We are in DC tonight and it is cold. It's 31 degrees. That may not seem cold but I grew up in Florida and live out in California now so that's not just one degree below freezing, that's incredibly cold.
We're planning to catch some Congressional hearings.
If we were in London (I've never been to London), we'd be trying to get into the Iraq Inquiry hearings. Tomorrow they have a big witness, Clare Short. She resigned over the Iraq War. This is from the BBC:
Clare Short, one of the most vocal critics of the Iraq war, is set to give evidence to the Chilcot inquiry.
The former international development secretary resigned from the cabinet two months after the March 2003 invasion in protest at its aftermath.
She has criticised the basis for going to war and claimed there was no serious discussion of the issue in cabinet.
As C.I. pointed out over the weekend, this should be a big moment. You've had witnesses like creepy Alastair Campbell slime her and other witnesses take up for. She's already called out Tony Blair's nonsense on Friday in the press so she should be a major witness.
Tony Blair? Joe Conason's noting the Iraq Inquiry at Salon:
Tony Blair's widely panned appearance at last week's Chilcot inquiry into the origins of the Iraq war reminded the world about the former British prime minister's role in that lethal fiasco. Like many of the Iraq war's instigators here in the United States, Blair has gotten a free pass while flaunting his lack of remorse. Indeed, the failure to hold him accountable resulted in his appointment as the special envoy of the "Mideast Quartet" in June 2007, charged with reviving the peace process on behalf of its members -- the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and the Russian Federation.
Blair has been serving as the Quartet's representative in the troubled region for well over two years without much protest or much impact. But his smug, self-serving testimony about Iraq -- filled with the same deceptions and evasions that irreparably marred his reputation -- may at last render that position untenable. According to the Guardian, moreover, he will be called to testify again sometime within the next few months about the precooked and plagiarized intelligence reports used by his government to prove that Iraq's mythical "weapons of mass destruction" posed an imminent threat.Good for Conason. If you're a regular reader of Rebecca's, you know he's one of the few left voices she still respects. Most of them made 2008 all about some other than reality or truth.
Good for Conason for covering the Inquiry -- especially when so many on the left are playing stupid and dumb. And remember I was talking about hearings a bit ago? One we hope to catch is in the Senate tomorrow. Yochi J. Dreazen (Wall St. Journal) reports:
Mr. Murphy, a two-term Democrat from Pennsylvania, served in the Army's 82nd Airborne Division and was the first Iraq veteran elected to Congress. His bill has 187 co-sponsors, leaving it just 31 votes short of the 218 needed to ensure passage.
"The momentum is clearly on our side," he said in an interview. "It's time for Congress to have the guts to stop turning its back on talented and professional soldiers just because they're gay."
With Defense Secretary Robert Gates heading to Capitol Hill on Tuesday to lay out the Pentagon's preparations for a possible repeal of the 16-year-old ban, the long-dormant political battle over the "don't ask, don't tell" provisions is heating up.
But it is far from clear that enough Democrats from moderate or conservative states will want to risk casting a politically sensitive vote in favor of repealing the ban.
Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, the powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, opposes repealing the ban and has said his full committee won't hold a hearing on Rep. Murphy's bill, complicating its path to a vote.We're hoping to catch the Senate hearing tomorrow. And now here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"
Monday, February 1, 2010. Chaos and violence continue, Baghdad is slammed by a bombing, the most slammed US official in the Iraq Inquiry thus far is slammed again today (no, it's not George W. Bush), Tony Blair remains in the news with reports that he will be recalled by the Inquiry and with a witness who will testify tomorrow stating his testimony was not truthful, Chris Hill makes comments about the intended upcoming vote in Iraq, and more.
This morning Jomana Karadhseh and CNN reported a female suicide bombing in Baghdad resulted in the bombers death as well as the deaths of 41 other people with one-hundred-and-six more injured. A large number -- possibly all -- of the dead are Shi'ite pilgrims. Lourdes Garcia-Navarro (NPR -- link has audio and text) reports, "According to police sources, the suicide bomber blew herself up where Shi'ite pilgrims were being given food and water." James Hider (Times of London) informs, "Witnesses said that a huge fireball ripped through a crowd, leaving bodies strewn on the ground, their banners drenched in blood and their sandals scattered across the road." Steven Lee Myers (New York Times) adds, "The suicide bomber in this case struck near a tent in Bob al-Sham, filled with pilgrims making their way from Diyala Province northeast of Baghdad. The toll was one of the highest in months by an individual suicide bomber." Caroline Alexander (Bloomberg News) provides this context, "The pilgrims were among more than 30,000 Shiites who have arrived in Iraq for Arbaeen, an annual observance marking the end of 40 days of mourning for the Prophet Muhammad's grandson Hussein, the state-run al-Sabah newspaper said. They are heading on foot to Shiite holy sites in the southern city of Karbala." Jane Arraf (Christian Science Monitor) quotes a frantic sounding Iraqi military officer, Capt Sameer, stating, "It is a political matter -- it is part of the elections campaign. An explosion like this that takes place targeting Shiites on a sacred religious rite -- the obvious thing to do is to blame Sunnis and this would of course affect their standing in the elections." Really? Richard Spencer (Telegraph of London) reminds, "There was a similar bomb attack last year at the same pilgrimage, which has been a regular target for attacks." Liz Sly (Los Angeles Times) reports the death toll has climbed to 54 (AP also reports that) with 109 injured, that it's "the fifth suicide bombing in Baghdad in a week" and that five female police officers (or "Daughters Of Iraq") were killed in the bombing. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moons Special Represenative to Iraq Ad Melkert pronounced the bombing "a horrific crime committed against defenseless journeying pilgrims practicing their faith."
In other violence reported today . . .
Reuters notes a Baghdad roadside bombing left twelve pilgrims injured, a Mosul roadside bombing injured four people.
Reuters notes 3 'suspects' were killed in Mosul by US forces on Saturday and that one Iraqi was injured in a Mosul shooting today.
And Sahar Issa (McClatchy Newspapers) reports a combination of deaths from last week with an interesting note on who grabbed the bodies, "During the last week of January, four civilians and one Lieutenant Colonel in the former Iraqi army were killed in individual incidents by insurgents carrying pistols fitted with silencers in the city of Mosul, as was the mayor of al Intisar neighbourhood, Jassim Atiya. While one suicide bomber detonated at the entrance to the police station in Zummar district, northeast Mosul, injuring four policemen, and three insurgents were killed and one injured during clashes with the U.S. military, said Iraqi police. The U.S. military took possession of the bodies in order to conduct an investigation, said Iraqi police."
Staying with the topic of violence to note the monthly toll. From Third (covering January 1st and 2nd): "Friday 1 person was reported injured. Saturday 8 were reported dead and 27 were reported wounded." That's 8 dead and 28 injured. Next week via Third: "Sunday 4 Iraqis were reported dead and 2 wounded; Monday 4 were reported dead and 29 wounded; Tuesday 12 people were reported wounded; Wednesday 7 were reported dead and 10 wounded (and 3 US soldiers wounded); Thursday 8 were reported dead and 42 wounded; Friday 8 were reported dead and 12 wounded; and Saturday 1 dead and 5 wounded. Totals: 32 dead and 112 wounded (plus 3 US soldiers wounded)." And Third for the week after, " Sunday 4 Iraqis were reported dead and 7 injured; Monday 13 were reported wounded; Tuesday 4 were reported dead; Wednesday 11 were reported dead and 9 wounded; Thursday 32 reported dead and 11 injured; Friday no reported dead or wounded; Saturday 4 reported dead and 3 reported injured for a total of 55 reported dead and 43 reported injured." And still Third: "Sunday 4 Iraqis were reported dead and four injured; Monday 11 were reported dead and 10 wounded; Tuesday no one reported dead or wounded; Wednesday 6 were reported dead and 11 were reported wounded; Thursday no one was reported dead or wounded; Friday 1 person was reported dead and 6 were reported wounded; and Saturday 3 were reported dead and 6 wounded. That's 24 reported dead and 39 reported wounded." And from Third: "Sunday 12 Iraqis were reported dead and 5 were reported wounded; Monday 36 dead and 71 wounded; Tuesday 28 were reported dead (five of those the increase in the death toll from Monday's Baghdad bombings) and 94 wounded; Wednesday 6 people were reported dead and 8 wounded (not including 1 US soldier who was also wounded on Wednesday); Thursday 2 were reported dead and 11 were reported wounded; Friday 6 were reported wounded; and Saturday 4 were reported dead and 31 wounded." That's a total of 88 dead and 326 wounded. Yesterday, the last day of the month, 2 people were reported dead and 14 injured. That's 209 reported dead and 562 reported wounded. Please note, many more die and are wounded than are ever reported and, always, check my math. Reuters plays stupid more and more and insists that 135 "people" died but they're just going by the Iraqi official civilian count. AFP reports today that Iraqi officials state the number of Iraqis killed last month was 196 (that's all classifications -- military, police, civilian) and 782 injured. They note that the death count is a little higher than January 2009 and that the number wounded is significantly higher than in January 2009. Reuters pimps the lie that only 2 US service members died in Iraq -- they do that by only mentioning the "combat" losses. 5 US service members in Iraq died in the month of January -- three deaths don't matter to Reuters.
We have a lot to cover but I forgot to do December's toll and didn't realize that through half-way into January. We'll note it now. From Third, first days of December: " Tuesday saw 6 reported dead and 22 wounded. Wednesday saw 3 reported dead and 26 reported wounded. Thursday saw 11 dead and 25 injured. Friday saw 4 people reported dead and 6 wounded. Saturday saw 5 dead and 7 wounded." Second week, " Sunday 6 were reported dead and 20 were reported wounded, Monday the death toll was 15 and the wounded was 50, Tuesday 130 were reported dead and at least 500 were reported wounded (for the Baghdad bombings final toll, we're going with the numbers on Wednesday), Wednesday 9 were reported dead and 27 were wounded, Thursday 1 person was reported dead and 11 were reported wounded, Friday the death toll was 6 and the wounded was 22 and Saturday 6 were reported dead and 12 were reported wounded." Week three: "Sunday, 2 people were reported dead in Iraq and 26 injured, Monday 1 person was reported dead and 25 wounded, Tuesday saw 12 reported dead and 60 wounded, Wednesday saw 5 reported dead and 18 reported injured, Thursday saw 4 reported dead and 15 reported wounded, Friday saw 3 reported dead and 17 reported wounded. Saturday saw 3 people reported dead for a weekly total of 30 reported dead and 151 reported injured." Week four: "Sunday, 4 people were reported dead and 6 wounded; Monday 9 were reported dead and 18 wounded; Tuesday 6 were reported dead and 7 injured; Wednesday 8 were reported dead and 54 wounded; Thursday 36 were reported dead and 123 wounded; Friday 9 were reported dead and 25 injured; and Saturday 11 were reported dead and 36 reported wounded for a total of at least 83 reported deaths and at least 269 reported injured." And wrapping up, "Sunday 7 were reported dead, 36 reported injured. Monday 1 person was reported dead. Tuesday 8 were reported dead and 9 reported injured. Wednesday 9 were reported dead and 34 wounded. Thursday no deaths reported in the day but Thursday night 1 death was reported" total of 26 reported dead and 79 reported wounded. For a monthly total of 341 dead and 1227 wounded. If you ignore the wounded -- as Reuters does -- it can look pretty upbeat especially if, like them, you only count civilian deaths. Does everyone get that? If you're in the US military, Reuters only counts your death if you die in combat. If you're an Iraqi, Reuters only counts your death if you're not in the Iraqi military or security forces. Let's all pretend like that's consistent. There were 3 US military deaths in Iraq in December (so two less than the month of January).
Friday War Criminal Tony Blair testified before the Iraq Inquiry in London. Since November, the Inquiry has been holding public hearings. Brian Edwards-Tiekert addressed the Inquiry with professor David Miller of the University of Strathclyde (co-founder and co-editor of Spinwatch) on the first half hour of KPFA's The Morning Show (here for the archive currently).
Brian Edwards-Tiekert: Has Tony Blair had to change his position on anything in light of other testimony from-from other members of his government?
David Miller: Well, I mean, the evidence from both Michael Wood and the deputy legal advisor in the Foreign Office Elizabeth Wilhurst, who resigned actually over the issue, was that this was an illegal war and it was plain in international [law] that this was the case. I think it remains plain that that's the case. I think they just want -- they just want to ignore that so they did ignore the legal advice from their own advisors. What he [Tony Blair] has changed on to some extent is that he's changed on saying that they went to war on the basis of Weapons of Mass Destruction and to some extent although they did this less than the Bush administration to some extent the link the Iraqi regime and 9-11 which is of course was entirely fictitious and they've changed from making that as the argument to the argument, as Blair said, "I believe it was right." As if that could simply trump all factual questions. And that was how he carried on throughout the six hours trying to suggest that actually if he thought it was right, that was where the questions should end. And the Inquiry team really didn't get beyond that, they didn't ask him whether he believed some of the things he said? He tried to rephrase some of the things he'd said. For example, in the Dossier -- "the Dodgy Dossier," remember, which they promoted to get the public and the Parliament to accept war, they suggested that it was beyond doubt that Saddam Hussein had these weapons [Weapons of Mass Destruction]. Now in the Inquiry, in his evidence, Blair went and he rephrased the words by saying that he believed it beyond a doubt which, of course, applies the beyond doubt to his belief as opposed to beyond doubt to the weapons.
Brian Edwards-Tiekert: So it becomes a question of faith.
David Miller: Yeah. So that actually shifts the ground. So that's what he -- that's the process he did all the way through. If you look at the Dossier carefully -- What's not said in respectable policy circles is that he didn't really say that there were Weapons of Mass Destruction, he didn't really say that they could be used in 45 minutes. But actually if you look at the text in the Dossier, he did actually say that. It was in the Dossier. It wasn't media exaggeration, it wasn't anti-war movement which made that up. It's there in black and white that Saddam has the weapons, he can use them within 45 minutes and he can deliver them on long range missiles -- all of which were separate falsehoods welded together. All the way through this process from the beginning, they've been very careful in their use language in order that they can concoct an impression and then they can lie after about what the impression they concoted was in order to get away with it.
On Blair's testimony, Andrew Gilligan (Telegraph of London) emphasizes the first and only resolution, "When the inquiry returned to the point - asking the pertinent question of why, if the first UN resolution legalised the war, did Mr Blair need to get a second one? - he appeared rattled for the first time. They pressed hard - surely the UN timetable was subordinate to the military one? How could he claim to be enforcing the UN's wishes by going to war before the weapons inspectors had finished their work?" AA Gill (Times of London) notes the mismash of 'facts' Blair offered, "Blair now makes sandwiches of many unlikely ingredients: regime change and weapons of mass destruction become the same thing with a threadbare piece of sophistry. One United Nations resolution becomes the same as two UN resolutions and possibly as efficient as no UN resolutions. They're produced with a sleight of hand like a card trick: 'Pick a resolution, any resolution -- don't let me see it. Is this the resolution you first thought of?'" Chris Marsden (WSWS) adds, "Blair was left to fall back on the fact that he had secured the approval of the Attorney General Lord Goldsmith for war on the basis of 1441, repeatedly dismissing the fact that this was only at the eleventh hour and was against what was put to him as the 'consistent and united advice' of the Foreign Office legal team that fresh UN authorisation was required." British Gen Richard Dannatt (Telegraph of London) offers his opinion of the biggest cost of the Iraq War as trust: "I am afraid there is only one word, and that is trust. When the British soldier fixes his bayonet and goes forward in battle, he must believe that what he is doing is absolutely in the national interest. There can be no equivocation. The generals tell the officers, who tell the soldiers, that this is what we are doing and why – and that what we are doing is really important. And, as an Army, we trust each other, because we all know that our personal liability is unlimited. The ultimate risk is a flag-draped coffin, and now a few minutes' recognition in Wootton Bassett." Richard Woods (Times of London) offers key points here. Michael Holden, Keith Ware and Janet Lawrence (Reuters) offer highlights here. The Times of London offers readers reactions to Blair's appearance on Friday here, the Guardian here. Chris Ames (Iraq Inquiry Digest) offers his take on Blair's performance. Henry Chu (Los Angeles Times) reports, "Even as he [Blair] spoke in a hearing room across from the imposing Westminster Abbey, dozens of protesters outside called Blair a murderous liar who deserved to be tried for war crimes. Many Britons believe he dragged their country into an unpopular and unnecessary war under false pretenses, a conflict in which 179 British service personnel have died."
The World (PRI -- link has text and audio) reported on Friday's hearing:
Protester: Tony Blair!
Protesters: War Criminal!
Protester: Tony Blair!
Protesters: War criminal!
Laura Lynch: Protestors gathered in the pre-dawn gloom with their verdict, Tony Blair, they shouted, is a War Criminal. Among them was American Jennifer Bromlick who focused her anger on both Blair and George W. Bush.
Jennifer Bromlick: They should do something like this with Bush. I mean, Bush is ultimately responsible for this -- for the Iraq War, so.
Ann Talbot (WSWS) offers this judgment, "Blair's testimony confirms how completely the bourgeoisie has broken from the political and legal arrangements established in the aftermath of World War II. In 1945 the political elite in both Britain and the US believed it essential that they draw a line under the conflicts that had twice plunged Europe into war and had led to the Russian Revolution of 1917, or face possible ruin. Their response was to put on trial those who had initiated the war and carried out crimes against humanity associated with it and to create the United Nations. They were attempting to establish a strong framework of international law that would regulate global conflicts and provide a semblance of political legitimacy for a capitalist system that had just caused the deaths of 78 million people." Tony Blair will be recalled for additional testimony. Richard Norton-Taylor and Patrick Wintour (Guardian) explain, "The panel are concerned in particular about his evidence relating to the legality of the invasion, the Guardian has learned. Blair's evidence seemingly contradicted that given by Lord Goldsmith, the attoney general at the time, about the number of discussions the pair had about issues of law between 7 March and 17 March 2003, three days before the attack on Iraq."
In other Inquiry news, Jonathan Oliver and Richard Woods (Times of London) reported Saturday, "CLARE SHORT, the former minister, will this week disclose that Gordon Brown feared that Tony Blair planned to exploit the Iraq war to remove him from the cabinet. Short is expected to tell the Chilcot inquiry into the conflict about private conversations she had with Brown in which he expressed anxiety at the potential personal consequences of an invasion." Clare Short, who testifies to the Inquiry tomorrow, told the BBC (link has video) that Blair's testimony was unbelievable and short on the facts. Roland Watson (Times of London) reports that Short stated current prime minister of England Gordon Brown was kept out of the inner planning circle by Tony Blair.
The Iraq Inquiry continued today in London. Air Chief Marshall Jock Stirrup and Gen Michael Walker were the witnesses (link goes to transcript and video option). Channel 4 News' Iraq Inquiry Blogger has live blogged Stirrup's testimony. We'll note the following from Gen Walker's testiomony.
Gen Michael Walker: If you look at the Americans: the State Department, the military, the Department of Defence, all squabbling over things, kicking Jay Garner out. We can't do things like that for modern countries, when we are trying to rebuild them.
Committee Member Usha Prashar: But the point still remains that the focus was very much on military invasion but not so much on the aftermath. Even if, let's say, 40 per cent of planning had been done, we could have mitigated some of the problems.
Gen Michael Walker: Correct, and had you had the infrastructure available -- take policing, for example. You know, have you got a list of perhaps retired policemen, who can come out and do this thing for you? Have you got a list of electricians? Have you got people you can call on to come and make the waterworks? Have
you got people who can come and help with the education, the banking and so
on. And if you had that and you were able to, on day 23, say, "Right, boys, we are ready for you, off you come," and they had the secuirty apparatus to look after them and they had people to provide them with office space -- it will not surprise you to know how badly (inaudbile). When (inaduible) arrived in Sarajevo, he had an empty room, with no windows, no doors, nothing. And we still haven't learned the lessons that we have identified time and time again. Sorry. That wasn't
meant to be a --
Chair John Chilcot: On the contrary, I was planning to offer you the opportunity
to make your final reflections on this very theme, and you have and thank you,
but are there other comments or observations you would like to offer before
General Michael Walker: Only ones that I -- to try and be helpful really. I think
the poor old Americans have come in for a lot of criticism, and my personal
belief was that the biggest mistake that was made over Iraq, notwithstanding
the decision that you may have made your own minds up about, but it was the
vice-regal nature of [Paul] Bremer's reign, and I think -- I mean, I don't want to
be personal about this but that particular six months, I think, set the scene for
Iraq in a way that we were never going to recover from.
The Inquiry has repeatedly heard from military and diplomatic witnesses that Paul
Bremer's decision to disband the Ba'ath Party and being de-Ba'athification was harmful
and too sweeping. Diplomatic witnesses have explained that England was not consulted and that British diplomats lodged an objection to Bremer who had just arrived in Baghdad (decision made before he landed in Iraq) and that it was dismissed. (Bremer has stated
the White House wanted him to do what he did. Colin Powell insists -- anonymously to reporters -- that is not true. If Colin's so sure, why doesn't he go on record?) The
decision to disband created chaos and left the open sores and wounds that remain to
Case in point, March 7th, Iraq is supposed to hold national elections. The latest complication/snag (in a long series of them) is the witch hunt that Ahmed Chalabi and Ali al-Fali (both men insist they are not lovers and ask that people stop spreading those
rumors and stop sharing those photographs) are conducting against various candidates
and political parties from their cats seat on the extra-legal Justice and Accountability Commission. Saturday Lara Jakes (AP) reported that "Awakening" ("Sons Of Iraq,"
Sahwa) leader Ahmed Abu Risha is floating the notion of a Sunni boycott for the
intended elections and he tells AP that Sunnis "will not care about the election, they will ignore it, maybe, if these decisions [bannings] stand." Today Aamer Madhani (USA Today) adds:
The Justice and Accountability Commission excluded more than 500 candidates with ties to the banned Baath Party that dominated politics during Saddam's regime. Most of the purged candidates are Shiites, but the most prominent are Sunnis, including Saleh Mutlak, a member of the parliament.
"They are calling this part of the de-Baathification process, but really it looks
more like de-Sunnification," said Najim Abed al-Jabouri, a research fellow at
the National Defense University in Washington. "This is a very dangerous move
that could move Iraq backward."
Arthur MacMillan (AFP) reports US Ambassador to Iraq Chris Hill has finally grasped there is a problem and quotes Hill stating, "The people who don't think there were any mistakes made simply don't know much about what happened on the ground [. . .] We knew de-Baathification was going to be an issue. The process engages very deep emotions among Iraqis ... and is very much an ongoing concern." Hill tells AP that, "We don't want a situation where some people, or some groups of people, do not accept the outcome. That can make the situation problematic."
Sidebar, please note, Ann is covering The Morning Show. (And at Third, she, Ava and I covered the lack of female guests.) Were it not for being timely and picking up the Inquiry -- and were it not for the fact that so few are covering it in the US (especially in independent media), we'd wait until Ann posted on it and note it here. Instead, she and I have divided up what portions we're each grabbing. Again, so few are covering it. Think about Nora Barrows-Friedman having her hours cut in half or Robert Knight being fired (both with KPFA's Flashpoints Radio) and then grasp that the program Pacifica has spent way too much time promoting (Democracy Now!) (promoting at the expense of the radio network) started week two of (bad) movies (no one will ever see) at the Sundance Film Festival instead of dealing with a damn thing that matters. The State of the Union speech, for example, takes up the full broadcast of Democracy Now! the day after the speech is given each year . . . until this year. As Ava and I explained, it took up ten minutes of time. But that's where Pacifica spends all the money, all the energy, all the promotion, on Amy Goodman's (bad) attempts at Entertainment Tonight and those like Nora who try to do
real reporting (one of the few reporters to regularly report from Gaza) get their hours cut.
On the most recent Inside Iraq (which Al Jazeera began airing Friday night), Jassim al-Azzawi discussed the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with Mohammad Ihsan from the KRG government and professor Kamal Majid.
Jassim al-Azzawi: Mohammad Ishan, let me start with you. Observers of the Kurdistan Regional Government -- outsiders as well as insiders -- they have been shocked by the level of corruption. This is surely not what the Kurds bargained for when they established this enclave in northern Iraq.
Mohammad Ishan: First of all, I would like confirm that corretion today, is one of the greatest social evils in our time. And it's seriously a negative phenomena on a national level. But the level which this corruption has been provided for Kurdistan is truly exaggerated. It's not like that. And if we look at the history of the areas and what we've been through and the fast transactions from central government to federal government from so many different sorts of governments, the layer of governments in the country and what has happened in Baghdad after 2003 effected the region because we are part of Iraq. But I think personally, there is huge exaggeration about what is going on in Kurdistan, about corruption, but at the same time I cannot say, I cannot say there is no corruption. We have said there is corruption and we know the cause of it and we are doing our best to sort out this issue. And at the same time, you have to say that there is huge exaggeration about this phenomena --
Jassim al-Azzawi: Yes.
Mohammad Ishan: -- although it becomes an international phenomena all over the world.
Jassim al-Azzawi: Dr. Kamal Majid, Mohammad Ishan repeated the words "exaggerated" three times. I don't know anybody as knowledgeable as you about the Kurdish affairs. You've been observing the area for almost fifty years. What is your take about the corruption level in Kurdistan? Especially at KRG?
Kamal Majid: When we talk about corruption, we are not talking about little things or little people. We are talking about Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. When Massoud Barzani invests $500 million in the Swiss banks with the use of -- with the help of Ed Rogers, an associate of President Bush, when he has Duhok as a center for smuggling cigarettes to Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran, when he makes deals with oil companies such as Talisman and receives $220 million, when a company like Nokan which is a PUK company controls 750 -- 760 dunhams of land from Tooy-Malik in Sulaymaniyah to Goizja and a futher 200,000 meters, when the government of Kurdis -- KRG in Sulaymaniyah and Erbil take over land from major places like the Ministry of Defence, like the Ministry of Industry, Ministry of Trade and Education, we are not talking about small scale corruption, we are talking about large scale corruption committed by Massoud Barzani personally and Jalal Talabani personally.
Jassim al-Azzawi: Mohammad Ishan, the man does not mince his words. He went for the jugular. He went for the two heads: Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani. He gave you incidents, he gave you names and he gave you facts.
Mohammad Ishan: With all my respects to Dr. Kamal, but I can confirm it for you and for all of the audience of Al Jazeera that Massoud Barzani personally, he has no account and he has never, ever, ever had single penny in his accounts. It's not all Kurd. That man, personally, he's not aware of anything regarding to the economy or anything regarding to financial and he has no interests in it really. What has been mentioned to Dr. Kamal, I think things, when it gets out from Kurdistan, until it gets out to London or to [. . .], it is so exaggerated and the facts --
Jassim al-Azzawi: But then again, Mohammad Ishan, these accusations, these observations are not limited to Dr. Kamal Majid. Newspapers in Erbil and newspapers in Sulaymaniyah. More importantly, there were several riots because of the corruption that happened and civil society talking about abuse of power and abuse of office and money disappearing.
Mohammad Ishan: Mr. -- Mr. Azzawi, let me give me a floor at least to defend myself.
Jassim al-Azzawi: Go ahead, go ahead.
Mohammad Ishan: At least to defend the people. First of all, cigarette today, it's international market. No one can produce cigarettes here and transfer it to any other country without border control, without Syrian country, without the monitoring of international cigarette companies. At the same time, what's been mentioned by Dr. Kamil, like having $500 million in Swiss bank? Really, I think this is not true --
Kamal Majid: That's in Financial Times (of London). That was reported in the Financial Times and the company headed by Ed Rogers of President George [W. Bush] --
Mohammad Ishan: No, no, no.
Kamal Majid: -- Ed Rogers!
Mohammad Ishan: Ed Rogers himself, that campaign was representing KRG, was making lobbies for KRG in Washington --
Kamal Majid: No, no. It was representing Massoud Barzani --
Mohammad Ishan: We're paying --
Kamal Majid: The company's representing Massoud Barzani according to the Financial Times.
Mohammad Ishan: It's not, it's not true. It's not true, Mr. Kamal. It's not true.
the new york times
steven lee myers
the telegraph of london
the times of london
the los angeles times