Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Iraq snapshot

Tuesday, May 3, 2016.  Chaos and violence continue, another US service member is killed in Iraq -- but White House flack Josh Earnest says of the fallen "he was prepared to deal with it," Bernie defeats Hillary in Indiana, Ted Cruz drops out and more.

Starting with THE NEWSHOUR (PBS):

JUDY WOODRUFF: In the day’s other news: Islamic State fighters killed a U.S. Navy SEAL in Northern Iraq. The ISIS attack near the city of Mosul was the biggest in months by the militants. They broke through Kurdish militia forces before being driven off. U.S. officials said the SEAL was there in an advisory role.

JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary: You had an individual who wasn’t in a combat mission come under withering attack from enemy forces. He was in a combat situation. He was prepared to deal with it, but, unfortunately, under a complex attack, he was killed. And it’s tragic.

JUDY WOODRUFF: In all, three Americans have been killed in combat since the anti-ISIS campaign began in 2014.

Does anyone else want to slap Josh Earnest's smug, fat face?  It was combat.  "He was prepared to deal with it."  Can he just close his mouth in shame about right now?

The lies that this White House will tell to avoid guilt and blame is amazing.

The only thing more amazing is the cowed and cowardly US press.

You wasted a full hour on crap -- all it was was crap -- and failed to explore Iraq.

But then exploring Iraq would mean that you used some of those US tax dollars that you get to actually pay for journalism and not just present talking heads and pretending that chat & chews are journalism.  PBS moves further and further from actual reporting every year.  That's nothing to proud of.

9 sentences.  That's all they could offer.  Couldn't even quote US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter who broke the news this morning and who called it what it was: Combat.

9 sentences late this evening.

When the death was known as Americans were waking up this morning.

From this morning's entry:

REUTERS reports, "A member of the US armed services has been killed in northern Iraq, the country’s defence secretary, Ash Carter, said."
Barbara Starr (CNN) adds, "There's no word on any Americans wounded."
RUDAW reports, "Military sources in the area told Rudaw that the incident happened in the vicinity of Tel Skuf, about 28 kilometers north of Mosul. The body of the dead soldier was retrieved by a US helicopter, military sources on the scene said. "
STARS AND STRIPES adds, "It comes as the U.S. steps up its campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria, where the U.S. now has several thousand troops deployed to support Iraq security forces and other partners on the ground."

PBS couldn't even identify the fallen this evening in their barely their mention -- this despite the fact that, today at noon,  CNN had identified the fallen.

Barbara Starr and Jeremy Diamond (CNN) reported:

Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, the grandson of savings-and-loan financier Charles Keating Jr.,died in combat against ISIS in northern Iraq, his family said Tuesday.
"He is our family hero in every sense of the word," cousin Elizabeth Ann Keating told CNN.
[. . .]
A 2004 graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix, he was city and region champion in the 1,600-meter run as a sophomore, junior and senior, according to azcentral.com. At Indiana University, he was a member of the 2004-05 track team that finished as a Big Ten runner-up in both the indoor and outdoor seasons, competing in the mile run, the school said in a statement.
His high school track and cross country coach, Robert Wayne Reniewicki, said Keating made the decision to serve his country after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The office of Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued this statement:

“Our state and nation are in mourning today over the loss of a U.S. serviceman – and one of America’s finest. Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV, a graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix, was killed this morning in an ISIS attack in Iraq.
“Mr. Keating is the third American service member to be killed in direct combat in our nation’s fight against ISIS. His death is a tragic reminder of the daily sacrifices made by our men and women in uniform – fighting evil and extremism on the front lines to protect freedom and democracy at home and throughout the world.
“Our thoughts, prayers and eternal gratitude are with Mr. Keating, his family, his fellow SEALs, and all of the brave Americans who’ve answered the call to serve.
“In honor of Navy SEAL and Arizona hero Charlie Keating IV, I’ve directed that all state flags be lowered to half-staff tomorrow, May 4, from sunrise to sunset. Flags will again be lowered on the day of his interment, for which services are pending.” 

Republican political commentator Meghan McCain Tweeted the following:

This is tragic news. Pray for the entire Keating Family with the loss of Arizonan Charlie Keating IV killed in Iraq

    Other Tweets noting the passing included:

    1. Navy SEAL Charlie Keating IV (aka C-4) died in Iraq Tuesday after ISIS penetrated Kurdish defensive lines. RIP C-4.
    2. US Navy SEAL killed by ISIS forces in Iraq identified as Charles Keating IV, grandson of late Arizona businessman.
    3. Navy SEAL killed in Iraq: Charles Keating. He was on his 4th tour in the Mideast. This is worth a read.
    4. Please honor SEAL Charles Humphrey Keating IV, died May 3, 2016 in Iraq. Honor him so he is not forgotten.
    5. Fallen SEAL: In Memoriam of SOC Charles Humphrey Keating IV, who was killed by ISIS Militants earlier today in Iraq.
    6. Navy SEAL Charles Keating IV, killed by ISIS in Iraq. RIP
    7. AZ Gov Ducey identified the Navy SEAL killed by ISIS in Iraq as Charlie Keating IV, a graduate of Arcadia High School in Phoenix. RIP
    8. RIP Charlie Keating KIA today by ISIS small arms fire in Iraq!
    9. Navy SEAL killed in Iraq identified as Charlie Keating. He was on his fourth tour in the Middle East. Rest In Peace
    10. Saddened by the tragic loss of Arcadia's Charlie Keating in Iraq. Cheryl & I send our condolences to his family, friends & fellow SEALs

    Brig. Gen. Bahnam Aboush, a fighter with the largely Christian militia based in the town and known as the Nineveh Plain Protection Units, said his men tried to hold their ground but were overwhelmed.
    “We tried to fight them, but we couldn’t due [to] our limited capabilities,” he said. “We have only some old rifles we bought from our own money.”
    He said he was near the attack that mortally wounded the Navy SEAL, when a U.S. military contingent came to assist the struggling militia forces.
    “American Special Forces came to rescue us in four vehicles,” he said. “They opened the way for us to retreat, then one of their vehicles was hit.”
    The general added that when he entered Teleskof after the assault, he saw the U.S. military vehicle abandoned with one of the doors destroyed by an explosion. He was not certain how the SEAL died.
    “I think an RPG shot the car,” he said. “Then maybe a sniper shot the person inside.”
    Matthew VanDyke, an American fighting alongside the Nineveh Plains Protection Units, who also was nearby, said the SEAL was hit by a sniper shot. A U.S. military official confirmed that the death was caused by small-arms fire. VanDyke said that about 20 Navy SEALS arrived not long after the town was lost about 6 a.m., traveling a few vehicles behind peshmerga forces in a convoy.

    At the US State Dept today, spokesperson John Kirby wanted to avoid the topic of Charlie Keating's death.

    QUESTION: I have a question. I have two questions, actually. The first one is about that military service member who was actually killed near Erbil a while ago. So how is the U.S. DOD is engaged in the fight against ISIS other than advisory and training roles?

    MR KIRBY: Say – I’m sorry, say that question again. How are we what?

    QUESTION: So the U.S. military presence in Iraq, how they’re – are they engaged directly in the fight against ISIS? Other than advisory and training roles, what other role they will – they’re actually playing? And if you could just tell us why he was killed. Was he engaged directly in the fight? That’s the first question.
    And my second question was – is about the visit of the HDP leader, Selahattin Demirtas, the Kurdish member of the Turkish parliament who was here last week. There were some reports he had meetings here at the State Department. Could you confirm that, please?

    MR KIRBY: So let me take your second question. I don’t think I have anything on that.
    On the first one, first of all, our thoughts and our prayers, our deepest condolences go out to the family of the service member who was killed today in Iraq. And I think all of us should just pause and remember that there is a family out there that’s grieving right now and I think we all should keep that foremost in mind.
    I’m going to refer you to the Defense Department for more specifics about the circumstances under which that service member was killed. That’s – they would have better information than I would. Broadly speaking, and again, I’m only going to stay at a very tree-top level on this because this is really a better question for the Defense Department, but broadly speaking, our central role – we have two central military roles in Iraq: One you’ve obviously seen is supporting coalition efforts through airpower. Number two, it’s an advise and assist mission. The Pentagon spoke to this. I believe Secretary Carter spoke to this this morning with respect to this particular U.S. service member who was killed, that he was involved in the advise and assist mission when he was killed. But again, as for the specific circumstances, I think I’d point you to them, okay?

    QUESTION: But if the situation deteriorates because of the local problems in Baghdad today, do you think that the U.S. will need to actually be more engaged just to make sure that ISIS does not gain more territories or the Iraqi army will not leave other territories to ISIS?

    MR KIRBY: What’s important is that the Iraqi Security Forces execute their campaign plan to defeat [the Islamic State]. That’s what’s really critical. We’ve talked about this many, many times. And again, I don’t want to veer out of my lane here, but the forces that matter most in Iraq are indigenous forces, Iraqi Security Forces, and that is why we are supporting them from the air and that is why we are supporting them in an advise and assist capacity. And the United States has been very engaged in this effort, but we want to do this smartly and we want to do this through, by and with the Iraqi Government and Iraqi Security Forces. They are the ground forces that matter most.

    And they are having success. They are pushing back on this group in Iraq. And [the Islamic State] has lost territory. They’ve lost fighters. They are struggling to recruit now. They have certainly lost territory and they are losing a significant amount of revenue in just – just since the fall they have lost a significant amount of revenue, about a third of what they once had total and more than half of once – what they were getting from oil revenues. So there has been success against this group.

    The Iraqi forces are still struggling and that's after they let Shi'ite militias (thugs) into the armed forces -- after Haider did.  Even Nouri al-Maliki didn't do that.  In fact, Nouri forced the political 'parties' to disband their militias in order to participate in elections.

    QUESTION: On Iraq, Baghdad seems to be in the middle of a major political crisis at the same time that you saw this fatality of a U.S. serviceman today. And I’m wondering what the assessment is as the U.S. tries to get diplomatically engaged here – I mean, how much that crisis imperils the combat mission.

    MR KIRBY: Well, so a couple of points there. You referenced getting engaged diplomatically. I would argue that we have remained engaged diplomatically with the Abadi government. I mean, the Vice President was just there; Secretary Kerry was there just a couple of weeks ago. We very much continue to support the political reforms that he’s putting in place and we recognize the political challenges that he’s facing in Iraq. But he is trying to enact reforms that are in keeping with the Iraqi constitution, and again, we’re going to continue to support him in that effort.
    And I think the Pentagon spoke to this earlier today and I will just restate it – that there has been no impact on the military mission to go after [the Islamic State] inside Iraq as a result of the political challenges that Prime Minister Abadi is facing right now. We continue to – at least the United States continues to be a major contributor to the coalition. Just over the weekend, nearly 60 airstrikes were conducted against [the Islamic State] targets. So that effort continues apace. It doesn’t mean that we’re – it doesn’t mean that we’re not continuing to engage with Prime Minister Abadi, not continuing to talk with him, not continuing to watch the situation there closely, but there’s no impact on coalition operations.

    QUESTION: But he’s the commander-in-chief and his political stability seems to be in question. So at what point does that not imperil the ability or the mission to shore up his government, which is what the U.S. is doing fighting alongside his military?

    MR KIRBY: Well, I don’t --

    QUESTION: I mean, if he can’t keep his government together, doesn’t that hurt the U.S. effort to support his military to try to fight ISIS?

    MR KIRBY: I don’t think it would be valuable to speculate right now in terms of what might happen in the future or what the effects might be on the military effort. What I can tell you is that he is working through these challenges and they are difficult, but we continue to support him as he does that. And the reason why, Margaret, is because we believe and have believed from the outset that the best antidote and the most sustainable antidote to a group like [the Islamic State] in Iraq is good governance and it is political reform, the kinds of reforms that he’s trying to pursue. So there is a linkage here in terms of being able to sustain a defeat of a group like this, but I don’t believe we’re at a point now where I can say with great specificity that while this is the line, this is where it – this is where it impacts it. Thus far he continues to work these challenges through the constitution with the support not just of the United States but other coalition members. And the Iraqi Security Forces continue – even as you and I are talking today continue to – the fight against [the Islamic State] in places out in Anbar and, as a matter of fact, just recently secured some success in Haditha.
    So they are, even for all the challenges he’s facing in Baghdad, elsewhere in the country – not everywhere but elsewhere in the country – the Iraqi Security Forces are doing a good job and they’re going after – going after these guys. We’re certainly helping that effort. You mentioned the casualty today as a stark example of that, that advise and assist mission. But we have not seen a diminution of the effort to go against [the Islamic State] as a result of these political challenges, and I don’t think it would be wise to try to speculate as to at what point one way or another you would see that happen.

    QUESTION: Is the U.S. trying to mediate between the Sadrists, the Abadi government, and all these other fractured parties to try to keep Baghdad together?

    MR KIRBY: We’re not inserting ourself into internal Iraqi politics in that way. Obviously, our ambassador there, Stu Jones, is in contact with the Abadi government, as he has been, as we have been for a while now in terms of supporting the kinds of reforms that Prime Minister Abadi is putting in place. But we’re not taking a mediation role.

    If I want to know the best eye liner men can wear, I'll ask John Kirby.

    If I want truth, he'd be the last person I'd go to.

    The US failed to engage diplomatically.

    The State Dept failed.

    The White House failed.

    Weapon after weapon has been delivered to Iraq in the last two years alone.

    Yet no strings have been attached.

    There has been no: You reach political reconciliation and you get . . .

    There's been no effort at all.

    And when Ned Parker's live was threatened for reporting the truth, the State Dept and the White House offered no support at all.

    Nor have they offered a single comment on AL JAZEERA being shut down in Iraq last week.

    Today was World Press Freedom Day.  THE NEWSHOUR (PBS) explains:

    More than 85 percent of countries in the world live with either partial or no press freedom.
    In 2015, press freedom declined to its lowest point in 12 years, according to a 2016 press freedom report released late last month by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization to globally expand freedom and democracy. The report was based on a set of 23 methodology questions covering legal, political, and economic environments in which print, broadcast, and digital media operate.
    Only a small percentage, 13 percent, of countries throughout the world enjoy press freedom, the report said.

    World Press Freedom was proclaimed in 1993 by the UN General Assembly and serves to inform citizens of world violations of press freedom, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization website

    Don't get too impressed.

    It's not a day that matters.

    Freedom House is funded by the US government.

    It's supposedly 'non-partisan' which really translates into 'bi-partisan.'

    As Noam Chomsky has long noted, it's also really good at finger pointing at others but never good at holding the US accountable.

    More recently, it's been heavy handed in Ukraine.

    In their laughable report, Freedom House devotes a paragraph to press freedom in the US which is little more than a whine that Donald Trump (running for the Republican presidential nomination) has criticized the media.

    That's the extent of press problems in the US, you understand.

    The hypocritical White House issued the following statement:

    On World Press Freedom Day, we thank the journalists around the world without whom democracy could not flourish and whose courageous work helps hold authorities to account.  These are the men and women who work to ensure that debate on public issues can be, in the words of Justice William Brennan, "uninhibited, robust, and wide open."  Through such debate we make the choices that shape our lives and the world around us.
    While it is in the nature of responsible journalism to confront the powerful, the corrupt, and the brutal, too many journalists risk their liberty and even their lives in doing so.  From China to Iran to Venezuela, brave men and women languish in prison for no greater crime than seeking to inform their fellow citizens.  The United States calls for the release of those who have been imprisoned for exercising the freedom of expression that is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, even as we encourage governments to foster societies in which journalists can work freely and without fear.  And we pay special tribute to the reporters, including our fellow Americans, who have given their lives or their freedom to tell the stories of those who live under the shadow of war.  For those who remain in captivity, such as American journalist Austin Tice, we pledge that we will not relent in our efforts to secure their release.
    On World Press Freedom Day, and every day, these women and men deserve our thanks for their risks and sacrifices, and for bringing us nearer to the more peaceful, accountable, innovative and successful societies to which we aspire.

    More hilarious than the actual words?

    The White House go to:  Ned Price -- the spokesperson for the National Security Council -- an organization that is repeatedly a foe of the press in every administration.

    And has there been worse administration for the press than Barack's?

    Let's go to the March 29, 2016 transcript for CNN's THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER:

    TAPPER:  President Obama, last night, offered a strong media critique, telling us to hold presidential candidates accountable for what they say, question their policies, call out debatable claims. President Obama made many salient points. His message was a good one, but was President Obama the right messenger?


    TAPPER (voice-over): The media critic in chief had some tough love for journalism Monday night. BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: As well fairness is the hallmark of good journalism false equivalency all too often these days can be a fatal flaw.

    TAPPER: Imploring us to do a better job at covering campaign 2016.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: A job well done is about more than just handing someone a microphone. It's to probe and to question and to dig deeper and to demand more.

    TAPPER: The president's criticisms were well said and quite app. But for many journalists, the messenger was a curious one. Many believed that Obama's call for us to probe and dig deep somewhere find out more has been made far more difficult by his administration than any in recent decades, a far cry from the assurances he offered as he first took office.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touch stones of this presidency.

    TAPPER: Transparency, quote, "Obama hasn't delivered," "Propublica" reporter, Justin Elliott wrote in "The Washington Post" just a few days ago, calling the massive backlog of those seeking and failing to receive information from the government under the Freedom of Information Act, quote, "a disaster under Obama's watch."

    With Obama officials aggressively lobbying against reforms proposed in Congress. Associated Press study last year concluded that, quote, "The Obama administration set a record again for censoring government files or outright denying access to them under the Freedom of Information Act.

    The committee to protect journalists told CNN today, the president has fallen well short of his promise, quote, "seizing journalists' phone records and e-mails, aggressive prosecutions of whistle-blowers who leak classified information to the press, and the massive surveillance of communications have sent an unequivocal chilling message to journalists and their sources.

    The Obama administration has used the espionage act to go after more leakers and whistle-blowers than all previous presidential administrations combined, despite official assurances otherwise.

    JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When classified information is leaked, that is a violation of the law. And it is a -- it is a serious matter. If you're asking me whether the president believes journalists should be prosecuted for doing their jobs, the answer is no.

    TAPPER: President Obama's advice for journalists Monday night was spot, but Mr. President, with all due respect, when one of "The Washington Post" editors involved in the coverage of Watergate says that your administration's attempt to fight leaks and control the media is, quote, "The most aggressive I've seen since the Nixon administration," well, maybe, just maybe you're lecturing would be better delivered to your own administration. 

    Again,  Charles Keating IV was killed in Iraq today.  John Kasich is seeking the GOP's presidential nomination and he Tweeted:

    13 hours ago
  • Don't let our busy lives allow us to forget the family of the Navy SEAL who perished fighting ISIS. Rest in Peace.

  • Kasich remains in the Republican race but Senator Ted Cruz dropped out today after losing the Indiana primary to Donald Trump.  The two most high profile candidates in that race are now Kasich and Trump.

    On the Democratic side, War Hawk Hillary Clinton continues to battle Senator Bernie Sanders for the nomination.

    Daniel Straus (POLITICO) reports:

    Bernie Sanders attacked Hillary Clinton on Tuesday night, hitting her over her ties to Wall Street and her vote for the Iraq war — even as the result of the two candidates' Indiana battle remained uncertain.
    [. . .]
    On foreign policy, Sanders focused on the war in Iraq contrasting his opposition to the war with Clinton's vote.
    "I listened very carefully to what Bush and Cheney and all the rest were saying about Iraq and not only did I vote against that war, I helped lead the opposition to that war," Sanders said. "On the other hand Secretary Clinton, then the Senator from New York state she heard the same evidence that I heard. She voted for the war in Iraq."

    As for the results on the Democratic side?

    Bernie won.

    You go Bernie! Thank you Indiana! DNC here we come!

    It's not a comeback if you didn't leave 😎🔥

    Visit to contribute to the revolution!

    This is what Nate Silver had to say before the . We defied all odds once again. ✊🏽✊🏽

    Join me and tomorrow to at and !!!

    The Green Party is among the other US parties who will be choosing a presidential candidate.  Jill Stein hopes she will be the candidate and Tweeted today:

    1. No one can predict what'll come out of Trump's mouth or what position Hillary will take. Transparency never was a forté for the oligarchy.
    2. When Hillary said "there's more that unites us then divides us " was she referring to Donald Trump?
    3. I don't know who's worse for the planet - climate-denying Donald or frack-loving Hillary. Join the resistance:
    4. Hillary flip-flops. Trump is extraordinarily vague. America deserves a president that stands clearly for one, concrete thing