Monday, August 16, 2021

The lies of Russia-gate

The liars thought they could get away with it.  Smearing President Donald Trump with lies about Russia was very successful for several years.  But now everyone knows better -- even the liars who pretend otherwise.  

They lied and they planned the lie ahead of time.  President Barack Obama lied to the American people.  He knew in July of 2016 that Hillary Clinton was planning to use the lies about Russia to get people to stop talking about her e-mails and the criminal investigation into them.

A new report is due from an ongoing investigation.  Jonathan Turley writes:

The report in The Wall Street Journal said Durham is presenting evidence against FBI agents and possibly others in the use of false information or tips at the start of the Russia investigation in 2016. Those “others” could include a virtual who’s who of Washington politics, and even if they are not indicted, Durham could implicate some of the most powerful figures in politics in his final report, expected in the coming months.

Even for those of us who followed and wrote on the Russia investigation for five years, much has been revealed in the last year. It was disclosed in October, for instance, that President Obama was briefed by his CIA director, John Brennan, on July 28, 2016, on intelligence suggesting that Hillary Clinton planned to tie then-candidate Donald Trump to Russia as “a means of distracting the public from her use of a private email server.” The date was significant because the Russia investigation was initiated July 31, 2016, just three days later.

Throughout the campaign, the Clinton campaign denied any involvement in the creation of the so-called Steele dossier’s allegations of Trump-Russia connections. However, weeks after the election, journalists discovered that the Clinton campaign hid payments for the dossier made to a research firm, Fusion GPS, as “legal fees” among the $5.6 million paid to the campaign’s law firm. New York Times reporter Ken Vogel said at the time that Clinton lawyer Marc Elias, with the law firm of Perkins Coie, denied involvement in the anti-Trump dossier. When Vogel tried to report the story, he said, Elias “pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong.’” Times reporter Maggie Haberman declared, “Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year.”

It was not just reporters who asked the Clinton campaign about its role in the Steele dossier. John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chairman, was questioned by Congress and denied categorically any contractual agreement with Fusion GPS. Sitting beside him was Elias, who reportedly said nothing to correct the misleading information given to Congress.

It was later revealed that American intelligence viewed Steele as unreliable and believed his dossier was used by Russian intelligence to plant disinformation. Later reports show that Steele shopped the information to any reporters who would listen before the election and that there was an effort to get the information to trusted figures in the Justice Department.


 Now video time.  Here is THE CONVO COUCH.



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

 Monday, August 16, 2021.  War Hawks are dismayed over Afghanistan (they're suddenly concerned about bloodshed, aren't they?), Iraq remains a disaster and October elections remain iffy.

On Afghanistan, Glenn Greenwald offers these Tweets:

Both Trump and Biden were adamant about withdrawing all US troops from Afghanistan, and both were right. That country doesn't belong to the US and the US can't run it forever. But the idea that problems with withdrawal plans belongs to anyone but Biden is preposterous.

The US Government and Pentagon leadership lied for years about the progress being made in fortifying the Afghan Security Forces. The USG always lies to its citizenry systematically about its wars. It's vital to remember that at the start.

I don't see how the US could have left without a Taliban takeover. "The Taliban" were always the Afghan people. There was no way to eradicate them as had been promised & *claimed* going back to Bush. But if you are someone who thinks the withdrawal plan was bad, that's Biden.
Send Liz Cheney and Jonah Goldberg and the rest of the bloodthirsty neocon monsters and their kids to go fight for Kandahar and Kabul. The US military is a machine built to defend and destroy, not save and transform other people's countries. Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya.
From *July* - just 6 weeks ago. Watch how US leaders say anything, no matter how false:

Things to note.  Should Joe elect to pull some troops from Iraq, Afghanistan will be tossed out as an example of why not to.

Afhgnistan is seeing a huge shift right now.  And?

That shift would have happened in 2004 or 2009 or 2012 or 2015 or 2026.  That's what's most likely going to happen in Iraq as well.  You'll see the installed government propped up by the US fall.  It's not a real government.  It doesn't serve the Iraqi people.  You want to keep it in place?  You better keep US troops on Iraqi soil forever.  And pray there's no revolution like what happened in Iran when the US-installed Shah was overthrown in 1979.

The lesson should not be, "Oh, we should have kept US troops in Afghanistan longer!!!!"  The lesson should be that new governments that are imposed on a people -- and that are corrupt -- have no real roots in that society.  That should be the lesson.  

A little context would go a long way.

So when a liar like Morgan Ortagus shows up and she just wants to inform you, understand, that Ryan Crocker is upset with Joe Biden and blah blah blah.

F**k Morgan.  She's a damn liar.  Ryan Crocker has been upset with Joe Biden since 2008 -- probaby before then.  But anyone who caught The David Petraeus and Ryan Crocker Comedy Hour in April of 2008 -- and we caught -- and covered here -- every Congressional appearance that week -- is fully aware that Ryan Crocker has nothing kind to say about Joe Biden and never has had anything kind to say about him.

Ryan now wants you to know he has doubts about Joe's abilities as commander-in-chief.

Gee, Ry, maybe the time to express that was before the election or during the primary -- if you really wanted to make a difference that is and not just bitch uselessly.  Robert Gates made it clear.  You didn't.  There's nothing that would happen differently if the US pulled some troops out of Afghanistan in 2027.  Get honest.  

I also don't see the shock over how quickly this happened, how quickly the Taliban took over.  They were never vanquished.  The government presented as an alternative to them was highly corrupt.  Did no one listen once to Sarah Chayes when she warned repeatedly what was taking place in the country.

Those expressing shock and surprise over the events -- whether it's neocons or Ryan Crocker -- are just demonstrating that for all their pretense to be realists and the grown ups in the room, they are incredibly immature and stunted.

We've said the US needs to pull all troops out of Iraq immediately and we've noted the US propped government will probably fall when that happens.  

That's reality.

And your alternative is to use US tax dollars and US lives to prop up a government that's being imposed and is not popular, one that will fail the minute US troops leave.  

Some are saying that this is a bad time for Afghanistan.  The world -- and history -- are full of bad times.  This is an opportunity that can be taken to make a new Afghanistan.  Will that happen?  I have no idea but, more to the point, that's really not up to me -- not up to what I want.  I don't live there.  It's time for the people of Afghanistan to attempt to make their country what they want.  Maybe that's the Taliban.  Maybe that's something opposed to the Taliban or instead of the Taliban.

But its the future and it's their history to chart.

Self-determination -- a concept we're all supposed to believe in.

Afghanistan doesn't really matter to those clucking right now.  I hope people grasp that but they may not.  It's all for show.  Iraq's the bigger prize and the one the war mongers want to continue to hold onto.  (The Taliban back in charge?  Oh, guess that means things are more likely for that pipeline that had Bill Clinton making nice with them back in the 90s.  Or are we all going to look the other way now that Gore Vidal's dead and unable to speak those plain truths?)

There's no turning back on Afghanistan.  Even liars like Morgan and Ryan know that.  The US is not going to stand for a grand invasion of Afghanistan.  

This chatter is about Iraq.  About making the argument why this can't happen in oil rich Iraq, in Iraq that neighbors US government enemy Iran, the country that is of strategic importance.

Of Iraq, we have said all along that when US troops are removed, peace will not happen.  It will be a lively -- and most likely bloody -- scramble as people move for control.  But it's up to the Iraqi people to respond to that, it's up to the Iraqi people to shape their world.

And they can't do that when US forces are used to prop up a corrupt government that does not represent the people.

Ryan's fabled judgment has always been questionable.  And I wouldn't be surprised  -- if his carping takes hold -- if the White House doesn't start speaking to the press -- on background, of course -- about Ryan's longterm and well known drinking problem that he was never smart enough to seek treatment for even after his drunk driving arrest.  Sorry, that wasn't kind.  I should have said "after his first drunk driving arrest."  There.  I feel better.  Don't you?

In other words, Morgan, you'll probably need to find someone else to hide behind to make your current attacks on Joe Biden.

I have many problems with Joe Biden as president.  His making a move to reduce the US troop presence in Afghanistan is not one of them.  

AL-BAWABA reports:

Many young Iraqis in Baghdad make an effort to be hip, even as they admit their country may have no future.

In Baghdad "there are very few places for young people" to go, and they feel stifled by "conservative" Iraqi society. People still keep boys and girls apart. 

'We'd like to have a bit of support. It would be nice if Iraqi television did a report on us', they say. 

As for the coronavirus, like 95 percent of Iraq's 40 million people, isn't vaccinated. The number of daily infections is running at around 10,000.

What about politics?
Young people hate this subject. Especially for those who joined the unprecedented October 2019 uprising against corruption and mismanagement.

- Vote? No way -

At least 70 activists have been targeted for murder or kidnapping by unidentified groups. The activists believe these are Shiite militias financed by and linked to Iran.

Feel free to look away, many people do look away from reality.  But that's what life is in Iraq.  Pretend it's different if you can't face the truth.  It's hard for some to face reality.  They lost someone in the war or they can't admit that they were a damn stupid fool for trusting a politician -- be it Bully Boy Bush or Barack Obama -- so they rush to grasp the fairy tale that somehow life was better for the Iraqis (or the Afghans) .  It's not reality but it does help many slumber . . . in dangerous stupidity.

Face reality, even all this time later.  You'll be like Bette Davis already having killed Joan Crawford in WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? but at least, on the beach, as she's dying, you can say, "You mean all of this time we could have been friends?"

We certainly could have been something more than occupier and occupied.

Dilan Sirwan (RUDAW) reports:

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Saturday called on displaced Christians to return to Iraq, and while Christian religious figures consider it as an “honest and sincere” gesture, some have told Rudaw that Christians need more to be able to return home.

Kadhimi met on Saturday with the Cardinal Mar Louis Raphael Sako, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church, and an accompanying delegation of bishops across Iraq and the globe.

“The Prime Minister called on Christian immigrants and from the rest of the Iraqi sects to return to Iraq, the country of all, stressing that full support will be provided to facilitate this return and stability,” read a statement from his office.

Kadhimi’s call comes as only a few hundred thousand Christians are left in the country. Following the US-led invasion of 2003, sectarian warfare prompted followers of Iraq’s multiple Christian denominations to flee, and attacks by  the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2014 hit minority communities especially hard. According to data from Erbil’s Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda, there were more than one million Christians in Iraq before 2003. Fewer than 300,000 remain today.

Many Christians displaced to the Kurdistan Region had previously told Rudaw English that the best option for them is to leave the country.

Iraqi Christians, please come back.  Mustafa won't protect you -- he doesn't protect the protesters -- but you can be targets.  Remember the infamous attack on Our Lady of Salvation?  That was a massacre.  Mustafa wouldn't be able to prevent that.  Thug Nouri al-Maliki couldn't prevent it, so weak Mustafa has no hope of preventing it.  It's what dispersed the Christian population from Baghdad, remember?

And things are not better in Iraq.

So either Mustafa wants some fresh targets for the militias he can't control or he's just willing to say anything to make himself look better in the hopes of getting a second term as prime minister.

Mustafa Shilani (KURDISTAN 24) serves up some more reality:

Iraq has ranked extremely poorly in an annual index published in the Global Youth Development Report 2020.

It was published by The Commonwealth, an intergovernmental association "of 54 countries working towards shared goals of prosperity, democracy, and peace," supported "by a network of more than 80 organizations."

The new report ranks 181 different nations around the world according to significant developments in youth education, employment, health, equality and integration, peace and security, and political and civic participation. Primary indicators also included literacy and the right to vote, among 1.8 billion people around the world between the ages of 15 and 29.

Overall, Iraq ranked 168th in the global index of 181 nations, scoring at the lowest level in youth development, along with several other nations that have faced conflict and large numbers of displacement over recent years.

That's the reality for the Iraqi people.  Do not, for one minute, think they look in awe on the man the US has imposed on them as prime minister.  Do not think, for one minute, that this awful and ongoing war has improved their lives. 

Let's note this:

The High Independent Electoral Commission in Iraq has announced the presence of 130 international observers in all of Iraq, to ​​monitor the electoral process and provide support and technical advice to the commission.

The Commission added in a statement today, Sunday, and was quoted by media premises, which the Electoral Assistance Office of the United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) is working to complete preparations and preparations related to monitoring the electoral process.

The statement also made it clear that the mission’s work duties were expanded to include monitoring the election process, as well as providing technical support and advice to the commission.

Oh, is that what's going to happen -- going to?  Has the crystal ball been pulled out or maybe runes cast?  Because we've repeatedly said that they're supposed to be held and they're expected to be held and we've repeatedly noted that this may not happen and that a number of obstacles are not being addressed.

Farhad Alaaldin (RUDAW) reports:                                                                             

The election date of October 10 is fast approaching, yet political parties have not started any actual electioneering and are not spending their budgets, which fuels speculation about a possible postponement.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, together with the president and speaker of parliament called for a meeting with political parties, the Independent High Electoral Commission, and the United Nations Mission in Iraq (UNAMI) on August 7, 2021 to talk about the elections. The prime minister's advisor for election affairs, Hussein al-Hindawi, said in a press statement that "the attendees confirmed their commitment to holding elections on October 10." 

A source who participated in the meeting confirmed that the boycott of some parties was discussed and they decided to send a delegation representing the political parties to meet with the Sadrist movement and urge it to reverse its decision to not participate in the vote.

Elections for the sake of elections

When protesters took to the streets in October 2019, they demanded a change of government and an overhaul of the entire political system. On October 28, 2019, Sadrist movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr called for early elections saying then prime minister "Adil Abdul-Mahdi must come under the dome of parliament to announce early elections, under international supervision."

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani supported this call in his Friday sermon on December 20, 2019: "The people are the source of the authorities, and from them, they derive their legitimacy – as stipulated by the constitution – and accordingly, the nearest and safest way to get out of the current crisis and avoid going to the unknown, chaos or the internal fighting – God forbid – is to return to the people by holding early elections."

His call was for elections as "the closest and safest way to get out of the crisis." The crisis at that time had reached its peak amid an escalation of demonstrators’ fervour, suppressed by the government using excessive force, which led to Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation, which in turn led to significant complications in the political scene. However, those days are over and the crises of that time no longer exist. The demonstrations have ended and the hypothesis of internal conflict is no longer present. So we must ask: Why hold elections in spite of boycotts from those who called for the early vote and what is the purpose of the election?

More worrisome to me?  A friend with the United Nations tells me that the basic steps required for the elections are still not being taken.  This is mundane work of ballots being printed, of voter rolls, ect.

Does no one remember the 2010 parliamenatary elections in Iraq?  They took place in March of 2010.  They weren't supposed to take part in March.  They weren't supposed to take place in 2010.  They didn't take place, as they were supposed to, in 2009 and that was due to a number of issues which did include th einability to ensure the basic steps ahead of the election were taken.  It also included ther refugee issue and a vice president nixing the election law.  That could happen again.  And there's been no real effort, to address refugee voting (or, for that matter, the displaced).

The following sites updated: