Saturday, December 13, 2014

And that's why women get overlooked

NPR decided it would try to help women.

So it put together a list of artists who have been snubbed by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

They put together a list of male rockers.

And then sprinkled some women on the list.

Except for The Shangrilas, I'm not sure how the women made the list.

There's Carly Simon, Cher and many worth women.

Dolly Parton?

I love Dolly.

But she's country.

When you waste people's time arguing for Dolly to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, you're not helping women.

Joan Baez?

She's a folkie.

She doesn't belong either.

Over and over, NPR fails to help women.

That's just the latest example.

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

Saturday, December 13, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the Islamic State shoots down a helicopter, the Yazidis have a hired gun paid for with US money, we examine Barack's non-plan yet again but this time focusing on the line of questioning provided by US House Rep Ted Poe, and much more.

Tian Shaohui (Xinhua) reports:

Insurgents shot down an Iraqi army helicopter and killed the two pilots aboard during clashes in Salahudin province in north of Baghdad, a provincial security source said on Saturday.
The crash occurred on Friday near the town of al-Mu'tasim, just south of the city of Samarra, some 120 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, during the battles between the Iraqi security forces and Islamic State (IS) militants around the al-Mu'tasim, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

In addition to that attack on Friday, Margaret Griffis ( reports 169 people died from violence across Iraq yesterday.

Which shines a light on the lies told to the US Congress this week. Tuesday, Secretary of State John Kerry testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  This was covered in Tuesday's snapshot,  Ava covered it at Trina's site with "Ground Hog Day (Ava)," Wally at Rebecca's site with "Barack wants war all over the world (Wally)" and Kat with "John Kerry, damn liar."  Wednesday, the State Dept's Brett McGurk testified before the House Foreign Affairs Comittee and we covered it in Wednesday and Thursday's snapshot (and will continue covering it later in this snapshot).  Tuesday, the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on International Operations and Organizations held a hearing and we covered it in the Wednesday snapshot (and noted it elsewhere repeatedly).

The Tuesday Subcommittee hearing was an embarrassment and we've called out Subcommittee Chair Barbara Boxer and Ranking Member Rand Paul.  We've largely ignored the others -- the spook, the hired gun, all of them.

The hired gun?

When news of Yazidis trapped on Mount Sinjar broke, at this site we were for air drops of food and water and medical supplies for the thousands trapped on the mountain by the Islamic State and we were against bombings.  We built our case around the plight of the Yazidis historically.  We ignored one person, one woman, except to offer a Tweet by a journalist of the Cry Baby.

Cry Baby may not have been a fair call when she was speaking before the Iraqi Parliament and shooting out the tears.  It may have been fair.  We didn't call her that then but I did think it.

And Cry Baby went on to become a hired gun.  Early on in August we noted the Yazidis had no US p.r. firm but that they were being used in the US in an effort to promote wider war on Iraq.

Let's also note the bitchiness of Yazidi speakers in Iraq.

Iraqi Christians were being attacked and killed and when the Yazidis ended up trapped on the mountain, a number of them started whining to the press that Iraqi Christians got all the attention.

Iraqi Christians get very little attention in the mainstream media.  When the western press does cover them, it's usually because they're taking up arms in Iraq to protect themselves.

Whether it's true or not, bias charges are better left to others.

When there are at least two groups under attack and one of them whines the other gets more attention -- true or not -- it looks petty and bitchy.

And here's a little more reality for the Yazidis, Christians are a larger group in the world and when you start whining that Iraqi Christians are getting more attention -- especially when they're not -- you risk pissing off a lot of people who will no longer help you amplify your issues.

And while outsiders can say that Palestinians get far more attention, for a Yazidi to write that also looks petty and bitchy -- so maybe Cry Baby shouldn't have written this post?

Cry Baby.

Again, we've only previously noted her in a journalist's Tweet.  And that was due to a request and due to it being pointed out that she was a woman, "you run a pro-women, feminist site and you haven't noted her."

We should probably name cry baby, I don't think she was named in the journalist's Tweet, just identified as a Yazidi who was a Member of Parliament.  We did name her when she was in a helicopter crash.  Her name is Vian Dakhil.

And since her tearful performance -- and I am calling it a performance -- she's attracted foreign money but no one wants to talk about that.

No one wants to question how this woman's everywhere all the sudden.

She was at the hearing on Tuesday, she was speaking to the Woodrow Wilson Center, at John Cabot University, she's just been everywhere outside of Iraq.  And the reason is she's now a hired gun to promote war and she's represented by a public relations group.

And as I listened to her spin at Tuesday's hearing, I knew all of that but thought, "There's so much more to focus on."  Then she started making the media circuit.

First off, know your facts or don't appear before Congress.

She's lucky she appeared before Boxer and Paul who are so eager for war that they also don't care about the facts.

Before the Subcommittee she tried to present herself as the voice of the Yazidis.

She is not.

Some Yazidis bill themselves as that and that alone.

Others bill themselves as Kurds.

That split alone, forgetting everything else, means she cannot speak for all Yazidis.

Equally true, she's not from the city with the biggest concentrations of Yazidis (that would be Shekhan followed by Sinjar -- she is from Mosul originally and then moved to Erbil).

At the hearing, she made one ridiculous statement after another.  Here's one example:

Since the invasion of the so-called Islamic State in June 2013, I have been working tirelessly to bring attention to the plight . . .

It was January, at the start of the year, when the Islamic State seized Falluja.  And the Islamic State was in Iraq prior to that.   As a member of the Iraqi Parliament and as a member of the KDP, she's actually supposed to speak for all of Iraq and should know these basic facts.  Added: April 8, 2013 is when the press begins -- world press -- acknowledging the Islamic State is in Iraq. They were there prior to April.

It was an awful hearing and we would have ignored her but then she went on NPR's Here and Now and NPR highlights this section of her remarks regarding what the US needs to do:

“They first started out with a great mission and attack on ISIS, and that made us very happy. That was only for one week. After one week, they stopped. They suspended airstrikes and we were kind of surprised. We were looking to see why they were suspended for a while, and we’re hoping to understand why.”
“What is really urgently needed right now, there are five women and children being held by ISIS and we really need assistance right away to help them be free and run away from ISIS. Plus humanitarian aides are mostly needed at the moment for those refugees who ran away from ISIS and made a way to get to the shelters. We’re here to tell the people in the United States that this is what we are living through right now in Iraq, and that’s what we need your help with at the moment.”

We've been nice.

Maybe too nice.

Maybe I've baby-ied?

Here's some harsh truths.

You claim to have 500,000 Yazidis, ma'am, there are no more than 30,000 Islamic State members in Iraq.

Maybe you should stop traveling to other countries to speak and do media appearances to advocate for war and instead return to Iraq, pick up a gun, urge your fellow Yazidis to take up arms and address the problem yourself.

If that sounds harsh, well your request for US forces on the ground due to five people being held sounds stupid and insane.

Worse yet, it also sounds cowardly.

Stop coming to the US demanding US troops and start using your position as a Member of the Iraqi Parliament to advocate for action from your own country's troops.

Call me harsh, call me a bitch, call me the c-word, I don't care.

The reality is there are international incidents.  For example, an attack on an Olympics game, on an international conference, etc. would fall under that and would prompt an international response.


When Frank Sinatra Jr. was kidnapped, the US government did not go whining to Canada, Mexico or England for help.

Here, we didn't buy into the need to send US troops to another country to "Save Our Girls" (none of which were Americans) and I don't buy into sending US troops into Iraq for 5 or 50 kidnap victims.

That's a matter for the Iraqi government -- and if it can't address these issues, then it's a matter for the Iraqi people to demand a new government.

In fairness to Vian Dakhil, for decades now, the US government has presented itself, as Phil Ochs put it, as the "Cops of the World:"

We pick and choose as please, boys
Pick and choose as please
You'd best get down on your knees, boys
Best get down on your knees
We're hairy and horny and ready to shack
And we don't care if you're yellow or black
Just take off your clothes and lay down on your back
'Cause we're the cops of the world, boys
We're the cops of the world
Our boots are needing a shine, boys
Boots are needing a shine
But our Coca-Cola is fine, boys
Coca-Cola is fine
We've got to protect all our citizens fair
So we'll send a battalion for everyone there
And maybe we'll leave in a couple of years
'Cause we're the cops of the world, boys

And having presented that way, it's understandable that some around the world will wrongly assume the US military is just one 911 call away.
But that's not reality.
Nor is it reality that Vian Dakhil is speaking for most Iraqis.
However many Yazidis Vian Dakhil speaks for, the reality is that Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr speaks for many more and he is among the Iraqi leaders who are saying the US military needs to be out of Iraq.  In addition, the highest ranking Catholic leader in Iraq again this week decried the US' assault on Iraq noting that the bombings were not helping anyone.  As Ines San Martin (Curx Now) reported earlier this week:

The top Catholic official in Iraq says the current US-led bombing campaign will not dislodge the radical Islamic State, and he is pleading for a stronger response from the international community to ensure Christians can remain in the region.
“Bombing is also killing people, destroying the infrastructure, houses, schools, churches,” said Patriarch Louis Sako, head of the Chaldean Catholic Church.

So Vian Dakhil's remarks are really not typical.

You are hearing them in the western media and you are hearing her in Congress because a right-wing group is now bankrolling her and the call for greater war on Iraq.

There was a story this month about how Yazidis in the US were calling for greater war on Iraq.  That story was shopped around to at least six journalists who passed on it because it was propaganda.  Sadly, not everyone has ethics so two did write it up.

We've long defended the Yazidis here -- in part because they were wrongly characterized by the western press in the early days of the Iraq War as "devil worshipers" -- but we'll do less of that now.

That's too bad because the Yazidi people are not responsible for the money that is now supporting MP Vian Dakhil or for the other p.r. efforts being made.

But the fact that some levels of self-appointed leadership are now engaged in propaganda means all stories are suspect and I don't have the time to check them out with friends.  So the Yazidis will still be noted but far less than what we once did.

And the reality will always be, for any country whose citizens are kidnapped, you need to work that out on your own.  If your country can't handle a kidnapping, it needs a new government and needs it desperately.

The US government should stop the bombings immediately and focus all attention on helping the Iraqi officials arrive at a political solution which allows all Iraqis to be included and which promotes an Iraqi identity.

Instead, we're stuck with bombings passed off as a 'plan.'

There is no plan.

That was obvious in the hearings this week.

And we're going to focus now on yet another Congressional exchange, this one from the Wednesday House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Ambassador would you say that the administration is at war with ISIS or not?

Brett McGurk: Congressman, having seen it up close, I would say that we are at war -- at war with ISIS.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  It  seems to me that our strategy is two-fold or maybe three-fold at this point.  Send aid to different groups -- countries.  There's sixty something countries that I understand are in the co-alition to fight ISIS.  One is to do airstrikes as the chairman has mentioned.  The success of those airstrikes depends upon who you're talking to.  I do not believe they have been quiet as successful as we had hoped they would be.  The other is to take Syrian moderate rebels -- vet, train and equip them to go back to Syria and defeat ISIS.  How many of those people have been vetted, trained and equipped and sent back to Syria to fight ISIS.

Brett McGurk: Congressman, again I have to say it's a DoD program and it's --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  It's none!  Correct, Ambassador?

[Cross talk]

US House Rep Ted Poe:  I mean, you're the Ambassador.  You're represent the State Dept, the United States.  We're at war with this country -- we're at war with ISIS.  You can't tell me politically whether we have armed -- vetted, armed and trained anybody yet and sent them back to fight in Syria  --

Brett McGurk:  No

US House Rep Ted Poe:  -- in ISIS.  You can't answer that question?

Brett McGurck:  No, I think I can answer that question.  I did answer it.  The answer right now is: No.  And --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  So none.

Brett McGurk:  d-designed -- It was designed to be a longterm program and we hope

US House Rep Ted Poe: I understand Ambassador, just a second --

Brett McGurk:  We hope --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Now you wait a minute.  I'm asking the questions, you give the answers.  The answer is, 'We have not trained any.'  And none of them are back over there. Meanwhile ISIS is beheading people and committing all kinds of atrocities.  But our plan -- if I understand our strategic plan -- it's to help aid, it's to drop bombs -- it's to train mercenaries to go back and fight ISIS in Syria -- none of which have been trained.  How long is it going to take before we get all these people that are being trained back in Syria to fight?  How long do you think that it will take?

Brett McGurk:  Well Congressman, the program is to train 5,000 per year.  And the training, we hope, will start in March.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  So a year from March?

Brett McGurk:  And the program is to build --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  A year from March?

Brett McGurk:  -- about 5,000 by then.  And we have to be very careful --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Excuse me, Ambassador, I'm not clear.

Brett McGurk:  And we have to --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Will it be 5,000 in March that will be trained?  Or will it be a year from March -- 2016 -- before we have those 5,000 fighters that we send back to Syria?

Brett McGurk:  It's 5,000 trained per year.  And part of the reason is the vetting standards.  And we're being very careful about this.  But we're not sitting on our hands --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Excuse me, Mr. Ambassador,

Brett McGurk:  -- a lot of things in parallel.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Excuse me, Mr. Ambassador, answer the question.  Is it 5,000 in 2016?  In March?  That's our hope?  To have them trained by then?

Brett McGurk:  The training, we hope, will begin in March.  So it's --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  But it will take a year to train 5,000 people?

Brett McGurk:  Yes, that's right.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  So March of 2016?  Then we have a plan.  Then we have fighters.  Then we send them to Syria.  There's no telling what ISIS can do in that year and however many months it is.  Does the United States have some other strategic plan other than arming these folks that aren't going to show up until 2016 dropping bombs -- that are marginal, whether they've been successful -- and helping with military aid to some of these coalition countries?  Is there a strategic plan overall that you know about in the State Dept?

Brett McGurk:  Yes.  The train and equip program is one small element of an over all campaign.  And this is a multi-year campaign.  And phase one -- Phase one is Iraq.  What we're doing in Syria right now is degrading ISIL's capacity.  And every time that we have had a local force on the ground that we could work with -- and Kobani's a good example of this or a Free Syrian --

US House Rep Ted PoeReclaiming my time.  What are we doing in Syria right now?  I mean people are dying in Syria  and the calvary isn't showing up until 2016 the way I understand it.  Is that correct?

Brett McGurk: Those trained and equipped units are not the only units on the field that we could work with in Syria, Congressm--

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Who else are we working with in Syria?

Brett McGurk:  Well we're working right now in Kobani with a number of elements.  We're killing about a 100 fighters a --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Who are these people that we're working with

Brett McGurk:  Well Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga thanks to a deal we worked out with the Turks to open up a corridoor to the Kurdistan Region  --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Are they working in Syria or are they working in Iraq?

Brett McGurk:  In Syria we've brought the Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga from Iraq to Kobani.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Last question, I'm sorry I'm out of time, last question: Are we going to put more boots on the ground, American military, in the Middle East to defeat ISIS?

Brett McGurk:  Uh, the president's policy is not to put combat forces on the -- on the ground in Iraq.  But we have advisors --

US House Rep Ted Poe:   Be careful.  Middle East.  I'm not going to talk about Iraq. In the Middle East.  Are more Americans going over to the Middle East to fight ISIS?

Brett McGurk:  We have about 30,000 troops in the region now but uh --

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Are more Americans going over to the Middle East to fight and defeat ISIS?  Other than what's already there?

Brett McGurk:  Right now I think we have a pretty large substantial deployment  force in the Middle East. I don't see the need for more right now.  But again, I need to defer to my DoD colleagues.

US House Rep Ted Poe:  Because you don't know.  I yield back.

That's part of the 'plan'?

That's how Barack Obama plans to address things?  With forces who will arrive ready in March of 2016?

No wonder his 'plan' will take years.

A general note in closing, if you're sending things that aren't about Iraq to the public e-mail account, I'll work them in if I can and only if I can.  We focus on Iraq and we focus on veterans.  If you're article isn't about that it may or may not get noted.  If you think, X number of years ago, you called something right then maybe you should write something new and not just send me your piece (on something not about Iraq and not about veterans) from X number of years ago.

Thursday, December 11, 2014


Billboard has an interview with singer-songwriter and legend Joni Mitchell:

Love Has Many Faces, A Quartet, A Ballet, Waiting to Be Danced is a four-disc, remastered retrospective spanning your entire career. All the songs characterize love in its different phases, yet the boxed set doesn't include any songs from your first three albums, most notably Ladies of the Canyon. Why is that?

I don't like my singing on my second and third albums. My first album was just natural, I'd been singing and playing in clubs and that's the way I sang and played. But I began to have what I considered to be a bad influence on my music, which leaked in on the second and third albums and I just find it hard to listen to personally. Other people like it, and I'm sure if I went back I'd find that I'm wrong. I also produced myself, so it took me until Blue to [sing] well, I'm sure.

Even "Big Yellow Taxi," which is arguably your biggest hit, isn't part of this.

Well that song's got nothing to do with the theme of this boxed set, and that was in the last ballet, which was about an ecology war. This was about love and the lack of it. "Cool Water," which is about love of earth and water and love of land, that's a loose connection to the theme -- but other than that it starts in the '50s, which is Chuck Berry time, kissing and going to dances, that's basically what the theme of '50s music is, those are my '50s memories. That's how Act 1 begins back in the '50s, kissing in cars, right? And going to dances. So no, "Big Yellow Taxi" does not belong to this collection.

I should have probably said "guitarist" as well since Joni is a one-of-a-king guitarist.

At any rate, read the interview, it doesn't appear we can expect any new music from Joni and that Shine will be her final album of new music.

Possibly we can get some outtakes or some live performances that haven't yet been released.

But she seems quite firm in her stance that she is done with recording.  :(

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

Thursday, December 11, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, more lies to sell the current wave of the Iraq War continue, Senator Carl Levin exposed one of the lies that sold the 2003 invasion, and much more.

To sell Barack's latest wave in the never-ending Iraq War, liars strip events from the narratives, they remove and omit facts.  It wasn't always that way.  To start the illegal war in 2003, liars added details, fake ones, that (falsely) linked Iraq to the 9-11 attacks on the United States.

It was one false link, it was many.

We'll turn to Crapapedia for this example of Chris Hedges writing for the New York Times and promoting a false link in what can only be termed "government propaganda":

Most significant was a November 8, 2001 front page story about two former Iraqi military commanders who claimed to have trained foreign mujahedeen how to hijack planes without using guns.[17] Hedges quoted a man he believed to be an Iraqi general as saying, “These Islamic radicals… came from a variety of countries, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. We were training these people to attack installations important to the United States. ” The two defectors also asserted there was a secret compound in Salman Pak facility where a German scientist was producing biological weapons.[18]
According to Mother Jones, “The impact of the article... was immediate: Op-eds ran in major papers, and the story was taken to a wider audience through cable-TV talk shows. When Condoleezza Rice, then George W. Bush’s national security adviser, was asked about the story at a press briefing, she said, ‘I think it surprises no one that Saddam Hussein is engaged in all kinds of activities that are destabilizing.’” As late as 2006, conservative magazines like The Weekly Standard and National Review continued to use the story to justify the invasion of Iraq.[19]

It later surfaced that the story was “an elaborate scam.” The defector Hedges quoted, who identified himself as Lt. General Jamal al-Ghurairy, was actually a former sergeant, and the real Ghurairy had never left Iraq. Hedges said that he had taken the story at the request of Lowell Bergman of Frontline, who wanted the defectors for his show but could not go to Beirut for the interview.

That was only one lie.

Today another lie was exposed.

Senator Carl Levin's office issued the following:

Thursday, December 11, 2014
WASHINGTON – Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today plans to introduce into the Congressional Record important new information about how Bush administration officials misled the nation in advance of the Iraq War, and called on CIA Director John Brennan to fully declassify an important 2003 CIA cable.
Levin will introduce a letter he received from CIA Director John Brennan, declassifying for the first time some details of a March 2003 CIA cable warning the Bush administration against references to the allegation that Mohammad Atta, the leader of the 9/11 hijackers, had met before the attacks in Prague, Czech Republic, with an Iraqi intelligence officer. He also introduced a translated excerpt from a book by the former head of Czech counterintelligence, describing U.S. pressure to confirm that the meeting took place. In fact, no such meeting occurred. And he called on Brennan to fully declassify the CIA cable.
Following is Levin’s Senate floor speech on the matter, as prepared for delivery:
Mr. President, I want to speak for a few moments about one of the most significant events in my 36 years as United States Senator, the war in Iraq. I want to speak about important historical records crucial to our understanding of why we went to war against Iraq in 2003. I want to enter into the public record recent revelations not yet made public. And I make one more public call for a key document to be made fully public.
I will begin by renewing a request to the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan. It is a request I have also made to his predecessors: I ask Director Brennan to declassify fully a March 13, 2003 CIA cable debunking the contention that 9/11 hijacker Mohammad Atta had met in Prague with an Iraqi intelligence official named Ahmad al-Ani.
Earlier this year, Director Brennan wrote to me, refusing, as did his predecessors, to fully declassify the CIA cable. But in his letter to me he makes public for the first time a few lines from that document. While this is a significant addition to the public record, and I will discuss that in a moment, it is still not the full cable, and I am calling on him to declassify and release the full cable.
Now, in order to understand why I am making that request, we need to return to early 2003.
On March 6, 2003, just two weeks before U.S. troops would cross the Iraqi border, President Bush held a prime-time televised press conference. In that press conference he mentioned the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks eight times, often in the same breath as Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. There was a concerted campaign on the part of the Bush administration to connect Iraq in the public mind with the horror of the Sept. 11 attacks. That campaign succeeded. According to public polls in the week before the Iraq war, half or more of Americans believed Saddam was directly involved in the attacks. One poll taken in September 2003, six months after we invaded Iraq, found that nearly 70 percent of Americans believed it likely that Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the Sept. 11 attacks. Americans who believed in a link between Iraq and 9/11 overwhelmingly supported the idea of invading Iraq. Of course, connections between Saddam and 9/11 or al Qaeda were fiction.
America’s intelligence community was pressed to participate in the administration’s media campaign. Just a week after the President’s prime-time press conference, on March 13, 2003, CIA field staff sent a cable to CIA headquarters, responding to a request for information about a report that Mohammad Atta, the leader of the Sept. 11 hijackings, had met in 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence official in the Czech capital of Prague. In stark terms, this CIA cable from the field warned against U.S. government officials citing the report of the alleged Prague meeting.
Yet the notion of such a meeting was a centerpiece of the administration’s campaign to create an impression in the public mind that Saddam was in league with the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. On multiple occasions, including national television appearances, Vice President Dick Cheney cited reports of the meeting, at one point calling it “pretty well confirmed.” Officials from Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon, who set up a sort of rogue intelligence analysis operation, briefed senior officials with a presentation citing the Prague meeting as a “known contact” between Iraq and al Qaida.
Now, why am I bringing up a CIA cable from more than a decade ago? Isn’t this old, well-covered terrain? No, it isn’t. This is about giving the American people a full account of the march to war as new information becomes available. It is about trying to hold leaders who misled the public accountable. It is about warning future leaders of this nation that they must not commit our sons and daughters to battle on the basis of false statements.
Mr. President, there is no more grave decision for a nation to make than the decision to go to war. And there is no more important issue for every member of Congress than the decision to authorize the use of military force. A decision to authorize force is a decision to unleash the might of our armed forces – the strongest military on the planet. It commits the men and women of our armed forces to fight, and perhaps to die, on the battlefield. The decision to go to war must be careful, considered, and based on the facts.
Such careful consideration was tragically absent in the march to war in Iraq.
Here is what the Vice President said on December 9, 2001, in an interview on “Meet the Press:” “It’s been pretty well confirmed that he [Atta] did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack.”
Far from “pretty well confirmed,” there was almost no evidence that such a meeting took place. Just a single unsubstantiated report, from a single source, and a mountain of information indicating there was no such meeting, including the fact that travel and other records indicated that Atta was almost certainly in the United States at the time of the purported meeting in Prague.
It was highly irresponsible for the Vice President to make that claim. Calling a single, unconfirmed report from a single source “pretty well confirmed,” as he did on Dec. 9, 2001, was a reckless statement to make on such a grave topic as war, in the face of overwhelming doubt that such a meeting occurred.
Yet Vice President Cheney’s reckless statements continued, even as evidence mounted that there was no Prague meeting. In September 2002, he said Atta “did apparently travel to Prague on a number of occasions. And on at least one occasion, we have reporting that places him in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official.”
The Vice President made those statements in the face of a then-classified June 2002 CIA assessment that said the alleged meeting was “not verified,” called the information about it “contradictory,” and described assessments of Iraqi cooperation with al Qaida terror plots as “speculative.” The Vice President made those statements in the face of a July 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency analysis, which reported that there was no evidence that Atta was in the Czech Republic at the time. He made those statements despite a Defense Intelligence Agency memorandum in August 2002 rejecting the claims by a rogue intelligence analysis shop at the Pentagon that the meeting was an example of a “known contact” between Iraq and al Qaida.
That brings us to the March 13, 2003 cable. Mr. President, it is unfortunate that I cannot fully lay out the contents of that cable, because much of it remains classified. But as the Senate Intelligence Committee’s 2006 “Phase II” report indicates, it appears that the cable was sent in response to a request from headquarters at Langley for comment on the claim that Atta and al-Ani had met in Prague because the White House was considering a reference to a Prague meeting in a speech. At that time, according to then-CIA Director George Tenet’s memoir, the CIA had been given a draft of a speech by Vice President Cheney containing assertions about connections between Iraq and al Qaida. Tenet writes in his memoir that he had to object to the President that the speech went “way beyond what the intelligence shows. We cannot support the speech and it should not be given.”
Mr. President, the text of this cable and the information surrounding it was almost entirely redacted by the CIA from the Intelligence Committee’s 2006 Phase II report. A number of us objected to that redaction at the time the report was made public; indeed, the Majority Leader introduced legislation which I cosponsored that would have declassified the cable, legislation Republicans blocked. At the time of the report’s release, I joined several members of the Intelligence Committee, including Ranking Member Rockefeller, Senators Feinstein, Wyden, Bayh, Mikulski and Feingold, in concluding that the administration’s decision to keep the contents of the cable classified “represents an improper use of classification authority by the intelligence community to shield the White House.”
In the years since I have sought declassification of the March 2003 CIA cable on numerous occasions. Twice, in 2011 and 2012, I wrote to then-CIA Director Petraeus asking him to declassify the cable. Then in February 2013, I asked Director Brennan during his confirmation hearing whether he would contact the Czech government to ask if they would object to declassification of the cable, and he responded, “Absolutely, Senator, I will.”
Despite his commitment, I heard nothing from Director Brennan for some time. Finally, in March of this year, more than a year after his public commitment to me, I received a letter from Director Brennan. Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that Director Brennan’s March 13, 2014, letter to me be entered into the record.
The letter contains no indication that he had asked the Czech government for its view, as he committed to do. But Director Brennan’s letter includes, and therefore finally declassifies, this very clear statement from the cable: “[T]here is not one USG [counterterrorism] or FBI expert that … has said they have evidence or ‘know’ that [Atta] was indeed [in Prague]. In fact, the analysis has been quite the opposite.”
Again, that cable was sent to CIA headquarters on March 13, 2003 – a week before our invasion of Iraq. But the Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, continued to suggest the meeting may have taken place. He said the following about the meeting on “Meet the Press” on September 14, 2003 – six months after CIA received that cable: “We’ve never been able to develop any more of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.” Here is what he told the Denver Post newspaper on January 9, 2004: “We’ve never been able to collect any more information on that. That was the one that possibly tied the two together to 9/11.” Here is what he told CNN on June 17, 2004: “We have never been able to confirm that, nor have we been able to knock it down. We just don’t know.”
Mr. President, those statements were simply not true.  We did know. We did know that there was no evidence that such a meeting had taken place. We did know there was ample evidence it did not take place. We did know that there was, as the CIA cable says, “not one” government expert who said there was evidence that Atta met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague. The Vice President recklessly disregarded the truth, and he did so in a way calculated to maintain support for the administration's decision to go to war in Iraq.
There is a second recent revelation about how the “Prague meeting” progressed from unsubstantiated report to justification for war. It comes from Jiri Ruzek, who headed the Czech counterintelligence service on and after 9/11. Mr. Ruzek published a memoir earlier this year, which we have had translated from Czech. It recounts the days after the terror attack, including how his nation’s intelligence services first reported a single-source rumor of a Prague meeting between Atta and al-Ani, how CIA officials under pressure from CIA headquarters in turn pressured him to substantiate the rumor, and how U.S. officials pressured the Czech government when Czech intelligence officials failed to produce the confirmation that the Bush administration sought.
Mr. Ruzek writes, “It was becoming more and more clear that we had not met expectations and did not provide the ‘right’ intelligence output.” Mr. Ruzek goes on: “The Americans showed me that anything can be violated, including the rules that they themselves taught us. Without any regard to us, they used our intelligence information for propaganda press leaks. They wanted to mine certainty from unconfirmed suspicion and use it as an excuse for military action. We were supposed to play the role of useful idiot thanks to whose initiative a war would be started.”
That’s chilling. We have a senior intelligence official of a friendly nation describing the pressure that he and other Czech officials were under to give the Bush administration material it could use to justify a war.
When it came to the most serious decision a government can make – the decision to commit our sons and daughters to battle – the Bush administration was playing games with intelligence. The full, still classified cable includes critically important, relevant information, and it has been redacted and denied to the public in order to protect those in the Bush White House who are responsible.
The March 13, 2003, cable is an invaluable record in helping the American people understand how their elected officials conducted themselves in going to war. Continuing to cloak this document with a veil of secrecy, revealing a few sentences at a time, allows those who misled the American people to continue escaping the full verdict of history. It deprives the American people of a complete understanding of how we came to invade Iraq. In his letter to me, Director Brennan writes, “I understand that your principal concern is that the historical record be as complete as possible regarding this period in our history, and on this point we are in agreement.”  But Director Brennan’s apparent refusal to do what he has committed to do – to ask the Czech government if it objects to release of the cable – now takes on the character of a continuing cover-up.
Mr. President, I believe decision-makers should have to face the full, unadulterated, unredacted truth about their decisions. The American people should know the full story – not just so we can understand the decisions in 2002 and 2003 that took us to war, but as a warning to future leaders against the misuse of intelligence and the abuse of power.


Again, they added lies -- lots of them -- to sell war on Iraq in 2002 and 2003 and today they strip away reality as they attempt to resell it.

But while we're all encouraged to call out Bully Boy Bush, the Cult of St. Barack works overtime to ensure that the Christ-child is never called out.

Yesterday, the House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing.  During it, a member offered a testimonial to the greatness:

US House Rep Gregory Meeks:  It's easy for many of us to be up here and think that it's simple.  We thought it was simple to get rid of Saddam Hussein.  We said that it would take just a few days.  In fact, we got on the ship that said Mission Accomplished a few days after shock and awe.  I am glad we are not being that simplistic about this.  The administration has been honest to say it will take years to get this done and to get it done right not based upon emotion, not based upon trying, just get it together so we can say rah-rah [. . .]

Testimonials and endorsements can be important.  But let's first see just what sort of person was slobbering over Barack.  Here's how CREW sees Meeks:

A swirling federal corruption probe into crooked charities associated with Rep. Meeks is just the tip of the iceberg in the congressman’s litany of ethical lapses.
Rep. Meeks has accepted numerous improper gifts while in office, including a below-market rate on a new home, major loans that he failed to disclose for years, and discounted rent on his district office.  He has also accepted at least six trips to Caribbean resorts from a non-profit backed by convicted financier R. Allen Stanford, on whose behalf Rep. Meeks may have sought a favor from the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.

  • Nine-term member of Congress representing New York’s 5th district
  • Under federal investigation for his ties to several corrupt non-profit groups, including one that lost track of thousands of dollars intended for victims of Hurricane Katrina
  • Previously named to CREW’s Most Corrupt in 2011 and 2012
  • One of four members of Congress from New York named to CREW’s Most Corrupt
  • Appeared in CREW’s Family Affair exposé

"It's complicated. It's going to take some time.  We're going to have to figure this out," declared Meeks but he wasn't talking about his legal strategy.

First thing Meeks might figure out is how to pronounce areas in Iraq.  Erbil can be spelled Arbil but no one pronounces it "EE-BRILL."

Nor does anyone say "KurDICKstan."

It's Kurdistan.

Gregory Meeks, please keep your dick out of Kurdistan.

Yesterday's House Foreign Affairs Committee may have actually been hugely revealing in a way no one noticed.

US House Rep Albio Sires:  Can you talk a little about Camp Liberty and any of the abuses by the Iraqis.  I know you're on  the discussion.

Brett McGurk:  Well I get a briefing on this every single day.  I get reports from the residents and also from the United Nations.  And as you know UN monitoring teams confirms to us about humanitarian supplies and the overall situation at the camp.  We look at it every single day.  My colleague Jonathan Winer who's our  senior advisor on the MEK resettlements.  He's in Albania today with a team, an interagency team with DHS represented as well -- representatives as well.  And we've gotten about 600 residents of Camp Liberty out of Camp Liberty and out of Iraq to safety over the past year and we're looking to increase that number this year and Albania has been very helpful in this regard.  And Jonathan Weiner has really done a heroic, courageous job of getting this moving.  And I think the new government will be even more cooperative. And we want to get all the residents of Camp Liberty -- as I've testified before -- out of Iraq to safety.  That is our goal and we're working with partners around the world to achieve that goal.  And right now Albania has been extremely cooperative and we should thank them for taking in hundreds of residents.  And the residents are assimilating quite well in Albania.  But Jonathan -- my colleague --  Mr. Winer is there addressing this issue right now, and I'm sure he'd very happy to follow up with you.


Some outlets wrongly reported this year that Winer took his post in October of 2013 (here for Huffington Post getting it wrong)..


He was first noted by the State Dept in a September 6, 2013 press statement by spokesperson Marie Harf:

Marie Harf
Washington, DC
September 6, 2013

We are continuing to follow with urgency the situation at Camp Ashraf in Iraq. The United States reiterates its condemnation of the horrific attack that took place on September 1 and we express our condolences to the families and friends of the victims.
We further reiterate our support for the United Nations Assistance Mission (UNAMI) and its efforts to conduct an independent fact finding investigation into this terrible event and to document what took place. We have called on the Government of Iraq to fully support UNAMI’s efforts to conduct a full investigation of its own and to help find and return to safety those who are missing. We insist that the perpetrators of this barbarous act be brought to justice.
We also note the troubling statements issued by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) praising the attack, and call on the Government of Iran to use whatever influence it might have with groups that may be holding missing persons from the camp to secure their immediate release.
Regarding the immediate situation at Camp Ashraf, we urge all parties to cooperate with a plan proposed by UNAMI to ensure the safe and secure relocation of the survivors to Camp Hurriya as soon as possible. Consistent with this plan, we call on the Government of Iraq to move expeditiously to enhance security structures within Camp Hurriya, pursuant to the plan discussed with UNAMI, and we call on the MEK to make all necessary preparations to move remaining residents at Camp Ashraf to Camp Hurriya in full cooperation with UNAMI. The United States stands behind the UNAMI efforts to resolve this crisis.
The State Department has appointed a Senior Advisor for MEK Resettlement, Jonathan Winer, to oversee our efforts to help resettle the residents of Camp Hurriya to safe, permanent, and secure locations outside of Iraq, in addition to those countries, such as Albania, that have admirably assisted the United Nations in this important humanitarian mission.

He's been 'on the job' since at least September 2013 and Brett's proud of him for finding homes in that time for 600 Ashraf residents?

Most people presented with approximately 3,000 people who needed to get out of country -- a life-or-death issue -- would work to successfully get them out in 90 days tops.  Check out previous evacuation efforts by the US is you doubt that.

But the White House is fine with it taking 15 months for Winer to relocate 600 people is acceptable?

At this rate, it will take over five years to relocate all the refugees -- over five years to do what previous administrations accomplished in 90 days.

No wonder Barack thinks his 'plan' (bombing Iraq) will require years to 'fix' things.

By the way, Brett may be impressed with Winer's work but he's likely the only one.

Not only is 600 a ridiculously small number, Winer's position isn't important enough in the eyes of the State Dept.

As Domani Spero (Diplopunidit) noted May 22nd, State Dept spokesperson Jen Psaki declared in a press briefing:

Jonathan Winer, who you also may know, visited Tripoli in February in his role as Special Coordinator for Libya and met with a variety of Libyan and international partners, and he’s working closely with Ambassador Satterfield and our NEA team.

Spero pointed out:

Jonathan Winer, the new Special Coordinator for Libya was previously appointed by the State Department as Senior Advisor for MEK Resettlement in 2013.  In that capacity, he was tasked with overseeing USG efforts to help resettle the residents of Camp Hurriya to permanent, and secure locations outside of Iraq. He also previously served as chief counsel and principal legislative assistant to then Senator Kerry for 10 years and was a DAS at INL.

Again, Brett may be impressed but the State Dept and White House felt it was such a nothing assignment that they tasked him to be Special Coordinator for Libya as well.

As to Barack and his ridiculous 'plan,' it does not take years.

Even Meeks can't be such an idiot to believe that nonsense.

Iraq needs a political solution -- even Barack has said that.

A political solution dissolves support for the Islamic State as well as indifference to fighting it -- they are not the same thing.  There are Sunnis who support the Islamic State in Iraq because of the targeting of Sunnis.  There are Sunnis who look the other way due to the targeting of Sunnis.  A political solution that truly includes the Sunnis -- which means ending the targeting -- makes it impossible for the Islamic State to operate freely.

Martin Chulov (Guardian) reports on the Islamic State today.  Excerpt:

Abu Ahmed was an essential member of the earliest incarnation of the group. He had been galvanised into militancy as a young man by an American occupation that he and many like him believed was trying to impose a power shift in Iraq, favouring the country’s larger Shia population at the expense of the dominant Sunnis. His early role in what would become Isis led naturally to the senior position he now occupies within a revitalised insurgency that has spilled across the border into Syria. Most of his colleagues regard the crumbling order in the region as a fulfilment of their ambitions in Iraq – which had remained unfinished business, until the war in Syria gave them a new arena.
He agreed to speak publicly after more than two years of discussions, over the course of which he revealed his own past as one of Iraq’s most formidable and connected militants – and shared his deepening worry about Isis and its vision for the region. With Iraq and Syria ablaze, and the Middle East apparently condemned to another generation of upheaval and bloodshed at the hands of his fellow ideologues, Abu Ahmed is having second thoughts. The brutality of Isis is increasingly at odds with his own views, which have mellowed with age as he has come to believe that the teachings of the Koran can be interpreted and not read literally.

His misgivings about what the Islamic State has become led him to speak to the Guardian in a series of expansive conversations, which offer unique insight into its enigmatic leader and the nascent days of the terror group – stretching from 2004, when he met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Camp Bucca, to 2011, when the Iraqi insurgency crossed the border into Syria.

Zach Beauchamp (Vox) sums up Chulov's report, "In other words: without the Iraq war and American prisons there meant to detain possible terrorists, ISIS as we know it wouldn't exist."

Liars like Senator Barbara Boxer want to pretend that atrocities happened in Syria but not in Iraq.

Atrocities happened in Iraq.  We'll leave Syria for someone that follows Syria.

And in the face of the disappearing of Sunnis -- via execution and via vanishing into the prisons -- the Sunni community was not silent.  They were thrilled, for example, when Nouri lost the 2010 elections.  But Barack Obama demanded Nouri get a second term (and the US brokered The Erbil Agreement that gave loser Nouri a second term).  They voted and they won but their votes didn't count.

Then their representatives and other politicians attempted another means to justice: A no-confidence vote on Nouri.

This would have removed Nouri as prime minister in 2012.

Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi, Shi'ite cleric and movement leader Moqtada al-Sadr, Kurdistan Regional Government President Massoud Barzani and others all came together for this effort.

And the White House, specifically Vice President Joe Biden, leaned hard on Iraqi President Jalal Talabani to bury the effort.  (Talabani declared he had the power to remove people's names from the petition even if they admitted they signed it.  He had no such power.)

So they'd used their votes, the ballot box.

And then their votes were overturned.

They'd turned to their political leaders and the leaders used a Constitutional measure to attempt to remove Nouri only to see Jalal Talabani invent a 'power' that didn't exist to destroy the petition (his only legal role was to officially present the petition to Congress).

So now their politicians couldn't help them.

They then took to the streets and protested continuously for over a year.

They were targeted by Nouri and his thugs.

Some were followed from protests to their homes in an effort at intimidation.

Some were seized and beaten.  Some were seized and killed.

Some were wounded at protests.

Some were killed at protests.

The most infamous example of that was the  April 23, 2013 massacre of a peaceful sit-in in Hawija when Nouri sent his federal forces storming in.  Alsumaria noted Kirkuk's Department of Health (Hawija is in Kirkuk)  announced 50 activists have died and 110 were injured in the assault.   AFP reported the death toll rose to 53.  UNICEF noted that the dead included 8 children (twelve more were injured).

Even after that massacre, it would take Barack over a year to finally stop supporting thug Nouri.

Even after that massacre, Iraqis would continue to protest.

They'd been denied redress via the ballot box, they'd been denied justice when their elected officials attempted to seek it.

Now their protests were being ignored and Nouri was calling them "terrorists" and as 2013 ended and 2014 began, his forces began attacking protests as Nouri insisted -- publicly, on Iraqi television -- that he would burn the sites down with the protesters in them.

And Barbara Boxer wants to pretend Sunnis weren't victims, weren't targeted?

Some Sunnis are loudly and publicly opposed to the Islamic State.

But some Sunnis have joined them and many others have decided to turn their eye away because of the Iraqi government's targeting, hunting, killing, imprisoning of Sunnis.

The US government can drop all the bombs from planes that they want for as many years as they want.

It's not a 'plan.'

It's also not the answer to how you remove support for the Islamic State.

And until you remove support -- direct or complicit -- you can't remove the Islamic State from Iraq.

And Iraq may have a new prime minister -- Haider al-Abadi -- but Sunnis continue to be killed, Sunni civilians, by the Iraqi government.

Iraqi Spring MC Tweeted the most recent civilians -- including children -- killed with the never ending bombing of residential neighborhoods in Falluja -- and these bombings are the Iraqi military bombing the homes of Falluja -- Falluja being a Sunni dominant city.

Until you admit what's happened in Iraq, especially what's been done to the Sunnis (most notably in the last four years, but actually since the 2003 invasion), you're never going to get to peace because you're lying and aiding the violence by doing so.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 182 violent deaths across Iraq.  And Cedric and Wally offered:

  • Their joint-post notes that Barack's authorization for war on Iraq passed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee (on party lines -- and this means it now moves to the full Senate floor -- if it's not voted on before the next Congress is sworn in, it would automatically die and need to be re-introduced in order to be voted on).

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014

    Back to Faludi

    Last time, I was covering a Senate hearing on Iraq.

    I was supposed to continue Monday's "Susan Faludi" -- but Iraq is very important so I put it on hold.

    On Faludi, I think she gave a great talk.

    I think women are intimidated -- some women -- by the verbal attacks and written ones.

    But get over it.

    I had to.

    I don't even bat an eye these days when someone writes a violent or threatening e-mail.

    There have been far too many.

    So to Susan's wonderful and wise talk, I would add that this is just another effort to keep women down and if we reject it, if we write and speak our truths, after they learn they really can't silence us, the bulk of them go away.

    I also think there need to be more women writing about serious topics.

    I don't do that myself.  My focus is music.

    But C.I. has focused on serious for ten years and counting.

    She is the strongest woman online.

    Various establishment figures have tried to insist this or that woman was the strongest online but they either vanish or they stop focusing on real issues.

    For ten years, C.I. has advocated on behalf of the Iraqi people and stood against war.  She's covered Congressional hearings and so much more.  She's done real reporting at a time when so little of it exists.

    We need more women like her.

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

    Wednesday, December 10, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, the House Foreign Affairs Committee explores the Islamic State, Barbara Boxer teams with Rand Paul to screech and preach for war, to pimp war on Syria you have to pretend time started in 2014, and much more.

    US House Rep Ed Royce: After four months of the U.S.-led air campaign in Iraq and Syria, ISIS still controls essentially the same amount of territory as it did in the summer. One reason for this is the limited nature of the effort. We have conducted only about 1,000 airstrikes to date – or 250 per month - the vast majority being inside Iraq, leaving ISIS’ vast haven in Syria relatively unchallenged. This is a very slow pace. Consider that Desert Storm averaged 1,000 combat sorties per day. Moreover, the Committee is concerned by reports that targeting has been micromanaged from the White House. But even with this flawed air campaign, Kurdish and Iraqi Security Forces have pushed ISIS out of specific, key infrastructure areas such as the Mosul and Haditha dams. More coalition air attacks would mean more ISIS defeats.

    Royce was speaking this morning at the House Foreign Relations Committee hearing on the Islamic State today.

    It was an interesting hearing.

    First off, yesterday's snapshot covered the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing John Kerry testified at.  Ava covered it at Trina's site with "Ground Hog Day (Ava)," Wally at Rebecca's site with "Barack wants war all over the world (Wally)" and Kat with "John Kerry, damn liar."

    They were all solid reports but Kat offered:

    As I sat there listening to smug John Kerry lie and lie again, I wish I could make like Senator John McCain and storm out of the hearing.  (McCain stormed out because he does not believe the White House is providing enough support to the rebels in Syria.  I don't see them as rebels but that's another post.)
    My storm out moment probably would have been when Kerry insisted, "This is the same group!  These are the same people, with the stamp and imprimatur of Osama bin Laden!"

    The House Committee?

    Very conservative.  Democrats and Republicans.  That's Ranking Member Eliot Engel and Brad Sherman, among others on the Democratic side.

    Engel and Sherman had question (or comments) over and over on Iran.

    Let's note this exchange between US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and the State Dept's Brett McGurk.

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen:   [Iraqi] Prime Minister [Haider al-] Abadi has claimed no knowledge of the recent airstrikes but Iran has confirmed that they did carry them out.  So who currently controls the air space in Iraq given that the Iraqis don't have sufficient capabilities to maintain their own air sovereignty?  And if no coordination had taken place and the Iranians did indeed take this action with their own hands without coordinating, didn't Iran violate Iraqi airspace, will there be any repercussions for that?  As we continue our nuclear talks with Iran we ignore more as we continue our nuclear talks with Iran -- we ignore multiple violations that Iran continues to make as the talks take place.  Will this be yet another violation of Iran that we turn a blind eye to? Secretary [of State John Kerry] has called, uh, possible Iranian action in Iraq against ISIL as positive despite the fact that Tehran's incessant meddling in Baghdad and it's stoking of sectarian tension in Iraq and in Syria has played a large part in the rise of ISIL.  Is it the administration's view that having a Shi'ite Iran -- the world's foremost supporter of terrorism -- in spite of our nuclear talks -- invade Iraqi airspace to attack Sunni ISIL -- does the administration view this as a positive development? [. . .  Syria issues, we're concerned with Iraq]

    Brett McGurk: Let me address your questions briefly.  First my testimony I did -- I did focus on the concern about the militias and Prime Minister Abadi's commitment in Brussels to begin to reign those in -- all armed groups within the structures of the state.  I also focused on the-the desire of this new government to have strategic independence in the region. And that's to his outreach to his Arab neighbors and also the  important outreach to Ankara which is happening now but was not happening over the past few years.

    [. . .]

    US House Rep Ileana Ros-Lehtinen: Excuse me sir, would you say that Iran violated Iraqi air space?

    Brett McGurk: I would have to defer to some of my DoD colleagues.

    We'll note this from Brett's lengthy opening statement -- and we'll try to note the opening statement in full in its own entry by Saturday (hopefully before).

    Brett McGurk:  Iraq's new government reflects the full diversity of Iraq, with Sunni, Shi'a, and Kurdish leaders sharing power through an equitable distribution of cabinet posts and portfolios. The government is also committed to an inclusive national program, as enacted unanimously by the 328-member Iraqi parliament. The national program encompasses key elements of  "functioning federalism," which is a driving principle for our policy. A functioning federalism envisions an Iraq with important powers delegated to provinces, empowering local leaders to protect their communities as an integral part of Iraq's constitutional structure. The national program encompasses this principle, outlining plans for the Government of Iraq to distribute greater governing authority to regions and provinces. Two central pillars of this concept include: (1) security reform -- with a smaller national army and more security responsibilities delegated to the provinces; and (2) equitable revenue sharing -- with local institutions resourced to provide for their communities, and deny space to extremists. The new Iraqi government has committed to building a smaller national army, consisting of eight divisions --  and focused primarily on national sovereign functions. Army units will be based outside cities, with a mission to protect borders, preserve the sovereignty of the state and be prepared to respond as over-watch units when local forces need support. Primary day-to-day security responsibility will be handled by local police and provincial-based national guards. In the Kurdish region, primary security will be handled by Kurdish forces, but with funding derived from national resources, and as a part of the constitutional structure. We believe that this security architecture -- based squarely on the model outlined in the Iraqi constitution and endorsed by the new Iraqi government -- is sustainable because it responds to realities on the ground, carries broad support within Iraq and is designed over time to deny space for any armed group to operate outside a legal framework, including ISIL. It will take time, however, to bring this program to fruition and a number of intermediate steps must take place along the way. That is why the new government, with our support, is working to train and equip thousands of tribal fighters in Anbar province, even before there is formal legislation to introduce the National Guard concept. These fighters will join Iraqi forces to clear their areas from ISIL, and may, ultimately,  become the backbone of local police and National Guard forces in the province. We have also been encouraged by Prime Minister Abadi's reform of the overly centralized security structures that had existed under the previous government. He has abolished the Office of the Commander in Chief which centralized security control inside the Prime Minister's office.  In addition, he has named a new Minister of Defense -- a Sunni Arab from Mosul --  and replaced nearly five dozen senior officers with new leaders who are now working to build trust with communities they serve.

    Ileana Ros-Lehtinen was the Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee but the Republicans in the House impose term limits so now she continues to serve on it but Ed Royce is the Chair.

    Ileana is someone I see as quick to see the worst (or vigilant, if you prefer) and she would probably argue I don't take threats seriously enough.

    And that's fine and that's an honest disagreement.

    I never struggle to figure out where she's coming from.  I disagree frequently with her viewpoint (no surprise there, I'm on the left, she's on the right) but I can figure out where she's coming from with no struggle because she's consistent.

    I enjoyed attending the Committee hearings when she was the Chair.

    For me, the walk out moment?  It's always when an idiot or a liar has the floor.

    Yes, we're talking about Senator Barbara Boxer yet again.  We're also going to be talking about Senator Rand Paul.  Both are pretty much useless.

    If you're looking for good news in last month's mid-terms (or for more good news) it's that Barbara Boxer will not Chair another hearing again for at least two years.

    Boxer has never been smart but many were willing to look the other way when they thought she was on 'our side.'  Her stupidity should never have been ignored.  August 5, 2009, we called her out for her appearance on that day's The Diane Rehm Show where she plugged her latest co-written pulp fiction and snapped at caller including one who wanted her reaction to Nouri al-Maliki floating US 'trainers' staying in Iraq.

    Barbara attacked the caller, treating him as stupid when she was the doofus.

    Approximately two weeks prior, Margaret Talev's "Iraq's Maliki raises possibility of asking U.S. to stay on" (McClatchy Newspapers) had been published -- there was also  Anne Gearan coverage al-Maliki's remarks for AP.

    Though she was already sitting on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and though she grandstanded on Iraq on that episode of The Diane Rehm Show, Barbara Boxer was such a dumb idiot that she was unaware what the prime minister of Iraq had said and such a dumb idiot that she 'corrected' a caller who had the facts right.

    Her stupidity was on full display in yesterday's Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee hearing.

    At least she didn't claim, as she did in yesterday afternoon's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, that she was acting on the wishes of her constituents (of which I am one).  No, she admitted in the earlier hearing that she was confronted with debate on her desire to embrace war, war and more war.

    There would be no debate allowed by Barbara at the hearing and she slammed and 'corrected' a Democrat on the Committee who dared to suggest that possibly some over-reaching or over-reacting might be taking place.

    She announced she was not going to allow the hearing to turn into a debate.

    Seriously, the ditz thinks that's her role as Subcommittee Chair?

    She said they were going to move on.  But, instead of moving on, she proceeded to deliver a three minute lecture on why her opinion was right and how wrong everyone else was.

    She then turned to USAID's Nancy Lindborg and insisted, "Would you focus us on this issue of human rights abuses?"

    Nancy Lindborg:  Virtually all the Christians have left Mosul, Turkman and Shabat fled Mosul and Tikrit , 1/2 million Yazidis were driven from their ancestral homes. And Sunnis throughout the region have fled ISIL attacks.  Senator Boxer, as you noted, there have been terrible, terrible attacks and human rights abuses on men, women, boys and girls.  And I think under ISIL, for girls and women, they special -- they suffer a special hell where they've been raped, they've been sold into slavery and their rights have been secretly curtailed in areas controlled by ISIL.  I want to make three overarching points.  The first is that the US government is fully focused on humanitarian assistance throughout the region.  We are a global leader and although it's one regional crisis, women -- uh, uh -- people in the two countries have been effected in very different ways.  First in Iraq, most of the people fleeing ISIL are internally displaced.  They are living in informal settlements, scattered across 2,000 locations.  So this makes provision of humanitarian assistance that much more challenging.  You noted that the Mount Sinjar operation -- We had one of our seasoned humanitarian experts coordinating on the ground with the military during the seven nightly air drops. Without question, we saved thousands of lives through that operation.  Since August, we've sent $200 million of relief supplies, water, sanitation, support for shelter.  We are fully focused now on winter to ensure that people have the kind of assistance they need as cold weather returns.  When, and even with, the pace of deterioration in-in Iraq, it is absolutely critical that we maintain our focus on the protracted and extraordinary needs in Syria as well. 

    The sheer stupidity is amazing.

    Assad, we were told was brutal, Babs repeated that, and human rights violations took place while, in Iraq, we were told by Babsie, Rand Paul and various witnesses, had a population (Sunnis) that felt they were not included in the government.

    What a load of nonsense.

    Let's go to Rand Paul first or I'll unload on Babsie with a lot of curse words.

    I have no problem with Chrisitians or any religion.  I'm even fine with seeing Scientologists as a religion.

    It doesn't bother me.

    What does bother me?

    The pet issue crowd, whether their pet issues is Christians or what have you.

    Senator Rand Paul apparently has a personal hotline to God and the two talk constantly.  One wonders why he doesn't leave the Senate and attempt to become the US envoy to the Vatican?

    Paul's an idiot.

    I've avoided forming an opinion on him until yesterday's hearing.

    Listening to him cite, as factual, claims by a certain Brit was appalling.  Apparently Rand Paul never heard that the same Brit lied in a hearing and threw a tantrum when he learned a few reporters were present and that they were going to print his lie that all Jews had left Iraq.  (Even now, there's approximately 5 in Baghdad.  There were more than when the Brit lied in 2006.  We called him out in real time.)

    I don't have to spoon feed an overgrown infant like Rand Paul.

    It was amazing to here him whine over and over about Christians in Syria.

    The ones in Iraq?

    They didn't exist.

    I have never been more offended by someone gabbing on and using Jesus Christ and God to justify their hunger.  Onward Christian Soldiers -- Onward Armed Christian Soldiers -- that was the hymn Rand couldn't stop singing.

    I've not attacked him here.  I've never had a reason to.

    But the face he showed at the hearing on Wednesday was disgusting, was a War Mask and was appalling fact-free.

    Like Barbara Boxer (and the government witnesses), Rand had a concern for Syrian Christians but not for Iraqi ones.

    Listening to their accounts, it was as though we were hearing all about how that evil Cinderella ran off with Prince Charming while her ugly step-sisters suffered.

    Gone from the narrative was the beginning.  Unacknowledged was what happened in Iraq for years and years.  Once upon a time, for Barbara and Rand, began in 2014.

    Let's review the answer Nancy gave:

    Nancy:  Virtually all the Christians have left Mosul, Turkman and Shabat fled Mosul and Tikrit , 1/2 million Yazidis were driven from their ancestral homes. And Sunnis throughout the region have fled ISIL attacks.

    Excuse me, Nance, when the heck did they go to Mosul?

    And why?

    Iraqi Christians fled Baghdad.  They did so because they were targeted and threatened by Nouri's Shi'ite militias that he allowed to roam freely and never held accountable.

    Our Lady of Salvation Church was not just the scene of violence.  It was the scene of an attack in the midst of a worship service.

    Apparently, the Lord Jesus Christ forgot to mention that to Rand in one of their many conversations.

    Iraqi Sunnis don't have complaints, they have legitimate grievances.

    But if you're starting point -- your false starting point -- is 2014, I guess you can lie about anything.

    You can, as Nance did, pretend outrage over these refugees, this huge number of refugees.

    Excuse me?

    4.5 million was a huge number.  This was at the height of the ethnic cleansing Nouri over saw in 2006 and 2007.

    Babsie's a hypocrite because she decried that in real time but now wants to pretend it never happened.

    Sunnis and others in Iraq have been persecuted and targeted.

    This was all ignored -- and this is key, pay attention -- because whether you're Rand Paul or Barbara Boxer, you want war on Syria.  You're very upset that ground troops aren't there.

    If you want war on Syria, join the liars and preach the ahistorical b.s.

    But if you want to be smart, you'll acknowledge what happened in Iraq.

    You might even show the guts to acknowledge that the US government is responsible for a great deal of what happened since they installed Nouri as prime minister in 2006 and since they demanded he get a second term in 2010 (even after he lost the 2010 elections).

    But this was nonsense.

    Boxer didn't want truth and she attacked anyone who offered it.

    She's a lunatic at this point.  She needs to leave the Senate.  Preferably in a straight jacket.

    She wants war on Iraq too.  She made it clear in both hearings that she wants to give Barack everything he's asking for.

    Here's what she told Diane Rehm about Iraq in August of 2009:

    Senator Barbara Boxer: I regret that even after voting "no" on the War on Iraq, I should have been down there every day making my voice louder and stronger.
    Diane Rehm: Why didn't you?
    Senator Barbara Boxer: [Sighs] I thought that I said enough when I voted "no" and I continued to speak but not loudly enough and not clearly enough and you know that's why I like this novel because Ellen's my hero, she does everything right  I don't.
    Diane Rehm: That's quite an admission.
    Senator Barbara Boxer: Well it's true.
    Diane Rehm: Alright.  Speaking of Iraq, there is some talk that the US may, before it's planned deadline, pull its troops out and declare victory.  What's your thought?
    Senator Barbara Boxer: Well that is definitely some of the advice we're getting from some of our military people.  I think it's time to leave, I thought it was time to leave before, so much blood and sweat and tears and guts have been left there and I just have a view of this that-that the people of Iraq have an opportunity now to-to build their own country --
    Diane Rehm: They're still killing each other.

    Senator Barbara Boxer: Well, you know what?  The people of Iraq have to decide if they want a country or they don't want a country and we can't decide it for them.

    But now Barbara believes the US can decide it for the Iraqi people.

    She has no consistency.  She has no scruples.  She has no ethics.

    You cannot figure out what she's going to say except to bet it will be factually wrong.

    At today's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, Republicans and Democrats on the Committee were more honest that Barbara Boxer could ever be.  Unlike Rand Paul, they also didn't believe that history began in 2014.

    They put the Senate Subcommittee hearing to shame.

    And Rand Paul, before you next cite 4 beheadings 'recently' with the Brit as your witness, try grasping that (a) he's already lied in a public hearing and (b) he wasn't present.  He's not in Iraq.  Where is he?  Darting back and forth between the US and Canada to bang the war drum, insisting that ground troops must be sent into Iraq.

    That's not to defend the Islamic State.

    That's to note that you make an ass of yourself when you repeat 'pleasing tales' told by a known liar who tells of the beheading as though he were present when he wasn't even in Iraq "the other day" when he claims it took place.

    Let's turn to some violence reported by those in Iraq.  IANS reports, "In the early hours of the day, a suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden tanker truck into a checkpoint of an army base and blew it up in the town of Dijla, also called Mkeshifah, some 40 km south of provincial capital Tikrit, leaving nine soldiers dead and 10 others wounded, the source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity."  Sammer N. Yacoub (AP) notes the bombing injured twenty-two people and reports another "bomb struck near an outdoor market in the town of Madain, just south of Baghdad, killing three people and wounding five. And a bomb explosion in a commercial street in southern Baghdad killed two people and wounded seven."  Margaret Griffis ( counts 196 people killed in violence across Iraq today with 86 more left injured.

    We're going to close with this is from Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America:

    Gretchen Andersen
    Press Secretary
    Tel: 212-982-9699

    Washington, D.C. (December 10, 2014) – After passing the House yesterday by a unanimous voice vote, the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans (SAV) Act (H.R. 5059), critical legislation that will improve access to mental health care, moves to the Senate for consideration. Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) urges the Senate to stand with our veterans and move quickly in passing the bill. The legislation was spearheaded by IAVA and named after Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Clay Hunt, a Marine who died by suicide in 2011.

    “In the time since Clay’s passing, Richard and I have found many other veterans who share the struggles our son experienced,” said Susan Selke, mother of Clay Hunt. “While this legislation is too late for Clay, it is not too late for the veterans currently facing difficulty in accessing needed mental health resources. We are counting on the Senate to do the right thing tomorrow and get this bill passed.”

    “No lawmaker should take issue with this vital legislation for our community,” said IAVA CEO and Founder Paul Rieckhoff. “With 22 veterans dying by suicide each day, the minimal fiscal cost of this bill can’t compare to the human cost of continued inaction. Our veterans need the Senate to pass this bill today so it can be on the President’s desk by the end of the year. We need leadership from both sides of the aisle to get this done. All of America is watching closely to see who is supporting us, and who is against us. Any victory is a testament to the courage and tenacity of Susan and our motivated local IAVA leaders nationwide.”

    Since the beginning of 2014 IAVA has been the leading voice for the post-9/11 veteran community, calling on members of Congress, the White House, Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense to address veteran suicide.

    The Clay Hunt SAV Act will:
    • Increase access to mental health care by, among other things, creating a peer support and community outreach pilot program to assist transitioning servicemembers as well as a one-stop, interactive website of available resources.
    • Better meet the demand for mental health care by starting a pilot program to repay the loan debt of students in psychiatry so it is easier to recruit them to work at the VA.
    • Boost the accountability of mental health care by requiring an annual evaluation of DoD and VA suicide-prevention practices and programs.
    Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner met with Clay Hunt’s parents, Susan and Richard Selke, thanking them for their hard work to get the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act passed. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Speaker of the House,
    Yesterday, House Speaker John Boehner met with Clay Hunt’s parents, Susan and
     Richard Selke, thanking them for their hard work to get the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention
    for American Veterans Act passed. Photo courtesy of the Office of the Speaker of the House,

    Note to media: Email or call 212-982-9699 to speak with IAVA CEO and Founder 
    Paul Rieckhoff or IAVA leadership.

    Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America ( is the nation's first and largest nonpartisan, nonprofit organization representing veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan and has nearly 300,000 Member Veterans and civilian supporters nationwide. Celebrating its 10th year anniversary, IAVA recently received the highest rating - four-stars - from Charity Navigator, America's largest charity evaluator.