Saturday, November 02, 2013








The farce that is Nouri al-Maliki's visit to DC continued today.  A Sunni Iraqi community member e-mails:

If they are able to pass it [Parliament pass an election law], why should I bother even to vote?  I should go through five security checkpoints in [deleted] to vote?  By foot because it is always vehicle curfew on election day.  I should do by foot to vote only to have the President of the United States again overturn my vote?  That is what he did last time [2010] and it is what he will do again.  He owes us an apology for overturning our voices.

Barack does owe the Iraqi people an apology.  Instead of providing that, he takes part in the farce Bully Boy Bush started and that he (Barack has continued).  And he'll never be forced to even justify his actions -- let alone apologize -- as long as people like Aamer Madhani (USA Today) play the fool:  "Obama hopes that a new round of elections in which the country's minority Sunni population is more active could help stem some of the violence."  Madhani damn well knew that in 2010, Sunni's turned out.  That's one reason Iraqiya won.  But their votes were overturned by Barack Obama.

To keep thug Nouri.  Human Rights Watch's Erin Evers (The Hill) notes Nouri's use of torture:

Earlier this year, interviewing prisoners in Shaaba Khamsa, Baghdad’s death row facility, I met a 52-year-old woman, one of the thousands of prisoners the U.S. turned over to Iraqi custody when American troops left nearly two years ago. She showed me the scars where security forces had burned her with cigarettes, used electric shocks and beat her so badly that she was still using crutches three years later.
Two courts had declared her innocent of the terrorism charges against her, owing in part to a medical report documenting the extensive torture that led to her confession. A third court, though, reversed these rulings and sentenced her to death late last year, on the basis of “secret evidence provided by the Americans.”

In September, she was among 42 prisoners executed in Iraq in two days.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki is in Washington this week to ask President Obama for warplanes, drones, and other assistance for Iraq’s counterterrorism efforts. The president should send a clear message that the kind of assistance Maliki seeks is not possible as long as his security forces continue their widespread torture – often in the name of counterterrorism.

Torture and forced confessions take place all the time in Iraq under Nouri.  They're so common, in fact, that people may forget that both are banned by Iraq's Constitution.  Thursday, Nouri al-Maliki gave a ridiculous speech, overflowing with lies, at the US Institute of Peace.  As we covered in yesterday's snapshot, he lied  he had never, ever stepped on the Constitution.  He lied, we backed that up with examples yesterday, refer to that.  Today National Iraqi News Agency reports:

MP, Walid Mohammadi for Mottahidoon coalition called on the United States of America to " listen to all sides in Iraq, not to a sole side which is considered by a big percentage of Iraqis as the opponent ruling political side.
Mohammadi said in a statement today: " The statements made by Maliki currently in Washington are amazing and surprising , especially regarding the strictly application of the Constitution,as Maliki alleges, where everyone knows that the Constitution in Iraq, is not implemented but only taken paragraphs which corresponds to the interests of the government, otherwise the constitution is neglected and abused , he said.

Again, the meet-up between Barack and Nouri was a farce.  Paul Danahar (BBC) predicted ahead of the meet-up today, "And he [Nouri] will no doubt be told in private he needs to rule for all his people - not just those who share his faith or point of view.  He'll probably smile and agree and then ignore the advice while gladly accepting whatever aid he might get."  Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi Tweeted the following yesterday:

  • هناك تفرد في وضع الحكم بالعراق وابتعاد عن الشراكة الوطنية وهناك ازمة يجب ان تنتهي وان نؤسس  يضم كل الشركاء في هذا الوطن الواحد

  • There is no national partnership in . Autocracy is governing and we must build a process that includes all Iraqis.

  • The farce is much more than the notion that the US-installed prime minister is anything but a thug.  It also includes the notion that there is a functioning government in Iraq.  Al Rafidayn reports that Nouri's office in Iraq today announced that Nouri was filing an official request to be informed of the health status of Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

    Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.    Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

    If still in Germany next month, Jalal will have 'served' an entire year out of the country and he's drawing a salary -- is he conducting any official presidential business?  Let's drop back to the snapshot for Tuesday, September 10th:

    Sunday, All Iraq News reported, Osama al-Nujaifi declared he attempted to meet with the hospitalized Jalal five months ago  (that would have been around April) but was rebuffed.  He states he has again asked for another meeting.  He further states if Jalal is unable to resume his tasks shortly, a new president needs to be named.  Monday, Dar Addustour columnist As Sheikh noted that the Constitution is very clear on what happens when the president can't perform duties but how is that determination made? (Is Jalal performing duties from the hospital in Germany?  He could be.  If he is, the Constitution would see him as in office.)  The Constitution says nothing, Sheik notes, about how long a president can be out of the country.  He reviews the rumors that Jalal has not recovered, that he is in a coma, that he has passed away, that his family is putting up a pretense that Jalal has recovered.  He ends his column with a call for clarity both in terms of the governing rules and in terms of the state of Jalal's health.

    In June, Going Global East Meets West noted MP Hassan Alawi asserted that Jalal was "clinically dead"  as well as "that the images that appeared in Al Cardsat TV owned by the First Lady Hero Talabani were fabricated."

    The photos the MP is referring to include the one below and were published in May.


    You can see three of the photos released here.  You'll note that people are seated to Jalal's left and right but in every photo he just stares ahead with the same 'expression' and the same body position (including hands).  In other words, he doesn't move one bit although the players in the photos -- the pretenders -- they rush to lean forward, pretending they're listening to Jalal.

    In real time, many scoffed, some wags dubbed it Weekend At Bernie's (two young men use the corpse of Bernie to pretend he's alive and have a wild adventure).

    After denying the Speaker of Parliament a meeting in April, visits to Jalal have continued to be denied.  His political party is the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and, as President of Iraq, he's the head of it.   With provincial elections scheduled for the end of September in the KRG, the PUK desperately needed to speak with Jalal and contacted his people.  They were rebuffed. reported August 26th, "Leaders from Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, led by Talabani confirmed that they did not see him since he was transferred to Germany, pointing out that Talabani’s wife, Hero Ibrahim and their two sons as well as his nephew , Sheikh Genki Talabani are the only ones who have visited him, as no one from the party’s officials saw Talabani."  And the PUK went on to have it worst showing in any election.  Attempts to meet with him after the disastorous elections?  As reported October 7th:

    A senior official from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has revealed that ailing Iraqi president and PUK leader Jalal Talabani’s family won’t let party members visit him at the German hospital where he is recovering after suffering a stroke.
    A few days ago, a PUK official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, complained that no one from his party other than Iraqi First Lady Hero Ibrahim and Talabani’s official doctor, Kirkuk governor Najmaldin Karim, has seen the President since he fell ill late last year.
    "They always says Talabani’s health is improving, but repeating those wards a few times so far has put a question mark on Talabani’s future," the official told the Pan-Arab Newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat.

    Are you getting why Iraqis, in ever larger numbers, are assuming their president is dead?

    It doesn't help that the Talabani family originally even denied it was a stroke.  CNN was the first to report the reality there.  Jalal is -- or was  -- grossly obese and 79-years-old.  We've followed his health since 2007 when, after being released from the Mayo Clinic, he collapsed in a US bookstore and it took over six people to lift him.  His stroke was never a surprise.  He refused to listen to doctors' orders that he eat right and lose weight (they were only asking him to lose 60 pounds which still would have left him at over 200 pounds).  For five years, he stuffed his fat face and just put on more weight as he ate greasy and sugary foods and got no exercise.  His stroke was desitned.

    But the last thing the Talabani family has been honest about is that he had a stroke -- and, again, their honesty on that was forced by CNN blowing their cover story.  Every few weeks since December 2012, Iraqis are told that Jalal's health has improved and he'll be back in Iraq shortly.  We're now in the 11th month stage.  When's he coming back?  And when will he address the Iraqi people?  As Nermeen al-Mufti (Al-Ahram) pointed out last month, "According to the Iraqi constitution, Iraqis should elect a new president after 30 days of the presidency being vacant, for example as a result of illness."

    Clearly Jalal is not recovering.  Clearly he is not up to being president and this has been over ten months of fraud, lying to the Iraqi people.  This is fraud if the rumor Rudaw reported in September is true, "Sources tell Rudaw that on a visit to Iran last May Talabani’s wife, Hero Ahmed, sought Tehran’s help in delaying discussion over the position of the Iraqi presidency until the end of the current presidential term. Hero reportedly told the Iranians that such a debate will weaken the PUK’s position in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. Rudaw tried to verify the authenticity of this information but none of the PUK’s senior officials were willing to comment."

    As Moqtada al-Sadr has been pointing out for over a month, the Iraqi people have a right to know the status -- the real status -- of Jalal's health and whether or not he's able to handle presidential duties.

    They don't know.  But everyone pretends that the country Transparency International has ranked 169th most corrupt country in the world (out of a total of 176 countries) has a functioning government.

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    Friday, November 01, 2013








    Tomorrow, Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki is scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama as the White House.  The administration has been very busy this week -- co-authoring Nouri's column for the New York Times, for example.  And they've been very busy lying.

    Hamza Mustafa (Asharq al-Awsat) reported yesterday:

    Prior to his departure from Baghdad airport, Maliki announced that he will “discuss, with American officials, a number of issues including implementing an agreement for a strategic framework, combating terrorism and the Syrian crisis."  

    Reuters noted, "Maliki is urgently seeking military supplies to fight an upsurge in sectarian violence spilling over the Syrian border."  That includes Nouri's long lusted for F-16s.  They're due to arrive in Iraq late next year.

    So explain this State Dept claim reported by Lara Jakes (AP):

    A senior Obama administration official said Wednesday that U.S. officials were not planning to send U.S. trainers to Iraq and that Baghdad had not asked for them. The administration official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters by name.

    Chris Carroll (Stars and Stripes) also quotes an unnamed administration official stating,  "I would not anticipate U.S. trainers going back into Iraqi soil."  At today's State Dept press briefing, it was the source of bemusement

    QUESTION: Hello. The Iraqi Prime Minister is in town, and the Foreign Minister is meeting with Secretary Kerry today. In a background briefing with a senior Administration official just a couple days ago --

    MS. PSAKI: I’m familiar with it. (Laughter.)

    QUESTION: -- yes – the official talked about increased counterterrorism and intelligence cooperation as a topic of discussion during Prime Minister Maliki’s visit with – meeting with President Obama.

    MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

    That's Jen Psaki and I'm so very glad the press corps finds the quote amusing -- it's good to know that they're doing something since clearly they aren't doing their job.

    The F-16 deal is off then?

    No, it's not.  And with the F-16s goes trainers -- as any 'official' in the administration knows.

    When they'd lie about something so basic, they'd lie about anything and those paying attention need to remember that.

    Jakes speaks with Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily:

    He added: "We have said to the Americans we'd be more than happy to discuss all the options short of boots on the ground."

    "Boots on the ground" means military forces.

    Samantha Stainburn (Global Post) asserts, "Maliki may be open to counterterrorism training from US special forces and CIA advisers, according to Reuters."  If I thought Steinburn was capable of making sense, this is where I'd suggest someone slap her.  Put dunce caps on Reuters twin idiots Patricia Zengerle and Lesley Wroughton as well -- they're the authors of the Reuters article Stainburn links to.

    Is Nouri open to counterterrorism training?

    Better question: Just how illiterate and uninformed is the damn press?

    Tim Arango -- wait.

    Let's go really slow for the really stupid.

    Tim Arango is the name of a human being. He is a male -- something you can verify by checking his photo on his Twitter feed.

    There you will find, "I am the Baghdad Bureau Chief of The New York Times."  The New York Times is a daily newspaper.  Baghdad is in Iraq which means Tim Arango is responsible for the coverage from Iraq in the paper.  Do we follow that?

    If we can move on, we're now going to September 2012.  That's a month ("September," good job Washington Post!) and a year (2012).

    That's when Tim Arango reported: the following:

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

    Okay, do we need flash cards, a review, what?

    To me that's very simple and obvious.  However, mainstream and 'independent' media have repeatedly gotten this wrong so there must be something confusing.  In fact, it must be really confusing because not one moderator in the 2012 presidential debates ever said, "Hey, President Obama, what's up with sending US troops into Iraq this fall?"  Not one.  Not even Candy Crowley who liked to present her tired ass as teller of facts.

    Stainburn thinks Nouri might be open to counterterrorism forces . . . based on Reuters.

    Stainburn's an idiot because he's already been allowing counterterrorism forces into Iraq.

    I know reading is hard for the press but they've now had a year and a month to catch up on Arango's report.

    Stainburn can take comfort in the fact that she's not alone and she's not an analyst.  Jeff Zarate is.  And Bob Orr spoke with him for CBS Flash Points (link is video) today.  What 'wisdom' did the analyst share?

    Jeff Zarate: . . .  but the president doesn't really want to re-engage in Iraq.  I mean he's made political hay out of ending the war and our troop involvement in Iraq so there's no way he's going to send troops back or anything that appears to be a forceful presence . . .

    No way Barack will "send troops back" into Iraq?

    Again, Tim Arango from September 2012:

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

    They're just stupid.

    They're paid money to do a job that they're not capable of.

    They call themselves reporters or 'analysts' and they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

    Speaking of stupid, Nouri al-Maliki made like Madonna performing "You Must Love Me."  No, Madonna, we mustn't.  Nouri updated the tune a little, changing it to "You Must Arm Me."  And, no, Nouri, we don't have to arm you.  He was speaking on Constitution Avenue in DC at the US Institute of Peace.  As we've noted for weeks, the Ashraf supporters were going to protest Nouri's visit.  Not psychic, I see them all the time at hearings.  They stated they would be protesting and they protested today.  As when they are at a Congressional hearing, they wore yellow.

    They also carried signs.  Some read "MALIKI IS A MURDERER" and some read "FREE 7 Ashraf Hostages Now."  I would estimate there were 42 protesters.   Let's note the background on the Ashraf community.

    Camp Ashraf in Iraq is now empty.  All remaining members of the community have been moved to Camp Hurriya (also known as Camp Liberty) as of last month.  Camp Ashraf housed a group of Iranian dissidents who were  welcomed to Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1986 and he gave them Camp Ashraf and six other parcels that they could utilize. In 2003, the US invaded Iraq.The US government had the US military lead negotiations with the residents of Camp Ashraf. The US government wanted the residents to disarm and the US promised protections to the point that US actions turned the residents of Camp Ashraf into protected person under the Geneva Conventions. This is key and demands the US defend the Ashraf community in Iraq from attacks.  The Bully Boy Bush administration grasped that -- they were ignorant of every other law on the books but they grasped that one.  As 2008 drew to a close, the Bush administration was given assurances from the Iraqi government that they would protect the residents. Yet Nouri al-Maliki ordered the camp repeatedly attacked after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President. July 28, 2009 Nouri launched an attack (while then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was on the ground in Iraq). That's the attack Lara Logan reported on.  In a report released this summer entitled "Iraqi government must respect and protect rights of Camp Ashraf residents," Amnesty International described this assault, "Barely a month later, on 28-29 July 2009, Iraqi security forces stormed into the camp; at least nine residents were killed and many more were injured. Thirty-six residents who were detained were allegedly tortured and beaten. They were eventually released on 7 October 2009; by then they were in poor health after going on hunger strike." April 8, 2011, Nouri again ordered an assault on Camp Ashraf (then-US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was again on the ground in Iraq when the assault took place). Amnesty International described the assault this way, "Earlier this year, on 8 April, Iraqi troops took up positions within the camp using excessive, including lethal, force against residents who tried to resist them. Troops used live ammunition and by the end of the operation some 36 residents, including eight women, were dead and more than 300 others had been wounded. Following international and other protests, the Iraqi government announced that it had appointed a committee to investigate the attack and the killings; however, as on other occasions when the government has announced investigations into allegations of serious human rights violations by its forces, the authorities have yet to disclose the outcome, prompting questions whether any investigation was, in fact, carried out."  Those weren't the last attacks.  They were the last attacks while the residents were labeled as terrorists by the US State Dept.  (September 28, 2012, the designation was changed.)   In spite of this labeling, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed that "since 2004, the United States has considered the residents of Camp Ashraf 'noncombatants' and 'protected persons' under the Geneva Conventions."  So the US has an obligation to protect the residents.  3,300 are no longer at Camp Ashraf.  They have moved to Camp Hurriyah for the most part.  A tiny number has received asylum in other countries. Approximately 100 were still at Camp Ashraf when it was attacked Sunday.   That was the second attack this year alone.   February 9th of this year, the Ashraf residents were again attacked, this time the ones who had been relocated to Camp Hurriyah.  Trend News Agency counted 10 dead and over one hundred injured.  Prensa Latina reported, " A rain of self-propelled Katyusha missiles hit a provisional camp of Iraqi opposition Mujahedin-e Khalk, an organization Tehran calls terrorists, causing seven fatalities plus 50 wounded, according to an Iraqi official release."  They were attacked again September 1st.   Adam Schreck (AP) reported that the United Nations was able to confirm the deaths of 52 Ashraf residents.

    That attack last month?  In that attack, 7 Ashraf community members were taken by Nouri's forces.  The United Nations has repeatedly called for him to release them.  US Senator Robert Menendez has publicly called for Nouri to release the hostages.   He's insisted he's not holding them.  That's what the signs the protesters today were carrying -- "FREE 7 Ashraf Hostages Now." -- were about.

    Nouri spoke through a translator.  It didn't make him come off any wiser.  In fact, he sounded ignorant not just as he said that he had a right to ask for help, that any country has a right to ask for help, that blah, blah, blah.  The worst part of the speech, the section which was both insulting and stupid, found Nouri declaring that the US needed to learn that al Qaeda is dangerous.

    He should have been booed.  If he'd delivered it in English, that would have resulted in booing.

    Though Nouri appears unaware, on September 11, 2001, and on so many days since, the US learned a lot about al Qaeda.

    In a line that will no doubt be greeted with loud laughter in Iraq, Nouri asserted that he had never, ever, stepped on the Iraqi Constitution.

    Was Nouri serious?

    Has he read the Iraqi Constitution?

    Is there any Article he hasn't broken?

    Article 19?  He's broken it.  "The accused is innocent until proven guilty in a fair legal trial"?  But Vice President Tareq al-Hashemi's trial didn't begin until May 15, 2012 -- yet Baghdad judges declared him guilty on Februrary 16, 2012. That's innocent until proven guilty?  Who knew?

    And how the hell was Tareq put on trial to begin with?

    There was no vote in Parliament -- as required by Article 36 -- to strip Tareq of his immunity so he couldn't be tried for a felony -- he was tried for terrorism, that's a felony.

    Nouri is a damn liar and the press lies and whores for him.  He's broken two-thirds of the Iraqi Constitution, I'm sorry that we don't have the time or space to note it all -- including Article 61 which gives Parliament the right to question the prime minister but since 2010, the Parliament's tried to do that twice but Nouri's refused to show up.  I'm even sorrier that a pathetic and cowed media has looked the other way repeatedly.

    Does the Iraqi Constitution matter at all or is it just a rag for Nouri to wipe his ass with?

    If it matters, it damn well should meant no trail against Tareq al-Hashemi.  If it matters, the crap-ass press should damn well be pointing out today that the kangaroo court overstepped their bounds and that the verdicts against Tareq have no legal standing since the trial violated the Constitution and since the judges violated the Constitution by declaring Tareq guilty -- declaring him guilty in public, at a news conference -- three months prior to the start of his trial.

    Certainly, he's shown no respect for Iraqi's Constitutional right to protest.  Instead he's ordered them arrested, tortured and killed.  But the press can't note that, can they?  As Stephen Gowans (Global Research) points out today, "The Western news media have been virtually silent on Maliki’s cracking down violently on a mostly Sunni and primarily peaceful protest movement, yet fevered and voluble in its coverage of the Syrian insurgency, and was, even in the uprising’s early days."

    Nouri talked weapons and 'plans' and again proposed he host a security conference.  He's never delivered security, how can he lead a conference on it?

    Weapons, weapons, weapons, that and violence is all that Nouri has to offer.  Those aren't answers.  A plan or roadmap was defined by UNAMI earlier this week:

    The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq (SRSG), Mr. Nickolay Mladenov used the opportunity to call on the political leaders of Iraq to address the root causes of division, exclusion and poverty and to build an inclusive society that does not fear, but celebrates ethnic and religious diversity. He spoke of the areas where Iraq has seen notable gains, but also focused on the many challenges that remain. "Today Iraq is riven by constant and worsening violence and the prospect of deepening sectarianism casts a dark shadow over the country" Mladenov noted, adding that the social and security challenges "threaten the very fabric of Iraqi society and test the extent of the nation’s social cohesion". He highlighted that reversing the cycle of violence requires "improving governance in ways that give all citizens equal access to security, justice, employment and essential services".

    The editorial board of The Economist pointed out today, "What Mr Maliki needs more than weapons is the will to compromise with his political opponents, especially Sunnis but also Kurds. In the past year Sunnis have felt more and more excluded and harassed. In addition, the civil strife churning up Syria has spilt across the border into Iraq."  FYI, they're also the only ones in the western press who note the defections in Nouri's forces as so many self-check out. Though not covered by the west, Iraqi soldiers have been self-checking out in huge numbers.  Alsumaria reported Sunday that the Nineveh Command has announced that they are extending the grace period for soldiers to return to November 15th.  The extension is because the deadline of the end of the month is approaching and most who have self-checked out of the military have not returned.  The Economist editorial board also notes:

    Too fearful to conduct patrols in the streets, the security forces have been carrying out raids and mass arrests, further enraging Sunni civilians. “At the moment what fuels the conflict the most is the presence of central-government security forces in Sunni areas, where they arrest young men by the hundreds, torture them and then release them after money is paid,” says a seasoned foreign-aid worker. “You can see al-Qaeda benefiting from the heavy-handed presence of the armed forces,” he adds. Hostility to the government is not only sectarian; it is also the result of the government’s failure to do much for its citizens, says the aid worker. The erratic supply of electricity and the blight of corruption make matters worse.

    Nouri was ridiculous.  The whole event was ridiculous and we may call out the Institute tomorrow or next week -- in particular one person.  Let's note that he also claimed he had reunited Iraqis as Iraqis and dared to speak of "allegiances."  Dared to speak?  Your US outlets haven't told you about Diyala and the little pledge to Iraq Nouri's trying to institute there.  Maybe, like the violence, the US media will tell you about the loyalty pledge Nouri's trying to institute -- after all goes to hell and only increases the violence.

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    Thursday, October 31, 2013









    "Okay," declared US Senator Bernie Sanders this afternoon, "we've got a lot of work in front of us, let's get going."  He is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee.  Senator Richard Burr is the Ranking Member.  Today was a legislative hearing where people testify about their bills.  So we heard from senators.  We heard from others as well -- and we shouldn't have.

    Chair Bernie Sanders:  Before I discuss a few of the bills I have on today's agenda, I want to briefly touch on the issue of the administration's views.  Let me be kind of to the point on this one, I understand that as a result of the government shutdown and a lot of the pressure on the VA  they have not gotten all their comments and views in.  We also understand that in the past, they really have not been prompt in their responses to the legislation that we have proposed.  So let me just say this to them, the job of this Committee and what we were elected to do is to represent the people of this country and, in particular, the veterans of this country.  And if the VA is not responsive in getting their comments in, that's fine, doesn't impact us at all, we're going to go forward.  But clearly the VA is going to have to implement the policies developed by this Committee and this Congress and we want to work with them.   But our job is to legislate and we're going to go forward with or without the cooperation of the VA and the administration.

    There is nothing good about that statement. That statement doesn't cut and should not be made by any chair.  Congress has rules.  If they're going to waive them for the VA, they're going to have to waive them for everyone.

    And on the House Veterans Affairs Committee?  They're fighting to get statements on time, to get questions answered promptly.  Sanders has no right to say, "It doesn't matter."  That's embarrassing.

    VA Secretary Eric Shinseki is an embarrassment.  Under him, the VA refuses to even turn in written testimony promptly.

    Here's how you deal with that, you don't let the VA testify.  I'm not noting them or their testimony because the VA's failure to do what is required means they shouldn't be allowed to testify.  This is not a new problem.  It began emerging just before Sanders became Chair.

    And it's been noticeable throughout actually.  Forget the written statements for a moment, Eric Shinseki's first obvious failure was knowing for months that the VA system would be overwhelmed in the fall of 2009 and some veterans would not get tuition checks.  He refused to inform Congress.  This has happened over and over.

    From the House VA Committee's website:

    Trials in Transparency is designed to highlight one of the committee’s top oversight challenges: getting timely information from Department of Veterans Affairs officials.
    This page will be updated on a weekly basis and will keep a running record of outstanding information requests made to VA by both Democrat and Republican members of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.
    VA is currently sitting on nearly 100 separate requests for information made by the committee, some dating back more than a year. The leisurely pace with which VA is returning requests – and in some cases not returning them –  is a major impediment to the basic oversight responsibilities of the committee.
    VA’s unanswered questions have created mounting frustration for committee members, and prompted Chairman Miller to take the unprecedented step of writing weekly letters to VA Secretary Eric Shinseki listing the number of outstanding information requests and asking for “accurate information in satisfaction of these requests.”
    Notable Outstanding Info Requests:
    Quick Facts (As of October 28, 2013):
    Number of Outstanding Requests: 11
    Three Oldest Outstanding Requests: June 5, 2012; July 10, 2012; and July 23, 2012
    Requests Pending since 2012: 12 

    Even if the Senate VA Committee no longer gives a damn whether VA responds or not, it is still not appropriate for Sanders to take that position when it undercuts the House VA efforts to obtain information.  The two need to work together, they do not need to be at cross purposes.  If Sanders is unable to help the House Committee, he should at least refrain from harming it.

    From today's hearing:

    Senator Bill Nelson:  The first one is a no brainer. It's naming the Bay Pines Hospital in Pinellas County, Florida after the longest serving Republican member of the House of Representatives who we just lost last week, Bill Young. His record as Appropriations Chairman and as Defense Appropriations Chairman, the way he lived his life where he and his wife who literally adopted a Marine who was back from the war and have raised him as their son, and the way that he has reached out to veterans -- so much so, that the Florida delegation and I conferred last week, before his funeral -- while we were still in recess, the House was in session -- and the House took it up and has already passed it, naming the Bay Pines VA Hospital after Bill Young.  That's the first piece and if you all see fit to move that legislation, it would be a timely -- a timely thing for the family.  Veterans Conservation Corps.  This is for post-911 veterans coming home who are unemployed.  They would be employed -- not unlike the old CCC -- for up to one year with a possible one year extension.  It obviously has a price tag of about a couple of million dollars.  The question is: What is the value to society of employing veterans for worthwhile things in our national parks and schools?  And I can go into as much detail as you want but that's the idea.  And the third piece of legislation is what this Committee has already pushed: Electronic Health Records coming out of the Dept of Defense active duty as they then go into the VA health care system.  And of course you know the difficulty there.  And this tries to set a timeline that is achievable and tells the VA and the DoD  set your goals, set your milestones, achieve them, and then have the full implementation of the electronic health records that will allow a seamless transfer which is what we all want.  Those are my three pieces of legislation

    Let's go to that third bill:

    Official Summary

    Servicemember's Electronic Health Records Act of 2013 - Amends the Wounded Warrior Act to require the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs, in implementing electronic health record systems that provide for the full interoperability of personal health care information between the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to ensure that: 
    (1) a health data authoritative source that can be accessed by multiple providers and that standardizes the input of new medical information is created by the Departments within 180 days, 
    (2) the ability of patients of both Departments to download their medical records is achieved within 180 days, 
    (3) full interoperability of personal health care information between the Departments is achieved within one year, 
    (4) acceleration of the exchange of real-time data between the Departments is achieved within one year, 
    (5) the upgrade of the graphical user interface to display a joint common graphical user interface is achieved within one year, and 
    (6) current members of the Armed Forces and their dependents may elect to receive an electronic copy of their health care records beginning not later than June 30, 2015. Requires the Secretaries to assess the feasibility and advisability of establishing a secure, remote, network-accessible computer storage system (commonly referred to as cloud storage) to: 
    (1) provide members of the Armed Forces and veterans the ability to upload their health care records, and 
    (2) allow DOD and VA medical providers of the Departments to access such records.

    I applaud Senator Bill Nelson for that bill.  Why, though, is it necessary?

    Because the VA and DoD were supposed to have done this long ago.  What happened was Eric Shinseki got then DoD Secretary Robert Gates to agree on the computer system they would both use.  And then Shinseki dropped the ball (intentionally, from what I'm told).  Leon Panetta then becomes DoD Secretary and Shinseki starts all over.  We have to pick a system!  Leon is fine with whatever, his attitude is, "Let's just get it started."  But Shinseki doesn't.  Now Chuck Hagel is VA Secretary and Congress has some questions about the progress on this system that was supposed to have started back in 2009 and Eric LIES to Congress and pins the blame on Hagel.  Hagel's so busy and they haven't been able to pick out a system.  That's finally been done thanks to very few who have held Shinseki accountabile.

    This is part of the VA stonewalling and not answering or informing Congress.  Again, Sanders should not have made the remarks he did.

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    Wednesday, October 30, 2013







    US House Rep Mike Rogers thought he was on to something today.  He was only flaunting ignorance  in the House Intelligence Committee hearing today.  He flaunted the most in his opening, written statement which he introduced into the record but did not read from.  From that statement:

    In 1929, the Secretary of State shut down the State Dept's cryptanalytic office saying, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail."  The world was a dangerous place back then, with growing and aggressive military threats from Japan and Germany, both bent on world domination.  Those threats eventually dragged us into a world war that killed millions.  We didn't have the luxury of turning off intelligence capabilities as threats were growing back then, and we can't afford to do so today.

    Rogers is the Chair of the Committee and that's so sad.  He's referring to The Cipher Bureau which many Americans won't know about but I seriously question whether Rogers knows what he's talking about.  The Cipher Bureau kicks off operations October 1, 1919. It's closed October 31, 1929.  Rogers 'explains' the State Dept shut it down and the (unnamed) Secretary of State declared, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail." The Secretary of State was Henry Stimson and he never "said" that.  He (and McGeorge Bundy) wrote it in  On Active Service in Peace and War -- first published in 1948 and available for reading online for free at The Internet Archive.

    Rogers makes it sound as if the unnamed Stimson closed The Cipher Bureau and made that declaration as he did so.

    None of that is accurate.  The US military closed The Cipher Bureau.  All Stimson decided was that the State Dept would no longer foot half the bill for the cost.  This left the US Army with the full cost and they are the ones who would say "no" and The Cipher Bureau would be closed.

    If Rogers wants to call out the US military's decision, he should have the guts to do so and not hide it behind an attack on the State Dept which is incorrect.  More likely, he's not lying, he's just choosing to speak on a topic he knows nothing about.

    That's even more dangerous to the nation since he is the Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

    We're not done with the lies or errors in that one paragraph.

    Rogers is arguing that The Cipher Bureau -- and illegal spying -- are needed and basing that on WWII.  His 'logic' argues that had The Cipher Bureau not been closed, WWII might not have happened or been less deadly.  The Cipher Bureau -- and illegal spying today -- can protect us.

    He's making that claim so the press should have taken his claim seriously and investigated it.

    You know they didn't.

    We will.

    Ranking Member  Dutch Ruppersberger:  The most important thing we can do here today is let the public know the true facts so that we can engage in a meaningful process of reform that will enhance transparency and privacy, while maintaining the necessary capabilities.  [. . .]  Today, we are holding this open hearing so we can continue to get out the facts --

    Facts are important.  They weren't to Dutch and he's lucky he's Ranking Member.  That makes him less important than the Chair so we'll focus on Rogers' nonsense.

    Actress Carole Lombard died January 16, 1942.  This was after the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, of course, she was on a WWII War Bond Tour when she was killed in a plane crash.  (In previous wars, efforts were made to pay for it -- as opposed to Iraq and Afghanistan with the kill-now-pay-later policy.)  What does this matter?  It upset her fans, it upset her husband Clark Gable and it cut short one of the most promising comedic careers in film.  But it also matters in terms of Rogers' claims.

    Carole last film is the classic To Be Or Not To Be.  The comedy, set in Poland, takes on the menace of Hitler.  Carole didn't finish the film and, then minutes later, hop on the plane she died in.   The director Ernst Lubitsch signed his United Artist contract to direct the film on August 5, 1941.  That's before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

    So Carole and Ernst and Jack Benny and others were just psychics about what was coming?


    Long before Pearl Harbor, it was known what was taking place.   Hitler didn't operate in secret.  (Though papers like the New York Times largely stayed silent as Jews across Europe were being exterminated.)

    Rogers is insisting that because of the 1929 closure of the spy agency, America had no idea what was going on around the world.

    No spy agency was needed.  Rogers may try to argue, "Well I mentioned Germany but I was really thinking Japan which I also mentioned."  Oh, you don't want to go there.

    Japan grew more powerful, historians argue, not because of the closure of The Cipher Bureau but because the head of that bureau, Herbert Yardley, wrote about the bureau in The American Black Chamber (1931) and that Japan immediately responded to the revelations in the book by increasing their own cryptography skills.

    In addition, Henry Stimson, whom Rogers publicly smeared without naming, was also Secretary of War (now called Secretary of Defense) from 1940 to 1945.  But before that?  He was the author of the US policy with regards to Japan and China.  This policy came to be in 1932 and is known as The Stimson Doctrine.   Via Knox College:

    Washington, January 7,1932
    Please deliver to the Foreign Office on behalf of your Government as soon as possible the following note:
    With the recent military operations about Chinchow, the last remaining administrative authority of the Government of the Chinese Republic in South Manchuria, as it existed prior to September 18th, 1931, has been destroyed. The American Government continues confident that the work of the neutral commission recently authorized by the Council of the League of Nations will facilitate an ultimate solution of the difficulties sow existing between China and Japan. But in view of the present situation and of its own rights and obligations therein, the American Government deems it to be its duty to notify both the Imperial Japanese Government and the Government of the Chinese Republic that it cannot admit the legality of any situation de facto nor does it intend to recognize any treaty or agreement entered into between those Governments, or agents thereof, which may impair the treaty rights of the United States or its citizens in China, including those which relate to the sovereignty, the independence, or the territorial and administrative integrity of the Republic of China, or to the international policy relative to China, commonly known as the open door policy; and that it does not intend to recognize any situation, treaty or agreement which may be brought about by means contrary to the covenants and obligations of the Pact of Paris of August 27, 1928, to which Treaty both China and Japan, as well as the United States, are parties.

    From Princeton University:

    Named after Henry L. Stimson, United States Secretary of State in the Hoover Administration (1929–1933), the policy followed Japan's unilateral seizure of Manchuria in northeastern China following action by Japanese soldiers at Mukden (now Shenyang), on September 18, 1931.[2] The doctrine was also invoked by U.S. Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles in a declaration of July 23, 1940 that announced non-recognition of the Soviet annexation and incorporation of the three Baltic statesEstonia, Latvia, and Lithuania[3]—and remained the official U.S. position until the Baltic states gained formal international recognition as independent states in 1991.
    It was not the first time that the U.S. had used non-recognition as a political tool or symbolic statement. President Woodrow Wilson had refused to recognise the Mexican Revolutionary governments in 1913 and Japan's 21 Demands upon China in 1915.
    The Japanese invasion of Manchuria in late 1931 placed U.S. Secretary of State Henry M. Stimson in a difficult position. It was evident that appeals to the spirit of the Kellogg-Briand Pact had no impact on either the Chinese or the Japanese, and the secretary was further hampered by President Herbert Hoover’s clear indication that he would not support economic sanctions as a means to bring peace in the Far East.[4]
    On January 7, 1932, Secretary Stimson sent identical notes to China and Japan that incorporated a diplomatic approach used by earlier secretaries facing crises in the Far East. Later known as the Stimson Doctrine, or sometimes the Hoover-Stimson Doctrine, the notes read in part as follows:
    Stimson had stated that the United States would not recognize any changes made in China that would curtail American treaty rights in the area and that the "open door" must be maintained. The declaration had few material effects on the Western world, which was burdened by the Great Depression, and Japan went on to bomb Shanghai.[4]
    The doctrine was criticized on the grounds that it did no more than alienate the Japanese.[6]

    The State Dept did not close the bureau.  Keeping the bureau open would not have prevented WWII if public knowledge and events hadn't already done so.  The Stimpson Doctrine is said to have alienated the Japanese.  Whether it did or not, 1931's invasion made clear expansion goals.  These goals were no more secret than what Hitler was doing.

    The reality is that when the bureau closed in 1929, there was no real loss to US safety.  For 12 years, no real loss.  Then comes the Pearl Harbor attack and the US gets into the war everyone else was already in.

    Rogers believes shutting down the spy bureau in 1929 led to WWII.  Or else he's lying.  But if he honestly believes what he's maintaining?  That's very frightening because he's making decisions about spying and safety and he's basing them on a false and illogical fantasy.

    The first panel included James Cole (Dept of Justice), the NSA's Keith Alexander, NSA's Chris Inglis and National Intelligence embarrassment James Clapper. The second panel attorneys Steven Bradbury and Stewart Baker and professor of law Stephen Vladeck.

    For obvious reasons, no one was put under oath.  Clapper is, after all, a serial liar who lied to Congress -- an offense which warrants criminal penalty and removal from office.

    Rogers was more interested, as Clapper began his first lies, with removing a man from the hearing due to a sign -- it was on pink paper (construction paper size) and had "STOP SPYING ON US" written across it.  As the man observed as he was escorted out, Rogers had not said anything about signs in the hearing.  Rogers had called, at the start of the hearing, for no outbursts.   As he was escorted past Clapper, the man declared, "Stopped spying on us."

    Clapper's unfit for office and, if Barack Obama had any character at all, Clapper would be immediately removed from office.

    I say that because he lied to Congress last year?  Or lied about WMD back during the lead up to Iraq?

    No, I say that because of the remarks he made in the hearing today.

    National Intelligence Director James Clapper:  And I think there are some principles we already agree on.  First, we must always protect our sources, methods, targets, partners and liason relationships.  We must do a better job in helping the American people understand what we do and why we do it and most importantly the rigorous oversight that helps ensure we do it correctly.  And third, we must make-take every opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to respond- to respecting the civil liberty and privacy of every American.

    Do you see the problem?

    Yeah, he stumbles on number three which is very telling.

    But even more important, about number three?

    That's his oath of office.

    He just put his oath of office, his swearing or affirming to uphold and obey the Constitution, as number three on his list.

    That's not how the government works.

    And that's part of the problem.

    Not just that the press will look the other way on his ranking of priorities, not just that Barack won't call for Clapper to resign, but that there's an attitude in the government on the part of people executing the laws that the laws don't matter, that the supreme law of the land, the Constitution, can be ranked third in importance.

    James Clapper would be immediately removed from office if we had a functioning president in the United States.

    The thrust of the hearing for Clapper and company, their oft repeated talking point, was that NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden's revelations have done much damage but, at the same time, human error's been the only problem, no law breaking.

    No, Ed Snowden's revelations matter because the law has been disregarded.  That's what's been demonstrated over.

    In addition, Clapper (and the idiot Dutch as well) need to stop vouching for how each and every employee of the NSA is so wonderful.  Some may be.  But when you've used illegal spying to stalk someone, you're not wonderful, you're not special.  Sadly, you're also not a former NSA employee because the NSA has refused to treat the misuse of spying to stalk as a fireable offense. Those NSA employees -- still with the NSA - they don't deserve praise.

    Okay,we've served up the broccoli and other vegetables.  We don't have time for candy.  Candy like US House Rep Jan Schakowsky's nonsense exchange with Alexander.  I'm sure there are flunkies who will rush to praise 'brave' Jan.  I'm not one of them.

    I find it disgusting that, if her assumption is (and it was) that Alexander was praising NSA employees as patriots and questioning the patriotism of others (he stated that was not his intent), Jan's focus is on herself and her peer group.

    If she truly thought he was holding NSA employees above other Americans?  Her role is to defend the American citizens not whine about how she feels she and other members of Congress just got insulted. There's naval gazing but this went beyond it and  was more like Schakowsky was performing a public gynaecological exam on herself.

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    Tuesday, October 29, 2013










    From Samarra من سامراء

    Iraqis in Samarra on March 15th with a message for the world (photo via Iraqi Spring MC).

    If you Cannot Hear Us
    Can you Not See Us?

    The Iraqi people show more courage than the leaders of the DC faux-test.

    They've been calling since December 21st for the world's attention.

    With Nouri al-Maliki, chief thug in and prime minister of Iraq,  scheduled to meet with US President Barack Obama on November 1st.  Nouri's a thug, he's a despot, he's had his forces kill peaceful protesters.    January 7th, Nouri's forces assaulted four protesters in Mosul,  January 24th,  Nouri's forces sent two protesters (and one reporter) to the hospital,  and March 8th, Nouri's force fired on protesters in Mosul killing three.  All of that and more appeared to be a trial run for what was coming, 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).

    In addition to ordering the deaths of protesters, he's paying, arming and outfitting Shi'ite militias to kill Sunnis in Iraq.  Last month, Tim Arango (New York Times) broke the news that  Nouri was funding, arming and outfitting Shi'ite militias.  Arango observed:

    In supporting Asaib al-Haq, Mr. Maliki has apparently made the risky calculation that by backing some Shiite militias, even in secret, he can maintain control over the country’s restive Shiite population and, ultimately, retain power after the next national elections, which are scheduled for next year. Militiamen and residents of Shiite areas say members of Asaib al-Haq are given government badges and weapons and allowed freedom of movement by the security forces.

    Yesterday, aleppoinmyheart Tweeted a question, "Will american help maliki and shia militias doing more blatant ethnic cleansing?"

    It's a question more should be asking.

    That's the background, the ugly reality, that too many in America just don't want to deal with.  They're aided by a lazy and compliant media that runs interference for the White House (which really doesn't want Iraq on the radar).  Life just got a little harder for the White House and Nouri.  The New York Times just published online (in print tomorrow) Ramzy Mardini and Emma Sky's "Maliki's Democratic Farce:"  Mardini is with the Institute for the Study of War.  Sky is with Yale's Jackson Institute for Global Affairs and she was also a political advisor to US Gen Ray Odierno from 2007 to 2010.

     The political crisis Mr. Maliki triggered has endured, undermining years of American efforts to integrate Sunni Arabs into the Iraqi political process. Tensions have worsened as the civil war in neighboring Syria has turned into a sectarian, regional proxy war. The instability has breathed new life into Iraq’s Sunni insurgency, rejuvenating the coffers and confidence of militants, and eroding the cooperation of tribal leaders, which was crucial during the American “surge” of 2007.

    Violence in Iraq has risen to levels not seen since 2008, now approaching 1,000 fatalities a month; Al Qaeda in Iraq has gained strength; the threat of a Shiite militia comeback has increased; and fear of a return to cycles of sectarian retribution is high.

    In the midst of this storm, Mr. Maliki is scheduled to return to the White House this week, seeking security assistance from the United States. Combating terrorism is a mutual interest. But as Mr. Maliki prepares to seek a third term in 2014, Mr. Obama should insist that he adhere to democratic norms as a condition of American aid.        

    The White House likes to pretend that Nouri -- like the Iraq War -- is Bully Boy Bush's issues.  Hell no. It is true that Nouri was the puppet the Bush administration installed in 2006.  (The Iraqi Parliament wanted Ibrahim al-Jafaari.)

    But then came a little thing called the 2010 parliament elections.

    Iraqiya, headed by Ayad Allawi, won those elections but the White House refused to honor democracy or respect the process or Iraqi voters.

    Sunday, Allawi was on BBC Radio 4 speaking with James Naughtie.  Excerpt.

    Ayad Allawi:  They are advocating sectarianism and they are supported by Iran.  Unfortunately, there was a missed chance when the last elections were won by Iraqiya .  Iraqiya was denied both by the Iranians and the United States the chance to form a government. [. . .]  Iraqiya then had a lot of Sunni members -- Shias, Sunnis and Christians.  We are secular, nonsectarian groups.  Unfortunately this has also contributed to the ill feelings of a lot of Sunni constituents.  And this is where the government sticking to the chair and Mr. Maliki sticking to his position, he does not accept the Constitution.  He is the commander in chief of armed forces, he is the Minister of Interior and the chief of security as prime minister, he is the head of national security so-called agency.  So he runs all security.  He runs them on a party basis.  

    James Naughtie:  You're describing something which sounds, in your description, rather like one-man rule.

    Ayad Allawi:  It is, it is. The explosions in Baghdad today are a catolog of failures and, God forbid, what happens in Syria is going to have an impact on Iraq -- let alone what's happening in the region. 

    [. . .]

    James Naughtie:  Do you believe Iraq in its current form can survive this violence?

    Ayad Allawi:  No, it can't.  It can't.  And the violence will increase, I'm sure of this.  The problems will increase and I don't think the elections are going to solve the issue.

    James Naughtie:  You're saying that you think and this is a terribly depressing conclusion for you to reach, that there's no way back.

    Ayad Allawi:  We'll try.  We'll continue to try to resolve the situation as peaceful as possible but I cannot see this existing now, I cannot see the scope of this.  I can see only violence on the increase because of the loss of the  [foundation] that security relies upon.  And that's why I believe frankly speaking  I don't have a very nice picture for the future. 

    I've added "[foundation]" -- I can't make out the word he's saying.  It's a bad connection (you have six days to stream and then it's gone).

    The White House can't pin 2010 on Bully Boy Bush. He was long gone.  This was Barack.  From John Barry's "'The Engame' Is A Well Researched, Highly Critical Look at U.S. Policy in Iraq" (Daily Beast):

    Washington has little political and no military influence over these developments [in Iraq]. As Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor charge in their ambitious new history of the Iraq war, The Endgame, Obama's administration sacrificed political influence by failing in 2010 to insist that the results of Iraq's first proper election be honored: "When the Obama administration acquiesced in the questionable judicial opinion that prevented Ayad Allawi's bloc, after it had won the most seats in 2010, from the first attempt at forming a new government, it undermined the prospects, however slim, for a compromise that might have led to a genuinely inclusive and cross-sectarian government."

    The White House did much more than acquiesce.  Acquiesce would be their being silent when Nouri refused to step down as prime minister -- just being silent.  Instead, they backed him.  For over eight months, the White House backed Nouri in his petty tantrum.

    And as Barack prepares to meet with the despot the Iraqi people rejected but that Barack kept in office, America needs to be paying attention.

    The US government overturned the votes of the Iraqi people in 2010.

    It is why the violence increased.

    So this visit matters for that reason alone.

    But grasp, they didn't just back him.  Barack authorized Americans in Iraq to broker a contract that would give Nouri a second term.  The contract was The Erbil Agreement.  Nouri got in writing that he would get a second term and the leaders of the other political blocs got promises in writing from Nouri.

    But when it was signed and Parliament finally met on November 11, 2010, Nouri refused to implement.  He gave a song and dance about how he'd do it but it couldn't be done now.  So Ayad Allawi walked out.  And the President of the United States, Barack Obama, phoned him.  From that day's snapshot:

    Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports one hiccup in the process today involved Ayad Allawi who US President Barack Obama phoned asking/pleading that he accept the deal because "his rejection of post would be a vote of no confidence". Ben Lando, Sam Dagher and Margaret Coker (Wall St. Journal) confirm the phone call via two sources and state Allawi will take the post -- newly created -- of chair of the National Council On Higher Policy: "Mr. Obama, in his phone call to Mr. Allawi on Thursday, promised to throw U.S. weight behind the process and guarantee that the council would retain meaningful and legal power, according to the two officials with knowledge of the phone call."

    This is not a minor issue.  Barack destroyed democracy in Iraq by refusing to back the winner in the election.  In addition, he set in place the cycle of violence by failing to demand that Nouri honor the US-brokered contract.

    Nouri is a a beast, a rabid dog.  Barack took him off the chain the Bush administration kept him on and let Nouri run wild.  No one died at Camp Ashraf while Bush had Nouri on a tight leash.  Those deaths happen after Barack becomes president.

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