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This is Part I: U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations,
IRAQ AFTER THE SURGE: POLITICAL PROSPECTS 4/2/08.
Tomorrow see: Part II: MILITARY PROSPECTS.

Nir Rosen became my favorite guide to the real Iraq, the people and the streets of Iraq since I first read and diaried his comments last year. As one of the very few fearless reporters who have spent time without minders to speak of, with Iraqis out on the streets, talking to various segments of the population. His observations are invaluable and objective. He is no cheerleader.

Today before the Committee on Foreign Relations two panels were heard on Post-Surge Iraq-- the first military, then "political prospects." On this page you will find links to the Senate Committee hearings on Iraq this month.

Electricity sparks flew for a while this afternoon as Barbara Boxer had the microphone.

Read on::

Senators sat with open jaws and then said things like, "I'm shocked to hear that." "Do I understand you right? That's just shocking!" They said it so much that the witnesses began to back pedal just a bit, wondering if perhaps they had used a bit of hyperbole, especially one Dr. Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations. He was squirming at one point and one could see the bubble above his head reading perhaps:

"OMG, did I say that? Was I truthful by mistake? I'd better get some cover here."

On the other hand, Nir Rosen was not flustered. He calmly supplied evidence gathered firsthand from his experience in Iraq. He actually speaks Arabic. Sometimes he is undercover in Iraq because no one expects him to speak Arabic, giving him access to candid remarks that Iraqis assume will not be understood.

Today -- fireworks, outrage and incomprehension about how bad things are in Iraq came scattered throughout the hours of testimony --carried live on C-Span.org, and later on C-Span3.

At the end of the day it was Sen. Barbara Boxer who was shocked, and rightly so I might add. This stated fact did it for her:


The National Police act like militia for Malaki not as a national security force
.

Senator Boxer heard that and said, "What? Did I hear you correctly? Did you say......?" And they answered, including Mr.Biddle:

"Yes, that's true."

Boxer said:


"That's not what we've been hearing from the generals. Everyone is telling us how well they are doing."

Iraqi forces, the panelists told her, are composed of the militia, security forces and military. The Army is less sectarian, though still divided in loyalty, than the National Police.

If I'm right, Boxer then said: (paraphrase)

"Let me get this straight. After we've spent 20 billion dollars training the national Police, now we find out, now we are told that they are a militia acting for Malaki?!"

Boxer became very irate with Mr. Biddle and blasted him, very coherently, after one of his back-peddling-worried-about-my-own-ass, stammering responses. Boxer said, and I tried to transcribe this accurately:


"Are you saying we have made 'bilateral agreements' with '200 warlords' --and that's been called 'diplomacy?!' That is a total slap in the face of those of us who are against this war. We care a lot about the outcome. Don't sat we don't care about the outcome."

Then, after reaffirming his statement to Boxer, he "clarified":


"Well, we're the only ones who are trusted as peacekeepers."

In short, he said that the National Police of Iraq, and the Iraqi Army are not the ones trusted by Iraqis to be actual peacekeepers."

Now, I do not know if that is correct, but it is rather incendiary for an occupation-friendly person to say that Iraqis cannot or are not trusted by Iraqis as being "peacekeepers." (Of course, we knew that all along, but it's not the admin. line.) Not when the administration and its current generals in command keep telling us how well the Iraqi Army isdoing.

Boxer quoted from a recent poll of Iraqi feelings about US presence in Iraq, done by abc/bbc:

     70% oppose presence of US forces
     61% say US makes things worse
     46% said security would improve if US forces left
     29% said would get worse if US forces left

On the question of refugees returning home we learned that there is no  body with the country charged with adjudicating disputes of property. No  one body decides this and the US military is to be not concerned with this. Ultimately, they said, it's too dangerous during a civil war to let people go back to their homes which may have been taken over by someone from the other sect.

Rosen told the committee that our troops are fairly brutal in what their mission is in Iraq. Rather than being police or peacekeepers, he said.  This is disturbing but fits with what I heard a general say last year in a passing comment that was never explained. Niren mentioned the 6900 juveniles in prison who can be executed, who live in "horrifying conditions," adding that women prisoners are routinely raped.

He mentioned that in all the ministry (government) offices he visited they were covered with Shiite banners of all kinds. "Power," he said, "is really in the hands of the militias. The Mahdi go into police stations and threaten those not sufficiently loyal to the Mahdi army. There is zero reconciliation.
Repeat:

There is zero reconciliation.

Rosen said that a report on humanitarian aspects, which he worked on during his recent trip, will outline some things that can be done.

When asked what should we do, Rosen replied:


"I'm not going to give advice to an imperial nation/government." Then added, "I don't think we're there for the Iraqi people. That's never been the case."

Before we leave Niren, he has a Rolling Stone piece here
you might want to see, from which I give one little quote.

The jobs promised to members of the Awakening have not materialized:
An internal U.S. report concludes that "there is no coherent plan at this time" to employ them, and the U.S. Agency for International Development "is reluctant to accept any responsibility" for the jobs program because it has a "high likelihood of failure."

Iraq showdown made Sadr stronger, backers say "Have a chocolate," the thin, bearded man said. "This is for our victory over [Prime Minister Nouri] Maliki."

What did the military men say in the first panel today? Read tomorrow's Part Two. It was amazing.

Originally posted to Gorette on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 04:22 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for clarity on Iraq? (15+ / 0-)

    But, I forgot, there's a primary going on, isn't there.

    Thank God the Democrats won control of the Senate... otherwise, think of how different everything would be. -G.Greenwald

    by Gorette on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 04:25:44 PM PDT

    •  wow, just wow (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gorette

      I just tuned into c-span3 and it's playing again, so I'm going to try to stay awake to see this.  Thanks for this diary, Gorette, and for helping us remember our focus needs to be on ending this war!

      Peace, here and there.

      Republicans: Your history has earned you a new mantra: "War and waste." ~~ Marta Jorgensen (CA-24 in '08)

      I am an Edwards Democrat!

      by Scubaval on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 07:03:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Was watching last night... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mother Mags, BYw

      hopefully Rosen got to these block senators about how screwed up Iraq is. Of course my favorite was when we gave it Biden:

      "I'm not going to give advice to an imperial nation/government."

      Hell yeah! Our congress is just as accountable as George Bush for Iraq situation and they need hear it - every..single...day.

      "Just imagine a work of such magnitude that it actually mirrors the whole world....In it all of nature finds a voice." Gustav Mahler on his 3rd Symphony

      by Mahler3 on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 11:11:59 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nir Rosen (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette, istari5th, drchelo, cka

    For the reasons you mention (knowledge of Arabic) and for what he describes as his ability to be perceived as a non-westerner Rosen's reporting is invaluable.

  •  I fear it is going to be a long hot summer. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette, drchelo, Scubaval

    Not only for our troops in Iraq but for the politicians who insist on keeping them there.

    "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power." B. Franklin

    by istari5th on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 04:34:13 PM PDT

  •  C-Span 3? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Youth

    Why isn't this front and center?

  •  Shocked (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette, istari5th

    to find out that the Bush people lied to our congress people. Where have they been for the last 7 years?

    I write diaries Read My Latest you just might like it

    by Liberal Youth on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 04:47:08 PM PDT

    •  Exactly. Youth, you've got an (0+ / 0-)

      appreciation for rich irony. I guess the reason is that generals like Petreus came before these same committees and swore up and down that things were just going hunky dory. They could not possibly be lying or shading the truth, could they?

      Thank God the Democrats won control of the Senate... otherwise, think of how different everything would be. -G.Greenwald

      by Gorette on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 04:49:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  In denial for the most part. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Gorette

      "Sell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor liberty to purchase power." B. Franklin

      by istari5th on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 04:49:56 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I don't get it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Gorette, Scubaval

    Let me get this straight. After we've spent 20 billion dollars training the national Police, now we find out, now we are told that they are a militia acting for Malaki?!

    So?  What'd Boxer expect?

    The FBI, NSA, DHS, &etc. are a militia acting for Bush, no?

    Her point was...

    ...what?

    It ain't called paranoia - when they're really out to get you. 6 points.

    by Jaime Frontero on Wed Apr 02, 2008 at 05:32:48 PM PDT

  •  Sorry to have missed your diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    AbsurdEyes, BYw

    I'm dumbfounded. Can our elected leaders truly be this ignorant or are they faking surprise and shock? Or, perhaps they're just not interesting in knowing the truth as it would be very inconvenient for them.

    Thanks Gorette for helping to keep the facts out there and thanks to the rescue rangers for bringing your diary back.

    "Control oil and you control nations; control food and you control people..." Henry Kissinger

    by truong son traveler on Thu Apr 03, 2008 at 08:34:52 PM PDT

  •  thanks for this - another link (0+ / 0-)

    Five Things You Need to Know to Understand the Latest Violence in Iraq was a definite must read for me and totally syncs up with what Niren testified to.

    Thanks for making us aware of this testimony - I'll check out cspan later.

    Also, I highly recommend watching "No End In Sight" - it is tragic how much Paul Bremer (via PNAC and its enablers) f-ed up and how there poorly the US dealt with the aftermath of the invasion.

    Cheers

  •  Could the Senate be growing some balls at last? (0+ / 0-)

    I guess it's not spring yet in DC, else I'd chalk this up to some transient springtime feistiness.

  •  Enough is enough (0+ / 0-)

    Gorette,
    I saw your comments about Cliff Stearns (is the NSF the same as the NIH?) and I thought you'd like to know that I'm the Democrat running to unseat him this year.  
    Over the weekend, I sent the House and Senate committees the questions I would ask General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker if I were in Congress  My web site wll be up in a few days -- TimCunhaForCongress.com, but in the meantime the letter and press release are on my Kos Diary.
    What we need to say is: “Enough is enough. The leaders of Iraq have had a chance to reconcile and build a better country for their people; but, they have refused to do so.  We will begin a responsible withdrawal of our troops to let them know we are serious, that their time is running out, and that they will not be supported in continuing their civil war over the dead bodies of American soldiers.”  

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