Wednesday, January 4, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Barack pretends
he cares about oversight and accountability and the uniformed American press
doesn't know what's going on (as usual) or which four oversight positions are,
as of today, empty, Nouri's breaking the Iraqi Constitution again but no one's
supposed to notice, and more.
Nouri al-Maliki has an affinity for breaking the Constitution.
Repeatedly. Recently, he's broken Article 19's Fifth Clause.
The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial.
The accused may not be tried on the same crime for a second time after acquittal
unless new evidence is produced.
Nouri's statements and those of other members of State of Law regarding
Iraqi Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi have not presumed innocence. No trial has
taken place but Nouri and his associates have repeatedly and publicly pronounced
Today Nouri manages to break the Constitution again. Khalid Al Ansary and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg
that he placed "all eight government ministers from the
Sunni Muslim-backed al-Iraqiya alliance on leave" according to his spokesperon
Ali al-Musawi. Where in the country's constitution does that power exist?
Oh, right, it doesn't. Those eight ministers were confirmed in their posts
by Parliament (in other words they're not 'acting' anything, they are the
ministers, per the Constitution). His only power after a minister is confirmed
by Parliament? Outlined in Article 75:
The Prime Minister is the direct executive authority responsible
for the general policy of the State and the commander in chief of the armed
forces. He directs the Council of Ministers, and presides over its meetings and
has the right to dismiss the Ministers on the consent of the Council of
He is not allowed to strip a minister of their post without the consent of
Parliament. Iraqiya has been boycotting the Cabinet and Parliament -- this
started last month over the failure of Nouri to live up to the Erbil Agreement
that ended the eight month political stalemate following the March 2010
elections. If Nouri now wants the ministers dismissed -- for any reason -- he
needs to go to Parliament.
He has no right to put them on "leave." There is nothing in the
Constitution that gives him this right. Per the Constitution, a Minister can
only be stripped of their post (which would include their duties) if the
Parliament agrees to it. The Parliament still hasn't set a date on hearing
Nouri's demand from last month (December 17th) that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh
al-Mutlaq be stripped of his post. They certainly haven't agreed to strip eight
ministers of their post. Reider Visser (Gulf Analysis) on
It would be nice if reporters covering Iraq would learn the Constitution.
Then, for example, they might be able to note when something was being done
illegally. And, yes, if something's done that's not permitted the Constitution,
a journalist can note that in their report. It's not opinion, it's the
So Bloomberg's report is worthless as is Prashant Rao's report for AFP
opens, "Iraq's premier backed off threats to fire ministers boycotting cabinet,
instead naming temporary replacements Wednesday, as the UN voiced concern over a
row that has stoked sectarian tensions."
Sidebar, while we're on the Constitution. If someone asks you when Iraq
holds elections next, the answer is not, 'The last ones were in March 2010 so
four years from that.' The approprirate answer is that with each election --
provincial or parliament (and excepting KRG's provincial elections which are run
smoothly) -- Iraq has taken longer and longer to hold elections. That's (A).
(B) March has nothing to do with the next elections. The thing to determine is
when was the first Parliament session? In the late spring of 2010 or in
November? Arguments can be made for either. But, per the Constitution, you go
by the first session of Parliament. Article 54: "First: The electoral term of
Council of Representatives shall be limited to four calendar years, starting
with its first session and ending with the conclusion of the fourth year."
Again, it will be interesting to see -- if early elections do not take place --
which session of Parliament will be considered the "first" session. From there,
you count back 45 days. Article 54: "Second: The new Council of Representatives
shall be elected 45 days before the conclusion of the previous electoral term."
What Nouri's doing with the Cabinet isn't covered by the
He is not solely responsible for the Cabinet. He can not pick someone to
be a minister and have them be a real minister without Parliament confirming
them. He can not strip anyone of their title without Parliament approving.
What Nouri has done is illegal and unconstitutional. Reporters who can't
make that point, really have nothing to say.
With no eye to the comic possibilities, President Jalal Talabani issued a
statement today, Aswat al-Iraq reports
, noting that the
government is committed to the supremacy of law. Aswat al-Iraq notes
State of Law MP Ali
al-Shalah, criticizing Paul Bremer (and possibly Bremer's call for Iraq to
become a federation), states that "when Bremer left Iraq, the security situation
was on the brink of disaster and the country not unified, but today the
situation is different." The country is unified? It's like reading The
Let's move over to the US quickly. Today, Time magazine notes
, US President Barack
Obama had a lot to say about his recess apointment of Richard Cordray (of course
it was a man, wasn't it?) as the director of the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau. And Barack's remarks included:
only reason Republicans in the Senate have blocked Richard is because they don't
agree with the law setting up the consumer watchdog. They want to weaken it.
Well that makes no sense at all. Does anyone think the reason we got in such a
financial mess was because of too much oversight? Of course not. We shouldn't be
weakening oversight and accountability.
So we need oversight and accountability? That's important to Barack, is
Why is it December 7th sticks in my head right now? Oh, right. The US
House Oversight and Government Reform's National Security Subcommittee held a
hearing that day. Who gave testimony? Oh, that's right, appearing before
Congress were the Defense Department's Inspector General Gordon S. Heddell, the
State Department's Deputy Inspector General Harold Geisel, US AID's Acting
Inspector General Michael Carroll, the acting Inspector General for the Special
Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction and the Special Inspector
General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart Bowen.
And if, January 17th, the House wanted to hear from these witnesses about
what was going on right now, who could give knowledgable testimony?
Only Bowen. He's the only one who would still be in the position listed by
his name above. From that Decemember hearing, let's note the Chair.
Subcommittee Chair Jason Chaffetz: Before recognizing Ranking
Member [John] Tierney, I'd like to note that the Defense Dept, State Dept, USAID
and SIGAR will not have IGs in January. In May of this year, I wrote the
President asking him to move without delay to appoint replacements. That letter
was signed by Senators [Joe] Lieberman, [Susan] Collins, [Claire] McCaskill and
[Rob] Portman, as well as [House Oversight Committee] Chairman [Darrell] Issa
and Ranking Member [Elijah] Cummings and Ranking Member Tierney. I'd like to
place a copy of this record into the record. Without objection, so ordered. To
my knowledge, the President has yet to nominate any of these replacements, nor
has he responded to this letter. I find that totally unacceptable. This is a
massive, massive effort. It's going to take some leadership from the White
House. These jobs cannot and will not be done if the president fails to make
these appointments. Upon taking office, President Obama promised that his
administration would be "the most open and transparent in history." You cannot
achieve transparency without inspectors general. Again, I urge President Obama
and the Senate to nominate and confirm inspectors general to fill these
vacancies and without delay
So today, Barack insists oversight and accountability are important --
laughable when the State Department has repeatedly avoided breaking down their
basic budgets with Stuart Bowen. But let's pretend Barack's serious. Why is he
not filling those position? Billions of dollars have been lost in war spending
and he's pretending he cares about accountability and oversight while letting
those positions go vacant? In that December hearing, US House Rep Raul Labrador
observed, "Yet this panel is representing the IG offices principally responsible
for overseeing tax payer money in Iraq and Afghanistan and, as of January 4th of
next year, four of the five offices will not have an IG."
Do you know what today is?
Will the lazy ass American press ever do their job?
Magic 8 Ball says: "Reply hazy, try again."
Meanwhile, still in the US, Media Matters self-presents as a watchdog. But
instead of watching out, it offers snark. Snark that doesn't even make sense.
Snark that wastes time and actually helps War Hawks.
So Media Matters has sent something to the public e-mail account. 'What
does it say?' I asked. I had to find a laptop because it's nothing but a video
-- and a clip at that -- not a video of them speaking themselves, just something
The first question is obvious: Is that how Barack looked in the Iowa
address? If so, there is something wrong with his make up. [Click here for AP video
, it is how he looked. Note the eye
lids for his actual skin color and then check out the ridiculous foundation
they've painted on him. He looks like a clown, an orange clown]
Judging by the comments readers are leaving, we're supposed to chuckle at
how stupid Fox News is. The stupidity is on the part of those leaving comments
like this one "If Brian thinks nearly 10 years of occupation is premature
evacuation his girlfriend must get bored." That doesn't even make sense. Not
even on the joke level. "His girlfriend must be sore!" That's a stupid remark
that does finish out the idiot theme the comment was trying to maintain.
(Though "premature evacuation," pay attention, would more likely be the basis
for a spastic colon joke.)
In fairness to the readers, why should they show logic when Media Matters
I don't watch Fox News, I have no idea the name of the man speaking, nor do
I need to know who it was. But what I do know is that the White House spent
2011 trying to extend the Status Of Forces Agreement and willing to go with a
new agreement if need be. And then in October, they were told Nouri would give
immunity but that the Parliament wouldn't. (In December, the Parliament offered
"limited immunity" -- the talks continue.) In October, with no immunity, the
White House announced they were removing US troops. That is most likely the
point being made in the Fox News clip. (Most likely? Despite starting with
Barack and boring us all with his orange face, the clip ends with that one line
from the Fox News guy. If he said more, it's not in the clip.)
If Media Matters can't follow the argument being made, then they really are
stupid. What's worse though is that they're probably not stupid, they're
probably trying to play people for fools by mis-presenting the argument.
The November 15th Senate Armed Services Committee hearing was only one
hearing where this was addressed and, hate to break it to the Media Matters
geniuses, elected Democrats publicly voiced concerns about the administration's
move as well. This was especially true in the House.
And those concerns should be addressed, not snarked about. Christmas Eve,
Kenneth M. Pollack (Brookings Institution)
, "Make no mistake about it: the current crisis, manufactured by
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki for reasons that only he knows for sure, is of
seminal importance for Iraq. Right now, it seems far more likely to end badly
rather than well. And if it ends badly, it could easily usher in renewed civil
war, a highly unstable dictatorship, or even a Somali-like failed state. Not
only would this be a humiliation for the Obama administration -- which justified
the withdrawal of American troops by insisting that Iraq was well on the way to
democratizing and did not need an ongoing U.S. peacekeeping presence -- it would
be a major threat to American vital interests in the Persian Gulf region." These
are serious issues and, apparently, far beyond anything Media Matters can handle
because they just want to snark.
So maybe they should do everyone a favor and just not tackle Iraq? If they
can't present a coherent, factual argument regarding Iraq, maybe they should
find other topics?
Repeating: When you distort the facts, you don't anyone any favors. Ten
years from now, War Hawks will be able to point to the Media Matters item as
proof of how their side, their position was distorted. This garbage from Media
Matters breeds backlashes. It's a real shame that what was supposed to be a
site of integrity that provided fact checking from the left has instead
descended into cheap distortions. But then Media Matters isn't about peace or
antiwar, it's just another cheap whore for Barack.
Reality via James Cogan (WSWS)
: "The Obama administration
and the US military agreed to remove all combat troops, as stipulated in the
Status of Forces agreement reached in 2008, only after they failed to bully the
Iraqi regime into allowing thousands of troops to remain under a blanket
exemption from prosecution under Iraqi law."
Baghdad, 4 January 2012- The Special Representative of the United
Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Martin Kobler, met today in
Sulymaniya the President of the Republic of Iraq, H.E. Jalal Talabani. He also
met in Erbil yesterday with the President of the Kurdistan Region, H.E. Masoud
Barzani; the Speaker of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region's Parliament, Mr. Kamal
Kirkouki; and the Minister of Interior, Mr. Karim Sinjari.
The SRSG discussed in all his meetings the latest political
developments in Iraq including the recent political tensions. He expressed
concern about the current political stalemate in the country. He urged Iraqi
political parties and leaders to work together in the spirit of partnership
towards finding a common ground to resolve their differences on the basis of the
Constitution through meaningful dialogue and compromise as stated by the UN
Secretary-General in a statement issued yesterday, 3 January 2012.
assured all his interlocutors of the readiness of the United Nations Assistance
Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) to support Iraqi leaders' efforts to promote confidence
and trust among the parties at this important juncture in the history of
In addition to Kobler meeting with Kurdistan Regional Government President
Massoud Barzanai, US Senator Joe Lieberman met with Barzani on Tuesday
where the two "discussed the ongoing political crisis on the one hand and the
differences between State of Law [Nouri's political slate] and Iraqiya [Ayad
Allawi's slate] on the other hand.
" Monday, Robert Grenier analyzed Iraq's
political crisis at Al Jazeera
Yes, Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has always
shown autocratic tendencies, unsurprisingly given the traditional political role
models with which Iraqis are working. And yes, he has long over-centralised
security power in his own hands, maintaining personal control over the Interior,
Defence and National Security Ministries and making the Baghdad Operations
Command directly answerable to his personal office. But this, too, is not
entirely unexpected, given the tenuousness of Iraqi internal security.
And finally, yes, Abu Isra has been
transparently uncomfortable in sharing any authority with the Iraqiyya bloc, the
largest vote-getter in the last elections, and has essentially reneged on many
of the elaborate power-sharing arrangements reached in the so-called Irbil
accords, which facilitated formation of his government. But again, here too,
Maliki has not been entirely outside his rights. He did, after all, form the
most viable parliamentary coalition, giving him the right to form a government,
and the vague provisions for an extraordinary National Security Council to be
chaired by his chief political rival, and to which key domestic and national
security policies were to be referred, were simply never
Now, however, only days
after the final withdrawal of American troops, it is clear that al-Maliki has
finally gone too far. His recent actions have served to strip the veneer of
legitimacy from his past policies, and have revealed those past actions as the
precursors to a naked power-grab. Beginning with the sudden and summary arrest
of some 615 alleged Baathists, including many of Maliki's political enemies and
conducted while the final push to evacuate the last of the US troops was
conveniently underway, the Iraqi prime minister has gone on to press
politically-motivated terrorism charges against Vice-President Tariq al-Hashemi,
a Sunni Islamist and a prominent member of Iraqiyya. At the same time, the Shia
Maliki has moved to orchestrate a parliamentary no-confidence vote to oust Sunni
deputy Prime Minister Saleh Mutlaq, another prominent member of Iraqiyya,
ostensibly over a personal slight. Other political opponents have awakened to
find tanks around their homes.
While the political crisis continues, the editorial board of the Toledo Blade notes
, "Iraq will get
fighter jets, tanks, and a wide range of other weapons. With the final
withdrawal of U.S. forces last month, Iraq is on the verge of armed conflict
between its majority Shiites and minority Sunnis. Its armed forces are little
more than pickup squads of Shiite militias, ready to go after Sunnis and
possibly each other." And the UN News Center
Ban Ki-moon today expressed concern about continuing political tensions in Iraq,
urging all parties in the Middle East country "to work to resolve their
differences peacefully through meaningful dialogue and compromise."
In a statement issued by his
spokesperson, the Secretary-General said the ongoing issues could contribute to
insecurity in the country, which has been hit by a series of recent bomb
"It is essential that pending
political issues are resolved in a way that respects the constitution and its
provisions for the separation of powers, the rule of law and an independent
judiciary," the statement noted.
As Sheikh (Dar Addustour) reports
national conference President Jalal Talabani has been advocating for seems
unlikely according to the latest indicators. However, State of Law MP Abbas al-Bayati tells Aswat al-Iraq
the conference should take place near the middle of January. Meanwhile yesterday
there were reports about
Iraqiya continuing their boycott of Parliament; however, Dar Addustour reports
that the Kurdish Alliance walked out yesterday in portest of State of Law's
Hussein al-Assadi's assertion that Talabani (president of Iraq and a Kurd) is a
"terrorist." Kurdish MP Mohsen Saadoun called for a formal apology as Parliament
convened and what followed was a loud disagreement with the Kurdish Alliance
then walking out. Parliament stopped the session until the Kurds returned at
which point they resumed the reading of nine bills. In addition, Aswat al-Iraq notes
A meeting between leaders of Iraq' main political
parties ended on Wednesday, without any result, following al-Iraqiya Bloc's
demand to discuss the case of Iraq's Vice-President, Tareq al-Hashimy, wanted
for charges related to terrorism, according to a source close to the
"The meeting that began at 10:00 AM local time has ended without any
result, due to al-Iraqiya Bloc's demand to discuss the case of Vice-President,
Tareq al-Hashimy, within the schedule of the meeting," the source told Aswat
al-Iraq news agency.
In Iraq today, AGI reports
a 6-year-old girl is
dead from a series of Baquba bombings which left eight more people dead. AFP notes
there were five bombs
which went off "at short intervals." While AGI and AFP report the girl was a
6-year-old, Jomana Karadsheh (CNN) reports
girl was nine. Reuters ups
the wounded count to
twelve (also states the girl was 6-years-old) and notes a Samarra grenade attack
has killed 1 police officer (three more injured), a Baquba bombing claimed the
life of 1 young boy (two more injured), and, dropping back to last night, notes
1 police officer shot dead in Baghdad and 2 Iraqi soldiers shot dead in Mosul.
two children were killed
in the Baquba bombings. In addition, AP notes
that an Abu Ghraib home
invasion resulted in 2 deaths (husband and wife).
Quickly, January 17 was picked for the House example above because that's
when the House goes back into session (the Senate does on the 23rd). A number
are asking in e-mails if hearings start this week. No. Although the
US Congress did start back up this time last year, they've pushed it back to the
middle of January for the 112th Congress.