Nir Rosen on American Troops and the Shia-Sunni Wars

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nirrosen.jpg
Nir Rosen, a fellow at the New America Foundation who is also affiliated with the American Strategy Program which I direct, has just published a Robert Kaplan-esque treatment in the Boston Review of what he sees unfolding in Iraq.
It’s a powerfully written passage that opens with a vignette of Americans killing an Iraqi man inside his home, his family outside, perhaps as part of a scheme engineered by a Shia “translator”:

The Americans came for Sabah one Friday night in September. His house in Radwaniya, on the western outskirts of Baghdad, stood in a dry, yellow field surrounded by brick walls. Three cars were parked in front the day I came to visit, two weeks after Americans had shot him.
It was the month of Ramadan, and our mouths were as dry as his yard. The resistance was active in Radwaniya, and we drove through fields and dry canals to avoid any checkpoints that might reveal to locals that I was a foreigner. Journalists were targets now too.
The Americans had come maybe 20 times before to search for weapons in the house were Sabah lived with his brothers Walid and Hussein, their wives, and their six children. They knew where to look for the single Kalashnikov rifle the family was permitted to own. They had always been polite. “This day they didn’t act normal,” Hussein told me. “They were running from all sides of the house. They kicked open the doors. They didn’t wait for us.”
With Iraqi National Guardsmen standing outside, the Americans hit the brothers with their rifle butts. Five soldiers were on each man. Sabah’s nose was broken; Walid lay on the floor with a rifle barrel in his mouth. The Shia translator told them to kill Walid, but they ripped the gun out of his mouth instead, tearing his cheek.
The rest of the family was ordered out. The translator asked the brothers where “the others” were and cursed them, threatening to rape their sisters.
As the terrified family waited outside on the road, they heard three shots and what sounded to them like a scuffle inside. The Iraqi National Guardsmen tried to enter the house, but the translator cursed them, too, and shouted, “Who told you to come in?” Thirty minutes later Walid was dragged into the street. The translator emerged with a picture of Sabah and asked for Sabah’s wife.
“Your husband was killed by the Americans, and he deserved to die,” he told her. He tore the picture before her face. Several soldiers came out of the house laughing.
Inside, the family found Sabah dead. Blood marked his shirt where three bullets had entered his chest; two came out his back and lodged in the wall behind him. American-made bullet casings were on the floor. The house had been ransacked. Sofas and beds were overturned and torn apart; tables, closets, vases with plastic flowers were broken.
Sabah’s pictures had been torn up and his identification card confiscated. Elsewhere in the house one picture remained untouched — Sabah with his three brothers and their father, smiling in happier times. When Sabah was buried the next day his body was not washed — martyrs are buried as they died.
Hussein told me that three days before Sabah was killed, an American patrol had stopped in front of Radwaniya’s shops and the Shia translator had loudly taunted the locals, cursing and threatening them for being Sunnis. Sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shia had been escalating throughout the year, and the Americans had done little to diffuse them.

Rosen also elaborates on the potential for a massive regional convulsion between Shia and Sunni Muslims:

In December 2004, Jordan’s King Abdallah warned of a “Shia crescent” from Lebanon to Iraq to Iran that would destabilize the entire region. Iraq’s Shias had demonstrated against Jordan in the past, condemning the country for its steady trickle of suicide bombers who crossed into Iraq to commit atrocities against Shia civilians.
In September 2005, Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al Faisal warned that a civil war in Iraq would destabilize the entire region and complained that the Americans had handed Iraq over to Iran. In response, Iraqi Interior Minister Bayan Jabr called the Saudi foreign minister a “Bedouin riding a camel” and described Saudi Arabia as a one-family dictatorship.
Jabr, who had commanded the Badr corps, also condemned Saudi human-rights abuses — particularly the repression of Saudi Arabia’s approximately two million Shias — and he mocked Saudi Arabia’s treatment of its women.
In Saudi Arabia, the home of Wahhabi Islam, Shias are known as rafida, which means “rejectionists.” A highly pejorative term, it implies that Shias are outside Islam, and to Shias it is the equivalent of being called “nigger.” This is the same word Sunni radicals in Iraq and the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al Zarqawi, use to describe Shias. Saudi Arabia’s two million Shias have been persecuted, prevented from celebrating their festivals, and occasionally threatened with extermination.
Saudi Arabia is also the main exporter of foreign fighters to the Iraqi jihad to fight both the Americans and the Shia “rafida” collaborators.

Nir Rosen’s treatment of this killing of an Iraqi man inside his house — where no guns or other terrorist materials seem to have been found — is the type of reporting that is vital for Americans and others in the world to read. The job Americans are assigned to do in Iraq is nearly impossible to accomplish if they are unable to make sensible life and death decisions without being dependent on the biases of local “fixers” and “translators”.
I am highlighting Rosen’s report because I’ve already heard of dozens of cases from U.S. servicemen who had previously served in Iraq that the language and culture gap between American troops and the Iraqis that they are trying to “protect” and “help” forces dependencies on “gatekeepers” — particularly English-speaking “translators” — who are very frequently crooks charging exorbitant fees for their services, spies, thugs attached to organized crime rings, extortionists from Iraqis whom they threaten to expose to Americans, or players in the Shia-Sunni conflict who manipulate American troops to perform executions of their enemies.
This situation is terrible. Those who continue to harp on that we “must stay the course” need to think about this. What does “stay the course” mean when many of our troops are not able to conduct themselves independently of thugs who are terrorizing the very people we are trying to help.
I had not read about this case which Nir Rosen exposes, but the American military needs to find a way to investigate this story and prosecute the “translator” and other such thuggish gatekeepers. It then needs to find alternatives in how life and death killing decisions are made when such translators are involved.
I think that Rosen’s depiction of the Shia-Sunni tensions that are beginning to boil regionally is accurate, but I want to add two dimensions that are missing from his piece but which are potentially important in balancing this picture.
The first is that as I and others have reported before, Saudi King Abdullah has been sending unambiguous signals that he is trying to reach out to his own domestic Shia population in positive ways — and as part of this campaign within and beyond Saudi borders invited Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to be his personal guest during the Haj. These symbolic gestures are seen by Sunni and Shia and represent a bit of a counter-force to the negative news we hear.
Secondly, I recently had a conversation about Saudi Arabia’s political stability with a senior Saudi Defense Attache based in a foreign government — and would rather not identify the person. The Saudi General told me that one of his greatest concerns about Saudi Arabia’s future was not that the Iraq War or other regional conflicts would boil over, but rather that the conflicts would be quelled, that the problems in Iraq would more or less stabilize and the fire in the heart of the insurgency would diminish.
The General’s concern in that scenario is that the many Saudis that have left the country to fight in these “wars” would come home. That, he said, would create serious internal tensions and possibly create instabilities that would be “difficult to control”. This was an astonishing admission from a top General but it seemed candid and honest to me.
I asked then whether it was important for Saudi Arabia’s stability for it to have the ability to export these young-ish, male jihadists. The General’s one word response: “Absolutely.”
There are no quick fixes in the Middle East — and every course of action for America, whether it involves staying or leaving, or engaging in so-called “strategic redeployment” has serious costs attached.
America needs a better strategic plan to address expanding arcs of instability in the world and without a more serious road map, our efforts are thinly reactive, ad hoc, and designed to go nation by nation rather than focus on regional realities — and this only prescribes ongoing serious failure.
America has to turn this problem of strategic blindness around, and it is something Republican and Democratic partisans should resist treating as election fodder. The Republican leadership has been self-righteous and indulgent in pushing an idiotic notion of infallibility. And Democrats have failed to provide a competing vision of national security priorities and strategy to satisfy a market calling for such a plan — recent proposals included.
America’s mystique is fragile and collapsing and without some better management of American political, economic and military resources, America could, as Zbigniew Brzezinski has said on several occasions, “lose its primacy”.
That could have devastating consequences for Americans and the world. That is what this gambit in Iraq may be costing, and we have to wise up to better decisions now.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

32 comments on “Nir Rosen on American Troops and the Shia-Sunni Wars

  1. hydrocodone says:

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  3. koreyel says:

    “I theorize that to us noncombatants, we apply or impose our own sense of morality and conscience to those who have long term exposure to and participation in combat. Should we expect that during the heat of conflict the soldiers and the citizens alike will maintain their basic moral code?”
    No I agree we shouldn’t expect that.
    War is organized and state-sanctioned murder.
    Anything goes in war.
    Anything….
    So they should kill the fuck out of us,
    and we should kill the fuck out of them.
    That’s war.
    That’s ugly.
    And that’s Bush’s Iraq mess.
    That’s why…
    IN A RATIONAL WORLD
    WAR SHOULD ALWAYS BE
    THE ABSOLUTE LAST CHOICE
    OF ACCEPTABLE BEHAVOIR.
    And that’s why…
    The punch-drunk vampire
    you call “President”
    IS AN ABSOLUTE
    FAILURE OF A MAN.
    He opted on war.
    When it really wasn’t called for.
    I mean really…
    Saddam a threat to America?
    Yeah right…
    Saddam is delusional,
    He is nuts…
    He was happy writing
    his worthless dime store novels…
    LOL!!!
    A threat to America.
    LOL!!!
    Just like IRAN is threat to America…
    with a military budget
    that is one-ten-thousandths or ours
    LOL!!!!!
    (Shit I hear the Iranians got torpedos now!!! OMFG! LOL.)
    Sorry…
    But that’s just the way it is.
    Wake up and use your mind.
    See things for the way they are.
    Before our country gets swallowed up
    Funding Bush’s Iraqi-Halliburton war debt…

    Reply

  4. marky says:

    I’ve had a crazy idea going through my head the last few days—ever since I saw Palast’s article claiming that he had a document showing that US policy was designed to keep oil production in Iraq low, to keep oil prices high (to enrich Bush’s friends, according to Palast).
    I’m not sure about the completely venal motive that Palast gives, but it resonated with me because I see the low oil production as having been predictable; certainly, the civil war going on now will have this effect for years, unless a political solution is reached. Put this together with the fact that the administration doesn’t seem to be making any serious effort to curb the civil war (the opposite, IMO), as well as the fact that Iranian oil production will go through the floor if we attack, or if the civil war spills over into Iran, and it looks like you have a plan whose aim is to reduce oil output from Iran and Iraq.
    Why? Is it because the US could guarantee the continued supply of oil from the relatively friendly nations of the Arabian peninsula, while keeping the Iraq and Iran oil from our true enemy…that being, of course, China.
    Crazy? yes. Something Cheney could consider? Well, he’s an oilman, and has a reputation for coming up with very crazy strategic ideas, and likes to look at the big picture.

    Reply

  5. Donna says:

    Since you posted this story I assume you have faith in the basic truth of its contents.
    Others have commented that it’s hard to know what’s true and what’s not (when it comes to reports of this type). It’s also hard to accept a “truth” that is contrary to one’s basic notions of fairnplay. I theorize that to us noncombatants, we apply or impose our own sense of morality and conscience to those who have long term exposure to and participation in combat. Should we expect that during the heat of conflict the soldiers and the citizens alike will maintain their basic moral code?
    I am truly saddened to read that American soldiers especially would behave in the manner and engage in the conduct described. I am very concerned that the image of the United States as the protector and savior of the weak and powerless is being slowly chipped as these “stories” emerge. I am really worried about the ramifications to Americans if the Bush Administration doesn’t stop flexing its muscles (and more recently its nuclear muscles) rather than implement and ensure a policy in is place that works against actions such as those described in your post.
    It wouldn’t be all that hard to track down the aleged perpetrators and got to the bottom of the conduct in this story if its true. What’s most disturbing is I fear that these are everyday occurrences and the behavior has become the norm.
    Thoughts?

    Reply

  6. koreyel says:

    I don’t believe it is possible
    to conduct an unjust war
    more UNJUSTLY
    than this war has been conducted.
    One couldn’t PURPOSEFULLY botch things worse.
    If our government was run like a business…
    The shareholders would have had
    a reckless CEO such as this
    jailed for fraud years ago.
    Instead…
    we have to endure three more years
    of the so-called “CEO president”
    running the company like a blithe idiot.
    It is beyond shameful.
    In fact, we are witnessing
    something far deeper than mere red shame.
    Arguably,
    we are witnessing–
    AMERICAN DEMOCRACY’S FAILURE
    TO COPE WITH AN ACCELERATING WORLD.
    Truly,
    historically,
    there is no other way to put it.
    America’s form of democracy
    can’t cope with the new time lines.
    It’s election cycles are far too slow.
    Once upon a time,
    the world moved at a pace,
    accommodative of 4 year election cycles.
    Not any more.
    It is possible now,
    For a rogue President,
    To do 4 years of damage in 6 months.
    A majority of America’s stockholders realize this.
    They have no faith in Bush,
    and even less faith in his Iraqi mess.
    Bush has lost the complete confidence
    of the American people.
    And yet on he continues,
    smiling blithely,
    spewing gibberish,
    running THIS country,
    and THAT country,
    into a hard bloody ground.
    When behavior that is so clearly inept
    continues unabated for years,
    and promises with a “what me worry” grin,
    to continue on just so…
    for three more years,
    there is no other way to put it:
    AMERICA’S FORM OF DEMOCRACY
    HASN’T JUST FAILED,
    IT HAS MISERABLY FAILED.

    Reply

  7. karen says:

    Regarding Nir Rosen’s report, the misery is mounting in Iraq. It’s definitely going to be a problem.
    http://www.tpmcafe.com/node/28604

    Reply

  8. karen says:

    On the “happiest people” talk, happiness doesn’t come from an outside source, it comes from within. You can’t buy it. On the war thing, what a mess either way. So now we’re thinking of attacking Iran, more bad ideas..

    Reply

  9. Nell says:

    The Saudi general’s reluctance to see Iraq stabilize sounds like a version of our ‘killing them there so we don’t have to kill them here’. It’s poisonous bullshit.

    Reply

  10. erichwwk says:

    Steve:
    How about a thread on the Seymour Hirsh article?
    Many of us (me included) feel air strikes (these even have WClark’s support) is a done deal. We have foreign policy run by two men (Rumsfeld and Cheney) who entered politics by the back door, during the power vacuum of Agnew’s resignation. They have sabotaged arms reduction, created false NIE reports for 30 years, and advocated covert deceptive military actions. THIS is what will bring down our country if not addressed. We have a choice of either negotiating w/ all parties over ME oil, or we can follow the Rumsfeld-Cheney model of using our military might to decide outcome. Neither man has anything to lose, neither is accountable to anyone, and both know this is their last chance to achieve their life’s goals.
    It seems BOTH Bingaman and Domenici are seriously beholden to the nuclear industry especially as concerns its military role. However, for New Mexicans, despite receiving a large per capita share for technical military endeavors, this HAS NOT translated into higher per capita incomes. NM has become the WMD capital of the world (2510 warheads at Kirkland AFB, next to ABQ International Airport), it being the one state where design and production of nuclear weapons (in defiance of the NPT) is still permitted. Help please, and tell us something about our Senators that would be useful in stopping this madness.
    Following is an email I wrote to Ralph Vartabedian, who has been reporting (albeit parroting the Rumsfeld-Cheney POV) on this issue for the LATimes:
    Ralph:
    Thank you for reporting today on the PIT production @ Los Alamos. While the scheduled June 6 Divine Stra(i)ke test (Nevada) could be for a variety of purposes (e.g. calibration), the most likely is to test the feasibility of tactical nuclear warheads. After all, one cannot deliver that tonnage [~700 tons] via missiles or bombers.
    You raised some issues without reporting on the controversy (i.e. the extent to which the scientific community views differ from those of the politicians). These include:
    1. The controversy over building new weapons, and the issue of stability re helium bubbles of the plutonium pits and the “aging problem.”
    http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/03/21/MNGL8HRDFL1.DTL&type=printable
    Need for new U.S. nuclear arsenal disputed
    Existing warheads may last longer than believed, experts say
    – James Sterngold, San Francisco Chronicle Staff Writer
    Tuesday, March 21, 2006
    2. whether the above controversy is merely a cover for building new weapons, as announced in the Feb. 6, 2006 Press release by Greg Mello, Los Alamos Study Group director:
    see http://www.lasg.org/PressRelease02-06-06.htm
    This states “The goal of building “remanufacturing” capability for existing high-yield Trident pits (W88 pits) is now morphing into manufacturing RWW pits. LANL does not have the production capacity to build both RRW pits and W88 pits. Inferences from internal documents have long pointed to a ‘bait and switch’ strategy, but until now we had no way to prove this.”
    Mello: “It is crucially important for journalists to question the public pronouncements related to this year’s NNSA budget, and especially the sweeping plan to eventually replace all the nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal with new ones. Many of the key arguments in favor of this proposal are based on fallacious statements and assumptions, and originate from institutional interest and ideology alone.”
    Further analyses and data are available upon request from the Study Group.
    For those of us who were brought up in war (I was born during a bomb raid and am the son of a Paperclip scientist), we understand Dwight Eisenhower’s statement:
    ‘I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its stupidity. War settles nothing.” DDE Speech: Ottawa, Canada, January 10, 1946.’
    Unfortunately the current cabal knows nothing of war but fantasy, from a position of safety and comfort.
    Please continue your reporting on the NNSA, and the extent to which non-political experts disagree with Thomas D’Agostino’s assessment. “Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on you.
    erich
    We have become the ruthless Communist Country we once alleged to oppose.

    Reply

  11. avaroo says:

    “I don’t care what anyone says about Iran being a “rogue” state, or supporting “terrorists” — or anything — they’re no different than Pakistan or India or Canada or any other sovereign nation with the obligation to defend itself from invasion/meddling/terrorism by covert military ops (US).”
    You SERIOUSLY see no difference between canada and iran?

    Reply

  12. not stupid says:

    I on the other hand, do not agree to your facts! I watch sometime CNN, and do found them to be off targets while Amy Goodman dealing about this illegal war gets it on more than most. .
    Get in touch with Robert Fisk! He does know compare with our Green zone news people whose they only know what the military tell them.
    He does not even think that the bad man in Iraq on TV Sarkawy is still alive. But our government likes to use him as a phony leaders, because it makes us looks to 1 enemy instead that the all nation want us out.

    Reply

  13. not stupid says:

    I on the other hand, do not agree to your facts! I watch sometime CNN, and do found them to be off targets while Amy Goodman dealing about this illegal war gets it on more than most. .
    Get in touch with Robert Fisk! He does know compare with our Green zone news people whose they only know what the military tell them.
    He does not even think that the bad man in Iraq on TV Sarkawy is still alive. But our government likes to use him as a phony leaders, because it makes us looks to 1 enemy instead that the all nation want us out.

    Reply

  14. RichF says:

    i second the recommendation to check out Sy Hersh at the New Yorker.
    http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/060417fa_fact
    What the US needs is some good oldfashioned heresy.
    America is safer and more secure if Iran gets the bomb.
    I don’t care what anyone says about Iran being a “rogue” state, or supporting “terrorists” — or anything — they’re no different than Pakistan or India or Canada or any other sovereign nation with the obligation to defend itself from invasion/meddling/terrorism by covert military ops (US).
    The costs are too great — and too pathetically ineffective — in trying using military means to knock out Iran’s nuke programs. The benefits are too great in not only entering into negotiations, but delivering nuke programs to Teheran ourselves. Ju-jitsu (sp?).
    It’s a measure of how deeply DELUSIONAL the U.S. is that it can even consider military action an option — let alone the UNPROVOKED use of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran.

    Reply

  15. SuzieQ says:

    The scary thing is that the General is probably right. At what price Saudi stability? At what price Saudi IN-stability?

    Reply

  16. Carroll says:

    Horrifying look at what is really happening.
    Thanks….I think.
    My usual question…Who will and what is…it going to take to stop this US insanity?…hello?…America?..you out there?
    Will we be talking about the same things in Iran a year from now?

    Reply

  17. Keshini says:

    The comment by the Saudi general explains everything! Saudi Arabia, our friend & leading oil producer, needs an outlet for its angry young men. The US creates “jobs” for these young men in neighboring Iraq, by keeping that country in a perpetual state of war, where the US military presence is designed to keep the conflict going. It also conveniently prevents Iraq from competing with the Saudis in the oil market. No wonder the President wants to stay the course!
    This is huge, I hope you’re going to give this piece of news the attention it deserves!

    Reply

  18. SuzieQ says:

    The stability of Saudi Arabia, our bestest oil-producing friend in the Middle East, requires the exportation of jihadists? What, they’ve got some kind of ‘work program’?

    Reply

  19. Dan Kervick says:

    A few serious questions:
    What is primacy?
    How important is it?
    Is there any evidence that the happiest people in the world live in countries that enjoy primacy?

    Reply

  20. Mimikatz says:

    Kevin Phillips’ new book, “American Theocracy,” about the intersection of oil politics in the face of peak oil, increased religious fundamentalism and belief in the “end times”, and our unstable economy, built on recycling debt and petrodollars, is very interesting and deeply pessimistic.
    What you say is true, but what hope is there that an Administration who invaded Iraq as a result of a very serious miscalculation that it would (1) be easy and (2) lead to increased oil production by American companies that would bail out company profits and break OPEC, and characterized that war as a struggle between good and evil, to appeal to Biblical literalists, would even care about, much less investigate, individual atrocities such as Rosen reports? Rumsfeld and Cheney couldn’t care less about the day-to-day goings on and deaths, especially not of Iraqis. And we dopn;t need to worry about delivering Iraq to the iranians, because we are going to bomb them to smithereens, according to Sy Hersh.

    Reply

  21. ckrantz says:

    By the way, checkout seymour hersh latest article on the planning for the next strike on Iran. Apparently it includes the use of tactical nukes as an option. It should make for a interesting couple of months if true.
    http://www.newyorker.com/printables/fact/060417fa_fact

    Reply

  22. Robert Blandford says:

    Re: Marica, The designation of economic interests as being prime is also extremely questionable in light of much research showing that happiness does not increase above a GDP of $10K/person. (The US has ~$40K, I believe.)
    We need more research on what causes happiness to increase once the GDP threshold has been passed. I suspect that social stability and equality within the nation is critical, but I don’t know of any research on the question.
    Then we need to design policies to enhance those causes of happiness even at the expense of GDP/capita. Maybe the French protesters are correct.

    Reply

  23. ckrantz says:

    What is needed is a longterm plan/strategy for the Middle East something that currently does not exist. The discussion about pulling out of Iraq is pointless. If Iraq turns into another lebanon with a civil war it will effect the whole region including the american positions there. And there is of course also Iran to consider.
    The sad fact is that both the administration and the foreign policy establisment seem to make the policy as they go along reacting to events from a day to day perspective.

    Reply

  24. majkia says:

    of course quite often the problem is, that the moment a repressed group begins to see progress they begin to agitate for more progress and demand their rights more quickly than the entrenched government is willing to act.

    Reply

  25. Craig says:

    The reports we are now getting are sounding more and more like the horrific Vietnam war crimes such as the Lt. Calley My Lai Massacre. Thank you for this article. I hope things like this are more and more widely read. With 1017 more days of the Bush administration to endure, we must not let one day go by without facing up to these issues.

    Reply

  26. Marica says:

    It may already be too late to change the new image of America. Imposed globalisation was already seen as extremely agressive, destructive and self-interested in many countries prior to the Bush administration . The idea that economic interest must prime every other interest was perceived as a dismantling of social ties that are the glue of civilisation.
    Since Bush, what has been added is the blatant adoption of, “might is right” which brought an element of fear. America was always known to be powerful, now that power is seen to have limits but the bullying goes on–a bad mixture, especially since we are percieved to have no solution to the problems awaiting the industrial and electronic world we have created.
    Power that is not restrained by reason does not inspire respect.
    It is doubtful that profit and shopping will appear as universal solutions, or that the school teacher lectures of Secretary Rice telling the world what it “must and must not” do make the administration’s policies more appealing.
    Eyes are already turning elswhere.

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  27. Mythbuster says:

    Unless America puts its “primacy” to good use, does it matter if it disappears? And isn’t inaction in the world better than Bush’s action?

    Reply

  28. Farinata X says:

    I quite agree that “the American military needs…to prosecute the translator and other such thuggish gatekeepers.” It also needs to prosecute, lest we forget, the American soldiers who, it appears from this report, may have murdered this man.

    Reply

  29. Alfalfa says:

    Thank you for this post. You and Rosen are helping to fill important gaps in my information.
    It’s not surprising that the news isn’t good, but we need careful observation and reporting from outside the government, since ours is unable to tell (or distinguish) the truth.
    As for “staying the course,” the president is totally at ease with repeating phrases he does not understand.

    Reply

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