May 18, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Barack tells the world
things aren't good in Iraq (you think?), the political crisis continues,
Moqtada either did or didn't receive a letter from the National
Alliance regarding a no confidence vote on Nouri, Spokane gears up for
their annual Armed Forces Torch Light Parade (that's tomorrow), the
White House remains silent on burn pits, a wife whose husband died in
Iraq is shocked by news about the man thought to have killed her
husband, and more.
In Spokane, Washington, the Lilac Festival is taking place
As usual, the third Saturday of the month (tomorrow) will be the
Festival's Armed Forces Torch Light Parade. The festival has taken place
since 1938 when the chair of the Associated Garden Clubs and the
Spokane Floral Association, Ethyl Goodsell, organized the first event.
This Saturday's parade will start at 7:45 p.m. by the INB Performing
Arts Center and will feature "high school bands, community floats,
equestrian groups and individuals, and military with groups of veterans,
and active military marching." Iraq War veteran Danielle Nienajadlo's
mother will be there and Lindsay Wediman will be carrying a picture of
her daughter Danielle.
John Stucke (Spokesman-Review) reports
that, after graduating high school, Danielle enlisted in the army and
served 13 years. A year after she left the military, in 2009, Danielle
was battling "an aggressive form of leukemia." Like so many others who
worked in and around the burn pits (open areas where every discarded
item from standard trash to human waste to medication, etc. was burned
to dispose of it), Danielle saw her record good health vanish. While
stationed at Balad, she coughed up blood, suffered sores and bruises
over her body, experienced severe weight loss and had headaches.
Attempts to address the situation resulted in her symptoms being
dismissed and ignored: "Danielle was finally sent to Walter Reed Army
Medical Center and diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. She
became one among hundreds of soldiers brought home from the war to
battle cancers and other diseases. Many -- though not all -- blame the
burn pits for their illnesses, and class-action litigation is pending in
government's reluctance to acknowledge the potential hazard has
frustrated veterans' advocates, who remember how long it took for the
Pentagon to recognize Gulf War Syndrome
in the 1990s, and to acknowledge the health problems caused by aerial
spraying during the Vietnam War. "We don't want another Agent Orange,"
says John L. Wilson, DAV's assistant national legislative director.
"Silence does not do any good."
If the pits
are harming troops and Iraqis, there's no telling how many. Many
cancers won't reveal themselves for a decade or more, and many
respiratory symptoms tend to be misdiagnosed as asthma. Like Nienajadlo,
Air Force Reserve Lt. Colonel Michelle Franco, 48, had a clean bill of
health when she shipped out to Balad three years ago. The 18-foot walls
surrounding her quarters kept out mortar fire, but not the smoke: "You
could smell it; you could taste it." As a nurse, Franco suspected the
"plume crud" was hazardous. She knew that in addition to amputated limbs
from her medical facility, the base's waste included hundreds of
thousands of water bottles every week -- and she knew burning plastic
releases cancer-causing dioxins. After just five months at the base,
Franco sustained permanent lung damage. She's lucky, she says, that she
kept asking questions when harried doctors handed her an inhaler. She
expects her diagnosis -- untreatable reactive airway dysfunction
syndrome -- to ultimately push her into retirement.
Last Friday, Iraq War veteran Spc Dominick J. Liguori died. Bob Kalinowski (Times-Tribune) reports
he died of sarcoidosis, "Family members say Spc. Liguori developed the
disease from exposure to open-air burn pits while serving in Iraq, and
the ailment slowly scarred and destroyed his lungs." Denise Hook says
of her 31-year-old nephew, "They did scans of his lungs. You could see
on the scans that most of his lungs were destroyed. You'll see a lot
more in the future. You really will." She also states, "Since he was
little, he wore camouflage for Halloween every year. He painted his
wagon camouflage. He painted his little trucks camouflage. He hid in
the trees with camouflage. All he ever dreamt about was being in the
military. That was his lifelong dream. I think if God could have
made him better, he would have rejoined."
the government collectively shrugs its shoulders, Iraq War veteran
Leroy Torres and his wife Rosie Torres have continued to battle on
behalf of veterans exposed to burn pits -- which includes Leroy Torres
-- and they have contiuned to educate the nation on the issue. The
Torres have a website entitled BURNPITS 360
. They are also on Facebook
. Last month, she was interviewed by Rachel Cole (KRIS -- link is text and video)
wife, Rosie, has been battling for years with Congress to get
legislation passed that will recognize a connection with toxic
exposure for soldiers and their poor health conditions. "To sum it up,
at 39-years-old, he's lost both his careers that he's worked very hard
for because of his health. Toxic exposure is something that it slowly
takes over one organ at a time." Rosie said.According to
Rosie, her husband is in stable but she says others aren't so lucky.
"There's several soldiers awaiting lung transplants and others on full
liters of oxygen constantly." She said.
At RT for Decision Makers in Respiratory Care, Kalie VonFeldt, MS, PA-C; Maura Robinson, BS; and Cecile Rose, MD, MPH explore
these issues and they note, "Reports of increased acute respiratory illnesses in deployed troops began surfacing in 2004.3
Subsequent epidemiologic studies showed that deployers have higher
rates of newly reported respiratory symptoms than nondeployers (14%
versus 10%), although rates of physician-diagnosed asthma and chronic
bronchitis were not increased.4
More recent studies suggest
that obstructive airways diseases, including asthma and constrictive
bronchiolitis, are occurring in excess in returning troops.1,5
The magnitude and spectrum of respiratory illnesses from deployment are
difficult to judge. Lack of predeployment spirometry and challenges
with diagnosis limit accurate estimates of disease incidence and
the House Veterans Affairs Subcommittee on Health held a hearing.
Subcommittee Chair Ann Marie Buerkle noted the hearing was entitled
"Optimizing Care for Veterans With Prosthetics." The Subcommittee heard
from four panels. The first one was featured Gulf War Veteran John
Register and Vietnam Veteran Jim Mayer. Disabled American Veterans
' Joy Ilem, American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association
's Michael Oros, Paralyzed Veterans of America
's Alethea Predeoux and Southeast Wounded Warrior Project
's Jonathan Pruden made up the second panel (we covered the second panel in Wednesday's snapshot
The third panel was the VA's Office of Inspector General's Linda
Halliday accompanied by Nicholas Dahl, Kent Wrathall and Dr. John D.
Daigh Jr. and Dr. Robert Yang. The fourth panel was the VHA's Dr.
Lucille Beck accompanied by Dr. Joe Webster, Dr. Joe Miller and Norbert
Doyle. Yesterday we covered
some of Chair Ann Marie Buerkle's questions during the fourth panel.
Today, we're going to note Ranking Member Mike Michaud questioning the
Before we do though, we're going to note some of the remarks Iraq War veteran Jonathan Pruden made on the second panel.
Pruden: Under the change, only a contracting officer could procure a
prosthetic item costing more than $3,000. This policy would effect
essential items including most limbs like mine and wheel chairs. It
would require the use of a system designed for bulk procurement
purchases that involves manually processing over three hundred -- that's
300 -- individual steps to develop a purchase order. This system may
be great for buying cinder blocks and light bulbs but it is certainly
not appropriate for providing timely and appropriate medical care.
Equally troubling, this change offers no promise of improving service to
the warrior. Instead, it would mean greater delays. The change could
realize modest savings but at what cost? A warrior needing a new leg or
wheel chair should not have to wait longer than is absolutely
necessary. I know warriors who have stayed home from our events, stay
home from school, from work, can't play ball with their kids or live
in chronic pain while they wait for a new prosthesis. I know first
hand what it's like to not be able to put my son into the crib while I'm
waiting for a new prosthetic, to live in chronic pain and to have my
daughter ask my wife once again, "Why can't Daddy come and walk with
us?" With VA moving ahead on changing procurement practices, wounded
warriors need this Committee's help. A prosthetic limb is not a mass
produced widget. Prosthetics are specialized, medical equipment that
should be prescribed by a clinician and promptly delivered to the
veteran. We urge this Committee to direct VA to stop implementation of
this change in prosthetic procurement.
sets us up for the problem. VA is proposing a change which will add
steps to attempting to get prosthetics and which veterans groups fear (I
agree with them) will lead to veterans not getting what their doctors
are prescribing but instead some cheap knock-off that doesn't do what
they need and that's why their doctor didn't prescribe it in the first
place. Will this fear come true? That's a yes-or-a-no answer. But as
we saw in the hearing during the fourth panel, a lot of words flow out
of the mouths of VA employees appearing before the Subcommittee but
"yes" and "no" are not among them.
Member Mike Michaud: I just want to follow up, Mr. Doyle, on your
comment that you made where you mentioned that contracting officers do
not change what the clinician prescribes but actually, in testimony that
we heard earlier, from PVA, that is not the case -- because that is not
the case. Their testimony states that contracting officers when they do
receive the orders the request for the devices is modified and even
denied in cases because of the cost. So that is a huge concern. There
seems to be a disconnect between what you are hearing versus what the
VSOs are hearing The cost is a factor, it's not the veteran's health
care. So do you want to comment on that and --
Doyle: Yes, yes, sir. Thank you. First of all contracting officers --
all contracting officers do have a mandate under Federal Acquistion
regulations to ensure that there's a price reasonable aspect to the cost
we're providing. So I don't know if that is a concern or not. I can't
really speak to, uh, what may have happened before but I have put out
to the contracting community that under 8123 that if a contract -- that
if the contracting officer recieves a physicians consult for a specific
product we'll do due dil -- due deligence to ensure that we pair a fair
and reasonable price for that product but we're going to get that
product for that individual. So I -- So I don't know if it's a -- a
concern that -- again I'll take full blame for not bringing the veterans
service organizations into the loop, into this discussion, and we can
fix that but I don't know if that's part of the issue there -- if that's
why that concern was being raised.
Member Mike Michaud: Well its very clear from the VSOs, some of their
statements, that it's not uncommon for clinicians to prescribe
something and it's being modified by contracting officers. And
primarily because of cost. And that's a big concern that I would have.
My other question is, Mr. Oros talked about older veterans at his
practice complaining that there appears to be a new administrative
hurdle to prevent their continuing to receiving care at Scheck and
Siress. The VA has assured veterans that they may choose their own
prosthetist and yet veterans who wish to use community-based providers
report wide-spread administrative hurdles and other pressures to choose
in house VA care. How would you explain the perception among the
veterans and the community based providers because there seems to be a
disconnect here as well as far as what you have told us versus what's
actually happening out there.
Lucille Beck: Uhm, uhm, yes, sir. I'll start and, uhm, uh, we do have
contracts with 600 providers -- uhm, approximately 600 providers. Uhm,
we do offer choice to the -- to our veterans. Uhm, and, uhm, when our
-- In our amputee clinic, when we initiate the process for the
multi-disciplinary care that we provide, uhm, we have our physicians and
our clinicians and our prosthetists there. We also have contract --
our vendors, our contracted community partners, our contracted
prosthetic vendors from the community are there as well. The veterans
do have that choice. That's part of our policy. And, uhm, and, uhm --
We -- As we become aware of we-we will reaffirm that policy with the
field based on what we have heard from our veterans today. And, uhm,
and we are improving the processes. I think the Inspector General
report pointed out that we -- There's some contract administration
initiatives that we need to undertake including streamlining the way
that we do our quote reviews so that they happen in a more timely
fashion and, uhm, that they really clarify the prescriptive elements for
fabrication of the leg and we are doing that -- or fabrication of the
limb and we are doing that. Uhm, the second thing that we are doing is,
uhm, we are, uh, making sure that our contracting officers and their
technical representatives who have as part of their, uh, responsibility
to review those quotes and certify that they are doing that regularly
and in a timely fashion, there's guidance that's being prepared even
now, uhm, with, uh, to get -- to get -- to reinstruct the field and
educate them on that. And the third thing that we are doing is that we
are taking a contracted -- what we call contracted template where we are
developing policy and guidance that can actually go into our contracts
so that it is clearly specified for the contract provider and the VA
exactly what the requirements are and the timelines. So, uhm, we've
taken the report that we've had from the Inspector General about the
need to improve contract adminstration and support our veterans
seriously and we are making those corrections, uhm, and have been doing
that over the last several months.
Member Mike Michaud: And do you feel that with the new changes you're
providing, which goes back to my original question, that the clinicians
will have final say in what a veteran receives versus a contracting
officer who has to look at contracts and saving costs -- which I believe
that we have to do. But the bottom line for me is to make sure that
the veterans get the adequate prosthetics that they need. And if it
costs a little bit more then they should be able to get it if it fits
them more appropriately. And the concern that I have is that, yes, you
have to look at cutting costs but not at the cost of providing what our
veterans need and I do have a concern with contracting officers
injecting, uh, more costs versus the clinician looking at the veterans'
Lucille Beck: Uhm, yes, sir, I have a concern with that too. I'm a
clinician myself, working in another area, who provides rehab
technologies to veterans. And it is critically important that what the
clinician requests and that of course is done in collaboration and in
partnership with the veteran -- these are the choices and decisions
about technologies that our veterans make with out clinicians. And,
uhm, we are absolutely -- Uhm, rehabiliation is not effective unless we
are able to, uh, provide the-the products and services that our veterans
need. And, uhm, our role in prosthetics and in rehabilitation is to
assure that any, uhm, uh-uh, that any, uh, contracts, uh -- And the way
we procure items uhm, enhances and-and, uh, not only enhances but
provides high quality individualized care. Uhm, we have done that
successfully, uhm, for a long time. And, uh, we believe that we are
able to do that, uhm, as we move forward. And as Mr. Doyle has cited,
the, uhm -- We can certainly, uhm, work within the framework of
contracting requirements and the added authority that Congress gave us
many years ago for 8123 is, I think, the other piece of-of sole source
procurement that we can do when we need to provide and are providing
highly individualized products and services.
Ranking Member Mike Michaud: Thank you. Thank you, Madam Chair.
above dance was only topped by the moves Doyle proved when Chair Ann
Marie Buerkle asked him more questions in the second round.
Specifically, when the Chair asked, "In the panel with Mr. Pruden --
Captain Pruden, I should say -- he talked about this new system that
you're going to go to, the Electronic Contract Management System -- and
talked to us about the fact that it requires 300 steps to get the
request in. Can you comment on that?"
who couldn't comment? Did you think it was Lucille? Yeah, it was Dr.
Beck. Why was she present? She had nothing to say, no answers to
questions but after Doyle misdirected for two to three minutes every
time he opened his mouth, Dr. Beck would jump in at the end to start
offering slogans she must have read on hand outs in the VA's waiting
She couldn't comment. But Norbert
Doyle did want to comment on the Electronic Contract Management System.
He began insisting that it "new" and that he knows the process is
"labroious" and has many steps but 300? "That's a new one on me."
How many steps is he familiar with?
He never said.
sounded like a highly frustrated Chair Ann Marie Buerkle replied that
they weren't talking about "lightbulbs," they were talking about
something "intimate," something that "becomes a part of the veteran's
body." And if she was frustrated then (she sounded it -- many of us
observing the hearing had frustrated looks on our faces as well during
the fourth panel's testimony), she most likely only grew more frustrated
by the flat affect with which the VA witnesses greeted her comments.
if you're think Iraq falling off the US media radar means it's safe and
rainbows flow from Nouri al-Maliki's armpits and carmel and
butterscotch out of his ass, think again. The White House issued the
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
May 18, 2012
Message -- Continuation of the National Emergency with Respect to the Stabilization of Iraq
TO THE CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES:
202(d) of the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1622(d)) provides for
the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, within 90
days prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the President
publishes in the Federal Register and transmits to the Congress a notice
stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the
anniversary date. In accordance with this provision, I have sent the
enclosed notice to the Federal Register for publication continuing the
national emergency with respect to the stabilization of Iraq. This
notice states that the national emergency with respect to the
stabilization of Iraq declared in Executive Order 13303 of May 22, 2003,
as modified in scope and relied upon for additional steps taken in
Executive Order 13315 of August 28, 2003, Executive Order 13350 of July
29, 2004, Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004, and Executive
Order 13438 of July 17, 2007, is to continue in effect beyond May 22,
Obstacles to the orderly
reconstruction of Iraq, the restoration and maintenance of peace and
security in the country, and the development of political,
administrative, and economic institutions in Iraq continue to pose an
unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign
policy of the United States. Accordingly, I have determined that it is
necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to this threat
and maintain in force the measures taken to deal with that national
developments in Iraq, my Administration will continue to evaluate Iraq's
progress in resolving outstanding debts and claims arising from actions
of the previous regime, so that I may determine whether to further
continue the prohibitions contained in Executive Order 13303 of May 22,
2003, as amended by Executive Order 13364 of November 29, 2004, on any
attachment, judgment, decree, lien, execution, garnishment, or other
judicial process with respect to the Development Fund for Iraq, the
accounts, assets, and property held by the Central Bank of Iraq, and
Iraqi petroleum-related products, which are in addition to the sovereign
immunity accorded Iraq under otherwise applicable law.
And the order comes just as explosions go off in the capitol of Iraq. Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) reports
Baghdad was slammed with three bombings today leaving at least 5 people dead and another thirty-one injured. The Voice of Russia adds
"According to the Iraqi law enforcement agencies, three bombs went off
in a busy marketplace, in a Shiite quarter of the city." Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) notes
that the bombs all went off close to the same time. Dar Addustour counts
5 dead and forty-seven injured. Iraq Body Count
notes that 5 people died in Baghdad violence yesterday ("Baghdad: 4 by
IED, 1 by AED") and that 111 have died violent deaths so far this
month. Iraq Body Count counted 290 violent deaths in Iraq for the month
violence, the political crisis continues. US news outlets haven't even
bothered to delve into the deadline Moqtada al-Sadr gave Nouri al-Maliki
last week, let alone cover all that's happened since. A few days back,
we noted a photo of Nouri and Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq's Ammar
al-Hakim in a public display of affection together, they were
practically rubbing noses. Al Mada reports
al-Hakim gave a speech declaring that failure to resolve the political
crisis will lead Iraq into a dark abyss. Could things get darker? Alsumaria reports
that State of Law is invoking Saddam Hussein, likening him to Iraqiya.
Mp Mohammed Chihod insists that Allawi is an exile (as is Nouri, as are
most the US allowed into leadership) and that he doesn't care about
anything but authority, that he leaves the country to this day (as do
most Iraqis in Parliament) and he leaves to plot with Iraq's enemies.
On the issue of Allawi being in and out of the country, State of Law picked a bad time to make that argument -- the same day Lara Jakes (AP) reports
members of Parliament "hightailed it out of town" as they leave on
their six-week vacation in "free armored cars" (free for them, $50
million price tag for the people of Iraq) that outraged the Iraqi people
and that the Parliament swore they'd be looking into -- how did it
happen, they were just so confused and swearing they understood the
public's outrage over it all. Again, Jakes is reporting they headed out
in those cars they never paid for themselves and that they swore they
would be doing away with. Jakes also points out that while "raw sewage
runs through the streets in many neighborhoods, polluting tap water,"
the MPs not only receive a salary (and those armored cars) but they've
given themselves a $90,000 per diem to cover living expenses.
At any rate, State of Law's character smear on Allawi is quite lengthy, almost as lengthy as the political crisis itself.
7, 2010, Iraq held parliamentary elections. Iraqiya, led by Ayad
Allawi, came in first, State of Law, led by Nouri, came in second.
Nouri did not want to give up the post of prime minister and, with
support from the White House and Tehran, Nouri dug his heels in creating
eight months of gridlock, Political Stalemate I. This only ended in
November 2010 when the US brokered a deal known as the Erbil Agreement.
At a big meet-up in Erbil, the various political blocs signed off on
the agreement. Nouri got his second term as prime minister in exchange
for concessions to other political blocs. But once he became prime
minister, Nouri refused to honor the agreement. By the summer of 2011,
the Kurds were publicly demanding that Nouri return to the Erbil
Agreement and Iraqiya and Moqtada al-Sadr joined in the call. More
recently, April 28th
another meet up took place in Erbil. Participants included KRG
President Massoud Barzani, President of Iraq Jalal Talabani, Speaker of
Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi, Ayad Allawi and Moqtada al-Sadr. The
demands coming out of that meet-up were a return to the Erbil Agreement
and the implementation of 18-point plan by Moqtada.
All eyes are on Moqtada today. Al Mada reports
that Iraqiya states they are waiting for word from Moqtada regarding
the withdrawal of confidence vote on Nouri. Moqtada is thought to be
either still waiting on a communication from the National Alliance (a
grouping of Shi'ite political blocs including ISCI, Moqtada's bloc,
Nouri's State of Law and others) or else contemplating which step to
take now? Alsumaria reports
Moqtada is stating today that he received no response from the National
Alliance yesterday and that there will be a meeting soon on outstanding
issues. These statements were made online in the Q&A he regularly
does with his follwers. Al Mada notes
that there are conflicting reports on whether or not the National
Alliance sent Moqtada a communication with MP Ali al-Tamimi stating that
Moqtada was sent a letter which was a formal response. al-Tamimi
states he does not know the contents of the letter; however, he states
that Moqtada is expected to respond to the National Alliance no later
than tomorrow.According to Kitabat
a meetings already taking place, one that lasted several hours today
and that involved Iraqi President Jalal Talabani and senior members of
Parliament and US Ambasador to Iraq James Jeffrey. Among the topics
reportedly discussed were the Erbil Agreement and the fact that Nouri
must not be permitted to run for a third term as prime minister.
That's internally. Externally? As noted yesterday
Nouri and his Baghdad-based government have engaged in another war of
words with the Turkish government. Turkey is one of Iraq's biggest
trading partners. Today Hurriyet Daily News reports
and the regional government of northern Iraq have taken additional
steps to deepen economic and energy ties at a moment when both parties'
relations with Baghdad are strained.
Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government of northern Iraq received a high-level reception in Ankara yesterday as he met with President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu. Jonathon Burch (Reuters) sees
the Turkish government making "tricky adjustments by cutting old
alliances and forming new ones, jettisoning its 'zero problems with the
neighbors' policy. That shift, coupled with a more aggressive diplomacy
personified by an increasingly combative Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan
-- has thrust Turkey into a regional strategic game pitting Gulf Arab
states and Ankara against Iran."
One 'accomplishment' Nouri can
claim is he's succeeded in building a wall between Baghdad and Anakara
while allowing Turkey and northern Iraq to strengthen their ties to one
another. In related news, Hevidar Ahmed (Rudaw) reports
between Erbil and Baghdad have been high since Kurdistan Region
President Massoud Barzani's Newroz speech, in which he accused Iraqi
Prime Minister Nuri Maliki of leading the country towards dictatorship.
Some people have interpreted the situation as a personal war between
Maliki and Barzani, who is also the head of the Kurdistan Democratic
after Barzani's speech, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani appeared in an
exclusive interview with Al-Jazeera and defended the Iraqi prime
minister, saying, "Maliki is not a dictator and he is not the only one
responsible for the problems of Iraq; I am responsible as well."
Asasard, a leading official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK),
says disagreements arose between the PUK and KDP, but soon disappeared.
were significant disparities between the views of PUK and KDP, but
recently they have become much closer because, in the current situation,
unity is important," he says.
We'll cover what Reuters is calling Nouri's "charm offensive
next week (Monday). Right now, we'll note the shocked reaction of a
widow whose husband died serving in Iraq and who can't believe that the
man said to be responsible for the death of her husband and at least
four other US soldiers will apparently walk away free. Dropping back to
earlier violence, Christine Show (Daily Mail) reports
"The wife of a U.S. Army captain who was killed while deployed in Iraq
is stunned that the person named responsible for his death will be
freed. Charlotte Freeman of Temecula, California expressed her dismay
when she learned on Wednesday night that Ali Mussa Daqduq was cleared
of all charges in the 2007 attack that killed Brian Freeman, 31, and
four other U.S. soldiers."
On May 7th, Suadad-al Salhy, Patrick Markey and Andrew Heavens (Reuters) reported
that Iraq's 'justice' system has cleared Ali Mussa Daqdug of all
charges related to the "2007 kidnapping attack that killed five U.S.
troops." This was actually the second time that those said to be
responsible for the five deaths. Ali Mussa Daqduq is alleged to have
been working with the League of Righteous (once known as "the Special
Groups network") and the US had the leader and high ranking members in a
US prison in Iraq. Had. Though right now there are many complaints
regarding the decision to set Ali Mussa Daqdug free (he remains behind
bars currently while the decision is appealed), the White House
ordered the release of the leader of the League of Righteous, his
brother and other high ranking LoR members. That's in the summer of
2009. Barack Obama is president.
Why did they do it? The
White House set them free in order to help England with their
outstanding issues. The White House made the call that 5 British
citizens were more important than 5 US ones and they entered into
negotiations with the League of Righteous. All but one of the five
Brits were already dead. One of the dead wouldn't be released until a
few months ago. The League of Righteous would announce Barack went back
on his promises to them so they weren't releasing all five. After the
bulk of US troops left Iraq in December 2011, the League of Righteous
finally released the fifth corpse.
If you're late to the story, refer to the June 9, 2009 snapshot
:This morning the New York Times' Alissa J. Rubin and Michael Gordon offered "U.S. Frees Suspect in Killing of 5 G.I.'s." Martin Chulov (Guardian) covered the same story, Kim Gamel (AP) reported on it, BBC offered "Kidnap hope after Shia's handover" and Deborah Haynes contributed "Hope for British hostages in Iraq after release of Shia militant" (Times
of London). The basics of the story are this. 5 British citizens have
been hostages since May 29, 2007. The US military had in their custody
Laith al-Khazali. He is a member of Asa'ib al-Haq. He is also accused of
murdering five US troops. The US military released him and allegedly
did so because his organization was not going to release any of the five
British hostages until he was released. This is a big story and the US
military is attempting to state this is just diplomacy, has nothing to
do with the British hostages and, besides, they just released him to
Iraq. Sami al-askari told the New York Times, "This is a very sensitive
topic because you know the position that the Iraqi government, the U.S.
and British governments, and all the governments do not accept the
idea of exchanging hostages for prisoners. So we put it in another
format, and we told them that if they want to participate in the
political process they cannot do so while they are holding hostages. And
we mentioned to the American side that they cannot join the political
process and release their hostages while their leaders are behind bars
or imprisoned." In other words, a prisoner was traded for hostages and
they attempted to not only make the trade but to lie to people about it.
At the US State Dept, the tired and bored reporters were unable to even
broach the subject. Poor declawed tabbies. Pentagon reporters did press
the issue and got the standard line from the department's spokesperson,
Bryan Whitman, that the US handed the prisoner to Iraq, the US didn't
hand him over to any organization -- terrorist or otherwise. What Iraq
did, Whitman wanted the press to know, was what Iraq did. A complete lie
that really insults the intelligence of the American people. CNN reminds the five US soldiers killed "were:
Capt. Brian S. Freeman, 31, of Temecula, California; 1st Lt. Jacob N.
Fritz, 25, of Verdon, Nebraska; Spc. Johnathan B. Chism, 22, of
Gonzales, Louisiana; Pfc. Shawn P. Falter, 25, of Cortland, New York;
and Pfc. Johnathon M. Millican, 20, of Trafford, Alabama." Those are the
five from January 2007 that al-Khazali and his brother Qais al-Khazali
are supposed to be responsible for the deaths of. Qassim Abdul-Zahra and Robert H. Reid (AP) states
that Jonathan B. Chism's father Danny Chism is outraged over the
release and has declared, "They freed them? The American military did?
Somebody needs to answer for it."
Having made the
decision to release those five in 2009, the Obama administration had no
qualms about handing Ali Musa Daqduq over to the Iraqi legal system
despite the fact that it was considered a good guess that he'd walk.
December 16, 2011, Liz Sly and Peter Finn (Washington Post) reported
on the US handing Ali Musa Daqduq over to the Iraqis:
was transferred to Iraqi custody after the Obama administration "sought
and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes,"
according to Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council
in Washington.Kitabat reported
in May that Nouri caved to pressure from Tehran and that's why he was
released. It was also noted that a number of US Senators were asking
the White House not to turn Daqduq over to Iraq but to move him to
Guantanamo or another facility.
Today Mike Jaccarino (Fox News -- link is text and video) quotes
Charlotte Freeman stating, "It was like a pit (opening) inside of me. I
briefly read it and couldn't read on. I couldn't go there. It wasn't
like he was dying again. It was more shock that these people get away
with what they do. There's no justice. It's amazing and shocking to me
that someone who did what he did could go free."
seems to be the theme the current White House was decorated in. US House
Rep Walter Jones is asking why the White House negotiated a treaty with
Afghanistan without the input of Congress? And if that question
sounds familiar, it's one that Barack Obama asked throughout his 2008
campaign for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. How dare
Bully Boy Bush ram through a treaty with Iraq -- one that their
Parliament had to sign off on -- while violating the US Constitution's
mandate that treaties need Senate approval. We're referring to the
Status Of Forces Agreement with Iraq.
Bush was wrong. And the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee was united on that in 2008 -- that's
Democrats and Republicans. Before Barack grabbed the issue,
then-Senator Russ Feingold had been among the prominent leaders on it.
But Barack played glory hog and took the issue as his own. He then
continued the cry throughout his 2008 general election campaign. The
day after the election he vanished the issue from his campaign site.
That's the sort of 'change' that has characterized his presidential
term: He campaigned on one set of goals and standards and then he
'changed' once he was elected. That's Barack's only change you can
believe in. As Martha
observed four years ago in "2008 in books (Martha & Shirley)
really is amazing how little Iraq mattered to the alleged left after
they had used the 2002 vote to tar and feather Hillary Clinton. They
stayed silent as Barack immediately began backing off his 'pledge' in
June. They stay silent today as Barack and Joe Biden -- two who
grandstanded against the so-called SOFA throughout 2008 -- did nothing
to halt the White House from ramming that treaty through or, in fact,
even publicly offered a word of objection after the election.
Pete Kasperwoicz (The Hill) reports
that Jones has introduced a bill:
In 2007, the Clinton-Obama bill
read, "Congress is a co-equal branch of government and as such the
extension of long-term United States security commitments to Iraq that
obligates or requires the appropriation of United States funds requires
the full participation and consent of Congress."
like the Clinton-Obama bill, requires that within 60 days of passage,
the State Department submit a report to Congress that justifies the
administration's decision to conclude the agreement without consulting
Congress. It would require the administration to include a legal
analysis on this decision.
And we hear silence on
the bill as we turn to the right -- which apparently has no problem with
a violation of the Constitution -- and as we turn to the left -- which
is too busy attempting to figure out if a passionate Barack kisses soft
with a hint of pressure or full on tongue down the throat? These are
the 'issues' that occupy them today.