BULLY BOY PRESS & CEDRIC'S BIG MIX -- THE KOOL-AID TABLE
SUPREME COURT JUDGE AND PROFESSIONAL HEAVY WEIGHT ELENA KAGAN (PICTURED BELOW WITH ACTOR NATHAN LANE) HAS WEIGHED IN ON THE CONFIRMATION PROCESS.
SHE PRONOUNCED THE PROCESS "SORT OF BROKEN."
WAY TO GO OUT ON A LIMB THERE, KAGAN.
NO WORD AS TO WHETHER OR NOT SHE TOOK CREDIT FOR "SORT OF BREAKING IT" AS SHE PLOWED THROUGH THE PROCESS HERSELF.
FROM THE TCI WIRE:
This morning, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on
Iran and its nuclear ambitions (or perceived ones). Senator Robert
Menendez is the Chair of the Committee. Senator Bob Corker is the
Ranking Member. Appearing before the Committee today were two panels.
The first panel was the State Dept's Under Secretary for Political
Affairs Wendy Sherman, the second panel was Washington Institute for
Near East Policy's James Jeffrey (Jeffrey was also a US Ambassador to
Iraq -- one of four in Barack's first term and don't forget failed
nominee Brett McGurk), the Institute for Science and International
Security's David Albright and the Council on Foreign Relation's Ray
From the first panel:
Senator John McCain: In the situation as it relates to the Camp
Ashraf people, we know that they were Iranian dissidents. At one
point, they were designated as a terrorist organization. But the
United States government, it's true, gave them an assurance that if they
moved [to Camp Liberty] they would be protected. We know that the
Iranian influence has increased in, uh, in Iraq. In fact, we know now
that Iraq is alive and well and doing extremely well moving back and
forth across the two countries. Now there was a murder of, I
believe, 51 people who were members of this camp and many of them had
in their possession guarantees from the United States of America that
they would not be harmed. What-what lessons -- First, are these facts
true? And, second, if they are true, what message does that send to
people who we say will be under our protection?
Wendy Sherman: Senator, uh, I share your, deep concern about
what happened, uh, at Camp Ashraf. This was a vicious attack in
September 1st and many lives were lost. And the US continues to press
the government of Iraq at every opportunity, at very senior -- at the
most senior levels to ensure the safety and security of residents at
Camp Hurriya where many of the MEK were moved for better safety. We
strongly and swiftly condemned the attack. We of course extend our
condolences to the victims' families and we are working with the
government of Iraq and the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq,
UNAMI, to peacefully and voluntarily transfer the surviving residents to
safety at Camp Hurriya on September 12th. And we are working for the
protection of the people in Camp Hurriya because we do not want a repeat
of this. So, to date, the government of Iran -- of Iraq has moved in
over 700 large T-walls, over 500 bunkers, over 600 small T-walls and
nearly 50,000 sandbags. UN monitors visit the camp daily in accordance
with the MOU to asses human rights and humanitarian conditions. But I
must say, Senator, the real answer to this, to the safety and security
of all the people in the camps -- who wants to live in a camp? -- is
resettlement to third countries to get out of Iraq and to get out of
harms way. And I would call on all the people who are here today
representing the rights and the interests of the MEK and the leaders of
the MEK in the camps and in Paris, uh, to allow this resettlement to go
forward because until the resettlement happens safety and security is
going to be a risk. We will do everything in our power to keep people
safe in these camps. But, as you point out, the al Qaeda threat is
increasing in Iraq and it is difficult.
Senator John McCain: And I hope that this issue will be raised
with the Iraqi government. And we in Congress may have to look at the
kind of aid and how we are extending that to Iraq if this kind of thing
is going to be countenanced by the Iraqi government. I don't -- I've
used up all my time. And I thank you for your response.
Chair Robert Menendez: Before I turn to Senator [Edward] Markey
let me echo what Senator McCain has said in this regard. And I put out a
statement in this regard, I also talked to our Department. You know,
America went to the MEK and we said, 'Disarm and we will protect you.'
And then we ultimately left and that protection has not been there. You
can put up I don't care how many tons of sand bags but when elements of
the Iraqi forces actually may very well be complicit in what took
place, sand bags aren't going to take care of the problem. And I agree
with you that resettlement is a critical part. Maybe the United States
could be part of leading the way in saying to a universe of
these individuals that in fact you can be resettled to the United
States. And that would get the rest of the world to offer further
resettlement. But it is unacceptable to lose one more life when American
commanders gave these individuals a written guarantee towards their
safety. And it sends a message to others in the world that when we say
we are going to do that and we do not, they should not trust us. And
for one thing that this Committee can do since it has jurisdiction over
all weapon sales is that I doubt very much that we are going to see any
approval of any weapon sales to Iraq until we get this situation in a
place where people's lives are safe.
First off, I counted at least 15 Ashraf supporters attending the
hearing. (They wore yellow.) Second, I don't mean to be rude here, but
why don't you know your facts?
We were at the hearing today because we knew there was a good chance
that Ashraf would be raised. McCain and Menendez are among those who
regularly raise the issue. So the State Dept should have known that as
Instead, it's like an AA meeting facilitated by someone who never did
the steps. To answer McCain's two questions, she had to pull out 'The
Big Book.' The State Dept cheat sheet. She was reading aloud and had
no idea what she was quickly skimming. That's how she made this
We of course extend our condolences to the victims' families
and we are working with the government of Iraq and the United Nations
Assistance Mission for Iraq, UNAMI, to peacefully and voluntarily
transfer the surviving residents to safety at Camp Hurriya on September
And "we are working" on something that took place September 12th? She
had no idea until she finished her skimming while testifying that the US
was not "working" because everyone had been moved out of Ashraf by the
She still didn't grasp what she'd read:
But I must say, Senator, the real answer to this, to the safety and
security of all the people in the camps -- who wants to live in a camp?
-- is resettlement to third countries to get out of Iraq and to get out
of harms way.
"In the camps"? There's only one camp now, Camp Hurriya. Second,
learn. Do your damn job and learn. It shouldn't be that damn difficult
when you consider all the money US taxpayers are giving the State Dept
to work in Iraq (only Afghanistan exceeds Iraq in terms of the State
Dept's budget). Wendy Sherman showed up knowing nothing about the
topic. "Who wants to live in a camp?"
Camp Ashraf was established decades ago. The residents didn't want to
leave it. Not for Camp Hurriya, not to move anywhere else. It had
become their home.
That's why the international press showed them with tears, the first
group forced out. They were crying because they were leaving their
If you don't grasp that, you shouldn't be speaking on the topic on behalf of the US government.
Wendy Sherman doesn't want to live in a camp?
But Wendy Sherman isn't a Camp Ashraf resident nor is she every person
on the face of the planet. Meaning? What she likes and doesn't like
does not get reflected 100% across humanity. She needs to stop try to
be the Voice of All People and instead learn some facts.
We're not done yet because she wasn't done yet showing her ignorance.
She said, "We will do everything in our power to keep people safe in
these camps. But, as you point out, the al Qaeda threat is increasing
in Iraq and it is difficult." First off, no, the US government is not
doing everything in its power. It could take some of the US forces
(including the unit Barack sent in fall 2012) and have them protect Camp
Hurriya. Or it could demand that United Nations security forces go in
and protect the people of Hurriya.
Second of all, al Qaeda?
How stupid is Wendy Sherman?
She didn't have the brains to realize Ashraf would probably be an issue. Then she wants to blame al Qaeda?
It was most likely Nouri's forces. Barring that, it was fighters from Iran who were waived in.
If the State Dept is so stupid they think al Qaeda is in Iran, then the whole world's at risk.
al Qaeda in Iraq is a Sunni phenomenon (created by the Iraq War). The
MEK are Shi'ites from Iran. The people who want them out of Iraq?
Shi'ites. Not Sunnis. al Qaeda in Iraq has no interest in the 3,000 or
so MEK. They're not upset that the MEK has been at war with the
government of Iran. They don't care. It's not their battle.
Wendy Sherman needs to learn her facts before she next offers
Congressional testimony. And here's a little clue for her bosses,
tossing her the State Dept big book as a cheat sheet doesn't cover it.
Here's another clue: Pay attention to members of Congress.
We quoted Senator Menendez's statement in full when it was released --
that wasn't even a month ago. How did the State Dept miss that
statement on Iraq? And what fool didn't realize that Senator Robert
Menendez is Committee Chair Robert Menendez of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee? That used to be chaired by John Kerry, who is now
over the State Dept, so I would think there would be a level of
awareness. This is the Committee that provides oversight of the State
Wendy Sherman was an embarrassment. Part of that's not her fault.
State Dept witnesses have gotten so lax and -- like Wendy today -- are
more concerned with snapping a variation of 'let me finish speaking'
then of knowing the basic facts. That's something to be addressed
department wide by the Secretary of State (Kerry). But going into that
hearing she should have some awareness that Iraq -- Iran's neighbor --
would likely come up as a topic in the hearing.
Equally true, 7 Ashraf residents remain missing. The US government --
including the State Dept -- believes Nouri al-Maliki, prime minister and
chief thug in Iraq, has them in one of his secret prisons. The UN has
called on him to release them. But, as Alsumaria has repored,
Nouri has issued a statement declaring his security forces were not
holding any hostages. He denies they exist. That's 7 people the US
government swore it would protect. And Wendy Sherman didn't think this
topic would come up?
Let's go back to Chair Menendez for just a moment.
Chair Robert Menendez: And for one thing that this Committee can
do since it has jurisdiction over all weapon sales is that I doubt very
much that we are going to see any approval of any weapon sales to Iraq
until we get this situation in a place where people's lives are safe.
On the US and Iraq and weapons, John Hudson (Foreign Policy) reports today that Iraq will not get the US drones that the Iraqi government has been calling for:
Though neither Iraqi nor U.S. officials will say who called off the
drones, it's no secret who began discussing them in the first place. In
an August 17 trip
to Washington, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters
that Baghdad is seeking U.S. advisers, air surveillance or drone strikes
to combat al-Qaeda's grip on the country. "We cannot fight these
increasing terrorist" threats alone, he said. Speaking of drone strikes
specifically, he said as long as they were used to "target al-Qaeda and
their bases," without "collateral damage," Iraqis would welcome them.
That same month, Iraqi ambassador to the U.S. Iraq Lukman Faily
reiterated Iraq's interest in drones. "The reason we're now considering
drone support is because we need to get better control of the sky so we
can track and destroy al-Qaeda camps in the country," Faily told The Cable.
It's not hard to understand why they'd be interested in the unmanned aircraft. On Monday, the detonation
of 15 car bombs in Baghdad left dozens dead in an event that would've
shocked any other country not embroiled in a civil war. However, in
Iraq, it was only the 38th such atrocity in the last 12 months. In 2013
alone, Iraq is averaging 68 car bombings a month. The United Nations reports that 5,740 civilians were killed since January, which is almost two times more deaths than recorded in all of 2010.
Despite the staggering numbers, the U.S. isn't about to open up a new
drone war in Iraq. "The use of lethal drones has not been discussed nor
is it even under consideration for Iraq," an administration official
tells The Cable.
Recommended: "Iraq snapshot"
"No elections law but lots of violence"
"ETAN calls for Human Rights to be Front and Center..."
"Mia and the meanings for America"
"Junior Mints and nachos"
"Heck Of A Job (Snow Cones)"
"Sea Salt and Vinegar"
"Where is the leadership?"
"THIS JUST IN! STILL DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS!"
The number of civilians killed was 887 (including 127 civilian police), while the number of civilians injured was 1,957 (including 199 civilian police). A further 92 members of the Iraqi Security Forces were killed and 176 were injured. “As terrorists continue to target Iraqis indiscriminately, I call upon all political leaders to strengthen their efforts to promote national dialogue and reconciliation,” the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov, said. “Political, religious and civil leaders as well as the security services must work together to end the bloodshed and ensure that all Iraqi citizens feel equally protected," he added.
Baghdad was the worst-affected governorate in September, with 1,429
civilian casualties (418 killed and 1011 injured), followed by Ninewa,
Diyala, Salahuddin and Anbar. Kirkuk, Erbil, Babil, Wasit, Dhi-Qar and
Basra also reported casualties (double-digit figures).