Daily Archives: March 12, 2012

Brett McGurk as the next US Ambassador to Iraq?

The Envoy’s Laura Rozen citing an Iraqi diplomat and a former U.S. official who worked on Iraq, reports that the White House is expected to nominate Brett McGurk to be the next U.S. ambassador to Iraq.

Here is Brett McGurk interviewed by CNN when he was the National Security Council’s Director for Iraq in 2007, responding to Senator Reid’s comments that President Bush is a “liar” and the war in Iraq is “lost.”

Here is his bio from CFR:

Brett H. McGurk is an international affairs fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR). Recently an international affairs fellow in residence, he focused his research on legal and policy issues related to complex international negotiations, as well as current U.S. policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.
[...]
He served on the National Security Council staff of President George W. Bush (2005-2009), first as director for Iraq and then as special assistant to the president and senior director for Iraq and Afghanistan, and President Barack Obama, as a special advisor. During the Obama administration, he also served as a senior advisor to Ambassador Ryan Crocker and then Ambassador Christopher Hill in Baghdad. In 2007 and 2008 he was the lead U.S. negotiator on agreements with the Iraqi government that set the conditions for a withdrawal of U.S. forces and built the foundation for bilateral relations between Iraq and the United States. For this assignment he received the Distinguished Honor Award from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the highest award the Secretary can bestow on a civilian not serving in the State Department.

He is a former Supreme Court law clerk, clerking for the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist from 2001 to 2002, and in 2004-05 served as an attorney with the Coalition Provisional Authority and the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, focusing on issues of constitutional reform, elections, and government formation.

Brett holds a BA from the University of Connecticut and a JD from Columbia University, where he served as a senior editor of the Columbia Law Review.

If true, sounds like what’s old is new again.  We’ll be in the lookout for the formal announcement ….

Domani Spero

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Filed under Ambassadorships, Iraq, Nominations, US Embassy Baghdad

Stratfor Email Leak aka: The Global Intelligence Files — What’s interesting to read?

On February 27, WikiLeaks began publishing “The Global Intelligence Files” – more than five million purported emails from the Texas-headquartered “global intelligence” company Stratfor. The emails date from between July 2004 and late December 2011.  In a statement cited by CNN, Stratfor says it is outraged over the breach of its privacy:

“This is a deplorable, unfortunate – and illegal – breach of privacy” [...] The company refused, however, to answer any questions about the information contained within them, saying: “Some of the emails may be forged or altered to include inaccuracies; some may be authentic. We will not validate either. Nor will we explain the thinking that went into them. Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them.”

We’ve read through some of the emails on State Department-related topics and though they appear like trivial exchange, there are some interesting ones.

About Jared Cohen, formerly with the State Department and now Director of Google Ideas at Google

Stratfor Insight into USG public diplomacy and the genesis of movements.org

Some back and forth on the CIA’s chief of station in Athens, Richard Welch who was gunned down on 23 December 1975 outside his residence in front of his wife and driver in a 17N’s attack.

Decades old rumor that Welch was set up by an Embassy FSN.

An email exchange on the US Embassy Athens RPG hit in 2007

[DSonlineforum] Alledged Leak of 260,000 Classified and Sensitive State Department Cables – shows a state.gov email addy.

About Wikileaks and the State Department Documents

Thought–Re: wikileaks cablegate – disappearing cables  — and old cronies @ State

Re: wikileaks cablegate – disappearing cables or how “The Foggy-Bottom Bow-Ties have their panties in a knot over a specific Iraq cable outed”

Yep, the purported email really did say “panties in a knot.”

An email titled, FBI SAIC comment on WikiLeaks (internal use only pls) says “nobody knew better than us how those State Department people write….”

One purported email from a Senior Eurasia Analyst dated September 2011 had awful things to say about Ambassador McFaul:

“On McFaul: everyone in CE hates dealing with him. He is deluded. He believes that Russia can actually be pulled into being an ally with the US. McFaul wants to use Regan’s gameplan. He constantly quotes Regan. On a sidenote, in McFaul’s office there is a large (really large, like4x3) photo blown up above his desk of McFaul, Obama, Medvedev and Putin all sitting around the lunchtable smiling. However, the way I heard it was that McFaul was scared to death of Putin and stuttered the entire time.”

Then there’s a source in Mexico dubbed MX1 with concerns about Wikileaks and afraid to “get fired when those cables are leaked.”  The 2010 email exchange citing the same MX1 source also includes the following:

“MX1 says that this is a bad thing because it is already difficult to get Mexicans to be frank about how much GOM sucks. First you have the nationalism issue, then the fact that many just don’t like Americans, and now the ones that want to be frank are afraid they’ll lose their job when GOM finds out they said Calderon has his head up his ass and that the Consul General is taking money from the Zetas.”

Among the purported Stratfor emails released by Wikileaks are speculations about UBL’s non-burial at sea. Asked about that during a Daily Press Briefing, the State Department’s Mike Hammer had this to say:

“All right, as far as I understand, as far as my colleagues at the State Department go, excuse me, the Department of Defense, they have already clearly stated that the report is false and quite ridiculous.”

Elsewhere online, firstpost.com notes that “The latest leaked emails, spinning fanciful theories about bin Laden’s body disposal, are almost certain to feed the liveliest imagination of conspiracy theorists, of whom there is no dearth.”

No doubt.

And before you say “oh, dear!” — here is Trevor Timm, an activist at Electronic Frontier Foundation about rumors with no second source:


Sounds like an excellent question…

By the way, Stratfor’s VP of Intelligence  is Fred Burton, a former deputy chief of the counterterrorism division of the State Department’s Diplomatic Security Service.

Domani Spero

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Filed under Leaks|Controversies, Public Diplomacy, State Department, STRATFOR

Garry Trudeau on Texas’ 10-inch “shaming wand” and comedy malpractice

With today’s strip, Gary Trudeau’s Doonesbury starts a week-long ridicule of Texas’s mandatory transvaginal ultrasound law, also known as the sonogram law.

The strip has a young woman coming in for a sonogram and is told to take a seat in the “shaming room” where “a middle-aged male state legislator will be with you in a moment.”

Tomorrow, she’ll get asked, “Do your parents know you’re a slut?”

Yep, and apparently, some papers are running away from the strip this week. Romenesko.com reports that the  Oregonian features editor, JoLene Krawczak says, “We thought the strips were over the line for the comics pages and won’t be running them.” I’m sure some other papers will not run the strips for fear of ruining “the funnies.”

Not sure if Gov Rick, or male legislators, or male state judges who made the law possible in Texas will make a strip appearance.  But we have days to go till Friday.

In an interview with WaPo, Garry Trudeau, creator of the Pulitzer-winning comic strip tells Micheal Cavna:

Texas’s HB-15 isn’t hard to explain: The bill says that in order for a woman to obtain a perfectly legal medical procedure, she is first compelled by law to endure a vaginal probe with a hard, plastic 10-inch wand. The World Health Organization defines rape as “physically forced or otherwise coerced penetration — even if slight — of the vulva or anus, using a penis, other body parts or an object.” You tell me the difference.
[...]
I chose the topic of compulsory sonograms because it was in the news and because of its relevance to the broader battle over women’s health currently being waged in several states. For some reason, the GOP has chosen 2012 to re-litigate reproductive freedom, an issue that was resolved decades ago. Why [Rick] Santorum, [Rush] Limbaugh et al. thought this would be a good time to declare war on half the electorate, I cannot say. But to ignore it would have been comedy malpractice.

Can somebody please, please invent a 10-inch shaming wand for male legislators only?

You may or may not want to read Where Was the Outrage Over Texas’s Sonogram Law?

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Filed under Current Stuff, Funnies, Huh? News, Politics, Quotes