Sunday, March 1, 2015

The needed statement

I'll note this from Women's eNews:

(WOMENSENEWS)-- Patricia Arquette's call for women's equality during her acceptance speech at the Academy Awards earlier this week provoked a rousing response from the audience. Meryl Streep nearly jumped out of her seat with applause. I cheered too, all alone in my living room.
That people reacted so vigorously is a powerful indicator that Arquette touched on an issue people care deeply about, but is not getting the attention it deserves in society.
Indeed, most people aren't even aware that women are not fully equal citizens in this country. Think about that.
A nation where public officials routinely criticize other countries for their barbaric treatment of women is functioning under the authority of a Supreme Court that has shamelessly declared women not fully equal citizens under the 14th Amendment. It has done so by declaring in a series of notorious decisions that when women's equal protection rights are violated--and even when they endure explicit sex discrimination--it's up to the courts only in limited circumstances to provide redress and put a stop to the unequal treatment.

If you're a community member, you get the gina & krista round-robin and I bring that up because we are planning to develop the points C.I. and Betty raised about the nonsense attacks on Patricia Arquette that followed, the standard she was held to that others at the awards show were not.

I will repeat, I applaud Patricia Arquette.

And I found nothing offensive in her speech or in her remarks after.

I think there's a desire to attack women -- especially blond ones -- and I find it so interesting that Patricia was attacked while a man was not.

I'm not talking about Sean Penn.

Like others watching, I just nodded along during the speech that was inaccurate and actually offensive.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Saturday, February 28, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, a lot of gabbing over the attack on the Mosul Museum but not any real analysis, Barack's desire for combat troops gathers more attention, is the Islamic State just desperate for more press or are they carrying out large acts as part of a farewell to Mosul, and much more

A friend who's a TV actress can talk Iraq every few months.  Whenever there's a story, for example, about how zoo animals are hunted in Iraq, she's all over it.  She's outraged.  She's angry.  Her speech can go on for 90 minutes -- and it is a speech, it's not a conversation.

And I guess I should be grateful that in a world of apathy -- in the United States of Apathy -- she thinks passionately about Iraq at all.

But, no offense to the big game animals, I'm really more concerned with human life in Iraq.  I didn't notice, for example, anyone getting upset about the slaughter when new buildings or US outposts in Iraq were accompanied by the ritualistic slaughter/sacrifice of an animal.

I bring this up because in Thursday's snapshot we quoted the Metropolitan Museum on the attack on the Mosul Museum.

We could have quoted any number of organizations or what have you.  To me, however, if it's a museum that's attacked, let's listen to what another museum is saying.  And I think it's valid for museums around the world to issue statements.

But there's valid and then there's questionable.

A.R. Williams (National Geographic) reports:

Islamic State militants released a video on Thursday showing the destruction of priceless antiquities in northern Iraq.
Running for more than five minutes, the video records men toppling statues in a museum and smashing them with sledgehammers, and attacking other statues at an archaeological site with a jackhammer.

And I think about it and, yeah, this is something National Geographic should be on, it's their reporting beat.  The Guardian carries a column by Haifa Zangana which notes:

Earlier attacks on Mosul’s heritage by Isis targeted the tomb of Nabi Yunus (the prophet Jonah), and the grave of Abu al-Hassan al-Jazari, a 12th- and 13th-century historiographer known as ibn al-Athir.
The destruction of Mosul’s history is a crime against people who are proud of their education and heritage, and fully aware of the value, for example, of the library of Ashurbanipal, King of Assyria (668-627BC), with its 22,000 cuneiform tablets. Destruction of monuments that have been preserved through 14 centuries of Islam in Iraq is widely abhorred. These actions can be likened to the barbarism of an extreme sect in early Islam that demolished the shrine in Mecca.

And there's no question Iraqi novelist Haifa should be weighing in.  But Pravada's got a report that opens, "Islamic State has committed yet another atrocity, adding vandalism and desecration of world cultural heritage to its list of crimes. UNESCO has expressed outrage over the attack on Mosul Museum and the destruction of statues and other artefacts, and has called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council."  And AFP's report notes, "Archaeologists and heritage experts called for urgent action to protect the remains of some of oldest civilisations in the world."  BBC offers, "The reported destruction of the statues follows recent reports that IS burnt down Mosul Library, which housed over 8,000 ancient manuscripts."  And CNN has filed multiple stories including this one.

And we could go on and on with all the outlets filing stories.

But here's the thing, I can remember when Nouri used his Minister of the Interior to go after Iraq's LGBT and Emo and suspected LGBT and Emo communities.

And I can remember the reality -- not spin, not rumors -- of the violent deaths by stoning (often with bricks) or super-gluing the anuses, etc.

And I can remember the US press and the world press ignoring it for weeks and weeks.

I can remember getting traction with friends in the music press (including one who got a deal that I would stop slamming him if his publication tackled the story) and how even that took forever and took a mountain of work.

I love books, I love art, I love film and music but I don't think I value art more than I value human life.

But I'm not sure our modern press can say the same.

Forget the LGBT issue for a moment, it's also true 2010 through 2014 saw a vicious government assault on the Sunnis in Iraq and very few wanted to report on it.  Some, like Patrick Cockburn, did so begrudgingly and minimized while 'covering' it.  (Which is why Patrick Cockburn's reputation is so awful in the Arab world.)

I'm an artist.  I believe in art.  But I believe we can and do create new art every day.  And if you told me a ship was sinking and we could save five people or save Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa which was also on the ship for some reason, I'd say save the five people.

That's not me calling art or culture disposable but it is me noting that people are needed for art: they're needed to appreciate it, they're needed for it to have value.

So it bothers me that when people are being killed by their own government, the world press is happy to take a pass..  But some objects being destroyed gets the attention of the entire world press.

I love animals, I love art.  I just question the priorities of a global press which repeatedly finds ways to be outraged over something other than the deliberate killing of people.

Nearly fifteen months of daily bombings of civilian areas in Iraq -- in Sunni dominate Falluja -- by the Iraqi military -- bombings that have wounded and killed thousands -- has, in nearly fifteen months, received not even 1/4 of the coverage the attack on the Mosul Museum has received in 48 hours.

Again, I question the priorities of the global press.

For decades, the joke was that UPI was the Ethel Mertz of the global press.  These days Ethel Mertz seems quite a bit loftier than any press outlet.

(That reputation preceded the Unification Church's purchase of UPI -- preceded it by decades.  Ethel Mertz is the character Vivian Vance played on I Love Lucy, a character who always enjoyed sharing a juicy tidbit with Lucille Ball's Lucy Ricardo.)

The priorities seem skewed at best.  Like with this [PDF format warning] report by alleged friends like Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization.  The report supposedly is concerned with War Crimes in Iraq.  I'm supposed to be using this site to promote it.

The fact that I was being asked (strong-armed) into promoting the Friday briefing that the report would be released at while at the same time not being able to see the report myself ahead of time was enough to set my 'Spidey sense' tingling and I said no.

And I've now read the report and I'm glad I said no.

Is that a report?

Because it reads like a cry for war.

I also don't get the bravery or the need to call out the Islamic State.

What's next?  An emergency press release announcing Adolf Hitler was evil?

Watch this: Adolf Hitler should burn in hell!

Do you know I will probably not get one e-mail complaining about that statement.

It takes no courage to call out Adolf Hitler.

It also takes no courage -- if you're outside of Iraq or Syria -- to call out the Islamic State.

But a worthless report of 38 pages goes on and on about War Crimes carried out by the Islamic State while failing to note the War Crimes of the Iraqi government. But haven't they done that for years now?  Ignore the War Crimes?  Ignore Nouri al-Maliki's goons carrying out his orders to attack peaceful protesters?  But suddenly they're concerned about Iraq.

And they've so very big and brave -- what manly men they are, rising from their haunches to bravely call out the Islamic State.

In keeping with their ground breaking announcement that the Islamic State is bad, next week Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization will announce the shocking and ground breaking news that some children hate broccoli.

During the Bully Boy Bush era, Canada largely and wisely sat out the Iraq War.  These days, it's foaming at the mouth to get in its 'kills.'  Keith Jones (WSWS) observes:

Canada’s Conservative government is steamrolling its new “anti-terrorism” bill through parliament—legislation that tramples on core democratic rights and dramatically augments the power of the state and its national-security apparatus.
The Conservatives, who last fall sent Canada to war yet again, this time in Iraq, are also plotting to involve Canada still more deeply in US imperialism’s global offensive.
In both instances, the government is justifying its actions with the claim that Canada is under attack from Islamist terrorism.
This has been a constant refrain of Prime Minster Stephen Harper and his minsters since the killing of two members of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) last October in separate incidents in St.-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec and Ottawa.

Harper and his Conservatives seized on these killings—the work of deeply troubled individuals who had no connection with each other, let alone any terrorist group in Canada or the Middle East—to advance a pre-planned right-wing agenda.

Minority Rights Group International and Unrepresented Nations & Peoples Organization churned out a report that also reads like a War Hawk attempt to spread fear and encourage more violence.  You sort of picture Stephen Harper flipping through with one hand while pulling his pud with the other.

The White House is facing severe criticism for announcing to the press last week that an attempt to drive IS out of Mosul will take place shortly -- no later than May.

Mitchell Prothero (McClatchy Newspapers) reports there are other objections to the White House announcement which include charges that the administration's underestimated the number of Islamic State fighters in Iraq and the level of their dedication:

With the legitimacy of the group’s cross-border claim of authority at stake, analysts said they found it unlikely that the Islamic State would easily give up control of Mosul or dedicate such a small force to protecting it. Many hundreds of Islamic State troops were committed to the failed effort to capture Kobani, a far less important city on the Syria-Turkey border, and Kurdish forces only 12 miles from Mosul report near-daily attacks by hundreds of Islamic State troops.
“The idea that ISIS will vacate Mosul without a substantial fight is almost laughable,” J.M. Berger, an expert on the Islamic State who’s affiliated with the Brookings Institution’s Project on U.S. Relations with the Islamic World, said in an email. “The timing of the caliphate announcement with the capture of Mosul connects the credibility of the former to their ability to hold the latter in a pretty big way. The caliphate announcement was a clear signal they don’t intend to melt away into the hills.”

Read more here:

The various experts quoted in the article may be correct.

They may be correct in full or in part.

They may also be completely wrong.

I have no idea.

But the attack on the Mosul Museum?

Is the big takeaway there really 'lost cultural heritage'?

For all the hand wringing the press has done, they seem to be missing a point.

That act seems more like a closer.

If you've got a bill of artists performing and Diana Ross is one of them, chances are Diana's closing the concert.  Because she's a closer.  She's a big deal.

The attack on the Mosul Museum could be a closer too.

Meaning the Islamic State, with the announcement from the White House about an impending attack on Mosul, may be resorting to a few last big acts as they prepare to disperse to other areas.

May be.

I have no idea.

I do know that the Islamic State tends to be elusive and while some might argue they need to hold Mosul to prove their strength, it's also true that they've held it for nearly a year and that they could move to another area of Iraq or just move to strengthen their hold in Anbar.

We noted a little while ago that the Islamic State succeeds via fear and that their actions seemed to be getting more and more desperate in order to garner attention and spread fear.

That could be all the attack on the museum was.

But it could also be part of an attempt to pull off some big moments before they begin dispersing in part or in full from Mosul.

It's amazing that so many outlets can 'cover' an event without ever offering possible reasons for the attack.

Or are we so fear-based that we convince ourselves the attack is just part of 'evil'?

The Islamic State has had a game plan from day one.

The White House mistakenly believes dropping bombs is going to take on the Islamic State.  Dropping bombs isn't even playing catch up.

Lying to the American people isn't a way to defeat the Islamic State either.  Thursday's snapshot addressed the fact that the White House clearly plans to utilize US troops in on the ground combat despite Barack Obama's June 'promise' otherwise.  That's why the AUMF if worded the way it is.

We also noted in Thursday's snapshot that it was past time people started giving serious attention to analyzing the AUMF.

Trevor Timm (Guardian) actually does give it serious attention today and notes:

In the Senate hearing this week, the discussion focused on the nebulous language in the White House’s proposed bill and whether the Obama administration actually wants a ground war or not. The President, for months, has been insisting US combat troops would not be fighting on the ground - aside from their comically narrow definition of “combat troops” - but their war resolution paints a different picture. The language says it would “not authorize the use of the United States armed forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.” (emphasis mine)
That means combat troops are on the table, the question is only for how long.

It's Trevor Timm so we're noting the above but before anyone e-mails, Timm's factually wrong.  (Is that redundant?)

Wednesday's snapshot and Thursday's snapshot cover the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that Barack's Special Presidential Envoy for The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant testified at.  That's John Allen.

I was at that hearing and we reported on it.  I was at other hearings this week that we haven't had time for.  That includes veterans hearings and it includes Tuesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing.  Tuesday is when John Kerry testified.

Timm writes:

 Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to draw a line in the sand at the Senate hearing: “If you’re going in for weeks and weeks of combat, that’s enduring,” he said. “If you’re going in to assist somebody and fire control and you’re embedded in an overnight deal, or you’re in a rescue operation or whatever, that is not enduring.”
Oh really? At the very same hearing, retired General John Allen, special presidential envoy for the global anti-ISIS coalition, said this: “Enduring might be two weeks, it might be two years.”

Kerry was at the Tuesday hearing.  He was not at the Wednesday hearing.  Timm needs to correct his error.  He also needs to pay a little more attention.  The link he offers goes to USA Today where an article clearly notes Kerry testified on Tuesday.

If that's not proof enough, we quoted Senator Barbara Boxer already in our previous coverage -- including this comment she made to Allen:

 I know poor Senator -- Secretary [of State John] Kerry had to hear it over and over from our side yesterday.  But we're very uncomfortable with this language.  And when Senator Menendez was Chairman, he cobbled together a really good AUMF that united all of us on our side because he essentially said no combat troops with these exceptions -- and he put in the kind of exceptions that I think you would agree with -- special forces operations, search and rescue, protecting personnel.  And we would urge you, please, to go back and take a look at it. I just feel very strongly.

I knocked Timm last week for his trouble with the facts.  The policy there is usually you've had three strikes before I call you out.  Timm had his three.  His 'reporting' is problematic and that's because he refuses to nail down the facts.  Kerry did not testify on Wednesday to that Committee nor did he appear at the same hearing as Allen.  These are facts.

You either get them right or you don't.

And it's not just him, it's also the Guardian's editorial oversight -- or lack of it.

If Timm doesn't correct his error soon look for various 'reports' (columns) to repeat the error.

Jessica Schulberg (Huffington Post) reports, "Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) indicated on Thursday that he may move to prevent President Barack Obama from deploying U.S. ground troops against the Islamic State by introducing a funding bill to limit how the money appropriated for the military campaign can be used."

That was at Thursday's House Armed Services Committee hearing.  I wasn't present at that hearing. I'm counting on  Jessica Schulberg to have nailed down her facts (she's never had a problem doing that in any piece of hers I've read).  People reading Timm's piece are counting on him to nail down his facts as well.

We've noted this week how Mosul may be symbolic -- taking it back from the Islamic State -- but that might be all it was.  Walter Smolarek (Liberation) addresses that possibility:

Such a victory would be a much-needed boost to the authority of the central government, led by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. It would not, however, settle fundamental questions about the future of Iraq. Recent events have shown that the recapture of Mosul would be little more than a cosmetic sign of Iraqi national unity, which has been shredded by the criminal policies of U.S. imperialism.
Thousands of U.S. troops are deployed across Iraq, and even more may be sent to the country in the lead-up to the offensive. In order to placate both a skeptical domestic population as well as militias that are fighting IS but also fought the U.S. occupation following the 2003 invasion, the U.S. government has insisted that they will not engage in direct combat. Instead, the U.S. military presence, aside from the daily aerial bombardment, is claimed to be solely aimed at reconstructing and advising the Iraqi army.

With Congress considering a wide-ranging war authorization and the steady escalation of the U.S. military presence, the ability of the “advisors” to avoid combat, even if they wanted to, is highly questionable. 

Friday, Alsumaria reported 6 corpses were discovered dumped in Baghdad -- three of the six were brothers, all were shot dead.  They also noted a woman was hanged in Mosul after being accused of helping government security forces (Mosul is occupied by the Islamic State -- and has been since last June), a roadside bombing outside Baquba left 1 police officer dead and three civilians injured, and a Basra home invasion left 3 sisters and their father dead.  Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) noted 8 people dead from Baghdad "bombings and mortar strikes."

This morning, Sameer N. Yacoub (AP) reports 2 Balad Ruz car bombings leaving 11 people dead and another fifty injured while a Samarra suicide car bomber took his own live and the lives of 8 other people with fifteen more left injured.

Friday, February 27, 2015

The Originals

Lisa e-mailed me asking my thoughts re: The Originals.

In terms of scheduling.

I'm honestly sick of it.

Here's a new episode . . .

now we're showing repeats.

They do that with Arrow too.

They really need to stop this start-and-stop on their continuing shows.

It's irritating and annoying.

I wouldn't mind the show taking a 3 month winter break and then returning with only new episodes.

Even better, up the number of episodes to 30 a season.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Thursday, February 26, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, IS seizes an important bridge in Anbar, does US President Barack Obama need a SOFA to put US troops on the ground in Iraq, we continue to look at Wednesday's Senate hearing on the AUMF, and much more.

Seems like just yesterday that a puffed chest former general and current envoy John Allen was boasting to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "In addition we're also discussing the coalition's next steps now that we've largely achieved the objectives of the campaign's first phase  which was to blunt ISIL's strategic operation and tactical momentum in Iraq."

Oh, wait, that was yesterday.

Yet Al Jazeera reports today at least 20 Iraqi troops were killed when the Islamic States "seized a strategic bridge" in Anbar Province which "connects the cities of Baghdadi and Haditha" and Iraqi forces attempted (but failed) to take it back.  In addition, the bridge is near the US-occupied Ayn al-Asad airbase (where the US trains -- among other things) and there was a suicide truck bombing outside the entrance to the base.

So the Islamic State is on the run?

Various US officials keep insisting that but reality rejects it.

That's how it is under Barack, that's how it was under Bully Boy Bush.

They appear to see the Iraq War as a 12-step program and that, if they spin the talk hard enough, reality will eventually bend to their will.

They pulled this in 2003 and it didn't happen.

They pulled this in 2004 and it didn't happen.

They pulled this in 2005 and it didn't happen.

They pulled this in 2006 and it didn't happen.

They pulled this in 2007 and it didn't happen.

. . .

As Vanessa Williams says at the end of "Running Back To You," "Get the message?  'Nuff said."

The Senate's concerned with what Barack's Authorization for the Use of Military Force (in Iraq, Syria, Disneyland and pretty much the entire world) says.

We covered some of Wednesday's Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in yesterday's snapshot.  Senator Bob Corker is the Chair, Senator Bob Menendez is the Ranking Member. Appearing before the Committee was retired Gen John Allen whom US President Barack Obama has named the Special Presidential Envoy for The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Senator Barbara Boxer: Under Article I, Section 8, Congress has the power to declare war.  I know that you agree with that, yes?

Ambassador John Allen Yes, ma'am.

Senator Barbara Boxer: Alright.  So I hope you could then understand why we would want to be very precise when we do that because we're sent here by a lot of people who have a lot of kids who serve in the military and they're the fabric of our communities so we want to be careful. I just want to say I'm not even going to ask you to expand on this enduring word because you've said it very clearly. Your definition is no enduring presence could mean a 2-week presence of combat boots on the ground -- American combat boots on the ground -- or a two-year presence of American combat boots on the ground.  And that answers a question the Democrats on this Committee have been searching for this-this definition and I think what you are proving with your honesty is there is none because its in the eye of the beholder.  When you say to me if I vote for this, no enduring combat presence and I'm sending my kids there in my state for two years I would argue to you you've misinterpreted it.  Yet the Congressional Research Service says there's really no definition.  And if I wanted to take the administration to court as I would say, as a member of Congress, "I said no enduring presence," CRS says I wouldn't have a legal leg to stand on 'cause there's no definition.  So I just think it's very important the administration hear this once again.  I know poor Senator -- Secretary [of State John] Kerry had to hear it over and over from our side yesterday.  But we're very uncomfortable with this language.  And when Senator Menendez was Chairman, he cobbled together a really good AUMF that united all of us on our side because he essentially said no combat troops with these exceptions -- and he put in the kind of exceptions that I think you would agree with -- special forces operations, search and rescue, protecting personnel.  And we would urge you, please, to go back and take a look at it. I just feel very strongly.

In yesterday's snapshot, we noted some exchanges on this issue.  We'll note another from the hearing:

Senator Ed Markey: In the Authorization for the Use of Military Force text that the administration provided to this Committee.  It said that it would prohibit "enduring" ground forces. And this was meant to convey that large numbers of [US] troops wouldn't be on the ground for a long time -- whatever that means.  I voted for the 2001 resolution and I'm reminded that the US combat operations in Afghanistan were dubbed Operation Enduring Freedom.  We are now past 13 years in that enduring fight and that resolution, of course, was also the basis for the justification of our actions in Somalia, in Yemen and the administration is saying quite clearly that they oppose the repeal of that and that the operations that are going on right now, in fact, are consistent with that 2001 authorization.  Now causes great problems to me and I think many members of the Committee because even in the absence of the passage of a new AUMF, the administration is maintaining that they have the authority to continue -- as they have for thirteen years -- under Operation Enduring Freedom.  And so that obviously is a problem for us because that sits there as an underlying authority for the next president -- Democrat or Republican who is sworn in on January 20, 2017 and most of us are will be sitting here then as you'll successor will be sitting here then and perhaps not with the same interpretation of the word "enduring." So my questions then go to is this going to open up a potential for an open-ended war in the Middle East?  Will it allow for unfettered deployment of ground troops?  And ultimately, whether or not we are opening up Pandora's Box -- especially in Syria?

The "enduring" aspect has attracted some media attention.

It's not resulted in any real media analysis.

Yes, tired whores like Rosa Brooks stepped up to justify and minimize it.

That's not an analysis -- though dim wits like Rosa probably think it is.

As Barbara Boxer noted in the hearing, there was an AUMF proposal before the White House (finally) submitted their wish list in February.

Until the new Senate was sworn in last January, the Democrats controlled the Senate.  And Bob Menendez was the Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as Boxer noted, and crafted an AUMF that Democrats in the Senate could live with.

I thought it went too far but whatever.

It would have given Barack much of what he wants in the new AUMF.

What it wouldn't give him was "enduring."

Supposedly, this AUMF is needed.

That's confusing all by itself since the White House continues to insist that they will continue -- with or without an AUMF authorizing Barack's ongoing war actions -- to do what they're doing.

But, supposedly, this AUMF is needed.

In a playground, children may bicker in the sandbox over a toy that, for example, they want to use in a sand castle -- say a figure or plastic soldier or whatever.

At some point, they either resolve the issue (by themselves or via an adult intervening) or they stop playing together.

Is Barack a tiny child?

At his age, shouldn't he be the intervening adult?

The point is, if you can get most of what you want, adults in DC know to take it.

You never get everything you want from this or any Congress.

Compromise is the overwhelming acting principle.

So serious analysis of the requested AUMF would address how this is not a minor issue to the White House unless Barack is deeply stupid.

If this were a minor issue, it would have been ditched already, tossed overboard so everyone could move forward.

What exactly is Barack discussing and planning that's not being presented to the American people?

The Iraqi forces aren't up for much of anything.

Corruption and crime have reduced the force to a joke.

And that's why, despite the White House planning an operation to retake Mosul in February, the month is now ending with no such attempt.

Mosul was taken over by the Islamic State in June.  Retaking it might have symbolic value.

But now the White House has aired the option that Mosul might be invaded soon . . . or in April . . . or in May.

These 'deadlines' are vaporous.

The reason for that, clearly, is that the Iraqi military is not thought to be up to the challenge of retaking Mosul.

For Mosul to be of any value, there has to be immediate operations.

By that I mean, think of the Islamic State as a tube of toothpaste and let's consider Mosul the middle.

Squeeze the middle of the tube and the toothpaste does not vanish.

Instead, it spreads out to both ends of the tube.

Should Mosul be retaken, the most obvious move for the Islamic State was to grab new areas or fortify existing ones.

Should an operation to retake Mosul be carried out and be successfully carried out, the immediate time after that effort would have to see a military force stepping up to ensure that the Islamic State fleeing Mosul did not spread elsewhere.

New Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter likes to play out variables with the press on what would lead him to recommend US ground forces in Iraq.

If you pay attention, the aftermath of taking Mosul fits Carter's definition.

So is this what's going on?

Is this what has the White House refusing to say, "Okay, take that whole 'enduring' clause out and let's move forward and let you pass an AUMF"?

It seems very likely.

A Tweet today raises an issue:

  1. Do we have a Status of Forces Agreement with Iraq? Anyone know? How are our soldiers to be protected from prosecutions under Iraqi law?

For those who don't know, a Status Of Forces Agreement is what gives legal protection to US forces in Iraq.

When the Iraq War started, the United Nations provided cover for the occupation (not the invasion) and it was a yearly authorization.

In 2008, due to the problems then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was having each year when he's push through the renewal (bypassing Parliament), Bully Boy Bush decided that the SOFA would be for more than a single year.

They got a three year deal (with one year clauses) in November of 2008.

Prior to getting that deal, Joe Biden -- then in the Senate -- had declared if the administration failed to get a SOFA by December 31, 2008, all US troops would . . .

come home?


They're remain locked down on US bases in Iraq until some deal was worked out.

The SOFA expired at the end of 2011.

We could go into why and all of that but we're not focused on that for this discussion.

Barack wants US troops in combat in Iraq.

You can't avoid that.

It's there in the AUMF.

So if there's no agreement -- such as a SOFA -- then it doesn't matter because US forces can't be put into combat on the ground in Iraq without an agreement which protects US troops from legal challenges for their operations in Iraq.

So why isn't the White House working on a SOFA?

These are issues people should be asking.

The US forces are in Iraq.

Has Barack betrayed them by putting them on the ground in Iraq without a legal protection?

If so, that would be an issue that could even rise to the level of grounds for impeachment.

That's not going to happen because the desire to keep US troops in Iraq is long rooted.  Let's fall back to the April 30, 2013 Iraq snapshot:

December 6, 2012, the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department Defense of the United States of America was signed.  We covered it in the December 10th and December 11th snapshots -- lots of luck finding coverage elsewhere including in media outlets -- apparently there was some unstated agreement that everyone would look the other way.  It was similar to the silence that greeted Tim Arango's September 25th New York Times report which noted, "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 [US] General [Robert L.] Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence."

Now let's go to the Decmeber 11, 2012 snapshot:
In yesterday's snapshot, we covered the Memorandum of Understanding For Defense Cooperation Between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Iraq and the Department of Defense of the United States of America.  Angry, dysfunctional e-mails from Barack-would-never-do-that-to-me criers indicate that we need to go over the Memo a little bit more.  It was signed on Thursday and announced that day by the Pentagon.   Section two (listed in full in yesterday's snapshot) outlines that the two sides have agreed on: the US providing instructors and training personnel and Iraq providing students, Iraqi forces and American forces will work together on counterterrorism and on joint exercises.   The tasks we just listed go to the US military being in Iraq in larger numbers.  Obviously the two cannot do joint exercises or work together on counterterrorism without US military present in Iraq.
This shouldn't be surprising.  In the November 2, 2007 snapshot -- five years ago -- we covered the transcript of the interview Michael R. Gordon and Jeff Zeleny did with then-Senator Barack Obama who was running in the Democratic Party's primary for the party's presidential nomination -- the transcript, not the bad article the paper published, the actual transcript.  We used the transcript to write "NYT: 'Barack Obama Will Keep Troops In Iraq'" at Third.  Barack made it clear in the transcript that even after "troop withdrawal" he would "leave behind a residual force."  What did he say this residual force would do?  He said, "I think that we should have some strike capability.  But that is a very narrow mission, that we get in the business of counter terrorism as opposed to counter insurgency and even on the training and logistics front, what I have said is, if we have not seen progress politically, then our training approach should be greatly circumscribed or eliminated."
This is not withdrawal.  This is not what was sold to the American people.  Barack is very lucky that the media just happened to decide to take that rather explosive interview -- just by chance, certainly the New York Times wasn't attempting to shield a candidate to influence an election, right? -- could best be covered with a plate of lumpy, dull mashed potatoes passed off as a report.  In the transcript, Let-Me-Be-Clear Barack declares, "I want to be absolutely clear about this, because this has come up in a series of debates: I will remove all our combat troops, we will have troops there to protect our embassies and our civilian forces and we will engage in counter terrorism activities."
So when the memo announces counterterrorism activities, Barack got what he wanted, what he always wanted, what the media so helpfully and so frequently buried to allow War Hawk Barack to come off like a dove of peace.
In Section Four of the Memo, both parties acknowledge that to achieve these things they may need further documentation and that such documentation will be done as attachments "to this MOU."  Thse would include things like "medical reports" for "dispatched personnel."  Oh, some idiot says, they mean State Dept personnel.  No, they don't.  The US is represented in this Memo by the Defense Dept.  This refers to DoD personnel.  They may also need an attachment to go over "procedures for recalling dispatched personnel," and possibly for covering "the death of dispatched personnel with the territory of the host country."  The Memo can run for five years from last Thursday (when it was signed) and, after five years, it can renewed every year afterwards.  US troops could be in Iraq forever.  The kill clause in this differs from the SOFA.  The 2008 SOFA had a kill clause that meant, one year after notification of wanting out of the SOFA, the SOFA would be no more.  The Memo doesn't require lead time notice.  Instead, "Either Participant may discontinue this MOU at any time, though the Participant should endeavor to provide advance notice of its intent to discontinue the MOU to the other Participant."

Again, Barack got what he wanted.  He'd stated what he wanted in 2007.  He got it.  If your life's goal is to cheer Barack -- that is the goal of the Cult of St. Barack -- start cheering and stop whining that Barack's been misrepresented.  The Memo gives him everything he wanted so, for Barack, it's a victory.  For those who believe in peace, for those who believe the US military should be out of Iraq, it's a tragedy.

Everything needed -- including US military going on combat patrols with Iraqi forces -- was granted in the MOU of 2012.

Nouri's frequently referenced it -- usually to whine and complain -- and the press either acts confused or doesn't grasp that there's an MOU out there.

This has not been a 'rush' on the part of the White House.  It's been a carefully unfolding plan.

And any real analysis of the AUMF that Barack's requesting would acknowledge that.

Let's note another Tweet:

  1. Irani muhalls will kill all sunnis civilains in Iraq now world dont speak but after we die the world will cry for us

And that is correct.  Throughout Nouri's second term, Sunnis were targeted, harassed and killed, displaced and branded "terrorists" (by Nouri) for the 'crime' of carrying out sit-ins.

And the world didn't talk about it.

And in the US there was such a desire to look the other way in order to protect Barack and the lie that he was antiwar and that he'd done something value with Iraq (when he insisted Nouri get a second term despite Nouri losing the 2010 elections).

And, sadly, it's true even now that what's being done to the Sunnis is ignored and excused by the administration, by Barack Obama.

Falluja, to cite only one example, continues to be bombed daily by the Iraqi military.


In its residential neighborhoods.

Even if 'terrorists' were in those neighborhoods, it is a War Crime to bomb them when civilians are present.  It is known as "collective punishment" and it is a legally defined and legally recognized War Crime.  That's by the international community, that's by the United States government.

But these bombings aren't called out by the US government.  There's no threat to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi of, "Stop these bombings or we will not send you . . . ."

So, yes, the Sunnis continue to be targeted and the world looks away.

Margaret Griffis ( reports:

Kurdish authorities are reportedly blocking the return of Arab Iraqis to their homes in Kurdish controlled areas. They are using the claim that the Arabs collaborated with the Islamic State militants, but it is just as likely that they are attempting to solidify their hold on expanded Kurdish territories.
At least 224 people were killed and 63 more were wounded. Airstrikes killed civilians in multiple cities in Anbar province.

Coalition airstrikes in al-Baghdadi killed nine civilians and 15 militants. Another 29 militants were reported wounded, and some were sent to Syria for treatment. Militants burned 26 people to death.

Griffis notes a reported attack on a museum in Mosul.

That reported attack has resulted in a public comment from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York:

 Statement by Thomas P. Campbell, 

Director of The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
On The Destruction at The Mosul Museum

Speaking with great sadness on behalf of the Metropolitan, a museum whose collection proudly protects and displays the arts of ancient and Islamic Mesopotamia, we strongly condemn this act of catastrophic destruction to one of the most important museums in the Middle East. The Mosul Museum’s collection covers the entire range of civilization in the region, with outstanding sculptures from royal cities such as Nimrud, Nineveh, and Hatra in northern Iraq. This mindless attack on great art, on history, and on human understanding constitutes a tragic assault not only on the Mosul Museum, but on our universal commitment to use art to unite people and promote human understanding. Such wanton brutality must stop, before all vestiges of the ancient world are obliterated.

# # #

February 26, 2015


Thursday, February 26, 2015

'Dr' Janell Hobson needs to be fired for shoddy work

The University of Albany apparently has no ethical standards or guidelines.

That's how 'dr.' Janell Hobson gets away with gross inaccuracies in her 'reporting.'

Here's Janell's claim to 'fame':

Dr. Janell Hobson will be speaking at Ohio University on Thursday, October 10th at 7pm in Walter Room 135. Her lecture will be titled “The Politics of Looking (And Not Looking) Like a Feminist” which will analyze her article in Ms. Magazine. Dr. Hobson explains:
“I will analyze Ms. Magazine’s framing of my article, “Beyonce’s Fierce Feminism,” a text for which I had no control over its title or visual layout, and the social media reactions as a result.  At once exhilarated by the attention my story received and conflicted by the frames used to contextualize my critique of Beyonce’s popular feminist rhetoric and performance, I will revisit a main question posed in [her book] Body as Evidence: What challenges does a 21st-century feminist face, and how will the larger spheres of media and political representation shape these challenges and her responses to them?”

Do you know what Janell really did with that article?

She falsified a quote.

She pulled different responses together, rearranged it and presented it as fact and as accurate.

It wasn't.

Janell's shoddy work should have her fired.

If you're late to the story, Janell was finger banging herself to Beyonce singing "Drunk In Love" (the story glorifying Ike Turner's abuse of Tina Turner and presenting it as 'sexy' and 'romanitc') and as she was wishing her old fish-eyed face could attract someone like Beyonce, she decided to make Beyonce the feminist voice.

You can refer to "Editorial: The 'pro-woman' propaganda dumped on th..." but I'm pulling from it if you're rushed for time.

Here's the background -- and I'm setting the excerpts off with "-----" so you'll know where they begin and end.

Jo Ellison is a reporter.  She didn't lie.  She wrote a feature for the May issue of British Vogue entitled "Mrs Carter Uncut."

A lot of people have noted this article.

On Saturday, we pulled the article and learned that none of them had actually read it.

Here's a passage where Beyonce's defending the outfits she wears:

But being Beyoncé doesn't allow for contradiction. She's baffled by the criticism that her on-stage persona, a sexually voracious, semi-clothed glamazon, is in any way antithetical to her message of female empowerment. 
"That's exactly why I can [wear those outfits]!" she insists. "Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I'm just a woman and I love being a woman. If you're attractive then you can't be sexy, and you can't be intelligent? Whatisall of that?"

Get it?

Beyonce's defense of her T&A outfits leads to this:

Is she a feminist? 

"I don't know. That word can be very extreme. But I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality, and that we have a ways to go and it's something that's pushed aside and something that we have been conditioned to accept. But I'm happily married. I love my husband."

"But I'm happily married. I love my husband."  Because, you know, them feminists all be lesbians.

That's what's she saying.

And if her response to the question of whether or not she was a feminist had been accurately reported by the rest of the press, Ms. magazine wouldn't have embarrassed themselves putting Beyonce on the cover.

So you understand what Beyonce actually said.

This is how the Janell Hobson's of the world 'reported' or 'quoted' her:

I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.

Notice how they took her wardrobe comments, place them after her declaration of feminism, totally rearranged everything which, for the record, you can't do.

Janell is an academic embarrassment.

Ms. magazine's a joke.

Today they're 'covering' Parks and Recreation.

After falsely attacking Patricia Arquette and implying she was only speaking about White women, they praise the show that had more than enough time to make an intern a lead character.

But Retta was always fogotten, wasn't she?

And she didn't move on up the ladder the way Aubrey's  character did.

Did no one notice that?

Did no one notice that an African-American woman who'd worked for the city for years was repeatedly passed over while 'intern' April ends up Deputy Director of Animal Control.

And yet Ms. attacked Patricia Arquette?

As an African-American woman, I applauded Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech and think it was the best part of the broadcast.

Ms. magazine is as out of touch as Janell.

Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"

Wednesday, February 25, 2015.  Chaos and violence continue, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee discusses Iraq and Barack's AUMF request, the American people learn -- if any outlet bothers to cover it -- that the plan is for US forces in Iraq for over 3 years (many years to come), the State Dept can't do diplomacy but they excel in bitchy, and much more.

Decently well?

Does that modifier or "well" really belong?

Because they flew out of  Senator Bob Corker's mouth today.  He declared, "I think many people feel decently well about what's happening in Iraq."

No, it didn't make sense.

Nor did Corker.

Republicans and Democrats in Congress -- forget about the American people -- do not feel "well about what's happening in Iraq" -- decently well or otherwise.

Corker was speaking at the start of this afternoon's Senate Foreign Relations Committee.  Corker is the Chair, Senator Bob Menendez is the Ranking Member. Appearing before the Committee was retired Gen John Allen whom US President Barack Obama has named the Special Presidential Envoy for The Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Let's get to the really big news about Barack's war.

It is endless.

It's US troops committed far beyond three years to Iraq.

This was established in Senator Ben Cardin's line of questioning.

Senator Ben Cardin:  Of course the President's request to Congress is pretty specific on ISIL and expires in three years.  It's clear that there may well be a need for a continued military US presence beyond that three years. 

Envoy John Allen: Uh, I would say probably a need for military activity, US military activity, of some form or another, yes sir.

Get it?

First off, this is John McCain.

If you've forgotten, John McCain, while campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination, declared he as fine with US troops in Iraq forever -- or that's how it was portrayed.

He meant US troops in Iraq in the manner in which they remain in South Korea all the years after the Korean War.

Barack Obama was the candidate who was supposed to be 'different.'

And he was going to get all US troops out of Iraq within 16 months of being sworn in as president.

Samantha Power -- as we noted in real time while whores like John Nichols lied -- was forced out of Barack's campaign not because of what she said about Hillary Clinton but because the BBC was about to air an interview with her where she revealed Barack's campaign promise wasn't a promise and that he'd decide what to do after he was sworn in.  This interview was going to be big and Samantha had to 'save' Barack by leaving the campaign so that Barack wasn't forced to answer questions about what she'd said.


The little whores of the press ignored it.

And months later, when Tom Hayden was outraged about Barack (the July 4, 2008 holiday), he stumbled upon this and wanted to know why no one made a big deal out of it?  And he answered his own question with Hillary's campaign ignored the issue.


They raised it repeatedly.

In conference calls with the press and in repeated press releases.

It was the press that didn't give a damn.

They were too busy -- remembering the infamous video of Barack wearing jeans and walking past them on the plane -- oohing and awing over Barack to actually cover what he said and what his aids said.

So now, to steal from Jeremiah Wright, the chickens have come home to roost.

The liar who pretended he was always against the Iraq War lied as well about getting US troops out.

The end of 2011 was a drawdown, not a withdrawal.

By fall of 2012, as Tim Arango reported in the New York Times, Barack had sent another special ops brigade into Iraq.

By June 2014, he was sending troops in openly.

And now his envoy tells Congress that the plan is for a continued US military presence -- that Barack pictures it not just for the next three years, but for well beyond that.

How did that chump change work out for The Cult of St. Barack?

Because it didn't improve anything in Iraq and never took all US troops out of the country.

But, hey, we got to see his nipples, right?

He went jogging without shirts and didn't that make up for everything else?

Didn't his man boobs -- moobs -- sliding all around while he jogged make up for everything else?

Let's hope he was a wealth of masturbation fantasies because all he offered was fantasy and, again, to steal from his mentor Jeremiah Wrights, the chickens are coming home to roost.

This was also made clear during an exchange in this afternoon's hearing regarding the issue of "enduring" US forces in Iraq.

Ranking Member Bob Menendez: What does "enduring" -- no "enduring combat forces" mean?

Envoy John Allen: I think obviously, the-the nature of the  contingency or the emergency or the potential conflict will give us the indications of what kinds of measures would need to be taken in the aggregate to deal with that emergency to give the President the kind of options that he needs in order to protect the lives of American citizens and American interests and the homeland. Each one of these emergencies will be different.  Each one will require a different aggregation of American hard and soft  power ultimately to solve them.  And so I think it would be difficult to put necessarily a level of precision against the word "enduring."  I think  what we'll seek --  what we'll seek to do -- and I believe this administration -- and future administrations would be obviously very interested in consulting with the Congress about each -- .

Ranking Member Bob Menendez: I-I appreciate a consultation.  The problem is you reference your answer in context of emergencies but no "enduring offensive combat troops" doesn't necessarily only apply to emergencies.  If you send 20,000 troops and they're there for 4 months, is that enduring?

Envoy John Allen:  Uh-uh again, Senator, I think that trying to put a specific amount of time on the word "enduring' uh, uh --

Ranking Member Bob Menendez: So it's neither time nor size?

Envoy John Allen:  I think we take a full appreciation of what we're facing.  And I -- And I believe that we give the president the options necessary in order to deal with the emergency and "enduring" might only be two weeks.  But "enduring might be two years"  I think we need to ensure that we put the right resources against the contingency and give us the amount of time necessary -- "us" being all of the American people -- the time necessary to solve the problem.

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  And I think you've stated the challenge that we have.  Two weeks is one thing.  Two years is another thing.  And this is the problem with the language as it exists. There is no clear, defining element of the authorization given to the president in which hundreds -- but maybe tens of thousands -- of troops could be sent.  They could be sent for long periods of time.   That's -- That's a challenge.  And so how we get our arms around that?  You know, I know -- I think I can fairly speak for Democrats -- we want to fight ISIL, we want to give the president the wherewith all to degrade and deter them but we can't provide a blank check to this and a future president because everything that's envisioned goes beyond this president.  So I want to use your expertise to try to put my arms around it and I see the challenge that we have.  Let me ask you this, following up on the Chairman's questions, isn't it basically true that unless we buy into something about  getting rid of Assad, Turkey isn't really going to engage with us in the way we want them to?

Envoy John Allen:  Uh, the Turks have not indicated that to me in our conversations.  I think we share the same goal with respect to Syria and that is that the solution to Syria is not going to be determined by military force. That ultimately, we -- we desire a political outcome in Syria that is the will of the Syrian people and that that outcome is one that does not include Bashar al-Assad.  I think we share that goal with Turkey.  But I  have not had, in my conversations with the Turks the requirement that we take concerted action against Bashar al-Assad as the precondition necessarily for the Turks to have any greater role in the coalition to deal with ISIL. 

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  Isn't it true that at this point Turkey is still allowing foreign fighters to cross its borders into Syria?

Envoy John Allen: If foreign fighters get across the border in Turkey it's not because the Turks are allowing them.  Again I've  had a conversation with them yesterday. I've watched them grip this problem    It  is a greater problem than many of us had imagined at the  beginning.  They have attempted to strengthen their border crossing protocols.  We're seeking greater information sharing and intelligence sharing   with them in that regard.  We are restructuring some elements of the coalition specifically to focus the capabilities of nations on the issue of the movement and the dealing of foreign fighters through transit states of which the Turks are going to play an important role in that process within that coalition.  So do foreign fighters cross Turkey and get into Syria?  Yes, they do.  Are the Turks permitting them to do that? I don't believe so. I think that the Turks are working hard, ultimately, to do -- to take the measures necessary to staunch that flow the best they can.

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  And one final question: Iran.  Iran is in the midst of  Iraq. It's in the midst of Syria.  Uh, do we share mutual goals with Iran?

Envoy John Allen:  Well I would say our goals with respect to Iraq is that we return Iraq to the sovereign control of the Iraqi people and to the central government in Baghdad.  My --

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  You think the Iranians share that?

Envoy John Allen:  Oh, I believe so. I-I-I believe that the Iranians - their interests -- they would consider that their interests are best served by an Iraq -- 

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:  They have a very significant influence in Iraq.

Envoy John Allen: Well they have regional interests.  And those interests are, in fact, in Iraq.  That's not something that should surprise us or necessarily alarm us.

Ranking Member Bob Menendez:   I'm looking beyond.  So if we think an accommodation with Iran to fight ISIL is good, the aftermath of that in Iraq, in Syria, in Yemen and elsewhere -- in my view -- is not so good.  And so sometimes we look at the short game as opposed to the long one and I'm concerned about what the long one is.

Envoy John Allen:  Uh, Senator, I would not propose that we are accommodating Iran in Iraq at this particular moment. We're undertaking the measures that we're taking in Iraq with the Iraqis.  We're not cooperating with the Iranians.  As-As you have pointed out and as your argument presupposes Iranians have an interest in a stable Iraq just as we in the region have an interest in a stable Iraq.  But that doesn't mean we are accommodating the Iranians by virtue of the actions that we are taking in Iraq.

On this week's Law and Disorder Radio, first airing Monday on  WBAI  and around the country throughout the week. the hosts discussed the AUMF Barack's requesting.   The program is hosted by attorneys Heidi Boghosian, Michael S. Smith and Michael Ratner (Center for Constitutional Rights)  and we'll note this section of their discussion on the "enduring" issue.

Michael Ratner:  A second one -- and a big struggle is going on --  or, I don't know if it's big, a struggle of some sort -- at least in the press around these guys -- is the use of ground forces.  How are we going to limit the use of ground forces?  Initially, I think we were told there won't be any ground forces used against ISIS or they believe they have to use ground forces. So what does this Authorization to Use Military Force say -- the new proposed one?  This does not authorize the use of the United States armed forces in -- and here's the key word -- "enduring" offensive ground combat operations.  The word is "enduring offensive ground combat operations."

Heidi Boghosian: Right.  And what does that mean? That means a long term -- 

Michael Ratner: How long is enduring?

Heidi Boghosian:  -- something short of -- Exactly.

Michael Ratner: One year? Two year?  Five years?  Ten years?

Heidi Boghosian:  Right. 

Michael Ratner:  What's "enduring"? Forever?

Heidi Boghosian:  It's over broad and vaguely drafted. 

Michael Ratner: It's meaningless.

Heidi Boghosian: Right.

Let me make a comment about today's hearing.  What's with 'general'?

He's an ambassador now.  His title is "envoy."  Is he ashamed of it?

Is Congress embarrassed by it?

Yes, he's a retired general.

He's also an active ambassador.

That's his title.

Clearly, this administration has no respect for diplomacy, they've made that clear.  And we'll get to that topic in a moment.  But does the Congress have no respect also?

Being an Ambassador is a pretty big deal.

Check the archives, we praised Michael Hayden for dropping "general" and asking to be called "director" when he appeared before Congress because that's what he was.  He was a retired general who came back into government service to become the Director of the CIA.

I don't approve of militarizing civilian posts and I don't approve of treating an ambassador as if that's an overnight job at Denny's.  If "ambassador" is beneath John Allen, he needs to resign the post immediately.

He is not in the military anymore.  He is attached to the State Dept.  If he won't show respect for his current position, he doesn't need to hold it.

If he's embarrassed to be called ambassador or envoy, that's really going to interfere with any accomplishments he might have.

Let's note an exchange regarding Sunnis and regarding Mosul.  The Islamic State took Mosul last June and continue to hold it.  The US administration last week announced that March or April or May was the time or 'time' to attack Mosul and liberate or 'liberate' it.

Senator Rand Paul: What percentage would you say is an estimate of how many of the official Iraqi army are Sunni versus Shia?

Envoy John Allen:  I'll have to take the question, sir, and get back to you

Senator Rand Paul:  Well -- 

Envoy John Allen: Right now, the standing army, the preponderance is, uh, -- the majority is Shia.  But I can't give you the numbers.  I'll take the question.

Senator Rand Paul:  The reason I ask is sort of on the heels of what Senator Carden is asking global  security reports basically somewhere between 80 and 90% of the official Iraqi army being Shia. I think to have an enduring victory, there's some question from some of us whether you can have an enduring victory and occupy Mosul and be seen as a legitimate government if you've got an 80 to 90% Shia force?  So I think that still is a significant political problem and a significant military problem as well.  Of the chieftens that fought in the surge -- just an estimate -- what percentage is engaged on our side now fighting against ISIS, what percentage are on the sidelines and what percentage indifferent?

Envoy John Allen:  Again, those are numbers that are difficult to give you with any precision.  The ones that I fought alongside in '07 and '08, the ones that I have spoken to without exception have indicated their desire to fight Da'ash, have recovered their lands to ultimately return, in this case, to Al-Anbar Province, to the tribes and ultimately to Iraq.  And so they've been very forthcoming in their desire to do that.  Every one that I have spoken to.

Senator Rand Paul:  And the chieftens are no longer in the area?  Have been driven out of the area?  The ones that you've spoken to?

Envoy John Allen:  Well many of them are.  Some at great risk traveled out of the area ultimately to speak with us.  But, uh, they are.  And many of them are in Amman [Jordan] and other places.

Senator Rand Paul:  With regard to arming the Kurds, there were reports a month or two ago that Germany wanted to send arms directly to them but there were objections by our government saying everything had to go through Baghdad.  Are arms for our allies forced to go through Baghdad to get to the Kurds? 

Envoy John Allen: Uhm, I'll take the question but let me offer this.  Uh, Baghdad has not disproved any requests, uh, that the Kurds have made for weapons.  We have attempted to work with Baghdad to streamline to the maximum extent possible to reduce any delays that may inhibit or impair, uh, the expeditious delivery of arms and equipment to the Kurds.

Senator Rand Paul:  You think this includes sufficient technology and long range weaponry to meet their needs and their requests?

Envoy John Allen:  Well all that is coming.  As you know sir, and through the support of the Congress, we're training and equipping 12 Iraqi brigades -- 3 of which are Peshmerga brigades [Peshmerga are an elite Kurdish fighting force] and with Peshmerga brigades we'll be armed and equipped with exactly the same  that the other 9 Iraqi brigades will receive. 

Senator Rand Paul:  We're destroying or abandoning equipment in Afghanistan.  Is there any possibility that any of that could be transported to the Kurds?

Envoy John Allen:  That's a question that we should pose to the Dept of Defense but I'll take the question.

As Senator Paul's time wound down, suddenly Allen wanted to address the earlier question about the Shi'ite majority in the military.

Well . . .

not address . . .

more distract.

There will be a clearing force.

For Mosul and other areas.

But he's really hopeful that they can get the Sunni police to take part.

Paul suggested that the invading force should be Sunni (Mosul is a Sunni dominant city) and that there should be leafleting of the city announcing that fact to increase support for the action.

I'm attending a hearing tomorrow and I was at another one today -- I'd love for both of them to make into the snapshots -- that may or may not happen.  But we will note today's hearing in Thursday's snapshot to cover a few more aspects.

For now, we'll note that, while pressing for the new AUMF, the administration continues to insist it doesn't really need it.

Chair Bob Corker:  Yesterday, Senator Kerry testified that he felt like today the administration already has because of the '01 AUMF  and the '02 AUMF the authority to conduct the operations that are being conducted in Iraq and Syria.  Do you -- do you agree with that assessment?

Envoy John Allen: I do, Chairman.

Chair Bob Corker: Okay.  So it's an interesting place where we find ourselves, where six months after conflicts have begun, a new AUMF is being offered.  And I know that in order to pursue one properly through Congress, that's the standard process which I appreciate.

Of course, that's Secretary Kerry -- John Kerry left the Senate to become Secretary of State (though he appears to believe he's Secretary of Defense).  And Kerry's in the news cycle today -- weighing in on Iraq.

Elad Benari (Israel Nation News) reports US Secretary of State John Kerry has gotten bitchy -- they really need to think of a new name for the State Dept since bitchy has replaced diplomacy -- about Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu:

The comments, according to The Huffington Post, came as Kerry was testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Committee member Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) pointed to Netanyahu’s upcoming address to the Congress as evidence of the weakness of the deal being negotiated between Iran and the six world powers.

“The Prime Minister was also profoundly forward-leaning and very outspoken about the importance of invading Iraq and George W. Bush,” Kerry shot back, referring to Netanyahu.

David Francis (Foreign Policy) refers to Kerry as "the nation's top diplomat" but that should probably be "the nation's top bitch."  At any rate, Francis notes:

It was an odd critique from Kerry, who had voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq. It was also the latest in a string of increasingly harsh and personal attacks on Netanyahu by senior administration officials.
On Tuesday night, National Security Advisor Susan Rice told Charlie Rose in an interview that Netanyahu’s visit “injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate. I think it’s destructive of the fabric of the relationship.”

Kerry did a little bit more than vote "to authorize the invasion of Iraq."  Focusing just on Iraq, here's how David Paul Kuhn (CBS News) covered Kerry's flip-flops back in 2004:

Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in January 1991, Kerry broke with the majority of senators and voted against authorizing the first Gulf War. He said on the Senate floor, "It is a vote about war because whether or not the president exercises his power, we will have no further say after this vote."
Kerry thus voted against war after Iraq took aggressive military action. He said a vote in favor of military action was tantamount to giving Congress "no further say" on the war.
In October 2002, he supported the current war in Iraq, despite the fact that Iraq took no aggressive action against its neighbors.
In announcing his candidacy for president, in September 2003, he said his October 2002 vote was simply "to threaten" the use of force, apparently backtracking from his belief in 1991 that such a vote would grant the president an open-ended ticket to wage war.

If I Knew Then What I Know Now…
"We should not have gone to war knowing the information that we know today," Kerry said Wednesday on ABC's "Good Morning America." "Knowing there was no imminent threat to America, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, knowing there was no connection of Saddam Hussein to al Qaeda, I would not have gone to war. That's plain and simple."
But on Aug. 9, 2004, when asked if he would still have gone to war knowing Saddam Hussein did not possess weapons of mass destruction, Kerry said: "Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have." Speaking to reporters at the edge of the Grand Canyon, he added: "[Although] I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has."
The Kerry campaign says voting to authorize the war in Iraq is different from deciding diplomacy has failed and waging war. But Kerry's nuanced position has contradicted itself on whether it was right or wrong to wage the war.
In May 2003, at the first Democratic primary debate, John Kerry said his vote authorizing the president to use force was the "right decision" though he would have "preferred if we had given diplomacy a greater opportunity."
But then in January 2004, Kerry began to run as anti-war candidate, saying, "I don't believe the president took us to war as he should have."

The $87 Billion Vote
In September 2003, Kerry implied that voting against wartime funding bills was equivalent to abandoning the troops.
"I don't think any United States senator is going to abandon our troops and recklessly leave Iraq to whatever follows as a result of simply cutting and running," he said.
Then, in October 2003, a year after voting to support the use of force in Iraq, Kerry voted against an $87 billion supplemental funding bill for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. He did support an alternative bill that funded the $87 billion by cutting some of President Bush's tax cuts.
But when it was apparent the alternative bill would not pass, he decided to go on record as not supporting the legislation to fund soldiers.
Kerry complicated matters with his now infamous words, "I actually did vote for the $87 billion before I voted against it."

Who is John Kerry to criticize anyone for how they acted re: Iraq or what they supported?

Maybe since he -- at one time or another -- pretty much supported everything, he feels he's an 'expert'?

The only expertise he's showing these days is bitchy.

And it's all over the State Dept.  For example, in Monday's State Dept press briefing, spokesperson Jen Psaki took part:

QUESTION: Iraqi Kurdish officials have accused Baghdad – I’m not sure if you’ve seen the reports – of having failed to abide by the most recent agreement over oil and budget. Prime Minister Abadi says, because partly of the oil price drop, Iraq has no money to send to the KRG. KRG says why does Iraq – why is Iraq able to pay the salaries of all of the Iraqis, including the residents of Mosul, except for Kurdistan.
Is that your assessment that the agreement between Baghdad and Kurdistan is unraveling?

MS. PSAKI: It is not. We understand that both Baghdad and Erbil remain committed to seeking implementation of the deal that is enshrined in the budget law. We recognize that Iraq writ large is facing financial difficulties due to low oil prices, the large refugee and IDP population, and the need to focus on defense spending because of the fight against ISIL. I would refer you to the Government of Iraq, but I do also recall news reports that Baghdad transferred two payments totaling $1 billion late last year as part of the agreement that was reached. So certainly, it’s not accurate to suggest that --

QUESTION: But this year, they haven’t done it according to the top Kurdish officials. They were just in Baghdad last week. Baghdad said --

MS. PSAKI: Well, the Iraqi parliament also just recently passed its $103 billion 2015 budget, which includes payments to the KRG. So I would point you to the Government of Iraq to ask that question.

QUESTION: So would you be concerned as the United States – if that is true, which is really true, that Iraq has not paid or is not going to pay KRG --

MS. PSAKI: I don’t see what you’re presenting as evidence that it’s true.

QUESTION: Why is --

MS. PSAKI: Or do you have more information you want to provide us?

QUESTION: Yeah, yeah. The prime minister of Kurdistan, he just talked to the media, and he’s --

MS. PSAKI: Well, I’m just referring to the fact that last year there were two payments reportedly made. I would certainly have you confirm that with the relevant authorities. The budget just passed. It includes payment to the KRG – payments to the KRG. Both sides have said they’re committed to the plan. So I’d suggest you pose your questions to the Iraqi Government on this issue.

How bad was the bitchy?

So bad that the State Dept hasn't held a press briefing since.

Margaret Griffis ( counts 187 violent deaths today in Iraq and 100 people kidnapped.

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