Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Not counting special operations soldiers, there are 1225 US troops in Iraq since Barack began sending troops in this summer.

When the number was 300, I was appalled by how few could speak out.

The number is now four times that amount and the silence has yet to be broken.

In fact, it seems to be growing.

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2014.  Chaos and violence continue, from boastful v.p.s to minimizing Pentagon flacks, it's a wealth of embarrassment . . .

We've heard of an embarrassment of riches, right?  Today, it's just a wealth of embarrassments as far as the eye can see.

Take US Vice President Joe Biden.  I know Joe.  I like Joe -- hell, I love Joe.

But come on.

David Sharp (AP) quotes Joe declaring today that "they [the Islamic State] should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice.  Because hell is where they'll reside."

Now look, if Joe wants to visit Dick and Lynne Cheney, that's his business and right, but leave out all this "we" stuff because the bulk of us have no desire to go to hell and visit the Cheneys.

On a more serious note, it has to be asked, "At the gates of hell, what will you be doing, Joe?"

Lawyering up? 

I ask because you could have served in Vietnam.  Unlike many women and men (including me), you didn't oppose the war so, being a man, you could have served in combat.

You didn't.

You weren't even a photographer like Al Gore.

So at the gates of hell, what exactly are you able to do?

For your own safety, Joe, you need to ask that question.

For others also.

Always a lot of male bragging, very little actual male bravery.

Take "Ali."  He's an Iraqi soldier -- one Human Rights Watch trusted.

I wouldn't trust him.

His unit made the mistake of trusting him, he's alive and they're dead.

Heather Saul (Belfast Telegraph) explains Ali claims he survived the executions most Iraqi soldiers he was with experienced.

He crawled away wounded?

No, he played dead.

Let's get bravery clear, a young girl, Anne Frank, living in hiding is brave.  Anne had no gun, Anne had no combat training, she was not part of a military unit.

You may call someone with a gun and training who refuses to use both to take out the enemy or attempt to save those he or she was serving with "lucky" (you might not) but most people wouldn't repeat the story.

Most people would realize they look a little weak and cowardly.

I don't believe in war and if Ali put down his gun in protest of death and destruction, I'd be the first to applaud him for that.

But that didn't happen, did it?

Ali was and remains pro-war.  He's willing for the fighting to continue.

But, as we've now learned, when push comes to shove, he'll pretend to be dead while his unit is shot and killed.  He'll save his own life by refusing to risk it to help out his comrades.

I don't know why you'd trust a word out of the mouth of Ali.

Again, give me a Kyle Snyder, a Joshua Key, someone who is opposed to the war and I'll back them and applaud them.  But give me a pro-war man or woman who, in combat, refuses to defend his or her fellow soldiers?

That's a coward.

And it's a shame his unit didn't know that going into the battle against the Islamic State.

Let's move over to gas bags.

First, Jon Lee Anderson is a liar.  We'll come back to that but we've long called the liar out.

Jon wants death and destruction.

No surprise at all.

Jon's nonsense allows Jeffrey Goldberg to play the sane person in the world and who would have thought that was possible?

Here's the exchange:

Let's get back to liar Jon. 

If you're a certain age you may not remember when a Koran supposedly started riots -- the disrespect of the Koran.  Actually, that was a smear campaign against journalism, an attempt to lie and claim this is why truth must be kept from people.  When Newsweek reported that US troops had disrespected a Koran, it led to riots and violence in Afghanistan.

It was a lie.

It was the war on the press that never ends.

Air America Radio was largely a joke.

Laura Flanders was the network's best program.

At this point, her weekend show was The Laura Flanders Show and it was three hours live radio on Saturday and three hours live radio on Sunday.  She had Jon Lee Anderson on and he babbled on about how Newsweek's report caused the violence.

She asked him for his opinion.  She gave him the opportunity to dissent from the pack.

He refused.

Here's some truth about those riots:

On May 11th, riots broke out in the city of Jalalabad, in eastern Afghanistan. The violence followed a Newsweek story -- which has since been retracted -- on new allegations that American interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. In the next few days, the protests spread to the capital, Kabul, and throughout the country. In some provincial towns, police fired into crowds. But early on there were signs that the violence had less to do with Newsweek than with Afghanistan's President, Hamid Karzai.On the first night of rioting, copies of an anonymous letter circulated in the streets of Kabul. This Night Letter, as it was called, was a vehement exhortation to Afghans to oppose Karzai, whom it accused of being un-Islamic, an ally of the Taliban, and a "U.S.A. servant." The letter said that Karzai had put the interests of his "evil master" ahead of those of Afghans, and it called for leaders who were proven patriots, mujahideen -- a synonym, in this case, for members of the Northern Alliance, many of whom are now warlords and regional strongmen -- to defy him. The timing was opportune: Karzai was on a trip to Europe, in search of financial backing. His next destination was Washington, where he planned to discuss a pact that would guarantee the United States a long-term military presence in Afghanistan.
Karzai seemed unsure of how to respond. Even as the unrest continued, he stuck to his itenerary and, from Brussels, called the riots a "manifestation of democracy." When he finally arrived home, several days later, he held a press conference, at which he blamed unspecified "enemies of peace" for the violence. He asked, "Who are they who have such enmity with Afghnistan, a nation that is begging for money to build the country and construct buildings and during the night they come and destroy it?"

Okay, C.I., so Jon Lee Anderson was wrong and didn't know about the article you're quoting.


Possibly if he types in his sleep.

He wrote that article and was published before he went on The Laura Flanders Show.  That's why Laura repeatedly gave him a pathway to expand or deny the allegations that Newsweek was the cause.

He refused to.

June 6, 2005, he wrote "The Man In the Palace: Hamid Karzai and the dilemma of being Afghanistan's President"  (The New Yorker) which the quote is from.

Jon Lee Anderson is a joke.

You can ride high atop your pony
I know you won't fall
'cause the whole thing's phoney.
You can fly swingin' from your trapeze
Scaring all the people
But you never scare me
-- "Bella Donna," written by Stevie Nicks, first appears on her album Bella Donna.

He'll never scare me.  People who sell out their own investigative reporting to run with the pack never scare me.

They sadden me.

They sicken me.

But they never scare me.

And the Pentagon spokesperson just makes me laugh.  Rebecca Shabad (The Hill) reports he's denying mission creep is taking place:

“Mission creep means that the mission itself, the objectives change over time, they expand. It doesn't refer to intensity of operation. It doesn't refer to the number of troops,” Rear Adm. John Kirby said in an interview on CNN’s “New Day.”  
“These extra personnel are going to go in to provide additional security assistance in and around Baghdad, particularly around our embassy facilities, and that's all they are going to be doing,” Kirby explained. “It's going to be security and defensive work just to help protect our diplomats and our civilians that are working there in Baghdad.”

He's splitting hairs, actually.

There is no mission creep thus far.

There's only creep.

Because there is no mission.

US President Barack Obama tosses off a few chest thumping statements and that's about it for a 'mission.' 

Despite the tough guy statements, things continue to get worse and?

Barack tosses another couple of hundred US troops onto the fire -- or, if you prefer, into the kitty -- gambling with the lives of Americans while he tries to figure out what to do.

It's an embarrassment.  So was the State Dept's press briefing today moderated by spokesperson Jen Psaki.

QUESTION: In terms of U.S. coalition building --

MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: -- is there a certain timeframe that the U.S. has in mind in which it would like to see enough partners onboard to proceed to the next step in terms of Iraq and Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I wouldn’t equate it as being until we have a coalition of X number of partners there won’t be additional action. Obviously, we’ve already taken steps in Iraq and there are a range of countries that have taken steps. This is a process that will be ongoing. As the President said, this is not a challenge that can be addressed overnight, and so certainly we’ll have an ongoing discussion about the capabilities and capacities of different countries in this regard, and that’s one that we’re obviously spending a great deal of time focused on over the coming weeks. So we’ll see where we end at the end of that period of time.


MS. PSAKI: Mm-hmm.

QUESTION: What about Iran’s role? Will you accept Iran to participate in the global coalition?

MS. PSAKI: They’re not a country – that’s a country that, as we’ve noted in the past, they can play a role by encouraging inclusivity and encouraging all of the different political sects to work together in Iraq, but beyond that, no, we’re not working with Iran on this regard.

QUESTION: I’m trying to drill down a little bit on this coalition thing, but I won’t take long. I promise.

MS. PSAKI: Okay.

QUESTION: Of the three most recent coalitions that the U.S. has put together – the Gulf War coalition, first one; the post-9/11 coalition, war on terrorism; and then the coalition of the willing for the second Iraq war – they were all kind of formalized. There was a list put together by people in this building and at the White House and at the Pentagon. Is this that same kind of thing, or is it more of an informal collection of countries that are not going to be identified as a coalition of the willing or a coalition of whatever it is that one decides it’s going to be called?

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we have to see, Matt. I mean there are countries that --

QUESTION: Well, what’s the idea? What’s the President – what is it the President and the Secretary want? Do they want that kind of a coalition where you’re either signed up, on board, you’ve checked off the list? Or is it more of just a kind of a loose --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t think the requirement is that a country signs a document. I think there --

QUESTION: You know what I mean. I mean is it going to be some kind of grand, formal coalition, or is it just kind of a loose association of people of likeminded countries?

MS. PSAKI: It’s really more the latter, Matt, but obviously we’re at a stage in this where we are just beginning the discussions about --

QUESTION: All right.

MS. PSAKI: -- what roles individual countries can play.

QUESTION: All right. But you said that there’s no geographic limit to this, but you’ve ruled out two countries so far as participating I think, Syria and Iran.

MS. PSAKI: I said it’s not limited by geography. It doesn’t mean that every country in the world --

QUESTION: Unless your geography is Syria or Iran.

MS. PSAKI: Well, what I was conveying, which I think I explained in the context --


MS. PSAKI: -- was that there are countries in Asia and other parts of the world --


MS. PSAKI: -- that are not next to Syria --

QUESTION: Fair enough.

MS. PSAKI: -- that will play a role.

QUESTION: What about Russia? Are they – no, I’m serious. I mean is – are Russia – I mean the Russians have been allied with President Assad, who you say is not welcome to join. Are they worthy of admission or worthy of consideration for admission? Or should they not even bother to apply – don’t write the essay, don’t --

MS. PSAKI: That’s not how we’re looking at this, Matt. I think, obviously, if countries want to play a constructive role in the fight against ISIL that that’s a discussion we’re happy to have. But I think there are a range of countries that have been more constructive in this regard.

QUESTION: And your ultimate goal, is it the destruction of ISIL? Is that the ultimate goal? Or is it wider than that, to ensuring stability in Iraq and ensuring stability in Syria?

MS. PSAKI: Well, it’s --

QUESTION: What’s the ultimate goal of this coalition?

MS. PSAKI: It’s both. I mean, you want to end the threat that – from ISIL that the region is facing. Obviously, destroying and degrading ISIL would be – would result in that. But certainly, that’s part of an effort to strengthen countries in the region as well, and other steps that countries in the region have to take on their own even as we’re encouraging them – Iraq and others that are forming a government or taking more productive steps to be more cohesive and --

And so it goes, it's left to Jen Psaki, a State Dept spokesperson to take the questions Barack refuses to.

In a bright moment on an otherwise dull day, a bit of sense came from, of all places, Democracy Now!  Iraqi journalist Mohammed al-Dulaimy was a guest and at one point got to explain how support grew for IS in Iraq, "But I can tell you one thing that I know for sure, that the indiscriminate use of weapons against civilians by the Iraqi government is the number one. And we’ve talked to dozens of people who were so happy that the U.S. is involving, so at least a minimum casualties will happen among civilians, and especially among Sunnis. And that is what ISIS is afraid, that the people now look to the U.S. as a force that will try to bring minimal casualties to civilians."

It would be great if a real conversation followed but that was it.  And, let's note, Mohammed brought the reality in on his own.

amy goodman