SO IN THE MIDST OF THE GREAT RECESSION, WHEN CELEBRITY IN CHIEF BARRY O SHOULD HAVE BEEN WORKING ON THE ECONOMY, HE WAS WRITING A CHILDREN'S BOOK?
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
"Al Qaeda in Iraq is back from the dead," announces Ned Parker (Los Angeles Times). "Once vanquished by Janabi and other Sunni Arab fighters who joined the U.S.-backed Awakening movement, the Islamic militant group is carving out new sanctuaries here in the farmlands south of Baghdad, in the deserts to the west and in the mountains to the east."
Turning now to a constant point.
June 4, 2009: The US puppet Nouri al-Maliki was put into power by the US and he sits on billions as he prepares for the US withdrawal (not coming anytime soon).
July 20, 2009: As Nouri sits on those stacks and stacks of money, the people under the puppet suffer.
August 1, 2008: "Turning to Iraq where puppet of the occupation Nouri al-Maliki sits on a ton of money and spends it when he feels like on what he wants."
We could go on and on and on and on (nod to Erykah Badu) because it's in snapshots in entries all over this site. Poinr? Today Aram Roston (The Nation) reports:
Last month, nearly eight years after Wolfowitz's flawed prediction, as tens of thousands of troops left Iraq, a House subcommittee stamped its approval on President Barack Obama's controversial request for $2 billion in 2011 to arm and train Iraq's military. It is unclear if the Senate will follow suit, but they have approved some funding. On top of the $2 billion, the proposed State Department budget allocates an additional $2.5 billion to step up its operations in Iraq.
All that money is being sent to Iraq based on a simple presumption, that Iraq's government, run by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, is bankrupt and running a massive deficit. The Iraqi government, a caretaker regime now, was created according to a constitution and timetable drawn up under US occupation and is now considered both fragile and corrupt.
But now comes word from independent US government auditors that the presumption may be false: Iraq's government is not broke at all. Instead, Iraq's rulers have been sitting on a vast pile of cash while begging for billions of dollars from the United States and the international community. A draft report by the General Accountability Office has found that the Maliki government, in spite of proclamations of poverty, hasn't been spending what its budget allotted.
I'm not speaking of Aram Roston or The Nation here (nor am I slamming either), but people knew. People always knew. I'm not psychic. But apparently we're going to play it out like the GAO's report is a shocker? Is that's how it's going to go down? Karen DeYoung (Washington Post) notes the DoD's efforts to quibble and split hairs over the findings and she also points out:
Under the U.S. CERP program, U.S. field commanders were authorized to distribute funds for development and other projects they deemed important to the war effort. From fiscal years 2004 through Sept., 2009, the United States obligated more than $3.6 billion to the program. Iraq agreed to take over the program, changing its name to I-CERP, and distribute money through its own field commanders.
"However, as of Sept. 1, 2009," the report said, U.S. Forces in Iraq "had obligated $229 million of the $270 million in funding provided by Iraq for I-CERP, and Iraq had not provided any additional resources to support the program.
Violence might not be so high if Iraqis had any of the basic services they have to repeatedly do without. On this week's Inside Iraq (Al Jazeera, began airing Friday night), Teymoor Nabili was joined by Faiza al-Araji (activist and writer), Patrick Clawson (Washington Institute for Near East Policy" and Tahseen al-Shaikhli (Baghdad Security Plan's civilian spokesperson).
Teymoor Nabili: Tahseen al-Shaikhli, if I may start with you, we saw violence in Baghdad on Sunday with the involvement of US troops and it would seem to imply that the local security forces can't maintain order without US involvement. Do you agree?
Tahseen al-Shaikhli: No, I'm not agreed with this for many reasons. You know for us our forces are capable and able to handle the security here in Iraq, especially in Baghdad.
Teymoor Nabili: Well you say that, but so far -- You say that but what we have so far seen indicates that there is still a a tendancy -- and apparently an increasingly sophisticated one -- to attack very important areas of Baghdad and they're getting away with it.
Tahseen al-Shaikhli: Yeah, it happened. It's not just in Baghdad. In many, many countries it happens like this. Today, there is a blast in Pakistan. You know there is, many countries now there is encountering the same challenges we have here in Iraq. And we think our security forces now with the reliability to encounter the challenge that we believe in it. Like, you know, until now the security forces succeeded to fail many attacks for al Qaeda and their alliances.
Teymoor Nabili: Alright. Well let's go to Faiza al-Araji in Amman. Do you agree with that analysis? Baghdad is no more dangerous than a lot of cities around the world?
Faiza al-Araji: Well first of all, I agree about the pulling out the [US] troops from Iraq. I'm not with the staying of the occupation forces in my homeland. But in the same time, we have to talk about -- evaluation about how the security forces in Iraq and the army in Iraq, how are they functioning. And to talk about facts on the ground. We will not talk about emotions. Yes, we appreciate the hard work --
Teymoor Nabili: Well what are the facts on the ground as you see them?
Faiza al-Araji: Yeah, facts on the ground. If the Iraqi army and security, they have no right to have no air force cover, Iraqi air force cover. The Apache is used by American officers, it's not allowed for Iraqi to be the driver of the Apache. So can you control any fight on the ground without the air force? Please, I would like to hear.
Teymoor Nabili: That's important.
Faiza al-Araji: Yes, I would like to hear the answer.
Teymoor Nabili: Well come on to the exact nature of the relationship in a minute. But let me go to Patrick Clawson and ask you about the actual role here. Let's, for a start, dismiss this notion that perhaps combat operations are over. That was really only for American consumption at the end of the day. We know that those forces will engage when necessary. The question is are they going to be engaging all the time because it does seem as if there is no let up in the violence in Baghdad and there is still a great gap in the security forces ability to cope with it.
Patrick Clawson: Well there is a lot of violence in Baghdad. There has been a dramatic letup from last year. There's many fewer people who are dying in Baghdad --
Teymoor Nabili: Well let me stop you for a moment there, Patrick Clawson. This is the line we always here from supporters of the American position. It's meaningless to say there's been a dramatic drop unless you say your time frame here. The fact is, we're not comparing relative to last year or the year before, we're saying there's an unacceptable level of violence still in Baghdad and the security forces cannot deal with it.
Patrick Clawson: We measure progress. Progress is compared to the past. And we have to ask: Are we improving things? The answer is: Yes. And as -- as Ms. Araji's pointed out, it is true that the Americans still provide the air cover but that has only been necessary in about every month or less often this year.
In the US, last night was the MTV VMAs (Video Music Awards). Lady Gaga cleaned up but she also made news for her guests. Kara Warner (MTV) quotes her explaining at the pre-show arrival, "I'm here for a very, very important cause tonight. These are all my friends and they are with SLDN.org, which is an organization that was founded in 1993 under the reaction to the 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' policies. Their stories are very inspiring and there's so much we can do right now." Her friends were Maj Mike Almy, Staff Sgt David Hall, Katie Miller and Sgt 1st Class Stacy Vasquez -- three of whom were discharged under Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Katie Miller resigned from West Post in protest of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Terri Schwartz (MTV) compiles a list of the top ten VMA moments from last night while ABC News makes it's question of the day whether or not Don't Ask, Don't Tell should be repealed and notes Maj Margaret Witt, discharged in 2007 under Don't Ask Don't Tell, has her case heard today in a civilian federal court. James Dao (New York Times) explains Witt had served for 17 years when, in 2004, the estranged husband of Witt's romantic partner wrote a letter to the Air Force outing her which led to an investigation and then her discharge. Last week, another court case was in the news. Ian Thompson (ACLU Blog of Rights) wrote Friday evening:
On Thursday evening, U.S. District Court Judge Virginia Phillips ruled that the discriminatory and counterproductive policy known as "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT) violates the constitutional rights of lesbian, gay and bisexual servicemembers. In clear and striking language in the 86-page opinion, Judge Phillips stated that DADT has a "direct and deleterious effect" on the armed forces, and issued a permanent injunction barring enforcement of the policy (a step almost certain to be fought by the government).
Friday, Marcia wondered, "When's Congress going to act. When's Barack going to show leadership?" And as Mike pointed out Thursday night, the US Justice Dept fought to keep Don't Ask, Don't Tell in that case, and "they were acting on behalf of Barack Obama." (The Log Cabin Republicans -- a GOP LGBT organization -- were the ones filing the case to overturn Don't Ask, Don't Tell.) So where is the leadership, Barack? And what we warned of here is coming true and the Democratic leadership in Congress knew it when we were talking about in the snapshot: Dems are likely to lose the votes needed to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
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