A decade after the night that American bombs first rained down on Baghdad, the president joked about wearing a green tie for a belated St. Patrick’s Day celebration. Congress noisily focused on whether spending cuts would force the cancellation of the White House Easter egg roll. Cable news debated whether a show about young women has too much sex in it.
But on one topic, there was a conspiracy of silence: Republicans and Democrats agreed that they did not really want to talk about the Iraq war.
How very disgusting that news is. The White House is concerned about Easter eggs?
Grow the f**k up. In 1973 (check the snapshot today), Nixon announced the White House would do less ornamental lighting for Christmas as a result of the energy crisis. So, yeah, cancel the egg roll. There's no need for it. It's ceremonial. Cancel all non-essential White House events immediately. Do White House business by all means, but the extras? Cut them out.
But back to Iraq.
How very telling, these criminals started the illegal war -- in both parties -- and now they want to pretend it didn't happen.
Barack's silence? He issued a stupid statement, so typical of him. But he wasn't against the Iraq War. He was against it, then he was for it (see the profile the New York Times did on him when he was keynote speaker at the 2004 convention in Boston) and, once he got into Congress, he was always voting to authorize the spending. Stopping the spending would have stopped the war.
Over a million Iraqis killed and DC can't be bothered with the anniversary of their destruction?
How very telling.
"I just sent you something that will disgust you," C.I. told me on the phone. She wasn't kidding. (To be clear, no one's calling Peter Baker "disgusting." I'm glad he wrote the report. What he's reporting, DC's behavior, is disgusting.)
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Is today the 10th anniversary of the war or tomorrow? The 19th or the 20th? Suzanne Goldberg (Guardian) reported the 19th in real time ("War On Iraq Begins"). John Donnelly and Marcella Bombardieri (Boston Globe) also reported in real time, March 20th, "The United States and its allies began the war against Iraq with targeted strikes just before daybreak today in Baghdad at sites that Delta Force commandos believed . . ." ("Iraq War Begins"). And Wikipeida? In their "Iraq War" entry they note, "It is usually dated to begin with the invasion of Ba'athist Iraq starting on 20 March 2003 by an invasion force . . ."; however, in their "2003 invasion of Iraq," they open with, "The 2003 invasion of Iraq lasted from 19 March 2003 to 1 May 2003, and signaled . . ." According to the White House documents, Bully Boy Bush announced the start of the war to the American people in a broadcast that began March 19th at 10:16 p.m. EST. I didn't listen to Bully Boy when he occupied the Oval Office, why should I now? We'll continue to treat the 20th as the anniversary.
Others won't and that's fine. Senator Patty Murray's office issued a statement today about the Iraq War:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Senator Murray's Statement on 10-Year Anniversary of the Iraq War
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) released the following statement marking the ten-year anniversary of the war in Iraq.
“Like all Americans who recall the horrific events of September 11, 2001, I will never forget the fear and destruction our nation endured on that day. I will always remember the way Americans came together – across regions and political lines – with courage and commitment to support our men and women in uniform who didn’t think twice before stepping up to protect our nation.
“Unfortunately, the focus on locating and destroying terrorist organizations that brought such devastation upon our nation was diverted for too long by the war in Iraq, a war I opposed and voted against authorizing. After nine years of pressing for a responsible end to military operations in the country, I was pleased when the last American troops finally left Iraq on December 18, 2011.
“While I did not support the decision to enter into this conflict, I have made it my priority over the last decade to ensure the costs – both visible and invisible – are not forgotten. Today’s solemn anniversary must serve as a reminder that our work has just begun. We must not waver on our duty to serve those who have served. From education assistance and employment, to bringing down VA wait times and curbing the tragic epidemics of suicide and military sexual trauma – the completion of the war in Iraq does not signal the end to this work.
“I could not be more proud of our servicemembers from Washington state and across America who served and sacrificed honorably in Iraq, and continue to do so in Afghanistan. And as long as there are men and women in our Armed Forces serving in harm’s way, I remain committed to ensuring their well-being both on and off the battlefield.”
Press Secretary | New Media Director
Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Mobile: (202) 365-1235
Office: (202) 224-2834
Murray tells Mike Baker (AP) today, "When we decide to go to war, we have to consciously be also thinking about the cost." By contrast, former US-Senator and adviser to US President Barack Obama (he co-chaired Barack's Deficit Committee) Alan Simpson tells Baker that veterans should have to prove ("affluence-test") they need any money they receive from the government. Murray serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee and was the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee until this year when she became Chair of the Senate Budget Committee. The State Dept had no official statement to offer (we will note a response to questions in today's briefing later in the snapshot). If they had, it would have been incumbent upon them to mention the Iraqi people. The same way it would have been incumbent upon President Barack Obama to. Barack did issue a statement today. Whether than note it, we'll note a reaction to it from Iraqi journalist Mina al-Oraibi.
White House just released Obama statement on Iraq anniversary - not a word on Iraqi people, their suffering, losses, hopes etc
In Iraq, those weren't fireworks going off today to celebrate 'liberation' brought by the Iraq War. No, RTE notes, "A dozen car bombs and suicide blasts have targeted Shia districts around Baghdad, killing more than 65 people and injuring dozens more." Adam Schreck (AP) also goes with 65 deaths. In the video to Peter Beaumont (Guardian -- link is text and video) reports, a survivor says, "Innocent people were having breakfast and all of a sudden a car bomb went off. You can see the damage, houses were demolished. Can God accept that?"
AFP offers, "In all, at least 15 car bombs were set off, including two by suicide attackers, along with multiple roadside bombs and gun attacks, officials said." BBC News says "at least 50" dead and "about 100" wounded. As with most bombings which leave many injured, the death toll may increase as the day goes on. RTT lists the targeted as "mainly car bombs, targeted restaurants, bus stations, markets and gatherings of daily laborers in the Shia-dominated Baghdad neighborhoods." AP, The Voice of Russia and the Telegraph of London all report the death toll has already risen to 56.
Colin Freeman (Telegraph of London) quotes Reuters quoting cab driver Al Radi stating, "I was driving my taxi and suddenly I felt my car rocked. Smoke was all around. I saw two bodies on the ground. People were running and shouting everywhere." Elena Ralli (New Europe) provides this context, "Last Thursday more than 20 people were killed in a series of bomb and gun attacks in the capital Baghdad. Moreover, on Sunday, a car bomb near the city of Basra in southern Iraq has killed another 10 people and wounded many others." NINA notes that one of the Baghdad bombs was near the entrance of the Green Zone near Sirwan restaurant and that, as a result, all the roads leading into the Green Zone have been closed and more checkpoints set up to inspect those entering the Green Zone by foot. Mohammed Tawfeeq and Joe Sterling (CNN) report, "In Tuesday's violence, car bombs rocked Baghdad neighborhoods long engulfed in conflict, like Shulaa and Kadhimiya. They struck Mustansiriya University in eastern Baghdad and the fortified International Zone, also known as the Green Zone, where the city's international presence is concentrated. They hit cities north and south of the capital as well. Authorities defused four car bombs in the southern city of Basra."
No, Baghdad wasn't the only location for violence today. All Iraq News reports a Mosul home invasion -- the home of local candidate Wajih al-Jihaishi -- and the home invasion left his son injured, chieftain Nadhim Mahmoud al-Bijari was shot dead outside his Mosul home, a Mosul sticky bombing left two people injured, and a Babel suicide bomber targeted the Iraqi army headquarters killing 2 soldiers and injuring nine more. Alsumaria reports a Mosul suicide bomber claimed the life of a police commander and three of his bodyguards. National Iraqi News Agency reports a Ramadi roadside bombing left one police officer injured, two Kirkuk bombings left two police officers injured, Major Ahmed al-Fahdawi was stabbed to death by one of his bodyguards in Khalidiyah City, an armed attack in Tuz Khurmatu left 2 people dead and four more wounded, an "intelligence element" was killed by a Mosul bombing, a late afternoon Mosul bombing killed 3 people and left five more injured, a Hilla car bombing left 8 dead and sixteen injured, and a Tikrit roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer.
Prashant Rao: . . . it is an incredibly violent place. We're still talking about 200 people dying on a monthly basis in enormous attacks. I mean, you said earlier 50-something people died today [in Baghdad] in just one day. This is an incredibly high level of violence. And the one thing about the surge that, you know, sort of critics of it will say, it did reduce the levels of violence. That, I don't think anybody questions. But the strategic goal of political reconciliation that is -- never really happened. And, as your correspondent said, a lot of people here blame the politicians for the violence. And the lack of political reconciliation, I think, is something that could be tied directly to that.
That's AFP's Prashant Rao speaking on France 24's Debate today. With luck, we'll note more from that later this week in the snapshots. But it is worth noting that French media presented a debate on Iraq today. As opposed to the crap you might have caught on what passes in the US for the evening news.
Today's violence must be thrilling Nouri because it prevents the media from focusing on what Al Mada picks up: United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon wrote that the UN was prevented from entering the prisons and detention centers to check on the prisoners -- prevented by by the Ministry of the Interior. Nouri heads that ministry as a result of his refusing to nominated someone to be the head of it and have Parliament confirm the candidate. This is a power-grab and Iraqiya rightly called it that in January 2011. In his report, Ban Ki-moon notes:
UNAMI has not been granted access to detention centres under the authority of the Interior Ministry. Many detainees and prisoners interviewed by UNAMI in Ministry of Justice facilities and family members of persons held in detention centres under the Interior Ministry have alleged abuse, mistreatment and, at times, torture by authorities.
On Nouri's power-grab, Ambassador Feisal Amin Rasoul al-Istrabadi (Deputy Permanent Representative of Iraq to the UN from 2004-2007) writes for Project-Syndicate:
Indeed, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has largely succeeded in concentrating power in his own hands. He has created a network of military and security forces that report directly to him, often outside the legal command structure. He has intimidated the judiciary into ignoring institutional checks on his power, so that constitutionally independent agencies, such as the electoral commission and the central bank, are now under his direct control.
Moreover, Maliki has used the criminal courts to silence his political opponents. Iraq’s Sunni vice president is a fugitive in Turkey, with multiple death sentences rendered against him for alleged terrorist activities, though the judgments were based on the confessions of bodyguards who had been tortured (one died during the “investigation”). An arrest warrant has now been issued against the former finance minister, also a Sunni, on similar charges.
In other news of Nouri's aggression, Zhu Ningzhu (Xinhua) reports, "The Iraqi cabinet on Tuesday decided to postpone the provincial elections in the Sunni provinces of Anbar and Nineveh for a maximum period of six months due to deterioration in security across the country, an Iraqi official television reported." AFP reports it too. Neither notes reality.
First reality, look at the above and explain why Baghdad Province would have elections? I'm sorry if Nouri's excuse is too much violence, Baghdad's pretty violent. This isn't about violence, this is about punishing the protesters.
Second, the Cabinet did not vote. Alsumaria reports Moqtada al-Sadr has already announced his opposition to cancelling the votes and says that it is not permissable and compares the injustice to the founding of a second tyrant and dictator. Looks like Nouri's going to have to lose the "Little Saddam" moniker and just be "New Saddam." NINA adds that the vote was taken in a session that the Kurds and Iraqiya weren't present at.
Liz Sly has covered Iraq for many publications and currently covers Syria (and sometimes Iraq) for the Washington Post. She Tweets today to note journalists reflecting on Iraq:
Lovely account of the challenges of covering Iraq under Saddam and now, by the one who knows best:
@janearraf http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/03/19/if_a_tree_falls_in_baghdad_iraq_journalist?page=0,0 …
Iraq 10 years on; neither a failed state nor a model democracy, progress and chaos intertwined by
@londonoe http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/iraq-a-decade-after-us-invasion-torn-between-progress-and-chaos/2013/03/18/b286006c-8fdc-11e2-9abd-e4c5c9dc5e90_story.html?hpid=z1# …
Robert Parry emerges today with an essay. Link goes to OpEd News, we don't link to Consortium News -- Parry's own site. Parry, the challenged AP reporter who made himself a laughingstock in DC with wild-eyed conspiracy theories decades ago -- wants a scalp, specifically Fred Hiatt of the Washington Post. He wants Hiatt fired and rages in a way that's actually funny. Parry considers himself a truther but all he's done in the last four years is launch sexist attacks on Hillary Clinton and spit polish Colin Powell's image -- an image he knows is a lie -- working with Norman Solomon in the 90s, Parry documented it as a lie. But Colin's boy-pal Lawrence Wilkerson comes along and Parry pretends like the 90s never happened. Was Hiatt one sided? Maybe so. If you think so and you think that's a problem, then maybe you expand in your own outlet? If you want to hold Hiatt accountable, that's fine and dandy. Hold him up for ridicule. But he's not the only one, is he? Cynthia Tucker and the so-called Center for Public Integrity are two more that we were just addressing this morning. They are far from the only ones.
If it was just one person, Bully Boy Bush would have been impeached, would be on trial for War Crimes. But our desire to reduce it all to one bad guy? It's not truthful.
Just like it's not truthful to claim -- as some outlets have in the last seven days -- that the Iraq War didn't benefit American companies. First off, as we've stated many times before (here for an example), they're multi-national. This isn't the 1940s. They have no obligations to the United States -- Congress and their boards have seen to that. It's why they don't care that the jobs go overseas. It was a natural resource war that opened markets. Antonia Juhasz (CNN) explains:
Yes, the Iraq War was a war for oil, and it was a war with winners: Big Oil.
It has been 10 years since Operation Iraqi Freedom's bombs first landed in Baghdad. And while most of the U.S.-led coalition forces have long since gone, Western oil companies are only getting started.
Before the 2003 invasion, Iraq's domestic oil industry was fully nationalized and closed to Western oil companies. A decade of war later, it is largely privatized and utterly dominated by foreign firms.
In 2000, the Council on Foreign Relations and the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy of Rice University put forward "Strategic Energy Policy Challenges for the 21st Century:"
For many decades the United States has not had a comprehensive energy policy. Now, the consequences of this complacency have revealed themselves in California. Now, there could be more California-like situations in America’s future. President George W. Bush and his administration need to tell these agonizing truths to the American people and lay the basis for a comprehensive, long-term U.S. energy security policy.
That Americans face long-term situations such as frequent sporadic shortages of energy, energy price volatility, and higher energy prices is not the fault of President Bush. The failure to fashion a workable energy policy rests at the feet of both Democrats and Republicans. Both major political parties allowed energy policy to drift despite its centrality to America’s domestic economy and to national security. Energy policy was permitted to drift even though oil price spikes preceded virtually every American recession since the late 1940s. The American people must know about this situation and be told as well that there are no easy or quick solutions to today’s energy problems. The president has to begin educating the public about this reality and start building a broad base of popular support for the hard policy choices ahead.
This executive summary and the full report address the following questions. What are the potential effects of the critical energy situation for the United States? How did this critical energy situation arise? What are the U.S. policy options to deal with the energy situation? What should the United States do now?
Energy has long been a concern of presidents. November 25, 1973, Tricky Dick Nixon took a little break from breaking various laws to address the nation about the energy policies:
As we reduce gasoline supplies, we must act to insure that the remaining gasoline available is used wisely and conserved to the fullest possible extent.
Therefore, as a second step, I am asking tonight that all gasoline filling stations close down their pumps between 9 p.m. Saturday night and midnight Sunday every weekend, beginning December 1. We are requesting that this step be taken voluntarily now.
Upon passage of the emergency energy legislation before the Congress, gas stations will be required to close during these hours. This step should not result in any serious hardship for any American family. It will, however, discourage long-distance driving during weekends. It will mean perhaps spending a little more time at home.
This savings alone is only a small part of what we have to conserve to meet the total gasoline shortage. We can achieve substantial additional savings by altering our driving habits. While the voluntary response to my request for reduced driving speeds has been excellent, it is now essential 'that we have mandatory and full compliance with this important step on a nationwide basis.
And therefore, the third step will be the establishment of a maximum speed limit for automobiles of 50 miles per hour nationwide as soon as our emergency energy legislation passes the Congress. We expect that this measure will produce a savings of 200,000 barrels of gasoline per day. Intercity buses and heavy-duty trucks, which operate more efficiently at higher speeds and therefore do not use more gasoline, will be permitted to observe a 55 mile-per-hour speed limit.
The fourth step we are taking involves our jet airliners. There will be a phased reduction of an additional 15 percent in the consumption of jet fuel for passenger flights bringing the total reduction to approximately 25 percent.
These savings will be achieved. by a careful reduction in schedules, combined with an increase in passenger loads. We will not have to stop air travel, but we will have to plan for it more carefully.
The fifth step involves cutting back on outdoor lighting. As soon as the emergency energy legislation passes the Congress, I shall order the curtailment of ornamental outdoor lighting for homes and the elimination of all commercial lighting except that which identifies places of business.
In the meantime, we are already planning right here at the White House to curtail such lighting that we would normally have at Christmastime, and I am asking that all of you act now on a voluntary basis to reduce or eliminate unnecessary lighting in your homes.
The speech, when remembered today, is remembered largely for Nixon telling people to turn their thermostat's down six degrees (it was winter, the issue was the use of energy for heating). 'Wear a sweater' was what Jimmy Carter's February 2, 1977 speech was reduced to. Sitting in the White House next to a burning fire place, Carter declared:
The extremely cold weather this winter has dangerously depleted our supplies of natural gas and fuel oil and forced hundreds of thousands of workers off the job. I congratulate the Congress for its quick action on the Emergency Natural Gas Act, which was passed today and signed just a few minutes ago. But the real problem—our failure to plan for the future or to take energy conservation seriously—started long before this winter, and it will take much longer to solve.
I realize that many of you have not believed that we really have an energy problem. But this winter has made all of us realize that we have to act.
Now, the Congress has already made many of the preparations for energy legislation. Presidential assistant Dr. James Schlesinger is beginning to direct an effort to develop a national energy policy. Many groups of Americans will be involved. On April 20, we will have completed the planning for our energy program and will immediately then ask the Congress for its help in enacting comprehensive legislation.
Our program will emphasize conservation. The amount of energy being wasted which could be saved is greater than the total energy that we are importing from foreign countries. We will also stress development of our rich coal reserves in an environmentally sound way; we will emphasize research on solar energy and other renewable energy sources; and we will maintain strict safeguards on necessary atomic energy production.
Energy concerns pre-date Bully Boy Bush. After the Supreme Court installed Bush and Cheney into the White House following a disputed election that, if no recounts were done, should have been decided by the Congress, not the unelected Supreme Court, Dick Cheney started his energy task force -- a task force that met in secret and that he didn't want the public to know about. Right-wing watchdog Judicial Watch sued -- along with the Sierra Club -- and, due to a court order, the Commerce Dept was forced to turn over some documents from the Cheney Energy Task force which included "a map of Iraqi oilfields, pipelines, refineries and terminals, as well as 2 charts detailing Iraqi oil and gas projects, and Foreign Suitors for Iraqi Oilfield Contracts. The documents, which are dated March 2001 [. . . .]." The documents were turned over in July of 2003, after the Iraq War started. The fact that they prompted no intense media discussions goes to the fact that they weren't really that surprising. Project Censored did take it seriously and noted:
Documented plans of occupation and exploitation predating September 11 confirm heightened suspicion that U.S. policy is driven by the dictates of the energy industry. According to Judicial Watch President, Tom Fitton, “These documents show the importance of the Energy Task Force and why its operations should be open to the public.”
When first assuming office in early 2001, President Bush’s top foreign policy priority was not to prevent terrorism or to curb the spread of weapons of mass destruction-or any of the other goals he espoused later that year following 9-11. Rather, it was to increase the flow of petroleum from suppliers abroad to U.S. markets. In the months before he became president, the United States had experienced severe oil and natural gas shortages in many parts of the country, along with periodic electrical power blackouts in California. In addition, oil imports rose to more than 50% of total consumption for the first time in history, provoking great anxiety about the security of the country’s long-term energy supply. Bush asserted that addressing the nation’s “energy crisis” was his most important task as president.
The energy turmoil of 2000-01 prompted Bush to establish a task force charged with developing a long-range plan to meet U.S. energy requirements. With the advice of his close friend and largest campaign contributor, Enron CEO, Ken Lay, Bush picked Vice President Dick Cheney, former Halliburton CEO, to head this group. In 2001 the Task Force formulated the National Energy Policy (NEP), or Cheney Report, bypassing possibilities for energy independence and reduced oil consumption with a declaration of ambitions to establish new sources of oil.
We could include Wolfowitz here but I think he's better for another topic so let's go to 2007 when Peter Beaumont and Joanna Walters (Observer) report the following:
The man once regarded as the world's most powerful banker has bluntly declared that the Iraq war was 'largely' about oil.Appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1987 and retired last year after serving four presidents, Alan Greenspan has been the leading Republican economist for a generation and his utterings instantly moved world markets.
In his long-awaited memoir - out tomorrow in the US - Greenspan, 81, who served as chairman of the US Federal Reserve for almost two decades, writes: 'I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.'
After the publication of Greenspan's book, Bob Woodward (Washington Post) interviewed him and reported, "Greenspan said disruption of even 3 to 4 million barrels a day could translate into oil prices as high as $120 a barrel -- far above even the recent highs of $80 set last week -- and the loss of anything more would mean 'chaos' to the global economy." A year later, as Patrick Martin (WSWS) noted, then GOP presidential candidate John McCain would declare, "My friends, I will have an energy policy that we will be talking about, which will eliminate our dependence on oil from the Middle East. That will prevent us from having ever to send our young men and women into conflict again in the Middle East."
It was a resource war. It became part of the national energy policy. And the reason Bully Boy Bush hasn't been punished is that, for all the fuming, it's not just Republicans. Many Democrats were on board. And many outlets were as well. The people were largely 'shielded' from the truth for various reasons but that's what the Iraq War was about. Even before the illegal war started, there were people who rightly noted that it would be a war for oil. But those voices were mocked and silenced. And a large number of people who heard those voices chose not to believe that 'my country' could do such a thing.
It's that segment that the shielding was necessary for. Those of us against the war were going to protest regardless. But 'settling on a reason,' as Paul Wolfowitz put it to Vanity Fair in May 2003, was about selling the Iraq War and building support for it. There is a chance that they could have built support for it honestly. They could have tried to fire up the country in a "We will have this oil!" type of manner. Marauders have existed historically for decades. The Danish marauders (that would be the Vikings), for example, attacked England beginning in 793. And maybe there would have been support in the US for the attack on Iraq if the administration had chosen to sell it as, "We'll have the oil we need!" And maybe in England and Australia as well -- where Tony Blair and John Howard were pulling their armies into the war. But the danger then would not be domestic. The danger then would be that the world would not just condemn but declare war on the US, the UK and Australia. Because without the lie of 'liberation' -- without that noble lie that Plato established the need for in The Republic -- invading Iraq for oil is just a crime. "An illegitimate act of aggression," as Kamrul Idris (New Strait Times) notes the Malaysian government called it in real time.
Whether Hans Blix (former UN weapons inspector) was getting at this or not in his interview with Renee Montagne (NPR's Morning Edition, link is audio and text) today, the words fit here:
I mean, we know that in politics people have to simplify and there's a certain amount of spin, and we accept that. But when it comes to building the basis for such things as sending soldiers into the field, I think you demand more than just simple spin that you have in day-to-day politics. And I think that the politicians who took part have smarted from that, and rightly, because it was somewhat frivolous, I think what they - bad judgment. I have not said that they were in bad faith. But I think they showed poor judgment and they certainly did not exercise critical thinking that they should have done before sending Iraq to war and Americans in the field.
A lot of Democrats and a lot of Republicans were in on this and made a practical decision. Not all. Some like Senator Patty Murray and Russ Feingold were firmly against the war. Some like, to offer a Republican and someone who did vote for the war, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison honestly believed there were chemical weapons -- she spent the weeks before the start of the war addressing that topic in a variety of forums as she insisted the Pentagon needed to provide the military with better equipment for the chemical attack she feared was coming. But most politicians and most outlets knew this was not about chemical weapons or anything but grabbing the oil. That's why there's been no Congressional investigation into the Iraq War despite the fact that it was based on lies. That's why the US media cares so little about Iraq.
So many events led up to Iraq. There was the national energy policy, there was the oil, there was Enron which spooked people domestically, there was the 9-11 attack (which Iraq had nothing to do with) that for the first time made some Americans believe there was a problem. But we didn't explore the problem, we didn't discuss it and we didn't address it. Those who tried to were demonized. And if you're on the left and just puffed your chest out, stop it. Did you do a damn thing when the same type of b.s. was pulled on Bob Woodward? No? Didn't think so. You're as quick to use the same methods as your political opponents.
The demonization is really important. And let's clarify. Robert Parry today is not demonizing Fred Hiatt. He's critiquing him and he can use any tone he wants for that. But when Media Matters and others decide that the play for the day is attack Bob Woodward, that's demonization. When you're rushing to join the public stoning of someone, that's demonization. Your goal is not just to discredit them, your goal is not just to shut them up. Your goal is to bloody them and put their head on a spike in the public sphere so no one will ever 'transgress' again. Under Bush, it was done to Susan Sontag, to the Dixie Chicks. to Cynthia McKinney and many more. And let's be clear that it wasn't just done by the right. The right's demonized Jane Fonda for years. It hasn't stopped her career. For the demonizing to be effective, people from across the aisle have to join in. So, with Cynthia McKinney, you saw The Nation magazine not defend her but ridicule for her hair. I wonder what the token African-American columnists at The Nation think of that? There was only one when McKinney was ridiculed and she never said a word. I believe they have three now. Any of them want to reflect on that? Under Barack, the demonization continues because neither side knows how to create, they know only how to copy and a copy of a copy of a copy of a copy . . . becomes less and less authentic -- which is what the American people are beginning to wake up to.
They could have woken up to a new world, one where Americans were as informed about the world as others. Instead, it was refuse to address what might anger people and instead use the shock of "We were attacked" to instill fear and to take that fear of al Qaeda and transfer to Afghanistan and Iraq and the whole 'Axis of Evil.' A people afraid will support nearly anything -- for an example, see the US PATRIOT Act.
If Fred Hiatt were guilty of all Robert Parry thinks he is, I would say, "And your point is?" Because is there some larger point here or are we again to the fact that you were a DC based Big Media journalist whose career imploded and the Post and the Graham family owned Newsweek which fired you?
Politicians and journalists and media owners who considered themselves 'realists' saw the war for oil as necessary. If Parry wants to connect Hiatt to that group, go for it. Otherwise, what's the point? Hiatt's hired to oversee and participate in opinion. Parry's written an indictment against Hiatt which fails to indict. Hiatt captured the White House message? Well, that's one of the tasks he was hired for, to convey that to the public. I don't think a lot of people will get bent out of shape by that.
[I didn't then and don't now read the Post editorials. If I quote one here, it's because a friend pointed it out. I don't read any columnist regularly these days. Before the site started, I religiously read Molly Ivins -- and continued reading her up to her last column, Maureen Dowd -- who I have criticized and who I have praised here and at Third, Ruth Rosen, Bob Herbert and Robert Scheer. In terms of newspaper columnists, that was generally it. I read newspapers for the 'reports' and get more than enough opinion in those. I'm referring to physical newspapers in these bracketed sentences -- that you hold in your hands -- and not including online reading.]
Seumas Milne has an article at the Guardian worth reading that's related to this but I want to emphasize it tomorrow when we pull Paul Wolfowitz's remarks into this.
A last word on Robert Parry's nonsense. We stayed with his theme. Had I the time, I'd offer an extensive fact check on his details and examples -- Parry's gotten very loose with the facts. We'll offer one example. Parry writes:
In June 2005, for instance, the Washington Post decided to ignore the release of the "Downing Street Memo" in the British press. The "memo" -- actually minutes of a meeting of British Prime Minister Tony Blair and his national security team on July 23, 2002 -- recounted the words of MI6 chief Richard Dearlove who had just returned from discussions with his intelligence counterparts in Washington.
The paper ignored the memo until June? That's not accurate. It's also not accurate to suggest that Hiatt, editor of the editorial page, is responsible for the entire paper. March 10th, at Third, we wrote "Editorial: Today we're all Michael Kinsley?:"
In America, the Downing Street Memo was initially and largely ignored.
There were exceptions. We certainly covered it here in this community. Probably more than any other person or outlet, David Swanson covered it. But in terms of the press, there were columnists like Molly Ivins and Helen Thomas and reporters like Walter Pincus (Washington Post). Warren P. Stroble and John Walcott (Knight Ridder Newspapers) summarized the memo, "A highly classified British memo, leaked in the midst of Britain's just-concluded election campaign, indicates that President Bush decided to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by summer 2002 and was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy."
The Walter Pincus link goes to a May 13, 2005 article by Walter Pincus entitled "British intelligence warned of Iraq War." It's hard to claim that "in June 2005, for instance, the Washington Post decided to ignore the release of the 'Downing Street Memo' in the British press" when the Post had reported on it May 13, 2005. There are many other mistakes. There's also an error of understanding that goes to what we'll address tomorrow. In the meantime, Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) offers a fact check today on media spin about Iraq. Most of the US media wants to avoid Iraq in any significant terms.
Not unlike the State Dept. 10th anniversary, slammed with violence, so spokesperson Victoria Nuland (Dick Cheney's former Deputy Advisor on National Security) handled it like a hot potato:
MS. NULAND: Yeah.
QUESTION: Marking the 10th anniversary of the war today, the Iraqis marked that event with a barrage of bombardments all across the country – 60 people at least dead, 200 wounded. Would you say that the Iraq War is probably the biggest U.S. foreign policy blunder?
MS. NULAND: Said, I’m going to leave the judgments to – with regard to the larger issue to the historians to – Michael Gordon and company here. The President has spoken on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War today. I spoke about our relationship with Iraq 10 years on about two days ago, or on Friday, about the progress that we’ve seen in Iraq, but about the work that we still need to see going forward.
With regard to events today, let me simply say that the United States strongly condemns the terrorist attacks today that targeted innocent men, women, and children throughout Iraq. This kind of senseless violence such as this tears at the fabric of Iraqi unity. Our condolences go out to the families of the victims. We will continue our efforts to work with the Government of Iraq to combat al-Qaida and other threats to peace and security and unity in the country. That is the basis of our strategic partnership with Iraq and all the work we do together on security, on economic development, on stability across the country. It’s still difficult, but extremely important.
And that was it. Will anyone ever ask her what sort of advise she gave Cheney on invading Iraq? No, of course not.
The US State Dept is decreasing their role in Iraq (I credit John Kerry) which is good news. AFP quotes US Ambassador to Iraq Stephen Beecroft stating today, "A year ago, we were well above 16,000, now we're at 10,500. By the end of this year, we'll be at 5,500, including contractors." This is good news. Now losing more US property isn't and Congress will explore that in the House, I'm sure, and we'll cover it as we did last time and the US press will ignore all that emerges from the hearing -- as they did last time. But it's good news because the State Dept doesn't need to get any more mixed up in the brutality that the US is a part of currently in Iraq with the CIA, FBI, counter-terrorism troops, Special Ops and others that remain. (The State Dept is already in that mix, I said "doesn't need to get any more mixed up.") Human Rights Watch notes today:
New information emerged as recently as early March 2013 indicating that the US government is pursuing a policy of engagement with Iraqi security forces accused of responsibility for torture and other abuses, with little if any consideration of accountability for those abuses. A Wall Street Journal report said that the CIA is “ramping up support” to the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service (CTS) to “better fight Al-Qaeda affiliates.”
“If correct, the report that the US intends to support the Iraqi Counterterrorism Service underscores the poor US record on addressing allegations of abuses by Iraqi security forces,” Whitson said. “The CTS, though accused of committing serious abuses against detainees, worked closely with US Special Forces before the US troop withdrawal in 2011.”
In 2011, Human Rights Watch reported former detainees’ allegations that the CTS had held them in secret jails and had tortured and committed other abuses against them. The alleged abuses included beatings, applying electric shocks to their genitals and other body parts, repeated partial asphyxiation with plastic bags until they passed out, and suspension by the ankles.
The US authorities should make public the nature of US military and intelligence agency cooperation with the CTS and other Iraqi security forces that are alleged to have committed serious abuses but have escaped accountability, Human Rights Watch said. The US should also conduct public investigations into allegations of complicity of US military personnel and coalition forces in torture and other abuses by Iraqi security forces during the occupation and prosecute those responsible, including senior-level officials.
This will be covered again tomorrow because it fits in with counter-insurgency and Wolfowitz.
We'll close with this from the Feminist Majority Foundation:
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