Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The rat nest around Hillary

It just never ends with Hillary Clinton.

This Tweet says a great deal.

WHOA BRUTAL FROM THE : "It’s getting hard to tell where the Clinton campaign ends and the federal law enforcement apparatus begins."

And Marci asked me to note this from David French (NATIONAL REVIEW):

If the story hadn’t been verified by virtually every mainstream-media outlet in the country, you’d think it came straight from conspiratorial fever dreams of the alt-right. Yesterday, news broke that Robert Mueller had months ago asked a senior FBI agent to step down from his role investigating the Trump administration. This prince of a man was caught in an extramarital affair with an FBI lawyer. The affair itself was problematic, but so was the fact that the two were found to have exchanged anti-Trump, pro-Hillary Clinton text messages. Here’s where the story gets downright bizarre. This agent, Peter Strzok, also worked with FBI director James Comey on the Clinton email investigation. In fact, he was so deeply involved in the Clinton investigation that he is said to have interviewed Cheryl Mills and Huma Abedin, and to have been present when the FBI interviewed Clinton. According to CNN, he was part of the team responsible for altering the FBI’s conclusion that Clinton was “grossly negligent” in handling classified emails (a finding that could have triggered criminal liability) to “extremely careless” — a determination that allowed her to escape prosecution entirely. 

Oh, Hillary, oh . . .

This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

Wednesday, December 13, 2017.  The State Dept declares in a press briefing that ISIS in Iraq "is not done," Hayder al-Abadi's attacks on the Kurds may not be influencing Shi'ites in the way he hopes, and much more.

Iraq's (US-installed) prime Minister Hayder al-Abadi is insisting ISIS is over. Not everyone seems so sure.

Michael R. Gordon (WALL STREET JOURNAL) notes the previous history of declaring 'success' in Iraq:

In 2003, the Bush administration toppled Saddam Hussein but was unprepared for the mission of occupying the country. After American forces were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, the Obama administration boasted violence was at a historic low only to see ISIS rampage across the country less than three years later. More recently, President Donald Trump asserted in October that ISIS fighters were giving up. 

Gordon notes that ISIS may "return to their guerrilla roots, maintain sleeper cells and try to take advantage of signs of Sunni disaffection" at a time when, for example, approximately 600,000 residents of Mosul have yet to return to the city since its 'liberation.'

There are victory laps by Hayder, but no victory.

A point US State Dept spokesperson Heather Nauert made at yesterday's press briefing in the midst of discussing Syria.

MS NAUERT:  Our job in Syria is not done. And when I say “our,” I don’t just mean the United States, I mean the entire coalition. There are still pockets of ISIS. The country still needs to be stabilized. We were just talking about rubble removal and we were talking about demining. If Russia chooses to pull out, certainly, that is its choice to do so, but we continue to work through all our partners to try to stabilize the country.

QUESTION: So if the job is not done as you – you don’t consider it done. The --

MS NAUERT: The job is not – the job is not done.

QUESTION: Not done. I understand.

MS NAUERT: It’s not – done in Iraq, even though Iraq has declared victory over ISIS. It’s not – it’s still not done there because there are still individuals there who belong to ISIS, who will take part, undoubtedly, in terrorist activities. Syria, the job is far from done there, unfortunately. 

Amazingly, or maybe not, not one reporter bothered to ask a follow up.  The US government has congratulated Iraq on the 'victory.'  But there was the US State Dept's spokesperson saying "It's not -- done in Iraq, every though Iraq has declared victory over ISIS.  It's not -- it's still not done [. . .]"

Not one.

Which may not be so amazing since they don't give a damn about Iraq and never ask about it.

Now for foreign outlets (RT had a lively exchange in yesterday's press briefing), that may be fine.

But for US outlets?

It will soon be two trillion tax dollars that the American public has forked over for this illegal war but the press knows their bosses aren't interested so they know to be good little sheep and not ask.

Oh, sure, the loud Matt Lee may use Iraq as a Tweet (Iraq from five or so years ago) to try to score political points but he has no interest in Iraq today.

So that's how the US State Dept could declare yesterday that there's no victory over the Islamic State in Iraq yesterday -- a comment that should have resulted in major headlines -- and everyone looks the other way and pretends not to notice.

Back in July, the International Crisis Group's Joost Hiltermann (NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS) observed:

To local people, the picture is decidedly different. ISIS’s military defeat, which Western officials believe will come sometime later this year or early next, will hardly put an end to the conflicts that gave rise to the group. For much of the battle against ISIS has taken place in a region that has been fought over ever since oil was found in Kirkuk in the 1930s. The deeper conflicts here—between Arabs and Kurds, between Shia and Sunni, between neighboring powers such as Iran and Turkey, and among the Kurds themselves—will only escalate as the victors, fortified by weapons supplies and military training provided by foreign governments, engage in a mad scramble for the spoils.

And the scramble is on.  Signs include yesterday's apparent attack (by Baghdad) on Tuz Khurumatu.

The UN said on Tuesday that it launched the probe after reports of people fleeing the town of Tuz Khurumatu, where some 150 homes belonging to Kurds and ethnic Turkmen were reportedly set ablaze.

Yesterday, the US Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, spoke of Iraq.

Secretary Tillerson: The policy has always been a unified and we are working through that process now between Baghdad and Erbil to ensure the two parties remain unified; we are supporting both deconfliction and re-engagement around the Iraqi constitution.

And here are Tillerson's remarks:

In Iraq, the liberation of all areas is now complete, and in both the campaigns we’ve now recaptured the caliphate’s capitals of Mosul in Iraq and Raqqa in Syria. I think the early engagement in Iraq with Arab neighbors has been important to the future of Iraq also being sustained with its democratic government and sustaining Iraq as a unified country. Having Arab neighbors engage early as the war to defeat ISIS progressed, importantly with the historic visit because it’s been more than three decades since the Arab world had relationships with Baghdad, the Saudis were the first to engage and have created now economic talks and consultative committees. They’ve reopened two border crossings, they’re resuming flights between Baghdad and between Riyadh, sending an important message to all Iraqis that – and reminding them that Iraqis are Arab, and you should re-engage and reunite with the Arab world.
There have been consultative councils set up with the Saudis and Iraqis, and there will be a second reconstruction conference hosted by the Kuwaitis in January – all intended to ensure that the government in Baghdad and Iraqis understand you have friends to the south who want to support your reconstruction and your re-establishment of your country.

Importantly, we also – the policy has always been a unified Iraq. And as you know, the independence referendum which was undertaken by the Kurdish Regional Authorities a few months back was disruptive to that unity. We’re working through that process now between Baghdad and Erbil to ensure the two parties remain unified, and we are supporting both deconfliction and we’re supporting a re-engagement around the Iraqi constitution which was never fully implemented. And we will stand and we have said we’ll stand with the Kurds to support them in the full implementation of the Iraqi constitution when – which, when it is fully implemented, will address a number of grievances that the Kurdish people have had for some time and we hope will lead to that unified Iraq.

But if the Kurds don't want a unified government after being attacked?  And there's also the fact that Baghdad refuses to speak to the Kurdish government in Erbil.

Maybe the policy of a unified Iraq needs to factor in what the people actually want?

And not just the Kurds.

Yes, on September 25th approximately 92% voted for an independent Kurdistan.

But Hayder al-Abadi's attacks on the Kurds -- just his verbal attacks?

Is no one registering what's taken place as a result?

Because Shi'ite social media is vicious on the Kurds.

So if there was a Shia poll right now, it wouldn't be at all surprising if the results said, "Dump the Kurds! Get rid of them! Let them leave Iraq!"

Hayder's promoted hatred of the Kurds and it's sinking in.  But the hatred may work to push the Kurds out of Iraq which I don't believe was Hayder's intent.

In his remarks, Tillerson also noted, "As a result of the military success, we in the State Department have really had to run fast to catch up with the military success with the diplomatic plans as to what comes after the defeat of ISIS, and we’ve executed much of this through the Coalition to Defeat ISIS, a coalition of 74 members, 68 countries and including organizations such as NATO, INTERPOL, EU, and others."

Tillerson hasn't been in the post for even 12 months yet.

So it's not really his fault that a diplomatic push did not begin in 2014.

However, that's when it should have begun.

Barack Obama began bombing in August of 2014.  He also began sending in more ground troops then.

But the diplomatic effort?

No where to be found.

Just as Bully Boy Bush's 'surge' failed diplomatically (the military success -- which did take place -- was supposed to allow the political front to move forward but that did not happen) so did Barack's mission.

In his article that we noted earlier, Michael Gordon includes this, "Nearly 50% of Iraq's population is less than 19 years old, the U.N. says."

It's amazing how little coverage of Iraq in the west factors in the youth -- or even nods to their presence.

In August of last year, the International Crisis Group attempted to explore Iraqi youth and noted:

The leadership’s inability to forge a future for “Generation 2000”, which grew up after Saddam Hussein’s fall, has turned it into easy quarry for predators, be they IS, Shiite militias or populists preaching Iraqi nationalism. The potential for mobilising large numbers of young men at loose ends as pawns in violent conflicts has enabled both IS and Shiite militias to gain recruits. In the process, it has compounded sectarian polarisation and widened the divide between street and elites. Fed by fresh pools of fighting-age men, local tensions and conflicts proliferate and escalate, destabilising the country and the surrounding region. The most powerful Shiite militias receive training and advice from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, have an ideological orientation consistent with Tehran’s and can be deployed as proxies outside Iraq as well.
The familiar expression “youth radicalisation” distorts the reality that an entire generation is adrift, in need of a dramatically new state-led approach. Young Iraqis whose formative years were in the post-2003 turmoil have much more in common than they suspect, whatever side of local conflicts they are on, but they have been increasingly socialised within communal confines and left to the mercy of radical groups that promote dehumanised, even demonised perceptions of one another.

Before violence engulfed Iraq again, with the rise of IS, youth had attempted to peacefully hold the political class accountable for years of dismal governance. Sunni Arabs staged sit-ins in several towns in 2013, questioning national leaders, including senior Sunnis. They met with repression, leaving scores dead, many more in prison. These events paved the way for IS, which seized Falluja, the Sunni town nearest Baghdad, Mosul and other majority-Sunni towns in June 2014.


  • Tuesday, December 12, 2017

    Looking at President Trump's remarks

    So on NPR today, I hear President Donald Trump. 
    He states that the reason Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and others are bringing up the allegations against him – assault and harassment – is because the Russian probe/smear has failed.
    Okay.  I am going to dive into that.
    The Russian probe/smear?
    I hope it has failed.  There has never been anything resembling proof.  I do not believe that President Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the election.  I do believe he was duly elected
    I believe that whole thing was nothing more than sour grapes. 
    I believe that certain people were unable to accept the results of the election and had a tantrum in public.
    Now that takes care of the second part of what he was saying.
    As for the first part?
    Senator Gillibrand does not play politics like that.  (Sadly, my senator does. Senator Richard Blumenthal has wasted time on the Russian nonsense and embarrassed himself as a result.)
    This is a serious issue.
    It was a serious issue before the election.
    But the press did not want to talk about it.
    Well, they wanted to blather.  They did not want to examine.
    Ava and C.I. did a piece examining the allegations in October because no one was.  (They agreed with the accounts of all but one.  On the one they didn’t sign off on, they noted she might be telling the truth and they might be wrong.  But other than that, they found the stories believable.)
    So here is the question?
    Previously, the attitude has been that an election settles these things.
    I am not joking.
    But we are in a different time – and I am glad about that.
    I do not mean “I am glad so that the rules change on President Trump!!!” Gnash my teeth and growl.
    I am glad because assault and harassment are serious crimes.
    I am very sad to see U.S. House Representative John Conyers resign.  But the system has to work.  And Mr. Conyers did many great things but that does not mean you get a pass.
    It also means no pass for Donald Trump. 
    So the election did not wipe out the allegations.
    And they need to be taken seriously. 
    President Trump would do well to avoid appearing to dismiss or mock them.
    If he wants to go to court, great.
    Let the court decide it.
    But as it stands, I trust Ava and C.I. and they examined it back in October and found the women believable.

    Barring anything that changes that, I am on their side.  If the president has a case to make, he needs to make it.  He also needs to take it seriously.  This is the 21st century and things have changed.

    This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for today:

    Tuesday, December 12, 2017.  PBS continues to air propaganda, a US service member is laid to rest, in 'victory' Baghdad decides to bomb the Kurds and much more.

    Imran Ghori (PRESS-ENTERPRISE) reports:

    McGurn’s goal was to return to the Police Department after completing his military service and become a police canine officer, he said. He would maintain his excitement while volunteering for the worst assignments, Castro said.

    Over the weekend, tiny despot Hayder al-Abadi held a parade, self-glorified and was selective in sharing thank yous.  The Kurds were disrespected but they weren't the only ones.  Everyone knows that Hayder and company would still be battling for Mosul -- to name but one example -- had the foreign coalition not been bombing constantly.

    Back to Ghori:

    Todd Lane McGurn was known for his big smile, his love for his family and his drive to succeed.
    Family and friends paid tribute to the 20-year-old Riverside resident in an emotional funeral service Monday, Dec. 11, at Sandals Church in Riverside. Afterward, a police procession accompanied a hearse carrying his body to Riverside National Cemetery where he was laid to rest.

    The US government should have never started the Iraq War.  But they continue it and they continue to send Americans over to Iraq and they continue to send US tax dollars over to Iraq.

    Ahmed Aboulenein (Reuters) reports on the whining of the Counselor of the USAID Thomas Staal who has just about lost it over US President Donald Trump's efforts to reduce (by 30%) the foreign aid budget.  It's outrageous to Staal.  This despite the fact that: "The U.S. government has provided nearly $1.7 billion in humanitarian assistance for Iraq since the Islamic State takeover of the north in 2014."

    Since 2014.

    $1.7 billion in the last three years.

    Not since the start of the Iraq War, but just in the last three years.

    Basic needs cannot be met in the United States and that's due to priorities and due to the illegal war that is still ongoing.

    Now we're supposed to spend billions propping up Hayder al-Abadi because we just know -- like we did with Nouri before -- that he'll deliver what we want -- at last -- finally.

    Iraqis need leaders that the support.  They do not need leaders imposed upon them by the US or any other foreign government.

    The reason so many trillions have been spent 'creating' a government in Iraq is because it lacks all legitimacy.

    Hoshang Mohamed (RUDAW) observes:

    Many factors facilitated the success of ISIS in Iraq, including political, economic and social injustice; governance, development and public services deficits; and discriminatory policies based on ethnic, sectarian, religious and political identities and affiliations. These root causes which paved the way for the rise of this brutal terrorist organization are still in effect and have further deepened over the last three years.

    The history of Iraq reveals a number of persistent sources of conflict: systematic demographic changes, sectarianism and purely ideological policies, concentration of political and military power with impunity, and disregard for rule of civilian law.

    Blind celebration and overestimation of the military success will not last long and will not bring peace, stability or security in the long run unless Iraqi leaders accept these realities and are brave enough to recognize the critical mistakes made since 2005.

    Neither military success nor money will stabilize Iraq if the legitimate grievances of all communities across Iraq are not genuinely considered and resolved.

    These are basic realities.  But notice how the western press will not address them.

    The taxpayer draining waste that is THE NEWSHOUR spent a report 'on' Iraq refusing to note these basic realities and instead focusing on Iran versus the US.  And treating that as normal.  As if another country exists solely to be a test lab for the US and Iran.

    They have done some lousy reporting on Iraq at THE NEWSHOUR last week but this tops even the nonsense already broadcast.

    As usual, the Iraqi people are rendered invisible.

    As usual the real problems are ignored.

    Instead, PBS encourages you to feel superior to the Iraqi people and take part in 'superpower' wonderment.

    They ought to be ashamed.

    While Iraq is celebrating the defeat of ISIL, these citizens are struggling to rebuild their lives:

    That's some of the reality that PBS is avoiding.

    The Baghdad-based government is attacking the Kurds -- with US supplied weapons.

    Tuz Khurmatu comes under shelling, Iraqi aircraft bombs villages

    Maybe they could cover this reality?  The whorish PBS and others?

    Iraqi Helicopters bombing kurdish villages around Tuz Khurmatu for the first time since 1991. Another thing kurds didnt expect to happen again in Iraq!

    What does not fit the narrative is stripped away.

    Rendered an aside or not even spoken.

    Buried deep in Jonathon Gatehouse's CBC report, for example, you find this, "In fact, the same day Abadi declared victory, Iraqi security forces reported a skirmish near Kirkuk in which they killed what they said were 10 [Islamic State] suicide bombers hiding in a tunnel."

    Land of snap decisions
    Land of short attention spans
    Nothing is savored
    Long enough to really understand
    In every culture in decline
    The watchful ones among the slaves
    Know all that is genuine will be
    Scorned and conned and cast away

    -- "Dog Eat Dog," written by Joni Mitchell (first appears on her DOG EAT DOG album)

    The following community sites -- plus Tavis Smiley and BLACK AGENDA REPORT -- updated: