Saturday, July 13, 2013

Nuland and Benghazi

David Martosko (Daily Mail) reports:

Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican who chairs the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, will gavel in a hearing on July 18, focusing on what he has characterized as a lack of accountability inside the State Department for the Sept. 11, 2012 terror attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Republicans are eager to reclaim momentum targeting Hillary Clinton, then secretary of state, for security lapses before the attack and a post-attack response that appeared universally deceptive to those on the political right.
Clinton, considered the favored contender for the Democrats' 2016 presidential nomination, is vulnerable on Benghazi, polls show, owing to the remaining unanswered questions about how far up the State Department's chain of command the scandal will ultimately reach.
Royce said Friday that the hearing will focus on an Accountability Review Board (ARB) report from inside the State Department, one that he called 'incomplete.'
'The Board declined to interview the Department’s senior-most officials,' he said, 'including former Secretary Clinton.'
The hearing, he continued, 'will examine the State Department’s ARB inadequacies, including whether the appropriate employees have been held responsible for the security failures in Benghazi.'


The Benghazi attack September 11, 2012 left Tyrone Woods, Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, and Glen Doherty.  And I covered Victoria Nuland's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday in "Victoria Nuland indirectly confirms CIA arming 'rebels' out of Benghazi."  C.I. and I attended the hearing and she was nice enough to let me cover first.  She covers it in the snapshot today and she also had to cover N.S.A. whistle-blower Ed Snowden and she had to edit a lot out so I said, "I will grab the point about Ms. Nuland's claim."  

So let me do that now.

I did not catch this at the hearing, C.I. was the one who noticed it.

Ms. Nuland told the Committee that some of her friends died in that Benghazi attack.

Really?  Only four people died.  So which were her friends?

I know, we can go by the names she listed!

Oh, wait, she did not list any.  She wanted to claim she was friends with some of the four but she could not name one.

You know what, if one of my friends died in Benghazi and I was appearing before the Committee and I decided to declare that I lost a friend, I would be able to name my late friend.

And if I could not provide a name?  That would be a good clue that I really was not close to any of the four who died and I was just lying yet again.

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

Friday, July 12, 2013.  Chaos and violence continue, Ed Snowden speaks in Russia, the State Dept attacks him for speaking, Matthew Lee and Elise Labott press the State Dept,  violence slams Iraq, Victoria Nuland mislead the Senate on Benghazi, and more.

This morning, the world waited to hear from NSA whistle-blower Ed Snowden as media poured into the Moscow airport in anticipation of what the person who has influenced a global dialogue might say next.  Ahead of his appearing, BBC News notes, "The American is believed to have been stuck in transit since arriving in Moscow from Hong Kong on 23 June, even though no pictures of his stay there have emerged."

Lidia Kelly and Alessandra Prentice (Reuters) report, "Former intelligence agency contractor Edward Snowden asked to meet human rights groups at a Moscow airport on Friday to discuss what he called 'threatening behaviour' by the United States to prevent him gaining asylum."

Ed Snowden:  My name is Ed Snowden. A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone’s communications at any time. That is the power to change people’s fates.
It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the US Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice – that it must be seen to be done. The immoral cannot be made moral through the use of secret law.
I believe in the principle declared at Nuremberg in 1945: "Individuals have international duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience. Therefore individual citizens have the duty to violate domestic laws to prevent crimes against peace and humanity from occurring."
Accordingly, I did what I believed right and began a campaign to correct this wrongdoing. I did not seek to enrich myself. I did not seek to sell US secrets. I did not partner with any foreign government to guarantee my safety. Instead, I took what I knew to the public, so what affects all of us can be discussed by all of us in the light of day, and I asked the world for justice.
That moral decision to tell the public about spying that affects all of us has been costly, but it was the right thing to do and I have no regrets.
Since that time, the government and intelligence services of the United States of America have attempted to make an example of me, a warning to all others who might speak out as I have. I have been made stateless and hounded for my act of political expression. The United States Government has placed me on no-fly lists. It demanded Hong Kong return me outside of the framework of its laws, in direct violation of the principle of non-refoulement – the Law of Nations. It has threatened with sanctions countries who would stand up for my human rights and the UN asylum system. It has even taken the unprecedented step of ordering military allies to ground a Latin American president’s plane in search for a political refugee. These dangerous escalations represent a threat not just to the dignity of Latin America, but to the basic rights shared by every person, every nation, to live free from persecution, and to seek and enjoy asylum.
Yet even in the face of this historically disproportionate aggression, countries around the world have offered support and asylum. These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua, and Ecuador have my gratitude and respect for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful rather than the powerless. By refusing to compromise their principles in the face of intimidation, they have earned the respect of the world. It is my intention to travel to each of these countries to extend my personal thanks to their people and leaders.
I announce today my formal acceptance of all offers of support or asylum I have been extended and all others that may be offered in the future. With, for example, the grant of asylum provided by Venezuela’s President Maduro, my asylee status is now formal, and no state has a basis by which to limit or interfere with my right to enjoy that asylum. As we have seen, however, some governments in Western European and North American states have demonstrated a willingness to act outside the law, and this behavior persists today. This unlawful threat makes it impossible for me to travel to Latin America and enjoy the asylum granted there in accordance with our shared rights.
This willingness by powerful states to act extra-legally represents a threat to all of us, and must not be allowed to succeed. Accordingly, I ask for your assistance in requesting guarantees of safe passage from the relevant nations in securing my travel to Latin America, as well as requesting asylum in Russia until such time as these states accede to law and my legal travel is permitted. I will be submitting my request to Russia today, and hope it will be accepted favorably.

On the above, it's cute to watch the reaction of the press.  Michael Hirsh (National Journal) wrote a ridiculous article blaming Ed for the circus that surrounds him -- that would be the press circus and Hirsh needs to learn to hold his own industry accountable or stop pointing the fingers at others.  If he's not getting how useless the press is being, he can examine how they covered the above with so many focusing on Ed's name.  Telegraph of London, "Snowden, apparently wants to be called Ed, not Edward." Forbes: "[. . .] letting them know that 1) he prefers to be called Ed, and 2) he's ready to get out of there" -- and we could go on and on.

So, Michael Hirsh, who's causing the circus?  Not Ed.  And the press can't even be honest about the issue of the name.

We never called Ed Snowden anything but "Ed Snowden."  Dropping back to the June 11th snapshot:

Strange times in Portland, Maine
Lobsters dancing on the docks
Switzerland's been weird since they unplugged the clocks
Man and a woman in Brooklyn Heights
Each convinced the other's in the wrong
While last year the divorce rate tripled in Hong Kong
If through all the madness
We can stick together
We're safe and sound
The world's just inside out and upside down
-- "Safe and Sound," written by Jacob Brackman and Carly Simon, first appears on Carly's Hotcakes

The world is inside out and upside down these days.  In even the most basic ways.  Take Ed Snowden, the whistle-blower who exposed the programs Barack and Clapper are currently defending, and take Nashwan Abdulrazaq Abdulbagi.  By the 'press rule,' Ed Snowden's name is "Edward Snowden."  Stan wrote last night about how the press stripped Glen King of his name and insisted he be called Rodney King.  Ed Snowden is very clear in the Guardian video interview that his name is Ed Snowden.  That is how he identifies himself.  The New York Times identifying him as "Edward Snowden" is not surprising to me.  That people on the left go along with it surprises me. 

How much more clear is it than someone identifying themselves on video as the NSA whistle-blower and stating their name as "Ed Snowden"?  The press has refused to call him by his name.  Today, he again stated his name.  And the press wants to pretend this is something new or novel -- as opposed to the reality that they got it wrong for over a month now.

There was a great deal to address.  At the State Dept press briefing today, Associated Press' Matthew Lee  and CNN's Elise Labott attempted to address the issues.  It was not a proud moment for Jen  Psaki or for the State Dept.

Matthew Lee: Can we start in Russia –

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee: -- with Mr. Snowden? I’m wondering if, since he has now asked the Russians for asylum, there has been any contact between this building and the Russians about your feelings about his status.

Jen Psaki: Well, I can tell you – I hadn’t seen – or I don’t have independent confirmation, I guess I should say, about any request he’s made. I can tell you that we have been in touch, of course, with Russian officials. Our Embassy in Moscow has been in direct contact on the ground. We are disappointed that Russian officials and agencies facilitated this meeting today by allowing these activists and representatives into the Moscow airport’s transit zone to meet with Mr. Snowden despite the government’s declarations of Russia’s neutrality with respect to Mr. Snowden.

Matthew Lee: So I’m sorry. You’re disappointed that they let someone into their own airport?

Jen Psaki: Well –

Matthew Lee: I don’t get it.

Jen Psaki:  Well, that they facilitated this event, of course.

Matthew Lee:  Well, why?

Jen Psaki:  Because this gave a forum for –

Matthew Lee:  You don’t think that he should have a forum? Has he – he’s forfeited his right to freedom of speech as well?

Jen Psaki: Well, Matt, Mr. Snowden –

Matthew Lee:  All right.

Jen Psaki:  -- as we’ve talked about – let me just state this –

Matthew Lee: Okay.

Jen Psaki:  -- because I think it’s important. He’s not a whistleblower. He’s not a human rights activist. He’s wanted in a series of serious criminal charges brought in the eastern district of Virginia and the United States.

Matthew Lee:  Okay. I’m sorry. But I didn’t realize people who were wanted on charges forfeited their right to speech – to free speech. I also didn’t realize that people who were not whistleblowers or not human rights activists, as you say he is not, that they forfeited their rights to speak, so I don’t understand why you’re disappointed with the Russians, but neither that – leave that aside for a second.  The group WikiLeaks put out a transcript, I guess, essentially, of Mr. – what Mr. Snowden said at the airport. At the top of that transcript, it contained – it said that the Human Rights Watch representative from Human Rights Watch, researcher who went to this thing, while she was on her way to the airport, got a phone call from the American Ambassador asking her to relay a message to Mr. Snowden that – basically the message that you just gave here, that, one, he is not a whistleblower, and, two, that he is wanted in the United States. Is that correct?

Jen Psaki:  It is not correct. First, Ambassador McFaul did not call any representative from Human Rights Watch. An embassy officer did call to explain our position, certainly, that I just reiterated here for all of you today, but at no point did this official or any official from the U.S. Government ask anyone to convey a message to Mr. Snowden.

Matthew Lee:  Did anyone from the Embassy call any of the other groups – representatives of groups that were going to this meeting – that you understood were going to this meeting?

Jen Psaki: As I’m sure would be no surprise, and as you know because we even had a civil society event when the Secretary was there, we are in regular touch, as we have been today. I don’t have an update on the exact list of calls, though, for you.

Matthew Lee: But you can say pretty conclusively that this one call did happen, and that it wasn’t the Ambassador. So were there others? Do you know?

Jen Psaki: We have –

Matthew Lee:  Did calls go to other groups?

Jen Psaki:  -- been in touch with –

Matthew Lee: Okay.

Jen Psaki:   -- attendees.

Matthew Lee:  Yes.

Jen Psaki:  I don’t have any specifics for you, though.

Matthew Lee:  Okay. And the – and you have made no secret of the fact that any country or government that gives Mr. Snowden asylum or allows him to transit through, that there would be some serious consequences for – grave consequences in their relationship with the United States.

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee:  Have you made the same – and presumably that would apply to individuals who would help him stay – help him avoid returning here to face justice. Is that – that’s correct?

Jen Psaki:  I’m not sure what that exactly means.

Matthew Lee:  Well, I’m – what I’m getting at is these groups, the human rights groups that are respected human rights groups –

Jen Psaki: : Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee:  -- which you yourself, as well as previous spokespeople have quoted from –

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee:  -- in relation to other situations, have taken a side in support of Mr. Snowden, and I’m wondering if there are any consequences for them if you – if they aid and abet Mr. Snowden in staying away – out of the reach of U.S. authorities.

Jen Psaki:  Well, we obviously don’t think this was a proper forum or a proper elevation of him. Beyond that, the way that I think it’s been asked, but also the way we’ve thought about it, is more about governments and our relationships with them and their aid or decisions to aid Mr. Snowden.

Matthew Lee:  Right, but I guess the question is: If you think this was an inappropriate forum, did you try to dissuade these groups from going there?

Jen Psaki:  From attending?

Matthew Lee:  Yeah.

Jen Psaki:  Not that I’m aware of, Matt. Obviously –

Matthew Lee:  Okay. So the call –

Jen Psaki:  -- they were invited to attend.

Matthew Lee: So the calls were just a reminder of your position. Did you say to Human Rights Watch or Amnesty International that if you guys help Mr. Snowden, support him in some way so that – to keep him from facing justice back in the United States, that there would be consequences for them?

Jen Psaki:  I don’t have any readouts of these calls. Our focus remains on –

Matthew Lee:  Okay. Well, then can you say –

Jen Psaki:  -- conveying to the Russian Government the fact that they have the ability to help return Mr. Snowden to the United States.

Matthew Lee:  Did you tell them in the calls that you did not think that Mr. Snowden should have the opportunity to express his view?

Jen Psaki:  Matt, I don’t have any readout for these – of these calls for you. We did --

Matthew Lee: Okay. Well, forget about the calls, then.

Jen Psaki:  We did convey the broad point that I’ve made.

Matthew Lee: Okay. Well, then forget about what you said or what the Embassy people said in these specific phone calls. Do you believe that Mr. Snowden should not have had the opportunity to express his views at the airport in Moscow today?

Jen Psaki: Well, Matt, I think we broadly believe in free speech, as you know.

Matthew Lee: Except when it comes to this.

Jen Psaki: But we cannot look at this as a – I know we like to ask about sweeping scenarios in here, but --

Matthew Lee: No, this is not sweeping at all. This is very specific, related to one guy in one place in one city, one airport, one time. So I just – do you think that it was inappropriate for Mr. Snowden to speak publicly? Do you – I mean, not that – whether you’re disappointed in the Russians. Do you think that he should not have had the opportunity to speak publicly?

Jen Psaki: Our focus, Matt, is on how our concern about how Russian authorities clearly helped assist the ability of attendees to participate in this.

Matthew Lee: Mm-hmm.

Jen Psaki:  That is of concern to us. Our focus is on returning Mr. Snowden to the United States. Beyond that, I just don’t have anything more.

Matthew Lee:  Okay. I’m just – I’m trying to get – you are saying that this essentially – it wasn’t a press conference, but it might as well have been. And you don’t think the Russians should have helped to facilitate a --

Jen Psaki:  Facilitated a propaganda platform for Mr. Snowden.

Matthew Lee:  -- a propaganda platform. Okay. So this is, to your mind, something like them bringing out a defected spy from the Cold War and putting him on a platform and having him rail against the United States. Is that what the Administration believes?

Jen Psaki:  I’m not going to draw comparisons along those lines. But let me say --

Matthew Lee:  “A propaganda platform” is close enough.

Jen Psaki: -- that Mr. Snowden could – should return to the United States to face these charges that – where he will be accorded a fair trial. That’s where our focus is.

Elise Labott: Well, is this a propaganda platform or is this kind of putting in train a process for asylum? Because last week, or two weeks ago, the Russians said that they would consider his request for asylum if Mr. Snowden would stop leaking material about – or leaking information about U.S. surveillance programs. Now, he wouldn’t do that before, and he tried some other areas for asylum.
Now, in this propaganda platform, as you call it, he said that he has decided to – not to leak any more information, or he doesn’t have any more information, but he’s done. So are you concerned now that this is him accepting conditions for Russian asylum publicly as opposed to just some kind of propaganda? I mean, is that your real concern here, that these are the conditions for asylum and now he’s publicly meeting them?

Jen Psaki:  Our concern here is that he’s been provided this opportunity to speak in a propaganda platform, as I mentioned a few seconds ago, that Russia has played a role in facilitating this, that others have helped elevate it. But we still believe that Russia has the opportunity to do the right thing and facilitate his return to the United States.

Elise Labott:  Well, but --

Jen Psaki:  I don’t have any independent knowledge, as would be no surprise, of what he has officially requested, what has officially been --

Elise Labott:  Well, it’s pretty public that Russia --

Jen Psaki:  -- accepted or not.

Elise Labott:  Okay, but it’s pretty public that Russia said that they would consider his asylum petition if he said that – if he would agree publicly to stop leaking information. Now he’s done that.

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Elise Labott:  So is that propaganda, or is that publicly agreeing to Russia’s conditions and kind of moving the asylum petition along?

Jen Psaki:  I’m just not going to make an evaluation of what Russia’s conditions are and whether he meets --

Elise Labott:  Well, you don’t have to make an evaluation. They’ve said it publicly.

Jen Psaki:  -- let me finish – whether he meets them. That’s not the point here. The point is Russia helped facilitate this. They have the ability and the opportunity to do the right thing and help return Mr. Snowden to the United States. It’s not about what the conditions are.

Elise Labott:  But you don’t – I mean, is it – I mean, your concern now is that this is – that Russia’s – by facilitating – I mean, are you really upset that this is propaganda, or are you really upset that Russia is moving closer to accepting to this guy’s asylum?

Jen Psaki:  Well, we don’t know that. This is a step that was taken today. Obviously, we continue to call for his return. They have a role they can play in that. Beyond that, I’m not going to speculate what they are or aren’t going to do.

[. . .]

Matthew Lee: Can I just --

Jen Psaki: Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee: In the conversations that the Ambassador, or whoever it was the Embassy had – not with the Human Rights people, but with the Russian Government --

Jen Psaki:  Mm-hmm.

Matthew Lee: -- did you tell them that facilitating this appearance by Mr. Snowden was problematic, that you thought that they shouldn’t do it?

Jen Psaki:  I --

Matthew Lee:  Did you ask them not to do it?

Jen Psaki:  We made our concerns and our view on Mr. Snowden clear.

Matthew Lee:  No, but I – specifically about giving him this propaganda platform, as you called it.

Jen Psaki:  I just – I don’t have any more to read out for you from the private phone calls, Matt, just that there – we have been in touch.

Matthew Lee:  Well, I mean, did you ask the Russians, please don’t do this, we think he’s a criminal and needs to come back? Did you – did – I mean, did you ask and they rejected the request?

Jen Psaki:  Well, Matt, we’ve been clear publicly --

Matthew Lee:  Yeah.

Jen Psaki:  -- countless times what our view is --

Matthew Lee: I understand that, but --

Jen Psaki: -- and we’ve consistently made the same points privately, today and any other day.

Matthew Lee: Right. But did you say that you would look negatively on them providing him a, quote-unquote, “propaganda platform?”

Jen Psaki:  I just don’t have any more on the specifics of the calls.

Matthew Lee:  Well, is the United States Government now in the business of trying to discourage people or governments from facilitating people having – meeting with human rights activists? I don’t get it.

Jen Psaki:  Matt, this is not a universal position of the United States. This is an individual --

Matthew Lee:  So it’s just in this one case.

Jen Psaki:  -- who has been accused of three – of felony charges.

Matthew Lee: But surely – Jen --

Jen Psaki: This is not a unique --

Matthew Lee: Okay. He’s been accused. Do you remember the old line that we’re supposed to all know – he has not been convicted of anything yet.

Jen Psaki:  And he can return to the United States and face the charges.

Matthew Lee:  But he can also surely – people who are accused of crimes are allowed their right of free speech, are they not?

Jen Psaki:  Matt, I think we’ve gone the round on this.

Elise Labott: No, I mean, it’s a legitimate question. I mean, you talk about even in Russia that journalists have been persecuted and political activists have been persecuted and you call for free speech around the world. But you’re not saying that Mr. Snowden has the right of free speech?
Jen Psaki: That’s not at all what I was saying. We believe, of course, broadly in free speech. Our concern here was that this was – there was obvious facilitation by the Russians in this case. We’ve conveyed that. We’ve conveyed our concerns. I’m saying them publicly.

Elise Labott: So you’re upset – you’re not upset about the press conference; you’re upset that the Russians facilitated it.

Jen Psaki: We certainly are upset that there was a platform for an individual who’s been accused of felony crimes.

Elise Labott: But what does that matter, really? I mean, people that are in jail or are on trial in the United States, they give press conferences or they speak out all the time. I mean, it sounds to me like what you’re not really upset with the act that he spoke; you’re upset with the fact that the Russians did something on his behalf.

Jen Psaki:  I think I’ve expressed what we’re upset about.

Elise Labott: I don’t --

Jen Psaki: And you keep saying what we’re upset about. But I think I’ve made clear what we’re upset about.

Free speech and the US government attempting to strong arm Human Rights Watch are not minor details.  Another major issue is the vast damage the US government is doing to the asylum.  This is an issue the ACLU is shining a spotlight on in an article by  Jamil Dakwar, Director, ACLU Human Rights Program & Chandra Bhatnagar, Senior Staff Attorney, ACLU Human Rights Program:

While it remains unclear where Mr. Snowden will ultimately end up and how he will be able to leave Russia, U.S. actions to secure his extradition must take place within an acceptable legal framework protecting his right to seek asylum.
Article 14 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that "[e]veryone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution. This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations." The American Convention on Human Rights explicitly provides for a right of an individual "to seek and be granted asylum in a foreign territory, in accordance with the legislation of the state and international conventions, in the event he is being pursued for political offenses or related common crimes."
In the case of Mr. Snowden, the United States has interfered with his right to seek asylum in two significant ways. First, the U.S. revoked Mr. Snowden's passport. While this action does not render Mr. Snowden "stateless" (because he is still a U.S. citizen), it does make it extremely difficult for him to travel or seek asylum, especially in countries that require asylees to be present in their territory at the time of the request. Second, while the United States is within its rights to seek Mr. Snowden's extradition to face charges in the United States, diplomatic and law enforcement efforts to extradite him must be consistent with international law. It appears that U.S. efforts have prevented Mr. Snowden from receiving fair and impartial consideration of his application for asylum in many of the countries to which he reportedly applied. These efforts allegedly led to an unprecedented event last week when Bolivian President Evo Morales' plane was denied the use of airspace by several European countries and forced to land in Austria. Once on the ground, the plane was reportedly searched because American intelligence officials believed that Mr. Snowden was on board.

Human Rights Watch also notes the issue of asylum:

The US may seek Snowden’s extradition to face charges in the US. While seeking extradition is within a state's discretion, the asylum claim should be heard first, before a decision on extradition is made. Washington’s actions appear to be aimed at preventing Snowden from gaining an opportunity to claim refuge, in violation of his right to seek asylum under international law. “There's a long history of countries forcing asylum seekers to live for extended periods in embassies rather than reach a place of refuge,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director at Human Rights Watch. “The US shouldn't place itself in that category.”

Human Rights Watch met with Ed today.  Another group that met with him is Amnesty International which issued the following:

Amnesty International met with US whistleblower Edward Snowden at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on Friday. Sergei Nikitin, Head of Amnesty International's Moscow office, who was at the meeting said:
“Amnesty International was pleased to reiterate our support for Edward Snowden in person.  We will continue to pressure governments to ensure his rights are respected - this includes the unassailable right to claim asylum wherever he may choose.
“What he has disclosed is patently in the public interest and as a whistleblower his actions were justified. He has exposed unlawful sweeping surveillance programmes that unquestionably interfere with an individual’s right to privacy.
“States that attempt to stop a person from revealing such unlawful behaviour are flouting international law. Freedom of expression is a fundamental right.
“Instead of addressing or even owning up to these blatant breaches, the US government is more intent on persecuting him. Attempts to pressure governments to block his efforts to seek asylum are deplorable.”

Iran's Tehran Times notes the "hypocrisy" which it explains as "American secrets are sacred, but the United States has the right to know everybody else's."  The administration is a hypocrite and they embrace hypocrites which is how Nouri al-Maliki ended up prime minister of Iraq for a second term.

It's Friday, protests continue in Iraq, as they have since December 21st.  Iraqi Spring MC notes that a preacher in Falluja reminded the activists that they were one third of the country's population but Nouri refuses to listen to them.  NINA notes that, in Falluja, Nouri's forces raided the home of an Imam and arrested him.  NINA notes that thousands showed up to take part in the sit-ins in Ramadi and Falluja.    NINA covers Samarra, reporting, "Samarra preacher and the unified Fri-prayers Imam called in the sit-in yard of Samarra on the central government to release the innocent prisoners to express so the respect to the month of Ramadan."  That was Shiekh Samir Fouad  and Alsumaria reports he was calling for the release and he also pointed out that this is the absolute best time, during Ramadan, to demonstrate forgiveness.

Kirk H. Sowell (Foreign Policy) offers an analysis of Iraq which opens with the following:

 Iraq has now held provincial elections across the country, following those in the predominately Sunni provinces of Anbar and Ninawa that took place on June 20, and in 12 other Arab provinces on April 20. The government's decision to postpone elections in Anbar and Ninawa, though ostensibly for security reasons, more likely aimed to boost the performance of Sunni parties aligned with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's Shiite-led government. Elections in the 10 Shiite-majority provinces were in large part a referendum on Maliki's State of Law Coalition, and Shiite voters reduced Maliki's seat total across the board. Whereas before Maliki and his allies dominated eight of these 10 provinces, Maliki now controls less than half.
 Paul McGeough (Hepburn Advocate) offers an analysis which includes:
 Analysts warn that a seeming thaw between Maliki and Kurdish leader Massoud Barzani, when they hugged and back-slapped for the cameras in June, has left many issues that could trigger conflict unresolved.
But Maliki is making nice because national elections are scheduled next year - a hiatus in the modern Iraqi political cycle in which the Kurds get to play kingmaker.
Maliki will go to the polls needing all the help he can muster after provincial elections earlier this year in which support for his party slipped, giving control of Baghdad and Basra, the country's two biggest cities, to rival parties.
Turning to the issue of violence,  Reuters reports a bombing targing a Kirkuk tea house left 31 people dead.  RT notes, "AFP spoke to a medical official who claimed the attack was caused by a suicide bomber. However, that has not been officially confirmed and no one has claimed responsibility for the bombing."  In addition,  NINA reports a Falluja mortar attack left two people injured, and a Baquba roadside bombing left 1 person dead and another injured.   All Iraq News adds that a Tikrit sticky bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer, 2 Sahwa and 2 suspects were shot dead in Tikrit, and a Misahraty was shot dead in Baghdad ("one of the oldest most deep-rooted traditions found during Ramadna. Misaharat is the name given to the person who walks and beats a drum in residential areas to wake people up"). Alsumaria notes 1 corpse was discovered in Tikrit (dead from gunshot wounds), a police officer was still going to be a joke.   Deutsche Welle reports:

Iraqi officials have said two overnight attacks against Shiites have killed at least 20 people and wounded dozens more. A string of bombings claimed dozens more lives across Iraq on Thursday.
The toll from a wave of attacks in Iraq, mainly targeting security forces and Shiites, has risen to at least 50 killed through Friday morning, security officials and doctors said.

AP covers the overnight violence here.  Also last night, All Iraq News reports, Vice President Joe Biden called Nouri al-Maliki to discuss the various problems in Iraq today and the issue with Syria.  In addition, Alsumaria adds that Biden also called KRG President

Yesterday, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the nominations of Douglas Edward Lute, Daniel Brooks Baer and Victoria Nuland.  Nuland's the controversial nominee due to her spinning on Benghazi.  September 11, 2012 an attack in Benghazi left four Americans dead: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  A set of misleading talking points were created to mislead the public and Nuland took part in the creation of those talking points.

Senator Ron Johnson: The question I have is do you believe that in your role representing the United States government that the American people deserve the truth out of members of the administration?

Victoria Nuland:  Senator, the American people deserve the truth.  This body deserves the truth.  Those of us who were friends of the victims as I was deserve the truth, yes.

Senator Ron Johnson: In reviewing the change from the talking points, the original talking points and how they were sanitized -- it is pretty remarkable how they were sanitized.  I know you had some participation there and in your September 14th e-mail it states the changes made in the CIA talking points e-mail, the talking points still -- and I quote - "don't resolve  all of my issues or those of my building leadership."  Can you just tell me who that building leadership was?  Who you were referring to?

Victoria Nuland:  Senator, I very much appreciate the opportunity to talk about my role in the talking points issue.  Uh, with your forebearance, I'd like to give a little bit of background before I answer your specific question.  Uh, first, I just want to, uh, make clear that, uh, when I was reviewing these talking points  which was only on the Friday evening of September 14th, they were not for a member of the administration to use, they were talking points that the CIA was proposing to give to members of the House Intelligence Committee --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Correct.

Victoria Nuland: -- to use.  So that was the first thing.  Second, I was not in a policy role in this job, I was in a communications role so my, uh, my responsibilities were to ensure consistency of our public messaging but not to make policy.  [The entire sentence prior was read off a prepared note. In the rest of this segment of the testimony, while pretending to be open, she was visibly reading from pre-packaged notes.]  So I never edited these talking points, I never made changes.  I simply said that I thought policy  people needed to look at them. Also by way of background, by the time Friday came around, as spokesperson for the department, I had already given three uh public briefings on Benghazi.  The first was on uh Wednesday evening -- I gave a background briefing, uh, uh, in which I clearly said that this had been a complex attack, it was an attack by extremists. Then I gave two briefings at the podium.  My regular mid-dary briefing on Thursday and my mid-day briefing on Friday.  In those briefings, I was on agreed interagency tlaking points in which I noted again and again our firm commitment to investigate fully what had happened.  Uh, but I declined to give any more details, citing the need to have a full investigation and particularly the integrity of the CI -- the FBI's investigation.  So when I saw these talking points on Friday night, just a few hours after that had been my guidance, they, uh, indicated a significant evolution beyond what we had been saying at noon.  And it was on that basis that I raised, uhm, three questions in my communications role.  The first was -- and again, these were for members of the House to use, not for an administration official to use.  So my first question was with regard to consistency.  It struck me as strange that we were, uh, giving talking points to members of the House that went considerably further than what we in the administration had been saying at that point and I felt that if House members were going to say this, we government communicators too.  The second was that I had been under very tight guidance that we must do and say nothing that would prejudice the integrity of the FBI's investigation.  So I wanted to make sure that the CIA had actually checked with FBI and Justice and that they were comfortable with these talking points.  The third concern I had was with regard to the second to last paragraph of the talking points as I was looking at them which, uh, made reference to, uh, uh, past agency reporting about the situation in Begnhazi.  And frankly, Senator, I looked at them and they struck me as a partial rendering of some of the background information behind the situation and I was concerned that -- giving them them to -- to the -- out this way, would encourage members of Congress and members of the public to draw incorrect conclusions about our agency's respective role in the entirity of the Benghazi issue --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Okay --

Victoria Nuland: So I didn't change them --

Senator Ron Johnson:  I appreciate that but I think your -- your specific quote in your e-mail about that pentulmate point was that you were concerned that members of  Congress would beat the State Dept.  So you were a little more concerned about the State Dept getting beat up by members of Congress than getting the truth out to the American people.  That would be my concern in terms of intepretation of that.

Victoria Nuland:  Uh, sir, as I said, my concern was that this was not an accurate representation of the full picture.

Senator Ron Johnson:  But again, let's just get back to some facts.  Who would be the "building leadership" that weren't satisifed with the suggested changes of the talking points?  Who would those people be?

Victoria Nuland:  So after my first e-mail with the concerns, the agency came back with another draft but that draft continued to make reference to the past agency reporting that I thought was a prejudicial way of characterizing it.  So it was on that basis that I, uh, uh, raised objections again and here was --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Ambassador Nuland, I'm running out of time.  I just really wanted some facts.  Who were  the "building leadership" that you're referring to that wasn't satisfied  with the suggested changes?  Who would those individuals be?

Victoria Nuland:  Uh --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Because the next question will be who was at the deputies meeting -- who are those people?

Victoria Nuland:  With regard to "building leadership,"  I was concerned that all of my bosses at the policy level needed to look at these to see if they were --

Senator Ron Johnson:  Who are those individuals?

Victora  Nuland:  Well obviously as I  I reported to-to the full spectrum of under secretaries and deputies secretaries--

Senator Ron Johnson:  Were there -- were there particular people that were concerned about changes that weren't being made?

Victoria Nuland: The only, uh, person that I consulted with that night was my regular reporting channel with regard to issues that I was not able to solve at my level.   So my regular procedure when I, as spokesperson, can't  --

We don't have time for Nuland's lies.  She's stalling.  She's reading from prepared notes and she can't even do that right.  She's a damn liar.

You and I work at McDonalds.  You have an idea to streamline the drive through and are going to try it.  I don't want you trying it out.  We argue over it.  To make sure I win, I toss out that not only have I been arguing with you about this on this shift, I've already contacted our boss and s/he says it's not happening.

Who did she speak to?  Finally she would allow Jake Sullivan.  She's such a liar and the Republicans in the Senate are apparently clueless. Does no one actually read the e-mails before they question her?

As we noted May 21st, Victoria Nuland sent an e-mail September 14, 7:39 pm.  It's released.  It's in the batch.  But it refers to other communications which have not been released:

I just had a convo with [deleted] and now I understand that these are being prepared to give to Members of Congress to use with the media. 
On that basis, I have serious concerns about all the parts highlighted below, and arming members of Congress to start making assertions to the media that we ourselves are not mking because we don't want to prejudice the investigation.
In the same vein, why do we want Hill to be fingering Ansar al Sharia, when we aren't doing that ourselves until we have investigation results... and the penultimate point could be abused by Members to beat the State Department for not paying attention to Agency warnings so why do we want to feed that either?  Concerned.

And "deleted" is "CIA OCA."  She didn't think she was getting her way (or "the building"'s way) so without notifying the people she was dialoguing with, she did an end run around them by bringing CIA OCA.  But that's not enough for her as we noted:

If you read the e-mails, which apparently few actually did, you come across Victoria Nuland at 9:23 PM (September 14th) writing,   "These don't resolve my issues or those of us my building leadership.  They are consulting with NSS."
Where are the e-mails from State to NSS?
It's worth noting that the wording is rather chilling when you compare it to her lengthy e-mails.  In an e-mail chain with multiple agencies, Nuland wants changes and doesn't feel she's getting what she wants.  At some point she and others at the State Dept discuss this and decide to bring in NSS to override the ongoing process/exchange.  Nuland feels no need to offer, "We may involve NSS in this."  She waits until after the fact to declare that because her "issues" aren't resolved, her leadership is "consulting with NSS."

So she does an end run around the chain of communication twice.  And the NSS communication has not been released either.  That's nearly two hours after she last did an end run.  Two hours worth of communications before she felt she (and her "building") had gotten what they wanted and she could let the other group know they were being outvoted.

She's just a little liar and the Committee should have been prepared and when she tried to eat up time with her nonsense, she should have been stopped, she should have been told, "You had your opening statement to provide background or to clarify.  This is the questioning stage of the hearing, you need to answer the questions."  She knew she could eat up time and he let her get away with it.

Ruth and I both attended yesterday's hearing and she wrote about it last night in "Victoria Nuland indirectly confirms CIA arming 'rebels' out of Benghazi."  As her title makes clear, Nuland -- stupid Victoria -- gave a response that was a yes to something she felt needed to be discussed in a closed door hearing.  I would argue that someone so stupid that they would make that clear (that it was a yes, that the CIA was arming Syrian 'rebels' out of Benghanzi) isn't qualified to be an ambassador to anything.