Friday, January 10, 2014

Why is Asheligh Banfeld on TV?

This week, Ashleigh Banfeld was suggesting on air that, to get some people to testify, they should be charged with murder.

To get them to testify, they should be charged with murder?

I do not belong to the police state Ms. Banfeld does and believe you only charge people with murder if you have a reasonable suspicion that they have committed murder.

But M.s Banfeld lives in a different world.


But why is she on TV?

She was plain and ugly on 9-11 when she (briefly) became a celebrity.

MSNBC gave her a show and she could not deliver ratings then.

Now she is on CNN and still not able to do a coherent program.

She lacks charm, looks, and skill. 

So why is she on the television?

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

Thursday, January 9, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, Nouri's assault on political rivals continues, the White House continues to dance on the string Nouri pulls, a few voices began to note this isn't about 'terrorism,' and much more.

Failed spokesperson, Hillary Clinton gal-pal and spouse in neocon dynasty Victoria Nuland has weighed in on Iraq.  Failure is rewarded in Barack's administration -- failure and deception.  Which is how Dick Cheney's right-hand ended up in Barack's administration to begin with.  Nuland was interviewed for the Netherlands' Nieuwsuur:

Question: The last few days we had some very serious news from Iraq.

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Absolutely.

Question: Anbar Province. And some commentators are now saying it was a mistake for the United States to leave so soon. Iraq was not ready for it. What are your feelings about this?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Obviously we are all watching with concern the situation on the ground in Iraq. I think you know that Vice President Biden was in touch with key Iraqi leaders in the last 36 hours to urge them to work together and to work with tribal leaders and others in the key cities in Fallujah and Ramadi, to say no to terror, to stand up to taking Iraq backwards, and for Iraqis to manage their security together.
I think you know the backdrop of the U.S. decision. It was an Iraqi decision, how we would work with them going forward, and we have in this instance offered certain kinds of support for their security effort and we’ll continue to do that.

No, he's not.  Even away from a podium, Victoria Nuland can't stop lying -- no wonder she worked so well with Dick Cheney for so many years.

What leaders has Vice President Joe Biden spoken to?

AP reports he finally spoke to KRG President Massoud Barazani today.

Took his sweet ass time, didn't he?

How does the US government leave Barazni out of the loop until today?  Barzani is a power player, he is the head of a political dynasty.  You're in a panic over Iraq but can't figure out how to look in the Kurds?

Hoshyar Zebaria?  That little nobody?  That toad lackey?  Well maybe John Kerry liked speaking to him but Zebari represents no constituency and Goran can't stand him, the Talabani family sees him as an opportunist so exactly what faction does he represent?  The Barzanis?  No.  He represents no one.

Iraq has no president -- the whole country's in a Constitutional emergency if anyone was smart enough about the law and grasp what was happening.  December 2012 -- not last month, December a year ago, 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.  He has been out of the country for over a year.  He's propped up every now and then to be posed for pictures.  No video because he can't speak.  And he can't carry out his duties and hasn't been able to for over a year.

Some want to say the post is 'ceremonial' only -- yeah, well, so's the US Vice Presidency, right?

Over 15,000 Anbar residents have fled to Erbil -- part of the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government.  At what point did you plan to bring them into the conversation?


No, not even today.

AP explains Joe used his time today to whine about the KRG's deal with Turkey -- the deal Nouri doesn't like.

Why the hell has the White House made What Nouri Wants their governing principle?

Even now, when Joe should be doing the job of bringing in the Kurds, he fails because he's too damn busy whining that the KRG has an oil deal Nouri doesn't like.

Nouri has certainly  f**ked the White House up the ass for the last five years.

Bully Boy Bush is a War Criminal but at least he wasn't jerked around in the public square by his puppet Nouri al-Maliki.

The editorial board of Lebanon's Daily Star offers "U.S. nearing irrelevance."  Five years of doing Nouri's bidding slowly does not become strength by doing it quickly.  The US government is becoming a joke.  Barack's a klutz on the world stage, that's how he managed to spend the second half of 2013 elevating Vladamir Putin up to world leader status.  The White House is running blind, there's no grown up in charge and everyone's in a panic.

In their panic, they're trying to arm Nouri more and quicker and John T. Bennett (Defense News) notes this criticism:

“What is shocking is the State Department and the administration had not been more engaging with us on what they’re doing with the Iraqis on this,” a Senate Foreign Relations Committee aide told Defense News Thursday in a telephone conversation that included a second panel aide. “I think the administration has not yet successfully calibrated how to best engage with Congress.”

Guy Taylor (Washington Times) speaks to Iraq's Ambassador to the US Lukman Faily who parrots the line from Nouri:

“The administration has to have a better understanding of any adverse impact of any delay in provision of support to Iraq,” Ambassador Lukman Faily told The Washington Times in an interview Wednesday. “It cannot afford a whole town or province of Iraq falling to al Qaeda and becoming a safe haven. It’s against the U.S. strategic interest. It’s against the U.S. national security to do that.”

When you're playing someone else's game on their terms, you have no influence.  

If there was adult left in the White House, they'd be focusing their attention on something other than Nouri's narrative and Nouri's wants and desires.

They'd also be asking why Nouri kicked these events off now?

Ellen Knickmeyer  (Wall St. Journal) reports:

Voters in Mr. Maliki's political base in Iraq's largely Shiite south are speaking out, with some urging Iraq's army to attack Fallujah.
For Mr. Maliki, the reward of a tough response "includes getting the prime minister's ratings [stature] high among ordinary Shiites, who still don't trust the Sunni community and feel uncomfortable [about] the Sunni protests," said Fadel al-Kifaee, a political analyst in Baghdad.

Mr. Maliki is hoping for a third term as prime minister in national elections in April, said Kournay al-Mulhem, the Berlin-based editor at large for the Iraqi news website Niqash.

Instead of questioning the events, they're so busy responding to the chaos Nouri's created, they can't even take a moment to think.

Back to Nuland.

Question: The Secretary of State said, Kerry said we might send some more weapons, but there will be no boots on the ground, no new boots on the ground. Is it possible for the United States to stay out if Iraq might become another safe haven for terrorists?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Again, none of us has a crystal ball but we are focused now with the Iraqis on their capacity as citizens of their country to manage their security issues together, to manage it across confessional lines, to manage it across political lines. That’s what they want to do with our support, with the support of European countries as well. So that’s what we should all be pushing for now. Iraqis being able to manage their own security challenges.

Question: Can they?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: Again, that is what they want to be able to do. We need to support them in that and we need to work with them to get the kind of progress that they deserve and that the Iraqi people have suffered a lot to have.

Question: Were you shocked that the rebels were able to take control of Fallujah which is so important city politically, symbolically?

Assistant Secretary Nuland: The presence of extremists of this kind, whether it’s in Iraq, whether it’s in Syria, whether it’s in Lebanon, is disturbing to all of us.

But this was never about terror.  This was about Nouri arresting a political rival and stopping a political protest.

December 27th, the Iraqi protests continue against Nouri's corrupt government -- a year and a week and counting.  Nouri was furious and vowed publicly, on TV, that the protests would not see another Friday.  Decemeber 28th, he ordered the arrest of Ahmed al-Alwani.  There were a number of problems including that a dawn raid on a person's home left 6 people -- including al-Alwani's brother -- dead.  Equally true, there was no right to arrest him.  He's a Member of Parliament.  He can be arrested by police if they catch him while he's carrying out a crime.  Otherwise, Parliament's got to first vote to strip the MP immunity or there's no arrest.  What's worse than the Constitution not being followed were idiots of Nouri's party stating that saying someone was guilty (charging them) was the same as them being caught in the act.  They are idiots.  December 30th, Nouri's forces attacked the protest squares.

That's how we get to the attacks and the present mess.

Doubt it?  Here's Bill van Auken (WSWS) explaining it:

The government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, installed under the US occupation, has pursued an openly sectarian agenda, ruthlessly purging leading Sunni political figures, using the security forces to crack down on the population of Anbar and branding protests against these abuses of power as acts of Al Qaeda terrorism.
At the end of December, the Maliki regime touched off the present conflict by moving to arrest Ahmed al-Alwany, a prominent Sunni member of parliament in Ramadi—killing his brother and five bodyguards in the process—and then on December 30 sending in security forces to break up a protest encampment that had existed in the same city for months, killing at least 17 more.
Amid seething popular anger, armed groups, including both the Al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) and local tribesmen, seized control of police stations, drove out the security forces and set up local checkpoints, effectively taking over Fallujah and much of Ramadi.

The Obama administration has responded by declaring its full support to Maliki and rushing weapons, including Hellfire missiles, drones and other equipment to his military. It is exerting maximum pressure on Congress to end its delay on shipment of Apache attack helicopters and F-16s to the regime. That this weaponry, in the hands of a regime that has become ever more sectarian and authoritarian, may soon be used to massacre civilians has presented no obstacle to the Obama White House.

It was not about 'terrorism,' it was about Nouri attacking his political rivals.

And now he's using the attacks to try to appear strong and the US is backing him -- this is his election strategy.  This is insanity.

Even right-wing Max Boot (Wall St. Journal) grasps what kicked things off:

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has no-one but himself to blame. If he had embraced the Sunni Awakening movement, Iraq likely would have remained relatively peaceful. Instead, the moment that US troops left Iraq, he immediately began victimizing prominent Sunnis.

Reporter Dan Murphy (Christian Science Monitor) also shows some wisdom:

The national reconciliation that the US military's "surge" of 30,000 extra troops into the country was supposed to enable never took place. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki from the Dawa Party, a Shiite Islamist political movement with close ties to Iran, has governed Iraq with intolerance and arrogance, stubbornly refusing to reach out to Iraq's disenchanted Sunni Arab majority and dismissing almost all of the community's political leaders who stand up to him as terrorists or friends of terrorists.
Though it may seem strange, this is good news. Because what's happening in Iraq at the moment is not some atavistic expression of "ancient" hatreds and irreconcilable cultural differences. Instead, it's a function of the failure of politics and power sharing in the modern era. And that's the kind of failure that can be rectified if Iraq's leaders, starting with Mr. Maliki, decide to change course from the politics of marginalization and exclusion. 

Allen G. Breed and Julie Watson (AP) offer this of the November 2004 assault on Falluja:

For several bloody weeks, the Marines went house-to-house in what has been called some of the heaviest urban combat involving the Corps since the Battle of Hue City, Vietnam, in 1968. Historian Richard Lowry, who interviewed nearly 200 veterans of the Iraq battle, likens it to ''a thousand SWAT teams going through the city, clearing criminals out.''
''They entered darkened rooms, kicking down doors, never knowing if they would find an Iraqi family hunkered down in fear or an Islamist terrorist waiting to shoot them and kill them,'' says Lowry, author of the book ''New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah.''

The most afraid would most likely be the "Iraqi family hunkered down in fear."  It's been nine years, you'd think by now the press could cover Iraq by covering Iraqis.  But you'd be wrong.  Stephen Lendman (Global Research) is one of the few who remembers the actual victims of the slaughters.

Let's focus on the US Congress for a bit.  Brian Everstine (Air Force Times) reports, "A congressman who also is an Air National Guardsman is calling for the Air Force to begin again its fight in Iraq.  Rep Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., said on the House floor Tuesday that the U.S. needs to use 'limited air power” in Iraq to help its fight against al-Qaida'."  Meanwhile ABC New Radio reports Speaker of the House John Boehner has declared US President Barack Obama's first mistake with regards to Iraq was putting Vice President Joe Biden in charge of it, "Starting with the president delegating his responsibilities to the vice president, the administration has chosen to spend much of its time and energy trying to explain why having terrorists holding key terrain in the Middle East is not the president's problem.  The United States has and will continue to have a vital national interest in Iraq. We must maintain a long-term commitment to a successful outcome there, and it's time that the president recognized this and get engaged."  Stephanie Condon (CBS News) quotes Boehner stating, "I think that the president himself ought to take a more active role in dealing with the issues in Iraq.  Secondly, we need to get equipment to the Iraqis and other services that would help them battle this counterterrorism effort that they're attempting to do."  Senator John McCain said the White House "not only sits by and does nothing, but the president of the United States says nothing."

Rasmussen Reports announced today the results of a poll (margin of error is +/-3%), "One-in-four voters is now prepared to take military action against Iraq or Syria if al-Qaeda-led forces win control there. "  You'd hope the poll would calm the White House a bit, allow them to leave a state of high drama and address reality.  The administration apparently doesn't care what the American people think.

It's a shame members of Congress aren't paying attention to the poll or to what's really going on in Iraq instead of going into a mad panic.  There's no great threat in Iraq today.  And certainly nothing that justifies handing Nouri more weapons.  Stephanie Gaskell (Defense One) notes:

  "The issue here is not whether such aircraft would help Iraq fight violent extremists; they would. The question is whether the Maliki government would use them only against violent extremists, and whether we receive credible assurances that such weapons will be used to target Iraq’s real enemies, and not to further sectarian political objectives. With credible assurances, it would be appropriate to provide such assistance,” Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., said on the Senate floor on Thursday.
Iraq requested the Apaches last May, but members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which must approve the sale, want to be able to monitor how the Apaches are used, and lawmakers still have concerns about oversight of flights in Iraqi airspace going to and from Syria and Iran.

Roxana Tiron (Bloomberg News) notes Levin is a conditional yes.  Though his conditions are admirable, there's no way to ensure them which is why you don't say "yes" to arming a despot.  Richard Sisk (DoD Buzz) notes Levin's conditions as well but Sisk gets at the real point in this sentence, "The Obama administration, rattled by images of Al Qaeda flags flying over the flashpoint towns of Fallujah and Ramadi, announced Monday that the U.S. was speeding up the delivery of Hellfire air-to-ground missiles and reconnaissance drones to Iraq."

And that is the problem, they're rattled and they're not thinking.  Rattled never leads to good decision making.  Panic isn't a confidence instiller.

Reuters notes:

Menendez' concerns have centered around whether Washington could ensure that Maliki, a Shi'ite increasingly at odds with minority Sunnis in Iraq, would not use the helicopters to target political opponents. He is also concerned over whether the administration was keeping Congress sufficiently informed about efforts to ensure Iran did not send military aid to Syria across Iraqi airspace.

"The administration is now addressing concerns first raised in July that required responses before this sale could proceed," said Adam Sharon, a spokesman for the committee. "Provided these issues are sufficiently addressed, Chairman Menendez will be ready to move forward."

I hope Menendez stands against arming the thug Nouri.  In the meantime, BRussells Tribunal notes Ross Caputi's important action:

  Once again the claim that al Qaeda has taken over Fallujah is being used to justify a heavy-handed military assault on the city. And again, these claims are false.
Over 100 civilians have been killed in recent fighting in Fallujah, as the Iraqi government shells the city with American bought weapons. The Iraqi Ministry of the Interior claims that al Qaeda has taken over the city and that a heavy handed military response is needed to take the city back from terrorists. But many residents of Fallujah insist that tribal militias control Fallujah and that al Qaeda forces play only a marginal role in the fighting.
The violence began when the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al Maliki, forced a year-old, nonviolent protest camp in Fallujah to disperse. The Iraqi government has since bombed Fallujah with American bought Hellfire Missiles, a weapon system that is believed to contain uranium and could cause indiscriminate public health effects.

Tell President Obama and Congress to stop selling weapons to the Iraqi government

Please sign our petition to tell the President and Congress to stop arming the Iraqi government:

On the issue of the Senate, W. James Antle III (National Interest) offers a piece to flaunt his own stupidity.  Check out the ignorance on the third Jimmy Antle:

McCain and Graham dispute that the Iraqi government decided against concluding a new status of forces agreement that would have kept U.S. troops in Iraq past the deadline originally negotiated by the Bush administration. The senators describe this as “patently false,” claiming to “know firsthand that Iraq's main political blocs were supportive.”
Leaving aside the question of whether they had better sources for this information than Curveball and Ahmed Chalabi, the plain fact was that the American people had no appetite for an indefinite military presence in Iraq. 

I didn't vote for McCain, I don't like him, I've never liked him (I do like Cindy) but that doesn't give me the right to lie about him.  I'm sorry that Antle is such an idiot but if he doesn't know what he's talking about, he should shut his mouth.  He, Graham and Joe Lieberman were told by Iraqi leaders -- who they have named in Senate hearings that little Priss Pott The Third couldn't get his candy ass to. Since he's insisting that the agreement was dead, absolutely dead, he should check out the November 2011 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.  He'll find McCain very vocal who he spoke to.  But more importantly, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is testifying to that hearing that negotiations continue.  That hearing is after the refusal to grant immunity ended Barack's SOFA II negotiations.

Those late to the party on that hearing can check out the November 15, 2011 "Iraq snapshot," November 16th "Iraq snapshot," November 17th "Iraq snapshot," Ava's "Scott Brown questions Panetta and Dempsey (Ava)," Wally's "The costs (Wally)" and Kat's  "Who wanted what?"

Meanwhile,  a 'major victory' for Nouri al-Maliki, this announcement: They have killed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -- "the driver for al Qaeda."  Next, they're going after the cleaning lady.

Turning to some of today's violence, National Iraqi News Agency reports a Tirkit roadside bombing claimed the lives of 3 Iraqi soldiers and left five injured, a Samarra roadside bombing claimed the lives of 4 police members, a Baquba sticky bombing left one person injured, 1 person was shot dead outside his Mosul home, 1 person "working as an owner of generating electricity" was shot dead, 3 fighters were shot dead in Baghdad, a Mosul bombing left four SWAT forces injured, a Tikrit car bombing claimed the life of 1 police member and left four more people injured, a Ramadi suicide car bomber took his own life and the lives of 4 SWAT members with six more left injured, a Mosul home bombing claimed the lives of 3 police officers and 1 "gunman" and left four people injured, 1 Shabak was shot dead in Mosul, and a Mosul home invasion left 1 police officer and his mother dead.