Monday, April 30, 2007

Democrats are not calling to leave Iraq -Just change stategy.

I think it is the fault of the media that the Democrat's proposed `timetable for withdrawal' is seen as the US leaving Iraq.

It is not. Basically what the bill propose is that the US stops it's official combat brigades.

The Democrats and others feel that the US has no place in meddling (as opposed to mediating) in the civil war situation that is happening in Iraq. However - they are not calling for a cut and run - just a re-mandate of purpose from trying to maker the country safe to naking sure US assets are safe.

Under the proposed `pull out' measures an awful lot will be left in. In addition the private militia (such as Blackwater- see other post) will most likely remain being better equipped to do `dirty work' (they being under no public accountability) rather than the continual embarrassment when `our' troops get caught being bad.

From the Nation: How Not to Withdraw from Iraq: The Democrats' Plan by Tom Engelhardt

Before you imagine that the Democrats' plan, just passed by Congress, would actually get U.S. troops out of Iraq, read the fine print.

Let's be clear about what it is -- when it comes to "withdrawal" from Iraq -- that the President will veto this Wednesday. Section 1904(b) of the supplemental appropriations bill for the Pentagon, H.R. 1591, passed by the House and Senate, mandates that the Secretary of Defense "commence the redeployment of the Armed Forces from Iraq not later than October 1, 2007, with a goal of completing such redeployment within 180 days." If you've been listening to network TV news shows or reading your local newspaper with less than an eagle eye, you might well be under the impression that -- just as the phrasing above seems to indicate -- a Democratic-controlled Congress has just passed a bill that mandates a full-scale American withdrawal from Iraq. (Reporters and commentators regularly speak of the Democrats' insistence that "American troops be withdrawn from Iraq.") But that's only until you start reading the exceptions embedded in the bill.

Here are the main ones. According to H.R. 1591, the Secretary of Defense is allowed to keep U.S. forces in Iraq for the following purposes:

1. "Protecting American diplomatic facilities and American citizens, including members of the United States Armed Forces": This doesn't sound like much, but don't be fooled. As a start, of course, there would have to be forces guarding the new American embassy in Baghdad (known to Iraqis as "George W's Palace"). When completed, it will be the largest embassy in the known universe with untold thousands of employees; then there would need to be forces to protect the heavily fortified citadel of the Green Zone (aka "the International Zone") which protects the embassy and other key U.S. facilities. Add to these troops to guard the network of gigantic, multibillion dollar U.S. bases in Iraq like Balad Air Base (with air traffic volume that rivals Chicago's O'Hare) and whatever smaller outposts might be maintained.

We're talking about a sizable force here.

2. "Training and equipping members of the Iraqi Security Forces": By later this year, U.S. advisors and trainers for the Iraqi military, part of a program the Pentagon is now ramping up, should reach the 10,000-20,000 range (many of whom -- see above -- would undoubtedly need "guarding").

3. "Engaging in targeted special actions limited in duration and scope to killing or capturing members of al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations with global reach": This is a loophole of loopholes that could add up to almost anything as, in a pinch, all sorts of Sunni oppositional forces could be labeled "al-Qaeda."

An Institute for Policy Studies analysis suggests that the "protection forces" and advisors alone could add up to 40,000-60,000 troops.
None of this, of course, includes U.S. Navy or Air Force units stationed outside Iraq but engaged in actions in, or support for actions in, that country.

Another way of thinking about the Democratic withdrawal proposals (to be vetoed this week by the President) is that they represent a program to remove only U.S. "combat brigades," adding up to perhaps half of all U.S. forces, with a giant al-Qaeda loophole for their return. None of this would deal with the heavily armed and fortified U.S. permanent bases in Iraq or the air war that would almost certainly escalate if only part of the American expeditionary forces were withdrawn (and the rest potentially left more vulnerable).

No less strikingly, in an era in which the "privatizing" of state functions is the rage, the enormous mercenary forces of private "security" companies like Blackwater USA, now fighting a shadow war alongside U.S. troops in Iraq, would be untouched. On this point, Jeremy Scahill, author of the bestseller, Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army, has much to say in a recent post at He writes: "Even if the President didn't veto their legislation, the Democrats' plan does almost nothing to address the second largest force in Iraq -- and it's not the British military. It's the estimated 126,000 private military ‘contractors' who will stay put there as long as Congress continues funding the war."

Sunday, April 29, 2007

George Tenent is still at the Center of the Storm

The man of the moment as we end the month of April is George Tenent who recievd 4 million in Advance for his new book Center of the Storm.

I covered the New York Times Book review in the last post. Here are two short videos that cover the reaction to the book (below).

The MUST SEE is Tenents 60 Minute interview which you can see here over at Crooks & Lyers :

These other two videos really give such a biased view of this man that when you see him explaining himself it is quiet awakening. He makes his dedication to `his officers' quite plain. He admits mistakes and tries to rationalize what occured from his perspective. He is frighteninglly annimated in this confrontational interview.

How he sees the chain of events.

1. CIA knew about Bin Laden and were activelly trying to attack where he belived Bin Laden was based both during the Clinton Administration and the Bush administration.

2. Bush gave him thge OK to attack Aphganistan. The first US war lead by the CIA- wehich he feels was successful.

3. Bin Laden Escaped.

4> Desperate times called for desperate measures ( why we tortured people)

5. Richard Perle was the first one he heard blame Iraq for 9/11.

6. There was very little debate aboutr attcaking Iraq.

7. Tenent and the CIA knew that Saddamm didnt have nukes and let it be known, and stopped the comment from being used in two Presidential speaches.

8. Tennet did not read (as he should have the President's State of the Union adress- but passed that task down to flunkiew who did not catch the misstatement.

9. The CIA made an educated guess about the Chemical weapons- and they were wrong. Sorry. (Especially to Collin Powell).

10 Joe Wilson wrote his famous editorial about there being no Uranium coming from Africa- and the White House attacked the CIA by outing Wilson's wife Vallery Plame. That was wrong and inexcusable.

11. The bad guys were Condelica Rice and Dick Cheney.

1.. Someone mis-quoted Tenent on the `slam dunk statement" as a set up to Bob Woodward.

13. Bush gave him the meddle of Freedom because of the CIA's work in Afghanistan and not Iraq, and he did question whether or not to take it.


Keith Olberman interviews Larry Johnson regarding George Tenet's new book, At the Center of the Storm. Covers the White House response to his book. And, interestingly covers Democrat Senator Dick Durben's complicit role as a member of the intelligence committee hiding the truth at the time (because the truth was secret) and then proudly boasting he- who knew more facts than others- voted against the war.

Iraq War: Three new books shed light in a historical perspective.

AT THE CENTER OF THE STORM My Years at the C.I.A. By George Tenet
with Bill Harlow Illustrated. 549 pages. HarperCollins. $30.

Former CIA director tries to clear his embattled reputation concerning his role in the Bush White House decision to go to war in Iraq: "Mr. Tenet says he doubts that W.M.D.’s were the principal cause of the United States’ decision to go to war in Iraq in the first place, that it was just “the public face that was put on it.” The real reason, he suggests, stemmed from “the administration’s largely unarticulated view that the democratic transformation of the Middle East through regime change in Iraq would be worth the price.”

Mr. Tenet notes that his “slam dunk” remarks came “10 months after the president saw the first workable war plan for Iraq,” and “two weeks after the Pentagon had issued the first military deployment order sending U.S. troops to the region.” He points out that many senior Bush administration officials, including Paul D. Wolfowitz and Douglas J. Feith, were focused on Iraq long before 9/11, and that Mr. Cheney asked Bill Clinton’s then-departing secretary of defense, William Cohen, before the 2001 inauguration to give the incoming president a comprehensive briefing on Iraq and detail possible future actions.

The New York Times review claims he stonewalls on certain issues, such as treatment of detainees, and that he tries to give positive lip service to Bush and Chaney while serving a subtext of these two as arrogant who believe what they wanted despite intelligence. He does attack Condolica Rice, Perl and others with much less reserve.

Interestingly he is not optimistic about the Administartions `surge plan' sectarian violence, he argues, has “taken on a life of its own,” and he sees American forces becoming increasingly “irrelevant to the management of that violence.”

This book has already stirred up quite a bit of interest- though it will be officially released tomorrow.

The Times also reviews Bill Bradely's new book THE NEW AMERICAN STORY (364 pages. Random House. $25.95.) under an article with the diminutive title of: From the Sidelines, a View of the Middle as the Loser.

"Bill Bradley, the former United States senator from New Jersey and former presidential candidate, got out of politics in 2000 after losing the Democratic nomination to Al Gore, and so wrote this book, he says, from “outside the political pressure cooker,” with “no ax to grind and no political ambition to accomplish.”

Mr Bradley gives his assessment of not only the Bush administrations "is handling of the Iraq war — which the former senator bluntly calls an “oil war” — and for leading the country “down a dangerous path toward empire." He claims that “The case can be made that George Bush has destroyed the Republican Party by his profligacy, his arrogance, his stubborn machismo, and his absolute conviction that whatever he does is right.”.

Bradley doesn't pull punches with the Democrats- calling Clinton's administration a lost opportunity, and blames Hillary Clinton for the failed Health care initiative.

Maybe the `loser' position puts a chip on his shoulder, but Bradley really wants to make some suggestion to try to put the US back on a progressive track, including "implementing a gasoline tax of $1 a gallon to providing up to $12,000 in college tuition money for high school students in the top third of their graduating classes."

According to the Times review his main argument is that the focus of those in power is most often on the issues that matter to a few "peripheral issues"- like abortion, gay rightes, medical marijuana- then on issues that matter to a larger majority- like social security for example.

It's hard to speculate how this book will fare with so many other `election' time book coming out, and because of it's overt / hos overt - Democrat bias. But diatribes against Bush I think will be selling well as frustration over his failed Presidency grows.

The third book of interest this week is not about Bush or Iraq, but the Times reviewer writes about Robert Dallek's new book Nixon & Kissinger, "One cannot help regarding his account of the Nixon White House and its handling of the Vietnam War as a kind of parable about the presidency of George W. Bush and its determination to stay the course in Iraq.

NIXON AND KISSINGER: Partners in Power By Robert Dallek
Illustrated. 740 pages. HarperCollins. $32.50.

Dallek works at combining insights from other books about these notorious leaders and intertwines them "shrewdly" with "recently declassified archives, including transcripts of Mr. Kissinger’s phone calls and the papers of Alexander M. Haig Jr., Mr. Kissinger’s deputy on the National Security Council and later Nixon’s chief of staff."

The correlations between Nixon and Kisseneger with Bush and his cronies has it's obvious differences, as Nixon and Kissenger did not get along well:" President Nixon would ask his aide John Ehrlichman to talk to Mr. Kissinger about getting therapy, while Mr. Kissinger would frequently refer to his boss as “that madman,” “our drunken friend” and “the meatball mind." Bush doesn't seem to be working with anyone who has anything but total loyalty to him, nor anyone with quite the intelligent ambition as Kissinger (Cheney?).

With history to aid in the analysis of the Nixon regime it is easier to make judgments then it is to make good historic judgements about Bush's missteps currentlly. But to use this book for it's insightful analysis's leaves one with a greater understanding of arrogance and paranoia that our current administration exhibits.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Iraq War: Iraq Prime Minister is a Failed Leader

USA Today reports that Prime Minsiter Al-Maliki support eroding in Iraq

BAGHDAD — A broad range of prominent Iraqi lawmakers say they have lost confidence in Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's ability to reconcile the country's warring factions. A leading Kurdish lawmaker said al-Maliki should resign.

Legislators from several parties told USA TODAY that al-Maliki lacks the support in parliament to push through laws, such as a plan to distribute oil revenues, that could reduce tensions between Sunnis and Shiites. Iraq's parliament has failed to pass major legislation since a U.S.-led security plan began on Feb. 14.

"He is a weak prime minister," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish legislator who supported al-Maliki until recently. "This government hasn't delivered and is not capable of doing the job. They should resign." (Editors note:The Kurds want their independence and that will not be a consideration under al-Maliki)

The loss of support came as Democrats agreed Monday on legislation that would force U.S. troops to begin leaving Iraq by Oct. 1. President Bush, who said he would veto the bill, has argued that Iraq's government needs more time to calm sectarian violence. (Editors note: All must consider the possibility that there will not be a decrease in violence in the foreseeable future - no matter what the political landscape turns into. The hostility is now larger than politics. Suicide bombing speaks of a type of barbaric desperation that cannot be appeased by anything but time.)

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in Baghdad last week that the U.S. military commitment is not "open ended" and will be re-evaluated in late summer based in part on whether parliament has made progress. Al-Maliki seems unable to broker deals among the fractious alliance of Kurds and Shiites who supported his appointment last May, said Qasim Dawood, a member of al-Maliki's coalition.

"The present government is not competent," said Dawood, a Shiite legislator. "It's more or less paralyzed, inactive. I doubt very much that this government can continue in power much longer."

A political adviser to al-Maliki, whose term ends in 2010, said that the prime minister has no power to pass laws by himself. "We can only ask, push, the (parliament) to approve," Sadiq al-Rikabi said.

Al-Rikabi said there is no viable alternative to al-Maliki as prime minister. "Suppose he resigns," al-Rikabi said. "Then what is the solution?"

The (greatlly troubled) Bush administration "has confidence in Prime Minister Maliki," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council. (Editors note: Bush also has confidence in troubled Attorney General Gonzales, and has had confidence in a series of politico's who have proven themselves corrupt and incompetent.)

Pending constitutional amendments on issues such as tax revenue sharing have stalled, said Ayad al-Samarrai, deputy chairman of the Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni group. He said al-Maliki's poor reputation among Sunnis was partly to blame. "We don't see any progress" on sectarian reconciliation, al-Samarrai said.

Six Cabinet ministers loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric whose support was crucial in naming al-Maliki as prime minister, resigned this month. (Editors note: al-Maliki in the past has unfairly protected al Sadr and his militia from the coolition forces, so his departure is a significant sign of al Malaki's power even among his own people.)

"(Al-Maliki) must do something to make this government stronger," said Bahaa al-Araji, a lawmaker loyal to al-Sadr. "If not, this government will expire within a few weeks."

Contributing: David Jackson in Washington, Brian Winter in McLean, Va.

It is the position of this editor that al-Maliki is part of the problem and will not be instrumental in the solution. He has in the past claimed he does not want to be Prime Minister. He has thrown an undiplomatic fit and has refused to speak with the British after they raided a criminally run police station. He has courted Iranian friendship even though the US is politically opposed to such a friendship. He hints on one hand that he wants the US out, while on the other hand he is pocketing the money the US feeds into his coffers for his cooperation with Bush's oil initiatives in Iraq. Bush is not and has not been a good leader and he has shown a continual failure to pick good leaders. The sooner we remove al Maliki from power, the sooner a new leader can pull Iraq together and forward.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

WARNING BRUTAL IMAGES :: Day of Carnage in Iraq Bombing after Bombing after Bombing

Death and Destruction as Bush tries to keep financing his failed invasion.

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- An Iraqi army brigade commander was arrested Wednesday night after a string of bombings that killed nearly 200 people around Baghdad, most of them in a single attack at a central marketplace, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's office announced.

Explosion at the Sadriya market

The explosion at the Sadriya market, one of the Iraqi capital's oldest and busiest venues, killed 140 people and wounded about 150, an Iraqi Interior Ministry official told CNN. A statement from al-Maliki's office said the brigade commander was removed because of "the weakness of security measures put in place to protect civilians in Sadriya."

The marketplace attack was the worst of at least six bombings across Baghdad -- a particularly bloody day in a city wracked by sectarian warfare and a U.S.-Iraqi crackdown against insurgents. It was the worst bombing in the Iraqi capital since the 4-year-old war began, topping the February toll of 130 dead in a bombing in the same marketplace. (Watch as death toll climbs after attacks in Iraq Video)

The marketplace is filled with streets and alleyways that crisscross one another. The time of the attack -- about 4 p.m. (8 a.m. ET) -- is generally busy, with vendors selling electronics, produce, clothing and other items.

The arrested officer, whose name was not immediately released, was in command of the 2nd Brigade of the Iraqi army's 2nd Division, and will face an investigative committee looking into the bombings.

In all, bombings around the capital killed 198 people, the Interior Ministry reported.

Also an Iraqi Army checkpoint bombing killed 35

In addition to the Sadriya attack, a suicide car bombing killed 35 people and wounded 55 near an Iraqi Army checkpoint at one of the entrances to Sadr City.

Also in the Iraqi Karrada district bombing killed 11

Another bomb blast in central Baghdad's Karrada district killed 11 people and wounded 13, while bombs targeting police patrols in southern and southwestern Baghdad killed six police officers and two civilians, while wounding 14 people.

Also in the Iraqi Rusafi Square bombing killed 4

Another four civilians were killed when a bomb planted in a minibus detonated in Rusafi Square, a busy intersection in central Baghdad, the Iraqi Interior Ministry reported. Nine people were wounded.

Transfer of Security of Mayasan Province

The attacks occurred the same day British commanders transferred security control over the southern province of Maysan to Iraqi troops, a sign that Iraq is taking another step toward self-reliance. But the Baghdad blasts reflects the stiff challenges posed by what has been a resilient insurgency.

In Washington, Adm. William Fallon, the chief of U.S. forces in the Middle East, told a congressional committee that while he sees optimistic developments in Iraq, "there is hardly a week that goes by, certainly almost a day that doesn't go by without some major event that also causes us to lose ground."

Fallon told the House Armed Services Committee in Washington that the Baghdad security crackdown "is really the Iraqi leadership's major and potentially last opportunity to really take this ball forward."

"It's imperative, from my view, that they act on it," he said.

Not Clear if attacks were linked

It is not clear whether Wednesday's attacks were linked, since many insurgent groups operate across Baghdad at any point in time. But most of the attacks targeted Shiite areas, and the market and checkpoint attacks, happened in areas where the Mehdi Army -- the militia of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr -- holds sway.

The Sadr City checkpoint bombing occurred at one of the new checkpoints set up for new crackdown in the capital.

Transfer of security in Maysan province

The Sadr City checkpoint bombing occurred at one of the new checkpoints set up in a new crackdown in the capital.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military was on the move against insurgents. Coalition raids in and around the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Falluja, Taji, and Mosul on Wednesday led to the killing of six insurgents and the detention of more than 40 others, the U.S. military said.

One US Troop also dies from Non-Battle Injury

A Task Force Marine soldier died in Baghdad on Tuesday of "non-battle injuries, the U.S. military said Wednesday.

Farther south in Maysan province, officials boasted that the transfer of security -- in what has been a relatively quiet district -- "demonstrates another step towards a stable and secure Iraq."

But Maysan isn't a sectarian flashpoint. It is a largely rural stretch located in the Shiite heartland in the south bordering Iran.

A statement from U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, British Ambassador Dominic Asquith, and U.S. Gen. David Petraeus said, "Maysan is the fourth of 18 provinces to be transitioned and this reflects Iraq's continued steps toward a capability to govern and protect itself and its citizens as a sovereign nation."

CNN's Jomana Karadsheh, Arwa Damon, Mohammed Tawfeeq, and Carolina Sanchez contributed to this report.

Monday, April 16, 2007

The Rebel Cleric in Iraq breaks from the coolition government

The young cleric leader Muqtada al-Sadr, whom the US doesn't like, is pulling his party's 6 ministers out of Iraqis coalition government.

Sadr us doing this primarily to protest against the continuing US presence in the country.

Iraq's prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and Nuri al-Maliki are both Shia. Maliki's government has in the past protected Sadr and his private army. Recently he warned Sardr that his military would suffer the fate of any private militia in the door to door sweep lead by the Americans in Baghdad. Sadr was said to have fled to Iran and his forces were not encountered by the occupation forces during searches.

Sadr is back. Last week, tens of thousands of Iraqis answered a call by Sadr to rally in Najaf to protest against the presence of about 140,000 US-led troops in Iraq.

The sentiment in Iraq against the US lead occupation has increased during the recent US surge that has brought the US military and Iraq police into door to door searches for the rebellious.

Sadr is leading the rhetoric drive to `let the Iraqi's have their country back'. However, by his move of leaving his party's legitimate and powerful political place in the country's government, makes him more of a rouge dissident, for whom the US to attack.

The Bush administrations orchestrated plans for some of Iraqi oil fields to be developed by outside interest needs protection. The US will protect these independent oil developers so that the price and delivery of oil will not be determined by political agendas of the Middle Eastern countries.

While a majority in the US want a timetable for US troop withdrawal, the reality will be that the US will always hold a substantial military presence in Iraq as long as their are private oil producing firms there.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Iran bars Iraq PM from its air space

Iran bars Iraq PM from its air space

By Ahmed Rasheed

Iran refused to allow a plane carrying Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on a trip to Asia to cross its air space overnight, a senior adviser to the Iraqi leader said on Sunday.

Sadiq al-Rikabi, who is accompanying Maliki on the trip to Japan and South Korea, said the prime minister's plane entered Iranian air space at about 8:30 p.m. on Saturday.

"Suddenly the Iranian aviation authorities ordered the pilot to go back," Rikabi said.

"We were obliged to fly to Dubai where we stayed for more than three hours to file a new (flight) plan," he said by telephone from Bangkok, where the plane was just about to depart for Tokyo.

Rikabi said it was unclear why Iran had barred Maliki's plane from crossing its territory.

Asked about the reports, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini implied Maliki's plane may have faced an issue over permission to fly across Iran but said it was not an unusual problem.

"Permission for Maliki's flight is a normal issue. All flights need permission," he told a weekly news conference in Tehran, without giving further details.

Iraq's U.S.-backed government has often had to tread a delicate path in trying to maintain good relations with both Iran, its neighbor to the east, and the United States.

Maliki, a Shi'ite, visited Tehran last September to urge Iran not to interfere in Iraq. President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd, made an official trip to Tehran in November.

Washington accuses Shi'ite Iran of stoking violence in Iraq and in January detained five men it says were linked to Iran's Revolutionary Guards and backing militants. Iran insists they are diplomats, wants them freed and has requested access.

Iraq's foreign minister said last week the Iraqi government was trying to secure the release of the five Iranians, who were detained by U.S. forces during a raid on an Iranian government office in the northern Iraqi city of Arbil on January 11.

An Iranian diplomat freed two months after being kidnapped in Baghdad by gunmen wearing Iraqi army uniforms has said he was tortured by U.S. forces while in captivity, Iran's Fars News Agency reported on Saturday.

Iran has previously blamed the U.S. military for his abduction but U.S. officials had denied any role. On Saturday the U.S. military again denied playing any part in kidnapping the diplomat, or in his alleged torture. Iraq has said it did not know who had snatched the diplomat.

Maliki is seeking support for rebuilding his war-devastated country on the trip to Japan and South Korea.

(Additional reporting by Tehran bureau)

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