June 26, 2012
Tuesday, June 26, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, the Iraqi political crisis continues, 5 members of the Kurdish Alliance prepare to question Nouri al-Maliki, Mad Maddie Albright repeats herself, Tony Blair remains in hot water, the ICRC continues their work in Iraq, and more.
Perhaps the saddest thing for the White House was realizing that it you want bi-partisanship, don't piss off Republicans. Specifically, don't piss off [a] Republican on the issue of Iraq. (Think about it, you'll quickly guess which US Senator I mean.) Not only did he rally opposition to keep the International Republican Institute from being used to rubber stamp numbers that were going to be called results for a poll, he's gone away making sure many know that an upcoming National Democratic Institute for International Affairs 'poll' was nothing but propaganda on behalf of the White House. The poll will insist -- abusrdly -- that Nouri al-Maliki's popularity is on the rise.
It would have been unbelievable coming from a reputable polling organization. It would have been laughable coming from the NDI (a notorious tool to oppress and suppress freedom around the world -- as is its Republican counterpart) but with the senator telling anyone who will listen how the White House shopped it first as a joint-poll and the had no interest in it, the White House looks like its in the business of non-stop lying. But maybe that's every administration's business? Regardless, it's not a good time for the administration.
Maginnis and I will never agree on the illegal war but good for him for calling out the 'poll' ("Obama loyalists hosted and conducted the survey."). It's a surprisingly strong article:
On the day the U.S. withdrew from Baghdad Maliki's security forces surrounded the residences of prominent Sunni politicians including Vice President al-Hashemi, to arrest him on charges of running death squads. But Hashemi escaped to northern Iraq and sectarian violence has since skyrocketed.
"It is very troubling the Maliki-led government is operating on cultivating sectarian tensions and executing policies to suppress democracy at the expense of the Iraqi people," said Vice President al-Hashimi from his exiled refuge. He continued, "Iraqi politicians must put the past and our differences behind us to improve the lives of our people."
But Maliki isn't putting past differences behind him. Rather he is resurrecting memories Iraqis associate with their former dictator, Saddam Hussein.
Second, the DNI/GQRR survey found most non-Shia Iraqis believe Maliki has too much power and 64 percent say he acts like a dictator. Iraqis have good reason to associate Maliki's actions with their former dictator.
The prime minister is consolidating personal power as did Saddam Hussein says British scholar Toby Dodge who outlined Maliki's power grab at a forum hosted by the National Defense University and reported in Foreign Affairs.
Maliki completely transformed Iraq's security and intelligence forces to be at his beck and call, explained Dodge. The prime minister retained the title and role of defense and interior ministers, controls all high-ranking appointments, and created special counter-terrorism brigades that report directly to him. These special forces, which some Iraqis label fedayeen [Arabic for "those who sacrifice"] al-Maliki, remind them of Hussein's fedayeen Saddam which performed the dictator's dirty work.
And "surprisingly strong" is not due to, 'From the left, I can't believe anyone on the right can get anything about Iraq correct!' "Surprisingly strong" means that at a time when the US media clearly doesn't give a damn about Iraq, it's surprising to find a strong article in any US media. Good for Robert Maginnis. And for any who are surprised that Republicans might want to make an issue out of Iraq, weren't you paying attention? We told you that was the plan back in 2009. That's why the questions and issues about Chris Hill were raised at his confirmation hearing. We went all into that and how he would get confirmed but Republicans were getting it on the record.
Many Democrats supported the war and many went along. If they didn't, they could have stopped it at any time. Former US Senator Mike Gravel discussed how you do that repeatedly in 2007 and 2008 but no one wanted to end it, not even 'brave' Dennis Kucinich. And along with supporters and tag-alongs, you also had the evil that actively worked to get the illegal war up and going. Indo-Asian News Service reports
on the human garbage dump that is Mad Maddie Albright who declared in New Dehli today that "the war on Iraq was the biggest mistake we could make and are still hurt because of it." Lest anyone think the woman known as "Iraq's Grim Reaper
" has come to her senses, she rushed to insist "that the international community has a responsibility to act if a country's leaders deny the people their rights, despite such actions being an encroachment of that country's sovereignty." But Mad Maddie, as you damn well know, the costly and illegal Iraq War wasn't sold to the American people as, "Let's go kill millions and send our own off to die in a foreign land because we think the people are being denied rights!" That never would have sold the illegal war. Just last week a Dartmouth YouGov poll
(with a +/- 3.18% margin of error) found only 32.1% of Americans surveyed would support using US military force "To stop small-scale or moderate human rights abuses by the government, such as the killing of tens or hundreds of civilians."
The sentiment is similar around the world and not surprising. It's why the United Kingdom required Tony Blair's endless lies -- including silencing objection from his government's legal expert about the legality of the Iraq War -- to sell the war there. And in England, the war refuses to fade as an issue and the publication of Alistair Campbell's liary
has only led to more attention. More news from the book broke over the weekend. Jane Merrick and Matt Chorley (Independent) reported
:MPs demanded an emergency recall of the Chilcot inquiry last night after new revelations that Tony Blair blocked the Government's most senior lawyer from explaining to Cabinet the legality of the war in Iraq. According to the newly published full version of Alastair Campbell's diaries, the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith wanted to "put the reality" to cabinet ministers that there was a case against, as well as for, military action in March 2003. But, according to his former spin doctor, the then Prime Minister feared that the legal opinion was too "nuanced" and would allow the war's ministerial critics Robin Cook and Clare Short to say that the case had not been made.
"Why does Alastair Campbell's account of cabinet decision-making about Iraq nine years ago still matter?" asked the editorial board of the Independent
before answering:Because, more than any that a government can make, the decision to join military action is the most serious. Millions of British people believed at the time that they were being taken to war on a false premise. They, and The Independent on Sunday, feared that Tony Blair had committed himself to the US. George Bush's motives were an unhealthy mixture of wanting to impress US voters with a vigorous response to the humiliation of 9/11, completing his father's unfinished business from the first Gulf War and a strategic concern about security of oil supplies
By Monday, Daniel Martin (Daily Mail) was reporting
that Campbell had already rushed to deny that what he wrote meant what it said: "Mr Campbell said on his blog yesterday that the entry had been misinterpreted, and that Lord Goldsmith had addressed Cabinet after the meeting referred to in the diary. He had argued in Cabinet that there was a legal case for war and was cross-questioned by ministers."
On my previous post on the issue of the Independent on Sunday article claiming that "Tony Blair blocked the Government's most senior lawyer [the attorney general] from explaining to Cabinet the legality of the war in Iraq", it was noted that Alastair Campbell had responded to the story on his blog. Campbell's (attempted) rebuttal largely misses the point but does make a very good point about what the views of the attorney general (Lord Peter Goldsmith] were at the time.
Campbell is so hooked on his self justifying claim that "The Real Spin Doctors Are The Journalists" that he does exactly what he accuses one of the IoS story's authors of doing.
I also drew attention to various passages of former Attorney General Peter Goldsmith's evidence to Chilcot, and asked if the IoS had bothered to study it before rushing to print a story which conformed to their view of the Iraq war.
e.g. when Sir Roderic Lyne asks: 'so no one at any stage asked you to restrict what you said to cabinet to the fairly limited terms in which you presented this to cabinet?' And Goldsmith replies 'No.'
If Campbell had bothered to read the IoS story properly, he would have seen -- as I pointed out yesterday -- that it did quote exactly that piece of evidence to the Inquiry. He later claims that what he recorded in his diary – that Blair "made it clear he did not particularly want Goldsmith to launch a detailed discussion at Cabinet" – is "consistent" with this.
Poodle Tony and Mad Maddie, two War Hawks. The Albright article notes that Mad Maddie's supporting Barack in the 2012 elections -- of course she is. War Hawks of a feather bind and teather. Just last month, Barack gave her the Presidential Medal of Freedom
(she also chairs the laughable National Democratic Institute we were just mentioning).
With the impact of Iraq's long years of war and insecurity still marring the future, older problems, such as water scarcity and weak infrastructure, are also harming prospects for development and stability. The ICRC is striving to improve the situation in the areas hardest hit.
The ICRC has been working in Iraq for the past 30 years, attending to the mounting humanitarian needs. During this period, the challenges relating to water and basic public infrastructure have taken various shapes. The fall in the water levels of the Tigris and Euphrates river, which provide the bulk of Iraq's water supply, is not new. The ICRC has long been warning of the serious consequences of a dwindling water supply. But present-day Iraq faces challenges that are even more daunting.
How very sad that the ICRC has to depend upon donations for their work in Iraq when so much of it could be done by the Iraqi government which is too cheap to spend the billions on making life better for the Iraqi people. Iraq's not a poor country. Kadhim Ajrash and Nayla Razzouk (Bloomberg News) report
today, "Iraq's crude output rose to the highest in 20 years as the Halfaya field increased production."
The Red Cross update, covering March 2012 through May 2012, is entitled [PDF format warning] "Iraq: The Challenge of Providing Clean Water and Rebuilding Infrastructure
" which quotes the ICRC's Alexandre Farine stating, "Access to clean water is not the only problem faced by Iraqis today, though it is one of the major ones. There are areas in Iraq where entire systems are in need of repair. We are focusing on the areas that have been hardest hit, where such problems have posed the greatest challenge for the population. People's daily lives are affected by the scarcity of clean water, which in turn causes health and hygiene problems." The update notes the ICRC's work on behalf of the disabled:
* treated 8,398 patients, 4, 266 of whom were amputees;
* manufactured 4,840 devices and fitted patients with them so they could walk again;
* distributed 227 crutches and 40 wheelchairs to needy patients;
* provided training in wheelchair adaptation and assembling and in management of ankle-foot orthosis services in three centres;
* provided on-site support for nine primary health-care centres in areas including Ninawa, Kirkuk, Diyala, Babil, Baghdad and Diwaniya, serving approximately 260,000 people
There are many other findings in the report but here's what the ICRC is emphasizing from the update:
- supported the upgrade of more than 100 kilometres of irrigation schemes in Rabea and Qaratapa, in Dohuk and Diyala governorates respectively, which will help increase agricultural production and income for more than 1,500 families;
- enrolled 437 needy community members in cash-for-work activities in connection with the irrigation works, enabling those taking part to temporarily increase their household income;
- awarded 183 grants to disabled people and to women heading households in Kirkuk, Diyala, Ninewa, Suleymaniyah, Basra and Missan and Erbil, enabling them to start small businesses and regain economic self-sufficiency;
- distributed essential hygiene and household items to over 17,300 displaced people in Salah Al-Din, Anbar, Sulaimaniyah, Kirkuk, Dohuq and Mosul; 527 of the beneficiaries also received basic food items for one month for their families;
- provided aid for 1,092 women heading households in Baghdad and Anbar governorates, and helped them register with the State welfare allowance system.
The update notes other topics including their work on identifying the dead -- such as from Iraq's war with Kuwait -- allowing the remains to be returned home. Iraq released the remains of a US citizens. Dropping back to the June 20th snapshot
An Iraq War veteran returned to Iraq as a DynaCorp [worker] and was dead a week later. Now his family fights to have his body returned to the US. Steve Shaw of Oklahoma's News 9 (link is text and video) reports:
Angela Copeland: They came in and they told me that they had found Michael deceased in his living quarters.
Steve Shaw: Michael Copeland's widow Angela is distraught -- not only because of Michael's sudden death but because our State Dept told Copeland's family Iraqi leaders say Copeland died of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome -- or SARS -- an extemely rare disease, and our State Dept bought it. Iraq says it can't release the body. Michael Copeland's fathe says he talked to his son by phone just 12 hours before his death, nobody's died from SARS since 2003, and he says that his son showed no signs of the disease.
Mike Copeland: Everyone that I've spoke with is always sorry for our loss but they say there's nothing they can do. I find that very difficult to believe. That my government? There's nothing they can do to bring my son home fom Iraq?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention's SARS page notes:
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) is a viral respiratory illness caused by a coronavirus, called SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). SARS was first reported in Asia in February 2003. The illness spread to more than two dozen countries in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia before the SARS global outbreak of 2003 was contained. Since 2004, there have not been any known cases of SARS reported anywhere in the world. The content in this Web site was developed for the 2003 SARS epidemic. But, some guidelines are still being used. Any new SARS updates will be posted on this Web site.
No new updates have been posted to the CDC's page.
"Not only are we having to deal with the loss," Angela Copeland tells NewsOn6, "but we're having to deal with the battle to get him back home." Michael Copeland died June 9th. She tells Victoria Maranan (KXII -- link is video), "There is absolutely no excuse in this world that you could give me that could convince me why he should not be home." Jerry Wofford (Tulsa World) reports on the case and quotes Oklahoma State Rep. Dustin Roberts stating, "Michael David Copeland was a man who served our nation as a Marine and our state as a National Guardsman, and his family deserves better than this." Zach Maxwell (Durant Democrat) reports this evening, "The family of Michael Copeland is still waiting for answers more than 10 days after the former Marine and National Guardsman passed away in Iraq."
Lara Jakes (AP) reports
Michael David Copelad's body is back in the US and that the long delay resulted from disputes "over whether the Iraqi government would perform the autopsy on his remains."
In Iraq, the political crisis continues as efforts are pursued to question thug and prime minister Nouri al-Maliki before Parliament and, if answers do not reassure, move towards a vote to withdraw confidence in Nouri. Because there is so much confusion in the press about what's required and what's allowed, we'll note the following from Article 58 of the Iraqi Constitution
Seventh: A. The Council of Representatives member may direct questions to the Prime Minister and the Ministers on any subject within their specialty and they may answer the members' questions. The Member who has asked the question solely has the right to comment on the answer. B. At least twenty-five members of the Council of representatives may table a general issue for discussion to obtain clarity on the policy and the performance of the Cabinet or one of the Ministries. It must be submitted to the President of the Council of Representatives, and the Prime Minister or the Ministers shall specify a date to come before the Council of Representatives to discuss it. C. A Council of Representatives member with the agreement of twenty-five members may direct a question to the Prime Minister or the Ministers to call them to account on the issues within their authority. The discussion on the question shall begin at least seven days after submitting the question. Eighth: A. The Council of Representatives may withdraw confidence from one of the Ministers by an absolute majority and he is considered resigned from the date of the decision of confidence withdrawal. The issue of no confidence in the Minister may be tabled only on that Minister's wish or on a signed request of fifty members after an inquiry discussion directed at him. The Council of Representatives shall not issue its decision regarding the request except after at least seven days of its submission. B. 1- The President of the Republic may submit a request to the Council of Representatives to withdraw confidence from the Prime Minister. 2- The Council of Representatives may withdraw confidence from the Prime Minister based on the request of one-fifth (1/5) of its members. This request may be submitted only after a question has been put to the Prime Minister and after at least seven days from submitting the request. 3- The Council of Representatives shall decide to withdraw confidence from the Prime Minister by an absolute majority of its members. C. The Government is considered resigned in case of withdrawal of confidence from the Prime Minister. D. In case of a vote of withdrawal of confidence in the Cabinet as a whole, the Prime Minister and the Ministers continue in their positions to run everyday business for a period not to exceed thirty days until a new cabinet is formed in accordance with the provisions of article 73 of this constitution.
As you can see from the above, there really wasn't a requirement for Jalal Talabani to 'vet' the petition he was given nor for X-number of signatures to be on it. It had 176 but that wasn't good enough for President Jalal who stabbed his partners (Moqtada al-Sadr, KRG President Massoud Barzani, Iraqiya's Ayad Allawi, etc.) in the back. Last week, Mustafa Habib (Niqash) interviewed
MP Diaa N. al-Asadi who heads Moqtada's bloc in Parliament. Excerpt:
NIQASH: So how did this initiative – to withdraw confidence from al-Maliki's regime – get started?
Al-Asadi: A series of events. There were a lot of negative indicators regarding the performance of the government; the Iraqi people went to protest on the streets to demand reform and improved levels of services; those demands were not politically driven.
Additionally the government has not respected the Erbil agreement [formulated to end a nine month dispute over who should run the government following 2010 elections] and they have caused political crises over [deputy PM] Saleh al-Mutlaq and Vice President Tareq al-Hashimi. All of these factors have combined to create a lot of pressure. There was an urgent need to find a definitive solution.
NIQASH: Can you give us more details about this initiative to withdraw confidence?
Al-Asadi: Other political parties – the Iraqiya bloc and the Kurdish bloc - came to us, complaining about the way al-Maliki was governing. They felt that al-Maliki was creating these crises and then resolving them in ways that served only his interests.
We, the Sadrists, were already unhappy with him. And they asked us to take a patriotic stand.
That's why Muqtada al-Sadr met with al-Maliki in Tehran, when al-Maliki was there. We discussed with him what his version of the crises was and his ideas on how to solve them.
But al-Sadr also wanted to hear what other parties had to say. That's why he went to Erbil to meet with Masoud al-Barzani, the president of [the semi-autonomous region] Iraqi Kurdistan.
It was at this stage that al-Sadr said he was for the use of constitution and legislation [to get out of the political impasse]. The results of that meeting in Erbil and of another in Najaf ended in a letter that was sent to al-Maliki's office.
This letter contained nine points, suggestions for the resolution of the political crisis in Iraq. Seven of the nine points focused on reform and the other two suggested a motion of no confidence was possible if the other seven points were not dealt with, and if limits were not put on how long the Iraqi prime minister could be in power. This letter was ignored by al-Maliki's office.
that Moqtada does not plan to question Nouri himself. That's not surprising. Throughout this process, Moqtada has stated that if Nouri would agree to return to the Erbil Agreement (contract between the political blocs that the US government drew up with gave Nouri a second term as prime minister -- despite his State of Law coming in second in the 2010 elections -- in exchange for concessions from Nouri), they would drop the move to vote him out of office. Moqtada has stated that over and over. He's also stated that he plans to listen to the answers Nouri provides to the Parliament (Nouri's refusing to appear so he may not provide any answers) and then make up his mind on the vote.
Who would question Nouri? Alsumaria reports
that the Kurdistan Alliance has five deputies prepared to question Nouri before Parliament and the Kurds state they will not be silent even in Nouri (appears before Parliament, faces questions) and manages to stay in power. This is becoming a very big issue in the KRG and may become a position of honor. Nouri became prime minister in 2006. The Constitution -- Article 140 -- called for him to hold a referendum and census for Kirkuk by the end of 2007. He refused. He still refuses. The Kurds feel Kirkuk is their province and this is only one of the many disputes between them and Nouri's Baghdad government. You've also got the shrinking Jalal Talabani (his influence is on the wane at present) and his disregarding the Kurdish hope of an independent Kurdish homeland. So there are a lot of details at play as a confrontation looms and a lot of tangled emotions can become vested in this move towards no-confidence. Dar Addustour reports
the National Alliances Ibrahim al-Jaafari declared Nouri is not planning to face Parliament and that he is questioning the process. (He should refer to the Constitution.) Meanwhile Nouri's trying another stalling technique. Al Rafidayn reports
that he's calling for a national dialogue. He only wants that when he's in trouble, then when it's 'about to happen' or even scheduled, he manages to subvert it as well. Kitabat reports
Nouri's threatening to dissolve the Parliament and call for early elections.
Some might see that as a good way to go and possibly it is. But there is a potential negative side. Parliament gets dissolved and Nouri rules through the next elections. The next elections would not be in a matter of weeks. The KRG is currently working on their laws ahead of the 2013 provincial election. This could take months and the KRG runs smoother than any other part of Iraq. Meaning parlimentary elections are scheduled for 2014. The Nouri al-Maliki who let over 8 months of gridlock pass following the March 2010 elections isn't necessarily someone who feels pressure to move in a speedy manner. He could easily stall and delay it so that there are no elections until 2014 when they ae scheduled to take place.
If Nouri dissoled the Parliament, who would act as a check on his power? New elections might not come until 2014. During the time between that and right now, Nouri would have no check on his power.
That's something for Iraqis to consider as they weigh what's going on.
It could get very hard to determine what's going on if Nouri is successful in attacking the media.
Qassim Abdul-Zahra (AP) quotes
Moqtada al-Sadr stating, "In our beloved Iraq, the government is always interfering in the affairs of media outlets and tring to politicize them." Saturday the Journalism Freedoms Observatory published an alert
about a government list of 44 news outlets Nouri's government was planning to close. Ruchi Shroff (Digital Production) observes
, "Organizations targeted for shutdown reportedly include BBC, Voice of America, U.S.-financed Radio Sawa, as well as privately-owned TV channels Sharqiya and Baghdadia." AFP notes
, "Iraq regularly ranks near the bottom of global press freedom rankings. It placed 152nd out of 179 countries in media rights watchdog Reporters Without Borders' 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index, down 22 from the year before." Kitabat notes
the Ministry of the Interior has rushed to distance itself from the issue, declaring it had no issued the orders and that its role in implementing them would be minimal. Today Alsumaria reports
the commission says it is putting the list (temporarily) on hold. On hold. It's not been dropped.
Turning to the US where Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee. Her office notes that proposed legislation will be discussed in a hearing of the Committee tomorrow and that Murray will discuss her bills to ensure equality for veterans the Mental Health ACCESS bill and the Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act -- the latter will also be championed with testimony from Iraq War veteran Matt Keil's wife Tracy Keil:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Contact: Murray Press Office
TOMORROW: Spouse of Severely Wounded Veteran to Testify on VA's Fertility Services
At a hearing on pending health and benefits legislation, Senator Murray will discuss her Mental Health ACCESS bill and Women Veterans Health Care Improvement Act
(Washington, D.C.) – Tomorrow, Wednesday, June 27, 2012, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will chair a hearing to examine health and benefits legislation pending before the Committee. At the hearing, Tracy Keil, the spouse of a severely wounded OIF veteran will discuss her family's experience with VA's fertility services. Veterans who have severe reproductive and urinary tract injuries and spinal cord injuries (SCI) often need highly specialized treatments and procedures like IVF to conceive. However, under current law, IVF is expressly excluded from fertility services that are provided by the VA to veterans or their spouses. This is a significant barrier for veterans with SCI and genital and urinary tract injuries and as a result they have to seek care outside of the VA. Senator Murray's Women Veterans and Other Health Care Improvements Act of 2012 , which she introduced last week, would expand fertility treatment and care for seriously wounded veterans, their spouses, and surrogates.
In addition, Senator Murray will discuss her new servicemembers and veterans mental health legislation, the Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012, S. 3340. Vets First will testify on the Mental Health ACCESS Act of 2012, which Senator Murray introduced yesterday. Six other Senators are expected to appear in support of their legislation, including Senators Ayotte, Boxer, Franken, Heller, Wyden, and Portman. VA and stakeholder groups will provide their views on the legislation as well. View the full agenda for tomorrow's hearing below.