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Longwood Gardens.  February, 2013.  Photo by joanneleon.



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News and Opinion


What could go wrong?  And with Brennan at the helm, no less. Are the "Iraqi antiterrorism units" the same kinds of Iraqi police/paramilitary units that the Guardian reported on a la James Steele?  Is it a form of the old Saddam Republican Guard?  The article says that the "CTS" teams with our Special Ops forces, which would be similar to the situation in Afghanistan where ALP (Afghan local police, really paramilitary that does dirty work like torture) who also team with our Special Forces.

There will be a lot more reporting on this, I am assuming. It's not a surprise that we have troops or personnel in Iraq.  I remember when Iraq asked for that. But it was very quiet after that -- not much reporting that I know of.   In any case, it looks like war with Syria to me.  And the opposition is, according to this article, the al Nusra is one of the elite jihadist/militias that has been supported by some Gulf states.  They are lumped together with the Syrian militias as the revolutionary forces against Assad, but they are mercenaries with ties to al Qaeda.   This is a mess.  Too much to discuss in a paragraph of commentary here.  

CIA Ramps Up Role in Iraq

WASHINGTON—The Central Intelligence Agency is ramping up support to elite Iraqi antiterrorism units to better fight al Qaeda affiliates, amid alarm in Washington about spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria, according to U.S. officials.

The stepped-up mission expands a covert U.S. presence on the edges of the two-year-old Syrian conflict, at a time of American concerns about the growing power of extremists in the Syrian rebellion.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist network's affiliate in the country, has close ties to Syria-based Jabhat al Nusra, also known as the Nusra Front, an opposition militant group that has attacked government installations and controls territory in northern Syria. The State Department placed al Nusra on its list of foreign terror organizations in December, calling the group an alias for al Qaeda in Iraq.

In a series of secret decisions from 2011 to late 2012, the White House directed the CIA to provide support to Iraq's Counterterrorism Service, or CTS, a force that reports directly to Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, officials said.

The Last Soldier to Die for a Mistake

David Hickman  was a 23-year-old African-American from North Carolina.   "The pain is fresh for people who knew Hickman. But the years have not eased the anguish of those who lost loved ones in the war's earliest days, when funerals were broadcast live on local television, before the country became numb to the casualty count."

In this article, Mitchell quotes WaPo journalists and staff about the reporting during the lead up to the war.  It's well worth reading.  Mitchell has a new book worth looking at.  Also in the article, WaPo alone admits they ran 140 front page stories promoting the war.  140 front page stories.
When 'Washington Post' Failed on Iraq

• “We are inevitably the mouthpiece for whatever administration is in power.“—Reporter Karen DeYoung.

* “[Bob] Woodward, for his part, said it was risky for journalists to write anything that might look silly if weapons were ultimately found in Iraq.”
[...]
• Executive Editor Downie said experts who questioned the war wouldn’t go on record often enough. But his paper, and others, quoted unnamed pro-war sources willy-nilly.

• Downie also asserted that “voices raising questions about the war were lonely ones.” This is simply rewriting history. On the eve of the invasion, polls showed that half the public wanted to delay the invasion to give the United Nations inspectors more time to do their duty, and millions had already marched in the streets. Many of the editorial pages of major US newspapers (though, crucially, not the Post’s) were expressing their own doubts about the need for war. Key intelligence experts questioned the administration’s evidence but were given little play, on or off the record, at the Post.

This is mind blowing. First a Republican, Rand Paul, filibusters to get answers about the targeted killing program and now at CPAC, a speech calling for breaking up the TBTF banks.  Where are the Democrats??  I can't even believe they are ceding these two issues to the Republicans.
End “Too Big to Fail” Once and for All

In advance of his speech on Friday to the Conservative Political Action Conference, Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas President Richard Fisher writes with Harvey Rosenblum about the failure of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law to adequately address financial institutions that are “too big to fail.”
[...]
“Third, we recommend that the largest financial holding companies be restructured so that every one of their corporate entities is subject to a speedy bankruptcy process, and in the case of banking entities themselves, that they be of a size that is ‘too small to save.’”

NYT public editor, Margaret Sullivan or @Sulliview.
The Danger of Suppressing the Leaks

IMAGINE if American citizens never learned about the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Imagine not knowing about the brutal treatment of terror suspects at United States government “black sites.” Or about the drone program that is expanding under President Obama, or the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretapping of Americans.

This is a world without leaks.

Joe Lieberman goes to work for a neocon think tank. He is going to work on the Neverending War Project.
Senator Joseph Lieberman to Join Senator Jon Kyl as Co-Chair of the American Internationalism Project at the American Enterprise Institute

Washington, DC (March 11, 2013) – American Enterprise Institute (AEI) president Arthur Brooks announced today that former Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman will join AEI Visiting Fellow Jon Kyl as co-chair of the American Internationalism Project, an important new effort from AEI's Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies. The Project's focus will be to rebuild and reshape a bipartisan consensus around American global leadership and engagement.
[...]
The world is as complex and dangerous as it has been in many decades, but fiscal constraints, weariness with war and isolationism are eroding the American will to lead. The American Internationalism Project will - through a series of working groups, reports and conferences - work to renew the foundations of American internationalism and the commitment to political and economic freedom that has been the hallmark of U.S. leadership for more than half a century.

Marcy updates the timeline and she includes a full list of members of Congress who have called for the memos to be released.  Go look at the list.  I don't think you could fabricate a more diverse list of members, politically.
That Makes Over 21 Requests by 31 Members of Congress, Mr. President

Adding the letter that Barbara Lee, as well as a list of all Members of Congress who have, at one time or another, requested the targeted killing memos.
[...]
March 11, 2013: Barbara Lee and 7 other progressives ask Obama to release “in an unclassified form, the full legal basis of executive branch claims” about targeted killing, as well as the “architecture” of the drone program generally. (22)

h/t to Marcy Wheeler
“YOU’D better not talk!’ said Five. ‘I heard the Queen say only yesterday you deserved to be beheaded!’

‘What for?’ said the one who had spoken first.

‘That’s none of YOUR business, Two!’ said Seven.

[snip]

‘And who are THESE?’ said the Queen, pointing to the three gardeners who were lying round the rosetree; for, you see, as they were lying on their faces, and the pattern on their backs was the same as the rest of the pack, she could not tell whether they were gardeners, or soldiers, or courtiers, or three of her own children.

‘How should I know?’ said Alice, surprised at her own courage. ‘It’s no business of MINE.’

The Queen turned crimson with fury, and, after glaring at her for a moment like a wild beast, screamed ‘Off with her head! Off—’

Jesselyn Radack and Scott Shane.  Shane claims that the "White House" was not their source on their Sunday article and that they wouldn't talk on or off the record about it.  Pure speculation, but there's someone who is no longer technically part of the "White House" anymore who knows a lot about this case, and the kill list in general, and who has a history of making speeches and talking to the press about classified information.  He also has a history of lies, half truths and twisting things (remember when he said that no one civilian had been killed by drone strikes?).  That would be John Brennan. Was he the source?  He also close ties to the Saudis, where the drone base is.  He was the CIA station chief in Saudi Arabia.  Presumably he had a lot of involvement with the drone strikes in Yemen.  I think there is a high chance that he was the main source for Shane's article.  It will be interesting to see Obama's upcoming speech on the matter and to see how closely his speech meshes with that NYT article.  If Brennan was Shane's source, I find his statement about how the White House was not the source to be very misleading, given that Brennan was part of the White House until less than a week ago.
White House Changing Story on Anwar al-Awlaki? A Debate on NYT's Inside Account of '11 Drone Strike





Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest


Evening Blues
USA: A Giant Juggernaut of Greed and Evil
LA Times: FDIC Covertly Settled “Scores” Of Bank Fraud Cases Since 2007
Open thread for night owls: Why not a 'grand bargain' that makes life better for the working class?
Protest in Brooklyn over police shooting teen
Chief of Iraq Torture Commandos: "The Americans knew about everything I did"
Know the name Wilkerson? You should.
SANDY HOOK RIDE ON WASHINGTON - DAY 3
President Obama put on a secret "Alice in Wonderland" themed party for Halloween in 2009





Bruce Springsteen 121212concert Land of Hope and Dreams plus Wrecking Ball
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