Friday, November 21, 2008


An e-mail came in whining that Janet Napolitano is not getting her 'props' from this community. I don't know who is getting their 'props' from the community. My guess would be that Rahm Emmanuel got more attention than any other Barack pick. And that came from C.I. who likes and knows Rahm. But, if you check, C.I. was including criticism of Rahm. That was nothing but criticism. That was due to the fact that C.I. didn't want to be unfair. So, liking Rahm, C.I. made sure to include criticism of Rahm from various writiers.

In terms of Hillary, Mike has twice written about her possibly becoming Secretary of State. Twice in the two or three weeks this has gone on. Yesterday, C.I. did let loose after yet another let's-all-trash-Hillary came out with 'anti-war' voices trashing Hillary. C.I. called that garbage out and that was the first time Hillary and Sec of State were mentioned at The Common Ills. To make the point that Hillary was being trashed (again) while others (men) weren't, C.I. noted the hideous Tom Daschle and also linked to Mike, Cedric and Wally's posts on that (each did one). Marcia wrote one post about Holder. Jim had us discuss all the names being tossed around at Third two or three weeks ago. So this idea that we're going crazy over the cabinet, rushing to cover it over and over, is mistaken.

In terms of Janet Napolitano, I know all about her anti-immigration speech and I don't like the woman. I can't believe she's being considered for a post after that speech. It was offensive.

So if you want Janet coverage, there it is. You're not going to like it, but you got it. After her anti-immigration remarks, I really have nothing kind to say about her.

Marie Cocco's "No Breakthrough for Women PoliticiansNovember 20, 2008" (Washington Post Writers Group) is really worth reading:

Those who watched the media's sexist hazing of both Clinton and Palin often rationalize this treatment as the result of these two candidates' particular personalities and the legitimacy -- or presumed illegitimacy -- of their campaigns. But Barbara Lee, whose Boston-based family foundation has conducted extensive research of gubernatorial races involving women, routinely identifies the same undercurrents in state campaigns. Voters demand more experience of a woman candidate, and judge her competence separately from whether she is sufficiently "likable." Male candidates typically must clear only the competence bar to be judged -- as Obama indelicately put it during a primary debate -- "likable enough."

Read her column, that's it for me tonight. Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Friday, November 21, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces more deaths, the proposed treaty is protested in Baghdad, and more.

Starting with the treaty passed off as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) reports on yesterday Parliament activity: "Critics of the agreement tried to further put off discussion Thursday, shouting and banging on tables. . . . But lawmakers in the 30-member Sadr bloc, who have been opposing the agreement, failed to stop the legislation's progress. speaker Mahmoud Mashadani extended the parliament session so debate would continue on Saturday and a vote could still come next week. He already had canceled a leave that had been scheduled for lawmakers next week to cover several Muslim holidays, saying the vote on the pact was too important to delay further." However, on the holiday, CNN notes, "If a vote has to be held beyond Monday, Kurdish lawmaker Mahmoud Othman said it could be delayed by the annual hajj religious pilgrimage and Eid al-Adha, the Muslim holiday that comes at the end of the pilgrimage." The Los Angeles Times' blog notes that the treaty needs to be read aloud in the Parliament a third time before going to a vote. Salah Hemeid (Al-Ahram Weekly) observes, "It is not clear if the endorsement requires a simple, or a two thirds, majority of the 275-member legislative -- the latter a constituational requirement for key legislation. It is also unclear if the assembly will debate the agreement article by article or vote, as the government wants, on the whole package, or what will constitute a quorum should its detractors try to prevent its passage by astaining or walking out."

Before we go further, in the US you can make your voice heard via
American Freedom Campaign:Does this sound right to you? Next week, the Iraqi Parliament is expected to vote on whether to approve an agreement setting the terms of the ongoing military relationship between the United States and Iraq. So far, so good. A legislative body, representing the people of a nation, shall determine the extent to which that nation's future will be intertwined with that of another. Of course, one would expect that the United States Congress would be given the same opportunity. That, however, is not the case. Or at least it is not what the Bush administration is allowing to happen. Shockingly, the Bush administration is not even letting Congress read the full agreement before it is signed! We need you to send a message immediately to U.S. House and Senate leaders, urging them to demand the constitutional input and approval to which they are entitled. The administration has asserted that the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq is merely a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) and therefore does not require congressional approval. Yet the agreement goes far beyond the traditional limits of a SOFA, which typically set the terms for bringing materials and equipment into a nation and outline the legal procedures that will apply to members of the military who are accused of crimes. Believe it or not, the current agreement contains terms that will actually give Iraq a measure of control over U.S. forces. No foreign nation or international entity has ever been given the authority to direct U.S. forces without prior congressional approval - either through a majority vote of both chambers or a two-thirds vote in the Senate in the case of treaties. If this agreement goes into effect without congressional approval, it will establish a precedent under which future presidents can exercise broad unilateral control over the U.S. military -- and even give foreign nations control over our troops. Congress must take immediate action. Unfortunately, they are about to adjourn for at least a couple of weeks. But it is not too late for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to make a statement, signaling their strong belief that Congress will not be bound by and need not fund an agreement that has not been approved by Congress. Please send an E-mail encouraging such action to Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid immediately by clicking [here]
This is truly a dire situation and we hope that you will join us in calling for action. Thank you. Steve Fox Campaign Director American Freedom Campaign Action Fund

Today White House spokesperson Dana Perino declared on Air Force One that the treaty would be available to the American peoope "soon," "As soon as we possibly can, when we're -- agreement is reached, we'll be able to do that. You bet. . . . As soon as we possibly can, when we're -- agreement is reached, we'll be able to do that. You bet. . . .
I don't know exactly the timing of it. Obviously, we've provided full briefings to appropriate members of Congress. I think over 200 members of Congress saw it. Secretaries Rice and Gates, amongst others -- I think General Lute -- were up on Capitol Hill to provide that information to the citizens, representatives in Congress. And then as soon as we are able to, we'll provide the English language, sure. . . . . I actually can't tell you when it will be. I just don't know." In other words, no, the treaty isn't being released to the American people anytime soon.

In Iraq,
Campbell Robertson and Stephen Farrell (New York Times) note the Sunni attitude conveyed by MP Aala Maki, "To be clear, it is not the treaty that is the problem. What will be built on the treaty, that is the problem." They're dancing to get their palms greased. Rania Abouzeid (Time magazine) reports, "The discord in Iraq's parliament, and on its streets, over the Baghdad government's Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) with Washington is over a lot more than the date on which U.S. troops are to withdraw and the rules governing their conduct until then. As the rabble-rousing Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr made clear on Friday, it's also about which Iraqi parties will best leverage the Americans' eventual departure to their own political benefit. Sadr drew thousands of supporters to Firdous Square in central Baghdad on Friday to protest against the draft accord, which awaits a ratification vote in Iraq's parliament on Monday."

CBS and AP cover the protest and note, "After a mass prayer, demonstrators pelted the effigy with plastic water bottles and sandals. One man hit it in the face with his sandal. The effigy fell head first into the crowd and protesters jumped on it before setting it ablaze." AP's Hamza Hendawi reports the demonstration Moqtada al-Sadr called last week took place today following prayers in Baghdad and that the Bully Boy of the United States was "burned" in "effigy" "in the same central Baghdad square where [US shipped in exile] Iraqis beat a toppled statue of Saddam Hussein with their sandals five years earlier" and the Bush stand-in was also "pelted . . . with plastic water bottles and sandals" and it "held a sign that said: 'The security agreement . . . shame and humiliation'." CNN adds, "The demonstration brought out one of the largest crowds to congregate in Baghdad since protests against the agreement started this year. The square was sealed off and traffic was blocked as thousands chanted 'No no to the agreement,' 'No no America,' and 'Out, out occupation'." Deborah Haynes (Times of London) quotes Sheikh Abelhadi al-Mohammedawi telling those assembled, "If they [US] do not get out then and those with me are ready to drive them out in the method that we see fit, provided that it does not go against religion." AFP reports that a statement from Moqtada al-Sadr was read to the crowd and quotes it as follows: "If they don't leave the country I am going to be with you to make them leave in a way that suits you, as long as it doesn't go against the religion. And if they leave the country and you fear that the enemy coming from outside will transform your land into a battlefield, I and my followers will be a shield for Iraq." BBC (which has text and video on the demonstration) quotes al-Sadr's statement thusly: "Let the government know that America is and will not be of any use to us because it is the enemy of Islam." BBC provides a photo essay here. Tina Susman and Caesar Ahmed (Los Angeles Times) describe the scene around the demonstration, "Iraqi army snipers perched on rooftops along the broad avenues leading to the square, a public gathering spot in the middle of a traffic roundabout decorated with fountains and greenery. The effigy of Bush, wearing a suit and tie and carrying a briefcase, dangled for hours as the crowd, which stretched for several city blocks, knelt in prayer and listened to clerics denounce the Status of Forces Agreement." Reuters photos (such as here) include a caption that notes "Iraqi forces shut streets in Baghdad". Xinhau notes, "Iraqi security forces cordoned off the area, blocking all the roads leading to the route of the demonstration". This Reuters photo by Mushtaq Muhammed shows Iraq soldiers frisking a young man holding a sign bearing al-Sadr's photo "before entering the rally site". This Reuters photo by Kareem Raheem shows an American flag being burned at the demonstration. Adam Ashton (McClatchy Newspapers) explains the catchy tune sung as the rally ended, "Maliki is the new Sadam."

Staying with the treaty,
AP's Matthew Lee reports that mercenaries such as Dyncorp, Blackwater, Triple Canopy and KBR have been informed by the US State Dept and Pentagon that the treaty will mean "private Americans and non-Iraqi foreigners working in key roles for the United States in Iraq will lose immunity and be subjected to Iraqi law". AFP adds, "One-hundred-and-seventy-two contractors who provide armed escorts and other security measures to government officials, diplomats and NGOs have been briefed on the new rules."

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


CNN notes three Baghdad bombings with 1 person dead and four injured. Xinhua notes 2 Baghdad roadside bombings that resulted 3 deaths and nineteen people wounded. Sahar

Today the
US military announced: "CAMP VICTORY, Iraq -- A Multi National Division -- Center Soldier died of non-combat related causes Nov. 20." And they announced: "A Multi National Division - North Soldier was killed in a non-combat related incident in Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 21." The announcements brought the number of US service members killed in Iraq since the start of the illegal war to 4204.

Bilal Hussein is the Associated Press' Pulizter winning photographer who was imprisoned (for no valid reason) for over two years by the US military. The
International Press Freedom Award (Committee to Protect Journalism) has picked him and five other winners for 2008:

Bilal Hussein Associated Press photographer, Iraq Danish Karokhel and Farida Nekzad, Pajhwok Afghanistan News executives, Afghanistan Andrew Mwenda, managing editor, The Independent, Uganda, Hector Maseda GutiƩrrez, imprisoned reporter, Cuba
Beatrice Mtetwa, media lawyer, Zimbabwe

Congratulations to Bilal.
H. Josef Herbert (AP) notes CPJ "had been among those who had pressed for the release of AP photographer Bilal Hussein, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 2005 for his news photography, including the fighting in Fallujah and Ramadi. . . . Steven Hurst, former AP bureau chief in Baghdad, said Hussein was taken into custody and held for more than two years without charges. 'He did nothing but his job as a photographer in a war zone,' said Hurst, adding that the military evidently 'didn't like the story that was being told by his pictures'." Information about Bilal and his false imprisonment can be found at the Free Bilal Hussein Now! website.

In other news,
Mickey Z' (at Information Clearing House) prepares for the immediate future:

No, I don't mean that Great Depression. I'm talking about the inevitable moment -- maybe next week, maybe next year -- when the Kool Aid wears off and the Obamatrons wake up to realize their hero offers nothing even approximating hope or change. The carefully calculated speeches -- which have always been filled with empty, hollow phrases -- will no longer soothe a battered and desperate populace and the Obamabots will suddenly recognize that the Pope of Hope has never been anything more than a human marketing strategy, a product. This year's iPhone. "Yes we can"? Merely the first three words of a longer phrase: "Yes we can continue to work, consume, and obey authority without question."

In election news, December sixth, Louisiana's second district elects someone to the US House. Kimberly Wilder (
On The Wilder Side) notes this article on candidate Malik Rehim's recent award and click here for a message from Malik.

Public broadcasting notes. First up
NOW on PBS this week looks at the role of credit ratings agencies in the economic meltdown. The program begins airing tonight on most PBS stations, check local listings, as does Washington Week which finds Gwen sitting down with four including the New York Times' Helene Cooper, Ceci Connolly (Washington Post) and NBC's Pete Williams. Staying with TV but turning to commercial TV, CBS' 60 Minutes offers Scott Pelly examing an assualt "on a facility containing weapons-grade uranium," Bob Simon on foreign widows of US citizens being ordered to leave "because their husbands died" and Lesley Stahl reports on Rex Lewis-Clack ("a musical savant born blind and mentally impaired who, at 13 years old now, is making remarkable strides despite doctors' prediction."

Public broadcasting heads up radio.
WBAI Sunday, Monday and Wednesday:Sunday, November 16, 11am-noonTHE NEXT HOURAndrew Andrew prove two opinions more mindbending than one.Monday, November 24, 2-3pmCat Radio CafeAuthor/editor Nelson W. Aldrich, Jr. on "George, Being George," anoral history of literary legend George Plimpton; novelist Arthur Nerseianon "The Sacrficial Circumcision of the Bronx," second of TheFive Books of Moses series based on urban terrorist Robert Moses;andJordan Roth of Jujamcyn Theatres announces, a new wayto get discounted theatre tickets while saving the world. Hosted by Janet Colemanand David Dozer.Wednesday, November 26, 2-3pmCCCP: THE MONTHLY LAUGHING NIGHTMARESatire with brand new boxing gloves for the new guys and more groundglass for the old guys. With transition team Janet Coleman, DavidDozer, John McDonagh, Marc Kehoe, Scooter, Moogy Klingman, PaulFischer, The Capitol Steps, Prince Fari and the great Will Durst.Broadcasting at WBAI/NY 99.5 FMStreaming live at WBAIArchived at Cat Radio Cafe

iraqthe new york timescampbell robertsonstephen farrellamerican freedom campaign
the los angeles timestina susman
gina chonthe wall street journal
deborah haynes
bilal hussein
60 minutescbs newswbaicat radio cafejanet colemandavid dozerwashington weekhelene coopernow on pbspbs

Thursday, November 20, 2008

The bailout and the behind the times

December 21s is the first day of winter. About a month away. I mention that why? Because though fall has been going on forever, The Nation magazine just put their latest issue to bed (on sale next week) and the cover story? Fall Books.

Fall f**king books?

Is there a big loser in the country than The Nation magazine.

Fall started when? September 22nd. So fall was one month old October 22nd and will be two months old Saturday. And The Nation won't even be on the racks then. Talk about being behind the times. Day Old News, all that Katrina vanden Heuvel has to offer.

Now there is something from The Nation that I will highlight and you know my opinion of that magazine so it has to be good if I'm highlighting it. This is from Nicholas von Hoffman's "Why We Shouldn't Save GM:"

They have been steadily losing money for a generation. Their predicament has nothing to do with today's credit crunch or the stock market crash. It has to do with their being incorrigible foul-ups.
Their record for money-losing is beyond comprehension. David Yermack, professor of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business,
has calculated how much capital the car companies have destroyed over the last few decades.
writes, "General Motors and Ford...between them...destroyed $110 billion in capital between 1980 and 1990.... GM has invested $310 billion in its business between 1998 and 2007. The total depreciation of GM's physical plant during this period was $128 billion, meaning that a net $182 billion of society's capital has been pumped into GM over the past decade--a waste of about $1.5 billion per month of national savings. The story at Ford has not been as adverse but is still disheartening, as Ford has invested $155 billion and consumed $8 billion net of depreciation since 1998. As a society, we have very little to show for this $465 billion."
Having eaten its way through almost a half-trillion dollars, the American car industry will gulp down the $25 billion now proposed to save it faster than most of us can swallow. The Democratic leaders in Congress think they can prevent that and force a turnaround by attaching some kind of government oversight board to the financial aid. Such a board might make sure that executives do not draw down indefensibly high salaries, but any such arrangement will make it doubly certain the companies will not find their way back to prosperity.

I'm really tired of the bail-outs period. They've done nothing for the people. There was no oversight for the banking industry built into that bailout. If they needed money so badly, maybe their CEOS should have been forced to return their bonuses. They screw up and they get bailed out. And it is never about what the working person needs. Instead of bailing out the banking industry, the government could have bailed out the people attempting to pay off their homes. That would have helped the working class and helped the bankers who would have gotten the payments via the home buyers.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, November 20, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the US military announces another death, Congress explores the treaty Wednesday and the press plays dumb on Thursday, and more.

An important Congressional hearing took place yesterday. The same press that sold the illegal war worked overtime to ignore the hearing. Let's start with the new romantic drama/comedy hour, The Unnamed Source Whisperer. Yes, there's
Nancy A. Youssef embarrassing the hell out of herself. Not McClatchy -- it has embarrassed itself for some time now. So The Unnamed Source Whisperer Youssef can hog all the shame. Wallow in it, Nancy, it's all yours. She offers a 'backstory' on the treaty with about as much grounding in truth as a seventies Rolling Stone profile of Linda Ronstadt (those pieces pissed off Linda for good reason). About as much truth and about as much 'news'. The 18th of November, Youssef's colleague Leila Fadel made a fool out of herself as well. Her opening sentence underscored she knew how to clear a room: "The status of forces of agreement between the United States and Iraq is now called the withdrawal agreement, and that's exactly what it is: an ultimate end to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq." Is that what it is exactly, Leila?

Is that what passes for reporting at the increasing crap-fest known as McClatchy? That sentence sounds a lot like an editorial or a column or a blog post. It does not sound like reporting. And it's not factual. It wasn't when Fadel wrote it and it certainly IS NOT FACTUAL after yesterday's Congressional hearing when it was learned that the English version and the Arabic version are not on the same page and the Arabic version gives the impression that more is promised. So where's the corrective? Probably never coming. Fadel's 'reporting' was asinine upon delivery. But it got waived through.
From American Friends Service Committee's translation of the Arabic version (which, remember, is different than the English version that the White House refuses to publicly release -- and this morning the State Dept's Sean McCormick referred questions of its release to the American people back to the White House, FYI):

Article Thirty
Contract Validity
1 - This agreement is valid for three years unless it is terminated earlier by either parties in accordance with paragraph 3 of this article.
[. . .]
3 - Cancellation of this agreement requires a written notice provided one year in advance.

That third section, does no one understand contract law? What you have is a one-year agreement with two options for renewal (it's automatically renewed if no one cancels). It's a one-year contract. Were a performer to sign it, he or she would be signing a one year contract with two pick-up options. This isn't a three-year contract at all. And since either side can cancel it at any point with only a year's heads up, what it says will happen in 2011 really doesn't matter. All that really matters is what it says for 2009 because that's the only period that both sides are bound to. This isn't some deep, obscure psuedo-science. It's basic contract law. It is a one-year contract covering only 2009. After 2009, it can be renewed for 2010 just by not announcing an intent to depart from the contract and, if it is renewed, it can run through 2011 in the same manner. But this is not a three-year contract. [Community members, if this is at all complicated or confusing, e-mail and we'll go over it tonight and use a concrete example I almost included here yesterday and today but thought it would make it too 'chatty.' It will explain a one-year contract and options for renewal.]

While we're on Article 30, the second clause wasn't raised in Congress yesterday but should have been: "This agreement cannot be modified without an official written approval of both sides and in accordance to constitutional procedures in both countries." That clause appears to argue that an alteration in this treaty (that they work so hard to avoid calling a treaty) would have to go through both country's legislative bodies. The US Constitution makes no mention of the 'powers' the White House is attempting to self-create; however, it does explain Congressional approval of treaties.

If you really want to despair over how wretched today's media is, take a moment to grasp that the US government propaganda channel
Voice Of America did a better job of reporting on the hearing than did the New York Times, McClatchy Newspapers, CBS News, ABC, the Los Angeles Times, et al. That's in part because VOA's Dan Robinson actually reported on it -- that alone put him far ahead the rest of the losers. Here's Robinson (text and audio):

However, many U.S. lawmakers have been angry with what they view as a secretive process in which the Bush administration undertook very little if any consultation with Congress.
These feelings were evident in a public hearing of a House foreign affairs subcommittee, where Democratic Representative William Delahunt voiced his frustration.
"There has been no meaningful consultation with Congress during the negotiation of this agreement and the American people for all intents and purposes have been completely left out."
Delahunt referred to a request from the National Security Council that the text of the agreement not be released publicly, and be withheld from witnesses at the hearing.
Oona Hathaway, Professor Law at the University of California at Berkeley calls the lack of consultation with Congress unprecedented, asserting that aspects of the accord exceed the independent constitutional powers of the president.
Among troublesome provisions she points to is one involving a joint U.S.-Iraqi coordinating committee that she suggests would require U.S. commanders to seek permission to engage in military activities other than self-defense.
"The provisions granting authority to U.S. troops to engage in military operations, the grant of power over our military operations to this joint committee, and the specification of timetables for withdrawal of military forces," Hathaway said. "These are unprecedented in a standard SOFA [Status of Forces Agreement] have never been part of a standard SOFA, and extend in my view far beyond what the president can do without obtaining congressional approval."

The best report filed is by
Jenny Paul with the Boston Globe and she's the only one with a major daily to file on the hearing. Raed Jarrar testimony is noted by Paul:

Jarrar told the House subcommittee a simple-majority approval of the pact could proke unrest and violence in Iraq.
"Most of the groups who are opposing it in the parliament, have been saying, 'If you wanted to go through some loopholes -- not send it to Parliament or pass it through a simple majority -- we will quit this political process as a whole, and we will go back to armed resistance,' " he said.

Jarrar got shortchanged (by me) in
yesterday's snapshot due to time running out while I was dictating the snapshot. We focused on Professor Oona A. Hathaway of UC Berkeley's School of Law because she addressed what the treaty wasn't (it's not a SOFA, Leila) and the illegal nature of it boiling it down to three main points.

1) "The agreement in my view threatens to undermine the Constitutional powers of President-elect Obama as commander-in-chief and it does so in two ways.

a) So first this agreement gives operational control to a Joint Military Operations Coordination Committee which is made up of Iraqis and Americans and is jointly led by both sides according to the agreement."

b) "The proposed agreement also undermines the Constitutional powers of President-elect Obama as commander in chief by binding him to observe specific timetables that are outlined in the agreement for the withdrawal of US troops."

2) "The conclusion of this agreement without any Congressional involvement is unprecedented and, in my view, unconstitutional."

3) "If the administration proceeds as planned the war will likely become illegal under United States law when the UN mandate expires on December 31st."

Somehow that wasn't important enough to get included in any of Nancy and The Unnnamed Source Whisperers' 'reporting' today.

Lazy and bad reporters as well as professional liars posing as reporters are doing TREMENDOUS DAMAGE. They are selling the treaty as an end to the illegal war when it is no such thing. And where's
Panhandle Media? Amy Goodman finally got around today to noting Lord Thomas Bingham's speech (see Tuesday's snapshot, and the speech was given Monday). The Nation? If they've got a word on it (even one of their useless ones), it's not to be found on their main page. As usual the alleged 'independent' media can't be counted on to do anything but offer their breathless Barack Fan Club bulletins, every hour on the hour.
The MSM is repeatedly lying (with very few exceptions) and stating that the treaty means withdrawal. Might some of our so-called 'independent' media spare a second or two to evaluate that claim? If the Iraqi Parliament can stall for ten days, the White House will be forced to seriously explore extending the United Nations' Security Council mandate. As Raed Jarrar explained to Congress yesterday, there is about to be a month-long break. (
Gina Chon says the break is scheduled to start "Nov. 25, but that could be delayed"). The UN mandate expires December 31st. This issue isn't one that 'independent' media can pick up after the fact in January without embarrassing itself. By January, it will be over. They either cover it now while it matters or they admit they're not a news media, just a fan service for Barack and start mailing autographed glossies to all who contribute.

Hathaway explained at length to Congress yesterday how the treaty was harmful to the incoming president so you'd think the Barack Boosters would be alarmed if only for that reason and rush to cover the treaty. There is a tiny of window of opportunity to stop the treaty and 'independent' media's not doing a damn thing. Not that the 'anti-war' groups are doing a damn thing either. The laughable United for Peace & Justice AND MONEY is still stroking itself with statements on Barack Obama's election win maintaint that their "consistent work . . . helped lay the foundation for the Obama campaign's success." Remember that for their movement tombstone four years on down the line.

American Friends Service Committee may be the only organization aware of the treaty. And they make their translation the top link on their home page. Campbell Robertson and Suadad al-Salhy (New York Times) report on Wednesday's Parliament session when the treaty was being read of the second day in a row: "For the next two hours, the Paliament speaker, Mahomoud Mashhadanai, lashed out at the objectors and refused their demands to change the Parliament agenda. He then invited Hassan al-Sneid, a Shiite lawmaker, to begin the second public readng of the agreement, a matter of parliamentary procuedure. As Mr. Sneid began reading, withensses said, Sadrists and other opponents of the agreement continued to trade shouts with lawmakers who supported it. Then, Ahmed Masu'udi, a Sadrist lawmaker, approached the dais. Mr. Masu'udi said later in an interview that he was simply trying to reach Mr. Mashhadani to persuade him to stop the reading: several other witnesses said Mr. Massu'udi tried to attack Mr. Sneid." Saif Rasheed and Tina Susman (Los Angeles Times) add: "Lawmakers from three other political blocs joined the Sadr loyalists in condemning what they called bullying by bodyguards inside parliament, and they pledged to boycott further sessions. The groups don't have enough combined seats to prevent a quorom in the 275-seat legislature, assuming enough lawmakers showed up, but their action will deny Prime Minister Nouri Maliki the broad-based backing he needs to avoid deepening rifts that have hobbled efforts at reconciliation." Gina Chon (Wall St. Journal) explains, "Cabinet members, including foreign minister and finance minister, were scheduled to speak before parliament to lobby for the deal. Instead, the session ended abruptly after a shoving match between a lawmaker and security guards." NPR's Ivan Watson (All Things Considered) notes that the TV feed of the session cut away: "The last thing viewers saw Wednesday was a lawmaker from Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's faction denouncing the agreement. Sadr has opposed the security pact almost from the beginning. As his uspporter addressed parliament, the audio and video feed abruptly dropped out, and seconds later, state TV resumed regular programming with an unrelated news broadcast. Meanwhile, off-camera, uniformed Iraqi guards raced through the parliament building, locking doors and barring lawmakers and journalists from leaving. Rumors quickly spread that a fight had broken out inside the assembly hall." At the New York Times' blog Baghdad Bureau, Stephen Farrell writes an intro to a collection of past reports by the paper on Iraq and treaties starting with October 12, 1922's "BRITISH CONCLUDE ALLIANCE WITH IRAK" and running through January 21, 1948's "8 DIE, 140 HURT IN IRAQ IN PROTEST OVER PACT" (which is actually an Associated Press report, not a report by the paper) -- all reports can be read in full and are in PDF format.

AP reports (today) that Hezbollah is calling on Iraq's MPs "to reject" the treaty. Naharnet Newsdesk notes, "Hizbullah on Thursday called on Iraqi parliament members to reject the security pact with the United States saying, 'It touches on Iraq's future and sovereignty, population unity, it legitimizes U.S. presence in Iraq and ushers dangers." Bobby Ghosh (Time magazine) reports that the puppet of the occupation, Nouri al-Maliki, is "alarmed that the agreement . . . was about to unravel" so he held a press conference: "Hoping, perhaps, to frighten his opponents into their senses, he painted a grim picture of what would happen if the SOFA isn't ratified. Iraq, he said, would have to ask the United Nations to renew the mandate that allows the U.S. military to occupy the country, and that would mean Iraq's security would remain in American hands. That, Maliki said, would leave tens of thousands of Iraqi detainees in U.S.-run prisons, he said -- a not-so-subtle hint to Sunnis and Sadrists, who complain that many of their supporters are unfairly detained. And U.S. soldiers and contractors would remain immune from Iraqi law, a fact that angers Iraqis of all political stripes. What's more, the Prime Minister said, the Americans would remain in control of Iraqi airspeace, 'and they will have the right to cancel even my flights'."

Scary puppet! And lying puppet. First off, airspace? As the Iraqi military revealed last month in a press conference, they won't be able to take to the air until 2011 at the earliest. And the treaty being proposed gives the US control of the airspace. Prosecuting US soldiers? They're not allowed to do that in the current treaty anyway. It walks it to the edge but the US remains in control. (And they grasped that at one point and were insisting that there be something in writing about who would be the deciding body to adjudicate disputes when the Iraqi and the US couldn't agree whether or not a US soldier should be tried by Iraqi courts.) The bulk of the other things al-Maliki's raising aren't conditional either and could easily be dealt with by renewing the UN mandate not under Chapter 7 but under Chapter 6 or -- under 6 or 7 -- takcing on amendments (which Hoshyar Zebari has publicly stated he feels would make the US use their Security Council veto to kill the UN mandate). Ayad Allawi favors extension under Chapter 6. These and other important points are documented in a memo the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs compiled that's available online in PDF format
here or here for non-PDF format. AP notes that the Parliament is scheduled to vote Monday. Meanwhile the Kurdish Globe reports Parliament's Kurdistan Coalition spokesperson Firyad Rwandizi is boasting of what the Kurds secured in the treaty, "The American side agreed on adding amendments demanded by the Kurds to be inserted within the agreement. It commits the American government to defend the federalism system currently in Iraq and to prohibit any attempts to violate federalism by some political sides." The Globe also highlights Peter Galbraith's November 12th NPR interview where he calls for Iraq to be divided: "We have, in the north Kurdistan, which is, in all regards, an independent country, with its own army and its own government. And now between the Shiites and the Sunnis there are two separate armies -- there's a Shiite army -- it's the Iraqi army, but it's dominated by the Shiites -- and in the Sunni areas there's now the Awakening -- a 100,000-man strong militia. And it is because of the Awakening, and not so much the surge of U.S. troops, that there's been this decline in attacks by al-Qaida." We? We have? We have nothing. Iraq belongs to the Iraqi people and Galbraith has schilled for the Kurdish government for sometime. Equally true is that the Kurds are attempting to expand their region in nothern Iraq and that's a continued source of tension and violence so it's not quite as fairy land as Galbraith would prefer to imagine it.

The Kurdish region is where the PKK launches attacks on Turkey from and where Turkey air bombs Iraq. Yesterday there was a Baghdad meet-up.
Xinhua reports Ali Babacan, Foreign Minister of Turkey has called the meet-up "very important and fruitful." And they note the ministry's spokesperson Burak Ozugergin declared "that Turkey attached great importance to the territorial integrity and political unity of Iraq." Hurriyet notes that the meet-up led to the US, Turkey and Iraq deciding "to establish a permanent commission in Baghdad . . . to fight the terror organization . . . PKK" which "signals an important shift in Ankara's policy."
Meanwhile Iraq's Foreign Ministry continues its busy week. Already having thrown a Baghdad reception for Martin Eshbakher, Switzerland's Ambassador to Iraq, received Sweden's Minister of Trade, Ewa Bjorling and Iran's Ambassador to Iraq Hassan Kazemi, the
Foreign Ministry notes that today the department's Minister Hoshyar Zebari met in Baghdad with Italy's Foreign minister Franco Frattini and they discussed "the scientific, healty, trade cooperation between both countries, as well as the agreements which both countries want to hold those agreements together" and that Frattini was supposed to follow his meeting by visiting "the Iraqi museum, then he will meet His Excellency the Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, and Prime Minister, Nouri Al Maliki, as well as a number of the political characters of the Iraqi government." ANSA notes that Frattini conveyed Italy's position regarding the need to protect Iraqi Christians in his meeting with al-Maliki who stated, "It's not a concession but a duty for Iraq to defend Christians who were the first to arrive in this country" and that Frattini also received assurances from Zebari that Iraq's Christian population was being protected from attacks. AGI notes that Frattini also conveyed that "Italy strongly backs . . . the so-called 'Sofa'."


Reuters notes a Baghdad car bombing that left three "presidential guards" injured


Reuters notes an armed clash outside Dour that claimed 6 lives and left three more people injured and, dropping back to yesterday, a home invasion in Kut that resulted in 5 members of one family being killed.


Reuters notes 5 corpses discovered in Mosul and 1 corpse discovered in Shwan.

Today the
US military announced: "CAMP FALLUJAH, IRAQ -- A Multi-National Force -- West Marine died as the result of a non-combat related incident here Nov. 19."

iraqjenny paulthe boston globethe new york timescampbell robertsonthe los angeles timestina susman
gina chonthe wall street journal

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

As C.I. said, it's a treaty

The Bush administration has labeled the pact a status of forces agreement, which can be implemented without congressional approval.
But Hathaway, said the Iraqi-US pact is much more comprehensive than previous agreements because it includes provisions that grant authority to US troops to engage in military operations and that specify timetables for military withdrawal.
"These are unprecedented in a standard status of forces agreement, have never been part of a standard SOFA agreement and extend in my view far beyond what the president can do without obtaining congressional approval," said Hathaway, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley's School of Law.

That's from Jenny Paul's "Skepticism about pact on US troops in Iraq" (Boston Globe) and, wow, what a newsflash. It's not really a SOFA. Golly. "A treaty masquerading as a SOFA". What?!!!??!!

"A treaty masquerading as a SOFA."

I have no idea how long C.I.'s been making that point at The Common Ills. Googling it brings back 25 results for TCI. It's not a SOFA. C.I. has made that point repeatedly. We were at the hearing today and I thought Oona Hathaway did a great job but I didn't hear her say anything new. I'm not insulting her. She knows her stuff and was a wonderful witness. I'm just pointing out that C.I. has called it what it was for sometime now. The press has played dumb.

I was listening and doing little mental checks of, "Uh-huh. Yeah. Right."

You need to be asking yourself why, with the exception of Mary Beth Sheridan of the Washington Post, other journalists couldn't do their jobs? Only Sheridan did.

And we're on the road this week and I can tell you C.I. was screaming into phones all week asking people what the hell was the problem with their coverage? There's one outlet that C.I. could rip apart online at TCI and may yet but so far she's tried to avoid it.

My attitude is, "Go for it."

These journalists have not done their jobs. I'll cut a little slack for Campbell Robertson (C.I. cuts more than a little slack for Robertson) of the New York Times who did improve their coverage this week as the reporting trickled out.

But it has been so embarrassing. And I've grown to love those moments when we're in the car and C.I.'s on the phone with an editor or news producer and saying, "Do you want me to come over there and walk you through this because it's only going to take one time even as dumb as you're being." I heard that over and over. And laughed every time.

C.I.'s furious and I'm not surprised.

This document, this treaty, if pushed through, binds the US and Iraq into a much longer process and a process that is not what the Iraqis think. That's appalling. But where the press comes in is that they are stupid or liars. Some are honestly stupid. And inept at their jobs. Others are just lying. The liars are intentionally telling Americans this treaty means the Iraq War ends in three years. That is not what it says and that is not what it guarantees.

The same press that sold you the illegal war is selling you the lie that the treaty will end the Iraq War. It won't.

Read the snapshot today. There's a ton of information about the hearing. C.I. wanted to include more from Raed but there wasn't time.

Raed was talking about how the support for this treaty really is there if they don't stick to the two-thirds (which is presently the law) needed for approval. All al-Maliki really needs to do, according to Raed Jarrar, is bring one centrist group into the tent and they've got what they need because they're already probably at 138 votes in the Parliament.

It's always fun when we're in DC, by the way. I was a little surprised by how cold it is here. It's supposed to get one degrees below freezing here tonight. But up to 48 degrees tomorrow. I miss California! Let me start singing Joni's "California."

One more thing, I loved Lynn Woolsey using "treaty or agreement" throughout. She really is my favorite member of the House.

Okay, closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, November 19, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, Turkey meets with Iraq over PKK (US tags along), the US Congress explores the treaty, and more.

"This is the eighth in a series of hearings which the Subcommittee has held on the Bush administration's efforts to consummate what was initially described as a long-term security agreement with the government of Iraq," declared US House Rep Bill Delahunt as he brought the Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights and Oversight of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs to order today. The topic was the treaty the White House is trying to make with their puppets in Iraq. Delahunt noted he shared "the concerns expressed by the Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, our friend and colleague Ike Skelton, who has been quoted as being 'deeply troubled' because the agreement contains, as he says, 'vague language that will cause misunderstandings and conflict between the United States and Iraq in the future'."

Rep Bill Delahunt: And by the way, no one should forget that this agreement has just been provided to Congress -- and that there has been no time to conduct the analysis required by such a significant document -- one that purports to end a conflict that has had such momentous and tragic consequences for both the Iraqi and the American people. And remember there has been no meaningful consultation with Congress during the negotiation of this agreement. And the American people, for all intents and purposes, have been kept completely left out. Even now the National Security Council has requested that we do not show this document to our witnesses or release it to the public -- a public that for over five years has paid so dearly with blood and treasure. Now I find that incredible. Meantime, the Iraqi government has posted this document on its media website so that anybody who can read Arabic can take part in the public discourse. But this is typical of the Bush administration and its unhealthy and undemocratic obsession with secrecy.

Delahunt went on to outline three things that had to take place for the treaty to be legal:

1) The Iraqi Parliament enacts by a two-thirds majority -- 184 of its 275 members -- a law governing the ratification of international agreements.

2) The Iraqi Parliament then enacts the proposed bilateral security agreement under that ratification law -- which as introduced this past Monday in their Parliament also would require a two-thirds vote of approval, and

3) The United States Congress enacts a law that approves and implements the security agreement -- and authorizes offensive combat operations by US forces.

Oona A. Hathaway,
Raed Jarrar, Michael Matheson, Issam Michael Saliba AEI's Thomas Donnelly offered testimony to the committee.

One issue that arose was the possibility of extending the United Nations Security Council mandate (the mandate expires December 31st). Jarrar explained that there had been resistance in the past to extending the mandate; however, today it is seen by proponents in Iraq "as the lesser of two evils, but not as a strategic goal. Many Iraqi groups in the Parliament think it is better to give the Parliament more time to debate the agreement rather than just rushing it within the next few weeks." Matheson, professor at George Washington University Law School, also spoke of the mandate and noted that a UN mandate could take place under Chapter 7 (as has been done) or under Chapter 6. Saliba is a Senior Foreign Law Specialist with the Law Library of Congress and his focus was the approval mechanism in the Parliament which eh found to require support of two-thirds of the MPs ("it is logical to conclude that the ratification of an agreement negotiated by the Iraqi government needs a two-thirds majority of all members of Parliament for its ratification").

"I will focus my remarks on what I believe are the three most pressing legal issues regarding the proposed bilateral agreement with Iraq," declared Professor Oona Hathaway of UC Berkeley's School of Law in her opening statements. "There are, of course, many others I'm happy to talk about. And then I'll conclude by outlining what I think are the possible ways for addressing these concerns."

1) "The agreement in my view threatens to undermine the Constitutional powers of President-elect Obama as commander-in-chief and it does so in two ways.
a) So first this agreement gives operational control to a Joint Military Operations Coordination Committee which is made up of Iraqis and Americans and is jointly led by both sides according to the agreement."

The concern of Hathaway is that before US commanders could engage in military operations in the field they would have to receive approval from the JMOCC with only an exception for self-defense. Hathaway noted this was unprecedented and that US command control has never been handed out over to foreign powers other than a very narrow peace keeping situation approved by the Congress.

b) "The proposed agreement also undermines the Constitutional powers of President-elect Obama as commander in chief by binding him to observe specific timetables that are outlined in the agreement for the withdrawal of US troops."

Oona Hathaway: Here the specifics of the timetables are fairly clear, it's sixteen months for withdrawal from the cities, towns and villages and three years withdrawal from Iraq. What is uncertain is what President-elect Obama would have to do if he wanted to withdraw early. There are two different texts that we are working with. One is a translation of the Arabic language text which has been -- as Chairman Delahunt said -- made available by the Iraqi government. That text says the following, it says, "The United States recognizes Iraq's sovereign right to request a US forces withdrawal from Iraq at any time. The Iraqi government recognizes the United States' sovereign right to request a United States forces withdrawal from Iraq at any time." So the language here seems to me suggest the United States can request the right to withdrawal but cannot simply withdraw early. And if that is in fact what the agreement says then that creates serious concerns because, of course, President-elect Obama campaigned on a promise of withdrawing forces much earlier than three years and this would seem to require him to get the approval of the Iraqi government in order to actually carry out that promise. Now the English language version which I just received last night states what seems to be quite different, it states the following, "The government of Iraq recognizes the sovereign right of the United States to withdraw the United States forces from Iraq at any time." So there is -- that seems to give much more leeway to the president to withdraw troops earlier though, of course, if conditions on the ground turn out to make it difficult or impossible or unsafe to withdraw troops earlier than three years he would have to obtain the approval of the Iraqi government in order to keep troops in the country longer. In any case, this raises obvious concerns about which of these texts we should be believing and whether they in fact say the same thing. But the basic concern I have here is that this agreement commits the president to abide by timetables that he has had no role in shaping and may even make it more difficult for him to meet his campaign promise of bringing troops home within sixteen to eighteen months.

2) "The conclusion of this agreement without any Congressional involvement is unprecedented and, in my view, unconstitutional."

Oona Hathaway: So presidents can enter into agreements on their own -- they're called Sole Executive Agreements. But these agreements must be within the president's own independent powers. This agreement goes far beyond the president's own independent, Constitutional powers in several ways. Now the administration has responded to this critique in the past by saying, "This is simply a Status Of Forces Agreement -- a SOFA. We've got hundreds -- we've got more than a hundred of these around the world. All of these have been concluded as Sole Executive Agreements entered by the president by himself. So what are you so concerned about?" And the answer is: This is not a SOFA. This is, in fact, a much more comprehensive agreement than any Status of Forces Agreement that is out there and includes a variety of provisions that, as far as I'm aware -- and I've read about sixty to eighty of these agreements, that have never been a part of any Status Of Forces Agreement. In particular the provisions granting authority to US troops to engage in military operations, the grant of power over military operations to this joint committee that I mentioned earlier and the specification of timetables for withdrawal of military forces. These are unprecedented in a standard Status Of Forces Agreement, have never been part of a standard Status Of Forces Agreement and extend, in my view, far beyond what the the President can do without obtaining Congressional approval. The administration has also suggested that the agreement doesn't really grant the authority to fight and therefore it does not need to be approved by Congress. In my view that is manifestly incorrect. This agreement is -- the entire purpose is to grant the authority to fight. It is meant to replace the UN mandate. The UN mandate is the authority under which US troops are currently present in Iraq and the entire reason for the proposal of the agreement at this time is because that mandate is about to expire and when it does there will no longer be a legal authority for the United States troops to be present in Iraq. This agreement gives in fact gives that authority to fight to replace the UN mandate. So to suggest that it doesn't do that and therefore need not be approved by Congress clearly is not correct.

3) "If the administration proceeds as planned the war will likely become illegal under United States law when the UN mandate expires on December 31st."

Oona Hathaway: At present, domestic legal authority for the war in Iraq is based on House Joint Resolution 114 which was passed in October of 2002. The resolution authorizes the president to use the armed forces for two purposes. One, to defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq and two to enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq. And let me take the second first. The second is, in my view, what is currently operative at this moment. There is a Security Council resolution in effect that is currently governing the presence of US troops and, therefore, it is the case that, in fact, we are -- that the president may enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq as long as that resolution is in effect this domestic legal authority is also in effect. But when the mandate expires at the end of the year -- as it is due to expire -- that no longer, that legal basis for the war in Iraq no longer exists. So then we're left with the first part of the authorization: To defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq. Now this was enacted, remember, in 2002 when Saddam Hussein was in power and we were hearing about threats of Weapons of Mass Destruction. And so it was clear what the threat posed by Iraq was, it was posed by the government of Iraq. Of course, that government has changed and those same threats to the United States do not exist. And, in fact, the bilateral agreement with Iraq recognizes this change. That agreement itself states that, "The danger posed to international peace and stability by the former Iraqi government is now gone." So this agreement, to my mind, says what we all know to be true which is that the threat that this resolution was meant to address has been resolved and there no longer is this threat by the government of Iraq against the United States. So once this mandate expires at the end of the year -- if it is not renewed -- then legal authority for the war in Iraq as a matter of United States' law no longer exists. So what do we do? And this is where I am going to end. There are, in my view, two legal options available. The first, as Chairman Delahunt mentioned, is renewal of the UN mandate. A simple renewal of the mandate for six months would address all these problems. It would give legal authority as a matter of international law for US troops to be present but it would also extend authority as a matter of US law because the resolution that I just mentioned clearly incorporates any future Security Council resolutions and extensions of those resolutions. So that is a very real and I think one of the best options available. There's' a second possible option as well which is submitting this agreement to Congress for approval. If Congress were to approve this agreement then all these concerns would also be addressed, then this would no longer be a Sole Executive Agreement and the Congress would have had a chance to address, consider and respond to the concerns that might be raised about the substance of the agreement and if it chooses to approve the agreement, these Constitutional and legal concerns that I've raised would be addressed.

During questioning, US House Rep Lynn Woolsey noted "It is clear to me that there are many interpretations of what this treaty/agreement is." It would be wise for those in the press who continue to miss that point to pause and consider that. We'll focus on this section of the hearing between Woolsey and Hathaway.

Rep Lynn Woolsey: What is the legal standing? Will an agreement/treaty be -- have standing if it does not come before the House of Representatives of the Congress in general?

Oona Hathaway: Well this is a complicated question as you might imagine. In my view it would be unconstitutional because it would extend beyond the president's power to conclude an agreement under his own independent powers and for all the reasons we've discussed it clearly goes beyond those limits. The question is: How would you challenge it? How would you demonstrate that? One possibility, obviously, is a resolution in Congress, another is a challenge in the courts -- that's unlikely to succeed. So the likely result would be that we would be operating under an unconstitutional agreement and what worries me is not only that -- although that is quite worrisome in and of itself -- but the precedent that that sets. So we then set a precedent that the president can enter into an agreement to commit US troops without having to get the assent of Congress. And, moreover, that the limits that we all thought applied to Sole Executive Agreements, the limits that had been observed by presidents for a generation on agreements that are entered into by presidents on their own no longer apply. All bets are off. So could President Obama enter Kyoto on his own? Could he enter the Law of the Sea Treaty on his own? If we don't know what the limits are, it creates real questions about where those -- where the Constitutional limits are? If they're not going to be observed then that creates problems not just in this instance but in every future case as well.

Rep Lynn Woolsey: So how do you think we can untangle this mess?

Oona Hathaway: My view is I think that this legislation is very positive. I think that, if in fact something like that were to pass demanding that Congress approve the agreement, I think that could have a significant effect. As I said, that would address all the questions that I've raised about the procedural issues. Congress could work out the substantive concerns if it had any about the agreement. But if this agreement were approved by Congress -- and there's nothing that would stop the president, I should say, from simply submitting this agreement as it is for approval as what's called an ex post congressional-executive agreement. That is a legal procedure that is available to the president and then this Congress would be able to pass that through majority votes in both houses and then it would become a legal agreement with the seal of approval of Congress and would be federal law and address all the concerns that I've raised. So that, to my mind, is a very real and, I think, would be an extremely positive development though, sadly I'm afraid, not entirely realistic. Another possibility is, of course, a renewal of the UN mandate because that does address both the international and domestic law issues that I've raised. In effect, that kicks the ball down the road because then we still have the issue of 'then what do we do?' That mandate would only be in effect for a short period of time -- the period of time talked about is six months. You'd have to enter an agreement then. My hope would be that given the stated position of the president-elect and vice president-elect on this issue that they would not only negotiate a good agreement but would submit that to Congress for approval.

"There's something strange" Rep Howard Byrne noted that the Iraqi Parliament was expected to approve or not but the US Congress wasn't and that the Iraqi Parliament and people can see the treaty but, in the US, Congress is not allowed to release it to the American people.

We'll also note this exchange between Raed Jarrar and the subcommittee chair Bill Delahunt.

Bill Delahunt: I'm just going to ask Mr. Jarrar a question. One of the concerns that I have to go to the issue of the vote in Iraq on the so-called implementation or ratification law. I -- My reading and the statements that I've noticed from the Speaker of the Council of Representatives and the legal committee of the Iraqi Parliament are clear that a two-thirds vote is required. In your testimony, you indicated that there is now discussion about a simple majority. If in the end, there's a vote of approval by a simple majority, in your opinion, could this provoke unrest and violence in Iraq predicated on the opinion of some including elements in Iraq that are hostile to our interests. Could this provoke them to cause mischief, if you will? And provide them a rational which would be: Look, they're circumventing the law and yet they preach respect for the rule of law and democracy.

Raed Jarrar: Before I answer the question, let me just state very clearly that the Iraqi Constitutional Court has not been formed yet. So the Iraqi Constitutional Court that is supposed to deal with such questions -- now, this is just another sign of how premature this bilateral agreement is. It's falling on a very unprepared regime in Iraq that still has a lot of its basic components uncreated -- they were not created yet. Now the fact that -- the mere fact that the agreement was sent to Parliament was not sent because there is a respect of the Constitution or a following of the Iraqi law as it were. Actually it was sent by coincidence, I think, because one of the major religious leaderships in Iraq, Ayatollah Sistani insisted that the law must be sent to the Parliament. The Iraqi executive branch lobbyied for months with Ayatollah Sistani that I think has nothing to do with politics in Iraq but it seems like the Iraqi executive branch disagrees with me. They lobbyied for months that they should just sign the agreement as an executive memo rather than sending it to the Parliament. He said no. That's why they sent it to the Parliament. So there is no real respect of the Constitution or laws and this I think should create a case that if it's worrisome that maybe next year they will create the Constituional Court to look back and say this bilateral agreement with the US is void actually -- don't mean anything. And that will put everyone in a status of limbo I'm sure. And that's why many people are saying a multilateral agreement -- like the United Nations is more guaranteed for both sides. Now regarding the particular question of increased violence there is an overwhelming rejection of signing an agreement with the US regardless of its content and this is not -- we're not talking about marginal groups in the Parliament or outside the Parliament. We have major Ayatollahs, the major Ayatollahs from the Shi'ite side like Ayatollah [al- Baqdadi, Ayatollah Shirzai or Ayatollah Haeri" ?] who have given a fatawa against signing the agreement, a religious order against signing the agreement. From the Sunni side it's the same. The major mainstream Sunni leadership has given fatawas against signing the agreement. So there is rejection regardless of the content of it Inside the Parliament, this rejection can be seen in all kinds of components in the Iraq groups, whether they were Sunni, Shi'ites or seculars there is resistance to signing the agreement. Now I think Ayatollah Sistani's as a very moderate voice, actually asked for a national consensus. He said all major groups, all major political groups must agree on this.

Delahunt made his position clear during the hearing, "What we do now could very well be referred to at some future date much to our chagrin if we don't stand up and take some sort of action. My option is extend the UN mandate because that solves all of these issues. It protects our troops. It provides the authority to conduct offensive military operations."

Mary Beth Sheridan (Washington Post) noted:

It is not clear that all 150,000 American troops will be gone in three years. "There is a provision for an extension by agreement of both sides," a senior U.S. official said this week, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The Iraqis could decide they see a continuing role for U.S. troops, he said. "They have every right to ask us for such a presence."The role of U.S. troops in Iraqi cities after July may also be greater than the agreement implies. The details of the troops' activities would be worked out in negotiations between the Iraqi and American military, the senior official said.

Campbell Robertson (New York Times) notes that Nouri al-Maliki went on TV yesterday and insisted "there were no secret side agreements to the" treaty. He moved his lips so well, it might have seemed as though the puppet were speaking his own words on Iraqi TV.
AFP reports that (today) Moqtada al-Sadr supporters (Shi'ites) banged on the tables to drown out Hassan al-Sined today as he attempted to read the treaty outloud to the Parliament. The moment was broadcast on TV (which quickly killed the feed) and Fala Shanshal has stated that guards of Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari beat up MP Ahmed al-Masaudi. The treaty is scheduled to be read to Parliament on Thursday when they reconvene. We noted Michael Abramowitz' report yesterday that Barack would be shelving the cry for Senate approval (of the treaty). Raed Jarrar (Raed in the Middle) details how the transition site set up by Barack has already altered the position on Senate approval. Let's wait and see how long before such alleged champions of the Constitution Matty Rothschild and Katty van-van Heuvel speak out. (Chances are they'll both remain impotent and silent. Remember, the Constitution only matters when Democrats aren't in control with their kind.) [And, yes, Raed's post does back up Michael's reporting.

Hurriyet reports that 1 "Turkish army officer was killed and five soldiers were injured" in armed clashes with the PKK today. Hurriyet also reports that, "Turkey, Iraq and the United States agreed Wednesday to form a joint committee to combat the terror organization PKK, which uses northern Iraq as a base for attacks on Turkey." Reuters notes the meet-up took place in Baghdad and "The delegations were headed by Iraqi Minister of State for National Security Shirwan al-Waeli, Turkish Interior Minister Besir Atalay and U.S. Ambassador Ryan Crocker, and included both civilian and military officials, the U.S. embassy said." UPI quotes al-Maliki's spokesperson Ali Dabbagh stating the committee would be "creating deterrent measures to stop any possible activities by this organization inside Iraqi territory or within the Iraqi-Turkish border areas."

In other diplomatic news,
yesterday Iraq's Foreign Ministry undersecretary Labeed Abbawi met in Baghdad with Shoji Ogawa (Japan's Ambassador to Iraq) as part of a continued process over the last few days. On Monday, the Ministry threw a reception for Martin Eshbakher, Switzerland's Ambassador to Iraq and this took place as Sweden sent their Minister of Trade, Ewa Bjorling, to Iraq for a meeting with the Ministry's Minister Hoshyar Zebari. Monday also saw Zebari meet with Hassan Kazemi who is Iran's Ambassador to Iraq. The Foreign Ministry also highlighted their Embassy in Brussels recent participation in Arab Cultural Week. And AFP reports a meet-up in Jordan Thursday among "U.N. and Arab League officials" and "[e]xperts from Iraq, Syira, Lebanon and Egypt" as well as reps from Turkey and Iran to discuss the Iraqi refugee crisis.

Turning to some of today's reported violence . . .


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports two Baghdad roadside bombings which wounded five people, a Mosul roadside bombing left two soldiers injured, a Mosul car bombing that claimed the life of the driver and left two Iraqi soldiers injured and a Samarra "magnetic" bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an armed clash in Salahuddin Province that resulted in 6 deaths. Reuters notes 3 'suspects' shot dead by the Iraqi military in Baghdad.


Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 1 corpse discovered in Baghdad.

mcclatchy newspapers
hussein kadhim
the washington postmary beth sheridanthe new york times

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

CIA Butt Boy David Corn is full of s**t

Sarah Sewall is leading the transition's national security team. She is the director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. According to her bio, her "research focuses on U.S. national security strategy, civil-military relations, and the ethics of fighting insurgencies and terrorism." The ethics of fighting terrorism? That's about as non-Bush (or non-Cheney) as it gets. She also started a project to create "a military concept of operations for intervening to halt mass atrocity." Not even Bill Clinton did that.

That's CIA tool (and asset?) David Corn showing what a fool and tool he is at Mother Jones in "The Agents of Change on Obama's Transition Team" which went up at the MoJo blog today. Is David Corn that stupid? He may be or his move to Mother Jones (which comes as the magazine becomes so much less and less) may be part of some plan from higher up. Who does Corn Nuts take his orders from? Who order him to LIE AND SMEAR Gary Webb? Who ordered him to attack ANSWER?

David Corn will rot in hell for what he did to Gary Webb. Webb, as most of you know, was a real reporter who told the truth about the CIA and got attacked by various CIA assets and agents in the press. David Corn is responsible for the death of Gary Webb and Corn knows that. It's why he felt the need to write that he wasn't responsible. He has blood on his hands that will not wash off.

Apparently not conent with being the CIA butt boy and responsible for Gary Webb's death, David Corn now wants to lie some more.

What a load crap foaming from Corn Nuts' mouth. "The ethics of torture"?

David Corn, get you hand out of your pants and off you pencil thin dick. Sarah Sewar is trash.

December 30, 2007 Ava and C.I. set you straight in "TV: Charlie Rose by any other name would still be as bad "

For those not in the know about Sewer, when not appearing on TV to look like an unwashed freak who just pulled her hair to one side, is a Bloody War Hawk. Some call her a War Whore, but we try to avoid that term and just call her a War Hawk with an "ugly" sometimes tossed in. As a War Hawk she operates out of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy which is really just a fancy way of saying she's a Destruction Pusher. There's no place on the globe that she doesn't feel her big nose can be stuck in and should be stuck in. Granted, it is a large beak, a ski run -- if you will, and it probably is difficult for her to contain it in her so-so dwellings, but not only does no one need to see it, no one wants to.
[. . .]
Monty and Sewer worked on a little thing called the US Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. You may have seen that piece of War Porn advertised. Ourselves, we remember the third of the page advertisement that ran in the October 2007 issue of The Progressive (page 28) which included a blurb from The Problem From Hell Sammy Power. When Our Modern Day Carrie Nations is blurbing you, you know you're on the path, if not the eve, of destruction.
We have no idea whether it was the talk of personal odors that prevented Rose from mentioning Sammy by name, but he was happy to offer his own blurb: "More than 2 million copies were downloaded from the internet!" We'd guess that Mein Kampf is also highly popular on the internet and we're equally sure that the 'value' in that is about the same as in the counterinsurgency manual.
Monty was playing the femme to Sewer's butch and blushed that she thinks she "wrote in total about 13 pages of that." Monty playing modest may have charmed Rose (it doesn't take much) but it's equally true that Rose is both a moron and a hack. Monty's back peddling wasn't for Rose's benefit (he wasn't pressing). And it may have played differently to those who don't know Monty. As two who do, it was classic Monty: My lies explode in my face and I begin disowning them.
[. . .]
Charlie knew a great deal more than he let on. He knew, for instance, that Sewer's been working with the military for more than the "about seven years" that she claimed. The reality is that Sewer's entire career has been bought and paid for by the military just like Monty's. (Armed Service Committee, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance, et al.) If they couldn't suck off the military-industrial-complex, both women might have to get real jobs and, truth be told, they're not qualified for anything else short of staging their own coup in a Latin American country.
So it's no surprise when 'anthropologist" Monty brags her role is "making force more precise in its applications" and Sewer wants to dismiss with all rules of warfare by casting doubt on "whether we'll ever have the luxury of a conventional foe." Or when Monty, speaking of the anthropologists joining her in betraying their field and academic study, declares" their main job is to advise the commander on the ground". It's not shocking when Sewer reveals all her ignorance and xenophobia by asserting that Iraqis "need to recognize that there are limits to our power as great we are." Maybe it's Sewer that needs to recognize the fact that the Iraqi people want foreign forces (including the US) out of their own country? Maybe she should save humming "How Great Thou Are" for a church pew and get off her damn high horse -- or is she waiting for someone to knock her off?
In a moment when Sewer attempts to illuminate a point she's fumbling, she only illuminates how power hungry, mad and crazed she is, "We're betting on a horse and trying to shape and tame it at the same time." Who's the horse?
We knew who the dogs were, we saw them, Sewer and Monty, on our TV screens. But who's the horse and how dare you pass yourself off as an academic, even one that's provided non-stop oral service to the military-complex, and make such offensive and insensitive remarks on TV. Iraq is a country. It was a country before the US invaded. The idea that a foreign country can (or should!) "shape and tame it" is offensive.
Sewer came close to unhinging in public when she went into rapid-fire mode, spitting out sentences about the failure of states, her desire to create "a strong, international force," how the illegal war must not be seen "as a failure" and her "concern" that, if Iraq is seen as a failure, "we'll move towards isolationism" or, worse, send in the military to "strike him and get out" (as opposed to occupying -- and "him" wasn't identified by the War Pig). That truly does concern Sewer because her whole existence, her belief system such as it is, is rooted in the notion that she, and only she, possess the wisdom to decide. She's a hairy-legged version of the Bully Boy with better vocab.

You should read the whole thing because not only does it tell the truth that David Corn refuses to, that article also pisses off Sarah Sewar who has written in repeatedly attempting to get it pulled and gets her friends and students to write in so that the article will be pulled.

Third noted some of these attempts in "Sarah Sewell & Her Cult" and here's question, if Sewer gets nominated, you think Third will publish those e-mails?

David Corn might try talking to Tom Hayden about Hayden's writing on Sewar -- like Ava and C.I., he saw nothing to applaud in a War Hawk who wrote the counter-insurgency manual. And that was before she went on Charlie Rose insisting the Iraq War not be called a failure.

Closing with C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Tuesday, November 18, 2008. Chaos and violence continue, the treaty dance continues, Iraq corruption continues and look who is firing the auditors, and more.

Starting with the treaty masquearding as a Status Of Forces Agreement.
Chris Floyd (Baltimore Chronicle) steps up to talk realities:

The American media is by and large swallowing the propaganda line that the Iraqi cabinet's acquiescense to a "Status of Forces Agreement" (SOFA) with the U.S. occupation force means that the Iraq War will be over in in 2011. This will further cement the conventional wisdom that the suppurating war crime in Iraq is now behind us, and the topic will be moved even further off the radar of public scrutiny.
But as usual, there is a wide, yawning abyss between the packaged, freeze-dried pabulum for public consumption and thhe gritty, blood-flecked truth on the ground.
As Jason Ditz reports at, the so-called "deadline" in 2011 for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces remains, as ever, an "aspiration," not an iron-clad guarantee. The pace and size of the bruited "withdrawal" will remain, as ever, "conditions-based," says Pentagon and White House officials -- a position long echoed by the "anti-war" president-elect. And as we all know, "conditions" in a war zone are always subject to radical, unexpected change.

Campbell Robertson and Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) deserve credit for this bit of reporting today on the treaty, "The concessions included establishing deadlines for withdrawing combat forces from Iraqi cities by naext June and from the county by the end of 2011, though officials said the text of the agreement included language that made those dates less rigid deadlines." While they note US Rep Bill Delahunt, they fail to note the most important detail from the press release his office issued last week:

Next week's hearing will examine the possibility that any bilateral agreement reached between the Bush Administration and the government of Iraq may effectively tie the hands of the next Administration as a result of a clause in Article 31 in a draft of the accord that would prohibit the United States from cancelling it for one year.

The hearing is tomorrow and starts at ten a.m. The most important part is "a clause in Article 31 in a draft of the accord that would prohibit the United States from cancelling it [the "bilateral agreement"] for one year." So the treaty's not all that binding. Binding contracts do not allow either party to cancel in one year, 'binding contracts' trumpeted for what they will 'do' three years from now (2011) do not allow either party the option to cancel out starting in 2009.
Reuters reports that Ali Larijani, Iran's Speaker of Parliament, is decrying the treaty for "strengthening comprehensive U.S. hegemony in Iraq" while Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani released a statement today which includes: "The representatives of the Iraqi people in parliament must take on a big responsibility in this case and each must be up to this historic responsibility before God and the people."

The Washington Post asserts a 'change' in Barack Obama's stance on the treaty. First let's review the public stance this year.

During the election, the Obama-Biden campaign website revealed their stance on the so-called SOFA in "
Plan for Ending the War in Iraq:"The Status-of-Forces-AgreementObama and Biden believe any Status of Forces Agreement, or any strategic framework agreement, should be negotiated in the context of a broader commitment by the U.S. to begin withdrawing its troops and forswearing permanent bases. Obama and Biden also believe that any security accord must be subject to Congressional approval. It is unacceptable that the Iraqi government will present the agreement to the Iraqi parliament for approval--yet the Bush administration will not do the same with the U.S. Congress. The Bush administration must submit the agreement to Congress or allow the next administration to negotiate an agreement that has bipartisan support here at home and makes absolutely clear that the U.S. will not maintain permanent bases in Iraq.
Post election, was set up as the official website for the Barack-Biden transition and if you pull up "The Obama-Biden Plan," you will find:The Status-of-Forces AgreementObama and Biden believe it is vital that a Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) be reached so our troops have the legal protections and immunities they need. Any SOFA should be subject to Congressional review to ensure it has bipartisan support here at home.
That has been the official position, that Congressional approval was required and Congressional review. However,
Michael Abramowitz (Washington Post) reports, "And the Obama transition team is signling that it wants Congress to review the pact, though not necessarily approve it." That would be a huge shift from where Barack once stood. It would also make Joe Biden look like a flat-out liar. Or are we all supposed to forget the April 10th Senate Foreign Reltations committee he chaired where he told the State Dept's David Satterfield and the Defense Dept's Mary Beth Long that regarding their claim that the so-called SOFA didn't need Senator approval, "I respectfully suggest that you don't have a Constitutional leg to stand on." And are we supposed to forget Senator Russ Feingold informing Satterfield, "I would suggest your difficulties are with the nature of our Constitution." Or that Senators Norm Coleman and Johnny Isakson also called out the so-called SOFA (both senators are Republicans -- there was bi-partisan objection to the Senate's Constitutional role of approving any treaty being circumvented). Back on the Democratic side, Senator Robert Menendez pointed out this bi-partisan objection, "Many of us on both sides of the aisle believe that such an agreement needs to come before Congress." Senator Jim Webb made his position clear, "I would argue it's a document that needs Senate consent."

On both sides of the aisle, senators stood up for the Constitution (and let's not forget that they stood up in the House as well including US House Rep Susan Davis) and now this is going to be tossed aside or Barack Obama thinks it is? That's what the Post reported this morning. (Friends on the transition team told me this morning and this afternoon that the position has not changed and Senate approval remains the stance. Whether that's true or not, I don't know.)

Deputy Secretary of State
John Negroponte spoke in Ireland yesterday where he strung together the Iraq War, the Afghanistan War, "2001" and "extremism." When the current administration leaves office will they take the direct and indirect fale-linkage of Iraq to 9-11 with him? You'd think so but you'd also have thought that all that lip flapping in April meant something, that a Constituional scholar like Barack wouldn't be eager to spit on the Constitution before he's even sworn in; however, the Post feels their information on this is solid and Team Barack will not fight for or advocate Senate approval. If true, he'll go into office a damn liar and never overcome it while Democrats in the Senate will be damned in the same manner. (Russ Feingold being Russ would most likely speak out to some degree if the Senate was circumvented. Would the rest?) For eight years, Democrats and their media surrogates have tossed around phrases like "rule of law" and if they think they can drop them just because "their guy" got into the White House they better expect to see huge losses in both houses of Congress come November 2010. And you can pair this potential move by Barack with Tom Burghardt's "Obama's Intelligence Agenda: More of the Same from the 'Change Administration'" (Dissident Voice):While expectations may be high that the incoming Obama administration will reverse many of the worst features of the Bush regime–from warrantless wiretapping, illegal detention, torture, "targeted assassinations" and preemptive war–now that the cheering has stopped, expect more of the same. According to The Wall Street Journal, "President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party." With hyperbolic "change" rhetoric in the air, Obama is relying on a gaggle of former intelligence insiders, warmed-over Clinton administration officials and "moderate" Republicans, many of whom helped Bush craft his administration's illegal policies. With U.S. street cred at an all-time low, due in no small measure to Washington's hubristic fantasies that it really is an empire and not a rapidly decaying failed state, ruling elites have literally banked on Obama to deliver the goods. During his run for the White House, the Illinois senator may have mildly criticized some of the administration's so-called "counterterrorism" policies including the Bushist penchant for secrecy, the disappearance of "terrorist" suspects, driftnet surveillance of American citizens and legal residents, CIA "black site" gulags and the crushing of domestic dissent. But in the few scant days since the November 4 general election, the contours of what Democratic party corporatist grifters will roll-out come January 20 are taking shape. Citing Obama's carefully-crafted public relations blitz on the campaign trail opposing illegal spying, the Journal reports: Yet he ... voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision. The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight. (Siobhan Gorman, "Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact," The Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2008) The "current government official" cited by the Journal fails to specify precisely what it means to "keep the road open" when it comes to torturing prisoners of war in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Turning to England, Peter Goldsmith is in the news. Lord Goldsmith resigned as Attorney General of England and Wales June 27, 2007. His advice to then-Prime Minister Ton Blair has been questioned for some time (PDF format warning,
click here for the advice). Yesterday Lord Thomas Bingham, speaking to The British Institute of International and Comparative Law raised Goldsmith's advice. BBC reports he called the war "a serious violation of international law" and said Bingham provided Blaid with "no hard evidence" making a case for the war. Joshua Rozenberg (Telegraph of London) explains, "It is thought to be the first time that Lord Bingham has expressed his views about the legal advice given to Tony Blair by the former Attorney General. The issue never came before Lord Bingham while he was sitting as a judge." Rozenberg quotes Bingham on why the decision was doubtful:

"First, it was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show that it had: Hans Blix and his team of weapons inspectors had found no weapons of mass destruction, were making progress and expected to complete their task in a matter of months.
"Secondly, it passes belief that a determination whether Iraq had failed to avail itself of its final opportunity was intended to be taken otherwise than collectively by the Security Council."

Frances Gibb (Times of London) quotes Bingham stating, "Particularly disturbing to proponents of the rule of law is the cynical lack of concern for international legality among some top officials in the Bush administration." The First Post emphasizes the illegal nature of the war based on Bingham's judgement.

From illegal to corruption, September 22nd in the US, the the Democratic Policy Committee held a hearing on corruption that was noted in the
Sept. 23rd snapshot:

Senator Byron Dorgan: In March, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing at my request, in which we heard from a very courageous Iraqi judge who headed Iraq's Commission of Public Integrity. This agency was established by the Coalition Provisional Authority after the US invasion of Iraq, and charged with rooting out corruption in the new government. Judge al-Radhi estimated that corruption in Iraq's government had resulted in the loss of $18 billion in government funds, and most of those funds had been US tax payer dollars. Judge Radhi said that instead of supporting his efforts to fight corruption, the top levels of the Iraqi government had ultimately suppressed his investigations. [. . . ] Judge Radhi also testified that since the establishment of the Commission of Public Integrity, more than 31 employees have been assassinated as well as at least an additional 12 family members. One would have expected that our own government would have been doing everything it could to support Judge Radhi's anti-corruption efforts. But in hearing of this committee back in May, we heard from two State Dept officials who said that our own government was not interested in ensuring accountability of U.S. funds in Iraq or in rooting out corruption. In fact, one of the officials, retired judge Arthur Brenna, said that some of the stolen funds were steered to the Iraqi insurgency. Yet the administration was generally indifferent to the problem. This indifference has had deadly consequences. We will hear from witnesses today -- one of whom was Judge Radhi's chief investigator in Iraq -- about how stolen US funds have gone to al Qaeda in Iraq. Our earlier hearing with Judge Brennan showed us that the State Dept turns a blind eye when it comes to corruption. Today's hearing will show us what the State Dept turned a blind eye to -- and what the consequences have been.

James Glanz and Riyadh Mohammed (New York Times) report that Nouri al-Maliki continues to fire those tasked with oversight and the reporters note, "Mr. Maliki's stance on oversight was most vividly illustrated by his long-running feud with Judge Rathi al-Rathi, the former head of the Commission onf Public Integrity, an oversight agency created by the Coalition Provisional Authority. After Mr. Rathi's corruption investigations repeatedly embarrassed the Maliki government, the prime minister's office supported corruption charges against Mr. Rathi himself." Matt Kelley (USA Today) reports that being suspended by the government doesn't mean that you can't still get contracts as Lee Dynamics International (suspended for bribery) proves, "Contracting officers gave Lee Dynamics International a new contract in July 2007 despite warnings from military lawyers, according to a report issued by Stuart Bowen, special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction (SIGIR). The Joint Contracting Command-Iraq did not return calls on why Lee Dynamics was awarded the new contract." Matt Kelley also notes, "The Pentagon spent about $600 million on more than 1,200 Iraq reconstruction contracts that were eventually canceled, nearly half of them for the mismanagemnt or shoddy construciton, government inspectors say." Reuters notes Iraq ranks number three on the most corrupt nation-state list by Transparency International Index and that the head of Iraq's Integrity Commission, Rahim al-Ugaili, was sent out to dance for reporters today .and declare, "In 2008 we referred 337 cases to the court. This year has seen the biggest achievement." No word apparently on whether more corruption cases would allegedly be referred or not had al-Maliki not fired at will. Glanz and Mohammed note:

At least two of the officials who were forced out were Christian women, Hana Shakuri of the Culture Ministry and Samia Youssef Sha'ia of the Christian Endowment. But most are simply senior Sunni and Shiite technocrats who have been at their posts for years and in several cases were orginally appointed in 2004 by L. Paul Bremer III, the top administrator for the Coaliton Provisional Authority.

We'll use the women's religion to grab
Liz Sly's (Chicago Tribune) report on Sunday about Iraq's Mandeans who predate Christianity and Islam ("and even perhaps Judaism") but are now "on the brink of extinction" having dropped from 30,000 in 2002 to between 3,500 and 5,000 currently:

Scattered around the world in tiny communities, the chances that the religion will survive more than a few generations are slim, experts say. Mandaeism does not accept converts, and the children of Mandaeans who marry non-Mandaeans do not belong to the sect. There are only 35 priests left in the world familiar with the elaborate ceremonies of a people who claim to be directly descended from Adam and who regard John the Baptist as their most important prophet."It has been a catastrophe for us," said Sattar Jabar Helou, who heads the Mandaean sect worldwide. "This is one of the world's oldest religions, and it is going to die."Mandaeans, known as Sabis in Arabic, are just one of several minorities who have historically given Iraq its distinct identity as a cradle of religious diversity. All have suffered disproportionately from the spread of anarchy and extremism in the wake of the U.S. invasion.Iraq's once-substantial Christian community has seen its numbers dwindle from about 800,000 to 500,000. Yazidis, a lettuce-shunning minority that venerates the forces of good and evil, have been targeted for attacks in their enclaves along the borders of Iraqi Kurdistan. Shabbaks, a Muslim sect that permits alcohol and is neither Sunni nor Shiite, have been persecuted in their ancestral lands near the northern city of Mosul.

Turning to today's reported violence . . .


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad bombing inside the home "of Sadi Mahdi, a general inspector in the ministry of electriticy" which left "Sadi's son Mustafa and his wife" wounded, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded two people, a Baghdad roadside bombing that wounded one person, another Baghdad roadside bombing and this one left two people wounded and a Mosul car bombing that claimed 1 life and ten other people injured. Reuters notes a Sinjar bombing that claimed 1 life and left thirteen people injured,


Reuters notes 5 'suspects' were shot dead in Samarra and three more wounded.


Laith Hammoudi (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 15 corpses discovered in Baghdad

Greg Mitchell (Editor & Publisher) continues to explore service members deaths in Iraq from non-combat, "Here is today's horror story, involving Sgt. Mason Lewis of Virginia. A year ago, the military told his mom he had died in a fall. By implication: his fault. Yesterday a local TV outlet reported that the official probe has belatedly revealed: 'Army investigators discovered a poorly maintained bucket loader with no brakes and sluggish hydraulics, operated by an inexperienced crew, led to Mason's death'."

Mickey Z (at CounterCurrents) points out the little confidence game so many on the left are playing at present regarding a hopey-changey Corporatist War Hawk:And let's say Howard Zinn wrote an article that talked about what this man should do, what he hoped he'd do. For example: "announce the withdrawal of our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan" and "renounce the Bush doctrine of preventive war as well as the Carter doctrine of military action to control Midest oil." Also: "radically change the direction of U.S. foreign policy, declare that the U.S. is a peace loving country which will not intervene militarily in other parts of the world, and start dismantling the military bases we have in over a hundred countries. Also he must begin meeting with Medvedev, the Russian leader, to reach agreement on the dismantling of the nuclear arsenals, in keeping with the Nuclear Anti-Proliferation Treaty." Then raise taxes on the rich and combine that windfall with the hundreds of billions of dollars freed from the military budget to "give free health care to everyone (and) put millions of people to work" and thus "transform" the United States and "make it a good neighbor to the world."
Well, Howard Zinn has written such an article ("Obama's Historic Victory," Nov. 12, 2208) but is anyone calling him delusional and ridiculing him for even suggesting such insane expectations? The tens of thousands of readers who look to Zinn as a trusted voice of wisdom and reason are being dangerously misled by an article that omits the reality that every indication points to Barack Obama doing the exact opposite of what Zinn writes. Zinn knows as well as anyone that not an iota of evidence exists that Obama would do anything approaching what is described above. For a man of Zinn's stature on the Left to even hint of such a possibility is a shockingly irresponsible act and one that only contributes to the misguided perception that Obama's election is somehow a victory for the progressive Left.

chris floydthe washington postmichael abramowitzthe new york timescampbell robertsonsteven lee myers
james glanz
riyadh mohammedtom burghardt
matt kelley
liz sly
mcclatchy newspaperslaith hammoudi
greg mitchell
mickey z