Saturday, October 20, 2012

Michael O'Hanlon's a crook

Michael E. O'Hanlon wants to share.

He thinks we need to hear from him.  He's a crook, he belongs in prison.

Go read Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor's Endgame.  Find out how the 'democracy building' Brookings Institution doesn't have people who believe in democracy.  I'm referring to Michael E. O'Hanlon and his actions in 2010.

Don't for a minute think that bastard supported the Iraqi people and their voting results.  He worked behind the scenes to destroy the Iraqi people's voice.

He destroyed the voice of the Iraqi people and now he wants to destroy the voice of the American people.

"Time to Lay Off The Benghazi Issue" (Michael E. O'Hanlon, Brookings):
Ambassador Susan Rice has been roundly criticized of late for her comments made on five Sunday morning talk shows the weekend after the Benghazi tragedy in which four Americans lost their lives to a terrorist attack. Because Rice stated her belief that the violence was the result of a mass demonstration gone bad, rather than the planned extremist attacks we now know them to be, some have even gone so far as to demand her resignation from her current cabinet position as United States ambassador to the United Nations.

No, it's time for you, O'Hanlon, to shut up.

You are a fake and a phony -- exposed as such in the new book. 

No one needs advice from you and your ass belongs in prison.

It's amazing the destruction he has supported and now he thinks he has some suck with the people and can advise us?

He needs to shut up. 

Equally true, I don't care if Susan Rice, Paul Ryan, Joe Biden, whomever gets criticized 'roundly'.  That's what it means to be a public official.  I knew that in grade school.  But then I'm not a poverty stricken suck up like O'Hanlon.  He wishes he was born better off so he sucks up to his social betters.  He thinks that scores points but it really just gets known as a social climber.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Friday, October 19, 2012.  Chaos and violence continue, 4 British families get good news, Senator Patty Murray wants to know when an announced review into diagnoses changes is going to start since it still hasn't, State of Law launches more attacks on Barzani, new details about the attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi emerge, and more.
Starting with veterans, in the US veterans have struggled with many issues they shouldn't have to.  Some struggles may truly be a surprise.  Many struggles aren't.  Many struggles are a sign that proper planning was not done when the government sent people off to war.  This is a point US House Rep Bob Filner very skillfully made September 30, 2010:
Chair Bob Filner: It struck me as I looked at a lot of the facts and data that we-we see across our desks that, as a Congress, as a nation, we really do not know the true costs of the wars we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. [. . .] We all look at the data that comes from these wars. It struck me one day that the official data for, for example, the wounded was around 45,000 for both wars.  And yet we know that six or seven hundred thousand of our veterans of these wars -- of which there are over a million already -- have either filed claims for disability or sought health care from the VA for injuries suffered at war -- 45,000 versus 800,000? This is not a rounding error. I think this is a deliberate attempt to mask what is going on in terms of the actual casualty figures. We know that there is a denial of PTSD -- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's a 'weakness' among Marines and soldiers to admit mental illness so we don't even have those figures until maybe it's too late. We all know that women are participating in this war at a degree never before seen in our nation's history and, yet, by whatever estimate you look, whether it's half or two-thirds have suffered sexual trauma.  The true cost of war?  We know that over 25,000 of our soldiers who were originally diagnosed with PTSD got their diagnosis changed or their diagnosis was changed as they were -- had to leave the armed forces, changed to "personality disorder."  And not only does that diagnosis beg the question of why we took people in with the personality disorder, it means that there's a pre-existing condition and we don't have to take care of them as a nation.  Cost of war? There have been months in these wars where the suicides of active duty have exceeded the deaths in action. Why is that?  When our veterans come home from this war, we say we support troops, we support troops, we support troops? 30% unemployment rate for returning Iraqi and Afghanistan veterans. That's three times an already horrendous rate in our nation. Guardsman find difficulty getting employment because they may be deployed. Now a democracy has to go to war sometimes. But people have to know in a democracy what is the cost. They have to be informed of the true -- of the true nature -- not only in terms of the human cost, the material cost, but the hidden cost that we don't know until after the fact or don't recognize.  We know -- Why is it that we don't have the mental health care resources for those coming back? Is it because we failed to understand the cost of serving our military  veterans is a fundamental cost of the war? Is it because we sent these men and women into harms way without accounting for and providing the resources necessary for their care if they're injured or wounded or killed?  Every vote that Congress has taken for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has failed to take into account the actual cost of these wars by ignoring what we will require to meet the needs of our men and women in uniform who have been sent into harms way. This failure means that soldiers who are sent to war on behalf of their nation do not know if their nation will be there for them tomorrow.
That pretty much says everything about the planning and the funding and how both were lacking.  Bob Filner was Chair of the House Veterans Affairs Comittee at that time and credit to him and US House Reps Harry Teague, Ciro Rodriguez, Jerry McNerney, Walter Jones, George Miller and Jim Moran who all attended that hearing while almost everyone in the House had already bolted and gone back to their districts to focus on their re-election races.  Bob Filner did a great job serving veterans as a member of Congress.  He's decided not to seek re-election to Congress and instead is running for Mayor of San Diego.
He will be missed in Congress.  Veterans are fortunate to have other champions in Congress.  One of those is Senator Patty Murray whose office issued the following yesterday:
Thursday, October 18, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
(202) 224-2834
Sen. Murray Calls on Secretary Panetta to Provide Timeline for Promised Military Review of PTSD and Behavioral Health Diagnoses
In the aftermath of the misdiagnoses of servicemembers in Washington state, Murray calls on the Pentagon to move forward with nationwide review of mental health diagnoses since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began
Letter also calls for information on efforts to collect missing unit military records that could prove critical if certain health care problems arise from service in Iraq or Afghanistan
(Washington D.C.) -- Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, sent a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta requesting next steps and a timeline for the execution of a critical military-wide review of PTSD and behavioral health diagnoses made since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan began.  The review, which Secretary Panetta promised following the misdiagnoses of severvicemembers at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, has seemingly stalled since being announced on June 13th.
"The Department must act with a sense of urgency in order to complete this review and to act on its findings in coordinating with other ongoing efforts to improve the disability evaluation system."  Murray wrote to Panetta.  "Each of these efforts is vital in ensuring servicemembers truly have a transparent, consistent, and expeditious disability evaluation process."
"Senator Murray's letter also addressed her concerns that records for military units in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are often used to provide information on potential health and exposure issues be carefully identified, located, and collected.
The full text of Senator Murray's letter follows:
October 18, 2012
The Honorable Leon E. Panetta
Secretary of Defense
1000 Defense Pentagon
Washington, DC 20301
Dear Secretary Panetta:
I am writing to express my concern about two distinct issues, which taken together impact the disability evaluation process for servicemembers and veterans.
At the outset, I very much appreciate your ongoing efforts to address behavioral health diagnoses and care both within the Integrated Disability Evaluation System and throughout the Department at large.  In June, as part of this ongoing effort, you announced a comprehensive Department-wide review of mental health diagnoses.  Shortly after the announcement, I had the opportunity to meet with Under Secretary Conaton to discuss some of the initial steps the Department had taken in preparation for this review.  However, it appears that progress on this effort may have stalled.  I am writing today to request the Department's next steps and timeline for execution of this review.
The Department must act with a sense of urgency in order to complete this review and to act on its findings in coordinating with other ongoing efforts to improve the disability evaluation system.  Each of these efforts is vital in ensuring servicemembers truly have a transparent, consistent, adn expeditious disability evaluation process.
My second concern relates to the ability of the Department, and specifically the Army, to identify and account for many records for units that served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  The lack of access to documentation of the locations and fucntions of specific military units interferes with the ability of both servicemembers and veterans to obtain evidence of military service that may result in adverse health conditions now or in the future.   As we have learned from prior conflicts, this lack of documentation all too often leads to hardship for veterans in establishing a relationship between miltiary service and a specific medical condition.
The lack of accessible documents may also impede future research efforts if health care problems arise from service in Iraq or Afghanistan.  For these reasons, I would like to know the current status of efforts to identify, locate and collect records for units that served in Iraq and Afghanistan.  I also urge you to take all necessary steps to ensure unit records are properly archived and accessible.
I appreciate your attention to these requests and look forward to our continued work together to strengthen both the disability evaluation system and behavioral health diagnoses and care and to ensure our servicemembers and veterans have access to critical military documents.
Patt Murray
To tie the two together -- because this is really not new -- Bob Filner was speaking of a policy to change a diganoses from PTSD to "personality disorder" because someone was deciding the government shouldn't pay what the government owed.  Someone was deciding that the role of government was to get over on veterans, not to deliver to veterans what had been promised.
And you'd think the shame of doing that would stop it.  You'd think they'd stop changing diagnoses.  But people continue to do that.   This year, Senator Murray's found it happening in her home state of Washington.  She's repeatedly attempted to get answers -- not just as Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (though she's repeatedly asked for answers in that role) but also, for example, using her position as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee to question Army Secretary John McHugh about the changing diagnoses.
There is no excuse for diagnoses to have ever been changed.  There's even less excuse for refusing to start the promised review of changed diagnoses.  To be clear, there's even less excuse for Leon Panetta to avoid starting the promised review.  Leon is Secretary of Defense.  I like him, I've known him for years -- since he was in Congress.  I like Leon.  But that doesn't change the fact that as Secretary of Defense it reflects poorly on him that the review has not started.  It doesn't change the fact that he needs to do his job.  I didn't care for Robert Gates and was appalled to see the press fawn over him (in the months long farewell tour coverage as well as in that awful farewell press conference that immediately went off the record so the press could hug him and get their photos taken with him -- as someone in the entertainment industry, I'm used to excited fans, but this was a press acting like teeny boppers mooning over some heart throb of the moment).  The fact that I like Leon doesn't mean that I don't think he should be evaluated when he leaves office.  There are not two standards here.  Gates should have been evaluated on key issues (instead, he was only evaluated on granting press access) such as military suicides and military sexual assaults.  Those were two key problems in the military and he should have been evaluated on how he addressed those (and other key problems).  Leon should be judged by those and also by issues like this scandal and the failure to launch a review in a timely manner.  Leon Panetta needs to provide an answer to Senator Murray -- more than that, he needs to launch the promised review.
The Paterson Press notes another need, in Paterson, New Jersey, the Paterson Veterans Council wants to inscribe the names of three local Iraq War veterans who died while serving in Iraq on the Veterans Memorial Park monument.  The three fallen are Spc Gil Mercado, Spc Farid Elazzouzi and Sgt Christian Bueno-Galdos.  The Paterson Veterans Council is staging a beefsteak dinner November 5th as a fundraiser: "Donations to the Nov. 5 beefsteak are tax-deductible and can be made to the Paterson Veterans Council, 296 Maitland Ave., Paterson, NJ 07502. For information, call Tony Vancheri at 973-303-3523."
"It's eight years [since her son died at the age of 21 while serving in Iraq] and it still hurts,"  England's Sue Smith explains today as the British courts tell four families of the British fallen they have permission to sue the Military of Defence over deaths that could have been preventable.  Steve Anderson (Independent of London) reports, "Relatives had argued that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) failed to provide armoured vehicles or equipment which could have saved lives and should pay compensation."  ITV explains, "They were nicknamed mobile coffins and, in 2006, Private Lee Ellis died when one of them was blown up by a roadside bombing."  Sue Smith  is the mother of Private Phillip Hewett who died serving in Iraq from a roadside bombing while in a Snatch Land Rover.  She tells Channel 4 (link is video and text):
Sue Smith:  This is a case of an employer owing his staff the right duty of care.  Take away the uniform and everything else and it's simply a man or a woman doing their job and they should be respected for doing that job  the same as anybody else. [. . .] I think it's despicable.  They knew the vehicles were no good but it's also this dismissive attitude of it doesn't matter, they're like action men, if we break them, we can throw them in a junk pile and nobody can do anything about it.  And if they're really badly broken, they can be buried.  Well, it doesn't work like that.
Along with the family of Philip Hewett, the family of Cpl Stephen Allbutt, Private Lee Ellis and Lance Cpl Kirk Redpath have been granted permission to file suit.  The Allbutt family attorney Shubhaa Srinivasnh tells the Telegraph of London that it's a "landmark" decision and, "We maintain that the MoD's position has been morally and legally indefensible, as they owe a duty of care to those who fight on behalf of this country."    Ann Salter (International Business Times -- link is text and video) hails the verdict as "historic" and notes the families can now "sue the Ministry of Defence for negligence and inadequate equipment" as a result of the ruling made by the London Court of Appeals.  BBC News' Nick Childs speaks with Sue Smith (link is video). Excerpt.
Nick Childs:  Why are you trying to go through the UN Convention on Human Rights to deal with this - this issue?  When the court of appeal has said these claims can be pursued in terms of care and negligance through the courts here?
Sue Smith:  The negligance is for wives or dependants because that's a compensation claim.  I'm not claiming compensation.  I'm claiming that the soldiers have a right to life which is something that the MoD seemed to say that if they're on exercise or anything like that abroad, they're not covered by that. 
[. . . ]
Nick Childs:  How have you felt about the Ministry of Defence as you've gone through this-this legal proces.?
Sue Smith:  Well they're just pen pushers as far as I'm concerned.  They've got no idea.  They're not living in this world.  They're not the ones going out in substandard vehicles -- or were.  I'm not sure what they're doing now.  But at the end of the day, they're people that are arguing who haven't actually lived the life that we're living.  They've got no idea.  So how can they sit there and say that these boys have no right to life? They're not the ones sitting in the back of the vehicle that might blow up at any moment.
In Iraq, violence continues.  Alsumaria reports 1 elderly man was shot dead in front of his family as he stood in front of his Baghdad home and a Diyala Province bombing targeting a police officers home left 1 police officer dead and six people injured.  In addition, AFP notes Iraqi officials today announced bombing and shooting attack late yesterday outside Balad left 4 Pakistani men dead.  All Iraq News reports 1 man dead in a Mosul roadside bombing (which police state they believe he was planting) and 1 male corpse and 1 female corpse discovered in Mosul (gunshots to the chest and head).
On security issues, Margret Griffis ( reported yesterday, "A number of Sahwa members quit their jobs and abandoned their posts in Hawija and Kirkuk. The men say their demands have not been met, but local leaders are asking them to remain on the job. The Sahwa were to have been folded into the military, but the central government has refused to fully do so. The payment of salaries has also been slow at times. Because the group is made of Sunnis, many who are former insurgents, the central government has been wary of them if not outright antagonistic. About 8,000 Sahwa are in the Kirkuk region. Should they all abandon their posts, it would be a significant blow to security."
Deutsche Welle covers Nouri's attack on the Central Bank noting that this all began back again a year ago -- this was when the political stalemate transitioned into a political crisis. The outlet notes that the talk in Iraq is that there are political reasons behind the sacking of the Governor of the Central Bank.  From yesterday's snapshot:
This week, charges were brought against Sinan al-Shabibi, the governor of the Central Bank, and he was replaced.  Al Mada reports that Parliament's Legal Committee is saying the actions were both rash and illegal.  Nouri does not control the Central Bank and he cannot fire a governor with it.  They point to Article 103 of the Iraqi Constitution which has two clauses pertaining to the Central Bank:

First: The Central Bank of Iraq, the Board of Supreme Audit, the Communication and Media Commission, and the Endowment Commissions are financially and administratively independent institutions, and the work of each of these institutions shall be regulated by law.
Second: The Central Bank of Iraq is responsible before the Council of Representatives.  The Board of Supreme Audit and the Communication and Media Commission shall be attached to the Council of Representatives. 
The second clause puts the Parliament over the Central Bank.  (The third clause, not quoted, puts the Cabinet over the Endowment Commission.)  Michael Peel (Financial Times of London) reports an arrest warrant has been sworn out for "Sinan al-Shabibi and 15 of his colleagues."  Peel also observes, "While no evidence has yet been produced about the allegations, analysts and business people have raised concerns about the way the government has handled the case.  Some observers see it as an extension of efforts by Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister, to extend his control over important security and financial institutions, a charge the governmnet denies."
Iraq Business News notes  that "there has been tension between the Central Bank and the government for years. In January of last year, Nouri al-Maliki secured a court ruling placing the Central Bank under the control of the cabinet, rather than the parliament, much to the displeasure of al-Shabibi."  My apologies, I'm not aware of that decision.  The Parliament either isn't or doesn't consider it a valid decision.
Let's note this week's war of words by first dropping back to Monday's snapshot:

Today Al Mada reports Yassin Majeed, an MP with Nouri's State of Law, is declaring that KRG President Massoud Barzani is a threat to Iraq. Majeed held a press conference outside Parliament to denounce Barzani. Alsumaria notes that among Barzani's supposed outrageous offenses is objecting to the infrastructure bill and objecting to the recent weapons shopping spree Nouri's been on ($1 billion dollar deal with the Czech Republic, $4.2 billion dollar deal with Russia). All Iraq News notes that Iraqi President Jalal Talabani issued a statement noting that, at a time when they are trying to resolve the current political crisis, the remarks are not helpful.
And now to Tuesday's snaphsot:

Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports today that State of Law is rushing to walk away from Majeed's remarks after Talabani and Iraqiya both called out the "reckless" remarks yesterday.  Alsumaria reports Iraqiya stated there was no way to justify the remarks and called on everyone to condemn the remarks and this method to destroy a foundation of unity.  In addition, All Iraq News notes the Kurdistan Alliance announced yesterday that there is no political difference between Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani and that the Allliance's statement was in response to the verbal attack on Barzani from Majeed.  Hussein Ali Dawed (Al-Montior) notes Talabani statined "he considered these statements a 'call to war'."  State of Law has never walked away from their constant smack talk before.  The difference here appears to have been a united push back from the blocs at the same time that Nouri wanted it to appear he was trying to reach an understanding with everyone and be a national leader.  Majeed's remarks were in keeping with State of Law's trash talk in the past.  A month ago -- or maybe a month from now -- they wouldn't have raised an eyebrow and are part of State of Law's never-ending attacks on other politicians.
KRG President Massoud Barzani will be visiting Moscow shortly.  This trip to Russia was planned weeks ago. Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports today that State of Law MP Mohammad Chihod is stating that the trip is so Barzani can destroy the weapons deal Nouri signed with Russia. 
State of Law is a bunch of losers, liars and thieves.  They lost the 2010 election, they lie constantly and they stole the post of prime minister.  They are also stupid.  So possibly Chihod is so dumb that he believes what he's saying (or maybe he shares Nouri's paranoia?).  But Barzani can't break the contract.  And unless he has some previously unknown magical power, he can't force Russian President Vladamir Putin to break the contract either.  Now he may be a very charming man and might be able to use all that charm to slow delivery.  But he can't stop delivery.  A contract is a contract.
I grasp that's difficult for State of Law to understand because in addition to everything else they lack honor and integrity.  They break contracts.  So they assume everyone else must as well.  If Russia were to break the contract with Nouri without just cause, it would be very difficult for Russia to interest other countries in buying weapons from them.
Nouri's State of Law came in second in the March 2010 elections.  Since the Iraqi Constitution meant that Nouri wouldn't get a second term, he dug his heels in and spent over eight months (Political Stalemate I) bringing the country to a standstill while the US White House -- which fully backed Nouri -- went around telling political blocs that they needed to be mature and put Iraq first.  Grasp that lie.
Grasp that the White House told all the other political blocs -- that Moqtada al-Sadr, that's Ibrahaim al-Jafaari (National Alliance) -- that they were stopping Iraq from moving forward.  All the other leaders by wanting to stick to the Constitution were harming Iraq.  Not the little bastard Nouri who refused to honor the Constitution or the will of the Iraqi people.
Then the US government rolls up with a proposal that everybody give a little to get a little.  Give Nouri a second term as prime minister and what is it you want?  What can Nouri give you? 
That's what the White House did.  So the Kurds wanted many things but among them Article 140 of the Constitution implemented.  (Article 140 was supposed to have been implemented -- per the Constitution -- by the end of 2007; however, Nouri refused to do so.  It is how disputed areas will be resolved -- census and referendum.  The Kurds want Kirkuk so does Baghdad.)
The White House negotiated the contract, which would become known as the Erbil Agreement.  It swore that the contract was valid, legal and binding.  So all the leaders -- including Nouri -- signed off on it. 
Nouri grabbed the second term that the Erbil Agreement delivered and Nouri then refused to honor the contract, he broke the contract.  That's why the country's in a political crisis at present.  It's not a mystery. 

Turning to the issue of the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, there are new items in the news cycle.  First, the background via the House Oversight Committee hearing this month:
Committee Chair Darrell Issa:  On September 11, 2012, four brave Americans serving their country were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya.  Tyrone Woods spent two decades as a Navy Seal serving multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Since 2010, he protected the American diplomatic personnel.  Tyrone leaves behind a widow and three children.   Glen Doherty, also a former Seal and an experienced paramedic, had served his country in both Iraq and Afghanistan.  His family and colleagues grieve today for his death.  Sean Smith, a communications specialist, joined the State Dept after six years in the United States Air Force.  Sean leaves behind a widow and two young children.  Ambassador Chris Stevens, a man I had known personally during his tours, US Ambassador to Libya, ventured into a volatile and dangerous situation as Libyans revolted against the long time Gaddafi regime.  He did so because he believed the people of Libya wanted and deserved the same things we have: freedom from tyranny. 
Today's items in the cycle include the assertion that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice's statements that the attack grew out of a protest over a YouTube video are backed by intelligence at the time and the administration had no way of knowing any better.  Nonsense.  And there's actually a push back on this spin from the press.  AP reports, "Within 24 hours of the deadly attack, the CIA station chief in Libya reported to Washington that there were eyewitness reports that the attack was carried out by militants, officials told The Associated Press. But for days, the Obama administration blamed it on an out-of-control demonstration over an American-made video ridiculing Islam's Prophet Muhammad."  CNN also offers reality that contrasts with the administration's latest claims:
But House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, a Michigan Republican, told CNN that the panel had information from the intelligence community within 24 hours of the incident that it was a military style attack.
"If you look at all of the information leading up to (the attack) from an intelligence perspective, it's really confounding how you can come to a conclusion and then promote it for days in the face of all of that information that this was about a video," Rogers said.
Reality, the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy went to Congress September 12th and briefed staffers on the attack.  He called it terrorism.  Reality, the attack was seen by State Dept types ('types' because the CIA also saw this) in real time.  Reality, a little over 50 minutes of the attacks is on video.  Reality, the FBI has no objection to Congress reviewing the video but they don't have it.  At this point, it is not disclosed who has possession of the video other than that they are in the executive branch and they are not law enforcement.  The White House is refusing to turn the video over to Congress.
All of these realities were established in the House Oversight Committee hearing.  We attended the hearing and reported on it in real time:  "Iraq snapshot," "Iraq snapshot,"  "Iraq snapshot," Kat reported on the hearing with "What we learned at today's hearing," Ava reported on it with "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing" and Wally reported on it with "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment." 
If your outlet of choice -- say The NewsHour on PBS wasted your time by refusing to tell you about those realities and instead offered a 'style' report, you really need to demand that your news outlet of choice covers the damn news.  A lot of people are talking -- like Bob Somerby -- who clearly were not at the hearing and really need to inform themselves before speaking.  These days you assume that what was reported was what happened at your own peril.  That hearing was important and full of revelations.
So one of the items was Susan Rice's alleged innocence which, again, has been pushed back on.  And should be.  Another item in the news cycle is the cables released today.
A diplomatic cable sent by Ambassador Chris Stevens from Benghazi hours before the attack on the U.S. Consulate that killed him was largely devoted to the rising security threats in and around the city.
The cable, sent to the State Department, was released Friday by the chairman of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Darrell Issa, R-California. It is among more than 160 pages of documents that paint a picture of persistent and unpredictable violence in and around Benghazi this year and an often fractious debate about resources for diplomatic security.
In the September 11 cable, the ambassador refers to a meeting nine days earlier in which the commander of Benghazi's Supreme Security Council "expressed growing frustration with police and security forces" being too weak to keep the country secure.
Another paragraph refers to the "expanding Islamist influence in Derna," a town east of Benghazi, amid reports linking "the Abu Salim Brigade with a troubling increase in violence and Islamist influence."
The Abu Salim Brigade was prominent among the opponents of former strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
The ambassador refers to another meeting on September 9 in which commanders of unofficial militia claimed that the Libyan Armed Forces depended on them to secure eastern Libya, and even supplied them with weapons.
The White House is not being honest when they claim that it was 'intel.'  The tape exists, the attack was monitored in real time, CIA agents were wounded in the attack and made clear that it was not a protest that descended upon the Consulate.  But not only are they not being honest there, the document release makes clear that there was reason for concern -- serious concern -- and that the administration ignored those warnings.  Four Americans died.  It's time for the White House to get honest.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The debate and the bad moderator

"Obama-Romney Debate Number Two: Another stage-managed charade" (Barry Grey, WSWS):
As has become the norm in American politics, it was a “debate” without any discussion or substance, a tired and empty ritual designed to conceal the truth and chloroform the public.
Every aspect of the event was orchestrated and vetted. The so-called “town hall” setting had nothing to do with a real give-and-take with ordinary people. The 82 people sitting on the stage with Obama and Romney had been chosen by Gallup, the polling firm, from so-called “undecided voters” residing in the Hempstead, Long Island area, where the debate was held.
Following a rehearsal the morning of the event, these 82 hand-picked voters submitted their questions to the moderator, Candy Crowley of CNN, who then decided the questions to be asked by choosing which of the 82 would get to speak. The microphones of the questioners were automatically shut off as soon as their questions had been asked.

Candy Crowley was the worst presidential moderator ever.   I've heard her compared to Carole Simpson.  Negatively. 

I am sorry but Carole Simpson did a fine job.  She was the first to moderate these so-called town halls (she did it when Bill Clinton was running against George H.W. Bush).  There was a mixture of tough and soft questions, the candidates spoke to some of the tougher issues.  Most of all, after the debate, you weren't thinking, "That was all about Carole!"

Carole knew how to moderate.  (Carole is retired today but was a journalist for many years and was most famous for her work with ABC News which did include guest anchoring the weekend network news.)

Candy Crowley didn't have a clue.

She was combative and rude.

The only thing I can compare it to is one of those 70s Mike Wallace interviews.  I could be wrong, but I don't remember Mike Wallace ever moderating any of the debates.

You wouldn't want that because it would have been all about Mike Wallace.

That's how Crowley's debate came off.

Look, right there.  I just called it "Crowley's debate."  I didn't even catch myself until after I had typed it.  That is how much she interjected herself into the debate.

"The King of Self-Love sings to the Choir (Ava and C.I.)" (The Common Ills): 

debate 2

If only everyone could find Barack as amusing as he finds himself.   Last night at Hofstra University, it was a three-way draw in many respects as President Barack Obama, Governor Mitt Romney and CNN correspondent Candy Crowley faced off with truth left bruised and bloody.

As the authors of "
TV: Jim Lehrer, notch below child molester," we wanted to applaud Candy Crowley.  The debates -- controlled by a duopoly commission -- are a sham.  So we pointed out, "And when a Jim Lehrer (or Bob Schieffer or Martha Raddatz or Candy Crowley) provides cover to these shams by posing as a journalist, they're doing incredible damage to democracy and, again, they're as damaging as child molesters.  If they don't have any self-respect, their peers should at least hold them accountable.  Until that happens, nothing is going to change."

But there was Crowley talking about how she wasn't going to follow this rule and wasn't going to follow that one and she was going to break the conract's rule against her asking any follow up questions and she was going to be in charge and --    In her 'pre-game' interviews, she certainly talked a good game.

Sadly, she appeared to leave that game in the locker room.

And her post-game (let's not pretend that was a debate) interview was appalling.

[. . .]

 Who won the debate?

The clear loser was an informed public.

We are sure there are well informed undecideds.  But the ones who made it to the microphone with questions (picked by Candy) did not represent the basis for an informed discussion.  We have, in fact, heard more probing questions asked of pageant contestants.

The clear winner?

Some are saying it's Barack.  We don't see how.

He was abrupt and rude.  'So was Mitt Romney!'  Maybe Romney was as much as Barack.  (It seemed to us like Barack was more so.)  But Romney's not been hailed as The One.  While some Dems will cheer, not all will (we aren't).  More importantly swing voters and undecideds had little to grab onto.

If you're undecided at this point, presumably, the last four years have not pleased you.  And that's why we see Barack as the loser.  Last night, he yet again had a chance to present a vision or even a glimpse of four-more-years of Barack.  He never did.  He runs from his actual record and he won't talk about the future.

That left him with nothing but cheap shots.  Like that last one at the end of the debate when he was given the last word and chose to bring up Mitt Romney's 47% remarks.  If you wanted to explore that, you bring it up in an exchange.  If you're a little, scared kid, you wait until the last minute, blurt it out and high tail it off stage. 

That parting image?  Not striking us as presidential.

 Ava and C.I. remain the best analysts.  They did such a great job.  

Ann's "Stephen Stromberg: Idiot of the Day" notes how that was written.  I knew they were giving speeches in the morning so I figured that they had to stop and start to make time for that, stop and start and stop and start repeatedly.  I did not realize that Ava's baby also had a fever.  (On the phone tonight, C.I. explained Ava's daughter was getting a new tooth.)

Have you ever dealt with a teething child?

That is work.  It is work if you and your child are lucky enough to stay home.  Ava and C.I. were dealing with that and with more and doing it on the road.  But managed to pull off that wonderful analysis. 

Be sure you read it, if you haven't already.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):

Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Libya makes the debate but the news cycle's really not sure how, White House owns up to a visit to Iraq that we'd already noted this week, a new poll spells bad news for Nouri, tensions between Iraq and Turkey continue, the US Ambassador to Turkey stirs things up (intentionally?) in a region that can't afford any outside sparks right now, and more.
We're starting with the Libya because the media can't get their story right.   We have to start with last night's debate in New York between President Barack Obama, Governor Mitt Romney and -- as Cedric and Wally pointed out this morning -- from Team CNN 'candidate' Candy Crowley.
This is really the best example of the failure of the media.  Something happened last night in the debate.  Forget who is accurate in facts for a moment (we'll get to that).  A series of events went down and the press can't even report that accurately -- they can't even handle a timeline.  We're going to use Brian Montopoli (CBS News) as an example because he's got one mistake (while others have many) and he's also easy to follow (while others are obscuring -- intentionally or not).  Montopoli reports the chronology the way everyone else does (he just does so in a more understandable manner).  To make it even easier to follow, I'm going to put numbers in the excerpt of Brian's report and we're calling the debate [1]:
Crowley isn't offering apologies.  Though she initially seemed to backtrack [2] on her Libya fact check, suggesting that Romney was "right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word," she later maintained [3] that she had not in fact done so.  She said [4] on The View Wednesday morning that her fact check was simply an attempt to move the conversation forward, and suggested that criticism of her performance was inevitable.
So the timeline is: [1] debate where 'moderator' Candy Crowley says Barack Obama is correct; [2] CNN post-debate last night where Crowley 'suggests' Romney is "right in the main"; [3] Wednesday morning on CNN says she's not backtracking; and [4] goes on The View and says what she said at [2] but pretends criticism is inevitable.
That chronology is technically correct.  But [1] has an (a) and a (b) that the media is missing.
Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) reports on [3], Crowley on CNN this morning (that's where Brian's link goes) and Weiner seems to grasp the point others are missing.  It seems so obvious to Rachel that she's probably wondering what her peers are talking about.
The false narrative is Crowley said Barack was right, Crowley went on CNN last night and conceeded Mitt had a point, this morning she said she hadn't backtracked on CNN last night post-debate and whatever she said on The View
We're going over this slowly.  Most of you probably already grasp what happened.  As Ava and I noted this morning:

Romney expressed disbelief that Barack stated that on September 12th but Crowley declared that "he did in fact, sir."  And Barack asked her to repeat that "a little louder, Candy" which led her to state, "He -- he did call it an act of terror."
No, he didn't.  At best, he implied it.  And Crowley knew she was wrong almost immediately.  You can see it on her face as the audience applauds and she rushes to quickly add, "It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out.  You are correct about that."
Ruth caught that quick amend by Crowley but few others did, especially alleged news outlets.
The reason Crowley is saying she did not backtrack after the debate is that she's aware of what she said during the debate -- a point that did not make the news cycle this morning at most outlets.  After the debate, she echoed what she'd already said.  Why are people not aware that Crowley also told Romney he was correct?  Again, Ava and I this morning:
At the start of the debate, Candy Crowley declared, "Each candidate has as much as two minutes to respond to a common question, and there will be a two-minute follow-up. The audience here
in the hall has agreed to be polite and attentive - no cheering or booing or outbursts of any sort."
(We're using
the CNN transcript, by the way, which is laid out on one web page and will not require you to click for another page every few paragraphs the way ABC and others offering a transcript do.)   Applause is an outburst.  And it can be distracting.  For example, Ruth caught Crowley admitting at the debate that Romney was correct but most people didn't and that was probably due to the second round of applause that was going on.
She did not pause, she did not say, "You, Governor Romney," most people thought she was continuing the same support she gave Barack. 
She didn't.  the second statements after the applause for rescuing Barack, were supporting Mitt Romney.  That most people in the news industry do not grasp that goes to how poorly Candy Crowley performed as a moderator.  When the moderator herself is confusing, that's a problem.
Now let's deal with the factual issue.  After the debate,  Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) explained:

What did Obama say in the Rose Garden a day after the attack in Libya? We covered this previously in our extensive timeline of administration statements on Libya.
"No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for," Obama said.
But the president did not say "terrorism"— and Romney got tripped up when he repeated the "act of terror" phrasing.
Otherwise, Romney's broader point is accurate — that it took the administration days to concede that the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was an "act of terrorism" that appears unrelated to initial reports of anger at a video that defamed the prophet Muhammad. By our count, it took 8 days for an administration official to concede that the deaths in Libya was the result of a "terrorist attack."
More to Romney's point, Obama continued to resist saying the "t" word, instead repeatedly bringing up the video, even in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25. On Sept. 26--15 days after the attack-- the White House spokesman felt compelled to assert "it is certainly the case that it is our view as an administration, the President's view, that it was a terrorist attack."
Kessler is being more than fair to Barack who was talking about 9-11 (2001) at the Rose Garden when he starts using the terror word.  Let's go to the White House for what Barack said  in the September 12, 2012 Rose Garden speech and use the link for the full speech, we don't have the room so we'll offer the sections that apply:
The United States [1] condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We're working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I've also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the [1] killers who attacked our people.
Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  [2] We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.
Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and [1] this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens's body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.
[. . .]
Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.
Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the [3] 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of [1] this attack in Benghazi. 
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
[4] No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for [1] this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.
But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their [1] attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.
We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.
That's what he said regarding the "attack." 
[1] represents the time he specifically mentioned the events of 9-11-2012.  He refers to the "attackers," to "this terrible act," "this attack" (twice), "the killers"  and "this shocking and outrageous attack."  When speaking specifically of 9-11-2012's event, he never uses the terms "terrorism," "terrorist," "terrorist attack," etc.
[2] is where Barack is referencing a YouTube video that the White House was maintaining led to a protest outside the US Consulate in Benghazi and the White House maintained cause the attack.
[3] notes where he specifically addresses the attacks of 9-11-2001 -- eleven years prior.
[4] is when he suddenly declares "no acts of terror."  What is he speaking of?  We all are aware that September 11, 2001 saw two "acts of terror" in NYC with two planes crashing into the Twin Towers -- and doing so at two different times, right?  We're all on the same page there?  And, on that same day, "acts of terror" including a plane (or missile for those who don't believe a plane hit) going into the Pentagon and another plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. 
We have what Barack said.  The press gets in a hell of a lot of trouble when they try to mind read.  So what did he say?  After bringing 9-11-2001 into his speech, he finally uses terror to state "no acts of terror."  Is he including the Benghazi attack in that?  You don't know.  He may or he may not be.  He's also spoken of Iraq and Afghanistan and, by inference, tied them both into the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Which no one objected to because when Bully Boy Bush does it, we scream like crazy.  But when Barack does it, we just stay silent.
Six times in the spech, he directly references the September 11, 2012 event from the day before.  In those six times, he never once calls the Benghazi attack terrorism or the attackers terrorists.
Candy Crowley was wrong to cut Mitt Romney off last night in his assertion that Barack Obama did not label the attack "terrorism" as Barack insisted when he stated "[. . .]  I told the American people and the world that we were going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror and [. . .]"  No, he did not call the events of 9-11-2012 "an act of terror."
Word games.  That's what we're getting from the White House.  Earlier we got lies.  Now we get word games.
And the mix gets more toxic as Scott Shane (New York Times) arrives to 'explain' to us.  Shane insists (lies), "Mr. Obama applied the 'terror' label to the attack in his first public statement on the events in Benghazi, delivered in the Rose Garden at the White House at 10:43 a.m. on Sept. 12, though the reference was indirect."  If you're a mind reader you might make that claim.  We've already established that was talking about the September 11, 2001 attacks and then proclaimed "No acts of terror . . ."  Shane knows better than to mind read.  Is he on firmer ground referring to a Las Vegas, September 13th speech by Barack where it is stated, "No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America."?
Not really.  What does that have to do with September 11, 2012.  The "no act of terror" or the "no act of violence"?  Both?  Both and?  None at all.  I have no idea because, unlike Scott Shane, I don't present myself as a mind reader.  Nor do I play the game of, "I know what he said but what he really meant was . . ."  If something's a terrorist act, you call it that. I thought Barack was the great communicator.  Presumably, even a poor speaker could clearly call something a terrorist attack if they thought it was a terrorist attack.
We could go through all of Scott Shane's ridiculous b.s. but I didn't watch Crowley on The View because life is too short and we'll move to another topic for the same reason.  Read Brian Montopoli's piece for CBS News, it's worth reading -- timeline not withstanding -- and don't accept Candy Crowley's nonsense at the end which seems to argue that conservatives are criticizing her and liberals praising her and it's about them.
It's not about them.  Ava and I are extreme lefties.  We didn't slam Jim Lehrer for the questions he asked or the way he asked them nor did we slam Martha Raddatz.  We're slamming Crowley because she conducted herself very poorly.  We slam both/all for participating in this sham that denies third party and independent candidates their place on the stage.  In that regard, maybe we should praise Crowley for making it all about herself?  She revealed just how hollow and meaningless these faux debates are.  Murphy (Puma P.A.C.) ventures, "I think Candy Crowley was pissed for being assigned to the 'less prestigious' debate, the one where the moderator is supposed to be practically invisible, and she wasn't going to stand for it. She really overstepped."  Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) offers his take on the debate and these are his points on the Libya exchange:
The consensus on imperial war is near absolute. What passes for argument is merely a matter of style and posture. Romney attacks Obama for failing to grasp or reveal the "terrorist" nature of the fatal attack on the U.S. ambassador in Libya. But both candidates are wedded to an alliance with Muslim fundamentalist jihadis against Middle East governments targeted for destabilization or regime change: Syria and Iran. Obama's obfuscations on Benghazi were an attempt to continue masking the nature of the Libyan legions armed by the U.S. as proxies against Gaddafi, many of whom are now deployed in Syria – a mission with which Romney is in full accord. There is also no daylight between the contenders on drone warfare or the continued projection of U.S. power in the "Af-Pak" theater of war, or in Somalia and Yemen. The War Party wins in November, regardless of the Electoral College outcome.
September 12th, as we learned in last week's hearing, the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy could brief Congress that it was a terrorist attack.  Why couldn't Barack tell the American people?  Why the song and dance about a YouTube video while a very important, very real video was hidden from the public and is still hidden from Congress?  I'm referring to the footage of the attack.  As we learned in last week's hearing, the FBI said they'd turn it over to Congress gladly but they didn't have possession of it.  Someone else does and, on the orders of the White House, is refusing to turn the video over to Congress. 
Anne Gearan and Colum Lynch (Washington Post) had an important Libya story on Monday.  If you doubt it's importance, Bob Somerby attacks the story.  What happens when Bob goes crazy and off his meds?  I seem to remember the last time.  He knew a player in Plamegate but refused to make that public.  Still hasn't.  All this time later.  We called him out in real time when he was trashing Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame.  Bob did a great job obscuring reality on behalf of a bad journalist.  Bob's back to that crap again.  We won't be linking to him again until he's back on his meds.  Anne Gearan has a solid career behind her for being a meat and potatoes, basic facts nailed reporter.  Can she make a mistake?  Anyone can.  But did she make the mistakes Bob accuses her and Lynch of?  Nope.  I'm all for holding people accountable.  I'm not for your cloaked wars where you pretend to hold someone accountable but it's really about some petty grudge.  I don't play that game.  If someone deserves to be called out, they get called out (I would prefer not to call out Joe Biden -- I know Joe and Hillary but it's harder for me to call Joe out than Hillary just because of his nature -- he's a very sweet person).  By the same token, I couldn't stand Patricia Heaton because of an attack she made on a very good friend of mine.  So when I had reason to mock her, I mocked her loudly and repeatedly -- I'm talking offline at various events but it was true online as well.  My anomosity was so well known that friends at ABC avoided even suggesting Ava and I review The MiddleWhen we finally did, I had no problem praising Patricia's performance.  I was stunned by how good she was as Frankie.  I am still stunned.  I caught two episodes last year, she's still doing an amazing job.  She should be nominated for an Emmy for this role and she should win.  She's better than I would ever expect her to be, yes, but she's also playing a fully developed, fully created character.  So our political differences as well as what she said about a friend of mine didn't enter into it and don't.  If someone deserves praise, I don't care if I like them or not.  I don't play that game.  I'm actually happy for Patricia that she's become such a first rate actress.  This is a quality of work that few actresses ever achieve and she should be very proud of herself for what she's done in the role of Frankie.
There are serious issues and Bob Somerby can cover for another friend all he wants but the reality is if Barack's going to claim to be responsible -- as he did in last night's debate -- the first thing he needs to do is start explaining why Susan Rice made those statements.  As many in the press who cover the White House have pointed out in conversations over the last weeks, "Why even Susan Rice?  Why was she the one sent out?"
The White House had an announcement about Iraq and Afghanistan today -- sent to the public e-mail address by a White House friend (I can't find it at the White House website, if it's up tomorrow -- or if a friend calls and tells me where it is -- we will do a link to it in tomorrow's snapshot).  So here's the brand new news that the White House announced today:
Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan October 15-17. In meetings in Baghdad on October 15, Mr. McDonough underscored the U.S. commitment to Iraq's success through the structure of the bilateral Strategic Framework Agreement.  He reviewed our cooperation on security issues, and discussed how the U.S. and Iraq could further improve their partnership, including on counterterrorism.  In meetings with President Talabani, Prime Minister Maliki, and with Parliament Speaker Nujayfi and others, Mr. McDonough stressed the President's support for Iraq's independent democratic institutions, and urged inclusive dialogue toward national reconciliation.  Mr. McDonough reiterated our view that that any investigation into Iraq's Central Bank must be transparent, in accordance with Iraqi law and free from political influence to avoid undermining the independence of the institution or investor confidence in Iraq. In all of his meetings with Iraq's leaders, Mr. McDonough discussed Syria, with a particular focus on ensuring that violence from Syria does not degrade Iraq's domestic security.  During his visit to Baghdad, Mr. McDonough spoke with Roman Catholic Archbishop Jean Sleiman and expressed the President's continuing support for the rights and security of all of Iraq's minority groups.
On October 16 and 17 in Afghanistan, Deputy National Security Advisor McDonough met with U.S. civilian and military leaders, as well as our coalition and Afghan partners, in Kabul, and in Eastern and Southern Afghanistan.  In these meetings, he discussed the current state of transition to Afghan lead and our progress towards meeting the objectives agreed to at the NATO Summit in Chicago earlier this year.  In Kabul, Mr. McDonough met with General Allen and other senior ISAF officials to discuss the military campaign, the transition process, and the status of building and strengthening the Afghan National Security Forces to assume responsibility as U.S. and coalition forces continue to draw down. Mr. McDonough also met with Ambassador Cunningham and Embassy staff to discuss Afghanistan's political transition, including reconciliation, the upcoming 2014 elections, and implementation of our mutual commitments under the Strategic Partnership Agreement. Mr. McDonough completed his visit by meeting with military personnel in Regional Command-East and Regional Command-South, to hear their perspective on the challenges they face as we move forward, including the recent troubling trend of insider attacks and the mitigation steps being taken against them.
Wow.  That is news.  Maybe the press will report it now?  Tuesday morning though, hmm?  What went up here Tuesday morning?  Oh, that's right, "What is the US Deputy NSA doing in Iraq?"  From that entry:
While England's closing its Basra Consulate, the US has a figure on the ground, Denis R. McDonough.  Barack's Deputy National Security Advisor.  All Iraq News reports he and members of his team met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani yesterday.  Al Mada adds that the discussions involved Syria, violence and the Strategic Framework Agreement.  Al Mada also reports that McDonough met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and along with discussing those topics, McDonough also stressed the many visits the US government will be making in the coming weeks.Press TV has an article about alleged renewed interest in Iraq by the campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  And some might see the meetings as part of that.  But there's a reason the White House isn't publicizing the visit or who's on it -- including a key SOFA negotiator from the Bush administration.
SOFA?  Strategic Framework Agreement?  What was it 
Tim Arango reported: for the New York Times September 26th?  Oh, yeah:

["] Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.["]

That's what the US security delegations are making trips about: the negotiations to send more US troops back into Iraq.
So this afternoon, the White House announces a trip after it's taken place.  I guess that's one way to ensure that it won't be covered.  (UPI, to its credit, did do a write up on the White House press release today.)
That's not the only American official who's visted Iraq and had a press release.  A friend with the State Dept passed on this (and she included a link):
Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro completed a series of consultations with senior civilian and military officials in the United Kingdom, Iraq, and Jordan this week.
In London, Assistant Secretary Shapiro met with senior officials on a wide range of political-military issues, including counter-piracy and further expansion of security cooperation through the new U.S.-U.K. Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty, which entered into force earlier this year. This treaty recognizes and supports the longstanding special relationship between the two nations by facilitating industry collaboration and innovation, allowing American and British troops to get the best technology in the fastest way possible to meet shared security challenges.
In Baghdad, Assistant Secretary Shapiro met with senior officials, highlighting our ongoing commitment to developing a long-term cooperative bilateral security relationship through training and defense trade.
In Amman, Assistant Secretary Shapiro held consultations on a wide range of political-military issues, including ongoing efforts to further enhance partnerships with a longstanding regional partner in peacekeeping, humanitarian demining, border security, and regional security issues.
If you're not getting it, there is a reason Shaprio went to Baghdad.  Refer to those two sentences from Tim Arango.
Turning to the continued violence,  AP reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers with two more left injured, a Baghdad market bombing claimed 2 lives and left seven injured and yet anoteher Baghdad market bombing claimed 1 life and left six people injured,   Alsumaria adds that an Abu Saida bombing (Diyala Province) claimed the life of 1 farmer and an Abu Sir bombing (also Diyala Province) left one Iraqi solider injuredAll Iraq News notes that, just north of Mosul, a police officer and his son were attacked leaving the police officer dead and his son injured.  AFP adds that 1 truck driver was shot dead in Baghdad and that 2 people were shot dead in Muqdadiyah "in separate incidents by gunmen using silenced weapons."
In addition, Alsumaria reports Turkish warplanes bombed Dohuk Province last night for approximately two hours.  Citing the office of the PUK (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's political party) as its source, All Iraq News notes that the bombings began at approximately one this morning (Iraq time).   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."

The latest bombing raids follow the objection to the bombings by some in Nouri's Baghdad-based government and the one-year renewal of the bombing authorization by the Turkish Parlament.  Such a vote grants legal authorization only within Turkey.  The legal justification for the raids outside is the existing agreement that Iraq and Turkey signed a few years back giving authorization to these raids.  This agreement has not been rescidned even though Nouri has been critizing the raids in recent weeks.  Trend News Agency notes that MP Iskander "Witwit said that the Iraqi parliament is considering the issue of cancelling the agreement about the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq signed earlier between Turkey and Iraq."   Vestnik informs that Baghdad wants "forces to the Turkish border" in the belief that this will stop the aerial bombings.  And not only are things tense between the Baghdad-based government and the Ankara-based government, now the US Ambassador to Turkey has made comments that may force the Turkish Prime Minister to 'get tough' at a time when it should be obvious that military action does not solve the issue of disenfranchising the Kurds.  Hurriyet Daily News reports that the opposition parties in Turkey are bringing up the comments made by the US Ambassador and implying that Recep  Tayyip Erdogan is a puppet of the United States:
"Unfortunately, Mr. Prime Minister is the leader of a government that fought against terror to the extent that the United States allowed him to do," Haluk Koç, spokesperson of the Republican People's Party (CHP) told reporters at a weekly press conference yesterday. "He is not a ruling prime minister but is being ruled."
Ambassador Frank Ricciardone had said that Washington suggested to
Turkey the implementation of the TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedure, a means of multi-disciplinary military organization), that paved the way for the killing of Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, during an Oct. 16 meeting in Ankara with the bureau chiefs of news channels.
"We have made proposals to
Turkey to provide more than we do. We have [offered] to share the TTPs [with them]. I will not enter into the details of our secret works with your government, but the Turkish government is carrying out its works on the basis of its laws and experiences," Ricciardone said.
Is the US attempting to force the Turkish government into more violence?  Is that what this exposure is about?  Ricciardone as an ambassador dates back to the Bully Boy Bush era, he's been around enough to know what you do say intentionally and what you don't.  It appears he either had a serious lapse of judgment or else it is the US government's goal to up the violence in northern Iraq.  This is a big story in the Turkish press.  Hurriyet Daily News has several stories on it including this one which notes:
If Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. Ambassador to Ankara, had not revealed that there had been a secret offer to the Turkish government to have an "Anti-bin Laden" type joint operation against Murat Karayılan and other military leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in the north of Iraq, it would possibly have remained a secret for many more years.
Responding to questions from Turkish journalists, Ricciardone said on Oct. 16 that the U.S. had offered the Turkish government its state of the art military technology to hunt down the military leaders of the PKK. However, the Turkish government declined, saying it would continue fighting the
PKK "on the basis of its laws and experiences."
When asked the same day, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed that he had turned down the offer on a rather technical basis. "Bin Laden was caught in a house" he said, recalling the U.S. commando raid on a house near the Pakistani capital Islamabad on May 2, 2011. "But the struggle here is in mountainous geography". (We can assume that the offer was made within the last year-and-a-half.)
The region did not need this.  It was either a huge bungle or the US government is attempting to sew unrest.  Just yesterday, Azad Amin (Kurdish Globe) was issuing cautions and warnings in an article entitled, "Disaster awaits Kurds without National Strategy."  The US Ambassador's remarks are like playing with matches at a gasoline pump.  The White House needs to be asked to explain their strategy towards and relationship with the Turkish government and how the amassador's remarks fit into that grand-scale vision.  Today's Zaman notes that Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, has told the BBC that warfare will not solve the problem and "So, the critical question is 'Does Turkey want to solve the issue?' If it does, it has to sit down at the negotiating table with the PKK."
In other news, a new poll can be seen as an indictment of Nouri al-Maliki's six years as prime minister.  Al Mada reports a survey of Iraqis has found that they have little faith in their government.  Whether it's the 55% that does not have faith in the security forces, or the 61% who believe that equal rights (regardless of religious beliefs -- this isn't about gender equality) are very low in Iraq or 60% who believe the government doesn't treat citizens fairly, or the 50% who believe they will be harmed if they criticize the government, or the 54% who think the judiciary lacks independence, these results read like an indictment of the last six years (the US made Nouri prime minister in April of 2006, after they rejected Iraqi MPs' choice of Ibrahim al-Jaafari). The disastification comes as All Iraq News reports a protest in Najaf today over the reduction in hours of electricity.

Yesterday, Sinan al-Shabibi, the governor of Iraq's Central Bank, was ousted and replaced with the Nouri-friendly Abdul-Baset Turki.  This follows Nouri's 2011 attempt to insist that he had control over the Central Bank (he doesn't).  AP notes, "The governor, Sinan al-Shabibi, is seen as a politically independent economist who has led the bank since shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.Al Mada notes criticism from Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya over the move and that some fear -- since other members of the Central Bank's board are being investigated -- this is part of a move by Nouri to take control by appointing State of Law-ers to all the posts (State of Law is Nouri's political slate).  MP Naajiba Najib serves on Parliament's Finance Committee and tells All Iraq News that the alleged irregularities did not rise to the leve of firing and that the move damages Iraq's reputation on the international stage.  Iraqiya MP Qusay al-Abadi tells All Iraq News that the move was premature and damaging.

Not a good news cycle for Nouri.  From yesterday's snapshot, "Staying with the political, Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports the other political blocs are accusing Nouri's State of Law of preventing progress on proposed legislation due to a walk out State of Law staged.  Iraqiya says State of Law's goal Monday was to disable the Parliament with their walk out. "  Today Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that Parliament's Services Committee is accusing State of Law of blocking a vote on the Telecommunications and Information Law.

While Nouri's reputation diminishes further, All Iraq News reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi met to discuss the political crisis and propose solutions with all agreeing the Erbil Agreement needs to be implemented.
Back to the US, Trina praised Brian Montopoli's "Do the debates unfairly shut out third parties?" (CBS News) last night and she was right to praise it.  Here he is reporting on 1980's third party candidate John Anderson:
In an interview, Anderson said the debates are now "pretty well locked into the maintenance of a two-party system."
"Very clearly, the present system is wrong in my humble judgment in that it excludes the possibility that there could rise up a reasonable and probably candidate from someone other than one of the major parties," he said.
Brian's written a very important article exploring the factors that decide the debates currently.   On third parties, do not miss this interview with Cindy Sheehan.  (Time permitting, we'll note some of it tomorrow.)  The Green Party presidential ticket (Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala) were at the New York debate last night and arrested for attempting to participate.  Kimberly and Ian Wilder were there and they have photos at their site On The Wilder SideRobert Naiman has an important piece on the Drone War at Huffington Post.  And personal note, Cedric read your wife's post from last night.  I hate it when I know things I'm not supposed to.  Ann, if he doesn't figure it out, call me.  And _____.