Saturday, November 15, 2014

War Criminal Barack wants to share tax dollars with War Criminals

Ken Dilanian (AP) reports on Barack's attempt to get Congress to allow him to bypass the Leahy Amendment and provide aid "to torturers and war criminals."  

That's the Nobel Peace Prize winner for you -- and further proof that he never should have been awarded that laughable prize to begin with.

He wants Congress to allow him to fork over US tax dollars "to torturers and war criminals," as the AP reports.

Barack swears he can't find "clean" allies.  

Well that's the fist clue, f**k head, that you get the hell out of the region.

I'm sorry, I have no sympathy for a War Criminal like Barack who is now trying to break the law publicly and give our tax dollars to people who carry out torture, to people who are known War Criminals.  I have no sympathy for that or for him.

He is a War Criminal himself for The Drone War alone.  In addition, he already broke the Leahy Amendment bysupplying aid and weapons to Nouri al-Maliki up until May 2014 -- and this was done despite the Los Angeles Times (Ned Parker) exposing Nouri was running secret prisons where people were tortured.

That is only one example.  C.I. could give you many more.

It was left to her to point out that Barack was breaking the Leahy Amendment.

No one else would stand up.  Not I Need Attention Medea Benjamin.  Not the laughable Jim Hightower (Jim, you're gay, come out of the damn closet already).  Not Matthew Rothschild nor Katrina vanden Heuvel.  Not Laura Flanders nor Ralph Nader.

It was C.I. alone.

As usual, she had to not just lead the way, she had to mow down the path and beg others to find the courage to follow.

C.I. was at Thursday's House Armed Services hearing (and reported on that in Thursday's "Iraq snapshot") and she noted the waiver Barack wants in a Friday morning "Congress doesn't even pretend to be heavily interested in Barack's 'plan':"

I heard Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Gen Martin Dempsey ask for a waiver so that the US could arm and aid known torturers (to get around the Leahy Amendment forbidding it) and the 'outraged' reaction?  One Democrat thanked the two witnesses for their statements and called it "food for thought."

They weren't standing up for the Constitution or the law.  They were in and out quickly, hoping that video would make it to their local TV newscast so their five minutes of actual participation in the hearing would come off as, "I'm fighting for you!"

C.I. has consistently provided the voice and the coverage the left needs.  We've seen so many cowards and whores cower and hide since Barack was sworn in.  She really has been a driving force and now that Barack's a lame duck a lot of useless types are finding tiny voices to call him out.  But when it was needed, when it mattered most, it was C.I. and usually her alone.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Friday, November 14, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the only person outside the Iraqi government working towards a political solution is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the US sends another military officer into Iraq (while yet again ignoring diplomacy),  General Martin Dempsey's remarks about US troops possibly fighting on the ground in Iraq continues to garner attention, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi makes clear she's neither a friend to veterans or to women, and much more.

The war on women never ends.  The latest attacking women include US House Rep Nancy Pelosi.

Tammy Duckworth is not only a member of Congress, she's also a veteran of the Iraq War.  Nancy Pelosi chose to 'honor' veterans this week by announcing that a veteran who lost both legs in combat would not be allowed to vote by proxy on the issue of who would hold what office -- for example, who would be the next Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Duckworth is at home in Illinois.  Why doesn't she just fly to DC?

CBS News notes Duckworth "was told by doctor that it was unsafe for her to fly at this stage in her pregnancy."

Joining Pelosi in the war against women?  US House Rep Rosa DeLauro who feels that if you grant an exception for Duckworth, you might have to grant exceptions for everyone.

Doesn't Rosa sound like a homophobe against marriage equality?  Is she afraid that granting Duckworth the right to vote by proxy will lead to people marrying goats?

Who knows.

What is known is that US Senator Patty Murray busted her rear to ensure that the Senate explored the issues effecting wounded veterans who try to start a family.

What is known is that Nancy Pelosi and Rosa DeLauro  had other things to do.

On her website, Rosa proclaims she "believes that as a nation we have an obligation to ensure that these brave men and women who serve our country, as well as their families, have access to the medical care they need" -- wait.  If a doctor's orders prevent Duckworth from flying to DC -- and they do prevent her from doing so -- how is Rosa maintaining her belief?

Oh, that's right, she's not.

Again, it was Senator Patty Murray that led on the issue of the needs of wounded veterans when it came to starting families or adding to their families.

It wasn't Rosa or Nancy.  Those two?  They always seemed to have something 'more important' to do.
The choice -- or so-called choice -- Tammy Duckworth is being given is, if you want to vote, you'll have to put your pregnancy and your own health at risk.

That is a war on women and Nancy and Rosa are leading it.

Nancy doesn't give a damn about rules.  Remember Denver in 2008?  She stopped the delegate vote, remember?

The vote on the Democratic head for the Energy and Commerce Commission is yet another battle between Nancy and Steny Hoyer who are each backing different candidates.  Nancy's taken to referring to Hoyer -- snidely -- as Martin Frost.  (In 2002, Nancy took on Frost and won.  She also worked hard to ensure that he was redistricted out of office in Texas' redistricting plan.  Nancy worked overtime to save certain House members but not Frost who she tossed to the wolves.)

For Nancy (and her supporters) this pissing match justifies denying a pregnant woman a vote.

She should be ashamed of herself.

AP notes Tammy Duckworth has stated she will abide by the decision and that she thinks her colleagues for considering her request.  That was a classy move -- and again, it didn't come from Nancy.

Nancy's tasteless and tacky move comes as Disabled American Veterans' Garry J. Augustine (Turlock Jounral) pens a column noting the mistreatment of America's women veterans:

Based on currently available data, it is clear that our country isn't fully meeting the unique physical, emotional and employment needs of women veterans. When they return home, they receive less support than their male counterparts from government programs primarily designed for men.
Today, nearly one in five women veterans has delayed or gone without necessary health care in the past year. One in 11 is unemployed. Former servicewomen experience homelessness at between two to four times the rate of their civilian counterparts.
It's unacceptable that the women who honorably served our country-our mothers, spouses, sisters and daughters-are at risk. A new report released by my organization, Disabled American Veterans, finds that the federal, state, and community programs to support women transitioning out of military service have serious gaps that put some women veterans in jeopardy.

We might suggest Congress could help with that but as Nancy Pelosi's made very clear, the needs of women veterans don't matter to her at all.

Yesterday, the House heard from Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin Dempsey.  The main takeaway was Dempsey's reminding that US troops taking part in combat on the ground was not, in fact, off the table and a possible recommendation he might be making shortly.

Dempsey's reminder was an issue raised in the US State Dept press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki today.

QUESTION: Can I stay on ISIS?

MS. PSAKI: Sure.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask about Chairman Dempsey’s comments yesterday that he can envision – I’m paraphrasing – that he can envision contingencies in which U.S. troops would accompany Iraqi troops. Is there a disconnect at all between the DOD’s desire to preserve options for the battle and the Administration’s stance that no ground troops will be sent at all to Iraq?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Chairman Dempsey also made clear in his testimony that he has not made that recommendation. And he also stated that he does not see a scenario when it would be in our interest to take this fight on ourselves with a large military contingent. So it was obviously a large hearing, but he was consistent with our view, which is that yes, there are challenges on the ground; yes, there’s a need to continue to train and support and build up the Iraqi Security Forces; but obviously, the President will make any decision, and the chairman hasn’t even made a recommendation to him.

QUESTION: Sure. And he was talking about the future, but he didn’t explicitly rule it out. And he did say that for example, the fight to retake Mosul could be a situation where the Iraqi army would have difficulty on their own, which might require some close support from the U.S. But do you not agree that that is any – that there’s any kind of gap there between what you and Josh Earnest have said?

MS. PSAKI: If you look at the full context of his entire remarks, he also made clear that he doesn’t see a scenario where we would get more engaged with a larger military contingent. So yes, he was having a dialogue with members of Congress, and certainly, that’s part of what happens in any testimony, but the fact is the President makes the decision anyway. 

The fact is Barack told the American people "no boots on the ground" and yet "boots on the ground" remains a possibility -- one discussed as Dempsey attempts to 'inform' Congress.

As Justin Raimondo ( observed:

Whatever the President’s real views, we are sliding down the Iraqi slope pretty rapidly. Hardly a week goes by when we don’t hear of another few hundred GIs being quietly shipped to Iraq – "non-combat" troops, to be sure. Yes, they’re going over there to engage in some pretty dangerous and potentially lethal "non-combat" – and when they start getting killed in numbers high enough to notice, will they come back in non-bodybags? 

Bill Van Auken (WSWS) points out:

The Pentagon is “certainly considering” sending US ground troops into Iraq for inevitably bloody battles to retake Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), and to secure the predominantly Sunni Anbar province and its border with Syria, the top uniformed US commander told a Congressional hearing Thursday.
Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, addressed the House Armed Services Committee barely one week after the Obama administration ordered the doubling of the number of US troops deployed in Iraq, with another 1,500 “advisers” being sent into the country, most of them to embattled Anbar province.
With the new US war in the Middle East now in its fourth month, there is every indication that this was only the first in what will prove a series of military escalations as Washington pursues a strategy that extends well beyond the stated aim of “degrading and destroying” ISIS.

As the latest wave in the never-ending Iraq War heats up, the White House wants Congress to provide them with legal cover for the actions Barack has already (illegally) taken.  Specifically, the White House wants an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by the US Congress.

Earlier this week, Laura Koran and Ashley Killough (CNN) reported US Senator Tim Kaine declared that "there's no legal authority for the current U.S. mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria" and quoted him stating, "We have been engaged in a war -- that is not about imminent defense of the United States -- without legal authority."  The reporters notee the senator "has proposed a new, limited authorization specifically targeted to the current mission against ISIS."

At yesterday's House Armed Services Committee, US House Rep Walter Jones stated:

US House Rep Walter Jones:   Now we are going to possibly be asked by the President of the United States -- like we were by George W. Bush -- to authorize an AUMF.  This is nothing but an abdication of our Constitutional responsibility.  To give any president an AUMF.  We tried this past year in June when we had the NDAA bill, Adam Schiff tried to sunset out the AUMF that we gave to President Bush -- which is what was used by President Obama.  And I do not understand how we in Congress can continue to abdicate what the Constitution says is our responsibility.  Before I get to a brief question, James Madison once said this, "The power to declare war -- including the power to judging the cause of war  -- is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature."  And I do not believe sincerely because when -- this happens to be President Obama.  He wants to have another AUMF or an extension of what we have.  I hope that the Congress -- both parties -- will look seriously at what is our responsibility because it's not going to be but so long.   

H.A. Goodman (The Hill) weighs in noting:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is correct in claiming that President Obama’s decision to send 1,500 more soldiers back to Iraq is illegal. We now have over 3,000 American soldiers back in a country we left in 2011, when the president fulfilled a promise of ending the Iraq War. The illegality of the Obama’s decision lies in the fact that Congress has not been consulted on matters that could easily lead to another war. Sending military advisers to train Iraqis seems to be a last ditch effort at succumbing to media and political pressure on the part of our president. Nobody wants to be in the White House if Bagdad falls to ISIL, but Saigon fell in 1975 and Gerald Ford didn’t send Americans back to Vietnam. ISIL indeed poses a threat, but not enough of threat to jettison Constitutional principles in the name of national security. 
Paul, in a recent Daily Beast op-ed, explains exactly why Obama is breaching certain laws by increasing troop levels without consulting the American people. The Kentucky senator cites both the Constitution and the War Powers Act to highlight Obama’s overreach in doubling the size of our military presence in Iraq: 
"If the Constitution were not enough, the War Powers Act reiterates the legislature’s prerogative. The War Powers Act does not allow for any military action to take place that is not authorized by Congress or to repel imminent attack. Period. The only exception is military action to repel an imminent attack. In that case, the president has 60 days to report to Congress. Obviously, it’s an exception that doesn’t apply to any of our current wars."

Former US House Rep Dennis Kucinich and his wife Elizabeth Kucinich (Huffington Post) point out of the White House's desired  AUMF,  "This new request rests not on fraud, but on hubris -- the vainglorious notion that we will, at last, 'stabilize' (remake) Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, that US military might trumps culture, religion, history. "

Reuters notes Gen Dempsey has landed in Iraq on an "unannounced visit."  All these years later, US officials still have to sneak into Iraq.  The State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted:

Back to the US State Dept press briefing:

QUESTION: Yesterday Chairman Dempsey said – he was talking about the cost of the fight against ISIL and so on, but he said something very interesting about Iraq. He said that we expect them to have an inclusive government and inclusive participation of all parties, otherwise you are going to leave them – I’m paraphrasing – to their own volition, so to speak. Is there like a time limit to see how inclusive the Iraqi Government is and is functioning and so on before you say, “That’s it, we give up on you”?

MS. PSAKI: I wouldn’t – I don’t think that’s exactly what he said. I know you’re paraphrasing in your own way --

QUESTION: I’m paraphrasing.

MS. PSAKI: -- but I think, one, we do think, absolutely, that it’s very important that not only they govern in an inclusive way but that the Iraqi Security Forces are inclusive and the way that they fight back against ISIL is inclusive. Now, Prime Minister Abadi has done a great deal of outreach to the Sunni tribes. He’s visited a number of regions to do that outreach. There was even an event just a couple of days ago earlier this week at the Al Asad Air Base where the speaker made reference to weapons and supplies that tribal fighters will be provided.
So certainly, just – the proof is in what happens, of course, as is true in any scenario. But we have seen them attempt to do a great deal of outreach. We’ve been doing a great deal of outreach through General Allen, through Ambassador McGurk, and we do feel that’s an important part of how things will be effective moving forward.

QUESTION: Okay. Seeing how the Sunni tribes were – felt alienated or felt abandoned, as a matter of fact, after the Americans left Iraq and their pay was cut off and so on, and everybody’s talking about some sort of a national guard that will bring in the Sunni tribes, is there any movement in that direction? Has any – has there been any progress, let’s say, in that area?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I just mentioned the fact that Prime Minister Abadi – he visited Sunni tribal leaders in Amman and Baghdad and stressed in public remarks that he will advocate for all Iraqis. We’re in the implementation stage – they are – of the national guard program, but obviously, beyond that it’s also about incorporating and including people from many different backgrounds into the ISF forces.

QUESTION: Yes, please --

QUESTION: So you are satisfied with his efforts so far on bringing the leaders of the --

MS. PSAKI: We’ve seen him take a number of – make a number of steps – take a number of steps, I should say – as well as people within the Iraqi Government to be more inclusive. Obviously, this is something that they’ll have to continue to work hard at implementing. There’s a great deal of mistrust, as we all know, and it’s going to take some time to incorporate everyone back in together.

The above would matter at any time but it especially matters when there's no real progress in Iraq.  Months into US President Barack Obama's so-called 'plan' to address the Islamic State, Cassandra Vinograd  (NBC News) reports:

U.S.-led airstrikes have failed to slow the number of ISIS attacks and its defiant militants are now racking up a higher body count than ever before, according to data provided exclusively to NBC News.
Analysis of IHS Jane's Terrorism and Insurgency Center's (JTIC) database shows the current face — and pace — of the group's battle for Syria and Iraq.
Data showed that ISIS massively stepped up attacks after conquering the Iraqi city of Mosul on June 10 — and has stepped them up further since airstrikes were launched in August. Deaths caused by ISIS also climbed since the key city was overrun and have continued to rise since the U.S.-led coalition started bombing the militants.         

The plan is a failure thus far.

That's even more clear in Richard Engel and Carlo Angerer (NBC News -- link is text and video) report:

Active soldiers in the Iraqi army also told NBC News that they need more training. While they said they were willing to take on ISIS, they said they felt ill-prepared.
A 32-year-old sergeant from Baghdad, who requested anonymity for security reasons, said that the army was simply not prepared for battle and that it would take a long time to get rid of ISIS.         

Despite this fact, the Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Martin Dempsey, declared at yesterday's House Armed Services Committee,  "There is no change, and there is no different direction."

He also ridiculously insisted, "I think progress purchases patience."

There is no progress.

And, no, the claims of liberating an oil refinery (in Baiji) from the Islamic State (all over the news this morning) would not constitute progress.

I don't believe Barack sold this latest wave of war on "We must make the oil safe!"

AP notes Baghdad was struck by a car bombing which killed 15 people and left thirty-four more injured.  But, don't worry, soon Iraq's oil may be safe and doesn't that matter more than the Iraqi people?

Because if the Iraqi people mattered to the White House, they would be focusing on the government and working to help it on issues of inclusion.

Near the start of last month, the White House's official liar Susan Rice took to NBC's Meet The Press to specifically cite Mount Sinjar as one of the "very important successes" in Barack Obama's 'plan' to confront the Islamic State.   Yet only dyas later, Alsumaria reported that Yazidi MP Haji Kndorjsmo is calling for the government to rescue 700 families who are still trapped on Mount Sinjar.

Yazidis remain trapped on Mount Sinjar, months after Barack supposedly liberated them, but the 'rescue' of an inanimate object, an oil refinery, will be sold as 'progress.'

Margaret Griffis ( reports:

At least 97 people were killed; about half of them were civilians. Another 122 people were wounded as Baghdad suffered a series of bombings today.

Military forces declared the town of Baiji liberated. Joint Iraqi, Peshmerga and Shi’ite militiamen fought for months to liberate the city and are in the final stages of retaking the refinery just outside of town. That refinery was the largest in Iraq before the Islamic State took over the city. Other sources say the militants are still in control of the city. At the very least, the city is filled with bombs and booby-traps making access difficult. At least 17 militants were killed.

Barack insisted to the American people that Iraq required a political solution.  But all he and the US government have focused on is a military solution.  In fact, the only figure outside the Iraqi government attempting to aid a political solution is Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Last month, he called out the corruption in the Iraqi military.  All Iraq News notes al-Sistani made several calls on Friday.  His representative Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalayi applauded Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's decision earlier this week to relieve military commanders who were not performing their jobs and who were engaging in corruption.  al-Sistani's representative called for the political blocs to do something similar, identity "the sources of corruption" and purge them of their ranks.

Noting that al-Sistani met with al-Abadi October 20th and with Iraqi President Fouad Massoum November 11th, Mustafa al-Kadhimi (Al-Monitor) explains:

Concerning Sistani’s previous position of boycotting politicians, there is a fine line between intervention of the religious authority in politics and isolation from it. This is why Sistani insisted on forgoing a political position or interfering in politics. It would not be in line with the democratic path. At the same time, he has been protecting the country's democratic and civil framework through his social authority. This policy sustains the independence of both the state authority and the religious authority within a cooperative and constructive context.
The independence of the religious authority is a concept that Sistani strongly defends. Even when he opposed a third term for former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, he tried not to overstep this principle. Instead, he supported the independence of the state from the religious authority and expressed his discontent through indirect messages. For instance, he continued not to host politicians, and let his spokesmen, including Sheikh Karablai and Sayyid Ahmad al-Safi, deliver statements during Friday prayers in Karbala.
Sistani welcomed Massoum and Abadi to reaffirm his previous positions, which also clarify what led him to previously boycott politics and reveals why he supported the political shift that brought Abadi to power rather than Maliki. Sistani’s stance toward the Abadi government, his open messages of support in achieving change, fixing past mistakes and implementing reform should not be viewed as unconditional. The religious authority’s support is bound by the government’s ability to keep its promises to the Iraqi people. Sistani has vowed to support the reformist trend of the new government as long as it makes progress. Any slackening or failure by Abadi to follow through with reforms, and Sistani will change his position, turning his support to criticism.
Sistani’s conditions for backing Abadi’s government are not a secret. They are unrelated to the religious authority and the Shiites' role in it. Rather, they are about the ability of Abadi’s government to bring about social consensus, open itself to others in the country and abroad and fix the imbalance stemming from state corruption and past bad leadership.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Project Censored

Note this:

The United States' legacy in Iraq possibly goes beyond death to a living nightmare of cancer and birth defects, due to the military's use of depleted uranium weapons, a World Health Organization study found. Iraq is poisoned.
Much of the report's contents were leaked to the BBC during its creation. But the release of the report, completed in 2012 by WHO, has stalled. Critics allege the US is deliberately blocking its release, masking a damning Middle East legacy rivaling the horrors of Agent Orange in Vietnam.
But Iraq will never forget the US intervention, as mothers cradle babies bearing scars obtained in the womb, the continuing gifts of our invasion.

As Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez (Creative Loafing) notes, Project Censored has released their annual book on censored stories.

You can order the book online.

You can also read a review of the latest volume in this Friday's gina & krista round-robin -- Isaiah and I wrote the review.

(For any wondering, we have nothing but praise for the book.  If you're looking for a good read, pick up this book immediately.)

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, November 12, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi hands out some pink slips, the US bombing coalition in Iraq kills 15 civilians in one strike, US CENTCOM starts a big meet-up today of military leaders from at least 30 countries, the State Dept learns of the meet up in Wednesday afternoon's press briefing when a reporter (Al Quds' Said Arikat) brings it up, and much more.

Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth Tweeted:

  • Many of # Iraq's ruthless Shia militias, which are driving Sunnis into the arms of ISIS, are backed by # Iran.

  • US President Barack Obama's so-called 'plan' isn't accomplishing anything and isn't a plan.

    It's also not legal.

    Laura Koran and Ashley Killough (CNN) report US Senator Tim Kaine declared today at a Wilson Center panel discussion that "there's no legal authority for the current U.S. mission against ISIS in Iraq and Syria" and quotes him stating, "We have been engaged in a war -- that is not about imminent defense of the United States -- without legal authority."  The reporters note the senator "has proposed a new, limited authorization specifically targeted to the current mission against ISIS."

    So much pride in the bombings on the part of Congress -- among others.

    Wise guys
    Shy guys
    And sly lover boys
    With big bad bedroom eyes
    I never loved a man I trusted
    As far as I could pitch my shoe
    -- "Lucky Girl," written by Joni Mitchell, first appears on her Dog Eat Dog

    Wise guys, shy guys and apparently pee shy guys.

    Listening to the spokespeople for the US government, the Canadian government, the British government, the Iraqi government, et al announce their daily 'kills' from bombings who knew the big swinging dicks would go all pee shy the moment they had to step up?

    This morning,  NINA reported Mosul Medical Center "received the bodies of 15 civilians, including six women and four children, [who] were killed in an air strike on the Mithaq area east of Mosul."

    Yet night has fallen and none of the big swinging dicks have come out to brag.

    Come on, 15 kills.

    Why the sudden shyness?

    Usually, 15 kills would have you all crowing about the 'terrorists' you killed.

    But this time, when it's known before you can brag that the dead were civilians, so you clam up.

    How many times, be honest, do you think these governments have crowed they killed 'terrorists' in Operatoin Inherent Bulls**t when, in fact, they killed civilians?


    Yeah, I'd go with that too.

    RT observes today, "The US military has admitted that it is reliant on satellite images, drones and surveillance flights to try and get a better picture of what is happening on the ground. It has very few reliable sources on the ground which it can use to get up to date and precise information. The data gained from the air is also used to pinpoint possible targets where airstrikes can be carried out. "

    The editorial board of the Oman Tribune offers:

    At this point in time it is impossible for thousands of Iraqi troops to overwhelm even a few hundred well-trained, well-equipped and highly motivated fighters of the Baghdadi militia. The blame for this must go to the Americans. When Obama announced the end of the deployment of US forces in Iraq, not much was done to ensure that the country would be handed over to the safe hands of well-trained Iraqi forces with the latest armaments. It seemed at that time that the Americans were in a hurry to get out to justify the Nobel Prize for Peace that Obama won as soon as he became president. And today, Iraq is paying a heavy price for American myopia. Much more will  now have to be done to ensure the war in Iraq turns against the extremists. Who knows as time passes, more and more American soldiers might be needed in Iraq. And Obama, under heavy pressure after the horrifying loss of his Democrats in the recent Congressional elections, will have no other option but to send more troops. Or else without having any legacy to shout about, he might become the most unpopular American president in recent times. Afghanistan, after the withdrawal of US forces at the end of the year, might add to his woes. But it may not be as bad as Iraq since about 10,000 western forces will remain to advice and train Afghan soldiers who are also said to be ill-trained and ill-equipped and without effective weapons. In fact, the Americans have destroyed a lot of military equipment there, fearing that ill-trained Afghan troops would lose them in battle to the Taliban.

    In Iraq especially, it is doubtful if there will be a decisive outcome on the battlefield. Perhaps it is time the government of Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi works hard for a political solution. He has made a start by wooing disgruntled elements many of who support the Baghdadi militia and have even joined it. This task is going to be tough. But Abadi will have to try hard for the sake of ensuring that his country remains a single entity and enjoys peace in the long term. The Americans will have a role to play in this by being a reliable partner and provide stability to the government. Running away like the last time will mean more trouble for the Middle East. And, having a stake in the region, they will doubtlessly be hit hard.

    Barack's non-plan stared with a few hundred US service members going into Iraq and rose to 1500.  That's right 1500.  Huffington Post needs to grasp reality.  To mock Senator John McCain, they felt the need to say AP estimates it's 1400.  Yes, but they don't include the 100 Special Ops service members the White House and the Pentagon have previously acknowledged were sent into Iraq.

    So from a few hundred it went up to 1500 and last week Barack announced that figure would now double to 3,000.   Bill Van Auken (WSWS) reports:

    The Pentagon has dispatched at least 50 US troops, including “advisers” and “force protection” forces, to Iraq’s embattled western province of Anbar, 80 percent of which is reportedly under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
    The elements that arrived Tuesday are the advance team for a much larger deployment, which will include the bulk of the 1,500 additional troops whose dispatch to Iraq the Pentagon announced last week, effectively doubling the American forces on the ground in the country.
    Anbar, which is predominantly Sunni, was the scene of the bloodiest fighting during the more than eight-year US war and occupation, which ended in 2011. It had risen in revolt against the Shia sectarian government of former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki last year, paving the way for the rapid advance of ISIS and routing of the corrupt and crumbling US-trained Iraqi army.
    The US military’s advance team has been sent to the sprawling desert Al-Asad air base, which was a principal hub for US military operations during the 2003-2011 occupation before it was turned over to Iraqi security forces.

    AFP notes, "The deployment raises the risk of potential American causalities if the Baghdadi militia group overruns an Iraqi air base there or if it manages to down an American helicopter with a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile, though US officers insist those are remote scenarios."  Jeff Schogol (Military Times) adds, "About 50 U.S. troops have deployed to Al-Asad Air Base conducting a site survey to see if U.S. advisers can use the installation to support the Iraqi military, said Navy Cmdr. Elissa Smith, a Defense Department spokeswoman."

    Al-Asad Air Base . . .  Why does that strike a chord right now?

    Oh, yeah, Iraq's Speaker of Parliament is Saleem al-Jobouri was just there as he was visiting Anbar Province to examine conditions there.  All Iraq News reports his bodyguards stopped an "assassination attempt in Ain al-Assad Military Base" today.

    News of the assassination attempt on an Iraqi military base comes two days after the US government announced that F-16 training for Iraqis would no longer take place in Iraq but instead in Arizona.  Gareth Jennings (Jane's Defence Weekly) explains, "Iraq has ordered 36 F-16C/D Block 52 aircraft in all, the first of which were due to be delivered to Balad Airbase earlier this year. However, the deteriorating security situation on the ground meant that the DoD had to evacuate its contractors at the base, and postpone handing over the jets."

    What did AFP say again?  Oh, right, "The deployment raises the risk of potential American causalities if the Baghdadi militia group overruns an Iraqi air base there or if it manages to down an American helicopter with a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile, though US officers insist those are remote scenarios."

    Adam Taylor (Washington Post) notes, "The U.S. military seems to have decided that Anbar must be a key ground for the fight against Islamic State. President Obama last week announced a dramatic increase in the number of U.S. soldiers being sent to Iraq, with officials adding that a new hub for U.S. military advisers would be set up in Anbar."

    With all the military action, since Barack has declared that the only answer for Iraq is a political solution, you just know that the US government is leading on the diplomatic side, right?


    And, in fact, diplomacy suffered a major setback today.

    Note this exchange which took place at the US State Dept today in the press briefing moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki.

    QUESTION: Jen, there is a meeting that will take place tomorrow here in Washington by 200 military experts from 30 countries that will be discussing the next phase in the fight against ISIL. That might also include some ground troops. Are you aware of that or could you share with us any information that you might --

    MS. PSAKI: Is the Department of Defense – I assume is engaged in this event or hosting it in some capacity. Or do you have more details on it?

    QUESTION: Okay. I don’t have more details. 

    The spokesperson for the State Dept is asking a reporter for information about a DC meet-up

    Because she knows nothing about it.

    She knows nothing about it.

    Two hours before she went to the podium, US Major Brian Fickel Tweeted this:

    US Central Command issued the following press release today:

    November 12, 2014
    RELEASE #20141109

    TAMPA, Fla. - U.S. Central Command will host military planners from more than 30 nations for an operational planning conference Nov. 12-21 at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla. The conference provides an opportunity for coalition partners to strengthen relationships and further develop and refine military campaign plans to degrade and defeat ISIL. The event is another milestone in U.S. and Coalition military efforts to work together with Iraq and other partners from around the world to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.

    "This gathering of military planners from more than 30 nations is historic in many ways," said Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, U.S. Central Command commander. "The nearly 200 participants represent the broad Coalition that has come together and is key to the success of our campaign to defeat ISIL. Indeed, it is the Coalition that our enemies fear most. And, it is the Coalition that will get the job done and done the right way, and as quickly as possible. I have every confidence that over the next several days this esteemed group will do tremendous work and through their efforts set the conditions necessary to ensure that ISIL is defeated and long-term security and stability is achieved throughout the Central Region."

    Can someone get a copy of that over to the State Dept?

    Let's go back to the press briefing.

    QUESTION: Let me ask you about a poll that was conducted by the Arab Center for Research and Policy Study in Doha. They have a satellite office here in Washington that held a press conference today. And it shows that while a majority of Arabs support the fight against ISIS itself, they remain suspicious of U.S. intentions. Now, they also say that you don’t take into consideration Arab opinion in – when formulating U.S. policy, whether military or just policy. Do you have any comment on that?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I haven’t seen that poll and I’m not going to speak to a poll, but let me convey, though, that obviously, from the beginning we felt it was important for Arab countries to be partners militarily when we did our first airstrikes. We’ve been partnering and working closely with Arab countries and Arab leaders because we feel specifically that the voices of those leaders, the voices of religious leaders, of faith leaders, of government leaders in many of those countries is far more effective than the voice of the United States. So I think our actions just contradict the findings of that report.

    QUESTION: Well, that’s the fact – that’s why they’re angry. Their beef is on this point, that you do consult with the leaders, but you don’t – you dismiss totally the sentiments of the so-called “Arab street,” the sentiments of the public, how they view your interventions and so on in the region.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I think our view, Said – and we’re not just talking to leaders; we’re talking to a range of civil society leaders, of religious leaders, of faith leaders, we’re communicating via social media. And a lot of this is done, though, through partnering with many high-level officials in these countries. We certainly feel that there is a view that ISIL poses a threat to the region. We’re taking on that threat with these countries, and I don’t know that there’s much disagreement about that particular challenge.

    QUESTION: On the political dimension of your strategy against ISIS in Iraq, can we – have you made any progress in, for example, vis-a-vis Iraq’s Government’s efforts to reach out to the Sunni communities in Anbar?

    MS. PSAKI: Well, there have been – Prime Minister Abadi has spoken to this, but he’s also taken a range of steps to meet with leaders, Sunni leaders and Sunni tribal leaders. He’s ramped up outreach to Sunni tribal leaders in Amman and Baghdad and stressed in public remarks that he is an advocate and will continue to be an advocate for all Iraqis regardless of ethnicity or religion. We know there’s quite a bit of history here and hard feelings given some of the events over the last several months prior to Prime Minister Abadi taking over, and we know it’s going to take some time to repair some of those relationships. But we’ve seen him take some steps to address them and we’ve seen him make efforts to both encourage the security forces to operate in a more inclusive manner, in a regulated manner, including the Shia militia, to reach out himself personally, which is what I just referenced.

    QUESTION: What about the relationship between Baghdad and the KRG, Kurdistan Regional Government? Yesterday – or it was this weekend, actually, prime minister of Kurdistan, Nechirvan Barzani, slammed the Iraqi Government for failing to deliver on promises that it had made before forming the government in Baghdad.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, are you --

    QUESTION: It seems that people like the Kurds are frustrated with Baghdad, with Prime Minister Abadi’s new government, the same way that they were with al-Maliki’s government.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, I don’t think it’s been put specifically in those terms. Obviously, there are discussions about everything from oil revenues to payments that are ongoing. And we’re certainly encouraging those to be – the Iraqi Government to resolve those issues, but those are negotiations that are ongoing. And there have been some back and forth on it between the Kurdish government and the central government. And we hope it will be resolved soon.

    Regardless of how she'd put it, it's not new or just emerging.  From the November 5th snapshot:

    Tuesday morning, we noted:

    Word is the Kurds have about had it with al-Abadi.
    But you don't see that in the press do you?
    Last week, not covered in the US or western press, former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani sent a delegation to Baghdad to speak about serious issues and how the rift between the KRG and the central government out of Baghdad was again widening.  Among the issues resurfacing are the failure of al-Abadi to pass a budget for 2014 or 2015 (he inherited the failure to pass the 2014 budget) and the attempts to prevent the Kurds from selling their own oil.
    At a time when the KRG is denied federal funds and when the KRG's fighters (the Peshmerga) are carrying a heavy load, Talabani's delegation expressed the opinion that now is not the time to be pursuing Nouri's failed politics.
    Though pleasantries were exchanged, the delegation wasn't stupid enough to be mollified by pretty words.  If the rift widens, look for things to get even worse in Iraq -- and who would have thought that was possible?

    Matt Bradley and Ghassan Adnan (Wall St. Journal) report on the budgets (2014 and 2015) today and also on the conflict between the KRG and Baghdad while getting it right -- something few do -- about what came first (Nouri's withholding the 17% of the federal budget the Kurds are entitled to) in this economic battle. 

    Apparently those realities have also caught the State Dept by surprise.  Alexander Whitcomb (Rudaw) reports today:

    The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is moving forward with legislation to further reduce its ties with Baghdad, as the cabinet put two oil and gas laws forward for parliamentary approval next week, KRG officials said.

    The cabinet approved a bill at its session on Wednesday that would create a special account consolidating the region’s various sources of oil revenue to provide transparency.

    A second bill would create a publicly-owned company to sign contracts for discovery, production, development, marketing and export.

    Parliament is expected to vote on the measure after the energy committee convenes on Monday. 

    Don't tell Psaki, she might pass out.

    As for the poll Said Arikat referred to, it was from The Doha Institute which issued a press release on the poll noting:

    Findings from a survey by the Arab Opinion Index team, within the Doha-based Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, and which were presented at near-simultaneous press conferences in Doha and Washington, DC, have demonstrated the depth of the Arab public’s distaste for the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Findings from telephone interviews with 5,100 respondents in seven Arab countries and in Syrian refugee camps located Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey show that 85% of the Arab holds negative views of ISIL, to varying degrees. This compares to only 11% of the Arab public whose views towards the group were either “Positive” or “Positive to some extent”.
    When asked to explain the reasons for the backing which ISIL enjoyed amongst its supporters, only 13% of respondents cited the group’s adherence to Islamic principles. A much larger group (55%) explains support for ISIL by citing a host of other reasons: either due to its military achievements; its preparedness to challenge the West; its opposition to Iran and the Syrian and Iraqi regimes; or its purported support for the Sunni Muslim community in the Levant.

    In line with respondents’ negative attitudes towards ISIL, 59% also voiced support for the military campaign led by the international coalition set up to oppose the group. Additionally, the public in the Arab region is supportive of Arab participation in the coalition. In contrast, roughly one-third of the Arab public forms an opposing camp who disagree either with the aims of the international coalition against ISIL and/or the participation of Arab countries within that coalition.

    In the limited efforts at diplomacy, the State Dept's Brett McGurk Tweeted the following today:

    W/PM Abadi yesterday in . Today, he ordered key security reforms to advance fight:

    Psaki could have noted that (if she was aware of it).  She might also have noted what Iraq's prime minister did today.  The Iraq Embassy in DC issued the following today:

    Prime Minister Dr. Haider Al-Abadi in his capacity as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces visited Baghdad Operations Command on November 10, 2014 and held an extended meeting with commanders and officers from various units of the Armed Forces.
    He hailed the efforts of Baghdad Operations Command, calling on its officers to firmly deal with organized crime and enforce severe measures against criminals who seek to undermine Baghdad’s security environment.
    The Prime Minister also stressed the need to work hard to address serious challenges that threaten our society. He confirmed that the Ministry of Interior would resume responsibility for the management of security in Baghdad and noted the government’s determination to remove all concrete barriers in the city of Baghdad. The Prime Minister announced plans to remove road blocks that do not contribute to enhanced security and noted that the issue must be dealt with professionally and thoughtfully in order to ease traffic for the residents of Baghdad. In addition, the Prime Minister noted intentions to open access to parts of the Green Zone and stressed the need for vigilance against terrorists who seek to exploit these new measures.
    Prime Minister Al-Abadi also discussed a number of issues related to living conditions and traffic accidents in the city of Baghdad, and issued several executive orders in this regard.
    On November 12, 2014, the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Dr. Haidar Al-Abadi issued executive orders to relieve 26 military commanders from their posts and retire an additional 10 commanders. He also appointed 18 military officers to senior posts within the Ministry of Defense as part of ongoing efforts to professionalize Iraq’s military institutions and root out corruption in its various forms.
    Prime Minister Al-Abadi also met in his office today a number of military commanders from the Armed Forces. During the meeting, he stressed the need for Iraq’s military leadership to exhibit efficiency, integrity and courage so that soldiers can rally behind their commanders and fight effectively, adding that any assessment of the armed forces should be based on these merits.
    Prime Minster Al-Abadi said that the Iraqi Army’s losses were the result of many complicated internal, external and political factors, stressing the need to restore confidence in the security forces through real action and by combating corruption at the individual and institutional levels. He emphasized his strong support for this approach, stressing the need to act swiftly, particularly given that the military enjoys considerable political and popular support, in addition to backing from the religious establishments.
    The Prime Minister noted that the army is the defender of the homeland, and in the near future will seek to limit its task to defending Iraq's borders, while transferring security responsibilities to the Ministry of Interior and other security agencies.

    The Prime Minster highlighted the great victories achieved by our armed forces on various fronts and their determination to liberate every inch of Iraqi territory in cooperation with the people of the provinces. 

    Many outlets reported on the above -- AFP, the Associated Press, etc.  But no one pointed out the obvious re: firing the commander over Anbar.

    Since January, the Iraqi military has been bombing residential neighborhoods in Falluja (and in other Anbar cities, but Falluja's been bombed daily since the start of the year).  September 13th, Haider al-Abadi announced that the bombings would cease.  (The bombings fit the legal definition of War Crimes.  They are collective punishment.)  Despite that announcement, the bombings have continued.

    Anbar's military command has refused to follow the orders of al-Abadi who is supposed to be commander in chief of the Iraqi military.

    That's kind of a key detail and one that everyone left out in their so-called reports.

    David D. Kirkpatrick (New York Times) reports on the firings and forgets the issue of the bombing of Falluja's residential areas.  But he gets credit for noting that al-Abadi appears to have ignored the role Parliament is supposed to play in this sort of action and that he mirrors Nouri al-Maliki in that.  He also gets credit for this:

    Mr. Abadi was elected three months ago, with strong American backing, on a pledge to build a more inclusive and responsive government after the divisive eight-year rule of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki.
    Mr. Maliki is a senior leader of a political faction based in the Shiite Muslim majority, and he is widely blamed by many Iraqis and the White House for cronyism, nepotism and police abuses that alienated the Sunni Muslim population, opening doors to the Sunni extremists of the Islamic State. As prime minister, he was a strongman who kept tight control of the security services, and he stacked the military’s top ranks with loyalists rather than the most competent officers, contributing to the erosion of the military’s fighting ability.

    It's a detail that, for example, AP leaves out.  In fact, AP is defending Nouri and white washing his reign of terror in their useless 'report.'

    I wish Kirkpatrick had addressed the residential bombings but at least his report was filled with skepticism and details and examples.  It was a report.  A solid one.  Others can't make the same claim.

    In addition to the violence already noted, Ahmed Rasheed, Saif Sameer, Michael Gregory and Andrew Roche (Reuters) report "suicide bombings and car bombs" have led to 23 deaths in Iraq today.  That figure also does not include the 2 corpses National Iraqi News Agency reports were dumped "in the Hurriah area, northwest of Baghdad."


    bill van auken

    Wednesday, November 12, 2014

    Anjelica Huston

    Wednesday, Anjelica Huston will be on The Diane Rehm Show discussing her new book.

    The new book continues where her previous memoir left off and it is called Watch Me.

    I'm only on page 84 but I really am enjoying it.

    I will not be able to catch Diane's program live.

    Remember that you can also stream it at the show's website (which is what I will be doing).

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Tuesday, November 11, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the refugee crisis only gets bigger, Falluja's residential neighborhoods continue to be targeted by the Iraqi military, and much more.

    We'll open by noting real reporting:

  • this article by was heartbreakingly prophetic about Iraq: The Iraq We Left Behind via

  • The New York Times' Kirkpatrick was offering deserved praise to Ned Parker.

    We've applauded Ned Parker and will again to be sure.  Timothy Arango is another one who contributes strong reporting.

    There are people we won't applaud.  But we'd still include them if they had anything to say.

    So I waste a great deal of time every day reviewing crap by the likes of Bill Moyers thinking they might have something worthy to share.  They don't.  They use Iraq for partisan purposes.  So they focus on 2002 and 2003 because it's so much simpler if the story of Iraq -- a populated country -- can be reduced to: "Bully Boy bad."

    BBB -- where's the third B?

    We're not saying his name.

    He's got a book to promote and a lot of people are working overtime to help him.

    Want to be sure he doesn't get another big publishing deal?

    Ensure the book flops.

    If it flops, he might have to get honest about Iraq or he might have to crawl back under his rock.

    But, look, there's Media Matters' analyzing what he said on Face The Nation!

    Why don't you create 'buzz' -- the publishing industry loves buzz because, outside of novellas geared towards horny virgin teenagers, books don't get much buzz in this country.

    So create a buzz and you're helping to sell the book.

    We're not going to help sell Bully Boy's book.

    And we'll probably avoid his name until his book junket is over.

    But Media Matters is promoting him like crazy.

    He lied on TV!!!!!


    That is news.

    Because he's never lied before, right?

    (That was sarcasm.)

    Has he ever been on TV and not lied?

    He left office in disgrace and he has no power today.

    Why anyone wants to treat him as anything but a joke is beyond me.

    But I won't help sell the book by feeding into 'outrage' and other emotions that can allow the publisher to market the book as 'controversial.'

    In the real world, there are many things that actually matter.

    Today in Geneva, UNHCR spokesperson Melissa Fleming noted the Middle East refugee crisis:

    With efforts underway across Syria and Iraq to prepare displaced populations for the coming winter, UNHCR is increasingly concerned by a US$58.45 million funding shortfall that coupled with this year's sharp recent growth in internal displacement could leave as many as a million people without proper help.
    The shortfall affects our winter preparedness programmes, although we have already invested $154 million on winter aid for Syrian and Iraqi refugees and internally displaced, and means that UNHCR is having to make some very tough choices over who to prioritize: Factors we are considering include the elevation of refugee settlements, the composition of the family unit (e.g. number of children and female-headed households), family health concerns, new arrivals, available family resources, shelter conditions and other considerations.
    For those we're unable to prioritize, the conditions could nonetheless be very tough.
    While the problem is most acute in Iraq and Syria, there are also needs in other parts of the region. This will be the fourth winter away from their homes for many Syrian refugees and the first for the 1.9 million Iraqis who have become internally displaced this year. Many fled with nothing.
    In the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq, winter has already arrived in the higher elevations of Dohuk Governorate. Come December, temperatures can range from +5 degrees Celsius in more temperate areas to minus 16 degrees Celsius in the mountains. Snow and freezing temperatures are also common in many other parts of the region.
    But protecting people from cold requires funds. Right now, we estimate the overall winter shortfall for UNHCR's programme alone to be at least $58.45 million for some 990,000 people mainly newly internally displaced people in Iraq and Syria (including a gap of $27.4 million for internally displaced inside Syria, and $25 million for internally displaced in Iraq.)
    In Iraq, the needs are massive but funding has not kept up apace with the new displacement. With 1.9 million internally displaced people and 225,000 refugees and 300-500 more arriving daily in Northern Iraq from Kobane UNHCR is deeply concerned about its ability to meet urgent winter needs. Approximately 800,000 people are in need of shelter assistance, while 940,000 lack basic winter household items. With current funding, UNHCR now expects to reach only 240,000 displaced Iraqis with winter aid instead of the 600,000 we had planned to reach as part of an inter-agency effort. For example, our funding gap means we cannot provide tent insulation kits and boards for 140,000 people and 150,000 people cannot receive supplementary material like heaters and kerosene.

    New and multiple displacement inside Syria with people having to move several times inside the country in search of safety has fuelled an increase in the need for winter aid. Here, as part of an inter-agency effort, we are focusing on providing relief items including thermal blankets, winter clothing, extra plastic sheeting and reinforcing collective and private shelters currently housing thousands of displaced families. Priority areas for distribution of these items are in Aleppo and northern parts of the country as they are the coldest. UNHCR was planning to help 1.4 million people with winter but only has enough funds to provide kits for 620,000 people through December.

    The UNHCR estimates 1.9 million Iraqis have been displaced in Iraq in the latest wave of ciolence with another 190,000 having fled the country for safety.

    What's being done for the refugees?

    Barack can go to a meet-up with Secretaries and Ministers of Defense from sixty or so countries to plot violence but when and how does the US government address the refugee crisis?

    The ongoing refugee crisis?

    When Ted Kennedy was alive, there was some pressure on the White House to address the crisis by at least taking in Iraqi refugees.  Now days, there's no real pressure at all.

    At CNN, Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers reports on the living conditions for some of Iraq's internal refugees and offers:

    Given that the Iraqi government and U.S.-led coalition created the conditions these people are living -- by attacking their areas and often leaving them to the mercy of the militias -- the same governments should now step in to facilitate humanitarian access, lest history makes their "liberation" operation look more like a pathway to a massacre.

    Human Rights Watch was one of the signees on an open letter to US Secretary of State John Kerry last July.  In the letter, they addressed the ongoing refugee crisis and offered the following steps to address the crisis:

    •   A scale-up of immediate, direct humanitarian engagement in Iraq, including the KRI, to ensure that the U.S. government play a much greater role in addressing the urgent humanitarian and protection needs of vulnerable Iraqis, including those displaced by the escalation in hostilities in Anbar and northwestern Iraq.
    • Ongoing consultations with key stakeholders and monitoring implementation of the UN’s SRP to identify assistance gaps and protection challenges – including delays and problems with access – and ensuring appropriate bi-lateral efforts to address those unmet needs.
    • A comprehensive approach to assist Iraqis displaced during different waves of violence, including in Anbar earlier in this year and those who have remained displaced since the war.
    • Support to help families and communities hosting displaced people in the KRI.
    • Encouragement of the KRG to allow all Iraqis fleeing violence safety in the KRI regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or religious background.
    • More robust, longer-term engagement in Iraq’s peace and development through a continued presence of the USAID Mission and support for U.N. work in Iraq. This should include ongoing support for good governance, education, civil society, and conflict management programming. Many of these critical programs could be linked to humanitarian programs designed to help displaced individuals in Iraq.

    Which if any steps did the State Dept take?

    (Answer: None.)

    US President Barack Obama appears to have only one answer: Bomb and bomb again.

    Alsumaria reports a bomb southeast of Baghdad left two people injured,  a central Baghdad roadside bombing left four people injured, a northern Baghdad bombing left 3 people dead and ten more injured, an attack involving 3 Baiji suicide bombers left 7 civilians dead, and a Tarmiya suicide bomber took his own life and the lives of 2 Iraqi soldiers with seventeen more left injured.  National Iraqi News Agency reports a Kirkuk roadside bombing killed 1 person and left seven more injured, a roadside bombing near Buhriz left 1 Iraqi soldier dead and two more injured, and 1 corpse was found dumped in eastern Baghdad.

    In addition, despite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's September 13th promise to end the military's bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja, the bombings continue. NINA notes one family (woman, man, child) were killed in the latest bombings and seventeen more people were injured.  Again, this is the Iraqi military doing the bombing -- not the Islamic State.

    Falluja is in Anbar Province, it is a Sunni dominant city.  Sunnis feel targeted in Iraq -- by their own government.  Loveday Morris (Washington Post) notes how this issue is impacing current realities:

    In a flurry of meetings in recent weeks, tribal leaders have demanded that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi address problems of missing weapons and lack of support as they hold out against extremists in the face of mass detentions and executions. Hundreds of tribesmen have been summarily executed in the western province of Anbar over the past month, with hundreds more rounded up north of Baghdad.
    The slayings have underscored the predicament of Sunni tribes that have resisted Islamic State extremists, often with little help from the central government. The killings threaten to undermine the government strategy of mobilizing the Sunni tribes against the Islamic State in the tribes’ areas — a key pillar in efforts to crush the militants.

    “We demand that the government does something,” said Sheik Naim al-Gaoud, a tribal leader with the Albu Nimr. “We feel that we have been abandoned and neglected.”

    Sunnis feeling targeted is not paranoia.  They are targeted.  Even the Associate Press grasps that as they point out today, "The vengeance that Iraq’s Shiite militias mete out as they fight the Islamic State group can be just as brutal as that of their sworn sectarian enemies."

    For those who need visuals and/or specifics, follow these Tweets.


    And while Barack clearly has no answers, neither does Iraq's Prime Minister.   Reuters notes, "Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday he intends to remove concrete barriers from Baghdad, despite little sign of a respite from car bombs they were designed to thwart, and give a greater role to the Interior Ministry in securing the capital." Well, if he actually does it, that will put him ahead of Nouri al-Maliki who, shortly after becoming prime minister (in his first term), announced the walls were coming down (2006) but it would be years before even a few did.

    On those walls, I'm surprised the US Congress (among others) aren't suggesting any walls taken down be moved to Camp Hurriya to help protect the Ashraf community.

    There is no 'plan.'

    But there is plenty of room for failure -- daily and long term.  Press TV (link is text and video) reports US professor Stephen Zunes has stated, "Due to the bad reputation US forces had in Iraq during the occupation, US forces may end up creating a backlash that could inadvertently strengthen ISIS. [. . .] It was US policies which helped lead to the rise of ISIS originally so it raises serious questions as to whether a return of US forces will actually make things better."

    In the US today, Veterans Day was observed.  Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Budget Committee and serves on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (which she formerly Chaired).  We'll close with this news release her office issued:

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                       CONTACT: Murray Press Office
    Tuesday, November 11, 2014                                                               (202) 224-2834

    Murray at Federal Way Veterans Day Ceremony: Let’s Reaffirm the Promise We’ve Made to our Nation’s Heroes

    (Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, delivered remarks at a Veterans Day event in Federal Way, Washington in which city officials honorarily renamed the downtown corridor "Veterans Way" and erected a 60-foot flagpole to recognize the service and sacrifice of local veterans.

    "So as we raise our great flag here today, and as Federal Way takes this step to rename this street to show deep gratitude and honor to our veterans, let us all join together in reaffirming the promise we’ve made to the men and women who answered the call of duty," said Senator Murray. "And let us recommit to working each and every day, not just on the Eleventh of November, to fulfill that promise, no matter what it takes."

    Senator Murray was joined in speaking at the event by Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, Federal Way City Councilman Bob Celski, Rich Garmong of King County Veteran’s Program, and Tom Leonard of Veterans of Foreign Wars.

    Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

    "Thank you Mayor Ferrell for that kind introduction. And thank you to the City of Federal Way for inviting me to be part of this most important day of remembrance and reflection.

    "I am so proud to represent a state that is willing to do whatever it takes to support our men and women in uniform, who are also our neighbors, family, and friends. I’m proud to represent this state at what I believe has been really a critical decade in the treatment of our nation’s veterans. It’s a time when our older veterans population are increasingly relying on VA care. But it is also a pivotal point for an entire generation of post 9/11 veterans who after more than a decade of repeated deployments, stress on their family and personal relationships, and coping with the visible and invisible wounds of war, have been facing a challenging transition home. And it’s a challenge that all of us have been tasked with meeting.

    "As you know, it’s no secret that back in the 'other Washington' there are some serious differences when it comes to many of the policies impacting our families most. But one issue that brings this country together—one area that there truly should never be a partisan divide on—is supporting our nation’s heroes.
    It brings us together because the American people understand that we have all made a promise to those who have signed up to serve. And we owe it to them to deliver. It’s a promise I have fought to keep as the daughter of a World War II veteran. A promise I know so many of you have openly embraced.

    "And as we usher in a new Congress next year, it will be more important than ever that we continue working together – across party lines – to put our veterans and their families first because we are nearing the end of a conflict that tested us as a nation, but one that also showed the courage and strength of our veterans. These are the moments that in the past we have responded to well – such as in the era that built the greatest generation. And ones where, sadly, our nation has stumbled.

    "We are at a defining moment in the history of how we treat our veterans. For many of us - particularly those who grew up with the Vietnam War - it’s clear we stand perilously close to repeating some of the same mistakes of the past. But I am working every day to avoid that.

    "The bipartisan VA reforms Congress passed in August are already helping to alleviate the long waits for care at VA hospitals across the country. These reforms, and the changes being made here in the Puget Sound, are important steps toward addressing the many issues we know exist within the VA system -- but they cannot be the final steps. There are still many other serious challenges we must work together to address – both Democrats and Republicans -- on behalf of our nation’s heroes.

    "Twenty-two veterans still take their own lives each day. Thousands of veterans are alone, coping with sexual assault. And while the VA has made commendable progress, it will be an uphill battle as we work to eliminate veterans homelessness and the claims backlog. But like all of you here today, I believe that when it comes to caring for our nation’s heroes, we cannot accept anything less than excellence.

    "So as we raise our great flag here today—and as Federal Way takes this step to rename this street to show deep gratitude and honor to our veterans -- let us all join together in reaffirming the promise we’ve made to the men and women who answered the call of duty. And let us recommit to working each and every day – not just on the Eleventh of November – to fulfill that promise, no matter what it takes. So I am proud to be your partner in that fight in the U.S. Senate. And I am so grateful for the unwavering support this community has provided.

    "So once again, I’d like to thank Mayor Ferrell and the City of Federal Way. I am honored to be here with you today."

    Meghan Roh
    Press Secretary | New Media Director
    Office of U.S. Senator Patty Murray
    Mobile: (202) 365-1235
    Office: (202) 224-2834