know the street are able to actually identify the foreign elements and push them out.  But right now in Falluja, it's a mix of al Qaeda, former insurgent groups and former Ba'athists networks who are in control of the streets there.  It has always been a difficult place.  And, uh, so it's always been a difficult territory.

    US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  The tribal support we're relying on, what is their attitude toward the Maliki government?  I mean because doesn't some of that support, cooperation, isn't some of that a reflection of how they view the central government?

    Brett McGurk:  Yes.  There's certainly -- there's tremendous mistrust in the area of Falluja towards the central government, there's no question about that.

    US House Rep Gerry Connolly:  And does that impede our work to try to dislodge the occupation forces in Falluja?

    Brett McGurk: Uh, it does.  It makes -- it makes it harder.  As I said,  some tribes are actually working with the extremists, some are now working to oust them, many others are on the fence.  And that's why it is incumbent  on the central government, through resources and through dialogue and communication to mobilize the population against them.

    Brett says the protest movement -- which was sparked by the torture and rape of women and girls in Iraqi prisons and detention centers -- "kind of added to the political instability."

    The protest against the torture of women contributed?

    You have to be pretty ____ dumb and a real whore -- and we all know Brett's a whore -- to get away with that one with a straight face.

    No, Nouri's treatment of women absolutely added to the political instability.

    Even in the face of  Norui calling them "terrorists," in the face of Nouri's assaults, in the face of the violence, nothing can stop the ongoing demonstrations that kicked off December 21, 2012 and have continued ever since.  Including today.

    1. الجمعة الموحدة في منطقة العامرية غرب العاصمة بغداد.

    Protesters turned out in Amiriya today.  Yes, they do protest in that section of Baghdad and let's all just pretend that Nouri ordering two mosques raided in Amirya today had nothing to do with that.

    Iraqi Spring MC notes that protests also took place in Baiji, Jalawla, Baquba and Rawa.

    For 'fun,' Nouri ordered the military to also raid two mosques in western Baghdad (Amiriya).

    No where is sacred in Nouri's Iraq, everyone is a victim and everyone is a target.

    There is no respect for anything, certainly not for human life.  Nouri makes that clear every day.

    Nouri's forces conducted 110 bombings in Anbar today, NINA notes.

    It didn't always turn out the way tyrant Nouri al-Maliki hoped.  But when does it ever?

    Even so he must be licking his paws in sorrow because, while he's happy to bomb and kill civilians, it's hard to picture him humping someone's leg excitedly when he heard the news that, as Iraqi Spring MC reports, Nouri's helicopters accidentally bombed some of Nouri's forces to the north of Falluja -- bombed and killed.

    As if he wasn't already having enough problems recruiting volunteers for his killing squads.

    That's not all he bombed.  Iraqi Spring MC reports he bombed the power station in Falluja and the city is now without electricity.

    That qualifies as a War Crime as well.  But he's gotten away with collective punishment (a War Crime) because so many have been too stupid or too scared to call him out.

    The death and dying continue.

    National Iraqi News Agency reports Falluja General Hospital received 5 dead and twenty-injured people as a result of Nouri's shelling of the city (the dead and wounded included children and women),  Nouri's military shot dead 4 people in eastern Ramadi, a Sadr City car bombing left 2 people (one a police member) dead and seven more injured, 1 person was shot dead in Muqdadiyah, a Hammam al-Aleel roadside bombing left the brother of the area's police chief injured, an armed clash in Garma left 6 rebels dead and four Sahwa injured, Joint Operations Command declared they shot dead 2 suspects in Mosul, a Baiji car bombing targeted Maj Gen Hamid Mohammed Kemer didn't harm the officer but left three soldiers injured, 1 candidate with the Ahrar bloc was assassinated in Baghdad (Ghazaliya area), and clergy members Sheik Shehab Mahmoud al-Hamdani and Sheikh Abu Noah al-Hamdani were shot dead in Hamman al-Aleel. All Iraq News adds a Tuz Khurmato bombing killed 4 people and left twenty-three more injured.

    One of the  only ones to really confront Brett and his lies on Wednesday was US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher.

    US House Rep Dana Rohrabacher:  Let me just say that the idea that -- we're talking about Camp Ashraf -- it just seems to me that fundamentally you're suggesting that our approach to stop the massacre, the ongoing massacre of the people at Camp Liberty that we basically have to go to the Maliki government and ask them?  The problem is they're not providing enough security.  The Maliki government is responsible for these deaths.  I don't understand.  The military -- the Iraqi military invaded Camp Ashraf and murdered people.  These are the people under Maliki's command did that.  They recently went into the fifty or so that were left at Camp Ashraf, tied their hands behind their back and shot them in the back of the head. And it was Maliki's own military, we know, who did that.  We know that the Camp Ashraf and these people were attacked numerous times by the Iraqi military.  This isn't rather Maliki and his people are not protecting the MEK.  This is a crime against humanity.  These are unarmed refugees and which Maliki's own troops are murdering.  And I'm not talking about rockets we don't know where they come from, we're talking about actual -- by the way, I would suggest  that they probably know about those rockets as well -- Maliki, let's make it very clear, as far as I'm concerned and as far as many people in Washington are concerned,  Maliki is an accomplice the murders that are going on.  And as an accomplice, we should not be treating him as begging him to have a residual force of US troops in order to help his regime?  I don't understand why the United States feels -- why we feel compelled to be part of all of this?  Why do we feel compelled that we have to go in and be in the middle of this fight between people who are murdering each other?  Thirty to forty suicide bombers a month? Thousands of people are losing their lives to this insanity.  Why should the United States, tell me, this is my question, why does the United States feel that we need to become part of this insanity?  And does that not instead turn both of the parties against us?

    Brett McGurk:  Uh, Congressman, the suicide bomber, uh , phenomenon is complete insanity.  Uh, I agree with you.  When you look at Iraq and look at the region and you define our interests -- and I don't go to any leader and beg for anything.  We protect and advance US interests as we define them.  And in Iraq, whether you like it or not, oil, al Qaeda, Iran, vital US interests are at stake in Iraq.

    Note where Brett went first: Oil.

    It's always oil with the War Hawks.

    Let it be noted that unlike so many of his colleagues, Rohrabacher didn't ply Brett with compliments, gushing of how he informed he was (he wasn't and neither were they or they would have asked better questions) or thank him for his service, etc.

    Brett's a whore.  A whore knows how to seduce.  And from the distance, for example, the members of Congress mistake smarmy for charm and fail to notice that the forelock in the front is now separated from the rest of the hair on Brett's head by a deep island of scalp or the bald spot in the back.

    Dreaming of all the pleasure I'm going to have
    Watching you hairline recede 
    My vain darling
    -- "Just Like This Train," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Court & Spark

    Joni was singing of the supremely vain -- so vain, he might think the song was about him, might he?, might he? -- James Taylor; however, it also applies to Brett.