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The Common Ills


Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Wednesday, June 20, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri wants Barack to kill an ExxonMobil deal, Nouri wants TOTAL to stay away from the KRG, Moqtada al-Sadr states the US is still controlling Iraq, US House Rep Bob Filner calls out the VA on its lack of progress, an American family tries to get the body of their loved one back from Iraq, and more.
 
 
House Veterans Affairs Committee Ranking Member Bob Filner: Now, by the way, Mr. [US House Rep Timothy] Walz -- now, Mr. Walz, she [VA Under Secretary Allison Hickey] doesn't need your defense here for her past accomplishments. And I don't need a lecture from you of her past.  We're talking about what she's going to do for the VA now. I'll stipulate any accomplishments that she's had. I respect her service.  But if she can't do this job, I don't care what she has done in the past.  Okay? So don't lecture me about how I don't have respect for someone's past.  She's talking about the future -- the present and the future.  And she didn't give one answer or one recognition that there was any problem -- in all her testimony, in every answer.  This Chairman [Marlin Stutzman] asked her a number of things. She talked for three-and-a-half minutes and didn't give the answer and still doesn't know the answer.  So let's talk about what she's doing right here and right now.  And I said if one of your veterans -- And she didn't answer your question, your very good questions, Mr. Walz, about the time period of what's going on in Minneapolis?  She just said, 'Oh, from time to time we have surges.'  You asked are we heading toward a lowest common denominator and she never answered that.  So don't -- I mean be a little more critical of the kind of answers we're getting.  We don't have a plan. This whole hearing was about a plan.  If I were her, I would have given out the plan.  But we still don't have one.  Again, Ms. Hickey, if I were you, leadership comes from the top. The top is saying, "There is no problem."  You ask any veteran in my district, in Mr. Walz' district, in Mr. [Mike] Michaud's district, in Mr. Stutzman's district: Is there a problem?  Every one will say, "Yes."  Now you can say, 'They don't understand fully.  Their perception is wrong, we've had a surge of this.  We did this.  We had the Vietnam era.'  I don't care what -- you have not either acknowledged the problem or say how we're going to get out of it.  You gave us an assurance of a date.  And Mr. Walz asked --  I know it's not a very bright question -- 'Are you committed? Is it going to happen?'  What is she going to say?  "No"?  We've had these questions, we've had these committments for years and years and years and years.  And Mr. Walz asked you another softball question: 'Has anything been tried as this big before?  We have tried every single thing that you have as your initiatives -- has been tried.   Every one of them at some point.  In fact, we've had far more comprehensive plans than your forty initiatives lumped together.  Nothing has worked.  It's gotten worse.  And you refuse to admit it.  You refuse to acknowledge it.  And you don't give us a plan to fix it.  What am I to think? 'Well, she was an Air Force General that did great things.'  If it doesn't happen by 2015, are you going to say I resign or what's going to happen if you're at the top?  And it's always two or three years out.  It's never, "I'm going to do this tomorrow."  You've been working on this.  Your predecessor's been working on this.  I don't have any assurance.  You can't even correct a date on the computer for a year-and-a-half and you call it a "glitch."  What confidence do I have that you can do anything if it took a year-and-a-half to fix a "glitch?"  The simplest thing.  Put a date in.  You could have done it by hand in a few months.  It took you a year-and-a-half.  You still haven't done it.  I'm sure we'll get a memo from you -- I just bet, you want to make a bet right now -- that you'll ask for another extension.  I just bet.  When's that going to be done?  Why should we have any confidence in 2015 that a system of a million backlog is going to be fixed when we can't even get a "glitch" fixed in a year-and-a-half?  What gives me the confidence?  That you were an Air Force General?  Sorry, it doesn't work. Give me some confidence.  What has worked so far?  Everything has been a problem.
 
Yesterday US House Rep Gus Bilirakis and other Republicans chaired a VBA hearing.  Chair Jeff Miller wasn't present for the hearing.  "Well here we are again," observed Ranking Member Bob Filner, "I think one of the first meetings I went to twenty years ago as a member of the Veterans Committee was on the backlog. We've hired what?  In the last few years, maybe 10,000, 15,000 employees."
 
 I spent last night on the phone to friends in federal, state and municipal government because Bilirakis brought up an issue that I didn't feel comfortable speaking to without some research.  Bilirakis noted the claims progress, or rather the lack of progess.
 
 
Acting Chair Gus Bilirakis: VBMS I know that I and my fellow Committee members and our Ranking Member have many questions to ask as to when this system will be ready for national roll out rolled out and how issues relating to the scanning of paper documents will be handled in the future.  As a matter of fact, VA's contract with the US National Archives and Records Administration, the agency currently handling VA's scanning needs, expires on June 26th, just one week from today.   I'll ask what goes after, what's going to happen on June 27th?
 
 
Backlog needs to be farmed out.  I'm not surprised or troubled by that.  I'm bothered by backlog being created as I type this sentence.  Paper taken in today should not become part of a backlog.  The first person touching that paper in the VA should be immediately scanning it into the system.  (Then it would be put in a box for archiving, as was explained last night, according to whatever retention program they're operating under.)  The paper needs to be addressed immediately.  And how do you address it?
 
You don't hire one or two people in the office to scan documents and carry the documents to them.  That's how you begin creating the backlog.  The first person to handle the paper, is the one who scans it.  Every one that comes after is referring to the digital copy in the system after that.  And everyone responsible for accepting paperwork or opening mail has a light scanner (inexpensive) attached to their computer and they immediately scan what they receive.
 
That's the only way you're going to end the paper backlog. There is no excuse for creating new backlog.   Again, I'm not disputing the farming out of the existing backlog.  There's no way VA employees can catch up with that and also do their current job tasks.  But new backlog should not be created.  You touch a claims application, you scan it in and then it goes to a pile to be boxed up for archives.  The original is not sent somewhere else in the office to be scanned or placed with stacks of others to be farmed out for scanning.
 
How much of a problem is the claims request?  Do they get lost?  I was told by three people with the VA that "missing" happens more than "lost" with "lost" meaning -- in their usuage -- it's not showing back up and "missing" meaning a week or two of fumbling around for the paper.  (How often are original paper documents "missing?"  "From time to time" and "it happens" were the responses, no one with the VA wanted to give a percentage or an estimate.) 
 
Many governments are already moving towards that.  In your local areas, getting an application to put up a fence means turning it and paying for the permit and more and more local governments are scanning that document in right there when payment is being taken.  They're doing that to prevent the loss that can take place when the original document is routed to one or more different people before it's entered into the system.  This is not a "C.I. brainstorm."  This is what is happening in government offices around the country and what the VA should immediately begin doing.  There is no need to create new backlog and even without a numbered estimate of how many claims application are lost each year, one is too many.    The longterm goal is for VA to move away from paper altogether.  They're not their yet and they're really not prepared for that at present which is the point US House Rep Phil Roe made -- he is also medical Dr. Phil Roe -- when he discusses his own practice's transition to paperless.  Disabled American Veterans Jeffrey Hall also raised the issue of the paper backlog, the future paperless goal and more.  Hall, VFW's Gerald Manar, The American Legion's Richard Dumancas and Paralyzed Veterans of America's Sherman Gillums made up the first panel.  The National Archives Records Administration's William Bosanko was the second panel.  The third panel was the IG.  Fourth panel was the VA's Allison Hickey, Alan Bozeman and Roger Baker.
 
 
Jeffrey Hall: Mr. Chairman, even before VBMS was first conceived, it was clear that in order to have a paperless claims process there must be a comprehensive system in place to digitze paper documents.  Yet VBA has failed to finalize a long-term scanning solution, in part because it has not yet definitively answered fundamental questions about when and which legacy documents will be scanned into VBMS.  Although VBA has committed to moving forward with a paparelss system for new claims, it has dragged its feet for more than two years in determining under what conditions existing paper claims files would be converted to digital files.  Because a majority of claims processed each year are for reopened or appealed claims and because files can remain active for decades, until all legacy claims are converted to digital data files, VBA could be forced to continue paper processing for decades.  We have been told that VBA's current plans are to convert claims files that have new rating-related actions, but not those with minor actions such as dependency or address changes.  However, the uncertainty over the past couple of years about how much scanning would be required, and at what cost, is at least partly responsible for VBA's reliance on NARA and its current rush to find a new scanning vendor.  While there are very difficult technical questions to be answered, and significant financial considerations involved in transitioning to all-digital processing, particular involving legacy paper files, we believe VBA would be best served by taking the most aggressive approach feasible in order to shorten the length of time this transition takes.  While the conversion from paper processing to VBMS will require substanital upfront investment, it will pay dividends for VBA and veterans in the future.  We would urge VBA to provide -- and Congress to review -- a clear plan for eliminating legacy paper files, one that includes realistic timeliness and resource requirements.
 
As noted before, there were several acting chairs for the hearing.  It was a disturbing hearing as we heard the same things that we've heard over and over.  But there were some new revelations as well.  However, that might have been even more disturbing.  Excerpt.
 
 
Acting Chair Marlin Stutzman: I'd like to do a second round because I'd like to talk about the scanning issue.  Why did it take this Committee calling a hearing for the VA to meet with NARA [National Archives and Records Administration] to discuss next week's scanning contract expiration?  I mean this is, I think, the frustration that's felt around here.  It's these sorts of things that we find out about and why isn't there some sort of pro-active movement before this?  Can you -- can you give us an explanation of why the contract is set to expire next week?  There isn't a contract.  Is there some other plan that the VBA is planning on implementing? Is it going to be done in-house? I mean, I know for us, Congressional offices, we have folks that we could use to scan things in.  I'm sure that you're system is a little bit more complicated.  We're spending ten million dollars a year, if I remember the number correctly.  It seems like we could do it cheaper and it seems like we could get it done.  Is there a plan to address that?
 
Allison Hickey:  Congressman -- I mean Chairman Stutzman, yes, there is.  I will defer the first part of it to my Assistant Secretary for Information Technology, Roger Baker. 
 
Roger Baker:  Thank you. I just want to talk to the NARA piece.  NARA's been our partner on this for two years so let me start with will we have an agreement with them by the end of this week to continue them for the next year? I believe the answer to that is "yes."  I know that's in process.  I checked with my staff while we were listening to this going on.  Got absolute assurances that there is really nothing in the way of that completing by the end of this week.  So it's a little bit different than a normal government contractor relationship.  Because it's a government-to-government relationship, it's much easier to do.  We've used NARA primarily from a development standpoint. 
 
That's more than enough from him.  I'm really tired of witnesses who eat time to avoid answering questions.  Stutzman would go on to ask about the cost.  "I really don't know," Baker told him.  The cost is a per-page scanned fee.  Well then you should know it.  And it's probably not a good idea to tell Congress and taxpayers that the deal will be closed by the end of the week but you don't know how much the VA will be paying for the scanning.  See, most people would assume that you find out the cost before you start closing on a contract.  Rushing to complete a deal when you don't know the cost doesn't look like you're being scrupulous with the taxpayer money. 
 
And it's not good to call something a plan when, as Acting Chair Stutzman noted, it's a presentation (slide show) of variables, not a plan.  Excerpt.
 
Ranking Member Bob Filner:  When you were asked: "Do you have a plan?," you said, "Yes, we supplied it to the Committee."  This is not a plan.  This is not a strategic plan.  I will ask you again, do you have a strategic plan?  And why don't you just have it with you and give it to us?  That's the title of this hearing [Reclaiming the Process: Examing the VBA Claims Transformation Plan as a Means to Effectively Serve our Veterans].  Do you have a plan to give to us this minute?
 
Allison Hickey: I do have a plan, Congressman Filner.
 
Ranking Member Bob Filner: You what?
 
Allison Hickey: I do have a plan.  I do not have it in this book, in these materials.  I'm happy to provide it for the Committee.
 
Ranking Member Bob Filner: Why are you providing it with us, a plan of execution?  You're going to provide it to us?  Why don't you have it here?  You have 18 people here working  for you.  Give us the plan.  That's all we're asking for.  You said you did it.  [Shaking head] We have some slides.  We don't have a strategic plan of how you're going to execute this so-called transformation which sounds more like a fossil-formation.  So where is the plan?
 
Allison Hickey:  Congressman Filner, I have the plan.  It's in Word document.
 
Ranking Member Bob Filner:  A secret one or what?
 
Allison Hickey: No, it is not a secret document.  In fact, I have shared it with Veterans Service Organizations, with our labor partners, with --
 
Ranking Member Bob Filner: I just said none of us have seen it.  Why don't you have it with you?
 
Allison Hickey: I will be happy to bring it to you, sir.
 
 
 
The paper backlog  and the some-day-transition-to-paperless are issues and are problems.  There are other problems. The worst backlog problems is veterans waiting and waiting for their claims to go through the process.  And, as Ranking Member Bob Filner noted, this isn't weeks or months, this is years.  He estimated that there were 100,000 Agent Orange claims -- from Vietnam era veterans -- waiting, over thirty years, he noted.
 
He noted that the IRS used to have a huge backlog and you waited and waited forever and ever for a refund check if you had one coming.  What changed that?  Why can you now file and get money within three weeks if you have a refund coming?  Because it's "subject to audit."
 
Ranking Memer Bob Filner argued that's what should be taking place with the VA today, "Grant the claim, subject to audit. Send out a check."
 
Ranking Member Bob Filner:  What have we done in the last few years? Doubled the backlogs. Raised the rate of inaccuracy, according to the recent report, up to 25%.  This is disgraceful.  This is an insult to our veterans. And you guys just recycle old programs, put new names on them, and here we are again.  Do you know what the definition -- one definition of insanity is?  Try the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.  I mean somebody has to take responsibility for this.  We just keep announcing new names, new pilot programs, on and on.  We're up to 1.2 million by one count on backlog. If it wasn't tragic, it would be ridiculous.
 
Acting Chair Bilirakis raised another issue that needs further attention.  So we'll ignore it here.  Seriously, it'll be carried over to Third on Sunday because it's one of the issues -- the first one -- that we discussed with Dona in "Congress and Veterans."  It has to do with education and I see Bilirakis' concerns (which are solid concerns) as related to Senator Richard Burr's concerns that we discussed with Dona for the piece last Sunday so it makes more sense to pick it up this coming Sunday at Third.  There's something we're carrying over for tomorrow already as it is.  I'll be one day behind on hearings all week, I bet but I didn't know a damn thing about storage of records or moving towards digitized or anything and I needed all the wonderful people who walked me through the process last night (thank you to all) so I could understand the hearing I'd sat through.  There's a press release on the hearing that we'll include in a morning entry tomorrow there's not room for it today.
 
 
Violence continues in Iraq.  Alsumaria reports a Falluja roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left three people -- including a 3-year-old child -- injured.  It's been a bad week for children with the bombing today and the targeting of children in kidnappings this week.   Al Rafidayn reports a Kirkuk car bombing which claimed 3 lives and left nine injured.  BBC News reports Judge Aziz Abdul Qadir was the target of the bombing and that he and two of his bodyguards are among the injured.  AFP counts 141 people killed in Iraq so far this month.  In addition, the Herald of Scotland notes that a clash yesterday between the PKK and Turkish military left sixteen soldiers injured.  The Oman Tribune reports that 20 PKK were killed in the altercation.  Jennifer Parker (Foreign Policy) notes, "Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and President Abdullah Gul have both condemned the violence and denounced the PKK militants as terrorists. Selahattin Demirtas, the head of Turkey's pro-Kurdish Peace and Democracy Party, has also criticized the hostilities, adding, 'The PKK should stop all kinds of armed activity. The government should also halt (military) operations. Let them give a political solution a chance'."   Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."  BBC reports the Turkish military has announced it struck PKK targets today.  AP notes KRG President Massoud Barzani called for peace today, stating, "The time for war and weapons has passed."  On the subject of violence, RBC Radio notes:
 
A UN investigator has called on the Obama administration to justify its policy of assassinating rather than capturing Al-Qaeda or Taleban suspects, increasingly with the use of unmanned drone aircraft that also take civilian lives. Christof Heyns, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, urged Washington to clarify the basis under international law of the policy, in a report issued overnight to the United Nations Human Rights Council. The 47-member Geneva forum is to hold a debate later on Tuesday.
The US military has conducted drone attacks in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, in addition to conventional raids and air strikes, according to Heyns, a South African jurist serving in the independent post. "Disclosure of these killings is critical to ensure accountability, justice and reparation for victims or their families," he said in a 28-page report. "The (US) government should clarify the procedures in place to ensure that any targeted killing complies with international humanitarian law and human rights and indicate the measures or strategies applied to prevent casualties, as well as the measures in place to provide prompt, thorough, effective and independent public investigation of alleged violations."
 
On today's bombings, Reuters notes that Diyala Province electrical towers and lines were bombed by unknown assailants. This comes a day after Nouri finally decided to spend a little of the billions Iraq brings in on oil each year to provide some electricity.  Nayla Razzouk and Khalid al-Ansary (Bloomberg News) report that Iraq has agreed to pay Weatherford International $843 million to put in six new power plants "at the Zubair oil fields in the south of the country."
 

Alsumaria reports on their exclusive interview with Moqtada al-Sadr.  Moqtada states the US still occupies Iraq and that the so-called withdrawal was purely symbolic.  He states that Iraqis seek an Iraq free of US interference and one free of the US Embassy.  He declares that the US Embassy is merely a cover to keep foreign foces (contractors, Marines and some soldiers) in Iraq under the guise of protecting the Embassy staff.
 
Along with those guarding the embassy, consulate and staff, there are all the US service members who were moved to Kuwait.
 
Maqsood Hussain (News Tribe) reports, "The United States has now nearly 15,000 troops in three bases across Kuwait -- triple the average number of American forces in the Middle Easter country before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 [. . .],"  Jennifer Rizzo (CNN) opens with, "The United States has approximately 15,000 troops in Kuwait, according to a Senate report released Tuesday,, the first time the number has been disclosed,"  RT goes with, "Despite the troop withdrawal from Iraq, the American military presence in the area is set to expand," Evann Gastaldo (Newswer) launches a Platonic dialogue, "The US has no combat force in Iraq and a wary eye on Iran: What's a nervous country to do? Maintain a force in neighboring Kuwait, apparently."  They're referring to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released [PDF format warning] "The Gulf Security Architecture: Partnership With The Gulf Co-Operation Council" which you can find more on in yesterday's snapshot. 15,000.  And the report recommends that a little over 13,000 stay in Kuwait for several years to come.  Aren't you glad Barack brought ALL the troops home?  (No, he didn't.)
 
Iraq and Kuwait were in the news today for other reasons as well.  The UN News Centre reports:
 
 
The Security Council today urged the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait to step up their engagement with the United Nations envoy helping the two countries resolve issues pending from Iraq's 1990 invasion, including finding Kuwaiti or third-country nationals.
"The members of the Security Council welcomed the continued cooperation of the Governments of Iraq and Kuwait, and their high-level commitments to full implementation of all Iraqi obligations to Kuwait under the relevant resolutions," the Council said in a statement issued to the press following a closed-door meeting.
The Council was briefed by Ambassador Gennady Tarasov, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's High-Level Coordinator for the issue of missing Kuwait and third-country nationals and property, on Mr. Ban's latest report on the issue.
 
 
Wednesday, the big story in the Iraqi press was Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's letter to US President Barack Obama asking/requesting/demanding (depends upon the account) that Barack kill ExxonMobil's deal with the KRG.  Kitabat uses "warned" of the October 18th contracts between the parties and quotes a spokesperson for Nouri, Ali al-Moussawi, stating that these contracts could start wars and could rip the country apart.

Really?

If that's the case, maybe Nouri should show some leadership and back the hell off his non-stop complaining about the contract?  Don't hold your breath for that to happen.  Dar Addustour reports Nouri is prepared to go to the extreme -- they're citing al-Moussawi on that and what the "extreme scores" would be is not specified.

But what the statements make clear is that it's not the ExxonMobil contract that's causing problems.  It's Nouri's reactions to the contracts.

Al Rafidayn reports that, thus far, there's no response from Barack but National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor acknowledged that the letter from Nouri was received.  Reuters reports today, "Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan expects more oil majors to follow Exxon Mobil Corporation in the next few months in striking deals in the region, where oil shipments will resume, its natural resources minister said, despite a dispute with Baghdad." April Yee (The National) observes, "A hydrocarbon law remains a mirage in Baghdad and the reality is dawning that Iraq's plans to become one of the world's top-five oil producers are jeopardised by the legal deadlock."  Reuters also notes that Nouri's government had a message for France's TOTAL today, "Iraq gave a veiled warning to France's Total on Wednesday not to make deals with the autonomous Kurdish region without the approval of central government in Baghdad."  His tantrums come as oil has dropped over 20% per barrel in the last two months with the current pdb being $82.

 An Iraq War veteran returned to Iraq as a DynaCorp week and was dead a week later.  Now his family fights to have his body returned to the US.  Steve Shaw of Oklahoma's News 9 (link is text and video) reports:



Angela Copeland: They came in and they told me that they had found Michael deceased in his living quarters.


 Steve Shaw:  Michael Copeland's widow Angela is distraught -- not only because of Michael's sudden death but because our State Dept told Copeland's family Iraqi leaders say Copeland died of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- or SARS -- an extemely rare disease, and our State Dept bought it.  Iraq says it can't release the body.  Michael Copeland's fathe says he talked to his son by phone just 12 hours before his death,  nobody's died from SARS since 2003, and he says that his son showed no signs of the disease.


Mike Copeland:  Everyone that I've spoke with is always sorry for our loss but they say there's nothing they can do. I find that very difficult to believe.  That my government?  There's nothing they can do to bring my son home fom Iraq?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's SARS page notes:


Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. The illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained. Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS reported anywhere in the world. The content in this Web site was developed for the 2003 SARS epidemic. But, some guidelines are still being used. Any new SARS updates will be posted on this Web site.


No new updates have been posted to the CDC's page.

"Not only are we having to deal with the loss," Angela Copeland tells NewsOn6, "but we're having to deal with the battle to get him back home."  Michael Copeland died June 9th.  She tells Victoria Maranan (KXII -- link is video),  "There is absolutely no excuse in this world that you could give me that could convince me why he should not be home."  Jerry Wofford (Tulsa World) reports on the case and quotes Oklahoma State Rep. Dustin Roberts stating, "Michael David Copeland was a man who served our nation as a Marine and our state as a National Guardsman, and his family deserves better than this."  Zach Maxwell (Durant Democrat) reports this evening, "The family of Michael Copeland is still waiting for answers more than 10 days after the former Marine and National Guardsman passed away in Iraq."

 
 
In the US, Fred Kaplan of Slate magazine is an idiot.  (No link for obvious reasons and Rebecca's correct that I would love to use this as the excuse to end this site on the Fourth, next month).   We last dealt with Baby Dumb F**k when he attacked Brian De Palma.   He's so supremely stupid that people wonder about Brooke but I always say that like the fat-man-skinny-wife couples on TV in the late 90s and during the '00s, Fred and Brooke are the-stupid-fool-brilliant-wife combo.
 
Kappy writes a column about Brett McGurk's nomination while never once considering the Iraqi people.  Iraqiya is mentioned (in a bad paragraph).  Iraqiya is popular, they are not the Iraqi people.  The Iraqi people are approximately 30 million and Foolish Fred wants you to know how wonderful his man crush Brett would have been in the job.  No, he wouldn't have been good in the job.  The clerics, including Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (al-Sistani is the only true calming influence in the country, if he requests that the temperature of rhetoric be lowered, it gets lowered), could not be comfortable with McGurk.  He came to Iraq a married man.  He had an affair in Iraq.  On top of that, he left his wife.  He divorced her.  Gina Chon would have been his "_____" if she'd accompanied him to Iraq.  What's the big debate in Iraq today?  Raheem Salman (Reuters) reports, "An Iraqi government decree banning soldiers and police from wearing beards on duty has revived a debate over religious practices in a country where sectarian divisions between Shi'ite and Sunni still fester close to the surface."  What McGurk and Chon did -- both married when they began their affair in Iraq -- goes against fundamentalist teachings and also insults the host country since he violated his vows while he was in Iraq.  Iraqi women would not have been able to access the Embassy because of fear of what would be said about them (and the fear that words could lead to 'honor' killings -- where women have supposedly disgraced and brought dishonor to their relatives so the women must be put to death by their relatives).  We've got over half the population right there.
 
And Idiot Fred doesn't stop to think about Iraqi women or even include in his bad article. 
 
Look, we get it.  Fred, you stood next to Brett at the stalls and you were impressed.  Fine.  Keep it to yourself, use it for your fantasies but the rest of us aren't interested.
 
Fred insists Brett McGurk was right for the job because he knows people.  The American face in Iraq does not need to be someone who is the object of ridicule.  I'm sorry that Fred's so unintelligent that he never learned Arabic.  It should be required for him when you think of how badly he wanted the Iraq War.  But if he could read Arabic and he wasn't so lazy, he would have seen what we noted many times here, this was a big story in the Iraqi press -- the affair.  They didn't care about the other stuff, they cared about the affair.  It was considered shocking -- even among Iraqi publications which regularly report on Madonna.  Because they did not consider that to be appropriate behavior for what would be the highest ranking US official who would be living in their country.  The host country should not be an after thought.
 
McGurk had no qualifications to speak of, was too young, without managerial experience and lied (or else is stupid) to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  It's cute that Fred -- like so many of his lazy ass peers -- didn't show for that hearing, didn't report on it, but thinks he can now play 'expert' and insist McGurk was qualified.  Only an idiot claims that Nouri is providing Sahwa with jobs.  We covered it.  We were there.  Fred should have been on it but that would have been work and lazy asses don't do work even when they're paid for it.
 
Fred's 'knowledge' of Iraqiya is based upon what one person told him -- and they got it wrong.  But, hey, Fred's real point is to smear people.  If you support Allawi and you're American, you're doing that because you must be "still involved in political or business ventures that would be served by a degree of Kurdish autonomy that is favored more by Allawi than by Maliki."  Poor Fred, as stupid as he is ugly.    He goes on to declare that Nouri was "the country's elected prime minister."  Not in 2006, not in 2010.  In 2006, the US stopped Parliament's first choice.  And Parliament, not the country, elects the Prime Minister, Fred.  The Bush White House wanted him in that position.  That's why he got it.  In 2010, the Barack White House wanted him in the position.
 
As Fred goes on and on, you keep waiting for that moment where he notes the real reporting of Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times) or the worker of Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International in exposing the hidden jails and ongoing torture Nouri's responsible for.  But Fred never does because liars can't tell the truth.  Fred's a nutty conspiracy theorist.  Probably the nuttiest one around as his latest column demonstrates.  Next time he writes a column like this, he might need to do some self-disclosures -- at least if he's still pretending to be a journalist.  Brett McGurk demonstrated over and over that he didn't know what he was talking about (most infamously when his testimony contradicted that of earlier testimony by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and the public remarks of National Intelligence Director James Clapper). Brett McGurk was supremely uninformed which makes him the perfect match for Fred Kaplan.
 
 
 

Posted at 05:05 pm by thecommonills
 

World Refugee Day

World Refugee Day

Today is World Refugee Day.


United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie: Every minute, 8 people around the world are forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution.  No one chooses to be a refugee. Today, 43 million people worldwide have been displaced. We remember them.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today, "Refugees leave because they have no choice.  We must choose to help."  Nicholas A. Heras (Fair Observer) zooms in on one group of refugees in "Going Nowhere Fast: Iraqi Refugees:"
The daily existential struggle of millions of Iraqi refugees has become lost in the coverage of the unexpected, tumultuous, and geo-politically spell-binding Arab uprisings. Although the coalition's mission in Iraq is declared officially over, and the Iraqi government is encouraging their return, millions of Iraqi refugees remain unconvinced that life in their homeland is improving.
Since the removal of Saddam Hussein's regime from power in 2003, an estimated 4 million Iraqis of all sectarian identities and social classes have fled the country for other nations in the region, especially Syria, Jordan, and Lebanon. Sporadic violence, poverty, lack of infrastructure, and a pervasive state of instability prompted their exodus from Iraq. The displacement of Iraqi refugees is considered by many experts to be the largest movement of people in the Middle East region since 1948, when Palestinians left what is today Israel for the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and neighboring nations.


This week, the UN released UNHCR Global Trends 2011 which contains details such as 46% of refugees are under the age of 18, that three areas of concern are the displaced of Columbia, of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of Iraq, and that the Middle East and North Africa have a larger number of refugees than the Americas and and Asia and Pacific combined.  (Africa has the largest number of refugees with 2.1 million to the Middle East and North Africa's 1.9 million.) Through the end of last year, Iraq could claim 1,428,3000 refugees.  Only Afghanistan topped that figure (Afghanistan had 2.6 million).  Of the report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared today, "These numbers represent far more than statistics; they are individuals and families whose lives have been upended, whose communities have been destroyed, and whose future remains uncertain."

The European Union's High Representative Catherine Ashton and Commissioner for Home Affairs Cecilia Malmstrom released this joint-statement today:


"Today, on the World Refugee Day, our thoughts are, more than ever, with the millions of women, children and men, around the world who are forced to flee their home countries because of war, conflict, or persecution. This is still a reality in today's world.
Protecting the persecuted, the weak and the vulnerable is our obligation. All EU Member States have acceded to the 1951 Geneva Convention on Refugees and are committed to its implementation. In a world where people continue to fear for their lives just because of their race, religion, or political beliefs, Europe has to remain true to its principles by showing solidarity towards refugees. We are proud that so many Europeans share the conviction that the EU must offer protection and asylum to all those who need it.
The EU is stepping up efforts to put in place common rules on asylum which guarantee high standards of protection and is aiming to complete the strengthening of the Common European Asylum System by the end of this year. This objective is within reach, with the final stages of the negotiations now underway. Work is also progressing on enhancing solidarity between EU Member States.
The UNHCR's 2011 Ministerial Conference underlined the importance of eliminating the phenomenon of statelessness. We welcome the pledges made during this Conference, and underline the EU's determination to step up its efforts to address statelessness worldwide.
In 2011, just over 300,000 asylum applications were lodged in Europe, more than the year before but well below the peak of 425,000 in 2001. This represents about 34 % of the total worldwide. However, contrary to widespread belief, it is not Europe but other countries – often the poorest – that host the world's largest refugee populations. Last year, South Africa alone received close to 107 000 applications – one tenth of all asylum applications worldwide. In terms of the individuals recognised as refugees, approximately four fifths are hosted in developing countries.
Therefore, refugee resettlement should form an integral part of the EU common asylum policy. Resettlement is not only a life-saving measure but an important humanitarian gesture of solidarity on the part of the EU towards countries hosting large numbers of refugees.
We welcome the European Parliament's and the Council's decision to establish a common EU resettlement programme for 2013. The programme will include specific EU resettlement priorities, identifying the nationalities of refugees and the countries from which resettlement should take place as a priority and for whom EU funding is available. In 2013 that list will include refugees from Congo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Burma and Eritrea.
We are gravely concerned about the plight of refugees fleeing the violence in Syria. The EU, in close co-operation with its partners, is providing significant humanitarian and other assistance to these refugees, and will throw its weight behind all efforts to ensure the protection of the victims of this conflict."

The US State Dept elects to Tweet (it's less characters so less time required):



June 20 is World Day. Join Assistant Secretary Anne Richard for a Q&A. Send her your questions using .

In the Iraqi press, World Refugee Day isn't causing a ripple.  But, in fairness, they usually note events like this the day after (reporting on what an Iraqi official said on the occasion, that sort of thing).  What's the big story in the Iraqi press today?

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's letter to US President Barack Obama asking/requesting/demanding (depends upon the account) that Barack kill ExxonMobil's deal with the KRG.  Kitabat uses "warned" of the October 18th contracts between the parties and quotes a spokesperson for Nouri, Ali al-Moussawi, stating that these contracts could start wars and could rip the country apart.

Really?

If that's the case, maybe Nouri should show some leadership and back the hell off his non-stop complaining about the contract?  Don't hold your breath for that to happen.  Dar Addustour reports Nouri is prepared to go to the extreme -- they're citing al-Moussawi on that and what the "extreme scores" would be is not specified.

But what the statements make clear is that it's not the ExxonMobil contract that's causing problems.  It's Nouri's reactions to the contracts.

Al Rafidayn reports that, thus far, there's no response from Barack but National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor acknowledged that the letter from Nouri was received.  Reuters reports today, "Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan expects more oil majors to follow Exxon Mobil Corporation in the next few months in striking deals in the region, where oil shipments will resume, its natural resources minister said, despite a dispute with Baghdad." April Yee (The National) observes, "A hydrocarbon law remains a mirage in Baghdad and the reality is dawning that Iraq's plans to become one of the world's top-five oil producers are jeopardised by the legal deadlock."

Alsumaria reports on their exclusive interview with Moqtada al-Sadr.  Moqtada states the US still occupies Iraq and that the so-called withdrawal was purely symbolic.  He states that Iraqis seek an Iraq free of US interference and one free of the US Embassy.  He declares that the US Embassy is merely a cover to keep foreign foces (contractors, Marines and some soldiers) in Iraq under the guise of protecting the Embassy staff.

Alsumaria reports a Falluja roadside bombing which claimed 1 life and left three people -- including a 3-year-old child -- injured. Al Rafidayn reports a Kirkuk car bombing which claimed 3 lives and left nine injured.  BBC News reports Judge Aziz Abdul Qadir was the target of the bombing and that he and two of his bodyguards are among the injured.  In addition, the Herald of Scotland notes that a clash yesterday between the PKK and Turkish military left sixteen soldiers injured.  The Oman Tribune reports that 20 PKK were killed in the altercation.


Lastly, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  She continues fighting for veterans and her latest bill would put veterans on an equal footing with the non-military when it comes to reproductive issues.
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
 
Chairman Murray Introduces Bill to Provide Veterans with Genital and Reproductive Wounds with Access to In Vitro Fertilization through the VA
 
As veterans continue to return home with catastrophic IED injuries, Murray bill reverses VA ban on critical fertility treatment; will help veterans and their spouses have children.
 
If forced to turn to the private sector, veterans and their spouses often have to pay tens of thousands in out-of-pocket costs to access IVF services
 
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced legislation that will end the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ban on providing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) services.   Murray's bill, the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, also will begin child care programs at Vet Centers for women seeking counseling, and improving outreach to women veterans.
Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 over 600 servicemembers have suffered reproductive and urinary tract trauma.  The reliance on foot patrols in Afghanistan and the prevalence of improvised explosive devices has left servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries.
 
"Reproductive injuries are some of the most impactful and serious wonds of these wars," Senator Murray said today upon introduction of the bill.  "VA has an obligation to care for the combat wounded.  For those with such catastrophic injuries, that includes access to the fertility care they needed.  Veterans and their spouses are specifically barred from accessing In Vitro Fertilization services at the VA and often times have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the private sector to get the advanced reproductive treatments they need to start a family.  These veterans deserve far more."
 
Veterans who have severe reproductive and urinary tract injuries and spinal cord injuries (SCI) often need highly specialized treatments and procedures like IVF to conceive.  However, under current law, IVF is expressly excluded from fertility services that are provided by the VA to veterans or their spouses.  This is a significant barrier for veterans with SCI and genital and uringary tract injuries and as a result they have to seek care outside of the VA.  The Department of Defense currently provides access to IVF services under the Tricare program and coverage for IVF and other fertility treatments at no charge to severely combat wounded servicemembers.  Senator Murray's bill would provide veterans with the same access. 
 
###
 
Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct
 



The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 

Posted at 07:24 am by thecommonills
 

No, they didn't all come home and a family fights to get their fallen returned from Iraq

No, they didn't all come home and a family fights to get their fallen returned from Iraq

Maqsood Hussain (News Tribe) reports, "The United States has now nearly 15,000 troops in three bases across Kuwait -- triple the average number of American forces in the Middle Easter country before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 [. . .]"  Jennifer Rizzo (CNN) opens with, "The United States has approximately 15,000 troops in Kuwait, according to a Senate report released Tuesday,, the first time the number has been disclosed."  They're referring to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released [PDF format warning] "The Gulf Security Architecture: Partnership With The Gulf Co-Operation Council" which you can find more on in yesterday's snapshot. 15,000.  And the report recommends that a little over 13,000 stay in Kuwait for several years to come.  Aren't you glad Barack brought ALL the troops home?  (No, he didn't.)



Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
I knew when we woke up
You would be leaving
You knew when you left me
It might be too long
That kiss on your shoulder
It's me looking over
Close to your heart
So you're never alone
Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
-- "Till They All Get Home," written by Melanie (Safka) and first appears on Melanie's Crazy Love


 An Iraq War veteran returned to Iraq as a DynaCorp week and was dead a week later.  Now his family fights to have his body returned to the US.  Steve Shaw of Oklahoma's News 9 (link is text and video) reports:



Angela Copeland: They came in and they told me that they had found Michael deceased in his living quarters.


 Steve Shaw:  Michael Copeland's widow Angela is distraught -- not only because of Michael's sudden death but because our State Dept told Copeland's family Iraqi leaders say Copeland died of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- or SARS -- an extemely rare disease, and our State Dept bought it.  Iraq says it can't release the body.  Michael Copeland's fathe says he talked to his son by phone just 12 hours before his death,  nobody's died from SARS since 2003, and he says that his son showed no signs of the disease.


Mike Copeland:  Everyone that I've spoke with is always sorry for our loss but they say there's nothing they can do. I find that very difficult to believe.  That my government?  There's nothing they can do to bring my son home fom Iraq?

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's SARS page notes:


Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. The illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained. Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS reported anywhere in the world. The content in this Web site was developed for the 2003 SARS epidemic. But, some guidelines are still being used. Any new SARS updates will be posted on this Web site.


No new updates have been posted to the CDC's page.

"Not only are we having to deal with the loss," Angela Copeland tells NewsOn6, "but we're having to deal with the battle to get him back home."  Michael Copeland died June 9th.  She tells Victoria Maranan (KXII -- link is video),  "There is absolutely no excuse in this world that you could give me that could convince me why he should not be home."  Jerry Wofford (Tulsa World) reports on the case and quotes Oklahoma State Rep. Dustin Roberts stating, "Michael David Copeland was a man who served our nation as a Marine and our state as a National Guardsman, and his family deserves better than this."








In other news, Olivia Koester (Journal Times) notes the efforts of Fie Chief William Bouma to organize a "Back From Iraq" march in Racine, Wisconsin's upcoming Fourth of July parade. Yvette C. Hammett (Tampa Tribune) reports on Iraq War veteran Mark Goujon's efforts to ceate an Iraq Veterans Memorial in Tampa, Florida's Veterans Memorial Park.


The following community sites -- plus FPIF, The Diane Rehm Show, Cindy Sheehan and Antiwar.com -- updated last night and this morning:


Joan e-mailed to ask if we'd note that Melanie has a special series of upcoming shows. From October 19th through 28th at Blackfriars Theatre in Rochester, New York, Melanie and the Recordman will be performed, the story of Melanie and her late husband Peter Schekeryk (he passed away in 2010, they were together for decades, starting in the sixties).  That's ten performances only and among those working on the show with Melanie is her son Beau Jarred Schekeryk.  Melanie is the original Queen of the Rock Festivals, having performed at so many (including Woodstock).  "Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)" made her a name all over the world and her other hits include "What Have They Done To My Song, Ma?," "Peace Will Come (According to Plan), "Bitter Bad," "The Nickel Song," "Ring The Living Bell," her cover of "Ruby Tuesday," "Beautiful People" and her numbe one hit "Brand New Key." 

Ever Since You Never Heard Of Me
She's continues writing and recording and her most recent album was 2010's Ever Since You Never Heard of Me  which Kat praised highly here and also picked it as one of the year's top ten releases. Two tracks from the latest album have videos up at YouTube:  "Motherhood of Love" and "Smile."


Lastly, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  She continues fighting for veterans and her latest bill would put veterans on an equal footing with the non-military when it comes to reproductive issues.
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
 
Chairman Murray Introduces Bill to Provide Veterans with Genital and Reproductive Wounds with Access to In Vitro Fertilization through the VA
 
As veterans continue to return home with catastrophic IED injuries, Murray bill reverses VA ban on critical fertility treatment; will help veterans and their spouses have children.
 
If forced to turn to the private sector, veterans and their spouses often have to pay tens of thousands in out-of-pocket costs to access IVF services
 
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced legislation that will end the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ban on providing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) services.   Murray's bill, the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, also will begin child care programs at Vet Centers for women seeking counseling, and improving outreach to women veterans.
 
Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 over 600 servicemembers have suffered reproductive and urinary tract trauma.  The reliance on foot patrols in Afghanistan and the prevalence of improvised explosive devices has left servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries.
 
"Reproductive injuries are some of the most impactful and serious wonds of these wars," Senator Murray said today upon introduction of the bill.  "VA has an obligation to care for the combat wounded.  For those with such catastrophic injuries, that includes access to the fertility care they needed.  Veterans and their spouses are specifically barred from accessing In Vitro Fertilization services at the VA and often times have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the private sector to get the advanced reproductive treatments they need to start a family.  These veterans deserve far more."
 
Veterans who have severe reproductive and urinary tract injuries and spinal cord injuries (SCI) often need highly specialized treatments and procedures like IVF to conceive.  However, under current law, IVF is expressly excluded from fertility services that are provided by the VA to veterans or their spouses.  This is a significant barrier for veterans with SCI and genital and uringary tract injuries and as a result they have to seek care outside of the VA.  The Department of Defense currently provides access to IVF services under the Tricare program and coverage for IVF and other fertility treatments at no charge to severely combat wounded servicemembers.  Senator Murray's bill would provide veterans with the same access.
 
###
 
Matt McAlvanah
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 

Posted at 05:55 am by thecommonills
 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

June 19, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee issues a report about keeping US troops in the region, the State Dept wants to talk human trafficking and anything except McGurk, tomorrow is World Refugee Day, Nouri wants Barack to tell ExxonMobil what to do, US Senator Patty Murray continues fighting for the rights of veterans, and more.
 
 
Today the Senate Foreign Relations Committee released [PDF format warning] "The Gulf Security Architecture: Partnership With The Gulf Co-Operation Council." On page v., Senator John Kerry, Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, notes, "Home to more than half of the world's oil reserves and over a third of its natural gas, the stability of the Persian Gulf is critical to the global economy."  Chair John Kerry has stated of the report, "The Gulf Region is strategically important to the United States economically, politically, and for security reasons.  This is a period of historic, but turbulent change in the Middle East. We need to be clear-eyed about what these interests are and how best to promote them.  This report provides a thoughtful set of recommendations designed to do exactly that."
 
 
The report may well map out that for many.  That's not what stood out to me. The takeaway for me is US troops remain in the region, right next to Iraq in Kuwait and the Committee's recommendation is that they remain present.  (For those who don't want to read the report in full or operating systems are not PDF friendly, click here for the Committee's one page explanation of the report.)
 
A series of challenges are listed early on and we'll note the fourth one.
 
 
Challenge 4: The United States must carefully shape its military presence so as not to creat a popular backlash, while retaining the capability to protect the free flow or critical natural resources and to provide a counterbalance to Iraq.
 
 
If that was a challenge there were hopes the US would meet, it's too late at present. As Arianna Huffington noted last week at The Huffington Post:
 
 
With the war there officially "ended" and most of our troops back home, Iraq isn't getting much ink these days. But the story is far from over. Indeed, according to Wadah Khanfar, former director general of Al Jazeera, Iraq is still the most important story in the Middle East -- with a far greater impact on the region's future than Syria. "Nobody's paying attention to Iraq anymore," he told me during dinner in London over the weekend, "but it's becoming a client state of Iran, with a giant amount of oil between them." This state of affairs is, of course, primarily our doing.
And yet, as our soldiers have left, so has our attention. "The war in Iraq will soon belong to history," proclaimed President Obama at Fort Bragg as he marked the occasion of bringing the last troops home. But while the military chapter of that disastrous undertaking might belong to history, its consequences belong very much to the present. A present in which the very same voices that rose to push us into war with Iraq are again rising to push us into war with Iran -- but without ever noting that it was their misadventure in Iraq that gave Iran a new and powerful ally.
 
 
If the goal/challenge was to keep Iran and Iraq from growing closer, you don't, as the current White House did, back Nouri al-Maliki for a second term. You note instead that his political slate came in second and demand he step aside so that Iraqiya can have a crack at forming a governmnet. Instead, the US chose to spit on the political process, the Iraqi Constitution, democracy and the will of the Iraqis who voted by backing second place Nouri for a second term as prime minister.
 
 
Now let's move to another challenge.
 
 
Challenge 7: Relations between the Gulf monarchies and Iraq remain cool. There has been a tendency of some Arab states to remain disengaged from Iraq, largely over its relations with Iran. Unfortunately, this tendency has had the effect of pushing Iraq closer to Iran.
Recommendation: The United States should promote the gradual political reintegration of Iraq into the Arab fold.
 
 
Again, the problem is Nouri. He can't stop accusing Arab states. Just last week, he was again insisting Saudi Arabia and Qatar were out to get him. He's paranoid and he's not trust worthy. How the US government ever thought Nouri al-Maliki would bring Iraq closer to the Arab states is a head scratcher. Someone really needs to answer to that question: The White House ensured that second place Nouri remained prime minister; how was this supposed to improve relations between Iraq and the Arab states?
 
 
Further into the report, we get the point AP' was emphasizing this morning. AP: "The United States is planning a significant military presence of 13,500 troops in Kuwait to give it the flexibility to respond to sudden conflicts in the region as Iraq adjusts to the withdrawal of American combat forces and the world nervously eyes Iran, according to a congressional report." Page nine of the report:
 
 
A residual American military presence in the Gulf and increased burden-sharing with GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states are fundamental components of such a framework. However, the United States must also carefully shape its military footprint to protect the free-flow of critical natural resources and promote regional stability while not creating a popular backlash.
 
 
Page 12:
 
 
Kuwait is especially keen to maintain a significant U.S. military presence. In fact, the Kuwaiti public perception of the United States is more positive than any other Gulf country, dating back to the U.S.-led liberation of Kuwait in 1991. Kuwait paid over $16 billion to compensate coalition efforts for costs incurred during Desert Shield and Desert Storm and $350 million for Operation Southern Watch. In 2004, the Bush Administration designated Kuwait a major non-NATO ally.
* U.S. Military Presence: A U.S.-Kuwaiti defense agreement signed in 1991 and extended in 2001 provides a framework that guards the legal rights of American troops and promotes military cooperation. When U.S. troops departed Iraq at the end of 2011, Kuwait welcomed a more enduring American footprint. Currently, there are approximately 15,000 U.S. forces in Kuwait, but the number is likely to decrease to 13,500. Kuwaiti bases such as Camp Arifjan, Ali Al Salem Air Field, and Camp Buehring offer the United States major staging hubs, training rages, and logistical support for regional operations. U.S. forces also operate Patriot missile batteries in Kuwait, which are vital to theater missile defense.
 
 
On page 20, the report notes, "Amid relatively high sectarian tensions in the Middle East -- a consequence of violence in Iraq and, more recently, in Syria, and growing concerns about Iran -- the United States should encourage its partners, including in the Gulf region, to pursue nonsectarian policies." Again, that begs the question of why, in 2010, the White House backed Nouri al-Maliki for a second term? He's not about reconciliation, he's about demonization as we've seen repeatedly in the last months starting in the fall of 2011 when mass arrests began targeting Sunnis accused of being terrorists. They weren't terrorists. They were college professors, they were the elderly. Most importantly, they were Iraqis. At what point does Nouri cease trying to divide the fragile country and start uniting it?
 
 
Page 29:
 
 
Relations between Gulf monarchies and Iraq remain cool. There has been a tendency of some Arab states to remain disengaged from Iraq, largely over its relations with Iran. Unfortunately, this tendency has had the effect of pushing Iraq closer to Iran.
 
 
That's partly true but it's also true that what is seen as Nouri's targeting of Sunnis is not well received in Sunni-Arab countries. That shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Again, this begs the questions why, when Iraqiya won the March 2010 elections, did the White House decide to back second place Nouri for a second term as prime minister?
 
 
That is the question that will haunt the Barack Obama administration throughout history.
 
Someone might want to start preparing some version of an answer.
 
 
Just as the report refuses to seriously note how Sunni-dominant countries see the current events in Iraq, it also wants to pretend the Arab League Summit meant something. First off, this is flat-out wrong: "In April, the annual Arab League summit was held in Iraq for the first time since . . ."
 
 
The Arab League Summit was March 29th. March 29th, grab a calendar if this confusing to you, is not in the month of April. Your first clue there is probably the "March" in "March 29th." From the March 29, 2012 snapshot:
 
 
The Arab League Summit was held today in Baghdad. It didn't change a thing because Nouri never learned how to charm. So instead of starting with it, let's start with the ongoing political crisis in Iraq. [. . .] Also telling was the turnout for today's Arab League Summit. Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) report, "Sunni Muslim rulers largely shunned an Arab League summit hosted by Shiite-led Iraq on Thursday, illustrating how powerfully the sectarian split and the rivalry with Iran define Middle Eastern politics in the era of the Arab Spring." It was not all that, to put it mildly. A friend who covered the summit deemed it, "Not so much a who's who as a who's that?" Who attended? Among others, the Oman Observer reports Talabani "received the credentials of Shaikh Mussalam bin Bakheet bin Zaidan al Bar'ami, Sultanate's Ambassador to Jordan, as the Sultanate's non-resident ambassador to Iraq" yesterday. Today Al Sabaah reports Awn Shawkat al-Khasawneh, prime minister of Jordan arrived, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and the Emir of Kuwait Sheikh Jaber al-Ahmad al-Jaber al-Sabah. [. . .] Who were the notable no-shows? Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) report that the no-shows included rulers from "Saudi Arabia, Qatar and most other Gulf countries, as well as Morocco and Jordan -- all of them headed by Sunni monarchs who deeply distrust the close ties between Baghdad's Shiite-dominated government and their top regional rival, Iran."
The Belfast Telegraph notes, "The only ruler from the Gulf to attend was the Emir of Kuwait, Sheik Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah."
 
 
We could continue but I believe the point's been made. It was a one day summit. You can drop back to March 28th, the day before, for when various countries' foreign ministers met in Baghdad but that wasn't the Arab League Summit nor was that "April." The Senate Foreign Relations Committee sees the summit as a success. March 30th, the morning after, we graded it. It didn't look then and has looked since like a success. Here's some of the criteria we used to judge the summit on March 30th:
 
 
The Arab League Summit took place in Baghdad yesterday. Al Mada reports 15 ministers attended. There are 22 countries in the Arab League. Patrick Martin (Globe & Mail) observes, "That 12 of the 22 Arab League leaders did not show up and sent lower-level envoys instead did not go unnoticed [. . .]" Hamza Hendawi and Lara Jakes (AP) put the number of Arab League leaders who attended at 10 and they pointed out that Qatar, Saudi Arabi, Morocco and Jordan were among those who sent lower-level officials to the summit. Patrick Martin explains that Sheik Hamad Bin Jassem Bin Jabr Al Thani (Prime Minister of Qatar) declared on television that Qatar's "low level of representation" was meant to send "a 'message' to Iraq's majority Shiites to stop what he called the marginalization of its minority Sunnis." Al Mada noted yesterday morning that the Iraqi public and Parliament would be judging the summit a success or not based upon whether the leaders turned out for the summit. On that scale, it wasn't a success. In other words, attendence needs improvement and absences hinder progress.
In addition to snubs and rebukes,
Liz Sly, Aziz Alwan and Asaad Majeed (Washington Post) also note, "The blast at the Iranian Embassy undermined the government's boasts that it had managed to pull off the summit without incident, although it would have gone unheard in the conference room deep inside the vast palace. Zebari and Elaraby both seemed surprised when asked about it by a journalist." Not a success.
Sam Dagher (Wall St. Journal) points out, "It spent almost $1 billion on preparations that included unprecedented security measures -- jamming cellphone networks and mobilizing 100,000 security-force members -- and rolling out a catered menu for dignitaries that featured a dessert of 24-carat-gold-laced dates." Not a success.
 
 
And that's just some of the criteria.
 
 
Where the report succeeds (possibly without intending to) is by making clear that the alleged withdrawal and returning home of the troops never happened. Basically, 15,000 US troops were marched out of Saks to Fendi. They didn't return home. Yes, they left Saks, they even crossed a few streets, all the way through West 53rd, but they're still on Fifth Avenue. Remember, the press and the White House sold it as "withdrawal." The Pentagon used the term "drawdown."
emphasized this morning.
 
Another US government report was released today.  The State Dept issued their "Trafficking in Persons Report 2012." [Link goes to an overview page -- from the overview page, anything you click will be PDF format.]  Of Iraq, the report notes:

Iraq is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor.  Iraqi women and girls are sujbected to conditions of trafficking within the country and in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Iran, Yemen, and Saudi Arabia for forced prostitution and sexual exploitation within households.  Anecdotal reporting suggests that trafficking in forced prostitution and bonded labor are increasing in Iraq, partially owing to pervasive corruption and an overall increase in criminal activity. 
Women are lured into forced prostitution through false promises of work.  An international organization reports an increase in forced prostitution in the city of Tikrit; women between the ages of 15 to 22 years from Baghdad, Kirkuk, and Syria are sold to traffickers in Tikrit for the equivalent of $1,000 - 5,000 and then replaced or sold again every two or three months.  Women are also subjected to involuntary servitude through forced marriages, often as payment of a debt, and women who flee such marriages are often vulnerable to further forced labor or sexual servitude.  One NGO reports that recruiters rape women and girls on film and blackmail them into prostitution or recruit them in prisons by posting bail and then forcing them into prostitution via debt bondage.  Some women and children are pressured into prostitution by family members to escape desperate economic circumstances, to pay debts, or to resolve disputes between families.  NGOs report that these women are often prostituted in private residendences, brothels, restaurants, and places of entertainment.  Some women and girls are trafficked within Iraq for the purpose of sexual exploitation through the use of temproary marriages (muta'a), by which the family of the girl receives money in the form of a dowry in exchange for permission to marry the girl for a limited period of time. Some Iraqi parents have reportedly collaborated with traffickers to leave children at the Iraqi side of the border with Syria with the expectation that traffickers will arrange forced documents for them to enter Syria and find employment in a nightclub.  An Iraqi official revealed networks of women have been involved in the trafficking and sale of male and female children for the purposes of sexual exploitation. 
 
  
We'll come back to the report in a moment.
 
At the State Dept today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted how happy she was to see the room so full and had the team that worked on the report stand for deserved applause.  She also thanked Jada Pinkett-Smith and Will Smith for being present and Jada for her interest and focus on this issue.  But another reason Hillary might have been happy is that this took the focus off the failed nomination of Brett McGurk to be US Ambassador to Iraq.  If she thought she needed a new report to distract the compliant press, she missed the State Dept press briefing.  News of the withdrawal of the nomination broke yesterday late in the afternoon, well after Monday's press briefing.  So today would have been the first time that the press covering the State Dept had a chance to ask about that.  They had no interest in the issue.  They had no interest in Iraq even -- despite the Senate Foreign Relations Committee releasing a report on Iraq and the region today.
 
If you were attending, you might have thought to ask Victoria Nuland for some comment on the matter, for some indication of when a new nominee would be named, for whether or not the administration learned anything from McGurk's failed nomination.
 
You might.
 
But the paid members of the press wouldn't and didn't.  And that's among the reasons the press has such a lousy image.
 
But don't look to the Beggar Class of Panhandle Media to uphold standards.  Here's Amy Goodman today finally finding the McGurk story:
 
President Barack Obama's pick for ambassador to Iraq has withdrawn his nomination following Republican opposition and claims of inappropriate contact with a journalist.  Brett McGurk had come under fire from Senate Republicans over revelations of a racy e-mail exchange with a Wall Street Journal reporter while he served in Iraq in 2008.  McGurk and the reporter, Gina Chon, later married.  Chon resigned from the Wall St. Journal last week.
 
Not a word about sleeping with a source, not a word about allowing her lover to vet her copy.  Her lover a Bush official.  Not a word about Chon's violation of the Dow Jones ethical policies.   Amy Goodman may have been one of the pigs writing for Larry Flynt's trashy skin magazine, but she never looked more whorish than she did today.  As we noted Sunday at Third in "Editorial: Destroying their own credibility:"
 

It was 2008 and Amy Goodman was on the road hawking another clip-job she'd written with her brother, one that called on people to "challenge the corporate media" (Standing Up To The Madness, page 219).  She was on the road hawking her wares and promoting the documentary Independent Media In A Time Of War. 

 NEWS CLIP: I'm back with two of our military analysts who've been with us this morning who are helping us understand this war. 

 AMY GOODMAN: We now have people like Wesley Clarke, General Wesley Clarke on the payroll of CNN who is questioning their embedded reporter on the front line. He is questioning the reporter and the reporter is saying "Yes sir, No Sir". 

NEWS CLIP: This is a very special moment in time for the men and families and for this country. It is often fascinating for me. General Clarke and I have spent a good amount of time together today and over the week. 

AMY GOODMAN: This is journalism in America today. They have redefined general news and we have got to challenge that.


Amy Goodman was calling out reporters saying "yes, sir" and "no, sir."

Yet for two weeks she hasn't called out the pillow talk between Gina Chon and Brett McGurk.

Two weeks ago, the story emerged of their affair.  Gina Chon's been rightly fired from The Wall Street Journal.

If the scandal had come out in 2008, Amy Goodman and everyone would have been screaming their heads off.  But the Bush official that Gina Chon was f**king?  He's Barack Obama's new nominee to be US Ambassador to Iraq.

So they don't say a word.
 
 
 
Please grasp what you witnessed today from Amy Goodman.  In 2008, the Queen of Panhandle Media was ticked off that retired general Wesley Clarke was addressed by a reporter with "yes, sir" and "no, sir."  But four years later, when there's a reporter sleeping with a Bush official while she's covering the Bush policies in Iraq and while she's letting her lover see her copy and vet it before she turns it in, when that happens, Amy Goodman doesn't say, "Boo!"  Because she's a coward and completely unethical.  Maybe she's planning to fundraise in 2013, as she did in 2009, by auctioning off Barack Obama inauguration ball tickets?  Don't say Goody Trash doesn't have her own vested interests as she forever pretends to be Last Journalist Standing while ensuring that there's a huge gulf between the actual news and the propaganda she supplies.
 
 
For reality, you can refer to  Nancy Cordes (CBS News) text report and click here for Cordes' video report.
 
Back to the State Dept's report:
 
The large population of internally displaced persons and refugees moving within Iraq and across its borders are particularly at risk of being trafficked.  Women from Iran, China, and the Philippines reportedly may be trafficked to or through Iraq for commercial sexual exploitation.  Some Iraqi refugees in Syria reportedly have contracted their daughters to work as maids in Syrian households, where they may have been subsequently raped, forced into prostitution, or subjected to forced labor.  In other instances, Iraqi refugees' children remained in Syria while their parents left the country in search of improved economic circumstances, leaving the children vulnerable to trafficking.
 
 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie: Every minute, 8 people around the world are forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution.  No one chooses to be a refugee. Today, 43 million people worldwide have been displaced. We remember them.
 
 
* 42.5 million forcibly displaced people of which
* 5 - 7% people living with disabilities, one third of them children
* 15.2 million were refugees, of which:
* 46% were children under the age of 18
* 48% were women and girls
* 895,000 asylum-seekers
* 26.4 million IDPs
* 12 million stateless persons
* 3.7 million returnees
 
Yesterday,  the UN released UNHCR Global Trends 2011 which contains details such as 46% of refugees are under the age of 18, that three areas of concern are the displaced of Columbia, of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of Iraq, and that the Middle East and North Africa have a larger number of refugees than the Americas and and Asia and Pacific combined.  (Africa has the largest number of refugees with 2.1 million to the Middle East and North Africa's 1.9 million.) Through the end of last year, Iraq could claim 1,428,3000 refugees.  Only Afghanistan topped that figure (Afghanistan had 2.6 million).
 
Today AFP reports that some Syrians have been seeking asylum in Iraq due to the unrest in Syria and they note that those coming into Iraq have "to be smuggled across the border."  Into the continued violence of Iraq  where  Alsumaria reports that the son of a local council member was kidnapped in Ramadi today and that security forces quickly secured the area and began searching for clues.  While kidnappings have not been uncommon throughout the Iraq War, today's may end up getting attention due to the fact that is it one of two kidnappings. Al Rafidayn reports two young girls were kidnapped yesterday in Tikrit and that one is the daughter of a a member of Tikrit's security council.   One refugee, Abu Samir, tells AFP, "The Kurdistan region welcomed us and we are grateful.  Because I am Kurdish, I preferred the Kurdistan region and I am comfortable here."
 
Let's stay with the Kurds.  Iraq sits atop a huge wealth of oil.  But the most recent bidding on the oil & gas wares was a bomb. Jen Alic (OilPrice.com) summed it up days after it ended,  "Iraq's latest energy auction was a flop, and while major international companies balked at everything from unattractive contract terms to security concerns, the failure of the auction highlights how the struggle for power between north and south is shaping the future of energy in the region and beyond. "
 
We're on the topic of oil because ExxonMobil is back in the news.  Last January, Ahmed Rasheed (Reuters) reported, "The political crisis engulfing Iraq's power-sharing government threatens to further delay a landmark draft of its long-delayed oil law -- five years after the first version was submitted to parliament. [. . .]  The first hydrocarbon draft law was agreed by Iraq's diverse politcal blocs in 2007, but its approval has been held back by infighting among Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish political groups, worrying investors seeking more guarantees for the industry."  A month later, Kadhim Ajrash and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) were reporting:

Iraq's proposed energy law, intended to spur foreign investment in the world's fifth-largest holder of oil deposits, will be delayed for the rest of this year due to political divisions, the prime minister's top adviser said.
The draft law, held up since 2005, may resolve a dispute about oil revenue and sovereignty between the central government and the country's semi-autonomous Kurds that has blocked an agreement with Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Thamir Ghadhban said in an interview in Baghdad. Kurdish authorities in northern Iraq angered the government by signing a separate contract with Exxon, which operates one of the nation's largest oil fields.

Nouri's failure -- in two terms now -- to get oil legislation passed is telling of what extreme failure he is.  How stupid is he? Or how crafty?
 
Ahmed Rasheed and Peg Mackey (Reuters) report Nouri's sent a letter to Barack insisting he (Barack) put an end to the ExxonMobil contract.
 
Again, how stupid is Nouri?  Or how crafty?
 
The US isn't Iraq.  ExxonMobil is a private company, not a state-owned one.  A US president might, at best, make a request.  At best.  But Barack has no power over ExxonMobil.  Is Nouri that stupid?
 
Or he is being crafty?  Barack sticks his nose into this and the already outraged business community sees Barack as even more anti-business.  Not an image to cultivate as you're trying to be re-elected.  Maybe he's crafty.  It's not as though Nouri's reaching out to the White House currently.
 
Back on June 6th, we included:  "Al Mada notes State of Law continues to insist that the White House won't allow Nouri to be removed from his post and that US Vice President Joe Biden will be visiting soon."  But that was then.  Today, Iran's  Fars News Agency reported:

"Nuri al-Maliki did not allowed US Vice-President Joe Biden to visit Iraq," an informed source in the Iraqi prime minister's information bureau told FNA in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Noting that Biden was scheduled to visit Baghdad in coming days to meet with Iraqi officials to discuss the recent differences and the political standoff between different parties and factions in the country, he added that Maliki informed Biden via the US embassy in Baghdad that Iraq is not ready to host him.

The source said the Iraqi embassy in the US has also conveyed a similar message from Maliki to the White House and State Department's officials.

Earlier reports by a website affiliated to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq said that the cancellation of Biden's visit by Maliki was ordered after it was revealed that the US vice-president is due to visit Erbil and meet President of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani. 
 
 
Suddenly Joe wasn't wanted.  After blocking Biden's visit to the country, Nouri now wants to ask a favor of the White House?
 
In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  She continues fighting for veterans and her latest bill would put veterans on an equal footing with the non-military when it comes to reproductive issues.
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
 
Chairman Murray Introduces Bill to Provide Veterans with Genital and Reproductive Wounds with Access to In Vitro Fertilization through the VA
 
As veterans continue to return home with catastrophic IED injuries, Murray bill reverses VA ban on critical fertility treatment; will help veterans and their spouses have children.
 
If forced to turn to the private sector, veterans and their spouses often have to pay tens of thousands in out-of-pocket costs to access IVF services
 
(Washington, D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, introduced legislation that will end the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) ban on providing In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) services.   Murray's bill, the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, also will begin child care programs at Vet Centers for women seeking counseling, and improving outreach to women veterans.
 
Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 over 600 servicemembers have suffered reproductive and urinary tract trauma.  The reliance on foot patrols in Afghanistan and the prevalence of improvised explosive devices has left servicemembers far more susceptible to these injuries.
 
"Reproductive injuries are some of the most impactful and serious wonds of these wars," Senator Murray said today upon introduction of the bill.  "VA has an obligation to care for the combat wounded.  For those with such catastrophic injuries, that includes access to the fertility care they needed.  Veterans and their spouses are specifically barred from accessing In Vitro Fertilization services at the VA and often times have to spend tens of thousands of dollars in the private sector to get the advanced reproductive treatments they need to start a family.  These veterans deserve far more."
 
Veterans who have severe reproductive and urinary tract injuries and spinal cord injuries (SCI) often need highly specialized treatments and procedures like IVF to conceive.  However, under current law, IVF is expressly excluded from fertility services that are provided by the VA to veterans or their spouses.  This is a significant barrier for veterans with SCI and genital and uringary tract injuries and as a result they have to seek care outside of the VA.  The Department of Defense currently provides access to IVF services under the Tricare program and coverage for IVF and other fertility treatments at no charge to severely combat wounded servicemembers.  Senator Murray's bill would provide veterans with the same access.
 
###
 

Matt McAlvanah

Communications Director

U.S. Senator Patty Murray

202-224-2834 - press office

202--224-0228 - direct

matt_mcalvanah@murray.senate.gov

News Releases | Economic Resource Center | E-Mail Updates

 
 
cbs news
nancy cordes

Posted at 06:02 pm by thecommonills
 

Nouri won't let Joe Biden visit Iraq?

Nouri won't let Joe Biden visit Iraq?

When there are patterns of violence, the press can sometimes note it.  More often, the patterns have to be really close together to be noticed.  So maybe two incidents -- one today, one yesterday -- will garner US press attention. Alsumaria reports that the son of a local council member was kidnapped in Ramadi today and that security forces quickly secured the area and began searching for clues.  While kidnappings have not been uncommon throughout the Iraq War, today's may end up getting attention due to the fact that is it one of two kidnappings. Al Rafidayn reports two young girls were kidnapped yesterday in Tikrit and that one is the daughter of a a member of Tikrit's security council.

From violence to laughter.  Tony Blinken gets hit hard today.  Tony's been with Joe Biden forever and a day and currently serves as the Vice President's advisor on national security.  So Tony's been around long enough to know that Operation Happy Talk never ends well.  Each time an administration tries to launch a wave, they quickly capsize as reality knocks them upside the head.

Ned Parker wrote "The Iraq We Left Behind" for the Council on Foreign Relations' Foreign Affairs magazine.  Blinken's poorly named "Morning In Mesopotamia" went online this morning.  (Poorly named?  "Mourning in Mesopotamia" after all the attacks on pilgrims in the last seven days.)

In his piece, Blinken argues Ned Parker "glossed over, or ignored altogether, the clear, measurable progress Iraq has made in the few short years since it lurched to the brink of sectarian war."  In the snapshot today -- barring other breaking news dominating -- we may spend several paragraphs refuting that.

But this morning, we'll just laugh at the claim of "progess" from a staffer for Vice President Biden.  Because it's published the same morning that Iran's Fars News Agency is reporting:

"Nuri al-Maliki did not allowed US Vice-President Joe Biden to visit Iraq," an informed source in the Iraqi prime minister's information bureau told FNA in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Noting that Biden was scheduled to visit Baghdad in coming days to meet with Iraqi officials to discuss the recent differences and the political standoff between different parties and factions in the country, he added that Maliki informed Biden via the US embassy in Baghdad that Iraq is not ready to host him.

The source said the Iraqi embassy in the US has also conveyed a similar message from Maliki to the White House and State Department's officials.

Earlier reports by a website affiliated to the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq said that the cancellation of Biden's visit by Maliki was ordered after it was revealed that the US vice-president is due to visit Erbil and meet President of Iraq's Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Massoud Barzani. 

 
When the US Vice President's visit is cancelled by Nouri, that kind of refutes Tony's article.  Again, reality will always crash into and overwhelm a wave of Operation Happy Talk.  It's happened over and over since 2003.

The Fars News Agency has the must-read on Iraq this morning.  Runner up is AP's report which opens,  "The United States is planning a significant military presence of 13,500 troops in Kuwait to give it the flexibility to respond to sudden conflicts in the region as Iraq adjusts to the withdrawal of American combat forces and the world nervously eyes Iran, according to a congressional report."  Aren't we glad Barack 'ended' the Iraq War? Aren't we all glad ALL troops came home?  Oh, wait, they didn't.  Not even all the living.


Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
I knew when we woke up
You would be leaving
You knew when you left me
It might be too long
That kiss on your shoulder
It's me looking over
Close to your heart
So you're never alone
Say a little prayer till they all get home
Say a little prayer till they all get home
-- "Till They All Get Home," written by Melanie (Safka) and first appears on Melanie's Crazy Love



Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following yesterday:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 18, 2012
Contaact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
VETERANS: Senator Murray to Introduce Women Veterans' and Other Health Care Improvment Act of 2012
Legislation to strengthen VA's programs for female veterans and severely injured veterans who want to start families
 
(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will outline her new legislation, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, legislation to strengthen VA's programs for female veterans and for severely injured veterans who want to start families.  Currently, VA's fertility treatment services do not meet the complex needs of severely wounded veterans.  The nature of the current conflict and increasing use of improvised explosive devices leaves servicemembers far more susceptible to blast injuries including spinal cord injury and trauma to the reproductive and urinary tracts.  Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 more than 600 soldiers experienced these life-changing battle injuries while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.  As these injured servicemembers return home, they work to move forward with their lives and pursue their goals and dreams. For some this includes starting their own family.  The Department of Defense and Tricare program are already able to provide fertility treatment to servicemembers with these injuries.  Senator Murray's new legislation would address these issues by enhancing fertility treatment and care at VA, and allowing for fertility treatment for spouses.
 
Following Senator Murray's speech, a documentary highlighting the stories of 8 women veterans and the physical and emotional challenges they face as they transition home following military service will be shown. More on Senator Murray's Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 HERE.
 
 
WHO:        U.S. Senator Patty Murray
 
 
WHAT:       Introduction of Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, screening of documentary that highlights the stories of 8 women vets
 
 
WHEN:      TOMORROW: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
                 2:30 PM ET/ 11:30 AM PST
 
 
WHERE:    Russell 325
 
 
###
 
Kathryn Robertson
Press Assistant
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
202-224-2834

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 

Posted at 07:33 am by thecommonills
 

Let's address this and then get back to our focus

Let's address this and then get back to our focus


We're going to be late with entries this morning and we're going to be late because I've spent forever in the e-mails and forever on the phone with friends about the e-mails.  This would be a perfect topic for a Saturday "I Hate The War" but it can't wait until Saturday.

I understand that a number of you are upset, outraged or offended.  You've made that clear in your e-mails and I appreciate your passion and your desire to stick up for the community.  But at the end of the day, it really doesn't matter.

Ann (links to all the community posts at the end) is enraged and has written about at her site.  Ann's a sweetheart and I'm not mad at her.  That's the sort of post that Mike first wrote and the same reason he started his site.  Ann feels that credit is not being given where it's due because various 'news' outlets are reporting that this or that site "first reported" on the McGurk - Chon e-mails June 7th when, in fact,  we covered them June 5th.

What e-mails?  The ones that helped end Brett McGurk's nomination.  If you read one thing on that this morning, read Nancy Cordes (CBS News) because she's got a really strong article which ends with:


Of course, this means the administration needs to find a new nominee, and fast.
Whoever it is will have to deal with a deteriorating political situation in Iraq.
To date, the U.S. has spent $800 billion fighting in Iraq, and rebuilding.


Yes, we were the first ones.  And the archives prove it as does the fact that the snapshot's carried not only at the TCI backup sites but also at all community sites that post that day.  The public record is the public record.

In terms of what has so many upset, I can't focus on it and I don't want Martha, Eli, Shirley and everyone else going through the e-mails today to have to. But I sure can't focus on it.  We have to have new content on Iraq today and that's not going to be possible if I'm all caught up in which 'news' outlet slighted us and which didn't.

In the end, it doesn't matter.

It never has.

We've built up online without that kind of support and, in fact, each time we're ripped off or not credited (this is hardly the first time), we actually get more popular because others get offended that, for whatever reason, someone didn't get the proper credit.

But at the end of the day it does not matter.

You're mad because the press isn't being factual.

Sinan Salaheddin (AP) has an article on Iraqi Vice President today which maintains, "Shortly after the warrant was issued, al-Hashemi fled to the Kurdish-run region in Iraq's north."

That's a flat out lie.

We have gone over this repeatedly and it is public record.  Let's drop back to the April 30th snapshot:


Today's big news was  Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi.  The political crisis was already well in effect when December 2011 rolled around.  The press rarely gets that fact correct.  When December 2011 rolls around you see Iraqiya announce a  boycott of the council and the Parliament, that's in the December 16th snapshot and again in a December 17th entry .  Tareq al-Hashemi is a member of Iraqiya but he's not in the news at that point.  Later, we'll learn that Nouri -- just returned from DC where he met with Barack Obama -- has ordered tanks to surround the homes of high ranking members of Iraqiya.  December 18th is when al-Hashemi and Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq are pulled from a Baghdad flight to the KRG but then allowed to reboard the plane. December 19th is when the arrest warrant is issued for Tareq al-Hashemi by Nouri al-Maliki who claims the vice president is a 'terrorist.' .

If he left Baghdad December 18th on a plane to the KRG (and arrived there, it's not around the world) and the warrant was issued on the 19th, no, he did not leave for the KRG after a warrant was issued.

We have gone over this repeatedly.  The failure to get it correct at this late date would suggest that the report was anti-Sunni.  If I were running AP and that error came up today, I would be speaking to the reporter and we would either fix the problem right away or the reporter would be re-assigned due to the appearance of bias against Sunnis.


Now all this time later, AP still can't get that fact right and you're surprised that other 'news' outlets can't get credit right?

There's nothing in it for them in crediting us.  It's not like crediting us means I say, "Oh, we won't ever negatively critique them!"  We're independent in the true sense of the word and we're not part of the circle jerk.  Never wanted to be part of it.

But try to understand this, reading one e-mail after another about how we were ripped off and we were wronged makes it very hard to write about Iraq.  Honestly? We were ripped off.  We were wronged.  And?  Iraqis still suffer and us stopping everything isn't really going to accomplish anything.

I know from past experience here that ignoring this means it festers and gets bigger and bigger and bigger.  So we're addressing it right now.

Back in 2004 and 2005, a newspaper would send links to everything that they had on Iraq to the public account -- and this is when Iraq was actually covered in US newspapers.  And after a few weeks, I called a friend who was an editor and asked, "Why am I getting all of this?"  He explained that this was an outreach effort where they were contacting websites and trying to get links.

That made sense.  They are trying to make a living.  They need this.  I'm not trying to make a living.  This is a free site, there are no ads, there never will be any ads.  There is no effort to profit from this site.  But I don't lack for money.

Reporters do.  (Or usually do.) And they have to make their careers.  And it's good to understand that because then you grasp why there's not a lot of truth in the news.  When people are constantly worried about layoffs or losing their jobs, they're not going to tell the truth or all the truth.

It is irritating that some websites (not news outlets) repeatedly e-mail the public account wanting this article noted and that article noted when they never do anything for this site in return.  That does get old because basic manners would dictate that if you've e-mailed me for over three years and I've highlighted your stuff in all that time you'd have something to offer.  (Friends rarely e-mail for links.  They instead call.  I'm not referring to friends who can always ask for links.)


But it doesn't happen.  And that's just the way it is.

It doesn't matter in the end.

The record is what the record is.

If you're worried that I'm not getting credit, think about it this wa:.  I'll be dead in 20 or 30 years.  After that happens there will be yet another book on my life and nobody avenges better than celebrity biographers.  So some friend (I think I know who, we'll call him "Baby Mogul") will speak to the biographer and say, "Look, you know that in addition to this career, she had an online persona?"  And this site will be a treasure trove.  The biographer will go through it like crazy and will even scores that even you and I may not have grasped needed to be settled.

So the record will right itself and those who have been less than honest will be outed.

Example, one thing we've done here non-Iraq wise but public record wise was to make very clear that a lot of COWARDS exist in Panhandle Media (Pacifica Radio and the various 'indy' outlets).  What a bunch of cowards.

I knew Jean Seberg and we've never lied here.  So many others have lied non-stop.  But you can refer to "Spying and Seberg" and "Steve Rendall and other idiots lie about Jean Seberg" among others.


Joyce Haber wrote a gossip column and, on top of that, what she ran was a blind item.  But damned if the Amy Goodmans will tell you that as they rush to blame Joyce.  Why? Because it's real damn easy to call out a gossip columnist.  Jean and Roman didn't sue Joyce Harber.  They blew off the blind item.  They sued Newsweek which printed the false rumor (Jean pregnant with the child of a Black Panther!) and did so not as a blind item.

This is public record.  But for years, the Amy Goodmans and the FAIRs and all the other supposed brave 'independent' media have beat up on a gossip columnist who ran a blind item while ignoring Newsweek.  (They've also ignored that Joyce's editor at the Los Angeles Times, Bill Thomas, passed on that blind item and vouched for the source -- Joyce never knew it was an FBI plant but her editor should have.)  They don't tell you about Edward Behr and Kermit Lansner -- the Newsweek writer and editor.  It's a little harder to take on Newsweek, to call it out.  So they lie and pretend like they've done something brave.  And then someone who never knew what happened (for example, Davey D) thinks they've been told the truth and they start writing about that 'evil' Joyce Haber. 


And as 2009's "Steve Rendall and other idiots lie about Jean Seberg" demonstrates, this isn't a long ago lie.  People are still vested in lying about what happened.


I'll get angry if I go over it again so we'll just note this from the 2007  "Roundtable" when we were discussing a new book by an 'independent' press and even it included the lie.

C.I.: Thank you. That is such a [f**king] lie -- and I just told one member last week I'd try to watch my own language in these editions. I do not take kindly to anyone lying about Jean Seberg. Rebecca said skip the book or you'll be pissed. Jean Seberg went into the hospital in August. The trauma at that time was Newsweek, not The Los Angeles Times. When the Harber blind item ran it was May of 1970.

Betty:
May 19, 1970 according to the endnote.

C.I.:
Thank you. Seberg ends up in the hospital in August, after Seberg o.d.ed on sleeping pills, which was not thought by all to be a suicide attempt, she was taken to the hospital. While she was in the hospital, Edward Behr wrote up a bit on her for Newsweek. He maintained that he included the 'news' that the baby's father was a Black Panther in his cable to Newsweek's NY headquarters because he was just trying to prove he was 'on' the story and in the know but it wasn't for publication. In the cable he does mark that "Strictly FYI". That ends up running in Newsweek. Kermit Lasner will offer the laughable excuse that he had no idea how that piece of shit made it into the magazine because he'd had a scooter accident at lunch. Newseek printed, August 24th issue, 1970, that, this is a quote, I damn well know what they printed: "She and French author Romain Gary, 56, are reportedly about to remarry even though the baby Jean expects in Ocotober is by another man -- a black activist she met in California." That's what got picked up everywhere, including in The Des Moines Register, Seberg's hometown paper. Now that book is supposed to utilize government documents and the FBI had Seberg's phones tapped, including her hospital phone, so they knew very well that her state of mind was frantic after Newsweek published the item. She lost the baby because of the Newsweek article. I question everything that Betty quoted including the timeline. Newsweek printed it, it got picked up everywhere, Jean Seberg lost her baby, and Romain Gary was quite clear whom he blamed when he wrote "The Big Knife" which was published in France-Soir. This was a very huge thing, in press on both sides of the Atlantic. It's still a huge deal to many and one of the main reasons I never link to the piece of crap Newsweek.


Let's be really clear on this, the FBI did not tip off Newsweek in France.  The CIA did.  The FBI wasn't operating in France.  The CIA was.  It's interesting that despite the public record, despite the lawsuit, despite the fact that Joyce's item is in May and Jean miscarries in August (and after the Newsweek item runs which is why Romain sued them), supposed 'defenders' of Jean can't tell the damn truth.  They should ashamed of themselves.  (If you're late to the party, Jean Seberg is an actress and was part of the left wing movement in both France and the US.  She was targeted by the US government -- as her FBI files have demonstrated -- because they wanted to neutralize her.)

I will always defend Jean.

And I would never be mad at Ann for sticking up for me (or at Mike or anyone).  But the point is that the truth does come out.

And for those who get attention for things they didn't really do?  Cass Elliot said it best when people were pointing out that the Monkees were having these big hits, "They'll have the fame, we'll have the legend."

So it doens't matter.  If it does to you, thank you, I appreciate that.  But do us all a favor, take it to the community newsletters -- have a roundtable on it there, write a piece on it there -- or share with another community site.  But I can't get bogged down it here.  Late this afternoon/evening, I'm going to need to dictate a mutli-K Iraq snapshot.  I can't be caught up in, "This site didn't do this for us! That site overlooked me!"  A) We have to link to whatever these days because there's so little Iraq coverage.  B) I have to be focused on that.  C) This is not a robbery like Barbra didn't get nominated for Best Director for Prince of Tides. I appreciate the e-mails, the kind words and the concern but it's not a big deal and let's not make it our focus here.


Laugh at it, trust that the truth comes out at some point and let's apply our attention to more important things.


The following community sites -- plus Jane Fonda, Dissident Voice, The Diane Rehm Show, CSPAN, Antiwar.com, Cindy Sheehan and Adam Kokesh  -- updated last night and this morning:


Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Her office issued the following yesterday:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 18, 2012
Contaact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
VETERANS: Senator Murray to Introduce Women Veterans' and Other Health Care Improvment Act of 2012
Legislation to strengthen VA's programs for female veterans and severely injured veterans who want to start families
(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will outline her new legislation, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, legislation to strengthen VA's programs for female veterans and for severely injured veterans who want to start families.  Currently, VA's fertility treatment services do not meet the complex needs of severely wounded veterans.  The nature of the current conflict and increasing use of improvised explosive devices leaves servicemembers far more susceptible to blast injuries including spinal cord injury and trauma to the reproductive and urinary tracts.  Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 more than 600 soldiers experienced these life-changing battle injuries while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.  As these injured servicemembers return home, they work to move forward with their lives and pursue their goals and dreams. For some this includes starting their own family.  The Department of Defense and Tricare program are already able to provide fertility treatment to servicemembers with these injuries.  Senator Murray's new legislation would address these issues by enhancing fertility treatment and care at VA, and allowing for fertility treatment for spouses.
Following Senator Murray's speech, a documentary highlighting the stories of 8 women veterans and the physical and emotional challenges they face as they transition home following military service will be shown. More on Senator Murray's Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 HERE.
WHO:        U.S. Senator Patty Murray
WHAT:       Introduction of Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, screening of documentary that highlights the stories of 8 women vets
WHEN:      TOMORROW: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
                 2:30 PM ET/ 11:30 AM PST
WHERE:    Russell 325
###
Kathryn Robertson
Press Assistant
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
202-224-2834



The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 

Posted at 07:08 am by thecommonills
 

Monday, June 18, 2012
Iraq snapshot

Iraq snapshot

Monday, June 18, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, a funeral for pilgrims turns into another bloodbath, Brett McGurk waves bye-bye, Camp Ashraf is strangely confusing to US State Dept spokesperson Victoria Nuland, and more.
 
 
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Special Envoy Angelina Jolie: Every minute, 8 people around the world are forced to flee their homes due to war and persecution.  No one chooses to be a refugee. Today, 43 million people worldwide have been displaced. We remember them.
 
Wednesday is World Refugee Day.  UNHCR notes that the last year alone saw an additional 800,000 refugees.  In the just released UNHCR Global Trends 2011, details such as 46% of refugees are under the age of 18, that three areas of concern are the displaced of Columbia, of the Democratic Republic of Congo and of Iraq, and that the Middle East and North Africa have a larger number of refugees than the Americas and and Asia and Pacific combined.  (Africa has the largest number of refugees with 2.1 million to the Middle East and North Africa's 1.9 million.) Through the end of last year, Iraq could claim 1,428,3000 refugees.  Only Afghanistan topped that figure (Afghanistan had 2.6 million).  Yesterday,  Oliver Maksan (Aid to the Church in Need) noted Iraqi Christian refugees in Jordan like Lina who declares, "I never want to go back to Iraq, ever." Why?  Because she was almost killed.  Because her nephew was among the many killed in the October 31, 2010 attack on Our Lady of Salvation Church in Baghdad. NPR's Deborah Amos has documented the refugee crisis and written the book on it with  Eclipse of the Sunnis: Power, Exile, and Upheaval in the Middle East (now out in soft cover -- available at Amazon right now for $6.40).  We'll try to note World Refugee Day again tomorrow.
 
But turning to the big news of the day . . .
 
. . . the ridiculous nomination of Brett McGurk to be the US Ambassador to Iraq.
Andre Tartar (New York magazine) reported yesterday, "Just days after seven Republican senator on the Foreign Relations Committee urged President Obama to pick a new nominee for the ambassadorship to Iraq, the White House is doubling down on Brett McGurk.  Speaking on CNN's State of the Union this morning, senior White House adviser David Plouffe said, 'We've made this nomination and we think he will ably serve as ambassador'." Plouffe sounded as confident in the nomination as Gina Chon when she wrote in her fantasy e-mail, "The question I continue to have is when will the conversation return to issues?  Because when they do, I know Brett will become the next ambassador to Iraq."  She wasn't much of a reporter (the Wall St. Journal allowed her to save face by announcing her resignation last week) and it turns out she's not psychic either.
 
ABC News' Jake Tapper broke the news today that the nomination was no more. He quotes National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Vietor stating, "We greatly appreciate Brett's years of service on behalf of the United States, to include tireless and effective leadership in Iraq from the height of the war to the moment our last troops left Iraq in December and through the challenging transition earlier this year.  He served in two administrations, and his commitment to the national interest and to the mission was always clear.  He has proven himself to be a skilled diplomat willing to take on some of the toughest challenges at the toughest times in a difficult region.  While we regret to see Brett withdraw his candidacy there is no doubt that he will be called on again to serve the country." In addition, to six Republican Senators serving on the Foreign Relations Committee asking that the nomination be withdrawn, many Democrats also voiced concerns last week.  Senator John Kerry is the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee spoke of postponing the vote which was to be held tomorrow. The Washington Post reported Senator Barbara Boxer had serious resevations about McGurk. CNN's Ted Barrett and Paul Courson reported Senators Ben Cardin and Bob Casey were stating that further thought needed to go into the nomination. Peter Baker (New York Times) states that "few Senate Democrats were eager to lead a battle against Senate Republicans on his [McGurk's] behalf."  Andrea Mitchell (NBC News reporter and host of MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell Reports) Tweeted:
 
 
mitchellreportsmitchellreports Until today @statedept was publically standing by #Brett McGurk now that he's "withdrawn" theyre referring q's to the white house2:57pm on 6/18/2012
 
 
CNN makes the news of the no-longer nomination a "Gut Check" for the dayJon Swaine (Telegraph of London) notes, "Flirtatious emails between Mr McGurk and Ms Chon from 2008, when both were working in Baghdad and married to different spouses, were leaked last month, throwing his nomination into crisis. [. . .]  Ms Chon, who worked at the Wall Street Journal, resigned last week after the newspaper said she had broken its in-house rules by sharing details of forthcoming articles with an outsider [McGurk]."  Among the questions McGurk would have faced had the process gone forward were what, if any, information was leaked to Gina Chon in her capacity as a reporter.  With leaks being a big issue in DC these days and with Chon and McGurk mentioning trading favors in their e-mails to one another, this issue was on the minds of some.  Ted Barrett and Kate Bolduan (CNN) point out, "In an e-mail to friends Friday, she said the e-mails she traded with McGurk 'which were exposed just before Brett's confirmation hearing reflected flirtatious banter and nothing more'."
 
Emily Heil (Washington Post) reminds, "The e-mails were not the only hurdle to Senate confirmation for McGurk. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had previously criticized his handling of U.S. policy in Iraq, including the inability of U.S. and Iraqi negotiators to reach a deal that would have left a small U.S. military presence behind."  There were many reasons not to support him.  That includes the e-mails which made it very unlikely that Iraqi women could access the US Embassy.  While stupid sob sisters in the US would huff, "They got married!," that doesn't mean a damn thing in Iraq.  That he entered into an affair with Chon while he was married and while she was does matter in Iraq.  And Iraqi women would have to fear accusations -- which could result in the so-called 'honor' killings -- if they didn't avoid the embassy.  In addition, as a community member in Tikrit pointed out early this morning, the e-mails meant that Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and other clerics probably wouldn't meet with him.  He wouldn't just be seen as a non-believer or follower of another religion, his actions portrayed in the e-mails would mean they would shun him.  You also have to wonder that since he was e-mailing Chon about his "blue balls" before they'd slept together or kissed, exactly how were US State Dept employees who were women going to be treated by new boss McGurk?  He couldn't speak Arabic.  Iraqiya -- the political slate that won the most votes in the 2010 elections -- was against him and lodged an official complaint objecting to his being the new US Ambassador.  
 
Then there were the statements he made at the hearings.  As we noted at Third two weeks ago:
 
 

McGurk took credit for the surge.  The only aspect of the surge that was successful was what Gen David Petraeus implemented and US service members carried out.  That was not what McGurk and other civilians were tasked with.  Their part of the surge?  The military effort was supposed to create a space that the politicians would put to good use by passing legislation.  It didn't happen.  McGurk's part of the surge was a failure.
He revealed incredible ignorance about al Qaeda in Iraq and seemed unaware that, in 2011, then-CIA Director (now Secretary of Defense) Leon Panetta told Congress it amounted to less than 1,000 people or that in February of this year, the Director of National Intelligence declared that a significnat number (of that less than 1,000) had gone to Syria.
Though the press has reported for years about Nouri's refusal to bring Sahwa members into the process (give them jobs) and how he refuses to pay these security forces (also known as "Awakenings" and "Sons of Iraq"), McGurk told Congress that Nouri was paying them all and had given government jobs to approximately 70,000.  (For point of reference, in 2008, Gen David Petraues told Congress there were approximately 91,000 Sahwa.)
 
Links go to the three snapshot where we reported on the hearing.  Those issues and more go to his qualifications.  He is not the 'expert' the White House has made him out to be.
 
Adam Entous and Janet Hook (Wall St. Journal) add, "Some Republican senators said Mr. McGurk lacked the experience to head a major embassy in a volatile region.  Mr. McGurk, 39 years old, hasn't served as ambassador to any other countries." They also quote James Jeffrey making some idiotic remarks.  Word to Jeffrey, when you're a US diplomat and you put your foot in your mouth like you did last week (signing the letter declaring Brett McGurk "the best man for the job" -- not person), probably a good idea to lower your profile. You have no idea how many women in the State Dept your little letter pissed off -- rightfully so.  Matthew Lee (AP) plays nice insisting Jeffrey "and his two predecssors in Baghdad" along with the administration "had staunchly defended McGurk as the right person for the job". But Matthew Lee is aware of the actual word choice since he reported on the letter Jeffrey, Chris Hill and Ryan Crocker sent, noting he was quoting from "a copy of the letter obtained by The Associated Press" when he included this statement the 'diplomats' signed off on, "Brett is the right man for the job."  Funny, at a time when Hillary Clinton is the second female Secretary of State, you might think the notion of "right man for the job" would have flown out the window.  Again, women at the State Dept, career employees, were not pleased with the letter and if Jeffrey feels the need to speak again, he might want to issue an apology for his word choice.  That would be the 'diplomatic' thing to do. 
 
He should have stepped down as soon as the e-mails became public.  It was idiotic not to.  What is acceptable in the US really didn't matter though CJR and others didn't seem to get it, so gripped with their own feelings of superiority and xenophobia.
 
What mattered was the way Iraqis would respond to a US Ambassador with that history.
 
That was the most important thing.  Not what the US press thought, what the Iraqis would think.  He was supposed to be the US Ambassador to Iraq but for some reason the US press repeatedly chose to ignore Iraqis and to ignore how Iraqis would react to him.   This is not a minor thing and the host country should be considered with all nominations.  That doesn't mean, for example, we don't nominate an openly gay person to be an ambassador to a country where there is tremendous homophobia.  It does mean that we have to be aware of it and we have to ask, "Can we send a message that helps the LGBT community in the host country with this potential pick?"  If we can, it can very well be worth it.
 
The US government, with the illegal war, turned Iraq over to exile thugs and thugs.  They did so at the expense of Iraq's educated class (why do you think the 'brain drain' took place to begin with -- they left because of who the US installed).  In the process, they destroyed the rights of women and they turned a secular country into a fundamentalist one.  And someone thought the answer was to send an adulterer -- who committed adultry in the host country?  Do they not get how insulting that was?  Does no one in the administration understand the Arab world?
 
Today Reuters notes, "McGurk's withdrawal throws a fresh question mark over Washington's uncertain relations with Iraq following the departure of U.S. forces last year."
I'm sure it does.  I'm also sure that confirming McGurk would have been seen as an offense by a significant number of Iraqis.
 
 
 
Brett, all joking aside, I feel for you man. I know how it is to have State turn on you, push you out of a job and all that. Despite some water under the bridge between us, I think maybe we could get along, you know, maybe hang out now that both of us have afternoons free. Whattaya say, we leave the wives at home and hit a few rooftop bars, see what comes up, um, goes down, aw dammit, I just did it again didn't I?
But we're moving on. Who's next to claim the head job at the world's largest and most expensive embassy? The previous landlord, Jim Jeffrey, quit the job so quickly that he didn't even wait for his replacement to arrive. Now everyone else in Iraq falls under a State Department policy requiring the outgoing person to stay on for a week overlap with his/her replacement, but like lots of things at State, that only applies to the little people.
So who will it be? One rumor is that Obama will nominate Meghan O'Sullivan. Sully, like McGurk, is another Bush administration left over covered in Iraqi blood.
 
Aseel Kami (Reuters) reports that as mourners gathered in Baquba funeral tents to pay their respects to pilgrims killed in recent violence, a suicide bomber blew himself up and claimed at least 15 other lives.  Deutsche Welle explains, "The blast occurred in a tnet where mourners, including several high-ranking armed forces members, were paying respects to the family of a Shiite tribal leader in Baquba, authorities said."  Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) adds, "Neither of the military officials -- identified by police officials as Lt. Gen. Ali Ghaidan, commander of the Iraqi army's ground forces, and Abdul Ameer al-Zaidi, commander of Diyala military operations -- were killed, though at least three guards for Ghaidan died." KUNA offers, "The source told KUNA that a suicide bomber, wearing an explosive belt, blew up himself while being inside a mourning house in Baquba, the largest city in Diyala."  BBC News counts forty injured.  AFP notes the death toll rose to 22 with fifty injured and that these two totals were verified by Baquba General Hospital's Dr. Ahmed Ibrahim.
 
  
Wednesday, Iraq was slammed with bombings which Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported the Ministry of the Interior stated claimed 93 lives and left three hundred and 12 injured.  Of Saturday's bombings, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reported, "Two car bombs targeted Shiite pilgrims Saturday in Baghdad, killing at least 32 people and injuring 68 others, police said."  Ahlul Bayt News Agency put the injured toll at "more than 140." As Kitabat noted earlier this week, the pilgrims were taking part in the holy journey on the anniversary of the death of Imam Musa al-Kadhim.  Deutsche Welle noted Saturday, "Crowds carried symbolic coffins through the streets as pilgrims beat their chests in mourning as they made their way toward the mosque's two gold domes."

Jamal Hashim (Xinhua) explained, "The pilgrims were marching on foot to return to their homes after they participated in the observation of one of the major Shiite rituals at Kadmiyah's masusoleum of Imam Mussa al-Kadhim the 7th of the most sacred 12 Shiite Imams.  During the past few days, large crowds of pilgrims from Iraqi cities and some Muslim countries flocked to Kadhmiyah to observe the annual commemoration of the Imam's death."  Hsahim also notes that Nouri's security measures included a ban on all vehicles in "and around the district of Kadhmiyah," as well as closing roads, dispatching military helicopters to fly overhead, adding checkpoints and dispatching "dozens of thousands of Iraqi security troops." AP quoted Mohamed Ali who state, "There is no real security, no real searches."
 
AFP notes that today's violence also included a Baquba roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 police officer and left two more injured and a Baquba roadside bombing which claimed the life of 1 shepherd.
 
Reporting on Saturday's attacks, Duraid Adnan and Tim Arango (New York Times) observed, "The attacks represented an embarrassment to the army and police, and their top commander, Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and raised questions about the ability of Iraq's security forces to protect the population." And that's what happens when you refuse to name heads to the security ministries.  Nouri was named prime minister-designate in November 2010.


Per the Constitution, he was supposed to name a Cabinet -- full, not partial -- within 30 days.  Failure to do so meant that someone else would be named prime minister-designate.  Instead of following the Constitution, Nouri was allowed to become prime minister in December 2010.

The press assured us that Nouri would quickly nominate people to head the security posts.  Iraqiya, at the same time, warned Nouri would avoid nominating anyone because then he could control the posts.  The minute he nominates someone, it goes to the Parliament.  If they vote to confirm the nominee, the nominee remains in office until the end of the term unless the nominee dies or resigns.  Another way to remove the nominee (actually a minister at this point) would be for Parliament to vote them out of office.  You may remember that from December through May, Nouri attempted to get Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq voted out of office; however, he wasn't able to.  It's very difficult to remove a minister without just cause.  By naming 'acting ministers,' Nouri ensures that they only occupy the post as long as they please him.  If you're an 'acting minister,' you haven't been approved by Parliament so Nouri can toss you aside as he pleases.  (There are not "acting ministers" in the Iraqi Constitution.)



 AP quotes Brookings Doha Center's analyst and director Salman Shaikh stating, "Those behind the attacks, they've become more determined now and see more of an opportunity because of the dysfunctional political process." 
Jalal Talabani's been huffing all week.  We'll cover it tomorrow. 
 
 
For six weeks now, the last remaining residents of Camp Ashraf have been refusing to move.  Who?  May 30th,  United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) released "Report on Human Rights in Iraq: 2011."  As the report notes, Camp Ashraf is "over 3,000 residents affiliated with the People's Mujahedin of Iran (PMOI)" that are being moved to Camp Liberty.  These are Iranian dissidents who were welcomed into Iraq decades.  That changed with Nouri's Iraq.  The report notes the 36 deaths when Nouri's forces went into the camp April 8, 2011 and that it followed the assault of July 2009.  The report notes that the United Nations -- specifically UNAMI and UNHCR -- have been attempting to act "as an impartial facilitator" in moving the residents to Camp Liberty.  Approximately 2,000 have been moved. 
 
The UN Secretary-General's Special Envoy to Iraq Martin Kobler declared June 11th, "I urge the remaining residents of Camp Ashraf to relocate to Camp Hurriya without delay.  The relocation process should not be stalled.  I am concerned that there will be violence if the relocation doesn't recommence.  Any violence would be unacceptable.  I call on the Government of Iraq to avoid any forceful relocation.  Each relocation must be voluntary.  The United Nations supports only a peaceful, humanitarian solution and stands ready to facilitate."
 
One of the main reasons the residents stopped the process is that they want the US to come and search the camp now because the US State Dept has made it an issue stating such a search will determine their classification of 'terrorist' or not 'terrorist.'   If you're late to the party, from the June 1st snapshot:

Which takes us into legal news, it's a shock to the administration but most others saw the ruling coming.  Jamie Crawford (CNN) reports, "A federal appeals court has ordered Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to make a prompt decision on whether to remove an Iranian dissident group from the State Department's list of foreign terrorist organizations."  This was a unanimous decision handed down by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.  Why was it unanimous?  Because the administration has been in violation for some time now.  James Vicini (Reuters) reminds, "The appeals court ruled nearly two years ago that Clinton had violated the group's rights and instructed her to 'review and rebut' unclassified parts of the record she initially relied on and say if she regards the sources as sufficiently credible.  It said Clinton had yet to make a final decision."  The administration was in contempt.  The courts and the executive branch were in conflict.  (They still are.)  What generally happens there is the court of appeals makes a united front because this is now a court issue (as opposed to the merits of the case from when it was heard earlier).  Unlike the executive branch, the judicial branch has no security forces.  So they want to send a message but they also want to do so without looking weak if the administration ignores them.  So since two months was the target date for the State Dept to finish a review on the MEK, they gave State four months which, they hope, is more than enough time. However, the two months (as the judges know) was a guideline, not a promise.  State made very clear before the court that they were not promising two months.  So it could go on past four months.  Four months carries them into October.  If they're not complying by then, there's a good chance they won't.  Whether Barack Obama wins a second term as US President or not, Hillary Clinton has already stated she was only doing one term as Secretary of State.  So when November arrives, if there's no decision, there won't be a rush for one.  If Barack wins re-election, he'll state that he has to find someone to oversee the department first.  If Barack loses, they've already blown off the appeals court for over two years now, continuing to blow them off for sixty more days will be a breeze.

Nouri al-Maliki has twice attacked Camp Ashraf -- and done so -- both times -- while US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq.  He loathes the residents and has repeatedly attempted to force them back to Iran (where they would most likely be hamed and possibly put to death).  This is not an unreasonable request on their part.  If the US State Dept is declaring that a search must take place of Camp Ashraf and that the search will determine whether the group is terrorist or not, of course that search needs to take place immediately.  Not after they've relocated every resident and no one is there to say, "Wait! They're planting weapons!"  They being Nouri's forces.  The residents have been attacked by them twice, they have no reason to trust them.
 
An unidentified "senior U.S. official" tells Reuters, "We don't know why the MEK slowdown is underway."  Seriously?  It's no secret that they have requested that Camp Ashraf be searched now.  The US should do that.  If they want to follow up after as well, fine.  But this is a group of people who are spooked and spooked for good reason.  They are being forced out of their home.  They are aware that the UN hasn't secured passage to other countries for those who've been transferred to Camp Liberty.  They are aware that Iran wants them and that Nouri is in close contact with Iran.  A search is a very simple thing that the US and the UN can conduct.  It doesn't have to be the final search but it would bring peace of mind to the residents, so you do it.  You don't fight it, you don't play stupid.  If you're really not taking sides and you're attempting to do right by all, you do the search because you know (a) it will lower the stress and (b) it will allow the process of moving Ashraf residents to Liberty to start back up.
 
Here's the statement US State Dept Victoria Nuland issued today:
 
The United States remains concerned about the situation at Camp Ashraf and urges the residents of Camp Ashraf to resume full cooperation immediately with the Iraqi Government and United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI). The United States also urges the Iraqi Government to intensify its efforts to fulfill its commitments to provide for the safety, security, and humanitarian treatment of the residents.
With almost 2,000 former Camp Ashraf residents now relocated to Camp Hurriya, the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf is achievable, but requires continued patience and practical engagement to be realized. Constructive offers must be met with a constructive spirit, and not with refusals or preconditions to engage in dialogue. Recent publicly-declared conditions for cooperation, including calls for the Department to inspect Camp Ashraf as a precondition for further relocations to Camp Hurriya, are an unnecessary distraction.
The United States has made clear that cooperation in the closure of Camp Ashraf, the Mujahedin-e Khalq's (MEK's) main paramilitary base, is a key factor in determining whether the organization remains invested in its violent past or is committed to leaving that past behind. We fully support the path laid out by the United Nations for the peaceful closure of Camp Ashraf along with sustainable solutions for its former residents. The Camp residents and their leadership - both in Iraq and in Paris - should recognize this path as a safe and humane resolution to this situation. Only a peaceful implementation of the Iraqi government's decision to close the Camp is acceptable, and the Iraqi government bears the responsibility for the security and humane treatment of the individuals at Camp Ashraf.
 
 
I find her statement less than genuine.
 
 
 
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 18, 2012
Contaact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
 
VETERANS: Senator Murray to Introduce Women Veterans' and Other Health Care Improvment Act of 2012
Legislation to strengthen VA's programs for female veterans and severely injured veterans who want to start families
 
(Washington, D.C.) -- Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will outline her new legislation, the Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, legislation to strengthen VA's programs for female veterans and for severely injured veterans who want to start families.  Currently, VA's fertility treatment services do not meet the complex needs of severely wounded veterans.  The nature of the current conflict and increasing use of improvised explosive devices leaves servicemembers far more susceptible to blast injuries including spinal cord injury and trauma to the reproductive and urinary tracts.  Army data shows that between 2003 and 2011 more than 600 soldiers experienced these life-changing battle injuries while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.  As these injured servicemembers return home, they work to move forward with their lives and pursue their goals and dreams. For some this includes starting their own family.  The Department of Defense and Tricare program are already able to provide fertility treatment to servicemembers with these injuries.  Senator Murray's new legislation would address these issues by enhancing fertility treatment and care at VA, and allowing for fertility treatment for spouses.
Following Senator Murray's speech, a documentary highlighting the stories of 8 women veterans and the physical and emotional challenges they face as they transition home following military service will be shown. More on Senator Murray's Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvement Act of 2012 HERE.
 
WHO:        U.S. Senator Patty Murray
 
WHAT:       Introduction of Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act of 2012, screening of documentary that highlights the stories of 8 women vets
 
WHEN:      TOMORROW: Tuesday, June 19th, 2012
                 2:30 PM ET/ 11:30 AM PST
 
WHERE:    Russell 325
 
###
 
Kathryn Robertson
Press Assistant
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
448 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20510
202-224-2834
 
 
 

Posted at 05:59 pm by thecommonills
 

White House wants Iraq crisis resolved before Nov. elections?

White House wants Iraq crisis resolved before Nov. elections?


Alsumaria is trumpeting a major get.  Tomorrow evening (Iraq time), they will air an exclusive interview with Moqtada al-Sadr.  Though Moqtada has participated in a few press conferences of late (such as the one following the April 28th meet-up in Erbil), he largely communicates via his online forum.  It is being called his first major interview since 2010. 

Nouri al-Maliki may face questions in Parliament.  If he does, there may be a vote after to determine whether or not he should remain as prime minister.  But even without knowing that, a reader could tell Nouri was in big trouble just going through the news in Iraq this morning.  Dar Addustour reports that Nouri has proclaimed 200,000 housing units will soon be constructed.  And they will be given away free!!!!!  And the electricity crisis will end next year!!!!!

Nouri always unrolls the promises when his political career is at risk.  So despite the fact that Baghdad still doesn't have more than six hours a day of electricity (outside the Green Zone), it'll all be fixed next year?  Despite the fact that this hasn't taken place thus far? 

Meanwhile Kitabat reports what everyone's thinking, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani fled to Germany in order to avoid the increasing pressure around the issue.  The paper says Talabani has fled to avoid continued pressure from Iran.   Before fleeing, Jalal was again calling for a national conference.  Al Rafidayn has a non-scientific, ongoing readers' poll asking "What are your expectations for the national conference of political leaders in Iraq?"  976 readers have voted.  Their top expectation?  28.4% say they expect to see the current government survive.  Just behind that, with 25.1% of the vote is a group that expects to see early elections called. 

Dar Addustour reports that the Sadr bloc is denying they have agreed to side with Nouri in order to have the presidency of the Justice and Accountability Commission.  This is the commission that was used in 2010 to disqualify various candidates -- mainly Iraqiya and other rivals of Nouri -- ahead of the elections.  The National Alliance states that this position was decided upon some time ago.

Kitabat notes the US government (via Vice President Joe Biden's office) continues to apply pressure to the situation in Iraq.  Dar Addustour states Nouri was told to wrap it up (what that means isn't explained: Return to the Erbil Agreement, take out his rivals?) because the White House is worried how the continued turmoil will reflect on them as November elections approach.  There are rumors of a meeting being held on Wednesday that will be "crucial."

Alsumaria notes that Iraq is hit by dust storms today.  Kitabat's more concerned with ambassadors.  They note that England's Ambassador to Syria Simon Paul Collis was kicked out of that country but has now been named Ambassador to Iraq.  And here's the official United Kingdom announcement on that:


Mr Simon Paul Collis has been appointed Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq.
FCO plaque in King Charles Street. Crown copyright.
He will succeed Mr Michael Aron who will be transferring to another Diplomatic Service appointment. Mr Collis will take up his appointment at the end of June 2012.
Mr Collis joined the FCO in 1978 and after studying Arabic has served mainly in the Middle East. His most recent postings have been as Her Majesty's Consul General in Dubai and in Basra, and Her Majesty's Ambassador in Doha and in Damascus. He left Syria on the withdrawal of remaining staff in February 2012, and was declared persona non grata by the Syrian regime in June 2012.
On his appointment as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to the Republic of Iraq, Mr Collis has said "I am honoured to be appointed Ambassador to Iraq and look forward to returning there. I will do my best to work with the Government and people of Iraq to strengthen relations between our countries.
At a time of change in the region and in the wider world there are many challenges and opportunities across political, economic, security and cultural fields where both countries can benefit from working more closely together in pursuit of our shared interests and objectives.
I believe that success in these endeavours must be rooted in a sound appreciation of our historical links while remaining firmly focused on building the future. I am very happy to have been afforded this opportunity to contribute to that exciting and valuable work."

Curriculum vitae

Full name: Simon Paul Collis
Married to: Huda Mujarkech
Children: Five adult children
October 2007 – Present Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Damascus
2005 – 2007   Her Majesty’s Ambassador, Doha
2004 – 2005 Basra, Consul General
2000 – 2004 Dubai, Consul General
1999 – 2000 Secondment to BP
1996 – 1999 Amman, Deputy Head of Mission
1994 – 1996 FCO, Deputy Head, Near East & North Africa Dept
1991 – 1994 New Delhi, First Secretary
1990 – 1991 FCO, Gulf War Emergency Unit
1988 – 1990 Tunis, Deputy Head of Mission
1987 – 1988 FCO, Head of India Section, South Asia Department
1986 UKMis New York, Temporary Duty
1984 – 1986 FCO, Middle East Spokesman, News Department
1981 – 1984 Bahrain, Second Secretary
1980 – 1981 Full Time Arabic Language Training
1978 – 1979 FCO, Desk Officer, Southern European Department






Those are some serious qualifiacations.  As opposed to the US where any fool gets made Ambassador.  Yeah, Kitabt goes there yet again noting that the White House refuses to back down from the nomination of Brett McGurk despite his sexual scandal and Congressional opposition.  I don't know if there can be a worse scandal in the current Iraq other than a "sexual scandal."  We've noted that women would be at risk if McGurk was confirmed and they visited the US Embassy.  But a community member in Tirkit thinks it's much more than just Iraqi women.  He wonders how, for example, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani could meet with McGurk after all the coverage in Iraq about the sex scandal?  He assumes that al-Sistani and other clerics would have to avoid McGurk whom he feels would be seen as "an infindel" who brought dishonor upon the United States while on Iraqi soil (in 2008, while in Iraq as a Bush official, the married McGurk began an affair with the married Gina Chon -- both subsequently divorced their spouses -- divorce is not a minor thing in Iraq).  So why in the world, our community member in Tikrit wonders, is the US government trying to force McGurk as Ambassador when his actions mean most Iraqis will avoid him and whisper about him?

It's a very good point and you have to wonder how many strikes one person gets before the White House wakes up and pulls the nomination?  And it would probably be a good thing for the xenophobia in the US press to stop.  For all the dumb idiots who want to claim, "They got married!," McGurk isn't trying to be ambassador to the US, he's trying to be the US ambassador to Iraq.  And he's really not the best face for that. 


Peter Van Buren notes that Cryptome has published some of Brett McGurk's blogging. Peter Van Buren is the author of We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the War for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People .  And we'll note this from Peter Van Buren:





Let’s also talk about whether not speaking any Arabic is a good or bad thing for McGurk. Let’s ask what experience he has had managing a $6.5 billion enterprise with 16,000 employees. Let’s ask what job if any he has held other than appointed political hack. Let’s talk about how many Iraqi groups see him as so close to PM Malaki that they initially refused to even work with him. Let’s talk about the little paid-for nooky at Harvard. Let’s talk about whether using US Government email to conduct an extra-marital affair suggests you have the discretion, maturity and personal credibility to be an ambassador. Let’s talk about John McCain’s objections. Let’s talk about Inoufe’s objections.

Let’s talk about all those issues, and whether they add up to someone who deserves to be an ambassador.

And as if to make sure the story drags on for another news cycle, Chon also spoke to CNN. Better yet, some apology email Chon sent to her “friends” ended up leaked to CNN by one of them. The embattled spouse told CNN:


People have jumped to unfair and inaccurate conclusions using our own words against us.

Oh, the old “using our own words” defense. We call that taking responsibility for what you say and write. And this woman worked for a major newspaper?



Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gentlemen's Journalism Club" went up Saturday and Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk" went up last night.   On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include Jose Padilla, austerity moves in Greece, student protests in Quebec and more.

The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 

Posted at 06:20 am by thecommonills
 

Alastair Campbell's Liary

Alastair Campbell's Liary

But I still love the relative, not the absolute, the cabbage and the warmth of a fire, Bach on the phonograph, and laughter, and talk in the cafes, and a turnk packed for departure, with copies of Tropic of Cancer, and Rank's last SOS and the telephone ringing all day, good-bye, good-bye, good-bye . . .

So ends 1965's The Dairy of Anais Nin Volume I. Few published diaries every create a stir.  Nin's diaries created a major stir that has lasted years.  Currently, in England, another diary is making a splash, Alastair Campbell's.  Andrew Grice (Independent of London) reported over the weekend:


Rupert Murdoch launched an “over-crude” campaign to force Tony Blair to speed up Britain's entry into the Iraq war, according to the final volume of Alastair Campbell's diaries.
Mr Blair's former communications director accuses the media mogul of being part of a drive by American Republicans to drag Britain into the controversial war a week before the House of Commons even voted to approve the intervention in 2003.


You can read the excerpt at the GuardianBBC News noted, "Rupert Murdoch called Tony Blair urging him not to delay the invasion of Iraq, former Number 10 communications chief Alastair Campbell has said."  Nicholas Watt (Guardian) adds, "In another blow to the media mogul, who told the Leveson inquiry that he had never tried to influence any prime minister, Campbell's diary says Murdoch warned Blair in a phone call of the dangers of a delay in Iraq. The disclosure by Campbell, whose diaries are serialised in the Guardian, will pile the pressure on Murdoch in light of his evidence to the Leveson inquiry." However, Erik Larson (Bloomberg) notes that Campbell immediately insisted that's not what he was saying and went on BBC Radio 4 and his blog to issue his denials.

AFP pounces on the diary to note "Blair though Brown was 'bonkers'."  (Gordon Brown succeeded Tony Blair as Prime Minister.  Both were members of Labour Party and Brown had been groomed for that position for several decades.) Tony Blair's online beloved, John Rentoul, runs with it at the Independent because he grasps wildly at any hint of masculinity that might waft off on Tony.

As everyone rushes to weigh in, it might be smart to consider the author of the diary.

In 2010, Chris Ames (Guardian) noted Alastair Campbell less than honest responses to the Iraq Inquiry:

Last week, I wrote that "showing how, when and why [Alastair] Campbell said something that was false is very easy". It has become easier as Campbell has now taken to contradicting himself. It remains to be seen whether the Iraq inquiry noticed.
Although the inquiry members certainly upped their game on Tuesday and showed considerable scepticism over Campbell's evidence, they still didn't quite nail him down over the involvement of his fellow spin doctors in what former cabinet secretary Lord Turnbull described this week as the "granny's footsteps" process of strengthening the September 2002 Iraq dossier from one draft to the next.
Spin doctors such as John Williams, who produced the first full draft, Daniel Pruce of No 10 and Paul Hamill, who was responsible for the February 2003 (really) "dodgy dossier", were involved throughout the process, as this letter from intelligence chief John Scarlett to Tony Blair shows.
Campbell gave evidence to the Hutton Inquiry before the letter was handed over and published, so Tuesday's session was the first time he has been questioned publicly about it and other evidence of spin doctor involvement. This allows us to compare what Campbell told Hutton with what he said this week. The two versions of the story could not be more different.


The diary?

Anais Nin's remains the most popular and most influential one of the last 100 years.  Some took it as truth.  It is called a "diary" after all.  Others knew it wasn't.  Some, like Gore Vidal, were very bitchy about it.  "Bitchy" really is the only term when Gore was well aware that Anais couldn't tell some things due to mores (sex with her father) and other things due to the law (she was married to a man in New York and to a man in California at the same time -- bigamy).  Gore didn't invent the term "liary" but he popularized it as applied to Anais' diaries.  After her death (and the death of the New York husband), Anais' journals would start to come out.  Covering the same time periods and much more explicit.  While people such as Gore participated in their portraits in the diaries, they aren't getting the same say in the journals. (A scary thought for Gore -- Anais uncensored on him will, among other things, refute many rumors about the two of them that he used to float.)

In his review of the fourth volume of the diary, Gore states of the diary's ability to cement Nin's literay reputation, "I am not so certain."  And "I am not so certain" -- a skepticism -- should greet all diaries published while the writer is still alive. 

That is especially true when the author, like Campbell, is known to be less than honest.  Translation, he and his publishing house will promote 'salacious' details for publicity only to walk them back later.  No one should take the book or Campbell seriously.



Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Gentlemen's Journalism Club" went up Saturday and Bonnie reminds that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk" went up last night.   On this week's Law and Disorder Radio,  an hour long program that airs Monday mornings at 9:00 a.m. EST on WBAI and around the country throughout the week, hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights) topics addressed include Jose Padilla, austerity moves in Greece, student protests in Quebec and more.


The e-mail address for this site is common_ills@yahoo.com.


 
wbai
law and disorder radio
michael s. smith
heidi boghosian
michael ratner

Posted at 06:13 am by thecommonills
 

Sunday, June 17, 2012
Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk"

Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk"

standing behind mcgurk
Isaiah's latest The World Today Just Nuts "Standing Behind McGurk."  White House spokersperson Jay Carney declares, "We continue to stand behind Brett McGurk."  David Plouffe adds, "Mainly because if we stood in front of him, we're scared he'd _____ us."  Isaiah archives his comics at The World Today Just Nuts.









Posted at 10:31 pm by thecommonills
 


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