Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The nonsense

If I were a 43-year-old-blond woman, I think I would try to find a picture that actually fit my age.  Her desperate pursuit of youth is the last of Virginia Heffernan's problems as this column demonstrates.   She's a twit.

There are so many important things to write about and she has a national platform -- well, she's on Yahoo.  I know that's kind of the toilet of the internet in this post-Alta Vista age.

And she wastes her space to do a writing exercise that neither informs nor enlightens but is supposed to convince us of how adorable she is.  (Like the photo that makes her look like she's in her mid-20s.)  At what point does a 43-year-old woman start addressing grown up issues in a grown up manner?

She's like Gail Collins and, no, that is not a compliment.  Gail Collins has a new column online that yet again wastes space.

Do these bitches not get that there's a Drone War going on?  That there are actual life and death issues and they're babbling along, talking in their hand, amusing themselves?

It's not a pretty thing.  I'll give Virginia that's she pretty (she's actually beautiful).  But Gail Collins is butt ugly.

Is it a White thing?

I have no idea.  But to have that sort of a platform and to use so many words to say so very little is just shocking to me.

There are women who busts their asses and rarely get credit. 

In terms of journalists, whether I agreed with her reports or not, I always valued Robin Wright's reporting because she tackled serious issues.  The way Deborah Amos does today.  (Robin didn't die or retire.  She's just doing more complex writing, books.)

And online, you've got C.I.  She does Iraq, she does Libya.  She covers Congressional hearings.  She does so much work and on serious topics. 

I don't pretend I'm her.  I don't pretend I can do what she does. 

But the reason I am a Common Ills community member is because I fell in love with C.I.'s writing.  She was one of few women to write about real issues.  Back then, there was Laura Rozen and I'm way to the left of Laura Rozen.  Other than C.I., who else was there?

This is a woman who busts her butt.  If it's a holiday, we know ahead of time that she's not planning a snapshot unless there's big news out of Iraq.  So, for example, Thanksgiving 2008?  When the Parliament voted the SOFA into being?  She was online that evening pulling together a snapshot, analyzing the SOFA, posting the SOFA, etc.

She busts her ass.

So it just pisses me off when I see people who are supposed to be professional writers being paid to do something and they waste their time and our time.

It further pisses me off that they ensure that it's that much harder for women to be taken seriously. 

So I'm not fans of Virginia or Gail and wish both would take their jobs and themselves more seriously.  All women would be helped if they would do that.

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Libya makes the debate but the news cycle's really not sure how, White House owns up to a visit to Iraq that we'd already noted this week, a new poll spells bad news for Nouri, tensions between Iraq and Turkey continue, the US Ambassador to Turkey stirs things up (intentionally?) in a region that can't afford any outside sparks right now, and more.
We're starting with the Libya because the media can't get their story right.   We have to start with last night's debate in New York between President Barack Obama, Governor Mitt Romney and -- as Cedric and Wally pointed out this morning -- from Team CNN 'candidate' Candy Crowley.
This is really the best example of the failure of the media.  Something happened last night in the debate.  Forget who is accurate in facts for a moment (we'll get to that).  A series of events went down and the press can't even report that accurately -- they can't even handle a timeline.  We're going to use Brian Montopoli (CBS News) as an example because he's got one mistake (while others have many) and he's also easy to follow (while others are obscuring -- intentionally or not).  Montopoli reports the chronology the way everyone else does (he just does so in a more understandable manner).  To make it even easier to follow, I'm going to put numbers in the excerpt of Brian's report and we're calling the debate [1]:
Crowley isn't offering apologies.  Though she initially seemed to backtrack [2] on her Libya fact check, suggesting that Romney was "right in the main, I just think he picked the wrong word," she later maintained [3] that she had not in fact done so.  She said [4] on The View Wednesday morning that her fact check was simply an attempt to move the conversation forward, and suggested that criticism of her performance was inevitable.
So the timeline is: [1] debate where 'moderator' Candy Crowley says Barack Obama is correct; [2] CNN post-debate last night where Crowley 'suggests' Romney is "right in the main"; [3] Wednesday morning on CNN says she's not backtracking; and [4] goes on The View and says what she said at [2] but pretends criticism is inevitable.
That chronology is technically correct.  But [1] has an (a) and a (b) that the media is missing.
Rachel Weiner (Washington Post) reports on [3], Crowley on CNN this morning (that's where Brian's link goes) and Weiner seems to grasp the point others are missing.  It seems so obvious to Rachel that she's probably wondering what her peers are talking about.
The false narrative is Crowley said Barack was right, Crowley went on CNN last night and conceeded Mitt had a point, this morning she said she hadn't backtracked on CNN last night post-debate and whatever she said on The View
We're going over this slowly.  Most of you probably already grasp what happened.  As Ava and I noted this morning:

Romney expressed disbelief that Barack stated that on September 12th but Crowley declared that "he did in fact, sir."  And Barack asked her to repeat that "a little louder, Candy" which led her to state, "He -- he did call it an act of terror."
No, he didn't.  At best, he implied it.  And Crowley knew she was wrong almost immediately.  You can see it on her face as the audience applauds and she rushes to quickly add, "It did as well take -- it did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea there being a riot out there about this tape to come out.  You are correct about that."
Ruth caught that quick amend by Crowley but few others did, especially alleged news outlets.
The reason Crowley is saying she did not backtrack after the debate is that she's aware of what she said during the debate -- a point that did not make the news cycle this morning at most outlets.  After the debate, she echoed what she'd already said.  Why are people not aware that Crowley also told Romney he was correct?  Again, Ava and I this morning:
At the start of the debate, Candy Crowley declared, "Each candidate has as much as two minutes to respond to a common question, and there will be a two-minute follow-up. The audience here
in the hall has agreed to be polite and attentive - no cheering or booing or outbursts of any sort."
(We're using
the CNN transcript, by the way, which is laid out on one web page and will not require you to click for another page every few paragraphs the way ABC and others offering a transcript do.)   Applause is an outburst.  And it can be distracting.  For example, Ruth caught Crowley admitting at the debate that Romney was correct but most people didn't and that was probably due to the second round of applause that was going on.
She did not pause, she did not say, "You, Governor Romney," most people thought she was continuing the same support she gave Barack. 
She didn't.  the second statements after the applause for rescuing Barack, were supporting Mitt Romney.  That most people in the news industry do not grasp that goes to how poorly Candy Crowley performed as a moderator.  When the moderator herself is confusing, that's a problem.
Now let's deal with the factual issue.  After the debate,  Glenn Kessler (Washington Post) explained:

What did Obama say in the Rose Garden a day after the attack in Libya? We covered this previously in our extensive timeline of administration statements on Libya.
"No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for," Obama said.
But the president did not say "terrorism"— and Romney got tripped up when he repeated the "act of terror" phrasing.
Otherwise, Romney's broader point is accurate — that it took the administration days to concede that the assault on the U.S. mission in Benghazi was an "act of terrorism" that appears unrelated to initial reports of anger at a video that defamed the prophet Muhammad. By our count, it took 8 days for an administration official to concede that the deaths in Libya was the result of a "terrorist attack."
More to Romney's point, Obama continued to resist saying the "t" word, instead repeatedly bringing up the video, even in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly on Sept. 25. On Sept. 26--15 days after the attack-- the White House spokesman felt compelled to assert "it is certainly the case that it is our view as an administration, the President's view, that it was a terrorist attack."
Kessler is being more than fair to Barack who was talking about 9-11 (2001) at the Rose Garden when he starts using the terror word.  Let's go to the White House for what Barack said  in the September 12, 2012 Rose Garden speech and use the link for the full speech, we don't have the room so we'll offer the sections that apply:
The United States [1] condemns in the strongest terms this outrageous and shocking attack.  We're working with the government of Libya to secure our diplomats.  I've also directed my administration to increase our security at diplomatic posts around the world.  And make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the [1] killers who attacked our people.
Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths.  [2] We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.  But there is absolutely no justification to this type of senseless violence.  None.  The world must stand together to unequivocally reject these brutal acts.
Already, many Libyans have joined us in doing so, and [1] this attack will not break the bonds between the United States and Libya.  Libyan security personnel fought back against the attackers alongside Americans.  Libyans helped some of our diplomats find safety, and they carried Ambassador Stevens's body to the hospital, where we tragically learned that he had died.
[. . .]
Along with his colleagues, Chris died in a country that is still striving to emerge from the recent experience of war. Today, the loss of these four Americans is fresh, but our memories of them linger on.  I have no doubt that their legacy will live on through the work that they did far from our shores and in the hearts of those who love them back home.
Of course, yesterday was already a painful day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the [3] 9/11 attacks.  We mourned with the families who were lost on that day.  I visited the graves of troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.  And then last night, we learned the news of [1] this attack in Benghazi. 
As Americans, let us never, ever forget that our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it.  Our country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.
[4] No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.  Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America.  We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for [1] this terrible act.  And make no mistake, justice will be done.
But we also know that the lives these Americans led stand in stark contrast to those of their [1] attackers.  These four Americans stood up for freedom and human dignity.  They should give every American great pride in the country that they served, and the hope that our flag represents to people around the globe who also yearn to live in freedom and with dignity.
We grieve with their families, but let us carry on their memory, and let us continue their work of seeking a stronger America and a better world for all of our children.
That's what he said regarding the "attack." 
[1] represents the time he specifically mentioned the events of 9-11-2012.  He refers to the "attackers," to "this terrible act," "this attack" (twice), "the killers"  and "this shocking and outrageous attack."  When speaking specifically of 9-11-2012's event, he never uses the terms "terrorism," "terrorist," "terrorist attack," etc.
[2] is where Barack is referencing a YouTube video that the White House was maintaining led to a protest outside the US Consulate in Benghazi and the White House maintained cause the attack.
[3] notes where he specifically addresses the attacks of 9-11-2001 -- eleven years prior.
[4] is when he suddenly declares "no acts of terror."  What is he speaking of?  We all are aware that September 11, 2001 saw two "acts of terror" in NYC with two planes crashing into the Twin Towers -- and doing so at two different times, right?  We're all on the same page there?  And, on that same day, "acts of terror" including a plane (or missile for those who don't believe a plane hit) going into the Pentagon and another plane crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. 
We have what Barack said.  The press gets in a hell of a lot of trouble when they try to mind read.  So what did he say?  After bringing 9-11-2001 into his speech, he finally uses terror to state "no acts of terror."  Is he including the Benghazi attack in that?  You don't know.  He may or he may not be.  He's also spoken of Iraq and Afghanistan and, by inference, tied them both into the attacks of September 11, 2001.  Which no one objected to because when Bully Boy Bush does it, we scream like crazy.  But when Barack does it, we just stay silent.
Six times in the spech, he directly references the September 11, 2012 event from the day before.  In those six times, he never once calls the Benghazi attack terrorism or the attackers terrorists.
Candy Crowley was wrong to cut Mitt Romney off last night in his assertion that Barack Obama did not label the attack "terrorism" as Barack insisted when he stated "[. . .]  I told the American people and the world that we were going to find out exactly what happened, that this was an act of terror and [. . .]"  No, he did not call the events of 9-11-2012 "an act of terror."
Word games.  That's what we're getting from the White House.  Earlier we got lies.  Now we get word games.
And the mix gets more toxic as Scott Shane (New York Times) arrives to 'explain' to us.  Shane insists (lies), "Mr. Obama applied the 'terror' label to the attack in his first public statement on the events in Benghazi, delivered in the Rose Garden at the White House at 10:43 a.m. on Sept. 12, though the reference was indirect."  If you're a mind reader you might make that claim.  We've already established that was talking about the September 11, 2001 attacks and then proclaimed "No acts of terror . . ."  Shane knows better than to mind read.  Is he on firmer ground referring to a Las Vegas, September 13th speech by Barack where it is stated, "No act of terror will dim the light of the values that we proudly shine on the rest of the world, and no act of violence will shake the resolve of the United States of America."?
Not really.  What does that have to do with September 11, 2012.  The "no act of terror" or the "no act of violence"?  Both?  Both and?  None at all.  I have no idea because, unlike Scott Shane, I don't present myself as a mind reader.  Nor do I play the game of, "I know what he said but what he really meant was . . ."  If something's a terrorist act, you call it that. I thought Barack was the great communicator.  Presumably, even a poor speaker could clearly call something a terrorist attack if they thought it was a terrorist attack.
We could go through all of Scott Shane's ridiculous b.s. but I didn't watch Crowley on The View because life is too short and we'll move to another topic for the same reason.  Read Brian Montopoli's piece for CBS News, it's worth reading -- timeline not withstanding -- and don't accept Candy Crowley's nonsense at the end which seems to argue that conservatives are criticizing her and liberals praising her and it's about them.
It's not about them.  Ava and I are extreme lefties.  We didn't slam Jim Lehrer for the questions he asked or the way he asked them nor did we slam Martha Raddatz.  We're slamming Crowley because she conducted herself very poorly.  We slam both/all for participating in this sham that denies third party and independent candidates their place on the stage.  In that regard, maybe we should praise Crowley for making it all about herself?  She revealed just how hollow and meaningless these faux debates are.  Murphy (Puma P.A.C.) ventures, "I think Candy Crowley was pissed for being assigned to the 'less prestigious' debate, the one where the moderator is supposed to be practically invisible, and she wasn't going to stand for it. She really overstepped."  Glen Ford (Black Agenda Report) offers his take on the debate and these are his points on the Libya exchange:
The consensus on imperial war is near absolute. What passes for argument is merely a matter of style and posture. Romney attacks Obama for failing to grasp or reveal the "terrorist" nature of the fatal attack on the U.S. ambassador in Libya. But both candidates are wedded to an alliance with Muslim fundamentalist jihadis against Middle East governments targeted for destabilization or regime change: Syria and Iran. Obama's obfuscations on Benghazi were an attempt to continue masking the nature of the Libyan legions armed by the U.S. as proxies against Gaddafi, many of whom are now deployed in Syria – a mission with which Romney is in full accord. There is also no daylight between the contenders on drone warfare or the continued projection of U.S. power in the "Af-Pak" theater of war, or in Somalia and Yemen. The War Party wins in November, regardless of the Electoral College outcome.
September 12th, as we learned in last week's hearing, the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy could brief Congress that it was a terrorist attack.  Why couldn't Barack tell the American people?  Why the song and dance about a YouTube video while a very important, very real video was hidden from the public and is still hidden from Congress?  I'm referring to the footage of the attack.  As we learned in last week's hearing, the FBI said they'd turn it over to Congress gladly but they didn't have possession of it.  Someone else does and, on the orders of the White House, is refusing to turn the video over to Congress. 
Anne Gearan and Colum Lynch (Washington Post) had an important Libya story on Monday.  If you doubt it's importance, Bob Somerby attacks the story.  What happens when Bob goes crazy and off his meds?  I seem to remember the last time.  He knew a player in Plamegate but refused to make that public.  Still hasn't.  All this time later.  We called him out in real time when he was trashing Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame.  Bob did a great job obscuring reality on behalf of a bad journalist.  Bob's back to that crap again.  We won't be linking to him again until he's back on his meds.  Anne Gearan has a solid career behind her for being a meat and potatoes, basic facts nailed reporter.  Can she make a mistake?  Anyone can.  But did she make the mistakes Bob accuses her and Lynch of?  Nope.  I'm all for holding people accountable.  I'm not for your cloaked wars where you pretend to hold someone accountable but it's really about some petty grudge.  I don't play that game.  If someone deserves to be called out, they get called out (I would prefer not to call out Joe Biden -- I know Joe and Hillary but it's harder for me to call Joe out than Hillary just because of his nature -- he's a very sweet person).  By the same token, I couldn't stand Patricia Heaton because of an attack she made on a very good friend of mine.  So when I had reason to mock her, I mocked her loudly and repeatedly -- I'm talking offline at various events but it was true online as well.  My anomosity was so well known that friends at ABC avoided even suggesting Ava and I review The MiddleWhen we finally did, I had no problem praising Patricia's performance.  I was stunned by how good she was as Frankie.  I am still stunned.  I caught two episodes last year, she's still doing an amazing job.  She should be nominated for an Emmy for this role and she should win.  She's better than I would ever expect her to be, yes, but she's also playing a fully developed, fully created character.  So our political differences as well as what she said about a friend of mine didn't enter into it and don't.  If someone deserves praise, I don't care if I like them or not.  I don't play that game.  I'm actually happy for Patricia that she's become such a first rate actress.  This is a quality of work that few actresses ever achieve and she should be very proud of herself for what she's done in the role of Frankie.
There are serious issues and Bob Somerby can cover for another friend all he wants but the reality is if Barack's going to claim to be responsible -- as he did in last night's debate -- the first thing he needs to do is start explaining why Susan Rice made those statements.  As many in the press who cover the White House have pointed out in conversations over the last weeks, "Why even Susan Rice?  Why was she the one sent out?"
The White House had an announcement about Iraq and Afghanistan today -- sent to the public e-mail address by a White House friend (I can't find it at the White House website, if it's up tomorrow -- or if a friend calls and tells me where it is -- we will do a link to it in tomorrow's snapshot).  So here's the brand new news that the White House announced today:
Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough traveled to Iraq and Afghanistan October 15-17. In meetings in Baghdad on October 15, Mr. McDonough underscored the U.S. commitment to Iraq's success through the structure of the bilateral Strategic Framework Agreement.  He reviewed our cooperation on security issues, and discussed how the U.S. and Iraq could further improve their partnership, including on counterterrorism.  In meetings with President Talabani, Prime Minister Maliki, and with Parliament Speaker Nujayfi and others, Mr. McDonough stressed the President's support for Iraq's independent democratic institutions, and urged inclusive dialogue toward national reconciliation.  Mr. McDonough reiterated our view that that any investigation into Iraq's Central Bank must be transparent, in accordance with Iraqi law and free from political influence to avoid undermining the independence of the institution or investor confidence in Iraq. In all of his meetings with Iraq's leaders, Mr. McDonough discussed Syria, with a particular focus on ensuring that violence from Syria does not degrade Iraq's domestic security.  During his visit to Baghdad, Mr. McDonough spoke with Roman Catholic Archbishop Jean Sleiman and expressed the President's continuing support for the rights and security of all of Iraq's minority groups.
On October 16 and 17 in Afghanistan, Deputy National Security Advisor McDonough met with U.S. civilian and military leaders, as well as our coalition and Afghan partners, in Kabul, and in Eastern and Southern Afghanistan.  In these meetings, he discussed the current state of transition to Afghan lead and our progress towards meeting the objectives agreed to at the NATO Summit in Chicago earlier this year.  In Kabul, Mr. McDonough met with General Allen and other senior ISAF officials to discuss the military campaign, the transition process, and the status of building and strengthening the Afghan National Security Forces to assume responsibility as U.S. and coalition forces continue to draw down. Mr. McDonough also met with Ambassador Cunningham and Embassy staff to discuss Afghanistan's political transition, including reconciliation, the upcoming 2014 elections, and implementation of our mutual commitments under the Strategic Partnership Agreement. Mr. McDonough completed his visit by meeting with military personnel in Regional Command-East and Regional Command-South, to hear their perspective on the challenges they face as we move forward, including the recent troubling trend of insider attacks and the mitigation steps being taken against them.
Wow.  That is news.  Maybe the press will report it now?  Tuesday morning though, hmm?  What went up here Tuesday morning?  Oh, that's right, "What is the US Deputy NSA doing in Iraq?"  From that entry:
While England's closing its Basra Consulate, the US has a figure on the ground, Denis R. McDonough.  Barack's Deputy National Security Advisor.  All Iraq News reports he and members of his team met with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani yesterday.  Al Mada adds that the discussions involved Syria, violence and the Strategic Framework Agreement.  Al Mada also reports that McDonough met with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and along with discussing those topics, McDonough also stressed the many visits the US government will be making in the coming weeks.Press TV has an article about alleged renewed interest in Iraq by the campaigns of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  And some might see the meetings as part of that.  But there's a reason the White House isn't publicizing the visit or who's on it -- including a key SOFA negotiator from the Bush administration.
SOFA?  Strategic Framework Agreement?  What was it 
Tim Arango reported: for the New York Times September 26th?  Oh, yeah:

["] Iraq and the United States are negotiating an agreement that could result in the return of small units of American soldiers to Iraq on training missions. At the request of the Iraqi government, according to General Caslen, a unit of Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq to advise on counterterrorism and help with intelligence.["]

That's what the US security delegations are making trips about: the negotiations to send more US troops back into Iraq.
So this afternoon, the White House announces a trip after it's taken place.  I guess that's one way to ensure that it won't be covered.  (UPI, to its credit, did do a write up on the White House press release today.)
That's not the only American official who's visted Iraq and had a press release.  A friend with the State Dept passed on this (and she included a link):
Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro completed a series of consultations with senior civilian and military officials in the United Kingdom, Iraq, and Jordan this week.
In London, Assistant Secretary Shapiro met with senior officials on a wide range of political-military issues, including counter-piracy and further expansion of security cooperation through the new U.S.-U.K. Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty, which entered into force earlier this year. This treaty recognizes and supports the longstanding special relationship between the two nations by facilitating industry collaboration and innovation, allowing American and British troops to get the best technology in the fastest way possible to meet shared security challenges.
In Baghdad, Assistant Secretary Shapiro met with senior officials, highlighting our ongoing commitment to developing a long-term cooperative bilateral security relationship through training and defense trade.
In Amman, Assistant Secretary Shapiro held consultations on a wide range of political-military issues, including ongoing efforts to further enhance partnerships with a longstanding regional partner in peacekeeping, humanitarian demining, border security, and regional security issues.
If you're not getting it, there is a reason Shaprio went to Baghdad.  Refer to those two sentences from Tim Arango.
Turning to the continued violence,  AP reports a Baghdad roadside bombing claimed the lives of 2 police officers with two more left injured, a Baghdad market bombing claimed 2 lives and left seven injured and yet anoteher Baghdad market bombing claimed 1 life and left six people injured,   Alsumaria adds that an Abu Saida bombing (Diyala Province) claimed the life of 1 farmer and an Abu Sir bombing (also Diyala Province) left one Iraqi solider injuredAll Iraq News notes that, just north of Mosul, a police officer and his son were attacked leaving the police officer dead and his son injured.  AFP adds that 1 truck driver was shot dead in Baghdad and that 2 people were shot dead in Muqdadiyah "in separate incidents by gunmen using silenced weapons."
In addition, Alsumaria reports Turkish warplanes bombed Dohuk Province last night for approximately two hours.  Citing the office of the PUK (Iraqi President Jalal Talabani's political party) as its source, All Iraq News notes that the bombings began at approximately one this morning (Iraq time).   Aaron Hess (International Socialist Review) described the PKK in 2008, "The PKK emerged in 1984 as a major force in response to Turkey's oppression of its Kurdish population. Since the late 1970s, Turkey has waged a relentless war of attrition that has killed tens of thousands of Kurds and driven millions from their homes. The Kurds are the world's largest stateless population -- whose main population concentration straddles Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and Syria -- and have been the victims of imperialist wars and manipulation since the colonial period. While Turkey has granted limited rights to the Kurds in recent years in order to accommodate the European Union, which it seeks to join, even these are now at risk."

The latest bombing raids follow the objection to the bombings by some in Nouri's Baghdad-based government and the one-year renewal of the bombing authorization by the Turkish Parlament.  Such a vote grants legal authorization only within Turkey.  The legal justification for the raids outside is the existing agreement that Iraq and Turkey signed a few years back giving authorization to these raids.  This agreement has not been rescidned even though Nouri has been critizing the raids in recent weeks.  Trend News Agency notes that MP Iskander "Witwit said that the Iraqi parliament is considering the issue of cancelling the agreement about the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq signed earlier between Turkey and Iraq."   Vestnik informs that Baghdad wants "forces to the Turkish border" in the belief that this will stop the aerial bombings.  And not only are things tense between the Baghdad-based government and the Ankara-based government, now the US Ambassador to Turkey has made comments that may force the Turkish Prime Minister to 'get tough' at a time when it should be obvious that military action does not solve the issue of disenfranchising the Kurds.  Hurriyet Daily News reports that the opposition parties in Turkey are bringing up the comments made by the US Ambassador and implying that Recep  Tayyip Erdogan is a puppet of the United States:
"Unfortunately, Mr. Prime Minister is the leader of a government that fought against terror to the extent that the United States allowed him to do," Haluk Koç, spokesperson of the Republican People's Party (CHP) told reporters at a weekly press conference yesterday. "He is not a ruling prime minister but is being ruled."
Ambassador Frank Ricciardone had said that Washington suggested to
Turkey the implementation of the TTPs (tactics, techniques and procedure, a means of multi-disciplinary military organization), that paved the way for the killing of Osama bin Laden, the architect of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, during an Oct. 16 meeting in Ankara with the bureau chiefs of news channels.
"We have made proposals to
Turkey to provide more than we do. We have [offered] to share the TTPs [with them]. I will not enter into the details of our secret works with your government, but the Turkish government is carrying out its works on the basis of its laws and experiences," Ricciardone said.
Is the US attempting to force the Turkish government into more violence?  Is that what this exposure is about?  Ricciardone as an ambassador dates back to the Bully Boy Bush era, he's been around enough to know what you do say intentionally and what you don't.  It appears he either had a serious lapse of judgment or else it is the US government's goal to up the violence in northern Iraq.  This is a big story in the Turkish press.  Hurriyet Daily News has several stories on it including this one which notes:
If Francis Ricciardone, the U.S. Ambassador to Ankara, had not revealed that there had been a secret offer to the Turkish government to have an "Anti-bin Laden" type joint operation against Murat Karayılan and other military leaders of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) based in the north of Iraq, it would possibly have remained a secret for many more years.
Responding to questions from Turkish journalists, Ricciardone said on Oct. 16 that the U.S. had offered the Turkish government its state of the art military technology to hunt down the military leaders of the PKK. However, the Turkish government declined, saying it would continue fighting the
PKK "on the basis of its laws and experiences."
When asked the same day, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan confirmed that he had turned down the offer on a rather technical basis. "Bin Laden was caught in a house" he said, recalling the U.S. commando raid on a house near the Pakistani capital Islamabad on May 2, 2011. "But the struggle here is in mountainous geography". (We can assume that the offer was made within the last year-and-a-half.)
The region did not need this.  It was either a huge bungle or the US government is attempting to sew unrest.  Just yesterday, Azad Amin (Kurdish Globe) was issuing cautions and warnings in an article entitled, "Disaster awaits Kurds without National Strategy."  The US Ambassador's remarks are like playing with matches at a gasoline pump.  The White House needs to be asked to explain their strategy towards and relationship with the Turkish government and how the amassador's remarks fit into that grand-scale vision.  Today's Zaman notes that Nechirvan Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, has told the BBC that warfare will not solve the problem and "So, the critical question is 'Does Turkey want to solve the issue?' If it does, it has to sit down at the negotiating table with the PKK."
In other news, a new poll can be seen as an indictment of Nouri al-Maliki's six years as prime minister.  Al Mada reports a survey of Iraqis has found that they have little faith in their government.  Whether it's the 55% that does not have faith in the security forces, or the 61% who believe that equal rights (regardless of religious beliefs -- this isn't about gender equality) are very low in Iraq or 60% who believe the government doesn't treat citizens fairly, or the 50% who believe they will be harmed if they criticize the government, or the 54% who think the judiciary lacks independence, these results read like an indictment of the last six years (the US made Nouri prime minister in April of 2006, after they rejected Iraqi MPs' choice of Ibrahim al-Jaafari). The disastification comes as All Iraq News reports a protest in Najaf today over the reduction in hours of electricity.

Yesterday, Sinan al-Shabibi, the governor of Iraq's Central Bank, was ousted and replaced with the Nouri-friendly Abdul-Baset Turki.  This follows Nouri's 2011 attempt to insist that he had control over the Central Bank (he doesn't).  AP notes, "The governor, Sinan al-Shabibi, is seen as a politically independent economist who has led the bank since shortly after the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.Al Mada notes criticism from Moqtada al-Sadr and Iraqiya over the move and that some fear -- since other members of the Central Bank's board are being investigated -- this is part of a move by Nouri to take control by appointing State of Law-ers to all the posts (State of Law is Nouri's political slate).  MP Naajiba Najib serves on Parliament's Finance Committee and tells All Iraq News that the alleged irregularities did not rise to the leve of firing and that the move damages Iraq's reputation on the international stage.  Iraqiya MP Qusay al-Abadi tells All Iraq News that the move was premature and damaging.

Not a good news cycle for Nouri.  From yesterday's snapshot, "Staying with the political, Wael Grace (Al Mada) reports the other political blocs are accusing Nouri's State of Law of preventing progress on proposed legislation due to a walk out State of Law staged.  Iraqiya says State of Law's goal Monday was to disable the Parliament with their walk out. "  Today Mohammad Sabah (Al Mada) reports that Parliament's Services Committee is accusing State of Law of blocking a vote on the Telecommunications and Information Law.

While Nouri's reputation diminishes further, All Iraq News reports that KRG President Massoud Barzani, Iraqiya leader Ayad Allawi and Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi met to discuss the political crisis and propose solutions with all agreeing the Erbil Agreement needs to be implemented.
Back to the US, Trina praised Brian Montopoli's "Do the debates unfairly shut out third parties?" (CBS News) last night and she was right to praise it.  Here he is reporting on 1980's third party candidate John Anderson:
In an interview, Anderson said the debates are now "pretty well locked into the maintenance of a two-party system."
"Very clearly, the present system is wrong in my humble judgment in that it excludes the possibility that there could rise up a reasonable and probably candidate from someone other than one of the major parties," he said.
Brian's written a very important article exploring the factors that decide the debates currently.   On third parties, do not miss this interview with Cindy Sheehan.  (Time permitting, we'll note some of it tomorrow.)  The Green Party presidential ticket (Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala) were at the New York debate last night and arrested for attempting to participate.  Kimberly and Ian Wilder were there and they have photos at their site On The Wilder SideRobert Naiman has an important piece on the Drone War at Huffington Post.  And personal note, Cedric read your wife's post from last night.  I hate it when I know things I'm not supposed to.  Ann, if he doesn't figure it out, call me.  And _____. 

1 comment:

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