RICK ROWLEY: But some opponents of the oil law still see Prime Minister Maliki as an American ally and worry that this current draft will lead to privatization and an American oil grab.
FALEH ABOOD UMARA: [translated] The law was written by the American administration, and it serves the American interest in Iraq.
RICK ROWLEY: Faleh Abood, head of the Southern Oil Workers' Union, has led several strikes against the government.
FALEH ABOOD UMARA: [translated] We achieved many things. We were able to raise salaries and get workers pieces of land. But what made people oppose us was our opposition to the oil and gas law.
RICK ROWLEY: In fact, Oil Minister Shahristani used a Saddam-era law that the Americans left in place to declare the union illegal and has pledged to stop future strikes.
HUSSAIN AL-SHAHRISTANI: The law under Saddam was reinstated, so even after the fall of the regime, that was the law, and anybody who tries to disrupt oil production and export would be liable to government actions, because this would be considered as a sabotage of national economy.
that's from democracy now's 'The Battle For Basra & Iraq's Oil' which broadcast the documentary that aired on al jazeera previously. also from democracy now today, this is a headline:
Report: Huckabee Pushed For Release of Serial Rapist
In campaign news, Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is coming under increasing scrutiny for his role in the release of a convicted rapist while he was governor of Arkansas. Investigative journalist Murray Waas has revealed that Huckabee aggressively pushed for the early release of Wayne Dumond in 1999 despite being warned by numerous women that Dumond had sexually assaulted them or their family members, and would likely strike again. After Dumond was released he went on to rape and murder at least one other woman. Huckabee has claimed that he supported the release of Dumond because, at the time, he had no good reason to believe that the man represented a further threat to the public. Earlier this week the Huffington Post posted letters sent to Huckabee that directly contradict this claim.
i wrote about the disgusting huckabee last week and you can also check out cedric's 'Conniff likes Huckabee, Huckabee likes rapists' and wally's 'THIS JUST IN! HUCKABEE LOVES THE RAPISTS!'.
the washington post's dan eggen and joby warrick have a pretty big scoop, 'CIA Destroyed Videos Showing Interrogations: Harsh Techniques Seen in 2002 Tapes:'
The CIA made videotapes in 2002 of its officers administering harsh interrogation techniques to two al-Qaeda suspects but destroyed the tapes three years later, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday.
Captured on tape were interrogations of Abu Zubaydah, a close associate of Osama bin Laden, and a second high-level al-Qaeda member who was not identified, according to two intelligence officials. Zubaydah has been identified by U.S. officials familiar with the interrogations as one of three al-Qaeda suspects who were subjected to "waterboarding," a technique that simulates drowning, while in CIA custody.
The tapes were made to document any confessions the two men might make and to serve as an internal check on how the interrogations were conducted, senior intelligence officials said.
All the tapes were destroyed in November 2005 on the order of Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., then the CIA's director of clandestine operations, officials said. The destruction came after the Justice Department had told a federal judge in the case of al-Qaeda operative Zacarias Moussaoui that the CIA did not possess videotapes of a specific set of interrogations sought by his attorneys. A CIA spokesman said yesterday that the request would not have covered the destroyed tapes.
The tapes also were not provided to the Sept. 11 commission, the independent panel that investigated the 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which demanded a wide array of material and relied heavily on classified interrogation transcripts in piecing together its narrative of events.
yes, the u.s. government tortures. how many times has bully boy claimed that it doesn't happen? tapes were destroyed to protect the c.i.a. and the government. it had nothing to do with protecting the identities. torture is a crime and a video record opened up the entire government to criminal charges.
the article tells you that the new york times is preparing an article. they don't have it posted. that's apparently why hayden went public. in addition, please note that the democrats and republicans in congress went along with it.
i don't think all of us vote for congress to protect us from reality. i don't think we say, 'keep us ignorant.' some may. hopefully, that's a small number.
but this really comes down to 'we know best and we must lie to protect every 1.' it's that attitude that allows so many to doubt the government.
and they have no 1 to blame for that but themselves. a democracy does not operate in secret or under the premise that a few know better than the population.
let's close with c.i.'s 'Iraq snapshot:'
Thursday, December 6, 2007. Chaos and violence continue, the 'great return' isn't but more details refuting the myth emerge, and more.
Starting with war resistance. Nathan Burden is a soldier who self-checked out after joining the military following high school. Courage to Resist interviews Burden and he explains how a problem was ignored. His recruiter made passes at Burden's mother. When Burden learned of it, he complained and was told it would be taken care of. He would later learn that 'taken care of' meant promoting the recruiter to station commander. He explained other signs of the military was not listening and, on going AWOL, noted that "soldiers were doing this because they were being ignored when they applied for conscientious objector so I realized I wasn't the only soldier this had happened to and I wasn't going to judge the army on just one guy that made the pass on my mom" but the problem continued to be ignored.
On CO's, Burden shares, ""There was a guy who applied for cons objector because he didn't want to do it and he got ignored" so he ended up checking out. The man had deployed to Iraq and Burden says, "he told me that him and his buddies had applied for conscientious objector before and been ignored." Last month, a traffic violation led to his being stopped and then place in jail for two weeks while MPs were supposed to be coming to the jail to pick him up. They weren't able to. After two weeks, the military's position was, "Allright we're going to let you out and you've got two days to get to Fort Campbell." Burden left jail and did not go to Fort Campbell. He shared that he had "twins on the way" and that his family supports his decision.
A body that has not been supportive of Iraq War resisters who refuse to fight in an illegal war based on lies is the Canadian government. November 15th, Jeremy Hinzman and Brandon Hughey learned that the nation's Supreme Court would not hear their appeals. As a result, the focus is now on getting the Canadian Parliament to address the situation. On December 11th, the parliament will hear testimony from war resisters. Cindy Sheehan (OpEdNews) urges people to utilize Courage to Resist's easy to mail or e-mail resources to allow the Canadian government to know you are watching and to support organizations supporting war resisters as well as supporting war resisters:
Support actual war resisters in Canada by sending them expense money. From my friend Ryan (I gave him and his wife money to get to Canada over two years ago):
In light of the recent Supreme Court denial in Canada, I (Ryan Johnson), My wife (Jen Johnson) and Brandon Hughey need help raising funds to travel to Ottawa to attend hearings before the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration, where War Resisters will be giving Testimony to the committee. At these hearings the committee will be deciding on whether or not to make a provision to allow war resisters to stay in Canada. This is one of our last chances to be able to continue living in Canada. We will be leaving December 7th because the hearings are December 11th, 2007 so we need to act fast. They may try to send guys back soon and we need to have a strong War Resister Presence. We appreciate all of the support and Want to thank all of you who can help.
Checks/money orders can be sent for Ryan, Jen and Brandon to:312 Tower Rd Nelson, BC V1L3K6
There is a growing movement of resistance within the US military which includes James Stepp, Rodney Watson, Michael Espinal, Matthew Lowell, Derek Hess, Diedra Cobb, Brad McCall, Justin Cliburn, Timothy Richard, Robert Weiss, Phil McDowell, Steve Yoczik, Ross Spears, Peter Brown, Bethany "Skylar" James, Zamesha Dominique, Chrisopther Scott Magaoay, Jared Hood, James Burmeister, Eli Israel, Joshua Key, Ehren Watada, Terri Johnson, Carla Gomez, Luke Kamunen, Leif Kamunen, Leo Kamunen, Camilo Mejia, Kimberly Rivera, Dean Walcott, Linjamin Mull, Agustin Aguayo, Justin Colby, Marc Train, Abdullah Webster, Robert Zabala, Darrell Anderson, Kyle Snyder, Corey Glass, Jeremy Hinzman, Kevin Lee, Mark Wilkerson, Patrick Hart, Ricky Clousing, Ivan Brobeck, Aidan Delgado, Pablo Paredes, Carl Webb, Stephen Funk, Blake LeMoine, Clifton Hicks, David Sanders, Dan Felushko, Brandon Hughey, Clifford Cornell, Joshua Despain, Joshua Casteel, Katherine Jashinski, Dale Bartell, Chris Teske, Matt Lowell, Jimmy Massey, Chris Capps, Tim Richard, Hart Viges, Michael Blake, Christopher Mogwai, Christian Kjar, Kyle Huwer, Wilfredo Torres, Michael Sudbury, Ghanim Khalil, Vincent La Volpa, DeShawn Reed and Kevin Benderman. In total, at least fifty US war resisters in Canada have applied for asylum.Information on war resistance within the military can be found at The Objector, The G.I. Rights Hotline [(877) 447-4487], Iraq Veterans Against the War and the War Resisters Support Campaign. Courage to Resist offers information on all public war resisters. Tom Joad maintains a list of known war resisters. In addition, VETWOW is an organization that assists those suffering from MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
The voice of war resister Camilo Mejia is featured in Rebel Voices -- playing now through December 16th at Culture Project -- that's ten more days -- and based on Howard Zinn and Anthony Arnove's best-selling book Voices of a People's History of the United States. It features dramatic readings of historical voices such as war resister Mejia, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, Malcom X and others will be featured. Musician Allison Mooerer will head the permanent cast while those confirmed to be performing on selected nights are Ally Sheedy (actress and poet, best known for films such as High Art, The Breakfast Club, Maid to Order, the two Short Circuit films, St. Elmo's Fire, War Games, and, along with Nicky Katt, has good buzz on the forthcoming Harold), Eve Ensler who wrote the theater classic The Vagina Monologues (no, it's not too soon to call that a classic), actor David Strathaim (L.A. Confidential, The Firm, Bob Roberts, Dolores Claiborne and The Bourne Ultimatum), actor and playwright Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride, Clueless -- film and TV series, Gregory and Chicken Little), actress Lili Taylor (Dogfight, Shortcuts, Say Anything, Household Saints, I Shot Andy Warhol, Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle, State of Mind) and actor, director and activist Danny Glover (The Color Purple, Beloved, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Rainmaker, Places In The Heart, Dreamgirls, Shooter and who recently appeared on Democracy Now! addressing the US militarization of Africa) The directors are Will Pomerantz and Rob Urbinati with Urbinati collaborating with Zinn and Arnove on the play. Tickets are $41.. The theater is located at 55 Mercer Street and tickets can be purchased there, over the phone (212-352-3101) or online here and here. More information can be found at Culture Project.
Meanwhile IVAW is organizing a March 2008 DC event:
In 1971, over one hundred members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War gathered in Detroit to share their stories with America. Atrocities like the My Lai massacre had ignited popular opposition to the war, but political and military leaders insisted that such crimes were isolated exceptions. The members of VVAW knew differently.
Over three days in January, these soldiers testified on the systematic brutality they had seen visited upon the people of Vietnam. They called it the Winter Soldier investigation, after Thomas Paine's famous admonishing of the "summer soldier" who shirks his duty during difficult times. In a time of war and lies, the veterans who gathered in Detroit knew it was their duty to tell the truth.
Over thirty years later, we find ourselves faced with a new war. But the lies are the same. Once again, American troops are sinking into increasingly bloody occupations. Once again, war crimes in places like Haditha, Fallujah, and Abu Ghraib have turned the public against the war. Once again, politicians and generals are blaming "a few bad apples" instead of examining the military policies that have destroyed Iraq and Afghanistan.
Once again, our country needs Winter Soldiers.
In March of 2008, Iraq Veterans Against the War will gather in our nation's capital to break the silence and hold our leaders accountable for these wars. We hope you'll join us, because yours is a story that every American needs to hear.
Click here to sign a statement of support for Winter Soldier: Iraq & Afghanistan
March 13th through 15th are the dates for the Winter Soldier Iraq & Afghanistan Investigation.
IVAW's South Central Region Coordinator Justin Cliburn will be speaking this Sunday in Dallas, Texas at the First Unitarian Church of Dallas, Raible Chapel (4015 Normandy Avenue, Dallas, TX 75205) at 10:30 am. Cliburn served in Iraq (2005-2006) and this event is free and open to the public. In September of this year, Cliburn shared some of his post-Iraq drill experiences at Courage to Resist and noted:
Someone who had not deployed before asked if we would go again. "In a heartbeat!" one soldier replied. Others assured him that they would have no problem going back. Now, the eyes were on me.
"No, I am not going back to participate in that war."
The look of shock and awe on their faces quickly gave way to a flurry of questions about how I would get out, what I would do, how I could do that to my comrades, why I felt the way I did, what I thought I was proving, and why I thought I could make a difference. The question that got me on a roll, however, was none of the above.
"What are you going to do . . . become a conscientious objector?" one soldier and friend said with a smirk and a chuckle.
"In fact, I just may do that. That's what I am, essentially, isn't it?"
You could have heard a pin drop as the smirks fell from their faces; this appeared to be the worst thing I could have said. It amazes me how they had just gotten done talking about taking pleasure in bullying Iraqis and I was somehow demonized for stating that I had a moral objection to the occupation and subjugation of a third world nation. I have a conscience, and that upset them more than anything I could have said for some reason.
Staying with the illegal war but turning to the failure of the esclation which Bully Boy dubbed the 'surge.' The escalation was never going to produce lasting results. The escalation was never going to, in fact, accomplish much of anything. And the unspoken reality is that a current GOP candidate for his party's 2008 presidential nomination knew that though he chose and continues to choose to lie about that. But before we get to that, yesterday on NPR's All Things Considered, Melissa Block explained, "Today US military officers told Defense Secretary Robert Gates they need help in northern Iraq. They said they don't have enough troops because so many have been called to Baghdad to take part in the surge there. US Army Col. Tony Thomas said the north has suffered, there's been an increase in violence and Thomas called for more American soldiers and the return of 1400 Iraqi troops who were sent to the center of the country. Meantime there were four significant bombings in Iraq today including one in a shopping district of Baghdad . . ." [This was the set-up to Iraqi voices which Ruth covered yesterday.] In this morning's New York Times, Michael Gordon writes of the increase in violence in northern Iraq where resistance fighters are thought to "have relocated" and "migrated" specifically to Mosul. What's going on is what has been going on and what was always known would take place. But it was too important for some to re-sell the illegal war so truth got left out. The escalation is a failure in every way and that is not just political, it also in terms of the military aims. It was always going to be a military failure.
We're dropping back to the August 4, 2006 snapshot noting a section of the August 3, 2006 US Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Senator John McCain: So, General Abizaid, we're moving 7,500 troops into Baghdad, is that correct?
General John Abizaid: The number is closer to 3,500.
[. . .]
McCain: And where are these troops coming from?
Abizaid: Uh, the troops, the Styker Brigade, is coming down from Mosul.
McCain: From Mosul? Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: Uh, the situation in Ramadi, is better than it was two months ago.
McCain: Is the situation under control in Ramadi?
Abizaid: I think the situation in Ramadi is workable.
McCain: And the troops from Ramadi came from Falluja, isn't that correct?
Abizaid: I can't say senator, I know that --
McCain: Well that's my information. What I worry about is we're playing a game of whack-a-mole here. We move troops from -- It flares up, we move troops there. Everybody knows we've got big problems in Ramadi and I said, "Where you gonna get the troops?" 'Well we're going to have to move them from Falluja.' Now we're going to have to move troops into Baghdad from someplace else. It's very disturbing.
Somehow, in all of his cheerleading, McCain forgot what might possibly the only moment of the Iraq War where he could claim to have been right. He was right. He spoke before the escalation proper (stop-loss orders had already been put into effect effecting Alaska troops; however, the 'surge' would be floated proper by the Bully Boy only after the November 2006 elections). What played out under the escalation was what? Troops pulled from other areas to go to Baghdad, to go to Al Anbar Province. The escalation has been what McCain dubbed (rightly) "whack-a-mole" and, as he noted, "It's very disturbing." Now, as Melissa Block noted, you have US military officers telling Robert Gates on his Baghdad stop-over that they need the troops sent to Baghdad back in northern Iraq. It is whack-a-mole. It is exactly what McCain predicted. It's a shame he's taken to selling the myth of 'success' because otherwise he could be pointing out not only that the escalation is a failure but that he was right back on August 3, 2006.
Despite the realities, CBS and AP report that David Petraeus (General Betrayus) is bragging "that maintaining security is easier than establishing it and gives him more flexibility in deploying forces." CNN reminds that Gates had the same set of talking points but added: "security, stability and democracy in Iraq are 'within reach'." Ann Scott Tyson and Sudarsan Raghavan (Washington Post) remind that this (overly) optimistic evaluation is in stark contrast to his confirmation hearings statements when he declared "that the United States was neither winning nor losing in Iraq". Jamie Gumbrecht and Hussein Kadhim (McClatchy Newspapers) observe, "Just before U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters in the Green Zone Wednesday that safety and security for Iraq are within read, a car bomb rocked a nearby neighborhood in what appeared to be the deadliest blast in Baghdad since September." Paul von Zielbauer (New York Times) described the scene: "incinerated bodies of passengers were visible in the smoking shell of a public bus. The blast also killed several street vendors; human remains, including those of a motorcyclist ripped in half, were scattered over a wide area, witnesses daid. The blast also wounded 33 people, the authorities said." Yesterday, the death toll from that one bombing was thought to be 14. CNN notes that the number was actually 5 higher, the Interior Ministry announced today that the death toll was 19 and the wounded was 36.
Military officers saying troops pulled from northern Iraq need to be returned? Among the many other crimes in the region -- 'honor' killings. IRIN quotes Youssif Mohamed Aziz ("regional minister of human rights") citing thsese figures: "Ten murdered women were from Arbil, 11 from Dahouk and six from Sulaimaniyah [the three provinces making up the Kurdish region], while 97 other women -- 60 in Arbil, 21 in Dahouk and 16 in Sulaimaniyah -- had tried to commit suicide by self-immolation during the four months." MADRE explains, "Human rights abuses committed against women -- most often by male relatives -- in the name of 'family honor' are called 'honor crimes.' These crimes, including murder, are intended to "protect the family honor" by preventing and punishing women's violations of accepted behavior, particularly sexual behavior. MADRE, along with the Organization of Women's Freedom in Iraq (OWFI), supports women in Iraq by creating a safe network of women's shelters, serving as an Underground Railroad to help these women escape honor killings." The 'honor' killings take place throughout Iraq. Earlier this week, Reuters reported on how over 40 women have been found in Basra as corpses after being murdered and quotes Basra's chief of police Maj. Gen. Abdul-Jalil Khalaf stating, "Some women were killed with their children. One was a six-year-old child, another with an 11-year-old."
At the end of October, Riverbend (Baghdad Burning) shared what she and her family were facing in Syria, "Within a month of our being here, we began hearing talk about Syria requiring visas from Iraqis, like most other countries. Apparently, our esteemed puppets in power met with Syrian and Jordanian authorities and decided they wanted to take away the last two safe havens remaining for Iraqis -- Damascus and Amman. The talk began in late August and was only talk until recently -- early October. Iraqis entering Syrian now need a visa from the Syrian consulate or embassy in the country they are currently in. In the case of Iraqis still in Iraq, it is said that an approval from the Ministry of Interior is also required (which kind of makes it difficult for people running away from militias OF the Ministry of Interiror. Today, there's talk of a possible fifty dollar visa at the border. Iraqis who entered Syria before the visa was implemented were getting a one month visitation visa at the border. As soon as that month was over, you could take your passport and visit the local immigration bureau. If you were lucky, they would give you an additional month or two. When talk about visas from Syrian embassy began, they stopped giving an extension on the initial border visa. We, as a family, had a brilliant idea. Before the commotion of visas began, and before we started needing a renewal, we decided to go to one of the border crossing, cross into Iraq, and come back into Syria -- everyone was doing it. It would buy us some time -- at least 2 months." Riverbend is noting multiple realities in that excerpt (and in her entire post) but pay attention to why Iraqis might briefly cross the border, why all crossing the border are not 'returning' and the hassles put in place by the Syrian government for those visas. Hannah Allam (McClatchy Newspapers) visits Damascus to see what's really going and encounters Bahija Jawad (among others) who has Iraqi males shouting at her to get on the convoy (you have to wonder if the criminals driving these convoys get paid per head) and Allam notes, "Despite reports of more Iraqis returning to Baghdad in response to the drop in violence there, there's no flood of Iraqis leaving Syria to go home. Interviews with refugees and aid workers indicate that most Iraqis share Jawad's opinion -- that the current letup in violence is fleeting and that it's wiser to stay put than return to neighborhoods still controlled by the same unpredicatable militants who forced them to flee. The numbers bear that out. While estimates from aid groups indicate that 60,000 Iraqis have returned home from Syria, Jordan and other Arab countries, that number represents only 2.4 percent of the 2.5 million Iraqis who've fled their country." Ali al-Fadhily (IPS) provides an in-depth look at the realities for Iraq's external refugees noting that they are "faced with detention abroad, or a homecoming to death threats." al-Fadhily quotes Ali Jassim, who was deported from Lebanon to Baghdad, stating, "To deport an Iraqi refugee is to issue a death warrant. The Lebanese authorities are applying regular migration rules to Iraqis, meaning that most Iraqis in Lebanon will be deported." Citing reports from Human Rights Watch, the World Food Programme and interviews with Iraqis, al-Fadhily makes clear that, regardless of the country refugees end up in, asylum is temporary and always in danger. In yesterday's New York Times, Thanassis Cambanis reported on Jaffar Sadiq al-Lami, an Iraqi refugee in Lebanon arrested for being a refugee without a visa who was given the choice of staying in a Lebanon jail or returning to Iraq and managed to hold out for seven months of jail time before it became too much. Now he's back in Iraq and states that he believes "officials in Iraq were manipulating refugee numbers, ecnouraging returns to Iraq so they could claim that security had improved."
In other violence . . .
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a Baghdad roadside bombing that left five people wounded and another one that left six wounded. Reuters notes a Falluja roadside bombing claimed the life of 1 police officer and left three more injured.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports an attack in Qarataba that left 8 Iraqi soldiers dead and five more wounded while 3 of the attackers were also killed. Reuters raises the death toll 1 for nine Iraqs killed but notes they are Kurdish troops and includes the qualifier that there are two reports that it appears "referred to the same incident." Reuters notes a police officer was shot dead in Dhuluiya with two more injured and the US military shot dead two 'suspected' people in Baghdad with two more injured.
Mohammed Al Dulaimy (McClatchy Newspapers) reports 5 corpses discovered in Baghdad and 1 in Al Saadiyah. Reuters notes 1 corpse discovered in Kirkuk.
Today, CBS and AP report, a funeral with empty coffins was held "near Baghdad" due to the fact that it was too dangerous to hold the funeral in a village where 45 people have been killed "in recent months". In the Green Zone today, Reuters reports, the Iraqi Parliament was witness to a screaming match between members: represent al-Sadr's bloc, Bahaa al-Araji and representing the Sunni Accordance Front, Adnan al-Dulaimi (al-Dulaimi is the legislator who was under house arrest on Thursday, Friday and Saturday after a bomb was found near or on his compound -- accounts vary with al-Dulaimi's supporters saying "near" and not "on"). What was the point of the shouting? al-Araji screamed about some 'documents' that may or may not have been genuine and when al-Dulaimi said the documents had nothing to do with him, "Shut up! . . . Liar!" was the parliamentary response.
In US political news, Iraq has fallen off the Democratic presidential contenders's radar with few exceptions. One is Senator Hillary Clinton who can boast of an endorsement from retired Gen. Wesley Clark (video available) who states, "I've known Hillary Clinton for twenty-four years. I know she has what it takes to end the war in Iraq, avert war in Iran, and restore our country's standing in the world." That went up online last night. John Edwards and Senator Barack Obama have multiple items on their home page but none even note Iraq. Third on Senator Joe Biden's home page is his November column entitled "End Iraq war." Senator Chris Dodd keeps his Iraq plan on the home page ("No Half Measures"). Bill Richardson and Dennis Kucinich are focused on Iran. Mike Gravel promotes a Rally For Freedom in LA at Pan Pacific Park Monday (December 10th) from one to four p.m. which does include "Bring Our Troops Home" as one of the issues. Gravel will be there speaking at the rally.
Finally, today on Democracy Now!, Amy Goodman broadcast a new documentary from Big Noise Films (made for Al Jazeera) entitled The Battle for Basra & Iraq's Oil:
RICK ROWLEY: So who is fighting here? And what is the battle for Basra about? Basra is Iraq's economy. 80% of Iraq's proven oil reserves are in Basra. And last year, its exports brought $31 billion to Baghdad. That's 93% of the federal budget. What is at stake is control over massive oil revenues. Without Basra, the central government in Baghdad would collapse. A new oil law was drafted that would create a federal oil and gas council to manage the country's natural wealth. The council would be headed by the prime minister and largely under the control of the Shiite party that is America's closest ally in Iraq: the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council. But the law has been stalled in Parliament for two years.
PROF. JUAN COLE: Oil doesn't seem to be under control in Iraq. No one in the Iraqi government really could tell you where all the money goes.
RICK ROWLEY: Professor Juan Cole is one of America's leading experts on Shia factions in Iraq.
PROF. JUAN COLE: And it has been alleged in the press that as much as $2 billion a year is being embezzled and smuggled, and it's going straight into the coffers of the Shiite militias of the south.
RICK ROWLEY: Cole says that Governor al-Waili's Islamic Virtue Party has the upper hand in controlling Basra's oil.