ROBERT SHAPIRO: Well, the fact is that our failure to stabilize housing prices has extended the slowness of this expansion. It is -- the fact is, when people feel that they're getting poorer month by month, when their net worth is going down, which means their debt is not changing, but the value of their assets is falling, they hold back on spending.
That's what we have seen in -- among consumers. And when consumers hold back, businesses don't invest.
Robert Shapiro (quoted above) was one of three experts Gwyn Ifill spoke with on The NewsHour tonight (listen, read, watch).
And we keep thinking we've heard all the bad economic news there is.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Tuesday:
Tuesday, June 12, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, Gina Chon and the Wall St. Journal part ways, Iraq and Iran grow further entwined, is Brett McGurk the reason the alleged killer of 5 US soldiers will likely walk, Cindy Sheehan talks about how the peace movement got hijacked by Democratic Party operatives, and more.
It's official: The Barack Obama administration is now the least accountable administration in modern history. How did it earn that dishonor?
When Rupert Murdoch's Wall St. Journal shows stronger ethics than your administration, there is a problem. When Wall St. Journal reporter Gina Chon and married Bush administration figure Brett McGurk decided to get hot and heavy in Baghdad in 2008, each was violating written policies of their employers. At present McGurk is still attempting to become US Ambassador to Iraq. Gina Chon, however, has parted with employer today.
Howard Kurtz (Daily Beast) reports, "Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon resigned on Tuesday over her relationship with a U.S. official who is now President Obama's nominee to be ambassador to Iraq." Lisa Dru (Business Insider) reports on the news as well and includes the Wall St. Journal's statement:
Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon agreed to resign this afternoon after acknowledging that while based in Iraq she violated the Dow Jones Code of Conduct by sharing certain unpublished news articles with Brett McGurk, then a member of the U.S. National Security Council in Iraq.
In 2008 Ms. Chon entered into a personal relationship with Mr. McGurk, which she failed to disclose to her editor. At this time the Journal has found no evidence that her coverage was tainted by her relationship with Mr. McGurk.
Ms. Chon joined the Journal in 2005 in Detroit, followed by an assignment as Iraq correspondent in Baghdad from 2007 to 2009. She also reported for the Journal from Haiti in 2010 in the aftermath of the earthquake and has served as a M&A reporter for Money & Investing in New York since April 2010.
Whitney Lloyd, Jake Tapper and Dana Hughes (ABC News) explain, "The emails, first published by the blog Cryptome last week and confirmed by ABC News, are sexually explicit and suggest that Chon got much of her information, guidance and access for her reporting from McGurk during their affair." Joe Coscarelli (New York magazine) quotes Senator James Risch on McGurk's nomination, "Prior to these e-mail revelations, I had reservations about confirming Brett McGurk as ambassador to Iraq. Now that additional issues have been raised, more information will be needed and I reserve final judgment until all the facts are brought to light." Adam Martin (The Atlantic) observes, "In the end, it wasn't the sex with a source but the admission she shared unpublished stories with him that caused Wall Street Journal reporter Gina Chon to resign from the paper." Like Howard Kurtz, Meenal Vamburkar (Mediaite) is reporting that Chon took her leave of absence from the paper after the e-mails were published.
As usual The Huffington Post does a lousy job covering this story (while Poynter and CJR ignore it outright) as demonstrated by the comments where stupidity is flaunted with comments like "They got married!" or that they only had an affair. You don't sleep with your source. And, yes, HuffPo should do a better job covering the issues involved; however, most grown ups should already know that sleeping with your source -- especially someone working for the government -- is a huge conflict of interest. Not an apparent one. A conflict of interest.
That's what Lisa Du was explaining yesterday, "Aside from the fact that Chon probably committed the biggest no-no in the journalism industry by sleeping with her source, McGurk, by the way, was apparently still married when he and Chon had their rendezvous in the summer of 2008, the Washington Free Beacon is reporting." And McGurk also had a written code of conduct. We knew McGurk was hiding the affair from his bosses (and he was hiding it because it was a violation of the written rules of conduct he signed and agreed to follow). And it's the point Erik Wemple (Washington Post) makes today, "Not alerting an editor to a relationship with a ranking official in the center of her beat is a job-ending breakdown. Though a grace period must apply to the initial stages of courtship, Chon had progressed beyond that point, as the e-mails make clear. Let's just say that if you're discussing masturbation with a high-ranking lover/source, you have some news for your editor. The statement from the Wall Street Journal states that Chon neglected to take that step."
And more troubles keep coming Brett McGurk's way. Josh Rogin (Foreign Policy) reports on Senator Mark Kirk, "One Republican senator [Kirk] is now making an issue out of McGurk's role in the case of Ali Musa Daqduq, the alleged Hezbollah commander who was transferred from U.S. to Iraqi custody last December and acquitted in an Iraqi court last month. He remains in Iraqi custody pending an automatically triggered appeal, but could be released thereafter. "
In May, Mike Jaccarino (Fox News -- link is text and video) quoted Charlotte Freeman stating, "It was like a pit (opening) inside of me. I briefly read it and couldn't read on. I couldn't go there. It wasn't like he was dying again. It was more shock that these people get away with what they do. There's no justice. It's amazing and shocking to me that someone who did what he did could go free." That was her reaction to the news that Iraq planned to set freem the man who allegedly killed her husband, 31-year-old Spc Brian S. Freemen as well as 22-year-old Spc Johnathan B. Chism, 20-year-old Pfc Jonathon M. Millican, 25-year-old Pfc Shawn P. Falter and 25-year-old 1st Lt Jacob N. Fritz. The 5 US soldiers were murdered in January 2007. The US military had Ali Musa Daqduq in custody along with others who were said to have orchestrated the killings. But they let go of the League of Righteous members in the summer of 2009 to help out England (5 Brits had been kidnapped -- only one would be returned alive after the League was released). They kep Daqduq in US military custody. What happened?
December 16, 2011, Liz Sly and Peter Finn (Washington Post) reported on the US handing Ali Musa Daqduq over to the Iraqis, "He was transferred to Iraqi custody after the Obama administration 'sought and received assurances that he will be tried for his crimes,' according to Tommy Vietor, spokesman for the National Security Council in Washington." Though US Senators objected to his being handed over to Nouri's legal system, the White House insisted he would be prosecuted and, if for nothing else, he might do eight years for entering Iraq illegally!
5 deaths. Brutal deaths. This was an attack that involved kidnapping. And Barack was fine with Ali Musa Daqduq just getting a slap on the wrist for entering Iraq without the proper travel visa. Then on May 7th, Suadad-al Salhy, Patrick Markey and Andrew Heavens (Reuters) reported that Iraq's 'justice' system has cleared Ali Mussa Daqduq of all charges related to the "2007 kidnapping attack that killed five U.S. troops." This is currently on appeal but it's not exepcted to be any trouble for Ali Mussa Daqduq to walk on all charges. Kitabat reported in May that Nouri caved to pressure from Tehran and that's why he was released. It was also noted that a number of US Senators were asking the White House not to turn Daqduq over to Iraq but to move him to Guantanamo or another facility.
Was Brett McGurk involved in those decisions? He was in Iraq as the decision was being made and as we quoted him in last Wednesday's snapshot telling the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
In my last assignments in Iraq, I participated in almost every internal conversation -- both inter-agency and in Baghdad -- about how not only to plan the transition after our troops were withdrawing but also uhm, uh-uh, how to get the size down. Uh, quite frankly, our presence in Iraq right now, uh, is too large.
But not that one, Brett McGurk? You were supposedly a whiz on the Iraqi legal system. Didn't you blog about that? What happened to that blog?
Your now deleted blog? Maybe the Committee should ask you questions about that?
Currently War Criminal Colin The Blot Powell and his media psychophants are attempting to blur reality so that they can alter the lies Powell told to sell the Iraq War. That makeover won't take. But on this week's Cindy Sheehan Soapbox, Cindy spoke with independent researcher and scholar Edmund Berger (click here for his writing at Dissident Voice) about the professional left that exists to divert energies and actions and funnel everything into the Democratic Party. Excerpt.
Cindy Sheehan: [. . .] in 2005, when I camped out at Crawford, Texas, I was there on a Saturday and I think that on Monday CODEPINK was there, the founder of CODEPINK was there. Tuesday, MoveOn was there and they sent some p.r. people. Then we were there for 26 days. And so I just want to make a quick disclaimer right here. I love, I love-love-love CODEPINK. I love the ladies on the ground. The ladies on the ground in the different chapters around the country are far, far more radical than the leadership is. And as you point out in one of your articles, one of the founders of CODEPINK was a $50,000 bundler for Obama. The other founder went around the country getting out the vote for Obama. So now, three and a half years later, they're trying to say, "Oh, but we don't like his drone program and blah blah blah." Well, you know, once you let the horse out of the barn, it's hard to get the horse back in. But anyway, so I just want to say I love CODEPINK. I just did an action with them last week at Beale Air Force Base, the Bay Area CODEPINK and Sacremento CODEPINK. But the leadership, of course, they also were involved in the 99% Spring, if I'm not mistaken, right?
Edmund Berger: Yeah, they were one of the key people, I believe. It's listed on their website.
Cindy Sheehan: And as you point out in your article too, is that they do extremely good things, especially around Gaza and things like that. So, you know, we can't throw out the whole baby just because some of the bath water is fishy. But anyway, So I think these Democratic-leaning organizations recognized the power of Camp Casey in Crawford, Texas, recognized the power that I was able to draw all these people in, people who didn't even know there was an anti-war movement growing. But we also brought other family members who lost loved ones in the war. We brought veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, from Vietnam and things like that. So it was a very powerful movement that sprang up in 2005. An organization that I also think is really good at undermining movements to move towards a Democratic agenda is United for Peace and Justice, I don't know if you are familiar with them.
Edmund Berger: I'm not too familiar with them but they are a member of the 99% Spring.
Cindy Sheehan: Right. So they all came to Camp Casey and then the power of Camp Casey was funneled into the elections of 2006, of getting Democrats back into power in the House of Represenatives. And I had some leaders of MoveOn come out to Camp Casey, like on one of the last days. And they told me that they had spent a lot of money on the Camp. And I said, "Well it's not money that I asked you to spend. You know, I didn't ask you to do it. So if you spent it, that's your problem." But they said that -- they said that there was a bill in Congress and I don't remember exactly what the bill was about but I always called it the Get Out Of Iraq Eventually bill. And it was co-sponsored by Dennis Kucinich, Neal Abercrombie -- however, you say his name -- and Ron Paul and Walter Jones on the Republican side. So they said, 'You, Camp Casey and you, have to endorse this bill.' I said, "No, our demand -- our demand is Troops Out Now! It's not Troops Out Whenever They Feel Like Getting Troops Out." So I refused and then they totally pulled out of Camp Casey and then these organizations -- I can see in hindsight what happened. They were keeping me so busy, I didn't know what was happening. And they totally co-opted the anti-war movement that could have made powerful, structural change if it wasn't co-opted into getting Democrats elected. But then we also have to talk about the Democrats because all of the leading Democrats, right to my face, told me, "Cindy, if you and the anti-war movement help us get in power, we'll help you end the war." Well, you know, in 2007, the first thing they did was fund the war. They didn't end the war, they voted to fund the wars. So, and then, MoveOn -- that year, MoveOn.org, they were encouraging their members to support the Democrats in voting "yes" for the funding. Yeah. That's when I say Wes Boyd and Eli Pariser, they have blood on their hands. But I was the devil for pointing this out. That it was okay to call for defunding the wars when Republicans were in office but, when Democrats got in office, all the sudden we had to support funding the wars. That was a really, really difficult time. And then 2008 was the fifth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq and we wanted to have -- a lot of organizations wanted to have a big demo in DC, like we did in 2005 when we had hundreds of thousands of people there and we were told by organizations like United for Peace and Justice and Iraq Veterans Against the War that we weren't going to have a big demo in DC because we didn't want to embarrass the Democrats. And of course it was another election year.
Meanwhile Arianna Huffington (The Huffington Post) observes which country has become Nouri al-Maliki's best friend in recent months:
With the war there officially "ended" and most of our troops back home, Iraq isn't getting much ink these days. But the story is far from over. Indeed, according to Wadah Khanfar, former director general of Al Jazeera, Iraq is still the most important story in the Middle East -- with a far greater impact on the region's future than Syria. "Nobody's paying attention to Iraq anymore," he told me during dinner in London over the weekend, "but it's becoming a client state of Iran, with a giant amount of oil between them." This state of affairs is, of course, primarily our doing.
And yet, as our soldiers have left, so has our attention. "The war in Iraq will soon belong to history," proclaimed President Obama at Fort Bragg as he marked the occasion of bringing the last troops home. But while the military chapter of that disastrous undertaking might belong to history, its consequences belong very much to the present. A present in which the very same voices that rose to push us into war with Iraq are again rising to push us into war with Iran -- but without ever noting that it was their misadventure in Iraq that gave Iran a new and powerful ally.
As noted yesterday, Iran and Iraq are now planning for ways for Iraq to secure leadership of OPEC -- that would be the post of Secretary General. Peg Mackey (Reuters) notes the two countries stand at odds with Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates and that Iraq and Iran's desire to make more than $110 per barrel of oil is going to lead the two to demand "Saudi Arabia, pumping its highest in decades, [. . .] cut back when producers meet in Vienna on Thursday." Mackey explains that Iraq worked out its strategy "when Iran's Oil Minister Rostam Qasemi visited Maliki in Baghdad last week, Maleki ordered the oil ministry to adopt a unified position with Iran on OPEC production levels, say Iraqi oil sources." Iraq and Iran, plotting together, like old friends. Una Galani and Christopher Swann (Reuters) adds, "If Iraq's rising output isn't calibrated with the market's ability to absorb it, oversupply could become chronic and prices could fall further."
In the latest violence, Alsumaria notes 4 assailants shot up the Basra home of provincial council member Mohammed Saadoun al-Abadi last night and 2 people were shot dead while walking in southern Baghdad. Sinan Salah (AP) reports that a Baghdad bombing has left 2 pilgrims dead who were taking part in "the annual pilgrimage honoring a revered imam."
In the US, Senator Patty Murray is the Chair of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee which holds a hearing tomorrow. Her office notes:
FOR PLANNING PURPOSES
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
CONTACT: Murray Press Office
Murray to Question Defense Secretary on Military-Wide Mental Health Care Shortcomings
As military suicides continue to outpace combat deaths, Murray to urge Pentagon to expand ongoing Army-wide review of behavioral health evaluations and diagnoses to all branches, call for transparency in review process
(Washington, D.C.) – Tomorrow, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Chairman of the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee, will question Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on the Pentagon's commitment to ensuring accurate mental health diagnoses and treatment for servicemembers as the military continues to face an epidemic of military suicides. Murray's questioning, which comes one week after the Pentagon announced that there had already been 154 active duty military suicides this year, will focus on expanding a comprehensive Army review of mental health evaluations and diagnoses and new Army directives on mental health care to other branches of the military. The Army's recently announced review comes on the heels of a review of mental health diagnoses at Madigan Army Medical Center in Washington state that has already returned PTSD diagnoses to over a hundred servicemembers who had in many cases been accused of faking symptoms.
WHO: U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
WHAT: Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing
WHEN: TOMORROW – Wednesday, June 13th 2012
10:30 AM EST/7:30 PST - Hearing start time
Questioning from Murray likely to take place after 11:30 EST/8:30 PST
WHERE: Dirksen 192
U.S. Senator Patty Murray
202-224-2834 - press office
202--224-0228 - direct