October 30, 2012. Chaos and violence continue, corruption continues,
the State Dept wants nearly $150 million next year for Iraqi police
training, the same media that served up Chris Stevens' mother as a voice
for all refuses to acknowledge Tyrone Woods' father, and more.
October 16, 2012, the Council of Ministers dismissed Central Bank of
Iraq (CBI) Governor Sinan al-Shabibi, amid allegations of corruption
leveled against him. This peremptory and constitutionally questionalbe
move occured as an audit of the DBI's foreign currency auctions
surfaced. The audit purportedly found that perhaps 80% of the $1 billion
purchased at weekly CBI-managed auctions was tied to illegal
transactions, with the funds subject to those transactions potentially
lost abroad to money laundering. This development is symptomatic of a
troubled year in Iraq, evidenced by increased corruption, resurgent
violence, deepening ethnosectarian strains, growing apprehensions about
the conflict in Syria, and widening divides within the coalition
So notes the latest quarterly report
from the US Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction which was
released today. It's findings will largely be ignored by the US press
that focuses on the disaster and aftermath from Hurricane Sandy and the
race of president. Since we mentioned al-Shabibi, let's go back to the
former CBI Governor is credited by many analysts for maintaining the
stability of the Iraqi dinar and for keeping inflation and interest
rates low -- all viewed as crucially important prerequisites for the
kind of well-managed economic growth Iraq hopes to achieve with its
enormous oil wealth.
of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, along with many banking and financial
experts expressed immediate concern that the dismissal of Dr.
al-Shabibi -- who is widely viewed as personally honest and
professionally effective -- was an attempt to bring the CBI and its $63
billion in reserves under executive branch control. They pointed to the
CoM's action as just one of among several steps the Prime Minister has
taken to concentrate power within his office. For example, in 2010,
al-Maliki won a legal case that effectively shifted control of
independent agencies, such as the CBI, from the Council of
Representatives (CoR) to the CoM. In an advisory opinion issued in
February 2012, the Higher Judicial Council affirmed the earlier ruling,
this time naming the CBI. The ruling drew criticsm at the time as a
violation of the CBI's independence as guaranteed under the 2005 Iraqi
19th, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on Robert
S. Beecroft's nomination to be the next US Ambassador to Iraq. He was
confirmed the Saturday after the hearing. We covered the hearing in the September 19th
snapshots. Senator John Kerry is the Committee Chair, Senator Richard Lugar is the Ranking Member. From the hearing:
Member Richard Lugar: Now you mentioned the relative security of our
embassy and what have you. In the past, there's been considerable
discussion, not only among diplomats but among the American public about
the size in Iraq. There was discussion when this was first built -- a
monumental structure, to say the least. I remember at one conference, I
suggested in fact that this structure is so big that it might really
serve as a unifying purpose for Middle Eastern countries -- a sort of
united forum in which they would all come together -- or like the Hague
or what have you. And some people found some interest in this even if
the Iraqis did not necessarily nor could our government since its our
embassy. But what is the future, simply of all of the real estate, all
of the responsibilites? They're huge and this is going to be an ongoing
debate, I'm certain, in the Congress as we come to budget problems in
d'Affaires Robert S. Beecroft: Uhm, thank you very much. We-we
recognize that this is an issue we started with an embassy that was
staffed to address all possible contingencies, to follow up on the
wonderful work that the US military had done in Iraq. Since that time,
and again starting with Ambassador [James] Jeffrey, and it's something
that I personally am continuing and have been very closely involved in
and we will pursue -- We're calling it a "glide path exercise" where
we're looking at what our objectives are and how we are resourced and
staffed to meet those objectives. And what we've found is that we can
prioritize and can focus our mission and will continue to do that on
what we really need to accomplish. And as we do that, we're able to
reduce personnel. Since the beginning of the year, we have reduced
personnel by more than 2,000. We're now somewhere between 13,000 and
14,000 personnel in Iraq -- down from over 16. Facilities? We have
given back in the last couple of days, facilites we had in Kirkuk, had
an airbase up there, and facilities we had in Baghdad for police
training center. And we have another facility in the next few days which
we'll give back also in Baghdad. So we're reducing not just the number
of personnel but we're reducing the number of pieces of property we
occupy and use and we are very mindeful of the cost that it takes to
support the mission in Iraq and I personally am dedicated to reducing
those costs by again focusing on the mission on what we really need to
the beginning of the year, we have reduced personnel by more than
2,000. We're now somewhere between 13,000 and 14,000 personnel in Iraq
-- down from over 16." That's what he said. Turns out it wasnt true.
From the report:
Ambassador Beecroft told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on
September 19 that the size of the U.S. Mission in Iraq continued to
decline this quarter, reporting to SIGIR on the personnel totals
indicated some ambiguity about actual numbers. U.S. Embassy-Baghdad
reported that 16,035 persons supported the U.S. Mission in Iraq at the
end of the quarter, including 1,075 U.S. government civilian employees
and 14,960 contractor personnel. The Embassy said the discrepancy was
due to earlier underreporting of certain staff categories.
are important, accurate ones even more so -- especially when the US
government continues to spend vast sums in Iraq. For example, the report
notes that the State Dept wants $149.6 million to 'train' the Iraqi
police in Fiscal Year 2013. $149.6 million for one of the most trained
and re-trained forces? For a force that the 'acting' Minister of the
Interior stated does not need US training?
The US government has that money to waste when sequestration is supposedly looming, a 'financial cliff'?
Do people realize how many years the US has spent training the Iraqi police force? How much money?
We covered the November 30th House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the MiddleEast and South Asia in the December 1st snapshot
and noted that Ranking Member Gary Ackerman had several questions. He
declared, "Number one, does the government of Iraq -- whose personnel we
intend to train -- support the [police training] program? Interviews
with senior Iaqi officials by the Special Inspector General show utter
didain for the program. When the Iraqis sugest that we take our money
and do things instead that are good for the United States. I think that
might be a clue." The State Dept's Brooke Darby faced that Subcommittee.
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman noted that the US had already spent 8
years training the Iraq police force and wanted Darby to answer as to
whether it would take another 8 years before that training was complete?
Her reply was, "I'm not prepared to put a time limit on it." She
could and did talk up Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior Adnan
al-Asadi as a great friend to the US government. But Ackerman and
Subcommittee Chair Steve Chabot had already noted Adnan al-Asadi, but
not by name. That's the Iraqi official, for example, Ackerman was
referring to who made the suggestion "that we take our money and do
things instead that are good for the United States." He made that remark
to SIGIR Stuart Bowen.
years. 8 years of training last November. And for Fiscal Year 2013, the
State Dept wants $149.6 million dollars to train yet another year?
From that hearing:
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: When will they be willing to stand up without us?
Brooke Darby: I wish I could answer that question.
Ranking Member Gary Ackerman: Then why are we spending money if we don't have the answer?
Member Gary Ackerman: You know, this is turning into what happens after
a bar mitzvah or a Jewish wedding. It's called "a Jewish goodbye."
Everybody keeps saying goodbye but nobody leaves.
State Dept still can't answer Ackerman's question: "When will they be
willing to stand up without us?" They can't even answer his second
question: "Then why are we spending money if we don't have the answer?"
sequestration kicks in and Americans see the safety net further gutted,
you damn well better believe that $149.6 million dollars going to yet
another year of 'training' the Iraqi police is going to be an issue.
let's talk about the 'acting' Minister of the Interior. That's Deputy
Minister Adnan al-Asadi. He is one of the Iraqis Ranking Member Ackerman
referred to in the November 30th hearing, "Interviews with senior Iraqi
officials by the Special Inspector Generals how utter disdain for the
program. When the Iraqis suggest that we take our money and do things
instead that are good for the United States, I think that might be a
What did that report find?
the US State Dept had wasted ("de facto waste") approximately $206
million in training the Iraqi police since they took over October 1,
2011. How so? They spent $98 million on a Bsara training facility and
$108 million on a Baghdad training facility.
What happened to those US-owned facilities?
The US turned it over -- at no charge -- to Nouri's government. Why?
The June 29th snapshot
the most recent hearing on this topic (the June 28th House Oversight
and Government Reform's Subcommittee on National Security, Homeland
Defense and Foreign Operations hearing). Jason Chaffetz is the
Subcommittee Chair but he'd stepped out of the hearing and US House Rep
Black Farenthold was Acting Chair. As he established in his line of
questions (to the State Dept's Patrick Kennedy and Peter Verga and the
State Dept's Acting IG Harold Geisel, DoD's Special Deputy IG for
Southwest Asia Mickey McDermott, US GAO's Michael Courts and SIGIR's
Stuart Bowen Jr.), the US government did not secure a lease for the
land. Here's that exchange.
Acting Chair Blake Farenthold: Mr. Courts, Ambassador Kennedy and I got into a
discussion about the absence of or presence of land use agreements for the facilities
we have in Iraq do you have the current status for that information from your latest
report as to what facilities we do and do not have land use agreements for?
Michael Courts: What Ambassador Kennedy may have been referring to that for 13 of
the 14 facilities the Iraqis have acknowledged a presence through diplomatic notes.
But there's still only 5 of the 14 for which we actually have explicit title land use
agreements or leases.
Acting Chair Blake Farenthold: Alright so I'm not -- I'm not a diplomat. So what does
that mean? They say, "Oh, you can use it until we change our minds" -- is that
basically what those are? Or is there some force of law to those notes?
Courts: Well the notes are definitely not the same thing as having an
explicit agreement. And as a matter of fact, there's already been one
case where the Iraqis
required us to reconfigure, downsize one of our sites. And that was at one of the
sites where we did not have a land use agreement and so obviously we're in a much
more vulnerable position when there's not an explicit agreement.
Farenthold noted of the Baghdad Police College Annex, "It was intended
to house the police department program -- a multi-billion dollar effort
that's currently being downsized. And as a result of the State Dept's
failure to secure land use rights, the entire facility is being turned
over to the Iraqis at no cost. The GAO reports Mission Iraq has land use
agreements or leases for only 5 out of all of the sites that it
operates." That number has increased by only one since that hearing.
is tax payer money being wasted at a time when the US government is
supposedly in the midst of a fiscal crisis. These two facilities, worth
approximately $206 million were turned over -- free of charge -- because
the State Dept failed to secure land-lease agreements.
In other words, you could say: The US government built it, but it didn't own it.
wasted that amount of money, you might think the State Dept would stop
trying to spend hundreds of millions in Iraq. And yet they want $149.6
million to spend in the next fiscal year just on Iraqi police.
not a penny should be spent on this program. The Ministry of the
Interior is over the police. But the Ministry has no minister. Adnan
al-Asadi is the Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Interior. An actual
minister would have certain rights and powers and that would give him or
her independence. Adnan al-Asadi is an 'acting minister' -- a
qualification that doesn't exist in the Iraqi Constitution.
Constitution requires Ministers be nominated and that the Parliament
vote in favor of confirming them. Once that happens, a person has their
position until the term expires, they resign or the Parliament removes
them. Nouri can't remove them.
if al-Asadi were Minister of the Interior, that's who the US would be
interacting with on this program. Instead, they're interacting with the
'acting' minister who has no job protection and is kicked to the curb
the second he displeases Nouri al-Maliki. al-Asadi is a puppet allowing
Nouri to control the Ministry of the Interior.
Back in July, Mohammed Tawfeeq (CNN) observed
"Shiite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has struggled to forge a lasting
power-sharing agreement and has yet to fill key Cabinet positions,
including the ministers of defense, interior and national security,
while his backers have also shown signs of wobbling support." He's
refused to name nominees and have them go before Parliament. This is a
power grab. By January 2011, Iraqiya (the political slate that came in
first in the March 2010 parliamentary elections, ahead of Nouri's State
of Law) was calling it a power grab but the (US and European) press was
insisting that it was only a matter of weeks before Nouri named
nominees. We're closing in 2013 and he's still never named nominees. It
was a power grab. It is a continuing power grab. The Parliament declared
last week that they would take up this new 'classification' of
State Dept wants to waste more US tax dollars training people who work
for a ministry that Nouri refuses to find a head for. That is not a
recipe for success. It has not been a recipe for success.
State Dept needs to be called before the Senate to answer for exactly
what they're doing. As the SIGIR has repeatedly noted, they refuse to
inform the Inspector General what they are doing in Iraq. This is on
Hillary. She's Secretary of State. No, she doesn't have any power over
Iraq and if she wants to go public with that information I will gladly
back her up on that point. But as long as she's keeping her mouth shut
and serving as Secretary of State, this is on her. And when she departs,
it needs to be noted that while she was Secretary of State, hundreds of
millions were wasted in Iraq and the State Dept refused to submit to
Congressionally mandated oversight. Congress created the SIGIR.
only has the State Dept ignored the SIGIR, they have refused to answer
questions from the Congress -- in writing or in hearings -- and they've
provided false information to Congress (also known as lying). That's
under Hillary Clinton's leadership unless she wants to talk about how
Barack assigned Iraq elsewhere. Unless she wants to get honest about
that, she needs to face a storm of criticism over the lost hundreds of
millions by the State Dept while she was serving as Secretary of State. I
like Hillary but my liking her doesn't bring back that money or prevent
the loss of further millions.
US infrastructure crumbles and citizens are threatened with
sequestration kicking in automatcially, grasp that page 6 of the report
notes the US government has "obligated $27.19 billion" on security
training, equipment and buildings.
The report doesn't paint a good picture of Nouri's Iraq. Nor do other articles today.
fact of the matter is that the militias were using the US troops as an
excuse to perform acts of terrorism and have targeted Iraqi civilians
instead on so many occasions. Therefore, the departure of the US troops
didn't even reduce those acts, in fact, it has increased them simply for
the lack of a strong military presence in the country. No, the Iraqi
army does not qualify as "strong military presence."
concentrating evermore power into his own hands, and reserving
positions of responsibility in Baghdad exclusively for his loyalists,
the prime minister is building up fierce resentments, and the results
cannot be good.
The bitter truth is that
such policies fail to even benefit Mr Al Maliki's own constituencies.
The rash of shootings and bombings over the Eid weekend predominantly
targeted Shia communities. Al Qaeda in Iraq, and other radical Sunni
groups, appear to be resurgent. But the security forces that are now
dominated by Shia loyalists cannot take the fight to the militants
without turning it into a sectarian war - "justice" in such a struggle
is a subjective value.
But the security forces non-stop arrests of Sunnis are already fueling another sectarian war. Alsumaria notes
17 were arrested for 'terrorism' just south of Baghdad.
apart from the Syrian crisis, the United States should be getting tough
on the Maliki regime to prevent Iraq's descent into authoritarianism.
Although Prime Minister Maliki's first term had its successes, including
the "Charge of the Knights" attack against Shiite militias in Basra in
2008, Prime Minister Maliki has become increasingly consumed by his own
dictatorial ambitions. And a number of his actions have heightened
sectarian tensions in Iraq. He cut a deal with the extremist Shiite
party led by Moktada al-Sadr. He reneged on a promise to meaningfully
include the Sunni-dominated Iraqiya list in government. He presided over
what's being seen as a witch hunt against leading Sunni politicians,
culminating in the sentencing to death in absentia of Iraq's vice
president, Tariq al-Hashemi.
In addition, Mr.
Maliki's government is plagued by incompetence, corruption and a
contempt for human rights; ordinary citizens are fast losing confidence
in the power of the democratic system. Mr. Maliki has further undermined
Iraq's independent institutions, such as the electoral commission and
the Iraqi central bank, by bringing them under his direct custodianship.
And, most dangerously of all, he is concentrating power over Iraq's
entire security apparatus in his hands by refusing to appoint permanent
ministers to lead the Ministry of Defense, Ministry of the Interior and
National Security Council.
power grabs are no longer enough for Nouri, apparently. As we noted
yesterday, he wants a majority government -- just as US General Ray
Odierno warned in 2010 but was dismissed and ignored because the White
House thought they were better off listening to US Ambassador to Iraq
and professional and willful idiot Chris Hill. A majority government is
one that shuts out the other segments of Iraq. "White" Iraqiya -- I
doubt they ever grapsed how racist that is -- made some stupid
statements yesterday that some idiots repeated as though they were
statements demanding Iraq be seen as an independent country.
you're stupid and you love it, stay stupid. But stop inflicting it on
the rest of us. White Iraqiya is a splinter group that did not get their
way and specifically holds grudges against Saleh al-Mutlaq and Ayad
Allawi who remain with Iraqiya. White Iraq is a tiny splinter group that
makes a lot of noise but hasn't accomplished anything in two years of
tantrums. They have gotten closer to Nouri and they may be among the
ones getting close to Nouri. Ouday Hatem (Al-Monitor) reports
sources told Al-Hayat that Maliki's coalition had reached a preliminary
agreement with a number of blocs — some of which are included in the
Iraqiya List — to form a majority government.
sources revealed that "among these blocs is the Unity Alliance of Iraq,
led by Sheikh Ahmed Abu Risha, and some members of parliament from the
Kirkuk, Mosul, Anbar and Saladin provinces."
The sources explained that "the blocs within the National Alliance — except for the Al-Ahrar bloc, which represents the Sadrist Movement in parliament — are supporting this political step."
sources confirmed that "the prime minister seeks to divide the Iraqiya
List and the Sunnis by including tribal leaders and former Baathists,
and by re-enrolling all former army officers."
Saying President Obama got us out of Iraq is like saying it stopped raining after superstorm Sandy moved on.
death and destruction in Iraq for three years under Obama was
unnecessary. The Iraqis hated us. Our last troops snuck out under the
cover of darkness no different than the Nazis leaving Paris.
Obama could have quit Iraq the day after inauguration, and Iraq would have been no different today.
that is so very true. Had he done that, he wouldn't have sent the
message to the Iraqi people that democracy and voting don't matter. When
you back Nouri, as the White House did in 2010, over the one who got
the most votes, you're telling the Iraqi people -- who are experiencing
what's being called "democracy" for the first time -- that voting and
democracy don't matter and that elections can be overturned on a whim.
That's not a message that any US service member should have died for.
Shame on the White House.
the father of a former Navy SEAL slain at Benghazi wonders why our
secretary of state lied to him, we wonder why our CIA director abetted a
lie that contradicted counterterrorism officials and the FBI.
the 2004 presidential campaign, a media eager to deny George W. Bush a
second term made Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq, a national
heroine and reported virtually her every word and move.
"Cindy Sheehan," gushed NBC News, "is single-handedly bringing the Iraq debate to Mr. Bush's doorstep."
nobody in a mainstream media eager to see President Obama get a second
term is bringing the Benghazi debate to the White House doorstep.
First, we applauded Cindy
then and we applaud her today. The media and, sadly, a large number of
the left don't want to hear the words "Cindy Sheehan" because they can't
stand the fact that this woman who is allergic to war (to put it
mildly) won't fall silent so Barack can pursue his bloody wars in an
environment where no one calls him out. Second, take up with the likes
of Jude Nagurney Camwell and other 'enforcers' who lied online back
then. We didn't lie here and we called out Jude and the other liars who
kept saying 'she's not opposed to war, she just wants answers.' Those
were lies. And we walked away from those liars.
Cindy was falsely portrayed by the media -- not by herself -- as
someone who didn't really want to speak on the war or anything like
that, she was just a sad mother who wanted answers. That's not who Cindy
was or who she is. And she never pretended that this media lie was her.
But that is why she got the media attention. 'She's non-political!'
Wood's was one of the four Americans killed in Benghazi Septemeber 11th
(the other three were Glen Doherty, Sean Smith and Chris Stevens). The
argument IBD's editorial board should be making is why does Chris
Stevens' mother get to be everywhere and presented as a spokesperson for
all four. She clearly does not represent Pat Smith (Sean's mother). She
also doesn't represent Charles Woods (Tyrone's father). That's your
argument if you want to be effective: You, the media, have allowed one
woman to be the face of four Americans. Her views are not the only view
and you have silenced and refused to hear the other parents involved. We
do not have a class based society in the US and revolted against the
British empire for many reasons including to reject a caste system. So
why is the media pretending that Chris Stevens is somehow more important
than the other three Americans because he was an ambassador?
and Glen were veterans. They apparently were veterans who didn't just
risk their lives to try to save lives on September 11th, they gave their
lives to try to save lives on September 11th. How dare the media refuse
to allow all the parents to speak and instead subject us to the
pratteling -- yeah, I'm going there again -- ramblings of Chris Stevens'
apethetic and uninformed mother and father.
when no other parents were speaking out publicly -- check our archives
-- I made clear that the Stevens did not speak for all the parents. I
also made clear that their call for this topic not to be discussed this
way or that was b.s. because it was a terrorist attack. If Chris Stevens
had taken his own life and his family said, "We just want him to be in
peace"? Fine. That's a private matter.
was a terrorist attack on Americans -- not people who happened to be
Americans but on people because they were Americans. That makes it a
national issue -- an international one. And the Stevens need to take
their hurt and pain somewhere private if they don't like the way the
deaths are discussed.
And the media needs to stop being so damn biased.
They are biased on this issue. There's no denying it. In fact, let me go to Ruth last night
In addition to ignoring the details, the media has 2 other tricks they are playing right now.
1) Ridicule those asking questions.
2) Imply that only conservatives are demanding answers.
The second one bothers me the most.
not just because I am too far left to be a centrist, let alone a
conservative. The main reason it bothers me is that the media knows if
they play that false card, half the readers will stop reading right
away. They will have no interest in the topic. They will tell
themselves, "Oh, this is just what conservatives are saying. This is a
conservative talking point."
It is really amazing how those of us on
the left who are asking questions are ignored in the media's attempt to
clamp down on consumer interest in this story.
Ruth is 100% right.
part of the attempt to bury the story: To assert falsely that only the
right-wing cares about it. That signals to people who aren't right-wing
that they shouldn't care.
They should care. Four Americans are dead. Ruth's left-wing. I am left-wing.
isn't about right or left -- although those who want to silence the
discussion keep insisting otherwise. This is about an attack on four
Americans. This is about an administration which refuses to answer
for a moment that it's October 30, 2001 and it's the Bush administration
refusing to call September 11, 2001 a terrorist attack.
dealt with what Barack said in the Rose Garden. He said in passing and
it may not have referred to that day. Why was it in there? To cover his
own ass. Which would indicate that a cover up is taking place. You don't
do cover-your-own-ass from September 12th forward unless you have
something to hide.
are being asked and they need to be asked. Charles Wood has called out
Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. Charles Wood has every
right to be heard and shame on anyone in the supposed news industry who
won't report what Wood is saying. It doesn't require 'belief' or
'support.' It only requires that you are in the news business. If you
are, the parent of an American killed in a terrorist attack now calling
out the President of the United States is what is known as "news."
he finally came over to where we were, I could tell that he was rather
conflicted, a person who was not at peace with himself," Woods said.
"Shaking hands with him, quite frankly, was like shaking hands with a
dead fish. His face was pointed towards me but he would not look me in
the eye, his eyes were over my shoulder."
"I could tell that he was not sorry," he added. "He had no remorse."
said he wanted to give the president "the benefit of the doubt," and
asked Woods how he could be sure that Obama wasn't just uncomfortable or
nervous during their conversation. Woods said it was Obama's
right-wing that's objecting to differing treatment for Cindy Sheehan
and Charles Wood is missing the point that Cindy was presented as just a
blank,not too smart, hurting mother who wanted answers and didn't know a
thing about politics or have a thought about war. That's not Cindy,
she's very smart. But that's what the media presented and why they kept
going to her before they couldn't take the fact that she was anti-war
and was not going to be silent about that fact. If anyone wants Charles
Wood to get the media attention he deserves, the answer is to point out
that the parents of Chris Stevens were presented by the media as the
voice of the four. And that's not fair nor is it accurate. The media
needs to fix their narrative and the way to do that is to include the
other parents involved.
reality however there is no option within the electoral process for
women. Our basic rights to control our bodies, or not to be blamed and
shamed is not up for a vote. Despite what Obama supporters
would like us to believe, these past four years have been a horror and
have shown a dangerous trajectory. It is only through this overall
context of the War on Women that the impact of these comments becomes
starkly clear. State legislation aimed at limiting birth control and
abortion has been proposed and enacted at unprecedented rates.
The legislation that has passed includes but is not limited to: state
sanctioned rape through vaginal ultrasounds, anti-science mandatory
counseling prior to abortion, increased waiting periods for abortion,
and gestational limitations. An analysis by the Guttmacher Institute
found that 2011 saw the most restrictions on abortions passed through
state legislatures ever: 135 anti-women laws were enacted.