Friday, February 27, 2015
Thursday, February 26, 2015. Chaos and violence continue, IS seizes an important bridge in Anbar, does US President Barack Obama need a SOFA to put US troops on the ground in Iraq, we continue to look at Wednesday's Senate hearing on the AUMF, and much more.
Seems like just yesterday that a puffed chest former general and current envoy John Allen was boasting to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "In addition we're also discussing the coalition's next steps now that we've largely achieved the objectives of the campaign's first phase which was to blunt ISIL's strategic operation and tactical momentum in Iraq."
Oh, wait, that was yesterday.
Yet Al Jazeera reports
today at least 20 Iraqi troops were killed when the Islamic States "seized a strategic bridge" in Anbar Province which "connects the cities of Baghdadi and Haditha" and Iraqi forces attempted (but failed) to take it back. In addition, the bridge is near the US-occupied Ayn al-Asad airbase (where the US trains -- among other things) and there was a suicide truck bombing outside the entrance to the base.
So the Islamic State is on the run?
Various US officials keep insisting that but reality rejects it.
That's how it is under Barack, that's how it was under Bully Boy Bush.
They appear to see the Iraq War as a 12-step program and that, if they spin the talk hard enough, reality will eventually bend to their will.
They pulled this in 2003 and it didn't happen.
They pulled this in 2004 and it didn't happen.
They pulled this in 2005 and it didn't happen.
They pulled this in 2006 and it didn't happen.
They pulled this in 2007 and it didn't happen.
. . .
As Vanessa Williams
says at the end of "Running Back To You
," "Get the message? 'Nuff said."
The Senate's concerned with what Barack's Authorization for the Use of Military Force (in Iraq, Syria, Disneyland and pretty much the entire world) says.
We covered some of Wednesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in yesterday's snapshot
. Senator Bob Corker is the Chair, Senator Bob Menendez is the Ranking Member. Appearing before the Committee was retired Gen John Allen whom US President Barack Obama has named the Special Presidential Envoy for The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.Senator Barbara Boxer: Under Article I, Section 8, Congress has the power to declare war. I know that you agree with that, yes?
Ambassador John Allen Yes, ma'am.
Senator Barbara Boxer: Alright. So I hope you could then understand why we would want to be very precise when we do that because we're sent here by a lot of people who have a lot of kids who serve in the military and they're the fabric of our communities so we want to be careful. I just want to say I'm not even going to ask you to expand on this enduring word because you've said it very clearly. Your definition is no enduring presence could mean a 2-week presence of combat boots on the ground -- American combat boots on the ground -- or a two-year presence of American combat boots on the ground. And that answers a question the Democrats on this Committee have been searching for this-this definition and I think what you are proving with your honesty is there is none because its in the eye of the beholder. When you say to me if I vote for this, no enduring combat presence and I'm sending my kids there in my state for two years I would argue to you you've misinterpreted it. Yet the Congressional Research Service says there's really no definition. And if I wanted to take the administration to court as I would say, as a member of Congress, "I said no enduring presence," CRS says I wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on 'cause there's no definition. So I just think it's very important the administration hear this once again. I know poor Senator -- Secretary [of State John] Kerry had to hear it over and over from our side yesterday. But we're very uncomfortable with this language. And when Senator Menendez was Chairman, he cobbled together a really good AUMF that united all of us on our side because he essentially said no combat troops with these exceptions -- and he put in the kind of exceptions that I think you would agree with -- special forces operations, search and rescue, protecting personnel. And we would urge you, please, to go back and take a look at it. I just feel very strongly.
In yesterday's snapshot, we noted some exchanges on this issue. We'll note another from the hearing:Senator Ed Markey: In the Authorization for the Use of Military Force text that the administration provided to this Committee. It said that it would prohibit "enduring" ground forces. And this was meant to convey that large numbers of [US] troops wouldn't be on the ground for a long time -- whatever that means. I voted for the 2001 resolution and I'm reminded that the US combat operations in Afghanistan were dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom. We are now past 13 years in that enduring fight and that resolution, of course, was also the basis for the justification of our actions in Somalia, in Yemen and the administration is saying quite clearly that they oppose the repeal of that and that the operations that are going on right now, in fact, are consistent with that 2001 authorization. Now causes great problems to me and I think many members of the Committee because even in the absence of the passage of a new AUMF, the administration is maintaining that they have the authority to continue -- as they have for thirteen years -- under Operation Enduring Freedom. And so that obviously is a problem for us because that sits there as an underlying authority for the next president -- Democrat or Republican who is sworn in on January 20, 2017 and most of us are will be sitting here then as you'll successor will be sitting here then and perhaps not with the same interpretation of the word "enduring." So my questions then go to is this going to open up a potential for an open-ended war in the Middle East? Will it allow for unfettered deployment of ground troops? And ultimately, whether or not we are opening up Pandora's Box -- especially in Syria?
The "enduring" aspect has attracted some media attention.
It's not resulted in any real media analysis.
Yes, tired whores like Rosa Brooks stepped up to justify and minimize it.
That's not an analysis -- though dim wits like Rosa probably think it is.
As Barbara Boxer noted in the hearing, there was an AUMF proposal before the White House (finally) submitted their wish list in February.
Until the new Senate was sworn in last January, the Democrats controlled the Senate. And Bob Menendez was the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as Boxer noted, and crafted an AUMF that Democrats in the Senate could live with.
I thought it went too far but whatever.
It would have given Barack much of what he wants in the new AUMF.
What it wouldn't give him was "enduring."
Supposedly, this AUMF is needed.
That's confusing all by itself since the White House continues to insist that they will continue -- with or without an AUMF authorizing Barack's ongoing war actions -- to do what they're doing.
But, supposedly, this AUMF is needed.
In a playground, children may bicker in the sandbox over a toy that, for example, they want to use in a sand castle -- say a figure or plastic soldier or whatever.
At some point, they either resolve the issue (by themselves or via an adult intervening) or they stop playing together.
Is Barack a tiny child?
At his age, shouldn't he be the intervening adult?
The point is, if you can get most of what you want, adults in DC know to take it.
You never get everything you want from this or any Congress.
Compromise is the overwhelming acting principle.
So serious analysis of the requested AUMF would address how this is not a minor issue to the White House unless Barack is deeply stupid.
If this were a minor issue, it would have been ditched already, tossed overboard so everyone could move forward.
What exactly is Barack discussing and planning that's not being presented to the American people?
The Iraqi forces aren't up for much of anything.
Corruption and crime have reduced the force to a joke.
And that's why, despite the White House planning an operation to retake Mosul in February, the month is now ending with no such attempt.
Mosul was taken over by the Islamic State in June. Retaking it might have symbolic value.
But now the White House has aired the option that Mosul might be invaded soon . . . or in April . . . or in May.
These 'deadlines' are vaporous.
The reason for that, clearly, is that the Iraqi military is not thought to be up to the challenge of retaking Mosul.
For Mosul to be of any value, there has to be immediate operations.
By that I mean, think of the Islamic State as a tube of toothpaste and let's consider Mosul the middle.
Squeeze the middle of the tube and the toothpaste does not vanish.
Instead, it spreads out to both ends of the tube.
Should Mosul be retaken, the most obvious move for the Islamic State was to grab new areas or fortify existing ones.
Should an operation to retake Mosul be carried out and be successfully carried out, the immediate time after that effort would have to see a military force stepping up to ensure that the Islamic State fleeing Mosul did not spread elsewhere.
New Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter likes to play out variables with the press on what would lead him to recommend US ground forces in Iraq.
If you pay attention, the aftermath of taking Mosul fits Carter's definition.
So is this what's going on?
Is this what has the White House refusing to say, "Okay, take that whole 'enduring' clause out and let's move forward and let you pass an AUMF"?
It seems very likely.
A Tweet today raises an issue:
" data-disclosure-type="" data-card-type="photo">
For those who don't know, a Status Of Forces Agreement is what gives legal protection to US forces in Iraq.
When the Iraq War started, the United Nations provided cover for the occupation (not the invasion) and it was a yearly authorization.
In 2008, due to the problems then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was having each year when he's push through the renewal (bypassing Parliament), Bully Boy Bush decided that the SOFA would be for more than a single year.
They got a three year deal (with one year clauses) in November of 2008.
Prior to getting that deal, Joe Biden -- then in the Senate -- had declared if the administration failed to get a SOFA by December 31, 2008, all US troops would . . .
They're remain locked down on US bases in Iraq until some deal was worked out.
The SOFA expired at the end of 2011.
We could go into why and all of that but we're not focused on that for this discussion.
Barack wants US troops in combat in Iraq.
You can't avoid that.
It's there in the AUMF.
So if there's no agreement -- such as a SOFA -- then it doesn't matter because US forces can't be put into combat on the ground in Iraq without an agreement which protects US troops from legal challenges for their operations in Iraq.
So why isn't the White House working on a SOFA?
These are issues people should be asking.
The US forces are in Iraq.
Has Barack betrayed them by putting them on the ground in Iraq without a legal protection?
If so, that would be an issue that could even rise to the level of grounds for impeachment.
That's not going to happen because the desire to keep US troops in Iraq is long rooted. Let's fall back to the April 30, 2013 Iraq snapshot:
December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed. We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way. It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
Now let's go to the Decmeber 11, 2012 snapshot:
This shouldn't be surprising. In the November 2, 2007 snapshot -- five years ago -- we covered the transcript of the interview Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did with then-Senator Barack Obama who was running in the Democratic Party's primary for the party's presidential nomination -- the transcript, not the bad article the paper published, the actual transcript. We used the transcript to write "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'" at Third. Barack made it clear in the transcript that even after "troop withdrawal" he would "leave behind a residual force." What did he say this residual force would do? He said, "I think that we should have some strike capability. But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."
This is not withdrawal. This is not what was sold to the American people. Barack is very lucky that the media just happened to decide to take that rather explosive interview -- just by chance, certainly the New York Times wasn't attempting to shield a candidate to influence an election, right? -- could best be covered with a plate of lumpy, dull mashed potatoes passed off as a report. In the transcript, Let-Me-Be-Clear Barack declares, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities."
So when the memo announces counterterrorism activities, Barack got what he wanted, what he always wanted, what the media so helpfully and so frequently buried to allow War Hawk Barack to come off like a dove of peace.
In Section Four of the Memo, both parties acknowledge that to achieve these things they may need further documentation and that such documentation will be done as attachments "to this MOU." Thse would include things like "medical reports" for "dispatched personnel." Oh, some idiot says, they mean State Dept personnel. No, they don't. The US is represented in this Memo by the Defense Dept. This refers to DoD personnel. They may also need an attachment to go over "procedures for recalling dispatched personnel," and possibly for covering "the death of dispatched personnel with the territory of the host country." The Memo can run for five years from last Thursday (when it was signed) and, after five years, it can renewed every year afterwards. US troops could be in Iraq forever. The kill clause in this differs from the SOFA. The 2008 SOFA had a kill clause that meant, one year after notification of wanting out of the SOFA, the SOFA would be no more. The Memo doesn't require lead time notice. Instead, "Either Participant may discontinue this MOU at any time, though the Participant should endeavor to provide advance notice of its intent to discontinue the MOU to the other Participant."
Again, Barack got what he wanted. He'd stated what he wanted in 2007. He got it. If your life's goal is to cheer Barack -- that is the goal of the Cult of St. Barack -- start cheering and stop whining that Barack's been misrepresented. The Memo gives him everything he wanted so, for Barack, it's a victory. For those who believe in peace, for those who believe the US military should be out of Iraq, it's a tragedy.
Everything needed -- including US military going on combat patrols with Iraqi forces -- was granted in the MOU of 2012.
Nouri's frequently referenced it -- usually to whine and complain -- and the press either acts confused or doesn't grasp that there's an MOU out there.
This has not been a 'rush' on the part of the White House. It's been a carefully unfolding plan.
And any real analysis of the AUMF that Barack's requesting would acknowledge that.
Let's note another Tweet:
" data-disclosure-type="" data-mentions="Louangie" data-is-reply-to="true" data-has-parent-tweet="true">
And that is correct. Throughout Nouri's second term, Sunnis were targeted, harassed and killed, displaced and branded "terrorists" (by Nouri) for the 'crime' of carrying out sit-ins.
And the world didn't talk about it.
And in the US there was such a desire to look the other way in order to protect Barack and the lie that he was antiwar and that he'd done something value with Iraq (when he insisted Nouri get a second term despite Nouri losing the 2010 elections).
And, sadly, it's true even now that what's being done to the Sunnis is ignored and excused by the administration, by Barack Obama.
Falluja, to cite only one example, continues to be bombed daily by the Iraqi military.
In its residential neighborhoods.
Even if 'terrorists' were in those neighborhoods, it is a War Crime to bomb them when civilians are present. It is known as "collective punishment" and it is a legally defined and legally recognized War Crime. That's by the international community, that's by the United States government.
But these bombings aren't called out by the US government. There's no threat to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of, "Stop these bombings or we will not send you . . . ."
So, yes, the Sunnis continue to be targeted and the world looks away.
Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) reports:
Kurdish authorities are reportedly blocking the return of Arab Iraqis to their homes in Kurdish controlled areas. They are using the claim that the Arabs collaborated with the Islamic State militants, but it is just as likely that they are attempting to solidify their hold on expanded Kurdish territories.
At least 224 people were killed and 63 more were wounded. Airstrikes killed civilians in multiple cities in Anbar province.
Coalition airstrikes in al-Baghdadi killed nine civilians and 15 militants. Another 29 militants were reported wounded, and some were sent to Syria for treatment. Militants burned 26 people to death.
Griffis notes a reported attack on a museum in Mosul.
That reported attack has resulted in a public comment from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:
Statement by Thomas P. Campbell,
Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
On The Destruction at The Mosul Museum
Speaking with great sadness on behalf of the Metropolitan, a museum whose collection proudly protects and displays the arts of ancient and Islamic Mesopotamia, we strongly condemn this act of catastrophic destruction to one of the most important museums in the Middle East. The Mosul Museum’s collection covers the entire range of civilization in the region, with outstanding sculptures from royal cities such as Nimrud, Nineveh, and Hatra in northern Iraq. This mindless attack on great art, on history, and on human understanding constitutes a tragic assault not only on the Mosul Museum, but on our universal commitment to use art to unite people and promote human understanding. Such wanton brutality must stop, before all vestiges of the ancient world are obliterated.
# # #
February 26, 2015
Posted at 12:46 am by thecommonills
Smearing veterans with a tired old tale dressed up for modern times
"Can PTSD Be Linked to Violence?
" asks the always idiotic Jessic Pishko as she proceeds to link the two at Pacific Standard. Fortunately, she had to shop this crap around because even outlets who usually publish her nonsense looked askance at this garbage.
Using narrative -- as opposed to statistics (there are no statistics to prove her case -- no scientific ones) -- Pishko portrays veterans as ticking time bombs set to go off at any moment.
And not just today's veterans, you understand, but veterans of past wars. In 1998, a Vietnam veteran was pulled over by police and got into a shoot out.
Post Traumatic-Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury are seen as the signature wounds for veterans of the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War.
So when Pishko smears veterans as a ticking time bomb, she's flinging her feces at a very large group.
As with any segment of the population, violence is possible.
And when it happens with veterans, it may result from PTS and it may not.
Pishko smears far and wide applying her feces as far back as Homer.
No one is safe from her attacks.
Again, PTS is one of the signature wounds of current wars.
We call it PTS here -- as do most who actually care about the issue.
It is a condition.
Calling it a "disorder" has applied a stigma which has prevented some from getting needed therapy.
As we've long explained, it can be seen as hypervigilence -- the mind and body on overdrive. Which is natural and needed when your are in a fight-or-flight area or theater for a prolonged time. It is your body adapting to the location and to what is needed to ensure your survival.
And some people can turn it off and leave it behind. Others will need assistance, they'll need to be trained with techniques to address it -- ideally, techniques, some will need medication but too many will be medicated just to say the condition was 'dealt with.'
Into this climate comes Pishko with her article linking it to violence and to violence aimed at others.
Again, we've noted as long as we've been online, when veterans demonstrate violence, the overwhelming number doing so turn the violence against themselves with destructive behaviors.
But Pishko writes an alarmist article that smears veterans as ticking time bombs who will explode in civilian society and attack those around them.
It's nonsense. It's outrageous.
And it's shameful.
There were about five other topics I thought I'd be covering this morning.
But the knee-jerk reaction and lie to paint veterans as Pishko has done is just too damaging to not address it strongly.
What she's doing has been done in the past and pre-dates the recognition of PTS.
It's harmful to veterans and tries to portray *them* as damaged goods unable to adapt in society.
It does real damage.
Veterans of today's wars have noted this false stereotype can cause *real damage* even when it comes to something even as basic as getting a job.
I am glad so many outlets turned down Pishko's fecal attack on veterans. I just wish all outlets had the common sense to refuse to publish it.
The following community sites -- plus McClatchy Newspapers -- updated:
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com
Posted at 12:40 am by thecommonills
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Wednesday, February 25, 2015. Chaos and violence continue, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses Iraq and Barack's AUMF request, the American people learn -- if any outlet bothers to cover it -- that the plan is for US forces in Iraq for over 3 years (many years to come), the State Dept can't do diplomacy but they excel in bitchy, and much more.
Does that modifier or "well" really belong?
Because they flew out of Senator Bob Corker's mouth today. He declared, "I think many people feel decently well about what's happening in Iraq."
No, it didn't make sense.
Nor did Corker.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress -- forget about the American people -- do not feel "well about what's happening in Iraq" -- decently well or otherwise.
Corker was speaking at the start of this afternoon's Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Corker is the Chair, Senator Bob Menendez is the Ranking Member. Appearing before the Committee was retired Gen John Allen whom US President Barack Obama has named the Special Presidential Envoy for The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Let's get to the really big news about Barack's war.
It is endless.
It's US troops committed far beyond three years to Iraq.
This was established in Senator Ben Cardin's line of questioning.
Senator Ben Cardin: Of course the President's request to Congress is pretty specific on ISIL and expires in three years. It's clear that there may well be a need for a continued military US presence beyond that three years.
Envoy John Allen: Uh, I would say probably a need for military activity, US military activity, of some form or another, yes sir.
First off, this is John McCain.
If you've forgotten, John McCain, while campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination, declared he as fine with US troops in Iraq forever -- or that's how it was portrayed.
He meant US troops in Iraq in the manner in which they remain in South Korea all the years after the Korean War.
Barack Obama was the candidate who was supposed to be 'different.'
And he was going to get all US troops out of Iraq within 16 months of being sworn in as president.
Samantha Power -- as we noted in real time while whores like John Nichols lied -- was forced out of Barack's campaign not because of what she said about Hillary Clinton but because the BBC was about to air an interview with her where she revealed Barack's campaign promise wasn't a promise and that he'd decide what to do after he was sworn in. This interview was going to be big and Samantha had to 'save' Barack by leaving the campaign so that Barack wasn't forced to answer questions about what she'd said.
The little whores of the press ignored it.
And months later, when Tom Hayden was outraged about Barack (the July 4, 2008 holiday), he stumbled upon this and wanted to know why no one made a big deal out of it? And he answered his own question with Hillary's campaign ignored the issue.
They raised it repeatedly.
In conference calls with the press and in repeated press releases.
It was the press that didn't give a damn.
They were too busy -- remembering the infamous video of Barack wearing jeans and walking past them on the plane -- oohing and awing over Barack to actually cover what he said and what his aids said.
So now, to steal from Jeremiah Wright, the chickens have come home to roost.
The liar who pretended he was always against the Iraq War lied as well about getting US troops out.
The end of 2011 was a drawdown, not a withdrawal.
By fall of 2012, as Tim Arango reported in the New York Times
, Barack had sent another special ops brigade into Iraq.
By June 2014, he was sending troops in openly.
And now his envoy tells Congress that the plan is for a continued US military presence -- that Barack pictures it not just for the next three years, but for well beyond that.
How did that chump change work out for The Cult of St. Barack
Because it didn't improve anything in Iraq and never took all US troops out of the country.
But, hey, we got to see his nipples, right?
He went jogging without shirts and didn't that make up for everything else?
Didn't his man boobs -- moobs -- sliding all around while he jogged make up for everything else?
Let's hope he was a wealth of masturbation fantasies because all he offered was fantasy and, again, to steal from his mentor Jeremiah Wrights, the chickens are coming home to roost.
This was also made clear during an exchange in this afternoon's hearing regarding the issue of "enduring" US forces in Iraq.
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: What does "enduring" -- no "enduring combat forces" mean?
Envoy John Allen: I think obviously, the-the nature of the contingency or the emergency or the potential conflict will give us the indications of what kinds of measures would need to be taken in the aggregate to deal with that emergency to give the President the kind of options that he needs in order to protect the lives of American citizens and American interests and the homeland. Each one of these emergencies will be different. Each one will require a different aggregation of American hard and soft power ultimately to solve them. And so I think it would be difficult to put necessarily a level of precision against the word "enduring." I think what we'll seek -- what we'll seek to do -- and I believe this administration -- and future administrations would be obviously very interested in consulting with the Congress about each -- .
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: I-I appreciate a consultation. The problem is you reference your answer in context of emergencies but no "enduring offensive combat troops" doesn't necessarily only apply to emergencies. If you send 20,000 troops and they're there for 4 months, is that enduring?
Envoy John Allen: Uh-uh again, Senator, I think that trying to put a specific amount of time on the word "enduring' uh, uh --
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: So it's neither time nor size?
Envoy John Allen: I think we take a full appreciation of what we're facing. And I -- And I believe that we give the president the options necessary in order to deal with the emergency and "enduring" might only be two weeks. But "enduring might be two years" I think we need to ensure that we put the right resources against the contingency and give us the amount of time necessary -- "us" being all of the American people -- the time necessary to solve the problem.
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: And I think you've stated the challenge that we have. Two weeks is one thing. Two years is another thing. And this is the problem with the language as it exists. There is no clear, defining element of the authorization given to the president in which hundreds -- but maybe tens of thousands -- of troops could be sent. They could be sent for long periods of time. That's -- That's a challenge. And so how we get our arms around that? You know, I know -- I think I can fairly speak for Democrats -- we want to fight ISIL, we want to give the president the wherewith all to degrade and deter them but we can't provide a blank check to this and a future president because everything that's envisioned goes beyond this president. So I want to use your expertise to try to put my arms around it and I see the challenge that we have. Let me ask you this, following up on the Chairman's questions, isn't it basically true that unless we buy into something about getting rid of Assad, Turkey isn't really going to engage with us in the way we want them to?
Envoy John Allen: Uh, the Turks have not indicated that to me in our conversations. I think we share the same goal with respect to Syria and that is that the solution to Syria is not going to be determined by military force. That ultimately, we -- we desire a political outcome in Syria that is the will of the Syrian people and that that outcome is one that does not include Bashar al-Assad. I think we share that goal with Turkey. But I have not had, in my conversations with the Turks the requirement that we take concerted action against Bashar al-Assad as the precondition necessarily for the Turks to have any greater role in the coalition to deal with ISIL.
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: Isn't it true that at this point Turkey is still allowing foreign fighters to cross its borders into Syria?
Envoy John Allen: If foreign fighters get across the border in Turkey it's not because the Turks are allowing them. Again I've had a conversation with them yesterday. I've watched them grip this problem It is a greater problem than many of us had imagined at the beginning. They have attempted to strengthen their border crossing protocols. We're seeking greater information sharing and intelligence sharing with them in that regard. We are restructuring some elements of the coalition specifically to focus the capabilities of nations on the issue of the movement and the dealing of foreign fighters through transit states of which the Turks are going to play an important role in that process within that coalition. So do foreign fighters cross Turkey and get into Syria? Yes, they do. Are the Turks permitting them to do that? I don't believe so. I think that the Turks are working hard, ultimately, to do -- to take the measures necessary to staunch that flow the best they can.
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: And one final question: Iran. Iran is in the midst of Iraq. It's in the midst of Syria. Uh, do we share mutual goals with Iran?
Envoy John Allen: Well I would say our goals with respect to Iraq is that we return Iraq to the sovereign control of the Iraqi people and to the central government in Baghdad. My --
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: You think the Iranians share that?
Envoy John Allen: Oh, I believe so. I-I-I believe that the Iranians - their interests -- they would consider that their interests are best served by an Iraq --
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: They have a very significant influence in Iraq.
Envoy John Allen: Well they have regional interests. And those interests are, in fact, in Iraq. That's not something that should surprise us or necessarily alarm us.
Ranking Member Bob Menendez: I'm looking beyond. So if we think an accommodation with Iran to fight ISIL is good, the aftermath of that in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen and elsewhere -- in my view -- is not so good. And so sometimes we look at the short game as opposed to the long one and I'm concerned about what the long one is.
Envoy John Allen: Uh, Senator, I would not propose that we are accommodating Iran in Iraq at this particular moment. We're undertaking the measures that we're taking in Iraq with the Iraqis. We're not cooperating with the Iranians. As-As you have pointed out and as your argument presupposes Iranians have an interest in a stable Iraq just as we in the region have an interest in a stable Iraq. But that doesn't mean we are accommodating the Iranians by virtue of the actions that we are taking in Iraq.
On this week's Law and Disorder Radio
, first airing Monday on WBAI
and around the country throughout the week. the hosts discussed the AUMF Barack's requesting. The program is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian
, Michael S. Smith
and Michael Ratner
(Center for Constitutional Rights
) and we'll note this section of their discussion on the "enduring" issue.Michael Ratner: A second one -- and a big struggle is going on -- or, I don't know if it's big, a struggle of some sort -- at least in the press around these guys -- is the use of ground forces. How are we going to limit the use of ground forces? Initially, I think we were told there won't be any ground forces used against ISIS or they believe they have to use ground forces. So what does this Authorization to Use Military Force say -- the new proposed one? This does not authorize the use of the United States armed forces in -- and here's the key word -- "enduring" offensive ground combat operations. The word is "enduring offensive ground combat operations."
Heidi Boghosian: Right. And what does that mean? That means a long term --
Michael Ratner: How long is enduring?
Heidi Boghosian: -- something short of -- Exactly.
Michael Ratner: One year? Two year? Five years? Ten years?
Heidi Boghosian: Right.
Michael Ratner: What's "enduring"? Forever?
Heidi Boghosian: It's over broad and vaguely drafted.
Michael Ratner: It's meaningless.
Heidi Boghosian: Right.
Let me make a comment about today's hearing. What's with 'general'?
He's an ambassador now. His title is "envoy." Is he ashamed of it?
Is Congress embarrassed by it?
Yes, he's a retired general.
He's also an active ambassador.
That's his title.
Clearly, this administration has no respect for diplomacy, they've made that clear. And we'll get to that topic in a moment. But does the Congress have no respect also?
Being an Ambassador is a pretty big deal.
Check the archives, we praised Michael Hayden for dropping "general" and asking to be called "director" when he appeared before Congress because that's what he was. He was a retired general who came back into government service to become the Director of the CIA.
I don't approve of militarizing civilian posts and I don't approve of treating an ambassador as if that's an overnight job at Denny's. If "ambassador" is beneath John Allen, he needs to resign the post immediately.
He is not in the military anymore. He is attached to the State Dept. If he won't show respect for his current position, he doesn't need to hold it.
If he's embarrassed to be called ambassador or envoy, that's really going to interfere with any accomplishments he might have.
Let's note an exchange regarding Sunnis and regarding Mosul. The Islamic State took Mosul last June and continue to hold it. The US administration last week announced that March or April or May was the time or 'time' to attack Mosul and liberate or 'liberate' it.
Senator Rand Paul: What percentage would you say is an estimate of how many of the official Iraqi army are Sunni versus Shia?
Envoy John Allen: I'll have to take the question, sir, and get back to you
Senator Rand Paul: Well --
Envoy John Allen: Right now, the standing army, the preponderance is, uh, -- the majority is Shia. But I can't give you the numbers. I'll take the question.
Senator Rand Paul: The reason I ask is sort of on the heels of what Senator Carden is asking global security reports basically somewhere between 80 and 90% of the official Iraqi army being Shia. I think to have an enduring victory, there's some question from some of us whether you can have an enduring victory and occupy Mosul and be seen as a legitimate government if you've got an 80 to 90% Shia force? So I think that still is a significant political problem and a significant military problem as well. Of the chieftens that fought in the surge -- just an estimate -- what percentage is engaged on our side now fighting against ISIS, what percentage are on the sidelines and what percentage indifferent?
Envoy John Allen: Again, those are numbers that are difficult to give you with any precision. The ones that I fought alongside in '07 and '08, the ones that I have spoken to without exception have indicated their desire to fight Da'ash, have recovered their lands to ultimately return, in this case, to Al-Anbar Province, to the tribes and ultimately to Iraq. And so they've been very forthcoming in their desire to do that. Every one that I have spoken to.
Senator Rand Paul: And the chieftens are no longer in the area? Have been driven out of the area? The ones that you've spoken to?
Envoy John Allen: Well many of them are. Some at great risk traveled out of the area ultimately to speak with us. But, uh, they are. And many of them are in Amman [Jordan] and other places.
Senator Rand Paul: With regard to arming the Kurds, there were reports a month or two ago that Germany wanted to send arms directly to them but there were objections by our government saying everything had to go through Baghdad. Are arms for our allies forced to go through Baghdad to get to the Kurds?
Envoy John Allen: Uhm, I'll take the question but let me offer this. Uh, Baghdad has not disproved any requests, uh, that the Kurds have made for weapons. We have attempted to work with Baghdad to streamline to the maximum extent possible to reduce any delays that may inhibit or impair, uh, the expeditious delivery of arms and equipment to the Kurds.
Senator Rand Paul: You think this includes sufficient technology and long range weaponry to meet their needs and their requests?
Envoy John Allen: Well all that is coming. As you know sir, and through the support of the Congress, we're training and equipping 12 Iraqi brigades -- 3 of which are Peshmerga brigades [Peshmerga are an elite Kurdish fighting force] and with Peshmerga brigades we'll be armed and equipped with exactly the same that the other 9 Iraqi brigades will receive.
Senator Rand Paul: We're destroying or abandoning equipment in Afghanistan. Is there any possibility that any of that could be transported to the Kurds?
Envoy John Allen: That's a question that we should pose to the Dept of Defense but I'll take the question.
As Senator Paul's time wound down, suddenly Allen wanted to address the earlier question about the Shi'ite majority in the military.
Well . . .
not address . . .
There will be a clearing force.
For Mosul and other areas.
But he's really hopeful that they can get the Sunni police to take part.
Paul suggested that the invading force should be Sunni (Mosul is a Sunni dominant city) and that there should be leafleting of the city announcing that fact to increase support for the action.
I'm attending a hearing tomorrow and I was at another one today -- I'd love for both of them to make into the snapshots -- that may or may not happen. But we will note today's hearing in Thursday's snapshot to cover a few more aspects.
For now, we'll note that, while pressing for the new AUMF, the administration continues to insist it doesn't really need it.
Chair Bob Corker: Yesterday, Senator Kerry testified that he felt like today the administration already has because of the '01 AUMF and the '02 AUMF the authority to conduct the operations that are being conducted in Iraq and Syria. Do you -- do you agree with that assessment?
Envoy John Allen: I do, Chairman.
Chair Bob Corker: Okay. So it's an interesting place where we find ourselves, where six months after conflicts have begun, a new AUMF is being offered. And I know that in order to pursue one properly through Congress, that's the standard process which I appreciate.
Of course, that's Secretary Kerry -- John Kerry left the Senate to become Secretary of State (though he appears to believe he's Secretary of Defense). And Kerry's in the news cycle today -- weighing in on Iraq.Elad Benari (Israel Nation News) reports
US Secretary of State John Kerry has gotten bitchy -- they really need to think of a new name for the State Dept since bitchy has replaced diplomacy -- about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu:
The comments, according to The Huffington Post, came as Kerry was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Committee member Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) pointed to Netanyahu’s upcoming address to the Congress as evidence of the weakness of the deal being negotiated between Iran and the six world powers.“The Prime Minister was also profoundly forward-leaning and very outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq and George W. Bush,” Kerry shot back, referring to Netanyahu.David Francis (Foreign Policy) refers
to Kerry as "the nation's top diplomat" but that should probably be "the nation's top bitch." At any rate, Francis notes:It was an odd critique from Kerry, who had voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. It was also the latest in a string of increasingly harsh and personal attacks on Netanyahu by senior administration officials.On Tuesday night, National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Charlie Rose in an interview that Netanyahu’s visit “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate. I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”
Kerry did a little bit more than vote "to authorize the invasion of Iraq." Focusing just on Iraq, here's how David Paul Kuhn (CBS News) covered
Kerry's flip-flops back in 2004:Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in January 1991, Kerry broke with the majority of senators and voted against authorizing the first Gulf War. He said on the Senate floor, "It is a vote about war because whether or not the president exercises his power, we will have no further say after this vote."
Kerry thus voted against war after Iraq took aggressive military action. He said a vote in favor of military action was tantamount to giving Congress "no further say" on the war.
In October 2002, he supported the current war in Iraq, despite the fact that Iraq took no aggressive action against its neighbors.
In announcing his candidacy for president, in September 2003, he said his October 2002 vote was simply "to threaten" the use of force, apparently backtracking from his belief in 1991 that such a vote would grant the president an open-ended ticket to wage war.
If I Knew Then What I Know Now…"We should not have gone to war knowing the information that we know today," Kerry said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "Knowing there was no imminent threat to America, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, knowing there was no connection of Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda, I would not have gone to war. That's plain and simple."
But on Aug. 9, 2004, when asked if he would still have gone to war knowing Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, Kerry said: "Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have." Speaking to reporters at the edge of the Grand Canyon, he added: "[Although] I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has."
The Kerry campaign says voting to authorize the war in Iraq is different from deciding diplomacy has failed and waging war. But Kerry's nuanced position has contradicted itself on whether it was right or wrong to wage the war.
In May 2003, at the first Democratic primary debate, John Kerry said his vote authorizing the president to use force was the "right decision" though he would have "preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity."
But then in January 2004, Kerry began to run as anti-war candidate, saying, "I don't believe the president took us to war as he should have."
The $87 Billion Vote
In September 2003, Kerry implied that voting against wartime funding bills was equivalent to abandoning the troops.
"I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running," he said.
Then, in October 2003, a year after voting to support the use of force in Iraq, Kerry voted against an $87 billion supplemental funding bill for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He did support an alternative bill that funded the $87 billion by cutting some of President Bush's tax cuts.
But when it was apparent the alternative bill would not pass, he decided to go on record as not supporting the legislation to fund soldiers.
Kerry complicated matters with his now infamous words, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."
Who is John Kerry to criticize anyone for how they acted re: Iraq or what they supported?
Maybe since he -- at one time or another -- pretty much supported everything, he feels he's an 'expert'?
The only expertise he's showing these days is bitchy.
And it's all over the State Dept. For example, in Monday's State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Jen Psaki took part:
QUESTION: Iraqi Kurdish officials have accused Baghdad – I’m not sure if you’ve seen the reports – of having failed to abide by the most recent agreement over oil and budget. Prime Minister Abadi says, because partly of the oil price drop, Iraq has no money to send to the KRG. KRG says why does Iraq – why is Iraq able to pay the salaries of all of the Iraqis, including the residents of Mosul, except for Kurdistan.Is that your assessment that the agreement between Baghdad and Kurdistan is unraveling?
MS. PSAKI: It is not. We understand that both Baghdad and Erbil remain committed to seeking implementation of the deal that is enshrined in the budget law. We recognize that Iraq writ large is facing financial difficulties due to low oil prices, the large refugee and IDP population, and the need to focus on defense spending because of the fight against ISIL. I would refer you to the Government of Iraq, but I do also recall news reports that Baghdad transferred two payments totaling $1 billion late last year as part of the agreement that was reached. So certainly, it’s not accurate to suggest that --
QUESTION: But this year, they haven’t done it according to the top Kurdish officials. They were just in Baghdad last week. Baghdad said --
MS. PSAKI: Well, the Iraqi parliament also just recently passed its $103 billion 2015 budget, which includes payments to the KRG. So I would point you to the Government of Iraq to ask that question.
QUESTION: So would you be concerned as the United States – if that is true, which is really true, that Iraq has not paid or is not going to pay KRG --
MS. PSAKI: I don’t see what you’re presenting as evidence that it’s true.
QUESTION: Why is --
MS. PSAKI: Or do you have more information you want to provide us?
QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. The prime minister of Kurdistan, he just talked to the media, and he’s --
MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m just referring to the fact that last year there were two payments reportedly made. I would certainly have you confirm that with the relevant authorities. The budget just passed. It includes payment to the KRG – payments to the KRG. Both sides have said they’re committed to the plan. So I’d suggest you pose your questions to the Iraqi Government on this issue.
How bad was the bitchy?
So bad that the State Dept hasn't held a press briefing since.Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) counts
187 violent deaths today in Iraq and 100 people kidnapped.wbailaw and disorder radiomichael s. smithheidi boghosianmichael ratner
Posted at 10:16 pm by thecommonills
Arkansas Passes First Abortion Restriction of 2015
The ACLU issued the following today:
February 25, 2015
More Than 100 Restrictions Introduced in Legislatures Across the Country
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW YORK – The governor of Arkansas has signed the first abortion restriction of 2015. The bill restricts medication abortions by preventing them via telemedicine, which allows doctors to provide care to patients remotely.
Evidence shows that medication abortion can be provided safely via telemedicine, which is expanding access to health care across the country. This law effectively bans that practice, cutting off a safe option that could expand abortion access for women.
“It’s crystal clear that these laws are motivated by a desire to keep a woman who has decided to have an abortion from getting one,” said Jennifer Dalven, director of the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project. “We all want women to be safe, but these laws aren’t about improving care for women. They’re designed by politicians, not doctors, to cut off access to safe, legal abortion by any means necessary.”
In the previous regular session, Arkansas passed laws that banned abortions at 12 weeks and 20 weeks and blocked insurance coverage for abortion on the health care exchange. Legislators also attempted to ban abortions so early that many women do not even know they are pregnant.
Arkansas is only the first state expected to pass abortion restrictions this year. Politicians in state legislatures have already introduced more than 100 abortion
restrictions in 2015. For example:
- The West Virginia House has already passed a 20-week ban;
- Several states have introduced Texas-style legislation specifically designed to force abortion clinics to close;
- Several states have introduced legislation designed to prevent a woman from getting an abortion by cutting of insurance coverage;
- Several states have introduced bills that would force a woman to delay getting an abortion after she has already made her decision;
- States across the country, and the U.S. Congress, are advancing bills that would ban abortions outright.
Medical experts like the American College of Gynecologists oppose these types of bills because they have no medical basis and block access to care.aclu
Posted at 10:15 pm by thecommonills
Blundering their way through
The New Statesman doesn't do much these days. Which makes it all the more embarrassing when they feature an outsider like BBC's John Simpson
He's supposed to be someone's who has made their mark.
He's not even Jim Muir.
But with decades of nothing on his resume, he draws on his vast inability to break a scoop in order to offer a pandering and patronizing column which includes passages such as this:Iraq’s new prime minister, the short and bouncy Haider al-Abadi, is a British-trained engineer who, as an exile from Saddam Hussein, used to run a highly successful business in London building lifts and designing transportation systems. It was his decision to lift the curfew in order to show people in the most practical way that things were getting better. His predecessor and rival Nouri al-Maliki, more gloomy and bitter than ever after being pushed out of office last summer, argued strongly against it. Still, it seems to be working. The people of Baghdad are being given a glimpse of what life might be, if only Iraq could free itself from terrorism.
Yes, a glimpse! The end of a curfew is just like "what life might be" if it were "free . . . from terrorism."
Next up, John Simpson heads to Brighton to report a band of unruly 14-year-olds whose terrorist parents have put them on curfew.
In the real world, Eli Lake (Daily Beast) offers
some genuine issues when he explores that stated -- US government stated -- plan to attack Mosul shortly:But the apparent disagreement over the time frame is significant: If Iraq were to re-take Mosul without a real plan for what comes next -- i.e., having credible Sunni Arab leaders in place to administer the city -- it could intensify sectarian hostility that is already breaking Iraq apart.The worse-case scenario is a repeat of what happened in Amirli, a town north of Baghdad that was retaken from Islamic State forces in September by a mixture of Iraqi army troops, Kurdish Peshmerga and Shiite militias supported by Iran. Human rights groups have been documenting how in the aftermath of the battle, Shiite militiamen attacked Sunni Arabs who were not connected to the Islamic State and burned the homes of Sunni families, simply as retribution. In Congressional testimony in December, Sarah Margon, the Washington director for Human Rights Watch said, "crudely empowered Shia militias are being used to punish the Sunni population because of its sect." So, assuming Iraq really is preparing to take Mosul in the spring, it's worth asking who will be doing the liberating.
On the gabby announcements by the US government, Al Bawaba notes
, "Iraqi officials have expressed
irritation and analysts skepticism at the US prediction that an offensive to retake Iraq's key city of Mosul from jihadists could be launched in April-May.
" Kate Brannen (Foreign Policy) adds
:The Pentagon is walking back its public plans to help Iraqi forces seize Mosul from the Islamic State, chastened by a backlash in Baghdad for failing to inform leaders there before releasing details of the springtime offensive.Angered Iraqi officials said the unusual level of detail released about the Mosul operation — including that it would likely launch in April or May — created the appearance that the U.S. is leading the battle, and not Iraqi forces.
Who's in charge?
Specifically who's in charge of the US effort?
You have Republicans and Democrats in Congress publicly criticizing the Pentagon's announcement and now you've got the Iraqi government doing the same.
Who's making these blunders?
Where is the oversight and the planning in any of this?
Oh, right, bombings from airplanes have passed for a 'plan' by the White House. Why should we be surprised by continued blunders after they've confused a tactic with a plan for months?
The following community sites -- plus Jody Watley, Antiwar.com and Dissident Voice -- updated:
The e-mail address for this site is email@example.com
.iraqthe new statesmanjohn simpsonalsumariabloomberg newseli lakealbawabaforeign policykate branneniraqiraqiraq
Posted at 10:09 pm by thecommonills
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Tuesday, February 24, 2015. Chaos and violence continue, Amnesty International releases a report documenting abuses in Iraq, the media looks away as they did with the United Nations report on Monday, we note some of the US reporters who have really reported from Iraq, we (again) dispel the myth of McClatchy, and much more.
Today Amnesty International issued "Amnesty International Report 2014/15: The State of the World's Human Rights.
" The section on Iraq opens with:
There was a marked deterioration in human rights as armed conflict intensified between government security forces and fighters of the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) armed group, which gained control of large parts of central and northern Iraq. IS fighters committed widespread war crimes, including ethnic cleansing of religious and ethnic minorities through a campaign of mass killings of men and abduction and sexual and other abuse of women and girls. Government forces carried out indiscriminate bombing and shelling in IS-controlled areas, and government-backed Shi’a militias abducted and executed scores of Sunni men in areas under government control. The conflict caused the deaths of some 10,000 civilians between January and October, forcibly displaced almost 2 million people and created a humanitarian crisis. This was exacerbated by the continuing influx of thousands of refugees from Syria, mostly to Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region. The government continued to hold thousands of detainees without charge or trial, many of them in secret detention with no access to the outside world. Torture and other ill-treatment in detention remained rife, and many trials were unfair. Courts passed many death sentences, mostly on terrorism charges; more than 1,000 prisoners were on death row, and executions continued at a high rate.
That the Islamic State is committing crimes and overseeing horrors is not hard to discover in reports and 'reports' in the western media.
The fact that Iraq's government forces are doing the same?
Much harder to find reported in the western media.
For example, starting in January of 2014, then-prime minister Nouri al-Maliki began bombing the civilian areas of Falluja -- a Sunni dominate city. Bombing civilians areas as collective punishment? Legally defined as War Crimes. These bombings quickly became daily bombings.
The western press looked the other way until September 13, 2014 when new prime minister Haider al-Abadi announced these bombings had been stopped.
That the western press rushed to cover.
But, thing is, bombings continued the next day and ever since. The bombing of the residential neighborhoods in Falluja has never stopped.
These bombings are acknowledged in a sentence in the Amnesty report:Government forces used indiscriminate shelling to regain control over Fallujah and parts of Ramadi from ISIS, killing civilians and causing damage to civilian infrastructure. Anbar province remained in conflict throughout the year amid allegations that Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki had undermined efforts by tribal leaders to broker a solution. The government’s failure to resolve the crisis, among other factors, left Anbar unable to stem the rapid military advance of ISIS, whose fighters seized control of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in June and then much of Anbar, Diyala, Kirkuk, Ninevah and Salah al-Din provinces. This sparked a dramatic resurgence in sectarian tensions and massive displacement of communities at risk from armed attacks by ISIS or government air strikes. Ethnic and religious minorities were particularly targeted by ISIS, which forced all non-Sunni and non-Muslims out of the areas under its control.
The report also notes:Government forces and Shi’a militias armed and backed by the government committed war crimes and human rights violations, predominantly targeting Sunni communities. In Anbar, Mosul and other areas under IS control, government forces carried out indiscriminate air strikes in civilian areas, including with barrel bombs, that killed and injured civilians. In September, Prime Minister al-Abadi called on the security forces to cease all shelling of civilian areas, but air strikes in IS-controlled areas continued, with ensuing civilian casualties. Security forces and Shi’a militias abducted or detained Sunnis and carried out scores of extrajudicial executions with impunity. In areas where they regained control from IS, they also destroyed homes and businesses of Sunni residents, in reprisal for the alleged support for IS by members of those communities. KRG Peshmerga forces also carried out reprisal destruction of homes of Sunni Arab residents in areas they recaptured from IS.
Will any of the above get serious attention from the western press?
Did the findings in the United Nations report issued on Monday get any serious western press attention?
No, they did not.
The reports was issued by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq and is entitled [PDF format warning] "Report on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflict in Iraq: 11 September - 10 December 2014
The report notes:
During the reporting period UNAMI/OHCHR continued to receive reports alleging civilian casualties attributed to airstrikes and shelling by Government security forces and those supporting them -- that at times appear to have been carried out against civilian targets or heedless of the disproportionate effects of those operations on civilians, in which case it would amount to war crimes. Hundreds of civilians were reportedly killed (including at least 3 children) from airstrikes and shelling during the reporting period. However, in many cases, UNAMI/OHCHR has not been able to verify these reports nor the number of civilian casualties that may have caused . On 13 September, Prime Minister al - Abadi released a statement that he had ordered the Iraqi Air Force to s uspend bombardment in civilian areas, including those controlled by ISIL, and expressed his commitment to protect civilians. The statement was ostensibly in response to increasing concerns regarding civilian casualties stemming from airstrikes and shelling by Government forces,
Did CNN rush to cover the report?
Did the Washington Post, McClatchy or the New York Times?
Now it took forever for the report to get back to Falluja.
Because the United Nations is so cowardly -- especially UNAMI.
So you went from the bombing of civilian areas in Falluja to other bombings by forces -- Iraqi as well as the US-led foreign fighters -- before the report would (briefly) get back to Iraq.ISF, and coalition forces 32 assisting the Government of Iraq, are bound to respect applicable humanitarian law in the conduct of military operations. These norms include the principles of distinction and proportionality, and the requirement to take all reasonable precautions to avoid and minimize incidental loss of civilian life, injury to civilians, and damage to civilian objects. UNAMI/OHCHR notes one confirmed case (and there have been a few other similar reports cited in local media), where the Iraqi Air Force dropped leaflets from the Ministry of Defense advising civilians to evacuate areas occupied by ISIL that may be potential targets in military operations. As noted above, ISIL continues to deliberately position itself in civilian areas and within civilian infrastructure, such as schools and hospitals, either to use the presence of civilians to shield their forces from attack or to cause civilian casualties in the event of attack. Salah al-Din governorate reported the highest number of civilian casualties due to airstrikes, with allegedly 67 civilians killed during the reporting period. Subsequent to ISIL complex attack on the sub-district of Dhuluiya on 8 September, ISF began a series of airstrikes in defense of the area. Several aerial bombardments of the area during the remainder of September allegedly resulted in the deaths of at least 11 civilians , and the injury of two others. On 8 October, ISF shelling on Tikrit reportedly killed at least 14 civilians. On 9 and 10 November, shelling allegedly by ISF in al - Alam sub-district, including in a market area, reportedly killed at least seven civilians and wounded 14 more. On 14 October, in the Kahrabaa area of Baiji district , an air strike reportedly hit two houses, killing 18 persons, most allegedly civilians. On 17 October, an airstrike in the Albo - Tuama area of Salah al - Din was alleged to have killed five people from one family, including one woman and three children. On 21 October, a building collapsed in the central part of Baiji district after it was targeted in an airstrike. According to one source, a second air strike killed at least five people and wounded at least 10 others who had gone to the site to retrieve those killed and injured by the first strike. On 29 November, an airstrike allegedly targeted a vehicle in Yathrib sub-district, killing one civilian, with a second strike targeting a house where a family had allegedly gathered for a funeral. It was reported that at least 15 civilians (including four children) were killed and another 25 were injured in the attack. Local sources have reported that a predominately Sunni Arab area of Yathrib sub-district has been under regular attack by ISF and government-affiliated forces from Balad Air Base (formerly the al-Bakr Air Base) over the past several months. Approximately 15 - 20 villages have been affected, with the most severe impact on al-Jami’y a area, where it is alleged that almost half of the 600 homes were destroyed by shelling. Number of casualties could not be verified due to lack of access to the affected area. Residents have claimed that they are under threat of being shot if they entered their fields for agricultural purposes. It is alleged that the main actor conducting military operations in the area is the Asa’ib Ahl al - Haq (AAH).Sources in Ninewa also alleged that the governorate had experienced a high number of air attacks during the reporting period. On the morning of 10 September, an air strike allegedly hit al-Majmoua area, north of Mosul, reportedly killing 11 civilians. In the afternoon of the same day, two additional air strikes in al - Shurta and Ba’aj areas allegedly killed at least seven civilians and wounded three more. Air strikes carried out on 17 October north of Mosul allegedly killed at least 26 civilians. It was further reported that on 7 November, two air strikes killed 10 civilians, including two children in Qayyara district. UNAMI/OHCHR received several reports of air strikes in Anbar governorate, but due to the security situation was not able to verify these incidents or the casualties that are alleged to have resulted. On 6 October, an air strike allegedly hit civilian buildings in Heet, killing at least 18 civilians (including three women and eight children), with an undetermined number of wounded. Other sources, however, reported that the target of the air strike was ISIL, and that the three civilian houses had been hit with resulting civilian casualties in subsequent shelling of the area. It was also alleged that on 4 November, an air strike hit a market in al-Qaim, western Anbar, killing at least five civilians and wounding at least 27 more. Four days later on 8 November, another strike reportedly killed at least 13 civilians in the same area. Sources in Fallujah General Hospital reported that 144 bodies (including 18 children) had been received during September, 398 (including 26 children) during October, and 2 94 bodies (including 8 children) during November. Sources in the hospital alleged that most of these casualties had resulted from shelling carried out by the Iraqi army and associated forces. UNAMI/OHCHR was not able to verify these figures.
Took them five paragraphs to get back to Falluja but eventually they did.
Again, did the western press rush to cover the UN's report?
Nor will they rush to cover Amnesty International's report.
There's nothing in it for them.
First off, it would require getting honest.
They've lied and whored for years now. Nouri's crimes didn't happen cloaked in darkness.
He did what he did out in the open.
And most western reporters were like the Whore of Baghdad herself, Jane Arraf, willing to look the other way over and over and over.
Of course, Whore of Baghdad Jane Arraf spent the 90s doing the same thing, looking the other way while the Iraqi government carried out crimes against the citizens. She did that throughout Saddam Hussein's tenure as ruler.
So it's no surprise that she would do the same under Nouri al-Maliki.
Now the attacks on civilian and civilian areas didn't stop when Nouri al-Maliki was replaced as prime minister. The following from the UN report occurs once Haider al-Abadi takes over as prime minister:
Airstrikes were also reported from Kirkuk and Diyala governorates. On 18 September , in Diyala province, five mortar rounds reportedly impacted Dhubab village, killing three civilians and injuring seven others. According to a security source, the mortar rounds had bee n fired mistakenly by ISF and a militia. An airstrike on 19 November in Qara Tapa allegedly killed four civilians and wounded 15 more in an area where a large number of displaced persons from Jalawla had reportedly taken refuge. According to applicable rules of international humanitarian law, civilian infrastructure remains immune from attack , unless and for such time as they are used by a party to the conflict for military objectives. UNAMI/OHCHR has received reports that ISIL and associated armed groups have deliberately positioned themselves in civilian buildings, including hospitals, in order to conduct operations and in an attempt to shield themselves from attack. On 6 September an airstrike reportedly struck Hawija hospital in Kirkuk governorate , killing two women and five children hospitalized in the children's ward and wounding two medical staff. As a result of the attack, the pediatric and neonatal intensive care unit was temporarily closed. On 13 September, an airstrike reportedly hit a storage shed containing oxygen cylinders in al-Salam Hospital, eastern Mosul, killing one worker and wounding six. UNAMI/OHCHR received unverified reports that on the evening of 29 October several rockets were fired on Fallujah General Hospital by the Iraqi army and associated armed forces, wounding one staff member and causing material damage to hospital equipment and infrastructure. On 22 November and 4 December, ISF and associated forces once again allegedly shelled Fallujah General Hospital. No casualties were reported, but the shelling allegedly resulted in material damage to the infrastructure, including the dialysis unit. On 5 November, an airstrike is alleged to have hit a gathering of people near a hospital in al-Qaim, western Anbar, killing three and wounding 14 others.
Falluja General Hospital has been repeatedly targeted -- under Nouri al-Maliki, under Haider al-Abadi. It's not the only hospital in Falluja that has been.
And these attacks are either completely ignored by the western media or they are mentioned in passing and never called out.
They need to be called out.
I'm not the weak ass United Nations. Bombing hospitals? War Crimes.
Legally defined as such.
Not just 'against international law,' War Crimes -- considered to be the most outrageous of crimes.
The Amnesty report notes:The authorities held thousands of detainees without charge or trial under provisions of the anti-terrorism law. In February, the head of the Parliament’s Human Rights Committee alleged that around 40,000 detainees remained in prison awaiting investigations. Many were held in prisons and detention centres run by various government ministries. A letter sent by the Central Investigation Court to the Head of the Supreme Judicial Council in 2013, published in April 2014, reported that authorities continued to carry out unlawful arrests using a list containing partial names of thousands of suspects that the Anti-terrorism General Directorate had sent to police stations in connection with sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007. This was believed to have led to the detention of the wrong people on the basis that part of their names corresponded to partial names on the list.
You may remember when the western press was interested in the above . . .
When Nouri made a for-show 'release' of a handful of detainees.
The western press didn't give a damn about it otherwise.
They were silent.
They looked the other way.
This is one of the factors in Iraq's ongoing political crises.
But the western press only covered it when Nouri did a for-show release.
The Amnesty International report notes:
Torture and other ill-treatment remained common and widespread in prisons and detention centres, particularly those controlled by the Ministries of the Interior and Defence, and were committed with impunity. These centres were blocked to inspection by the Independent High Commission for Human Rights. Interrogators tortured detainees to extract information and “confessions” for use against them at trial; sometimes detainees were tortured to death. Government representatives attending the Universal Periodic Review of Iraq at the UN Human Rights Council said the authorities had investigated 516 torture cases between 2008 and 2014, with many resulting in prosecutions, but provided no details and did not identify the security agencies responsible. ’Uday Taha Kurdi, a lawyer and father of two, died in June after 15 days of detention by Anti-terrorism General Directorate officials in Baghdad. In a letter to the Iraqi Lawyers’ Union in July, the Ministry of the Interior said that ’Uday Taha Kurdi had suffered a “health problem” in detention and had been taken to hospital, where he died. The Ministry also said that a judge had concluded that ’Uday Taha Kurdi, whose brother was held on terrorism charges, was “from the IS leadership” and belonged to “a terrorist family”, and that he had told the judge, when asked, that he had not been tortured. The Supreme Judicial Council said his death resulted from kidney failure, not torture as alleged. However, photographs of ’Uday Taha Kurdi’s body taken at the morgue and obtained by Amnesty International showed that he had sustained bruises, open wounds and burns - consistent with allegations of torture - prior to his death.
Again, the western press didn't give a damn.
They only really turned on Nouri after Barack did in June of 2014.
Two notable exceptions: Ned Parker and Dexter Filkins.
Ned Parker's done the best western reporting out of Iraq -- first for the Los Angeles Times and now for Reuters. Dexter Filkins was 'late to truth' -- I'm trying to be nice -- but in 2014 began a series of truth telling articles that surpass anything most outlets have done. By the way, hallmark of an idiot talking about western reporting?
They compose sentences that include crap like this:McClatchy - one of the few news outlets with a long record of skeptical war coverage - pointed to a mountain of evidence
I get it. Old whore Bill Moyers pimped the lie and it's all about repeating what some whore told you -- that is the modern western press -- as opposed to doing your own actual work.
McClatchy has no "long record of skeptical war coverage."
It did nothing to question war on Iraq in 2002 or 2003.
Now some idiot -- who probably viewed multiple episodes of programs hosted by Bill Moyers -- so blame PBS for letting him lie repeatedly -- will insist, "McClatchy was the only outlet who told the truth in the lead up to the Iraq War."
No, it did not.
And you're a damn liar or a damn fool if you repeat that claim.
McClatchy Newspapers has been around since 1857.
Find me the brave coverage in the 20th century?
It doesn't exist.
And they also weren't skeptical of the lies told to start the war on Iraq.
And that's the real story of journalism in the US.
Tell the truth about Poppy Bush, for example, the way the Houston Press did?
You end up out of business, you end up bought out by the Houston Chronicle which has buried one Bush scandal after another over the years.
Tell the truth about Iraq?
Knight Ridder got bought by McClatchy in the middle of 2006.
McClatchy had numerous papers in 2002 and 2003.
They did not file skeptical coverage of the Iraq War.
Knight Ridder did.
So when someone like the Guardian's Trevor Trimm writes "McClatchy - one of the few news outlets with a long record of skeptical war coverage - [. . .]
"? They're confessing to being either a liar or an idiot.
Most of the Knight Ridder's reporters that worked on the Iraq coverage are gone.
The ones who mattered.
Warren Strobel, for example, is at Reuters. Margaret Talev is now with Bloomberg.
Jonathan S. Landay is really the only one who remains.
For awhile, Nancy A. Youssef was still there (she's now at The Daily Beast).
But Youssef wasn't important for the bulk of her career. She filed one report that mattered -- it was published on Knight Ridder's last day.
But what Landay and Youssef did beginning in 2009 especially, would never have been allowed at Knight Ridder.
At Knight Ridder, their public devotion and embrace of Barack Obama -- in one Diane Rehm show appearance after another -- would have gotten them disciplinary action because as reporters they were supposed to be seen as objective.
Knight Ridder was about journalism.
McClatchy's really not.
There's been some good reporting from Iraq by McClatchy over the years. Good, not great. Leila Fadel's overall work -- especially originally -- was probably among the best.
Roy Gutman -- and his notorious chuckle on Diane Rehm's show -- was among the embarrassments.
So was the way McClatchy walked away from the Iraqi journalists who did the bulk of the work in Iraq -- often with no or little credit. And, yes, Hannah loves to give speeches about not abandoning those reporters but she can't write about them, she can't even Tweet about them.
Which is why so many concerned about Iraqi refugees -- so many working on the issue in this country -- see Hannah's embarrassing little speeches as not really being about the Iraqi people but about selling herself as 'caring' and 'wonderful.'
And if that hurts Hannah Allam's feelings she can certainly prove me (and many others) wrong by at the very least using her Twitter account to get the word out on Iraqi refugees.
By the way, a real news outlet wouldn't let Hannah Tweet the way she does.
A real news outlet would object to the Circle Jerk.
In fact one did.
That's why Ezra Klein's at his laughable Vox
(is it really about to go under?) after being 'freed' (fired) by the Washington Post
Any day of Hannah's Circle Jerk Tweets demonstrate a liberal agenda.
Now it's a corporate liberal agenda to be sure.
But none the less, the bias is on full display in one Tweet after another.
Knight Ridder wouldn't have allowed it.
McClatchy's such a joke they don't even notice.
In fairness, the right wing media critics don't seem to notice either.
The Twitter feeds by individual MSM journalists are where to go to see the bias blatantly displayed. But Newsbusters, et al, never seem to notice.
Once they do, news outlets might start clamping down -- as they should -- on so-called reporters who think they can act like columnists.
I could care less what a Paul Krugman or a Michelle Malkin Tweet on. They're columnists, they're supposed to traffic in opinion.
But for so-called reporters to be Tweeting like their MSNBC hosts?
And it'll be disturbing when a Republican's in the White House because then they'll go back to sucking up to the GOP.
That's the thing about media whores -- look at Brian Williams -- they go to bed with whomever's in power.
Let's drop back to the December 30, 2013 snapshot
Sunday, December 22nd, Nouri yet again called peaceful protesters 'terrorists' and announced he would stop the protests.
He wanted to attack last Tuesday but a last minute flurry of meetings by various officials and political blocs caused Nouri to withdraw the forces he had encircling the Ramadi protest square. Then came Friday. From that day's snapshot:
Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports Nouri al-Maliki again threatened the protesters today. He declared this will be their last Friday protest and that he will burn the tents in the protest squares down. He declared that the protesters were guilty of sedition. Sedition? Nouri as William Bligh? I can see it. Kitabat notes that he made these remarks in a televised interview. Kitabat also notes Nouri's been insisting 30 terrorist leaders are hiding in protest tents.
We still can't get to today yet.
That's Falluja on Saturday as tons poured into the street to protest Nouri's latest stunt.
They were protesting the Saturday dawn raid that Nouri's forces carried out on an MP. MP Ahmed al-Alwani was illegally arrested. But there's more. Alsumaria reported that his home was stormed by Nouri's SWAT forces at dawn and that 5 people (bodyguards and family) were killed (this included his brother) while ten family members (including children) were left injured.
By now, we all know the drill.
What is al-Alwani?
Yes, he's Sunni.
And he's also, we all know this, a member of Iraqiya.
If you're targeted by Nouri, then you are both things.
Or, as conservative Max Boot (Commentary) put it today, "If it’s the end of December or the beginning of January, it must be time for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to arrest another prominent Sunni politician."
The people of Anbar did not respond well to Nouri breaking the law and arresting an MP.
I've often criticized and ridiculed Max Boot.
But I've also noted it any time I've seen him get it right.
While one outlet after another couldn't get their act together, Boot got it right (noted above).
From the November 24, 2014 snapshot
Today, All Iraq News reports it's been decided to put former MP Ahmed al-Alwani to death. He was arrested December 29, 2013 the outlet notes. His brother was killed in the arrest ordered by thug Nouri al-Maliki, an arrest that was actually a raid in the early, pre-dawn hours of the morning.
This will have huge implications.
For example, the tribe he belongs to is one of the key tribes in the fight against the Islamic State. Equally true, his arrest (and the murder of his brother) outraged the Sunni community.
This is the wrong time to be executing a Sunni politician -- with the new prime minister Haider al-Abaidi having done nothing of significance to improve Sunni relations or to include them in the government.
We note that because Amnesty International's report notes the Iraqi 'justice' system and Ahmed al-Alwani:
The criminal justice system remained deeply flawed. The judiciary lacked independence. Judges and lawyers involved in trials of members of armed groups continued to be targets for killings, abductions and assaults by armed groups. Trials, particularly of defendants facing terrorism charges, were frequently unfair; courts returned guilty verdicts on the basis of torture-tainted “confessions”, which were often broadcast on the government-controlled al-Iraqiya TV channel. Other guilty verdicts were based on evidence from secret, unidentified informants, including in cases that resulted in death sentences.In November, a Baghdad court sentenced former leading Sunni parliamentarian Ahmed al-‘Alwani to death on terrorism-related charges after a grossly unfair trial. Security forces had arrested him in December 2013 after they forcibly dispersed a year-long protest in Anbar.
Again Nouri's actions were public. They weren't hidden. They weren't covert.
The Iraqi press -- who had the most to risk -- were the ones who could and did report the truth: All Iraq News, National Iraqi News Agency, Alsumaria, Al Mada and Dar Addustour among them.
But the western press -- especially the US press -- can't make the same claim.
You can give credit to Liz Sly (Washington Post) and to Kelly McEvers (NPR) for some strong reporting on Iraq in the last years of Nouri's reign of terror.
But that's really about it.
And that's why there's no work on real solutions for Iraq today.
The American people are largely unaware of what Nouri spent his two terms -- especially his second term -- doing and how it tore apart Iraq.
They're unaware -- but not because they're 'stupid.' They're unaware because the western media largely and repeatedly refused to tell the truth.
And for those who don't have the time to go back and research that coverage, grasp that United Nations released a report on Monday and Amnesty released one today and that both document Iraqi government attacks on the Iraqi people but the western media really doesn't see that as news or worthy of coverage. The laughable SITE issues some 'alert' and the media runs with it. Because SITE promotes war. But anything that might complicate a rush to further war in Iraq?
The western media isn't interested as they make clear day after day.
At Foreign Policy
, David Kenner interviews thug Nouri and others for a piece entitled "Nobody Puts Nouri in the Corner
." And Margaret Griffis (Antiwar.com) notes
at least 197 violent deaths took place across Iraq today.antiwar.commargaret griffis
Posted at 10:49 pm by thecommonills
IAVA Statement on Secretary Bob McDonald
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America
issued the following:
New York, NY (February 24, 2015) —
IAVA today released the following statement from CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff:
“While trying to connect with a homeless veteran, Secretary McDonald
clearly made a mistake. He called me personally today to apologize for
that mistake and we at IAVA accept his apology. We know Secretary
McDonald is a man of exceptional commitment who served honorably and
cares deeply about our veterans. All of America has witnessed his deep
dedication to our community in his first few months on the job. IAVA is
committed to helping him succeed in this extremely tough job and to
focusing on the most urgent challenges facing us like reforming VA,
battling suicide and ending homelessness. We hope critics and leaders in
the media will commit to the same.”
Note to media: Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.
Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (www.IAVA.org) is the
nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization
representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000
Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th
year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating -
four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity
Posted at 08:23 pm by thecommonills
Legion statement on McDonald's Special Forces claim
The American Legion issued the following today:
Legion National Commander Michael D. Helm called VA Secretary Robert
McDonald’s characterization of his service “a poor choice of words.”
“In an effort to bond with a homeless veteran, Secretary McDonald told
him he was in the Special Forces,” Helm said. “He did complete Ranger
training and served honorably with the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division.
But a lie is a lie. I can’t believe people do this. What a
disappointment from the leader of a department whose number one issue
right now is the restoration of trust. He should be held to a higher
standard. The secretary has apologized, as he certainly should. We hope
that he can restore the trust that he has lost.”
Posted at 08:22 pm by thecommonills
Secretary McDonald’s False Claim of Special Forces Service Not Surprising Fits Pattern Of Misrepresenting The Truth, Reinforces Mistrust in the VA
Concerned Veterans for America
issued the following today:
– Today, Concerned Veterans for America
(CVA) CEO Pete Hegseth issued the following statement in response to the revelation that VA Secretary Robert McDonald falsely claimed that he served in the Army’s Special Forces
“CVA is not surprised that Secretary
McDonald was caught exaggerating his military service when he was just
found by multiple fact checkers to have misrepresented the number of people fired by the VA as a result of the wait list scandal
on national television nonetheless. Unfortunately, Secretary McDonald,
who had promised to restore integrity to the VA, has through his own
actions and words reinforced the perception that the VA, and its
leaders, still cannot be trusted to tell the truth.
“While it is a good thing that Secretary
McDonald immediately and unequivocally apologized for misrepresenting
his military service, Secretary McDonald still has a long way to go
before he, and the organization he leads, can truly be trusted yet again
by the American people and the veterans they are tasked to serve.”
schedule a TV interview with Pete Hegseth, CEO of CVA, or other CVA
For other media
inquiries, contact Emily Laird at email@example.com or 571.302.0973.
Veterans for America is a non-partisan, non-profit, 501(c)(4)
organization that advocates for policies that will preserve the freedom
and liberty we and our families so proudly fought and sacrificed to
Posted at 08:21 pm by thecommonills
Paralyzed Veterans of America Responds to VA Secretary McDonald’s Special Forces Claim
Paralyzed Veterans of America issued the following today:
January 2015, while touring a rundown Los Angeles neighborhood during a nationwide count of homeless veterans
Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary Bob McDonald wrongly
claimed that he served in special operations forces, the most elite
units in the armed forces, when his military service of five years was
spent almost entirely with the 82nd Airborne Division during the late
1970s. He was accompanied by a CBS-TV news crew, which recorded an
exchange between McDonald and a homeless man who told McDonald he had
served in special forces.
“We're losing sight of the most important aspect of this story—the VA
Secretary was directly engaging one of many homeless veterans in the
west Los Angeles area, where this problem is most prevalent,” said Homer
S. Townsend Jr., executive director of Paralyzed Veterans of America
Los Angeles has the largest population of homeless military veterans
in the nation, estimated to be around 4,000. On January 28, 2015, the VA
announced its written plan to help end veterans homelessness in Greater
“Instead of spontaneously responding that he was special forces, he
should have clarified his actual military experience and chosen his
words more carefully. At least now, though, the country is paying
attention to the issue of veterans homelessness—a problem that has been
largely ignored by the mainstream until now.”
“Secretary McDonald has apologized for exaggerating what is his
otherwise honorable service,” Townsend said, “and we maintain our
support for him as he continues the effort to reduce veterans
homelessness, strengthen the VA healthcare system and ensure the timely
receipt of veterans benefits
Learn more about Paralyzed Veterans of America
Posted at 08:20 pm by thecommonills