Thursday, July 18, 2013

Are witnesses being prevented from talking?

September 11, 2012, the U.S. mission in Benghazi was attacked leaving 4 Americans dead: Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, and Chris Stevens.  In addition, numerous people were injured.

U.S. House Representative Frank Wolf released this earlier this week:

Contact: Jill Shatzen
(202) 225-5136
Washington, D.C. (July 17, 2013) – In today’s question(s) about what happened in Benghazi, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) asked:
Was there an intelligence failure in vetting the true loyalty of the Libyan security guards for the U.S. consulate?  Which agency was responsible for vetting the militias?
Who provided the terrorists with details of the consulate property? Was it the security guards or someone in the Libyan government who was notified about the ambassador’s visit? 
Why did the guards in the car outside the consulate not warn the U.S. staff of the gathering terrorists as they drove away a minute before the assault began?  Were they complicit in the plot? 
Wolf yesterday announced his plan to raise questions about what happened in Benghazi during the weeks before Congress breaks for its August recess, noting that the House has just 10 days of legislative business before the break.  When it returns in September, the one-year anniversary will be two days away.
Wolf is the author of a resolution to create a select committee on Benghazi, H. Res. 36, which currently has 160 cosponsors – more than two-thirds of the majority party – as well as the support of family members of the victims, the Special Operations community and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents the Diplomatic Security agents who were at the consulate in Benghazi.
For a full list of endorsements, click here.
For more on Wolf’s work on Benghazi, click here.
The full text of Wolf’s remarks are below.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday I came to the floor to announce that in the remaining legislative days before the August recess, I will be speaking out daily to remind the American people about the key questions that remain to be answered.  I will also be sending a series of letters to a number of agencies responsible for the failures leading up to, during and in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks. 
Yesterday, I raised the question of why no survivors, whether State Department, CIA or private security contractor employees – have been asked to testify publicly before Congress.  Today, I am raising questions about whether there were intelligence failures in the vetting of the Libyan militias hired to provide security for the consulate, which agency official was responsible for vetting these militias and which insider source provided the terrorists with details about the U.S. compound in advance of the attack. 
These are serious questions that deserve clear answers.  After nearly a year of committee investigations, I believe the House should be able to provide this information to the American people.  Additionally, to the best of my knowledge, no official has been held accountable for any intelligence failures with regard to vetting the loyalty of the Libyan militias. 
I raise these questions today in the context of the piece recently published by Vanity Fair, which is an excerpt from one of the books being written by the Benghazi survivors who have yet to appear before Congress.  The book, Under Fire: The Untold Story of the Attack in Benghazi, provides a blow-by-blow account as seen from the eyes of the Diplomatic Security Service agents on the ground that night.  The take away: this was a well-planned attack by terrorists who knew what they were doing and who clearly had help from the local militias contracted to provide “security.”
How else, as the piece points out, would the attackers seem “to know there were new, uninstalled generators behind the February 17 Martyrs Brigade command post, nestled between the building and the overhand of foliage from the western wall, as well as a dozen jerry cans full of gasoline to power them.”  This gas was used to set the fires in the compound.
There are additional concerns about the security guards outside the consulate who left in a car moments before the assault on the consulate began.  According to the Vanity Fairpiece:
“The feeling of security was enhanced at 2102 hours when an SSC (Supreme Security Council—a coalition of individual and divergently minded Libyan militias) patrol vehicle arrived. The tan Toyota Hilux pickup, with an extended cargo hold, decorated in the colors and emblem of the SSC, pulled off to the side of the road in front of Charlie-1. The driver shut off the engine. He wasn't alone—the darkened silhouette of another man was seen to his right. The pickup sported twin Soviet-produced 23-mm. anti-aircraft guns—the twin-barreled cannons were lethal against Mach 2.0 fighter aircraft and devastating beyond belief against buildings, vehicles, and humans. The two men inside didn't come out to engage in the usual small talk or to bum some cigarettes from the guards or even to rob them. The Libyan guards, after all, were not armed.
“Suddenly the SSC militiaman behind the steering wheel fired up his engine and headed west, the vehicle crunching the gravel with the weight of its tires.
“Later, following the attack, according to the (unclassified) Accountability Review Board report, an SSC official said that “he ordered the removal of the car ‘to prevent civilian casualties.’ This hints that the SSC knew an attack was imminent; that it did not warn the security assets in the Special Mission Compound implies that it and elements of the new Libyan government were complicit in the events that transpired.”
Why, indeed, did the SSC guards not notify the consulate that an attack was imminent?  And why were they allowed to leave as the terrorists gathered outside the compound?   Again, these questions are essential to learning exactly who was responsible for the attack on the consulate. 
According to an article by Eli Lake published in The Daily Beastearlier this year, the CIA was “responsible in part for one major failure the night of the Benghazi attack: his officers were responsible for vetting the February 17 Martyr’s Brigade, the militia that was supposed to be the first responder on the night of the attack, but melted away when the diplomatic mission was attacked.”
The article continued, “Another U.S. intelligence official… said the failure for the CIA at Benghazi was the mistaken assumption that the Zintan tribe in Benghazi—that provided many of the fighters for the February 17 Martyr’s Brigade—would have the same loyalties as the Zintan tribe in Tripoli, which had protected several senior U.S. officials including Hillary Clinton in her visit last year to Libya. ‘The CIA failed at mapping the human terrain,” this official said. “They did not understand the politics in Benghazi and we paid the price.’”
These are important issues for the Congress to address and we have an obligation to ensure that reforms are made to prevent similar failures in the future.   However, to the best of my knowledge, neither the State Department nor the CIA have disclosed who was responsible for vetting the militias, whether there was an intelligence failure or what reforms may have been implemented in the way of the militia’s betrayal last September. 
To summarize, I ask my colleagues if the Congress can answer these questions and, if not, why?
·         Was there an intelligence failure in vetting the true loyalty of the Libyan security guards for the U.S. consulate?  Which agency was responsible for vetting the militias?
·         Who provided the terrorists with details of the consulate property? Was it the security guards or someone in the Libyan government who was notified about the ambassador’s visit? 
·         Why did the guards in the car outside the consulate not warn the U.S. staff of the gathering terrorists as they drove away a minute before the assault began?  Were they complicit in the plot? 
When the Congress departs for the August recess in two and a half weeks, will the American people know why, after a year of investigations, who provided the terrorists with insider information about the consulate property and the ambassador’s location? 
Again, this is why I believe a House Select Committee is the best way forward to ensure that these and other unanswered questions are resolved.  To date, 160 House Republicans – nearly three quarters of the entire Republican Conference – have cosponsored H. Res. 36 to create a Select Committee on Benghazi to ensure the American people learn the truth.

Of greater interest may be what he issued today:

Contact: Jill Shatzen
(202) 225-5136
Washington, D.C. (July 18, 2013) – In today’s question(s) about what happened in Benghazi, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) asked:
How many Benghazi survivors, including federal employees, military personnel or contractors, have been asked to sign additional Non-Disclosure Agreements by the different agencies relating to what happened in Benghazi?
Do these NDAs apply only to those under cover, or have non-covert State Department and Defense Department employees been directed to sign them too?
In his floor speech today, Wolf also noted that he will be sending letters to the CIA, Defense Department and State Department asking for a list of all of their personnel or contractors they have required to sign original or additional NDAs relating to Benghazi. 
Wolf on Tuesday announced his plan to raise questions about what happened in Benghazi during the weeks before Congress breaks for its August recess, noting that the House has just nine days of legislative business before the break.  When it returns in September, the one-year anniversary will be two days away.
Wolf is the author of a resolution to create a select committee on Benghazi, H. Res. 36, which currently has 160 cosponsors – more than two-thirds of the majority party – as well as the support of family members of the victims, the Special Operations community and the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, which represents the Diplomatic Security agents who were at the consulate in Benghazi.
For a full list of endorsements, click here.
For more on Wolf’s work on Benghazi, click here.
The full text of Wolf’s remarks is below. 
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to ask another question that has not yet been answered by the House.
This question will be the third in a series of critical issues that have not yet been resolved – and I will continue to raise additional questions for the next nine legislative days until we depart for August recess, keeping in mind that the one-year anniversary of the Benghazi attacks will be upon us when the Congress returns in September.   
It is also noteworthy that there does not appear to be a single hearing on Benghazi scheduled in any committee between now and the one-year anniversary. 
That is why, in the absence of public hearings to address these questions, I am raising them on the House floor this month. 
On Tuesday, I raised the question of why none of the Benghazi survivors – whether State Department, CIA or private security contractor employee – have testified publicly before Congress. 
Yesterday, I asked about whether there had been any intelligence failures in the vetting of the Libyan militias who abandoned the Americans at the consulate as the assault began.  I also asked who provided the terrorists with a detailed understanding of the consulate property. 
Today, I return again to the Benghazi survivors and other career employees and contractors working for the CIA, Defense Department and the State Department who were involved in the response, or lack thereof, to the Benghazi attacks. 
According to trusted sources that have contacted my office, many, if not all, of the survivors of the Benghazi attacks – along with others at the Department of Defense and CIA – have been asked or directed to sign additional Non-Disclosure Agreements about their involvement in the Benghazi attacks.  Some of these “new” NDAs, as they call them, I have been told, were signed as recently as this summer.
It is also worth noting that the Marine Corps Times yesterday reported that the Marine colonel whose task force was responsible for special operations in northern and western Africa at the time of the attack is still on active duty despite claims that he retired and therefore could not be forced to testify before Congress.      
If these reports are accurate, this would be a stunning revelation to any member of Congress – any member of Congress that finds this out – and to the American people.  It also raises serious concerns about the propriety of the administration’s efforts to silence those with knowledge of the Benghazi attack and response.
So today I ask: How many federal employees, military personal or contractors have been asked to sign additional Non-Disclosure Agreements by each agency? 
And do these NDAs apply only to those under cover, or have non-covert State Department and Defense Department employees been directed to sign them too?   
Later today I will be writing the CIA, Defense Department and State Department to ask for a list of ALL of their personnel or contractors who have required to sign original or additional NDAs relating to Benghazi.  
Perhaps, through a list of all employees that have signed NDAs relating to Benghazi, we may finally develop a witness list to subpoena for eyewitness testimony to learn what happened that night where we lost four American lives. 
I do not expect the Obama Administration to be forthcoming with answers, but if this Congress doesn’t ask for the information and compel its delivery, the American people will never learn the truth.
Any federal employee or contractor who has been coerced into silence through a Non-Disclosure Agreement should expect the Congress to speak out on their behalf and compel their voice to be heard. That is why I, along with 159 of my colleagues, support a Select Committee to hold public hearings to learn the truth about what happened that night in Benghazi.
I say any colleague who is not on our resolution, if you are not on our resolution, please get on so we can find out the truth about what happened in Benghazi.

If this is true, this is appalling.  Shame on Secretary of State John Kerry, shame on former-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.  Both should have known of this and both should have stopped it and told Congress about it.

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

Thursday, July 18, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, the President of Iran visits Iraq, Baghdad residents have trouble getting into their own neighborhoods, the effects of NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden are still being felt,  and more.

Starting with NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden who remains in Russia.  Kasie Hunt and Kelly O'Donnell (NBC News) report US Senator Lindsey Graham "has told NBC News that the United States should consider boycotting the upcoming Winter Games if Russian President Vladimir Putin grants leaker Edward Snowden asylum -- a suggestion that a top U.S. Olympic official quickly rejected." First off, Putin has no say in temporary asylum.  The process involves one ministry only.  As we noted Tuesday, "Putin wouldn't have a formal voice in temporary asylum.  In fact, he should have no role in the decision.  Again, that's per State Dept friend, however, that's how the process is supposed to work and government processes don't always work as they are supposed to."  The temporary process also moves quickly.  As from Graham's suggestion?

Stupidest thing in the world.  Unless he's trying to get kicked out of the Senate.  In 1980, the US boycotted the summer Olympics in Moscow.  Jimmy Carter was President of the United States then.  The decision was costly in so many ways.  First off, US citizens have been training for four years.  Second off, this politicizes the Olympics which are not supposed to be politicized.  Third, do you realize how much money is at play right now?  NBC suits will not be forgiving (NBC is carrying the Winter Olympics).  That's a ton of ad revenue at stake and they've got nothing currently to plug into the schedule if the US doesn't compete.  (And if the US doesn't compete, they could still air the Olympics but the US ratings would be in the toilet.)

Again, if Graham's trying to retire from the Senate, this is the way to do it.  He will be publicly vilified for weeks should this take place.  Chris Moody (Yahoo News) reports US House Speaker John Boehner has responded, stating, "Listen, I love Sen. Graham.  We've been close friends for 20 years. But I think he's dead wrong.  Why would we want to punish U.S. athletes who have been training for three years to compete in the Olympics over a traitor who can't find a place to call home?"

Traitor?  A traitor would be someone, for example, in Congress who took an oath to uphold the Constitution and then worked to secretly destroy the Bill of Rights.  That would qualify as a traitor.  Ed Snowden?  Nope.  But Boehner's remarks put him in the same camp as the editor of The Moscow Times' Michael Bohm.   In other words, Boehner's talking like the Kremlin.  How strange it must be for his home district.

Roger Runnigen (Bloomberg News) reports the White House's stomping feet and pity party may mean that a September summit with Putin is called off, "Canceling the Putin meeting, announced in June, would deal a blow to administration efforts to bolster already strained relations with Russia and would be a direct challenge to the Russian’s prestige on the world stage."  Whether the meeting is on or off isn't the only thing the White House is staying silent on.  Spencer Ackerman (Guardian) reports:

The Obama administration is refusing to say whether it will seek to renew a court order that permits the National Security Agency's bulk collection of phone records on millions of Verizon customers when it at the end of this week.
Officials declined to discuss what action they intend to take about the order at the center of the current surveillance scandal, which formally expires at 5pm Friday.

Yesterday  PBS' The NewsHour (link is video, audio and text) featured a debate on the topic between whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers) and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey

DANIEL ELLSBERG, former State Department official: Pardon me, but listening to that just now, I have to smile at the thought that our friends will be very upset about the thought that Snowden had exposed that we were spying on them, which he has done.
I must say, I think a lot of them would be envious of our capability. I think Russia and China would be envious of our capability, the NSA capabilities. It's exactly what they want in countries that aren't exactly democratic.
My concern is that the very existence of this kind of capability chills free speech in a disastrous way. I cannot see how there can be investigative reporting of the national security community, when the identity, the location, the metadata, and really the contents of every communication between a journalist and every source, every journalist, every source, is known to the executive branch, especially one that has been prosecuting twice as many journalist -- sources as any president before.
Moreover, my even larger concern is, I don't see how democracy can survive when one branch, the executive branch, has all the personal communications of every member of Congress, and every judge, every member of the judiciary, as well as the press, the fourth estate that I have just been describing.
I don't see how the blackmail capability that's involved there can be -- will not be abused, as it has happened in the past, including to me, by the way, and to other -- and to journalists.
 Without that freedom to investigative or bring checks and balances, we won't have a real democracy. That's my concern.
But Snowden's whistle-blowing is having an impact on Americans.  Mark Clayton (Christian Science Monitor) reports:

Roughly 70 lawsuits have been filed since 2005 alleging that secret US surveillance programs violated someone's constitutional rights, but federal judges have dismissed most of the cases before the merits of the charges were ever heard, these experts say. In particular, plaintiffs have stumbled over the challenge of gaining legal standing to even bring suit against the government, primarily because they could not identify the secret surveillance program that they claimed had harmed them.
But fugitive leaker Edward Snowden, who in June divulged to reporters top-secret documents about two US surveillance programs run by the National Security Agency (NSA), may have provided a way to get around that hurdle, constitutional lawyers say. Since the Snowden leak (and US officials' subsequent confirmation that the documents are real), at least five lawsuits have been filed, the latest on Tuesday, alleging that the NSA program to track all Americans' telephone records violates the US Constitution.

Ed Snowden's whistle-blowing had made a real impact.  Yesterday's House Judiciary Committee hearing would not have taken place without those revelations.  Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte asked near the start of the hearing, "Why not simply have told the American people that we're engaging in this type of activity in terms of gathering the information?"

Asking a simple question, it turns out, is much easier than getting an answer. Ali Watkins (McClatchy Newspapers) reports: US House Rep Jerrold Nadler stating,  "The fact that a secret court unaccountable to public knowledge of what it’s doing . . . may join you in misusing or abusing the statutes is of no comfort whatsoever.  So to tell me you go to the FISA court is irrelevant."

The hearing was on the spying and the FISA court.   The first panel was made up of DoJ's James Cole, NSA's John C. Inglis, Office of Director of National Intelligence's Robert S. Litt and the FBI's Stephanie Douglas.  The second panel was Steptoe & Johnson, LLP's Stewart Baker, the ACLU's Jameel Jaffer and CNSS' Kate Martin.  We covered it in yesterday's snapshot, Kat covered it in "FISA rulings," Wally covered it in "Proof that we should be thanking Ed Snowden (Wally)" and Ava covered it in "House Judiciary Committee hearing."

Ranking Member John Conyers attempted to get some straight answers.

Ranking Member John Conyers:  If only relevant conversations can be secured under Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act, then why on earth would we find now that we are collecting the names of everybody in the United States of America who made any calls for the last 6 years or more?

Stephanie Douglas:  Sir, we're not collecting names.  215 only collects phone numbers, the time and date of the phone call and the duration of the phone call.

Ranking Member John Conyers:  Well how do you consider that to be relevant to anything if there is only collecting the names.  I mean, look, if this is an innocent pastime we just do to keep busy or for some other reason why on earth would be collecting just the numbers of everybody in the United States of America for at least six years?

Stephanie Douglas:  I can speak to the, uhm, applications against investigations and, in this case for 216, it would be specific to counterterrorism investigations, uhm, that information enables us to, uh, search against connections to other, uh, if there's a communication between a US-based phone number and a phone number that is overseas related to terrorism. And I know that Mr. Inglis explained to you the reasonable articula -- articulable suspicion standard by which we have to search against those phone numbers.

Ranking Member John Conyers: Well here-here we're faced with the fundamental problem in this hearing.  We're not questioning access, we're talking about the collection in the first instance. In the first instance when you collect the phone numbers of everybody in the United States for over six years, there wasn't anything relevant in those conversations.  Now you have them.  What I've been getting out of all of this is that they may -- "This access may become valuable, Mr. Ranking Member, and so that's why we do it this way." But I maintain that the Fourth Amendment to be free from unreasonable search and seizure to mean that this mega data collected in such a super aggregated fashion can amount to a Fourth Amendment violation before you do anything else.  You've already violated the law, as far as I am concerned.  And that is, in my view, the problem.  And of course to further document the first question that the Chairman of this Committee asked -- is why didn't we just tell everybody about it -- is because the American people would be totally outraged -- as they are getting now as they become familiar with this -- that every phone number that they've ever called is already a matter of record.  And we skip over whether the collection was a Fourth Amendment violation, we just say that the access proved, in one case or two, that it was very important and that's why we did it this way.

The witnesses' non-answers and rationalizing was frustrating throughout the hearing.   James Risen (New York Times) observes:

While administration officials defended the surveillance during the hearing, several lawmakers said that the data collection was unsustainable, and that Congress would move to either revoke the legislative authorization for the bulk collection now or at least refuse to renew it when it expires in 2015. Mr. [James] Sensenbrenner interrupted James Cole, a deputy attorney general, to say, “Unless you realize you’ve got a problem, that is not going to be renewed.”

Last night, Ava noted the disrespect shown the Committee by the witnesses on the first panel.  She wrote about how the Committee members were talked down to and she's correct.  The witnesses were not respectful and they behaved as if they owned the House.  Sari Horwitz and William Branigin (Washington Post) report, "The sharp and sometimes angry questioning stood in stark contrast to the tone of hearings on the surveillance programs by congressional intelligence committees in recent weeks."

In the House (as in the Senate), during rounds of questioning, each member of the Committee is limited to a set time.  (It's five minutes in the House.)  Conyers' time had expired and he wrapped up -- or thought he had when he was interrupted.

Ranking Member John Conyers: This is unsustainable, it's outrageous and must be stopped immediately.  

John Inglis:  Sir, if I may compliment the answer Ms. Douglas gave, uh, with respect to the question of relevance, of course it must be legally relevant and it must therefore have operational relevance.  I'd like to address the operational relevance and then defer to my colleagues.

Ranking Member John Conyers:  Well you don't -- Wait a minute.  We're handling this discussion.  I, uh, I asked her.  Maybe somebody else can do it.  But my time has expired.  And I appreciate you're volunteering to help out here but it's clear to me that we have a very serious violation of the law in which the Judiciary Committee deliberately put in the issue of relevance.  And now you're going to help me out and defer to somebody else?

John Inglis:  No, sir, I meant to actually provide additional information. I'd be happy to take the question for the record if time is not allowing that.

 Ranking Member John Conyers: Well in all fairness -- 

Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte: Without exception, the gentleman is recognized for an additional minute to allow another member of the panel to answer the question if he so chooses.

Ranking Member John Conyers:  No, I don't so choose.  I'm satisfied exactly with what I've gotten from the witness I asked the question to.

Former US Senator Gordon Humphrey wrote POLITIO about Ed Snowden, "Respectfully, I say to Sweden, ‘\'America has done wrong in this instance. Stand up to her. Grant Edward Snowden asylum. You will do the people of the United States a great favor to resist their government in this matter and at this moment.."

Earlier today,  Fu Peng (Xinhua) reports, "Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad left for Iraqi capital of Baghdad on Thursday for talks on subject of mutual interest, semi-official ISNA news agency reported."  AFP's Ammar Karim Tweeted:

  1. We met four inspections dogs before reach to press conference of outgoing President Ahmedinejad who visit today
  2. Four times the journalists who invited to cover the visit of Iranian Ahmadinejad under hot sun which passed over 50 degrees

Prensa Latina notes, "The president's agenda includes interviews with Vice President of the host country, Khuder al Khuzaie, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, reported IRNA news official agency." Al-Manar explains Ahmadinejad was greeted on the red carpet by Shi'ite Vice President of Iraq Khudayr al-Khuzaie.  AFP reports, "The Iranian president was invited by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani, but will be hosted by Khuzaie, as Talabani is abroad for medical treatment."  Last December,  Iraqi President Jalal Talabani suffered a stroke.   The incident took place late on December 17th (see the December 18th snapshot) and resulted in Jalal being admitted to Baghdad's Medical Center Hospital.  Thursday, December 20th, he was moved to Germany.  He remains in Germany currently.

Adam Schreck (AP) points out, "Ahmadinejad is just weeks away from handing over power to president-elect Hasan Rouhani, who is expected to be sworn in in early August."  Mu Xuequan (Xinhua) reports:

Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Iraq's capital Baghdad on Thursday afternoon, said "The Iran-Iraq relation is outstanding and exceptional, which is significant for spreading progress in the region."
"We believe that if the Iranian and Iraqi peoples put their potential together in one path, they would lead the way to solutions to the problems in the region," he said in a briefing after talks with Iraqi Vice President Khudair al-Khuzaie.

NINA reports Ahmadinejad also met with Nouri al-Maliki:

A statement issued by the Prime Minister's Media Bureau quoted Maliki saying during the meeting that Iraq seeks to develop its relations with all countries of the world, especially its neighbors, "We continue to overcome the old burden, on both regional and international levels."
Maliki added, "Iraq supports peaceful solutions to all of the area's problems; in its relations, it adopts open door policy, based on mutual respect and interests." He pointed out that long borders with Iran require more cooperation in all fields.

The Iranian leader's visit was planned in advance but kept secret.  Prensa Latina explains, "Days ago an Iraqi official source refuted versions about the visit, apparently for security reasons due to the attacks and terrorist attacks especially against areas in which the majority Shiite community lives."

Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 480 violent deaths in Iraq so far this month. Monday, AKE's John Drake noted the increase in violence:

  1. The last time I recorded so many weekly deaths was August 2007. My figures are not definitive or final but this needs investigation.
  2. By my count at least 290 people were killed and 499 injured in violence last week. I'd like to know what figures other people have.

Last night, Elaine noted the lack of coverage on the violence from the US press, "The US press helped the US government unleash all the hell that has followed in Iraq.  How dare they think they can walk away."

The violence continues today.  All Iraq News reports a battle in Anbar Province left 2 Iraqi soldiers and 3 rebels dead, 4 police officers were killed and twelve people injured when "police patrols in Aitha village" (near Tikrit) were attacked, 1 Ministry of Oil employee was shot dead in Mosul and his nephew was left injured, and a Mosul bombing claimed the life of 1 Iraqi soldier while leaving another injured. Alsumaria adds that, south of Tikrit, a farmer was shot dead and when police arrived to investigate a bomb went off  and they were shot at resulting in four of them being injured.  AFP reports it was 2 farmers (husband and wife) killed in the attack (by a bomb, not gunfire) and they note a Wajihiyah bombing claimed the lives of 3 "young men." Alsumaria notes a Tuz Khurmatu bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, that gunmen stormed a Kirkuk home and killed 1 woman, and a Kirkuk bombing injured one civilian.  That's 18 reported deaths and 19 reported injured.

Mustafa Habib (Niqash) reports one result of the ongoing violence:

Increased violence in Iraq recently has seen new security measures in Baghdad. Now locals cannot enter a neighbourhood unless they live there and can prove it. Some locals say they will stop visiting relatives elsewhere and politicians suggest it’s a violation of human rights.

Escalating violence in Iraq has seen increased security measures instituted in the capital Baghdad. Today locals are not always able to move freely from one area to another. To enter neighbourhoods that are not necessarily their own, they have to show a special card verifying their place of residency, be accompanied by someone from that neighbourhood with such a card or take an oath at a security checkpoint promising that this is indeed where they live and that they are not a terrorist.

It has gotten to the stage now where locals have started making fun of the procedures. One oft-told joke is about the “indulgence” that must be granted before anyone can get into their own home. Indulgences were given out by the Catholic Church to parishioners if a sin had been forgiven.

Joking aside, many people in Baghdad believe the new security measures are only adding to the conflict, causing further divisions between various sections of the city and fuelling feelings of sectarian conflict.

We'll come back to the violence in a moment.  Right now, we'll note this Tweet from the Washington Post's Liz Sly:

Really?  The way they 'improved' Iraq?  Don't pin that on Bully Boy Bush.  Not only did numerous Dems vote for authorization of war but Barack's had five years as president to 'help' Iraq and all he's done is nullify the will of the people (by insisting Nouri get a second term as prime minister after the Iraqi people said no.  Iraq is in shambles and what the State Dept does there, spending billions, is kept from the American people either due to indifference or secrecy.  Jason Ditz ( noted Kerry yesterday:

The Obama Administration’s refusal to characterize Egypt’s military takeover as a “coup” even though that’s what the word coup actually means continued today, with Secretary of State John Kerry seeming to praise the junta for its action.
 “You had an extraordinary situation in Egypt of life and death, of the potential of civil war and enormous violence, and you now have a constitutional process proceeding forward very rapidly,” insisted Kerry, warning against a “rush to judgment.”

So a coup is now a good thing?  These are the values the State Dept and White House want to espouse?

John Glazer ( notes reports that US President Barack Obama was warned against arming the so-called 'rebels' in Syria, that White House lawyers told him it would be illegal.  Glaser points out, "First, this is a case in point for anyone who wonders whether the federal government is guided by the rule of law or operates on the basis of perceived interests. As can be consistently demonstrated throughout U.S. history, even if it’s illegal, the Executive Branch (which has usurped essentially all of the governments war-making powers) will still do it if they want to."

Meanwhile Defense Industry Daily notes the remarks of Lt Gen Robert Calsen (formerly in charge of the Office of Security Cooperation - Iraq -- as of Wednesday, he's now in charge of West Point) to the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction:

“We have 479 separate FMS [DID: Foreign Military Sale, where a branch of the US armed forces acts as Iraq's project and contracting agent] cases valued at $14.8 billion: 166 are pending cases valued at $2.3 billion, 152 are active Iraqi-funded cases valued at $11 billion, and 161 are closed cases valued at $1.5 billion. Of the closed cases, 85 were funded with $750 million from the Iraq Security Forces Fund (U.S. money) and 76 were Iraqi-funded cases valued at $750 million. We currently have 73 cases in development. OSC-I continues to push the total-package approach, which is equipment, training, maintenance, and sustainment for each case. We have FMF [US-funded Foreign Military Financing]… at $850 million, with $566 million obligated and $284 million still available.”
DID has covered ongoing and planned requests for F-16 fighters, C-130J medium aerial transports, and M1 tanks, among others. These American buys have been accompanied by multi-billion deals for Ukrainian transport aircraft and armored personnel carriers, and for Russian attack helicopters and point defense anti-aircraft units. According to Lt.-Gen. Caslen, There’s more to come for the Americans [. . .]

Where others see misfortune and mourning, the defense industry sees potential profit.  Al Mada reports that the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has put out a request for members of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi army to help them in locating lost weapons and lost weapons contracts. Nouri's government has spent the last 7 years demonizing these people but now they want their help.  Why?  Again, the profit motive.  Iraq, out of Chapter VII (but now in Chapter VI), is eager to see that contracts were enforced fairly and that any monies owed the former government be quickly paid to the current one.  Weapons also figure into where Iraq stands on Syria, it turns out.  John Hudson (Foreign Policy) reports:

 For months, the Obama administration has tried and failed to persuade Iraq to block flights over its territory from Iran to Syria -- a corridor the U.S. believes is sustaining Syria's military advantage over the rebels. Though U.S. officials insist Iranian flyovers present a critical lifeline for the Assad regime, Iraqi officials say they can't stop Iran's military airlift: Iraqi air defenses are too weak. Now, Iraq's newly-minted ambassador to the U.S. has a plan to bridge the diplomatic impasse: Help me help you.
In an interview on Wednesday, Ambassador Lukman Faily said he's busy trying to convince U.S. officials that if they agree to bolster Iraqi air defenses, it will improve Iraq's ability to halt weapons coming from Iran. "We don't have full control of our airspace because we don't have an Integrated Air Defense System in place and this is why I'm talking with Capitol Hill, I'm talking with the State Department and the [Pentagon] because we already have a request for an Integrated Air Defense System plus Apache helicopters which total $10 billion," he told The Cable. "It's beneficial for the United States."

We'll note Rajiv Chandrasekarn's important article for the Washington Post tomorrow.  We'll also note that Isaiah's The World Today Just Nuts "The Lemon On The Lot" went up.




jason ditz
john glaser