Friday, March 20, 2015

Egg on his face

Interesting Tweet:

So many people are acting as if Tehran can be easily part of Baghdad's fight against the Islamic State and then easily vanish.

That's not going to happen.

In the end, history may judge Barack the worst for his inability to stand up to Iran (had no trouble standing up to Germany, did he?) because he wanted some deal -- any deal -- with Iran.

On Germany, turns out the US bullied Germany into not granting asylum to whistle blower Ed Snowden.

Barack is such a disgrace.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Thursday, March 19, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, stupidity helped create the illegal war, stupidity also helped continue it, we look at Patrick Cockburn and other stupid people, we explore the concept of 'original sin' with regards to Iraq, and much more.

March 19, 2003, the Iraq War began as this ABC News report noted:

World News Videos | US News Videos

Chris Bury: At 9:33 [p.m.] Eastern Time, just about an hour and a half after the president's deadline, the first reports came in of explosions in Baghdad.  US Central Command here in Doha [Qatar] confirmed an operation was underway aimed at specific targets of Saddam Hussein's regime.  The early stages of war had begun.  Just over 48 hours ago, President Bush issued that ultimatum to Saddam Hussein: Step down or face the consequences. That deadline came and went tonight.  And less than two hours after that 8:00 pm deadline passed, the White House press corps was told that the president would be making a statement to the nation.  A statement that everyone knew eventually was coming. 

The Iraq War is criminal, to be sure.

Starting it was also stupid.

This snapshot, we salute the stupid.

Today is a solemn day for us. Twelve years ago the Bush administration launched the illegal invasion of Iraq, forever altering millions of lives.
As an organization made up of veterans who have seen firsthand the impacts of war and who have also been deeply implicated in it, we know that this day must be seared into our collective conscience. Forgetting can not be an option.

Was it a fateful day?

Seems there were a lot of fateful days.

Seems like IVAW stopped being against the war when Barack got into office.

My personal favorite moment with IVAW is laughing at them in Denver in the summer of 2008.

Ava and I were there for the DNC Convention.  IVAW was there to whore.

Oh, they pretended otherwise.

They had a tantrum they tried to pass off as a protest.

And Barack's campaign was genuinely worried.

And the press was interested.

But Barack sent out a flunky to talk to them and they fell for it.

They stopped their tantrum and got Punk'd.

They've been useless pretty much ever since.

They've been silent as Barack's sent more troops into Iraq in the last months.

They were silent about Nouri al-Maliki and his reign of terror.

They're useless.

Once upon a time, they pushed their way to the front of the peace movement.  They knew, they insisted, because they were there.

Apparently, they left their spines there.

Because they couldn't call out Barack.

Not when he went after Libya, not with his Drone War and not even with regards to Iraq.

Iraq Veterans Against the War?

The reality was many weren't Iraq veterans.

Turns out the larger reality is that many weren't even against war.  They were just against Bully Boy Bush.

Their statement comes close to 'original sin' -- arguing that today is a reflection of March 19, 2003.  US President Barack Obama tried to pass the Islamic State off as that this week.

In fairness, it was a rejection of the ridiculous origin tale John Kerry offered to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on March 11th.

Pravda covered Barack's statements:

US President Barack Obama, talking to Vice News, spoke about his vision of the US role in the formation of the Islamic State terrorist group. Obama said bluntly that the United States was involved in the creation of the group.
"ISIL is a direct outgrowth of Al-Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion, which is An example of unintended consequences, which is why we should generally aim before we shoot," Obama said.

The US president said later that the US actions in Iraq after the 9/11 attacks were unintentional and added that he did not expect they would cause such aggression on the part of local militants that it would lead to the creation of new armed groups, Pravda.Ru reports. 

Should we generally aim before we shoot?


Possibly, we might also try respecting election results.

Today, there is massive whining -- Andrea Mitchell's one of the worst -- about the election of the leader . . . of Israel.

I don't understand where you get off, as a non-Israeli, being so outraged by the results.

What gives you the right to stick your damn nose everywhere?

Do you ever think maybe you should close your mouth?

This attitude is the same attitude Barack had in 2010.

The Islamic State came to prominence because of Barack.

He refused to honor the election results which saw Ayad Allawi's Iraqiya beat Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law.

When Nouri refused to step down and honor the election results, he created an eight month political stalemate where nothing happened.

And the White House backed him.

They even had US officials negotiate a legal contract, The Erbil Agreement,

Having voided the votes of the Iraqi people with this contract, the White House then refused to honor their promise to Iraqi politicians.

To get the blocks to agree to a second term for loser Nouri, the US officials insisted that the other political blocs could list their priorities in the contract (i.e. the Kurds had the implementation of Article 150 of the Iraqi Constitution as one of their items put into the contract) and that this was a legally binding contract with the full backing of the White House.

The day after it was signed, Parliament finally had their first really meeting, eight months after the elections.

And Nouri refused to honor the agreement, said he needed time, and Iraqiya walked out.

And Barack did what?

Called Ayad Allawi and asked him (begged) to send Iraqiya back into Parliament, insisting (yet again) that The Erbil Agreement had the full support and backing of the White House.

But when Nouri never implemented his part of The Erbil Agreement, when he just used it to get a second term and then ignored the promises he made?

The White House did nothing.

Acted like they knew nothing about the contract.

The 2010 elections let the Iraqi people see their votes overturned.

Now their leaders were protesting Nouri's refusal to implement The Erbil Agreement.  By the summer of 2011, the Kurds, Iraqiya and cleric and movement leader (Shi'ite) Moqtada al-Sadr were calling for Nouri to implement The Erbil Agreement.

When he continued to refuse, they attempted to work within the Constitution and go for a recall vote.  But the US government wouldn't let that happen either.  They pressured the always willing to fold Jalal Talabani to invent an excuse to stop the Constitutional process and he did.

So now you have the voters stripped of their vote, their leaders stripped of their rights of Constitutional redress.

This is when Iraqis take to the street and begin what is over a year of protests.

Let's bring another idiot in real quick.

Today, Patrick Cockburn  offered more of his one-sided reporting:

The fact that so many Sunnis are alienated from or terrified by Isis should present an opportunity for Baghdad, since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government is meant to be more inclusive than that of his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. Increasingly aggressive sectarian policies pursued by Mr Maliki during his eight years in power are now blamed for turning peaceful protests by Sunnis into armed resistance and pushing the Sunni community into the arms of Isis. This is an over-simplified version of recent history, but with the new government lauded internationally for its non-sectarian stance, the Sunni hoped they would face less day-to-day repression. “Isis has shocked many Sunni by its actions,” says Mahmoud. “But instead of the government treating us better to win us over, they are treating us even worse.”

Noam Chomsky likes to praise Cockburn.

Probably because they both share that paternalistic nature when it comes to Arabs, that attitude of they know better than Arabs, that condescending nature that allows them to act like they're smarter than the Palestinians, etc.

Cockburn 'reports' on Iraq for the Independent.

He ignored the protests.

They lasted over a year.

And he ignored them.

He was far from alone in ignoring the protests.

To give you an idea of the protests, lets's drop back to the October 25, 2013 snapshot:

Iraqi Spring MC notes protests took place in Baquba, Samarra, Falluja, Mosul, Rawa, and Ramadi.  National Iraqi News Agency reports thousands turned out in Falluja and Ramadi for the Anbar sit-ins and quote Shiekh Mohammed Fayyad declaring, "The citizens participated in the prayers that held in the courtyard northern Ramadi and eastern Fallujah cities , stressing that the goal of this trickle is to send one again a message to the governing in Baghdad that our demonstrations are peaceful and backed by citizens deep conviction."  Al Mada reports organizers distributed forms in Ramadi and Falluja for families of the detained to fill out in the hopes that they can locate their loved one and determine the status.  Many are held without charges.  Many have been thrown in detention centers, jails and prisons for no reason -- they are accused of no crimes but are related to a suspect the police could not find so family members were knowing rounded up even though they were not suspects.  In Samaeea Sheikh Ziad Madhi noted that the protests are not about political parties but our about justice -- first and foremost, a call to release the innocent detainees.  In Baquba Shebab al-Badri echoed the emphasis on detainees and stated they would continue to demand the release of the detainees and continue to call for an end to the raids (mass arrests) that continue to target Sunni communities.  Kitabat reports on Sheikh Ziad Mahdi in Samarra who noted the detainees remain imprisoned and remain a priority of protesters.  The Sheikh noted the demands for the release of the innocent detainees continue because they have not been released so the sit-ins continue. He noted that Nouri al-Maliki is responsible for the continued deterioration of security in Iraq.  Iraqi Spring MC notes there were calls for the United Nations and others to witness what it really taking place in Iraq, calls for an end to Iranian interference in Iraq, Falluja speakers called for an end to injustice and the flowing of blood in the streets, and Nouri al-Maliki was denounced for using militias to stay in power.  Kitabat also reports on Sheikh Humam Kubaisi in Ramadi and how he noted ten months have passed and still the demands are not met.

These protests were ignored.

Nouri's attacks on the protesters were ignored.

January 7, 2013, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul,  January 24, 2013,  Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital,  and March 8, 2013, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three.

And then came the April 23rd massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija which resulted from  Nouri's federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53 dead.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Finally, Patrick Cockburn was interested.

Not interested enough to note what UNICEF did.

To this day, Cockburn has never reported that 8 children were killed by Nouri's forces or that twelve more were wounded.

To this day.

But today he shows up to offer:

The fact that so many Sunnis are alienated from or terrified by Isis should present an opportunity for Baghdad, since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s government is meant to be more inclusive than that of his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki. Increasingly aggressive sectarian policies pursued by Mr Maliki during his eight years in power are now blamed for turning peaceful protests by Sunnis into armed resistance and pushing the Sunni community into the arms of Isis. This is an over-simplified version of recent history, but with the new government lauded internationally for its non-sectarian stance, the Sunni hoped they would face less day-to-day repression. “Isis has shocked many Sunni by its actions,” says Mahmoud. “But instead of the government treating us better to win us over, they are treating us even worse.”

The peaceful protests were not turned into armed resistance.

That's a lie.

It echoes Nouri's lie that the protesters were "terrorists."

As they reached the one year mark, Nouri announced he would burn down the protest sites and the people protesting.

He said that publicly on Iraqi television.

The Iraqi press reported it but Cockburn and the western press ignored it.

But now, he shows up to offer that the peaceful protesters took up arms.

That's the sort of crap that the State Dept offered when the Hawija slaughter took place with spokesperson Jen Psaki declaring the US government called for both sides to be rational.

The 8 children killed had been irrational?

It's suddenly okay to kill unarmed civilians including children?

And Jen Psaki could caution children that they needed to be rational and not so threatening to the poor little Iraqi forces.

The people were denied their vote, they were denied their officials seeking redress and now they were being attacked for exercising their right to peacefully assemble and protest.

This is the climate in which the Islamic State took hold.

Original sin?

On this 12th anniversary of the Iraq War, some are trying to pretend that today is all the result of March 19, 2003 (or March 20, 2003 since it was the 20th in most of the rest of the world when the bombings began).

It is really is about stupidity, isn't it?

Americans protested against the ongoing war.

They demonstrated.

If all was set in motion on March 19, 2003, we wasted our time.

We wasted our energy.

If you believe in this concept of 'original sin' with regard to the Iraq War.

This wasn't all set in motion.

If we'd had the power in 2004 to stop the illegal war, for example, things would be different today.

If we'd protested Barack's refusing to respect the vote of the Iraqi people, things would be different today.

If we'd protested Iraqi forces killing children?

Things would be different today.

'Original sin' with regards to the Iraq War is nonsense.

Yes, it's illegal.  Yes, it's unethical.

But if we had no power to mitigate it or lessen the pain, then we never should have protested.

If all the damage was done on that day, then what was the point of protesting?

I believe in protesting.

I believe in speaking out.

I also believe that the 'original sin' argument is the argument of the spineless.

They can't protest Barack.  They don't have the guts too -- even now.

The 'original sin' lie excuses their doing nothing year after year once Barack was sworn in as President of the United States.

It excuses the western press' repeated failures to report what was taking place in Iraq from 2010 to 2014.

In Iraq today, the Tikrit assault has revealed how weak the Baghdad - Tehran plan is and was.  Matt Bradley (Wall St. Journal) reports:

Iraqi security forces’ fight to liberate the city of Tikrit from Islamic State has slowed as the battle nears the end of its third week, dimming hopes that the extremist Sunni insurgency is on the retreat.
Iraqi security officials say their force of more than 20,000 fighters—mostly Shiite militiamen—has succeeded in forcing Islamic State from towns and villages to the south and east of the city, which lies about 87 miles northwest of Baghdad.

But the militias and soldiers have been unable to uproot the militants from the city center, where a few hundred Islamic State insurgents have been holed up for the past week protected by landmines, suicide bombers and snipers.

Dan Lamothe (Washington Post) adds:

The Pentagon warned on Thursday that Iraqi forces battling to reclaim the city of Tikrit are facing a tougher fight against the Islamic State than previously described.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren, speaking to reporters, said that Iraqi forces were now encircling the city of Tikrit, whose capture is seen as a key test of Iraq’s ability to defeat the Islamic State. Warren said the battles lines were now “static” and that Iraqi forces, which include government and militia fighters, had not yet moved into the city proper.

This was supposed to be the morale builder.

The battle that showed what the forces could do.

But let's again note  what Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reported yeserday:

Meanwhile, the pause in fighting in Tikrit has stirred doubts about whether pro-government forces can beat the Islamic State in street battles. Karim said the military decided to stall its advance to put in place a plan that would “guarantee fewer casualties.”
Workers in a cemetery in the southern city of Najaf, where many pro-government Shiite fighters are taken for burial, have said that as many as 60 fighters were dying a day at the peak of operations in Tikrit.
The pro-government forces are yet to enter the city center, but they have reclaimed a string of towns and villages in Salahuddin province, buoying morale among the about 20,000 militiamen who have joined the fight. A few hundred Sunni tribesmen also participated.

Three weeks in on their assault of Tikrit and they've still not made it to the center of the city.

Hundreds of Islamic State fighters are able to fight off over 20,000 Baghdad - Tehran forces.

No, it's not inspiring confidence.

Meanwhile, Margaret Griffis ( reports at least 79 people were killed in violence across Iraq today.

Lastly, Senator Patty Murray serves on the Senate Budget Committee and the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee (and she has previously served as the Chair of both of those Committee).  Today, her office issued the following:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                 CONTACT: Murray's Press Office
Thursday, March 19, 2015                                          (202) 224-2834
BUDGET/SEQUESTRATION: Murray Introduces Amendment to Replace Automatic Budget Cuts for Two More Years, Build on Bipartisan Budget Deal
Murray amendment to GOP budget would roll back sequestration for defense and non-defense investments
Murray: “Democrats and Republicans across the country have said that the across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense investments are terrible policy…need to be replaced”
MURRAY AMENDMENT BLOCKED BY COMMITTEE REPUBLICANS: Murray to continue fighting to replace automatic cuts, urges Republicans to work with her
Washington, D.C.—Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee, introduced and called for a Budget Committee vote on her amendment to the Senate Republican Budget that would replace sequestration evenly across defense and non-defense investments for fiscal years 2016 and 2017. Republicans voted Murray’s amendment down in the Committee, but she plans to continue fighting in the Committee and on the floor to build on the bipartisan budget deal and roll back the automatic cuts that are hurting families, communities, and the economy in Washington state and across the country.
“Democrats and Republicans across the country have said that the across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense investments are terrible policy, an absurd way to reduce the deficit, and need to be replaced,” said Murray while introducing her amendment. “I urge my colleagues to support this amendment so we can agree on responsible and realistic topline spending numbers for this year and allow the Appropriations Committees to do their work without waiting for another crisis…if my Republican colleagues have any other ideas for how we get this done—my door is open, and I am ready to get to work.”
At the end of 2013, Senator Murray and Representative Paul Ryan worked with their colleagues to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act, which prevented another government shutdown, rolled back sequestration evenly across defense and non-defense discretionary spending for two years, and moved Congress away from the constant crises.
The full text of Murray’s remarks introducing the bill follows:
Chairman Enzi, Ranking Member Sanders, I offer my amendment to build on the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 and extend the replacement of sequestration through fiscal years 2016 and 2017.
I don’t have to explain to most members of this committee why we need to replace the senseless automatic cuts with more responsible savings—I know almost all of you agree.
Democrats and Republicans across the country have said that the across-the-board cuts to both defense and non-defense investments are terrible policy, an absurd way to reduce the deficit, and need to be replaced.
There are Republicans on this Committee who have been very vocal about the need to roll back the cuts—and have even expressed openness to using revenue from the tax code to get this done.
Last year Democrats and Republicans were able to reach an agreement that rolled back the worst of these automatic cuts for fiscal years 2013 and 2014.
Our deal prevented another government shutdown, moved us away from the constant crises, and restored critical investments in research, education, defense jobs, and more, and helped get the economy going again.
So this amendment builds on that deal and extends it for two more years.
It maintains the principle that Democrats will not abandon—that sequestration should be replaced evenly across defense and non-defense investments.
And it replaces the automatic cuts with new revenue from closing tax loopholes used by the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations, which, since this budget already contains massive spending cuts but no new revenue, would maintain the principle that sequestration should be replaced with a mix of responsible spending cuts and new revenue from those who can afford it most.
Finally, it includes language to automatically release the additional defense and nondefense funding to the Appropriations Committee upon the increase in the statutory caps, similar to language passed in the previous Senate Budget.  
So I urge my colleagues to support this amendment so we can agree on responsible and realistic topline spending numbers for this year and allow the Appropriations Committees to do their work without waiting for another crisis.
And if my Republican colleagues have any other ideas for how we get this done—my door is open—and I am ready to get to work.
Eli Zupnick
Communications Director
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA)
(202) 224-2834



Thursday, March 19, 2015

That human trash Amy Goodman

It's bad enough that Communist Amy Goodman ripped Pacifica Radio out of millions of dollars.

It's bad enough that she's turned her show into a front for the CIA and for empire.

But she never tires of doing damage, does she?

"After Swedish Prosecutors Back Down, Is WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange Close to Freedom?"

Link goes to Dissident Voice's reposting -- I wouldn't link to her CIA front Democracy Now!

Maybe she's working for the CIA?

That would explain how Lynne ends up on Amy's show after Lynne's won in court and Amy 'coaxes' a statement that gets Lynne re-sentenced, right?

Remember that Amy was not part of the movement to free Lynne.

Now when it looks like Julian Assange might be able to leave the embassy, along comes Amy with her "Swedish prosecutors back down."

That woman can't be that stupid.

She has to know that wording like that will encourage the prosecutors -- and the citizens of Sweden -- to be offended and feel they have to take a harder position.

Amy Goodman is filth.

She's pimped for war on Libya and joined the War Hawks.  She's regularly put CIA contractors and worse on the air.

Now her nonsense could harm Assange's chance at a fair deal.

It's time the left walked away from the Goody Whore.

"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
Wednesday, March 18, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Tikrit remains on hold, Mosul gets leafleted about an upcoming assault, no progress on Iraq's political front, some attention is focused on Human Rights Watch's report on the human rights abuses (War Crimes) carried out by Iraqi forces, and much more.

Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth Tweets:

  • As noted in yesterday's snapshot, Human Rights Watch has issued a new report entitled "After Liberation Came Destruction: Iraqi Militias and the Aftermath of Amerli" which documents the abuse of human rights (War Crimes) being carried out in Iraq by security forces.  From the report:

    Peshmerga officers told Human Rights Watch they saw 47 villages in which militias had destroyed and ransacked homes, businesses, mosques, and public buildings. Residents told Human Rights Watch that the militias included the Badr Brigades, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haqq, Kita’ib Hezbollah, and Saraya Tala’a al-Khorasani, and that they destroyed numerous villages between the towns of al-Khales, in southern Diyala province, and Amerli, about 50 kilometers to the north in Salah al-Din province.
    Satellite imagery corroborates witness accounts that in many cases Iraqi government forces and militias targeted the same villages and towns in which, supported by coalition air strikes, they had fought ISIS in the weeks before they lifted ISIS’s siege of Amerli. Satellite imagery showed that most of the damage they inflicted on these towns and villages after they lifted the siege resulted from arson and building demolition.
    On the basis of field visits, interviews with more than 30 witnesses, and analysis of photographs and satellite imagery, Human Rights Watch found that an area that included 35 villages and towns showed extensive destruction caused by fire, explosives and heavy earth moving equipment. The evidence showed that most of the damage occurred between early September and mid-November 2014. Using satellite imagery, Human Rights Watch identified over 3,800 destroyed buildings in 30 towns and villages, including 2,600 buildings likely destroyed by fire and a further 1,200 buildings likely demolished with heavy machinery and the uncontrolled detonation of high explosives. This destruction was distinct from damages resulting from air strikes and heavy artillery and mortar fire prior to ISIS’s retreat from Amerli, which Human Rights Watch separately identified using the satellite imagery. Human Rights Watch’s field research together with the satellite imagery analysis indicates that militias engaged in deliberate and wanton destruction of civilian property after the retreat of ISIS and the end of fighting in the area.

    In the four towns and villages that Human Rights Watch visited, researchers found evidence of extensive fire damage limited to the interior of buildings that would not be detectable in satellite imagery, indicating actual fire-related building damages are likely to be substantially higher than 2,600 in the affected 30 towns and villages assessed. On the basis of witness statements and analysis of satellite imagery, Human Rights Watch believes this damage was likely the result of arson perpetrated by pro-government forces.

    For a change, an HRW report on Iraq is getting serious media attention.  For example,  Missy Ryan (Washington Post) notes the report:

    Shiite militias and Iraqi government forces burned and looted dozens of villages, abducting at least 11 local residents, in the wake of a U.S.-supported operation against the Islamic State last year, a human rights group has charged in a new report.

    Kareem Shaheen (Guardian) includes these comments:

    “Iraq can’t win the fight against Isis’s atrocities with attacks on civilians that violate the laws of war and fly in the face of human decency,” said Joe Stork, HRW’s deputy Middle East and North Africa director.
    “Militia abuses are wreaking havoc among some of Iraq’s most vulnerable people and exacerbating sectarian hostilities.”

    Of the Shi'ite forces doing the terrorizing, AFP observes, "The units have played a key role in the fight to drive IS back, but relying on such groups further entrenches them in Iraq, giving them an expanded power base that will be difficult to dislodge."

    Anne Barnard (New York Times) uses the HRW findings as a jumping off point to note what's taken place during the current Tikrit offensive:

    During the current Tikrit offensive, video clips from the town of Albu Ajeel, where many militiamen believe villagers aided in the massacre, showed burning shops and buildings and a uniformed man declaring, “Burn them, burn them.” Few residents appear to have returned.

    And while that attention is needed, the world continues to look the other way as the Iraqi government continues to daily bomb the residential neighborhoods of Falluja.  This action is a legally defined War Crime (it's known as collective punishment).  Then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki began the bombings in January of 2014.  In September of 2014, new Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced he had stopped the bombings.

    But he hadn't and the bombings continued.

    Today, Iraqi Spring Media notes Falluja General Hospital received nine dead and wounded from the latest bombings by the Iraqi government.  They also note that the bombings have left dead at least 2399 people (332 children, 184 women among them) and at least 4080 injured (484 children and 381 women among them).

    The Human Rights Watch report did mean the State Dept's Jen Psaki was forced to mouth some meaningless words today.

    QUESTION:  There’s a report just came out today from the Human Rights Watch talking about the militia attacks destroyed villages.  It’s their reports about after liberation came destruction.  And I know that you’ve answered that question about that and the human rights abuse by the militias in Diyala and other areas, and U.S. sent delegations in the past to Baghdad and Erbil to check on that.  Have you got any result on those investigations that Prime Minister Abadi said he will conduct investigation on that?

    MS. PSAKI:  Well, I think, one, we understand that the prime minister’s office has responded to the Human Rights Watch report, noting that the legal measures were taken against individuals who committed human rights abuses in Amirli such as the destruction and looting of civilian property as well as those accused of kidnapping civilians.  So there has been action taken in that regard.  Obviously, there are newer reports we’ve spoken to recently that they are certainly looking into.
    We can’t confirm the allegations in the Human Rights Watch report regarding potential abuses, but we agree that the long-term solution to the instability Iraq faces right now requires the political leadership to make the kinds of decision that’s – decisions that will unite the country and not promote sectarianism.

    Political leadership, Jen sputters.  She's attempting (and failing) to go with "political solutions" -- what US President Barack Obama declared was the only answer back in June.  Haider al-Abadi became prime minister in August.

    He's proven very good with words.

    But words are empty and meaningless when there's no follow through.

    That's true of his announcing the end of the government bombing Falluja's residential neighborhoods on September 13th when the bombings continued.

    It's true of his announcing an end to the oil dispute between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government.

    Monday, Rudaw reported on how those words still haven't transferred into reality leading the KRG to issue a statement this week:

    Baghdad cut off the Kurdistan Region’s share of the federal budget in January last year, placing a severe strain on the Kurdish government that is at war with the Islamic State (ISIS) and is grappling with received 1.4 million refugees from Syia and the rest of Iraq.
    The deal signed in December – at a crucial time when both Baghdad and Erbil are at war with the Islamic State (ISIS) – was meant to have mended months of strained ties and disagreements over Kurdish oil exports. The 2015 federal budget had promised the resumption of payments to Erbil to turn the regional government.
    The KRG statement complained that Baghdad was not sticking to its end of the bargain.
    It noted that Erbil is “on track” with its promised delivery of Kurdish oil at Ceyhan, and was “also facilitating the export of otherwise stranded oil produced by the North Oil Company in Kirkuk.”
    The statement added that, in line with its commitment to the terms of the 2015 federal budget, the KRG had until the end of February met almost 97 percent of its agreed supply of crude oil to SOMO at the Turkish port.
    “The KRG in turn expects the federal government to honor its obligations under the budget law and to provide the KRG with its legal monthly entitlement to its share of the budget, including the agreed special allocation of funds for the Peshmerga forces,” the statement said.
    “To date, the federal government has provided the KRG with less than 20 percent of its share of the budget for January and nothing for February,” the statement noted.

    The oil deal has proven to be nothing but empty words -- something Jen Psaki knows a great deal about.

    Here she is prattling away about the oil deal on November 13th:

    QUESTION: Have you seen reports that the Kurds and the Iraqis – or the government in Baghdad have reached an oil agreement?

    MS. PSAKI: Yes. Yes, I have.

    QUESTION: Do you have any response to that?

    MS. PSAKI: We welcome the announcement that an agreement has been reached between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to take initial steps at finding a fair and comprehensive solution on the management of Iraq’s hydrocarbon resources. We urge that these steps be taken as soon as possible to build trust as Iraqi leaders continue to discuss remaining issues in the coming days toward a just and constitutional solution that will allow all Iraqis to benefit fairly and equitably from Iraq’s hydrocarbon sector.
    We are encouraged by this development and the willingness of officials in Baghdad and Erbil to address these complex issues directly and earnestly. We understand that this is the first of many steps that will be required to reach a comprehensive agreement, and the United States will continue to serve as a neutral broker and facilitator to the extent desired by the leadership of both Iraq and the KRG.

    QUESTION: Do you know or can you speak to what the U.S. involvement as a neutral facilitator was in getting to this point? Do you know?

    MS. PSAKI: I – that’s a great question. I’d have to talk to our team about our involvement in the last couple of days. Obviously, we’ve been encouraging both sides for some time to resolve this issue, but I can see if there’s more on that front to report.

    QUESTION: Ambassador McGurk was in Iraq. Did he play any role to facilitate this agreement?

    MS. PSAKI: Say that one more time?

    QUESTION: Ambassador Brett McGurk was in Iraq a few days ago.

    MS. PSAKI: Yes, he was. It’s a great question. I don’t have any details on his involvement. Obviously, this was largely negotiated between the KRG and the Government of Iraq. We’ve certainly been encouraging them to resolve this for some time. I can see if there’s any more to read out about his involvement.

    And nothing's happened on that 'deal' since November.

    The White House has been pushing for a national guard for Iraq since last summer.  The basic notion would have the Kurds over the Kurdish area (they already are) and Shi'ite brigades over Shi'ite dominant areas and Sunni brigades over Sunni dominant areas.

    They've been pushing for that since last summer.


    Monday, All Iraq News noted the bill on the National Guard would be read (again) in Parliament.

    That's all that ever happens.

    It gets read in Parliament.

    Still not passed.

    Where's the progress?

    The political process, like the assault on Tikrit, is stalled.

    Having taken 12 days to reach Tikrit (and, turns out, just the edges of the city), the assault was quickly put on pause as officials began whining that (a) reinforcements were needed and (b) US air strikes were needed.

    Though the assault remains on hold, the propaganda never ends.

    NINA noted yesterday:

    Secretary General of al- Jihad and Construction Movement Hassan al-Sari stressed on Tuesday that the liberation of Tikrit operations are going on as planned and there is no pause in military operations.

    Also spinning madly is Haider al-Abadi.  All Iraq News notes today:

    he Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi assured that the security and military operations in Salah-il-Din province are going on according to set schedule.
    Statement by Abadi's office quoted him as saying while meeting several military commanders "Liberating Tikrit is possible now but we are keen in protecting the civilians and preparing for a perfect spread for the soldiers in the positions of the battle field."
    Abadi clarified "The changes of some security commands do not mean that those commands are not qualified but this is required in the military techniques in order to push new blood."

    Abadi warned from "listening to rumors of those who do not want good things for Iraq." 

    Is anyone taking Haider seriously?

    Has anyone taken him seriously since late last year when he visited the United States and declared publicly that there were plans to attack NYC's public transport?

    Loveday Morris (Washington Post) reports today:

    Meanwhile, the pause in fighting in Tikrit has stirred doubts about whether pro-government forces can beat the Islamic State in street battles. Karim said the military decided to stall its advance to put in place a plan that would “guarantee fewer casualties.”
    Workers in a cemetery in the southern city of Najaf, where many pro-government Shiite fighters are taken for burial, have said that as many as 60 fighters were dying a day at the peak of operations in Tikrit.

    The pro-government forces are yet to enter the city center, but they have reclaimed a string of towns and villages in Salahuddin province, buoying morale among the about 20,000 militiamen who have joined the fight. A few hundred Sunni tribesmen also participated.

    Yet to enter the city center.

    So 18 days after the assault on the city started, they've still not made it to the city center.

    This has not been a successful operation or anything to instill hope for future ones.

    Despite the fact that the Tikrit assault remains on hold, Haider's eager to start more assaults.

    All Iraq News reports that planes dropped leaflets on Nineveh Province today warning that combat will begin shortly.  Mosul's the key city in the province.  The Islamic State seized control of Mosul last June. Alsumaria publishes the actual memo dropped on Mosul which instructs residents to step forward and identify not only members of the Islamic State but also collaborators.  There are reports that trenches have been dug around Mosul by the Islamic State to ward off easy access to the city.

    Some of today's violence?  All Iraq News notes a Safwan car bombing left 3 people dead and five more injured.  NINA notes 1 person was shot dead west of Baghdad and 2 corpses were discovered in eastern Baghdad.  Margaret Griffis ( counts 79 violent deaths across Iraq today.

    We'll close with this from the UNHCR:

    ERBIL, Iraq, March 17 (UNHCR) Following last year's turmoil in northern and central Iraq, the political and security progress in Iraq remains positive, but UNHCR Representative in Iraq Neill Wright believes it will take many more months before this is reflected in an improvement in the daily lives of most Iraqi citizens. Meanwhile, the numbers and needs of Syrian refugees and Iraqis displaced within their country are expected to continue growing throughout 2015 as there is no solution to the Syria crisis in sight, and efforts to degrade the capacity of militant forces will take time. At the same time, Wright notes, the funding prospects for humanitarian programmes in 2015 are bleak. UNHCR and its partners will have to increasingly focus on protection and assistance only for the most vulnerable. Wright answered written questions about these and other issues. Excerpts:

    What are the greatest challenges UNHCR faces in helping the forcibly displaced in Iraq?

    In addition to the funding shortfalls, the main challenge is to obtain safe access to persons of concern who are living in areas under the control of the Islamic State and other armed groups. Nearly 50 per cent of the Iraqi IDPs [internally displaced people] live in such areas especially in the governorates of Anbar, Salah al Din and Ninewa.

    Winter is almost over; would you say UNHCR was well enough prepared to cope with the winter weather?

    Due to the existing refugee response capacities in early 2014, the UN was able to rapidly build its response to the massive internal displacement that took place last year. I would not say that UNHCR was well enough prepared for the 2014-2015 winter, but the weather was not as severe as had been expected, and there were no major crises amongst the refugees and IDPs, largely due to the extraordinary hard work that UNHCR and its partners were able to do between October and December. I have no doubt that the winterization programmes saved many lives.

    Fierce clashes are under way in the Salah el Din district, particularly around Tikrit. Has UNHCR been able to help those displaced by the fighting?

    UNHCR has already responded to the new displacement resulting from the military offensive to liberate Tikrit [launched on March 1], distributing non-food items from its Baghdad warehouse through its partner, Muslim Aid. UN sister agencies and NGOs will continue to work together in support of the government to provide protection and assistance.
    Protection needs assessments are still under way to more effectively identify the numbers of newly displaced and their particular vulnerabilities. Access from Baghdad to deliver relief items requires movement through several insecure areas. Close attention to mitigating the risks for our brave field staff and those of our partners will be needed in the days and weeks ahead.

    Is UNHCR prepared for a further escalation in the fighting and displacement?

    UNHCR has developed contingency plans for large-scale displacement when the Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga [fighters from Iraqi Kurdistan] start their offensive to liberate [the northern city of] Mosul. Given the current funding constraints, the in-country capacity is inadequate, and we will have to depend upon the rapid deployment of global contingency stocks and emergency response teams if we are to respond effectively to this contingency.

    Are you worried about access to Iraqi Kurdistan for newly displaced people?

    In my meetings with politicians from the Kurdistan Regional Government, I know that they are committed to the principle of freedom of movement for all Iraqi citizens. Nevertheless, there have been instances where security agencies have denied access to Kurdistan in the past few months. I see this both as a reflection of the generous hospitality in 2014 diminishing and of concerns about terrorist infiltration amongst the security agencies, and not as a change in political policy.

    Given your extensive experience, how does this operation compare to other assignments and missions that you have been on?

    I never cease to feel proud of the work that UNHCR colleagues achieve in the most difficult, insecure and unpredictable environments, and those achievements are evident to me here in Iraq on a daily basis. There are many political, security and economic aspects of building a better future for Iraqi citizens that UNHCR cannot directly influence, but the UNHCR team here should take great pride in all it is doing to improve protection and provide relief from suffering for some two-and-a-half million people of concern to the High Commissioner for Refugees.

    UNHCR in Iraq now has just over 400 international, national and affiliate workforce staff. While this is a huge number by UNHCR standards worldwide, the UN declared the situation in Iraq to be a Level 3 Emergency in August 2014, and UNHCR has stepped up to the mark in responding effectively to the growing needs. Given the present financial situation, the High Commissioner [for Refugees António Guterres] has had no choice but to decide to cut staffing worldwide in 2015, and the Iraq operation will be reducing its staffing by some 5 per cent this year.

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015

    The exposed

    Isaiah;s The World Today Just Nuts "Trustful Hillary"

    Isaiah exposes Hillary.  In the snapshot (at the end of this post), C.I. goes over how Hillary has lied and obscured reality during her time as Secretary of State.

    In fact, that's why Isaiah did the comic.

    When he read C.I.'s Tuesday morning entry, he knew she was probably going to tackle Hillary in the snapshot so he quickly did the comic.

    Hillary's not the only thing getting exposed these days.

    The attacks by the Iraqi military and militias are not going unnoticed.

    "Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):
    Tuesday, March 17, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the assault on Tikrit remains stalled, more documentation of human rights abuses (War Crimes) by Iraqi forces and militias, we explore Hillary Clinton's lies and lack of transparency on Iraq while she was Secretary of State, and much more.

    Hillary Clinton ran for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 2008 and lost to Barack Obama.  It's thought that she will announce her intent to seek her party's nomination again in the immediate future.  Currently, she's in the midst of yet another scandal.  Dan Epstein (USA Today) notes:

    Six years ago today, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sent a memo on the Freedom of Information Act to the entire Department of State. It stated that "Preserving the record of our deliberations, decisions, and actions will be at the foundation of our efforts to promote openness."
    So much for that. Today, we know that Clinton took extraordinary steps to prevent any record of her "deliberations, decisions, and actions." During her entire tenure as Secretary of State, she exclusively utilized a private email account run through servers located at her home in Chappaqua, New York. This arrangement prevented the federal government from maintaining any record of her email communications — a slap in the face to anyone who cares about government transparency and an obvious example of hypocrisy given the memo Clinton sent to her staff in 2009.

    Hillary at first attempted to respond with a Tweet and then held a ridiculous 'press conference' in which she was far from forthcoming.  Lauren Carroll (PolitiFact) finds the claims put forward by Hillary less than convincing and notes Daniel Metcalfe's reactions (Metcalfe was over the Justice Depart's FOIA):

    Metcalfe pointed to Clinton's use of the word "allowed" and "opted" throughout her news conference, when referring to her decision to use private email. He said both words give the false impression that the law and its proper implementation presented her with a choice. She might have been "allowed" to use only a private email account in that no one stopped her, Metcalfe said, but that's not the same thing as lawfully complying with rules.

     As Isaiah notes in The World Today Just Nuts "Trustful Hillary," what you're left with is Hillary insisting "trust me" while she has her fingers crossed behind her back.

    Hillary's e-mails may or may not have something to do with Benghazi.

    Already, you can argue they do because Secretary of State John Kerry was unaware of any e-mail problem in the first months of assuming the post and repeatedly told Congressional Committees, under oath, that all e-mails had been reviewed by State and handed over to Congress.

    But Benghazi isn't the main issue at present.

    The issue is Hillary's refusal to follow rules that govern others, rules that allow for accountability and transparency.

    She wants to be president.

    She just doesn't believe in democracy or open government.

    Her failure to follow the guidelines with regards to e-mails goes to the lying and obstruction that were key to her tenure as Secretary of State.

    What marked her four years of State Dept?

    Her refusal to allow oversight.

    The best example of that was she failed to demand an Inspector General.

    She was in Charge of the State Dept for four years and, for four years, there was no Inspector General.

    In his first encounter with Congress as Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about the lack of one and he stated his beliefs in the need for oversight and that he was working with the administration on the issue.  He followed up on those words and the State Dept finally once again had an Inspector General.

    Hillary doesn't want oversight.

    Hillary doesn't want accountability.

    She believes she should be able to operate in secret -- as evidenced by her failed efforts at healthcare in 1993.

    Let's drop back to  2006, when she was then Senator Hillary Clinton.

    June 15, 2006, then-Senator Russ Feingold's office issued the following:

    Amendment to Defense Bill Would Strengthen the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction In Charge of
    Monitoring Billions of U.S. Taxpayer Dollars

    Today, the U.S. Senate passed an amendment offered by Senator Russ Feingold to strengthen the watchdog agency he helped create, which monitors the spending of reconstruction funding in Iraq. Feingold's amendment to the Department of Defense Authorization bill would extend the life of the office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) to ensure that all U.S. taxpayer dollars supporting Iraq reconstruction are being used efficiently and effectively. Earlier this year, Feingold filed an identical amendment to the emergency supplemental appropriations bill but was unable to get a vote on that amendment.
    "We need strong oversight of the tens of billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars being spent in Iraq," Feingold said. "This is a common-sense amendment in support of an office that has proven vital in identifying fraud and waste. American taxpayers deserve to know where their money is going in this costly war and that it is being used effectively and efficiently."

    Feingold was instrumental in creating the watchdog office of the Special Inspector. The SIGIR's work to date has been extremely valuable to the U.S. government and to Congress. The SIGIR has now completed over 55 audit reports, issued over 165 recommendations for program improvement, and has seized over $13 million in assets. Overall, the SIGIR estimates that its operations have resulted in savings of $24 million. The SIGIR's work has also resulted in the arrest of five individuals who were defrauding the U.S. government, and has shed light on tens of millions of dollars of waste. 

    Hillary voted for it and favored it.

    As Senator Clinton, she strongly believed the SIGIR needed to exist and needed to provide oversight.

    Yet as Secretary of State, she believed and behaved completely different.

    Which is why, five years later, senators on both sides of the aisle were compelled to release an open letter to Hillary:

    WASHINGTON - Senators Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) urged Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to ensure the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) has the needed access to information and documents.

    The Senators believe Department of State is contesting the clear authorities Congress granted SIGIR to carry out its audits with complete access to necessary information and without impediments from any department. Congress and federal agencies rely on Inspectors General to conduct timely audits and inspections of federal programs to ward off waste and mismanagement.
    The text of the letter to Secretary Clinton follows:

    The Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton
    Secretary of State
    U.S. Department of State
    2201 C Street NW
    Washington, DC 20520

    October 31, 2011

    Dear Madam Secretary:

    We are writing to urge you to ensure that officials of the Department of State comply with lawful requests by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR) for information and documents.
    SIGIR has broad access to information that may assist it to perform its duties. According to the law that established the office, SIGIR is required to “conduct, supervise, and coordinate audits and investigations of the treatment, handling, and expenditure of amounts appropriated or otherwise made available to the Iraq Relief and Reconstruction Fund, and of the programs, operations, and contracts carried out utilizing such funds.”
    The State Department is explicitly directed to provide whatever information or assistance is needed by SIGIR, so long as SIGIR’s request is “practicable and not in contravention of any existing law.” In addition, State Department officials are prohibited from “prevent[ing] or prohibit[ing] the Inspector General from initiating, carrying out, or completing any audit” related to funds involved in Iraq reconstruction.
    Despite these requirements, the State Department has failed to provide SIGIR with adequate assistance and access to information and documents. On August 3, 2011, SIGIR notified Congress and the State Department that the Department’s lack of cooperation with its requests was impairing SIGIR’s ability to perform audits of the Department’s use of private security contractors and the Police Development Program.
    The State Department has justified these denials on two grounds: that the information requested is outside of SIGIR’s jurisdiction and that the requests overlap with work done by other government auditors. In testimony before the Committee on September 21, 2011, Patrick Kennedy, the State Department’s Under Secretary for Management, asserted that SIGIR’s requests for information about contracts used by the State Department to protect State Department personnel were outside the scope of SIGIR’s jurisdiction, which is limited to Iraq reconstruction funds. Mr. Kennedy also stated that the subject matter of SIGIR’s requests had already been widely addressed by other government auditors, including the State Department’s Office of Inspector General.
    These assertions are deeply troubling. First, SIGIR has jurisdiction to audit all Iraq reconstruction funds, including those spent on contracts which may also support other State Department activities. The State Department has an affirmative obligation to comply with all lawful and practicable requests made by SIGIR in support of their work. Under the law, the Department must provide whatever information SIGIR legitimately requests, not merely whatever information the Department deems appropriate.
    Second, even if the Department concludes that SIGIR has not coordinated its audits with other Inspectors General, the law does not provide the Department authority to impede such audits. In the present matter, however, SIGIR has already coordinated the audits of the PDP and private security contractors with the Inspector General of the Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
    We believe that this unwarranted obstruction of SIGIR will weaken an important oversight tool for the taxpayers and obstruct your own efforts at improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the Department. Therefore, we request that you direct your officers to comply with all lawful current and future requests from SIGIR for documents and information it may require.
    Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

    Senator Joseph Lieberman
    Senator Susan Collins
    Senator Claire McCaskill
    Senator Tom Coburn
    Senator Lindsey Graham

    Hillary's e-mails are a pattern of secrecy and lies that mark her tenure as Secretary of State.  Patrick Kennedy was Hillary's right arm and he lied repeatedly to Congress on behalf of the State Dept.  For just one example, let's drop back to the June 29, 2012 snapshot covering the June 28, 2012 House Oversight and Government Reform's Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland Defense and Foreign Operations Committee hearing.

     Acting Chair Blake Farenthold:  I just have one more question so we'll just do a quick
     second round of questions. Ambassador Kennedy, you mentioned the Baghdad police
     college annex facility as one of the facilities.  It's my understanding that the United States' taxpayers have invested more than $100 million in improvements on that site. It was intended to house the police department program -- a multi-billion dollar effort that's 
    currently being downsized.  And as a result of the State Dept's failure to secure land use rights the entire facility is being turned over to the Iraqis at no cost.  The GAO reports 
    Mission Iraq has land use agreements or leases for only 5 out of all of the sites that it operates. Can you say with confidence that those sites now operating without leases or agreements will not be turned over to Iraq for free as was the case with the police development program?  And what would the cost to the US taxpayer be if they were to 
    lose without compensation all of those facilities?

    Patrick Kennedy:  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.  First of all, the statement that has been -- 
    that you were reading from about we are closing the Baghdad police development center because of a failure to have land use rights is simply factually incorrect.  We have a land 
    use agreement for that site. As part of the program -- the police development program -- there are periodic reviews that are underway and my colleagues who do that -- it's not 
    part of my general responsibility on the operating side of the house -- engage in reviews
    on a six month basis both internally and with the government of Iraq.  It was always our 
    plan to make adjustments to the police development program  over time.  But the 
    statement that somehow we have wasted or had everything pulled out from under us because of lack of a land use agreement is very simply false. For our other properties
     in Iraq we have -- we have agreements for every single property we have in Iraq except 
    for one which is our interim facility in -- in Basra which is simply a reincarnation of a
     former US military there. But even in that regard we have a longterm agreement that 
    was signed with the government of Iraq by Ambassador Negroponte in 2005 in which 
    we swapped properties with the government of Iraq and they are committed to provide 
    us with a ten acre facility in-in Basra of our mutal choosing. And so we are covered, sir. 
    In the second panel, Patrick Kennedy's claims would be refuted.

    Acting Chair Blake Farenthold:  Mr. Courts, Ambassador Kennedy and I got into a 
    discussion about the absence of or presence of land use agreements for the facilities 
    we have in Iraq do you have the current status for that information from your latest 
    eport as to what facilities we do and do not have land use agreements for?

    Michael Courts: What Ambassador Kennedy may have been referring to that for 13 of 
    the 14 facilities the Iraqis have acknowledged a presence through diplomatic notes. 
     But there's still only 5 of the 14 for which we actually have explicit title land use 
    agreements or leases. 

    Acting Chair Blake Farenthold:  Alright so I'm not -- I'm not a diplomat.  So what does
     that mean?  They say, "Oh, you can use it until we change our minds" -- is that 
    basically what those are?  Or is there some force of law to those notes?

    Michael Courts: Well the notes are definitely not the same thing as having an explicit agreement.  And as a matter of fact, there's already been one case where the Iraqis 
    required us to reconfigure, downsize one of our sites.  And that was at one of the 
    sites where we did not have a land use agreement and so obviously we're in a much 
    more vulnerable position when there's not an explicit agreement.

    How much taxpayer money was wasted by the State Dept turning over facilities to the Iraqi government?

    Who can know?

    Under Hillary, the State Dept regularly lied and/or obscured reality.

    Congress was denied basic information.

    This was probably most clear in the November 30, 2012 House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia hearing (covered in the December 1, 2012 snapshot) where the State Dept's Brooke Darby was sent to spin, stall and avoid answering questions.
    US House Rep Gerald Connolly: Madame Deputy Assistant Secretary, welcome. Is it your testimony here today that the State Dept is fully committed to transparency and accountability with respect to any and all programs it has oversight and responsibility for in Iraq?
    Brooke Darby: We take our responsibility for accountability and cooperation with all of the  audit entities, with Congress very, very seriously.
    US House Rep Gerald Connolly: No, ma'am, that was not my question.  Is it your testimony that you're fully committed to transparency and accountability with respect to those responsibilities?
    Brooke Darby: We are absolutely committed to accountability.
    US House Rep Gerald Connolly: Full accountability?  Full transparency and accountability?
    Brooke Darby:  I'm not sure -- I'm not sure how you define that so . . .
    US House Rep Gerald Connolly:  Well I guess I'm not sure why you avoid the word.  That was my question and you've ducked it three times.  Are we or are we not, is the State Dept committed to full transparency and accountability to the tax payers in the United States and the people who served in Iraq or not?
    Brooke Darby:  We absolutely are accountable to the tax payers, to our Congress and to all of the oversight bodies who are looking into how we are spending our dollars, whether our programs are achieving success.  We are absolutely --

    US House Rep Gerald Connolly:  Alright. I'll sort of take that as a commitment. 

    Also testifying at that hearing was the Inspector General for the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction Stuart W. Bowen.  We'll note this exchange.

    US House Rep Brian Higgins: Clearly there's a lack of oversight and transparency.  And that problem is seemingly pervasive and growing or least since we've initiated this back in 2003. Why is it that the State Dept would deliberately make efforts to obstruct, efforts to blame greater oversight and transparency?  Why is there that adversarial relationship?  It would seem to me that your efforts would be  to benefit the effective use, efficient use, of American resources in that region because we all have a strategic interest in seeing that region evolve.  Why is it that you suspect that the State Dept is seemingly obstructing those efforts?

    Stuart Bowen:  Well it was obstructing. I think we heard today that they are supportive -- almost "fully" supportive --  of our oversight at this stage. And it took an obstruction letter though, Mr. Higgins, as you were pointing to, to break that log-jam. Why?  You know I can't read into the exact motives but I think to a certain extent it was a -- it was a legalistic argument about jurisdiction.

    Hillary has clear problems with transparency.  She has clear problems with accountability.

    Her e-mail scandal is not a stand alone scandal but part of a broad action to deceive and to avoid accountability while Secretary of State.

    A lot of fools (Bob Somerby, for example) and a lot of liars (James Carville) are saying the e-mail scandal doesn't matter.

    As a stand alone it matters.  The inability of Hillary to be transparent and open goes against all the principles of a functional democracy.  But this e-mail scandal is yet another example of how she obscured and lied as Secretary of State.

    She wants to be president of the United States.

    Yet every action as Secretary of State goes to the fact that she doesn't believe in democracy, doesn't believe in accountability and doesn't believe in responsive government.

    It is amazing that someone whose obstruction is noted in repeated SIGIR reports is on the verge of announcing her candidacy for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination.

    It's even more amazing that the press is completely uninterested in these documented cases detailing her obstructionism and her lying.

    And, by the way, there's much more -- many more hearings, many more examples -- that could be cited.  But there are other things we need to cover in this snapshot.

    For example, Margaret Griffis ( counts 369 dead in violence across Iraq today.

    And then there's the lies.

    What's really sad about Rebecca Collard's report for Time magazine is that it's already got one correction to it since being published yet still features this glaring error: "Although Iraqi forces have been waging war against ISIS in Tikrit for two weeks, the battle to drive the jihadists from the town has come to a stalemate."


    They haven't been in Tikrit for two weeks.  It took them 12 days just to get there.  (Some say 11.  The time change can be confusing as we see every year when we have two dates for the start of the Iraq War.)

    She's correct about the stalemate, she's just wrong about the timeline.

    She's also strangely silent about ABC News' two reports last week on human rights abuses (War Crimes) of Shi'ite forces in Iraq.

     Johnlee Varghese (IBT) does manage to cover what Time can't or won't:

    The video released on shows the gruesome killing of an Isis prisoner captured by men, reported to be Iraqi soldiers. In the one minute and thirty-six second video, the injured captive is seen being stabbed in the face several times before being decapitated.
    [. . .]
    On Tuesday, several Iraqi news sources released images of Iraqi special forces torturing and beheading captured Isis militants. The pictures, widely shared on social media, showed Iraqi soldiers posing with disembodied heads and mutilated bodies of the militants.
    The images that were released first on the social media allegedly stated that the killings were to avenge the hundreds of Iraqi soldiers killed by the Sunni militant group.

    Human Rights Watch has long called out these abuses.  They do so again in a new release which includes:

    Militias, volunteer fighters, and Iraqi security forces engaged in deliberate destruction of civilian property after these forces, following US and Iraqi air strikes, forced the retreat of Islamic State fighters (also known as ISIS) from the town of Amerli and surrounding areas in early September 2014, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The Iraqi government should rein in the militias and countries participating in the fight against ISIS, including the United States and Iran, should ensure military operations and other related support in the fight against ISIS are not paving the way for such abuses.
    The 31-page report,  “After Liberation Came Destruction: Iraqi Militias and the Aftermath of Amerli,” documents, through field visits, analysis of satellite imagery, interviews with victims and witnesses, and review of photo and video evidence, that militias looted property of Sunni civilians who had fled fighting, burned their homes and businesses, and destroyed at least two entire villages. The actions violated the laws of war. Human Rights Watch also documented the abduction of 11 men during the operation, in September and October.

    “Iraq can’t win the fight against ISIS’s atrocities with attacks on civilians that violate the laws of war and fly in the face of human decency,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East and North Africa director. “Militia abuses are wreaking havoc among some of Iraq’s most vulnerable people and exacerbating sectarian hostilities.”

    In addition, Human Rights Watch's Kenneth Roth Tweets: