Friday, October 12, 2012

The debates

Did you read "The Post Debate Debate (Ava and C.I.)" this morning?  You should have.  It is great throughout but I am highlighting this section:

Last night, valuable TV time was tossed aside so that the networks could present the pretense of a vice presidential debate. Moderator Martha Raddatz faced calls of bias because Barack Obama had attended her nineties wedding.  Surprisingly, the calls of bias were coming from supporters of the Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ticket.  With the marriage ended in divorce -- and the ex-husband having attended Barack's wedding to Michelle solo, we would have assumed that those crying foul would have been supporters of the Barack Obama and Joe Biden ticket.  Marriages end in acrimony, that is kind of a given.

Calls for ABC's defense correspondent to step down should have been louder and near universal because it's really past time for journalists -- and we do consider Raddatz a journalist and not a TV personality -- to stop whoring their names and their profession to promote the pretense of debate.  The League of Women Voters ran the debates and did so in a non-partisan manner.  In 1980, they agreed to allow a third party candidate on the stage and the response was massive whining and pouting from the Democratic and Republican Party leaders.  So much whining and so much pouting that Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan would only have one debate.

The duopoly of the DNC and the RNC wasn't having that and today there is nothing non-partisan about the so-called debates.  Contracts are drawn up by the two parties agreeing who will not be in and agreeing what type of format it will be, what the topics will be, what the candidates are allowed to say, how they are allowed to interact, etc.

Last week, we were at Harvard and caught an event as fake as the debates themselves but on the panel was Alan Simpson and he was happy to explain what Democratic Party candidate Barack and Republican candidate Mitt would be asked about.  Would be.  The debates hadn't taken place yet.  They were hours away.  But because he sits on the 'debate' commission, he knew the contract drawn up for this year's so-called debates and therefore knew what would be covered.  (We addressed that panel and more in "TV: Jim Lehrer, notch below child molester."  And we keep hearing that we were the only people to report on that panel so that may be the only place it's documented that Simpson was telling people what the candidates would be asked before the debate had even started.)

The whole thing's a sham.  That's why Jim Gray (Gary Johnson's running mate on the Libertarian Party ticket), Cheri Honkala (Jill Stein's running mate on the Green Party ticket),  Jim Clymer (Virgil Goode's running mate on the Constituion Party ticket),  Luis J. Rodriguez (Rocky Anderson's running mate on the Justice Party ticket) and  Phyllis Scherrer (Jerry White's running mate on the Socialist Equality Party ticket) were not present.

Imagine how different last night's debate could have been if those people had been on the stage.  Not only would you have had diversity of race, ethnicity and gender -- which you did not have last night -- but you also would have had a huge diversity of opinion.  Grasp that Dems and Republicans are not happy with their tickets and less so each election cycle.  Why?  Because the Dem tries to play more conservative (or may be more conservative) to pick up voters and the Republicans do the same (though some liars on the left continue to try to paint Mitt Romney as a conservative devil, he is seen by Republican grass roots as too moderate).   Put more conservatives and more liberals on the stage and there's a chance that candidates would have to actually stand for party core values or risk losing their base.

And that makes the perfect set up for this from Patrick Martin (WSWS):

In the entire 90 minutes, there was not a single question or answer about the conditions of life of the working class—about cuts in wages, pensions and other benefits; the growth of poverty, homelessness and hunger; the spreading plague of evictions and foreclosures; the deterioration of public services such as education; the collapse of the social infrastructure.
The domestic side of the debate focused almost exclusively on two topics: whether there should be a slight increase in taxation on the super-rich, which Biden advocated and Ryan opposed, and how spending on social programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security could be cut, where the two candidates agreed in principle but tried to avoid specifics for fear of alerting the American public to what is coming under the next administration, whether headed by Obama or Romney.
The two issues are directly linked, in that the Democratic Party talks of imposing a nominal increase in taxes on the wealthy to provide a fig leaf of “fairness” and “equal sacrifice” for what will be devastating attacks on programs upon which tens of millions rely for access to health care and economic survival in old age or disability.
One of the few illuminating moments in the debate came when Raddatz asked Biden directly whether he would support an increase in the age of eligibility for Medicare from 65 to 67—a move that would impose a severe financial burden on millions of people nearing retirement age.
Biden responded with a rambling anecdote about taking part in negotiations in 1983 between the Reagan administration and congressional Democrats on enacting a similar increase in the retirement age for Social Security. The implication was that Biden would support a similar step for Medicare.

The exclusion of candidates goes to the exclusion of topics.  The debate commission ensures that these questions will not be asked.  I wish Mr. Martin had written about that. 

We will not get real issues until we get real debates.

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

Friday, October 12, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Iraq makes the debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan (but not because it was a topic asked about it), Nouri's weapons deal with the Czech Republic is estimated to be worth 1 billion dollars, a mother shares how the administration misinformed her about how her son (Sean Smith) died in Libya, a tape -- over fifty minutes -- exists of the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attack and a government body is keeping it from Congress, and more.
Last night in Danville, Kentucky, the media went through the pretense that a vice presidential debate was taking place. If it were a vice presidential debate, where was Cheri Honkala (Green Party v.p. candidate), Luis J. Rodriguez (Justice Party v.p. candidate), Jim Gray (Libertarian Party v.p. candidate), Phyllis Scherrer (Socialist Equality Party v.p. candidate) and Jim Clymer (Constitutional Party v.p. running mate) among others? If this were the vice presidential debate, those people would have been on stage. Instead, Martha Raddatz of ABC moderated a Democratic candidate debating a Republican candidate. (Ava and I shared our thoughts on that this morning.) Martha Raddatz was less than honest when she declared that the event was "sponsored by the Commission on Presidential Debates." It was sponsored by corporations -- large amounts of corporate money. This is not 'secret' information, it's at the commisson's own website:
2012 National Sponsors
Anheuser-Busch Companies
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation
Sheldon S. Cohen, Esq.
Crowell & Moring LLP
International Bottled Water Association (IBWA)
The Kovler Fund
Southwest Airlines
In addition, it is not put on by "the Commission on Presidential Debates" which makes it sound as though everyone has a say. Also lying is the Commission itself which insists that they are "a nonprofit, nonpartisan" corporation. They are bi-partisan, the officials would not be either Democrats or Republicans now would candidates from those two parties be the only ones invited to these debates. They are bi-partisan.
Iraq came up briefly in the debate. Lu Hui (Xinhua) notes, "The two clashed over how the country has been winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and tried to sharpen contrast on national security and defense budget cutting." Click here for a full transcript at CNN. This is both candidates Iraq remarks and I've pulled out the non-Iraq stuff.
Vice President Joe Biden: On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 - he ended it. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 troops there.
US House Rep Paul Ryan: With respect to Iraq, we had the same position before the withdrawal, which was we agreed with the Obama administration. Let's have a status of forces agreement to make sure that we secure our gains. The vice president was put in charge of those negotiations by President Obama and they failed to get the agreement. We don't have a status of forces agreement because they failed to get one. That's what we are talking about.
Some may argue we should include the question. Okay. Martha Raddatz stated, "I would like to begin with Libya. On a rather somber note, one month ago tonight, on the anniversary of 9-11, Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other brave Americans were killed in a terrorist attack in Benghazi. The State Department has now made clear, there were no protesters there. It was a pre-planned assault by heavily armed men. Wasn't this a massive intelligence failure, Vice President Joe Biden?"
No, Martha didn't ask about Iraq. But Joe was attempting to skirt the issue asked about and emphasize instead what he wanted to talk about. (Michael Finnegan and Alana Semuels of the Los Angeles Times refer to Joe's actions as a pivot. This is a 'new' observation by political hacks. There's nothing new about it. Jackie Susann was the master of talking about what she wanted to with the media -- usually her own books -- watch any interview and she brings the topic back to her latest book over and over. It's called self-promotion but those in need of pretending they've just discovered something and bad reporters like Alix Spiegel who would rather yack about nonsense than actual issues are now terming this a "pivot.")
Vice President Joe Biden: On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 - he ended it. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake, we should have left 30,000 troops there.
As we were noting on Tuesday, that is incorrect. At the New York Times blog The Caucus today, Richard A. Oppel declared, "Little noticed in last night's debate: Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. seemed to go out of his way to alter what has been a high profile -- and unfair -- criticism by President Obama of the Romney campaign's statements about Iraq." He goes on to declare Biden's assertion to be "a little closer to being accurate" than Barack's. But a little closer to accurate isn't accurate and it remains, as he noted, "unfair" and untrue. This is from September 7, 2012:
Making the case that Romney lacks foreign policy chops, Obama twisted Romney's words, claiming, "My opponent said it was 'tragic' to end the war in Iraq."
But that's not quite what Romney said. He was speaking of the speed with which Obama was withdrawing troops, not to ending the war in general.
During a veterans roundtable in South Carolina on Nov. 11, 2011, Romney criticized Obama's plan to remove troops from Iraq by the end of that year. Here's the fuller context of his comments, as reported by the New York Times:
Romney, Nov. 11, 2011: It is my view that the withdrawal of all of our troops from Iraq by the end of this year is an enormous mistake, and failing by the Obama administration. The precipitous withdrawal is unfortunate — it's more than unfortunate, I think it's tragic. It puts at risk many of the victories that were hard won by the men and women who served there.
A month earlier, when Obama formally announced the withdrawal of tens of thousands of troops from Iraq by year's end, Romney released a similar statement:
Romney, Oct. 21, 2011: President Obama's astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women. The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.
In December, Romney argued that Obama "has pulled our troops out in a precipitous way" and that he ought to have left a residual force of "10-, 20-, 30-thousand personnel there to help transition to the Iraqi's own military capabilities."
Criticizing the "precipitous" pace of withdrawal and the president's failure to leave a residual force in Iraq is a far cry from calling the end of the war in Iraq "tragic."
"Obama twisted Romney's words" -- yes and now Joe has as well. Now let's go to the idiots -- Oppel is not an idiot. This is a fact check so bad it took five people to do it and they still couldn't get it right. The USA Today no-stars Tim Mullaney, Susan Davis, Jackie Kucinich, Paul Davidson and Aamer Madhani offer these 'facts' on Iraq:
Claim: Biden said that Mitt Romney wanted to leave 30,000 servicemembers in Iraq beyond the end of the U.S-Iraq status of forces agreement that expired at the end of 2011.
The facts: Obama administration officials and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government negotiated for months on a deal that would have allowed a small residual force to remain in Iraq beyond 2011 under a new status of forces agreement. The negotiations, however, fell apart because Maliki believed he would be unable to nudge the Iraqi parliament to agree to immunity for American troops operating in Iraq.
After Obama announced his plan to withdraw the last remaining troops from Iraq in October 2011, Romney said on Fox News in December: "If I were president, I would have carried out the status of forces agreement that was long anticipated that actually (Defense Secretary Leon) Panetta ... indicated he wanted to have as well, which would have allowed to us have somewhere between 10 and 30,000 troops in Iraq."
The only thing more laughable than the above is them on Libya. USA Today cannot tell the truth on Libya, but we'll address that on Sunday. Regarding the above, it gives the impression that Barack removed "the last remaining troops from Iraq." He did no such thing and USA Today should stop lying, they really are embarrassing themselves -- and this is the paper who demanded -- in an editoriall -- that Bill Clinton step down as President for fooling around with Monica Lewinsky, That is what they concerned themselves with, the 'high crimes' of a blow job. And one might think that would be their all time low point but the no-stars are damned determined to aim even lower.
Biden was aiming high himself, "On Iraq, Biden lies," offers Michael Youhana (PolicyMic). Agreed. Let's explore the ways.
Sebastian Meyer (CNN) reports today that Iraqis really don't care about the elections in the US. And why would they? They saw a Democrat replace a Republican in the White House and the war didn't end. Meyer points out, "The Iraq Body Count database estimates that seven people have been killed every single day by suicide and car bomb attacks this year." In addition, US forces remain in Iraq. Micah Zenko (Council on Foreign Relations) observes today, "The United States currently has 225 troops, 530 security assistance team members, and over 4,000 contractors to equip and train Iraqi security forces via the Office of Security Cooperation Iraq."
Or, as Kevin Kervick points out in a letter to the editors of the Seacoast Online, "President Obama did accomplish a rhetorical end to the Iraq war, a development that many of us celebrated during an End of War Parade right here in Portsmouth. However, there are still thousands of military trainers, mercenaries and contractors there who have no plans on leaving. The violence continues to rage in Iraq." [Kevin J. Kervick is running for state representative in New Hampshire's District 30.] As last year wound down, Ted Koppel was reporting that Special Ops would be among those troops remaining in Iraq. Not only did they remain there, more were sent in. Tim Arango (New York Times) reported September 26th, "Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."
In last night's debate, Joe was a hypocrite when he ridiculed Mitt Romney as someone who wanted US troops to remain longer because (a) Barack was in negotiations for that and (b) the White House continues to negotiate for that. I like Joe, I know Joe. He's a wonderful person. But he was dishonest on Iraq last night. Very dishonest. Joe also declared of the Iraq War and the Afghanistan War, "I voted against them. I said, 'No, we can't afford that'." I believe he mispoke on that -- my belief -- because he does know his own voting record. His statements were inaccurate and you can say he was lying (I won't say lie on this one because I believe he mispoke) because he voted for both wars. I've tried to figure out how he could claim otherwise? Am I missing some appropriations vote -- after the wars started -- that he voted "no" on? I don't believe I am. But if there were one, with regards to Afghanistan, he declared, "Whatever it takes, we should do it." With regards to Iraq, he may be arguing about his 2002 amendment -- he wanted a second resolution. He voted on the Iraq War in favor but had proposed an amendment which failed. Had it passed, it would have required authorization from the United Nations. Possibly, that's what Joe was interpreting as being against it -- his proposing that amendment makes clear he was against going to war without a second UN resolution, therefore, he can assert that he was against the war that took place since Bush did not get a second resolution. If others want to characterize the voting against them statement as a lie, I'm not going to argue the point. But I know Joe and it's not like him to distort his own voting record. My opinion, he mispoke there or he's interpreting his voting record -- not just the initial votes -- in a way that others -- including myself -- do not.
Again, with regards to the current negotiations with Iraq, on that Joe misled, he flat-out lied. I wish he hadn't, but he did. And I have no problem saying that.
On the topic of Iraq, Michael Gordon and Bernard Trainor have an important new book entitled The Endgame. Gary Anderson (Washington Times) reviews the volume today and concludes, "To sum up the book for the reader: A Republican administration blundered into the Iraq War, and a Democratic administration stumbled out of it. Through it all, rank-and-file soldiers and civilian professionals saved our bacon by making chicken salad out of chicken droppings. The devil of the story is in the details, and the authors do a superb job of providing them."
This is me, not the book. Before 2010 rolled around, it was already clear that Nouri al-Maliki was not going to be a fair leader. Since 2007, State Dept cables regularly noted Nouri was paranoid In addition, he was prone to seeing conspiracies everywhere. The book notes Nouri's fetish for conspiracies and his paranoia. It notes that the top US commander in Iraq, General Ray Odierno, felt there needed to be contingency plans before the 2010 elections. Specifically, Odierno thought Nouri might not respect or honor the results. (Odierno looks like a prophet today. He was 100% right.) While Odierno had clear concerns, Chris Hill -- then the Ambassador to Iraq -- was dismissive of the concerns, dismissive of Odierno and saw Nouri in a way no one else did. (Through the eyes of love?) From the book:
At Maliki's ornate palace in the Green Zone, a picture was beginning to emerge from the election returns and it was not one that the prime minister liked. Maliki had believed he was all but assured of victory. He had seen the nation through the surge and led the charge to Basra, formed "support councils" to reach out to tribal leaders throughout the south, and rebranded his political coalition as a nationalist organization committed to restoring and preserving the peace: State of Law. In fact, Maliki was so confident that his populartiy and the dramatically improved security situation would seal his reelection that he had split away from his rivals in the other major Shiite bloc, the Iraqi National Accord, after they announced they would not support Maliki for another term as prime minister. Malliki's aides had assure him that State of Law would win as many as 120 seats and would be able to easily form a government without the INA and Iraqiya. That Allawi and his largely Sunni coalition could dislodge the incumbent prime minister seemed unthinkable to Maliki.
But the contest between Iraqiya and State of Law was astonishingly close and as the results trickled in to Iraq's Independent High Election Commission it appeared that Allawi's bloc might win more parliamentary seats, which could give it the right to make the first attempt to assemble a governing coalition under the Iraqi constitution. On March 17, Iraqiya held a slim nine-thousand-vote lead over Maliki's State of Law with more than 95 percent of the votes counted. The party had even done well in areas of the Shiite south, where they tallied more than 200,000 votes and elected more than ten Shiite members of the parliament. The trend held up when the final results were announced nine days later. Allawi's Iraqiya had secured ninety-one seats over Maliki's State of Law, which had been awarded eighty-nine seats. The INA, the competing Shiite alliance, won seventy seats and the Kurdistan Alliance fifty-seven seats. To govern Iraq, a bloc needed to line up enough allies to control 163 seats in the 325-seat parliament.
As the book make clear, prior to this, Gen Ray Odierno had forseen a power grab by Nouri. He'd been dismissed by Chris Hill. In fact, Chris Hill loathed Odierno and threw a hissy fit to get Odierno shut out of the media. This is in the book.
Not in the book, Chris Hill did not like Sunnis. Iraqis who worked with the US Embassy felt that was very clear and several found Hill's remarks to be disturbing enough that they shared their take of him with embassy staff. This was relayed back to the White House who didn't seem at all concerned. (And, to be clear, the Iraqis complaining to embassy staff were Shi'ites.) Chris Hill gave a very ugly face to America and his 'jokes' were not seen as 'funny' (by Iraqis or by most staff). Chris' hatred of Sunnis is why he worked against Shi'ite Ayad Allawi who was heading the Iraqiya political slate which was a mix of Sunnis and Shi'ites though Hill saw it as Allawi fronting Sunnis. Hill also did not and does not care for Saudi Arabia. This will explain page 620's statement, "There was no Sunni party that was not bought and paid for by Saudis, he said, but he shared some of Odierno's concerns." He was not concerned with a Sunni buy-in of the government, the book explains.
In the book, one of Chris' many tantrums gets noted. He's screaming private, US government conversations in front of non-Americans. Chris Hill was an awful face for the US to Iraq.
Odierno, as noted in the book, had forseen a power grab on Nouri's part and had wanted a detailed plan for various moves Nouri might pull. This was brushed aside. To reach the deadline of the SOFA for all US troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011, Under Secretary of Defense Michele Flourney, Barack and others were eager to support Nouri. Odierno and Hill met March 25th, 17 days after the election, when there were clear problems. While Odierno had concerns and wanted to send a message that the US supported democracy, Hill's feelings were expressed as, "What a stinking country this is."
"What a stinking country this is."
Chris Hill was the worst face for the US in Iraq. And he did a lousy job in Iraq.
Nouri used the Bagdad Iraqi court to 'revise' the Constitution allowing him first crack at forming a coaltion. He did not have that right, the Parliament does not give him a right. Odierno was repeatedly pushed aside. But the votes, the will of the people and the Constitution did not matter to Barack. The book notes, "At the White House, Obama administration officials were not perturbed. They argued that Allawi's Iraqiya would have been unlikely to attract enough allies to form a new government and that it was a political fact of life that the prime minister of Iraq would come from the ranks of the Shiite political parties. But Sunnis saw it as a violation of the very spirit of the vote."
Shortly around this time, Chris Hill's ignorance would be brought to the attention of then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. Not in the book, at which point the complaints to the State Dept finally registered as (in the book) Gates takes Odierno to meet with Hillary Clinton and others. Hill should have been immediately replaced. Instead, Barack kept him in place. Even though he was inept. In his more minor role, he continued to insist that Iraqiya didn't need to be brought into the process and repeatedly attempted to undermine Odierno's efforts to bring Iraqiya into the process.
Do you see where that led to? Chris Hill is an idiot. Chris Hill destroyed all the diplomatic work the State Dept had done, all the leadership work Odierno did (Odierno met with Iraqi leaders regularly and spoke of what most would consider universal values such as free and fair elections). Chris Hill -- as we noted repeatedly in real time -- was disrespectful to Odierno, jealous of him and worked repeatedly to undercut him. While Odierno has been polite enough not to air his complaints, someone serving under Odierno is considering a book deal. Chris Hill better be worried. When someone from that side of the equation tells the story, it will be even more clear how Hill didn't understand the first thing about Iraq and screwed up everything. As was described to me by someone in the State Dept, Chris went to Iraq thinking 'success' was forming a friendship with Nouri and backing Nouri in everything. Chris Hill is an idiot who was more concerned with kissing Nouri's ass, undermining Odierno and attacking the US press.
Why the White House backed Hill isn't anything Gordon and Trainor can suss out. No one can. Retired US Gen Anthony Zinni was supposed to be the US Ambassador to Iraq, Barack was supposed to nominate him. Zinni discussed that on the August 6, 2009 broadcast of NPR's The Diane Rehm Show.
Diane Rehm: General Zinni, you almost went to work for the Obama administration. I'd like to hear from you --
Anthony Zinni: Right.
Diane Rehm: -- what happened.
Anthony Zinni: Well, uh, I was called right before the inauguration and asked if I would be willing to serve as, uh, to serve in the administration in a couple of possibilities. And then --
Diane Rehm: By whom?
Anthony Zinni: By General [James L.] Jones, the National Security Advisor. And I said I would given the-the positions he mentioned,. And right after the inauguration, he called and asked if I would serve as the ambassador to, uh, Iraq. And I said I would. And, uh, received a call from the vice president thanking me that I would take that on --
Diane Rehm: Vice President [Joe] Biden.
Anthony Zinni: Vice President Biden. And, uh, I met with Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton and, uh, deputy -- two deputies. Spent a long time with her in the office. She was asking me what I understood about Iraq, my assessment. I had just gotten back not long before that doing an assessment out there. And then I left that meeting, you know, understanding fully, you know, I was going to be the nominee. I mean I was told to prepare for it, we would move the process forward very quickly because of the outgoing Ambassador Ryan Crocker was coming out very quickly.
Diane Rehm: You shook hands on it?
Anthony Zinni: Yes, we did. I mean, there was no way I left and didn't think this was going to happen. And actually thought I had a very short period of time to get my affairs in order. I mean, obviously, there are a number of things you have to do in your own financial family and all that sort of thing. And for -- a week went by and I was told to stay in touch, be prepared, quote: "Move the paperwork forward." That we were going to move up the confirmation hearings. And nothing was happening. And I tried to contact people and I couldn't get any answers. And finally late -- about a week later -- I finally got a hold of General Jones and he informed me I was not the choice and I was kind of shocked and surprised by it. And then the next morning in the Washington Post, I read that it's Chris Hill and I thought: "Had I not gotten ahold of General Jones, that's how I would found out." To be honest with you, I-I don't, I can understand people changing their minds and I don't object to that. You know that's a fact of life. I-I was just put back by not being called or told by anyone and, to this day, I haven't had anybody explain to me what happened so. But I moved on. Clearly, you know, you have to understand Washington and the way things work and I've moved on from there.
Diane Rehm: What's your best guess as to why you were not chosen?
Anthony Zinni: Honestly, Diane, I don't know. Uh, one of the reasons -- I-I started getting calls that very day from the media, from the press and, uh, people saying, "These are the rumors we're hearing." And they were attributed to senior government officials so that was disturbing. And many of the-the reasons given, I clearly knew were not right because --
Diane Rehm: Such as?
Anthony Zinni: Such as, "Well the Pentagon didn't want you." Or, "A certain general didn't want you." All-all of whom I knew personally and it's just the opposite and matter of fact were calling me upset that-that it hadn't gone through. So I began to be bothered by some of the rumors that obviously were coming out of the -- supposedly attributed by the media to senior government officials.
Diane Rehm: What kinds of rumors?
Anthony Zinni: Well, it was this particular lobby that worked against you, it was this particular individual that-that stopped it or this person. And-and to me that -- you know, to me, many of them I knew weren't true, many of them I thought were only based on rumor and so I thought it important since they were asking me what happened I tried to not engage them but then I finally said, "Well look, let me just tell you the course of events that went by. So there's no misunderstanding that I didn't know or understand that I was be the nominee. And what happened." And-and to this day, nobody's told me what happened. Not that I'm interested anymore. But [laughing] I haven't been told.
Diane Rehm: So even speaking with General Jones, he did not give you a reason?
Anthony Zinni: He did not. Our last conversation, right after that was "Well I'll get back to you as I find out." And, you know, that was in January and then I have not heard anything about it. Not that I'm, again, I'm not interested anymore in what happened.
Diane Rehm: Of course you're not interested anymore since it's over and done with. On the other hand, as a human being, if I had been in your position, I would have felt really stung.
Anthony Zinni: Yeah -- well, yes. I guess the best way to describe my feelings, was I was disappointed because there were many friends and people I respected tremendously in this process and, uh, so that-that created a disappointment and confusion on my part as to what exactly happened.
If it's any consulation to Zinni, anyone paying attention can see that Chris Hill and his 'expertise' did much harm to Iraq.
Al Mada reports that another brigade of of US soldiers have arrived in Iraq to help the others US soldiers who began inspecting Iranian planes crossing over Iraq to Syria (the others began last week). Look for the US press to ignore this news that's been reported for a week now in Iraq. To continue to ignore. Saturday, Al Mada reported that the US military has entered Baghdad International Airport and taken over the inspection of all Iranian planes en route to Syria. In addition, the US is monitoring the Iraqi Centeral Bank (allegedly out of concern that funds are being diverted to Syria). Monday Kitabat reported that on Sunday the US took the lead in the inspections. This may account for the Iranian government's sudden desire to comment on the search policy. Two weeks ago, when Iraqis inspected the first Iranian plane bound for Syria, there was no real comment from the Iranian regime. Suddenly, it's an issue, a very big issue. Hard to believe the reports of the US now handling the inspections isn't responsible for some of the warning statements from the Iranian government. Those who don't read Arabic can refer to this Aswat al-Iraq article which covers the Al Mada's report from last Saturday, "Iraqi al-Mada daily quoted an official that a US force entered Baghdad International Airport and became responsible of searching Iranian planes heading for Syria through Iraqi airspace."
Ali Abdelamir (Al-Monitor) reports that "senior Iranian security leaders" are visiting Iraq including the Minister of Defense Ahmad Wahidi:
According to the spokesman for the Iraqiya List, Haydar al-Mulla, the meetings between the Iranian Defense Minister and Iraqi officials in Samara constituted a violation of national sovereignty. He stressed that "the danger of the Iranian defense minister's visit to Samara lies in his meetings with Iraqi security leaders, which constituted a violation to the most basic concepts of national sovereignty."
Mulla criticized the amicable position of some Iraqi forces toward Tehran, paving the way for Iranian influence and control.
"Iran is addressing Iraq as if it were its own subsidiary, with the blessing of some political parties," he said. "One of the major problems today in Iraq, after 2003, is the double standards and selective application of the constitution and laws. We, as the Iraqiya List, are keen to adopt the best relations for Iraq with neighboring countries, whether Arab or not," he added.


Meanwhile the September 27 attack on the prison in Tikrit is back in the news.  Kitabat reports that the attack that resulted in at least 16  deaths and injuries as well as over 100 escapees is being claimed by the Islamic State of Iraq.  They claimed credit for the attack, boasted that they had infiltrated the prison and smuggled guns and bombs inside.  Alsumaria adds that today's announcement also stated that five members of the Islamic State of Iraq had been killed in the operation.  AFP states 102 inmates "escaped during the assault, including 47 members of the ISI" and that four were said to have been killed and 23 recaptured which would mean 77 remain at large weeks later.  July 22nd, the Islamic State of Iraq released an audio recording announcing a new campaign of violence entitled Breaking The Walls which would include prison breaks and killing "judges and investigators and their guards." Since they made their July announcement there have been minor and major attacks throughout Iraq.

Part of the reason for the Islamic State of Iraq's successes of late is that they have a cause that is sympathetic when they focus on prisoners due to the fact that the Iraqi prison system has become a labyrinth that few ever escape from.   The disappeared are often impossible for the families to track and often wait years and years for a court appearance that may or may not come.  When Nouri was interested in looking like a leader to the American people -- a portion of 2007 and 2008 -- he spoke about the need to pass an amnesty law.  Nothing was ever passed.  His State of Law remains the biggest obstacle to an amnesty law.  All Iraq News notes that the Kurdistan Alliance is calling for the amnesty bill to contain more guidelines and that Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi has postponed the latest scheduled vote to Saturday.  Al-Shorfa maintains, "The presidency of the Iraqi Parliament on Friday (October 12th) said it will excluse those who committed terrorist crimes from a draft law that could give all Iraqi prisoners amnesty." The Saudi Gazette reports 3 Saudis in a Baghdad prison are on a hunger strike and have been for 20 days.  The three are death row prisoners.  At least 119 people have been executed in Iraq so far this year.
On Parliament, Alsumaria notes the infrastructure bill is also supposed to be voted on Saturday.  The legislative body recently scheduled a month long vacation to begin in November.  Al Mada reports that Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al-Mutlaq is calling on the members of Parliament to postpone the vacation until an amnesty law is passed. 

All Iraq News reports that human rights activist Haitham Mohamed Ibrahim has been arrested in Mosul after Governor Ethel al-Nujaifi swore out a complaint against him.  For what isn't stated.  al-Nujaifi is not just the governor of Nineveh Province, he is also the brother of Speaker of Parliament Osama al-Nujaifi.   In other surprising news, Alsumaria reports that they have official documents revealing vast wasted public funds on a parcel of land that a hosptial was supposed to be built upon in Karbala.  But the big government news for Iraqi outlets continues to be Nouri's weapons shopping spree this week, $4.2 billion to Russia for weapons and an undisclosed sum to the Czech Republic for more.

Alsumaria notes yestereday's press conference in Prague where Nouri announced the agreement with the Czech Republic but was coy on details such as the value of the weapons contract.  Suadad al-Salhy and Jason Hovet (Reuters) estimate the deal is worth "about $1 billion." So the Czech Republic deal and the Russian deal are worth over $5 billion dollars.  Haifa Zaiter (Al-Monitor) offers some interpretations of the deals including: 
Ihsan al-Shammari, a professor of political science at Baghdad University, explains this idea to As-Safir. According to the professor, the Kurds feel the most threatened by this visit. They believe that arms in the hands of Maliki would pose a major threat to their historic dream of secession, which was further promoted when the Syrian crisis erupted.
Moreover, the divide within the Iraqi domestic arena has surfaced again, between those who support an alliance between Baghdad and Tehran, on the one hand, and between Baghdad and Washington on the other. There is another emerging camp, which believes that US influence will not be harmed as a result of this visit, especially given that Maliki is not able to escape from under the US umbrella.
This point of view is supported by Abdel Halilm al-Rahimi, an Iraqi writer and politician, who told As-Safir that Iraq has a "strategic alliance" with the US, and it would not be in Iraq's interest to harm it.


Through yesterday, Iraq Body Count counts 65 people killed in Iraq from violence this month so far.  Alsumaria reports 1 Iraqi soldier was shot dead in Saydiya.   Alsumaria also reports 1 women's corpse was discovered in Nineveh (shot dead) and  1 man's corpse found in Nineveh Province (he had been kidnapped three days before). 
In related news, Al Mada notes State of Law is insisting that the continued absenses of heads of the security ministries is not Nouri's fault.  They insist that he can only take names and nominate them apparently trying to insist that its the responsibility of someone else to come up with names for nominations.  Maybe that's written into the Erbil Agreement?  If not and if we're going by Iraq's Constitution, it's Nouri's job to come up with nominees.  All Iraq News reports that Iraqiya MP Khalid al-Alouni has declared that Nouri only wants nominees from his own State of Law political slate.
Wednesday the US House Oversight Committee held a hearing in the September 11, 2012 attack on the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.  We covered this in the Thursday's "Iraq snapshot" and Wednesday's "Iraq snapshot."  Ava covered it with "2 disgrace in the Committee hearing,Kat covered it in "What we learned at today's hearing"  and  Wally  covered it in "The White House's Jimmy Carter moment."  If we had more room, we'd note variations on the following.
Committee Chair Darrell Issa: More importantly, they held a broad news conference over the phone in which they made it very clear that it had never been the State Department's position -- I repeat, never been the State Department's position -- that in fact this assault was part of a reaction to a video or the like.  This is corroborated by numerous witnesses and whistle blowers.  Contrary to early assertions by the administration, let's understand, there was no protest.  And cameras reveal that.  And the State Department, the FBI and others have that video.
Over and over, we heard about this.  Over and over, in the hearing, the State Dept talked about this.
The press isn't doing their damn job.  If you doubt me on that, please note that not only has the video been widely dispersed within the administration, it is a little over fifty minutes long and Issa, in questioning the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy in open session on Wednesday, established that a government body is keeping the tape from the American people and from the Congress.  That government is not the FBI nor is it any division of "law enforcement."  This was also established in open session.  The press should have run with that, headlines should have asked who has this tape, why is it being kept from the American people and from the Congress? 
The White House repeatedly lied about the attacks.  Claimed it was due to a video.  Claimed it was protesters.  Lie, lie, lie.  A government body now has the tape.  The FBI states they are done with the tape, they have no objection to Congress having the tape.  What body is keeping the tape from Congress?  That's what the press should be asking.  They should also be asking why the tape is being kept from Congress?
Four Americans were killed in the attacks: Glen Doherty, Sean Smith, Ambassador Chris Stevens and Tyrone Woods.  Wednesday night, Sean Smith's mother Pat Smith spoke with Anderson Cooper for CNN's Anderson Cooper 360Here and here for video, here for transcript.  Here's an excerpt of Pat Smith speaking about her son:
COOPER: Pat, I appreciate you being with us. And I'm just so sorry for your loss. What do you want people to know about your son, about Sean?

PAT SMITH, SON KILLED IN BENGHAZI ATTACK: Well, god. He was my only child. And he was good, he was good at what he did, he'd loved it.

COOPER: He loved working with computers?

SMITH: Computers, radios. He was good at what he did.

COOPER: Was that something he had done as a kid? I mean how did -- did he always -- was he always good with computer?

SMITH: Well, when he was a kid, computers weren't out yet. And --


And then they were out and he -- I got a computer and he started playing with them and he started showing me how you could build a flame thrower and -- by just watching a computer and then told you how to do it. So that's how it started.
We'll note another excerpt later in the interview.  The administration promised Pat Smith she would be given answers about how her son died.  She has not been given information.
COOPER: Who told you that they would give you information?

SMITH: You'll love this. Obama told me. Hillary promised me. Joe Biden -- Joe Biden is a pleasure. He was a real sweetheart. But he also told -- they all told me that -- they promised me. And I told them please, tell me what happened. Just tell me what happened.

COOPER: So you're still waiting to hear from somebody about what happened to your son? About what they know? Or even what they don't know.

SMITH: Right. Right. Officially yes. I told them, please don't give me any baloney that comes through with this political stuff. I don't want political stuff. You can keep your political, just tell me the truth. What happened. And I still don't know. In fact, today I just heard something more that he died of smoke inhalation.

COOPER: So you don't even know the cause of death?

SMITH: I don't even know if that's true or not. No, I don't. I don't know where. I look at TV and I see bloody hand prints on walls, thinking, my god, is that my son's? I don't know if he was shot. I don't know -- I don't know. They haven't told me anything. They are still studying it. And the things that they are telling me are just outright lies.

That Susan Rice, what -- she talked to me personally and she said, she said, this is the way it was. It was -- it was because of this film that came out.

COOPER: So she told you personally that she thought it was a result of that video of the protest?

SMITH: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. In fact all of them did. All of them did. Leon Panetta actually took my face in his hands like this and he said, trust me. I will tell you what happened. And so far, he's told me nothing. Nothing at all. And I want to know.

COOPER: It's important for you to know all the details no matter how horrible.

As she knows, she was lied to.  And the White House has made no effort to correct those lies to her.