Friday, June 24, 2005

With Coalition (of the Willing) Friends Like This...

I guess its time to start renaming the food again...let's see...Lasagna=Patriot Pasta?

An Italian judge has ordered the arrest of 13 operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency accused of kidnapping an Egyptian cleric on a Milan street two years ago and sending him to a prison in Egypt for questioning, Italian prosecutors and investigators said today.

Judge Chiara Nobili of Milan signed the arrest warrants on Thursday for 13 people the documents identified as C.I.A. operatives suspected of seizing the radical imam Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, as he walked to his mosque here for noon prayers on Feb. 17, 2003.

His family says that he has been tortured by his Egyptian captors.

Investigators said the court documents, which remain under seal, identify the 13 operatives by their real names as well as their cover names. In the warrants, Judge Nobili said that all 13 suspects were linked to the C.I.A. and that several served as diplomats at the United States Consulate in Milan, investigators said...

The existence of the arrest warrants was disclosed today by the Italian newspapers Corriere della Sera and Il Giorno. Several senior Italian investigators said they believed the 13 American operatives, 3 said to be women, had left Italy. If arrested and brought to trial, the operatives would face charges of criminal kidnapping.

The rendered individual, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, also known as Abu Omar, is suspected of serious terrorist activity--US and Italian officials say he is an Al Qaeda supporting jihadist who fought in Afghanistan and Bosnia. However, it appears there won't be a public trial where evidence of his activities could be presented, because Nasr, after being severely tortured in Egypt, was rearrested by Egyptian police--and his whereabouts are no longer known.

By the way--the US action disrupted efforts by the Italian police to "identify his connection to a terror network believed to have active operations throughout Europe." Way to go, guys (and women).

Hmmm...Pesto=Old Glory Garlic and Basil Sauce?
Why Does The United States Hate America?
Update: Sorry, forgot the source.

I suppose this is obvious to anyone with more than a few functioning brain cells (i.e., not the wingnuts) but it's interesting to see it in black and blue er, white:

GENEVA (AFX) - Washington has, for the first time, acknowledged to the United Nations that prisoners have been tortured at US detention centres in Guantanamo Bay, as well as Afghanistan and Iraq, a UN source said.

The acknowledgement was made in a report submitted to the UN Committee against Torture, said a member of the ten-person panel, speaking on on condition of anonymity.

'They are no longer trying to duck this and have respected their obligation to inform the UN,' the Committee member said.

'They they will have to explain themselves (to the Committee). Nothing should be kept in the dark,' he said.

UN sources said this is the first time the world body has received such a frank statement on torture from US authorities.

The Committee, which monitors respect for the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, is gathering information from the US ahead of hearings in May 2006.

Signatories of the convention are expected to submit to scrutiny of their implementation of the 1984 convention and to provide information to the Committee.

The document from Washington will not be formally made public until the hearings.

Picture courtesy of Corrente.
Bait and Switch

Dan Bartlett is saying that Karl Rove was only talking about when he accused Liberals of aiding and abetting terrorists. I'm not buying it, Dan.

Billmon, as usual, has a couple of solid observations. Regarding Karl "The Weasel" Rove, I agree that his outburst is as much a signal that things on their side are falling apart as anything else--not that they can't do some damage on their downward spiral--but resorting to political spitballs (the time honored tactic of the GOP) when this is the latest headline is clear evidence that Team Bush is in WAY over their head--and they don't have the first clue as to which way is up.

Which means they've failed. And, in failing, they've given a tremendous boost to Fundamentalist Islamic terrorists, just as they did when they failed to protect this country prior to 9/11/2001. Team Bush has aided and assisted those who seek to destroy the United State. As Billmon notes, that's treason.

Meanwhile, George Dubya insists he knows all about hard work--and death, at least on TV. He bravely told an assembled gathering today that death on TV "bothers" him. I guess it bothers him so much that he won't call on his daughters to serve in Operation We're Screwed--Is There Any Way to Blame the Liberals? Bush smoked a joint spoke at a joint appearance with Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari--who might be the one person for whom D.C. is actually safer than their home city.

Bush also pledged even more aid for Iraq, of course, seeing as how money is no object when it comes to anything that might revive his flagging poll numbers. It'll be interesting to see if that money is distributed like the last batch of dollars reaching hell on earth the country:

The United States handed out nearly $20 billion of Iraq's funds, with a rush to spend billions in the final days before transferring power to the Iraqis nearly a year ago, a report said on Tuesday... the week before the hand-over on June 28, 2004, the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority ordered the urgent delivery of more than $4 billion in Iraqi funds from the U.S. Federal Reserve in New York.

One single shipment amounted to $2.4 billion -- the largest movement of cash in the bank's history...

Cash was loaded onto giant pallets for shipment by plane to Iraq, and paid out to contractors who carried it away in duffel bags.

The report, released at a House of Representatives committee hearing, said despite the huge amount of money, there was little U.S. scrutiny in how these assets were managed...

An audit by the U.S. Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction said U.S. auditors could not account for nearly $8.8 billion in Iraqi funds and the United States had not provided adequate controls for this money.

"The CPA's management of Iraqi money was an important responsibility that, in my view, required more diligent accountability, pursuant to its assigned mandate, than we found," said chief inspector Stuart Bowen in testimony...

Contractors were told to turn up with big duffel bags to pick up their payments and some were paid from the back of pick-up trucks.

One picture shows grinning CPA officials standing in front of a pile of cash said to be worth $2 million to be paid to a security contractor...

In total, more than 281 million individual bills, including more than 107 million $100 bills, were shipped to Iraq on giant pallets loaded onto C-130 planes, the report said.

And, as you might expect, this money oiled a burgeoning industry in graft and corruption. Which, I'm sure the neo-cons will say, is "normal" in war--just like forcing enlistees to pay for their own equipment.

So, it's not all that surprising that Karl Rove would go off the deep end--and Dan Bartlett, Scott McClellan, and Bush himself would either find nothing wrong, or pretend it was meant for MoveOn/Michael Moore/etc. etc. Because that's ALL they know how to do--sling mud.

One thing they DON'T know how to do is figure out a way out of the disaster they've put us in. Again, citing Billmon (paraphrasing here): when neocons find themselves in a hole, their reaction is--dig faster!
Planet Cheney, Part II

Forget about "secure, undisclosed location." I'm beginning to think the Vice pResident is in an alternate universe:

"We will succeed in Iraq, just like we did in Afghanistan. We will stand up a new government under an Iraqi-drafted constitution. We will defeat that insurgency, and, in fact, it will be an enormous success story."


A recent surge in fighting has raised fears that an Iraq-style quagmire is developing in Afghanistan just months ahead of key legislative elections.

American fighter planes bombarded a southern Afghanistan rebel hide-out with missiles and bombs Tuesday, killing up to 76 insurgents in one of the deadliest single clashes since the Taliban's ouster in 2001.

At least 12 Afghan police and soldiers also died in the fighting and five U.S. troops were wounded.

And, see Dick parse:

"If you look at what the dictionary says about throes, it can still be a violent period, the throes of a revolution," he said.

As for Osama bin Laden, well, Dick seems annoyed that anyone even remembers the guy:

Pressed on when bin Laden might be captured, he said, "What, do you expect me to say: Three weeks from next Tuesday?"

Hey Dick--how about sometime BEFORE September 11, 2001, you pathetic failure. Or, given that you and your administration did fail to protect the public that day, why not begin a concerted effort to actually capture or kill him, as opposed to the candy-assed plan you adopted in November/December of 2001--which allowed bin Laden to escape.

Oh, and speaking of candy-assed, Dick tells you a lot about himself when asked to describe Guantanamo:

"They're living in the tropics. They're well fed. They've got everything they could possibly want," the vice president said.

That's right--what Dick Cheney wants is a good meal, a place in the tropics--and a warm place to take a shit.

Cheney also trotted out yet another WWII reference, although this time instead of claiming the occupation is just like postwar Germany and Japan, he moved the timeline back to the Battle of the Bulge and Okinawa...which, now that I think about it, suggests that "Mission Accomplished" was a big old fish story. (Lemon fish?)

If it is lemon fish, here are the two vegetables:

No heart, and no brain.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

States Rights for Me, But Not for Thee

Question: Is there ANY documented proof that medical marijuana initiatives have, in any way, adversely affected the communities that VOTED to allow the practice?

I didn't think so.

Federal drug agents launched a wide-ranging crackdown on medical marijuana providers in northern California, arresting at least 17 people in San Francisco and Sacramento...

Fifteen people were arrested in San Francisco as drug agents searched three pot clubs and more than 20 homes and businesses Wednesday, authorities said...

An attorney for a Sacramento husband and wife who were also arrested said he believed the sweep may have been prompted by the U.S. Supreme Court's medical marijuana ruling two weeks ago. The high court said federal law prohibiting the sale and distribution of narcotics supersedes state medical marijuana laws.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Lawrence Brown in Sacramento said the Supreme Court ruling "lays to rest any question whether federal authorities have jurisdiction."

California is one of 10 states that allow the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

Dr. Marion Fry, 48, and her husband, attorney Dale C. Schafer, 50, were arrested on a sealed indictment handed up a week ago. It charged them with conspiracy to grow and distribute marijuana between August 1999 and September 2001 from their storefront California Medical Research Center in Cool, a Sierra foothill community northeast of Sacramento.

"Marijuana (for medicinal purposes) was legal in this part of the United States until this month, so any attempt to hold them as serious criminals would have been, I think, inappropriate," said their attorney, Laurence Lichter. "They are charged with violating the old marijuana laws, which are now back in effect, and I'm hoping that the jury will see ... that Dr. Fry was acting as a physician."

So much for personal freedom...
Last Throes--In Pictures

Credibility Gap

The ongoing battle between rhetoric and reality.

From Juan Cole:

There appears to be a big gap in attitudes in Iraq between the generals and the subaltern officers and servicemen. An academic sent me this:

"Yesterday I talked with a 2nd Lt and West Point grad who has just come back from Iraq. He says flat out that the war is lost, that "we" only control territory when the troops are there in massive numbers and that "they" take over as soon as the troops leave, that the army is over-extended and morale is terrible -- drug use is escalating -- that there still isn't enough armor, that the Iraqi army and police are worse than useless, and that senior officers are convinced that it is Vietnam redux. One of his classmates a 23-year old was killed last week -- for nothing. There are signs that this story is belatedly beginning to sink in across the country, but he, and I, fears that it is too late."

We saw this sort of thing in Vietnam, too. The Generals are the last to know, and they always think victory is around the corner if only they can convince the US public to commit "blood and treasure" for a few decades.

In other words, shit. Which is causing no small measure of consternation among the neo-cons, who, like all good frauds, cling to their blanket in times of stress:

"Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), who joined Pryce at the press conference, told Cybercast News Service that it "is just inconceivable and truly incorrigible that in the midst of the war, that the Democratic leaders would be conducting guerrilla warfare on American troops..."


The White House defended Rove's remarks and accused Democrats of engaging in partisan attacks. Rove, said spokesman Scott McClellan, "was talking about the different philosophies and our different approaches when it comes to winning the war on terrorism."


Three days after the terrorist attacks, the Senate voted 98-0 and the House voted 420-1 for a resolution authorizing Bush to use "all necessary and appropriate force" against those responsible for the terrorism.

And, despite the fact that ignorance is limitless, there is no credible evidence that Iraq/Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11.

There's plenty of evidence, however, that the GOP is truly desperate, and utterly despicable, from the top down.

Oh, and by the way, if you'd like to call Karl Rove's office and let him know just what a shithead he is, here's the telephone number.
When Keyboard Commandos Attack

Or, as The Editors say, Mouseclicks at Midnight.
Grasping at Straws

Rummy's getting desperate:

Donald H. Rumsfeld said today that setting a timeline for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq would give a "lifeline for terrorists." And in a spirited defense of the war, he invoked Abraham Lincoln and the American revolution...

"It would throw a lifeline to terrorists who in recent months have suffered significant losses and casualties, been denied havens and suffered weakened popular support," Mr. Rumsfeld said. "Timing in war is never predictable. There are no guarantees. And any who say we've lost this war or that we're losing this war are wrong. We are not."...

Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of the United States Central Command, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., who is in charge of multinational forces in Iraq, and Mr. Rumsfeld declined to endorse the position of Vice President Dick Cheney, who said recently that the insurgency in Iraq was in its "last throes."

"Those words, though, I didn't use them, and I might not use them," said Mr. Rumsfeld, who did allow that insurgents might believe they are in their last throes.

Responding to questions from Sen. Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan, General Abizaid said he would not criticize the vice president, but added, "there's a lot of work to be done against the insurgency."

Do the insurgents believe they "are in their last throes?

Four car bombs that exploded within about 10 minutes of each other in Baghdad early today killed at least 17 people and wounded 68 others, an Interior Ministry official said. They were the second wave of near-simultaneous bombings in the capital in about 12 hours, bringing the death toll in that period to 35...

They followed the apparently coordinated explosions on Wednesday evening of three car bombs less than a half mile apart in a mainly Shiite suburb of Baghdad that killed at least 18 people and wounded 46 others, according to an Interior Ministry official.

Later in Baghdad, a sniper shot and killed two soldiers who were protecting a strategic intersection in the western district of Amiriya, an Interior Ministry official said.

North of Baghdad, a car bomb exploded today near an American convoy in Al Tuz, about 70 miles south of Kirkuk, killing three Iraqis and wounding eight, said Maj. Safaa Mawlood of the Third Regiment of the Iraqi Army. He added that four of the wounded were in serious condition and that the blast damaged an American Humvee.
Prepared for War

From AmericaBlog. Here's how prepared Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld were for war--to date.

Saw this at Eschaton, so I'm passing it along solely for the benefit of those who might not have stopped by yet:

Karl Rove was in Manhattan the other day, and here are some of the delightful things he had to say:

Conservatives saw the savagery of 9/11 in the attacks and prepared for war; liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding for our attackers

Not red meat enough for you? Wait, there's more!

Mr. Rove also said American armed forces overseas were in more jeopardy as a result of remarks last week by Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, who compared American mistreatment of detainees to the acts of "Nazis, Soviets in their gulags, or some mad regime - Pol Pot or others."

"Has there ever been a more revealing moment this year?" Mr. Rove asked. "Let me just put this in fairly simple terms: Al Jazeera now broadcasts the words of Senator Durbin to the Mideast, certainly putting our troops in greater danger. No more needs to be said about the motives of liberals."

So there you go. Liberals: their only intent is getting our troops killed.

If Karl Rove and the GOP were so prepared for war, why did they ignore a quarter million TONS of munitions--now presumably in the hands of the insurgents--when they went gallavanting off on Operation-Iraq-Had- Nothing-to-do-With-9/11? Make no mistake: Rove, Bush, Rumsfeld, and their associated minions are responsible not only for being asleep at the wheel prior to 9/11--they claim ignorance, but ignorance is NO EXCUSE when it comes to defending the United States, and they FAILED TO DEFEND the United States--but they are also responsible for the deaths of our soldiers in Iraq (they're responsible for the deaths of the Iraqis as well, but some in this country have gone so apeshit that it's impossible to even bring up Iraqi deaths these days--which is odd, considering that they're supposedly bringing the Iraqis "freedom"). Not only is Iraq a dumb war, but it's a dumb war that Rove, Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld refused to make plans for. So, to recap: FAILED on 9/11. Failed in Iraq. Hell, they failed in Afghanistan, too. No wonder they're flailing about, looking for someone to blame.

However, the only people responsible are the ones controlling the federal goverment.

Sure, they may have won the election. But history will judge them as losers.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

One, Two, Three, What are We Fighting For?

From Needlenose.

Disarmament to end terrorism freedom for the Iraqi people democracy only until the Iraqis themselves can fight world peace.
The Green Republic

Riverbend put up a new post yesterday:

Water has been a big problem in many areas all over Baghdad. Houses without electric water pumps don’t always have access to water. Today it was the same situation in most of the areas. They say the water came for a couple of hours and then disappeared again. We’re filling up plastic containers and pots just to be on the safe side. It is not a good idea to be caught without water in the June heat in Iraq...

The electrical situation differs from area to area. On some days, the electricity schedule is two hours of electricity, and then four hours of no electricity. On other days, it’s four hours of electricity to four or six hours of no electricity. The problem is that the last couple of weeks, we don’t have electricity in the mornings for some reason. Our local generator is off until almost 11 am, and the house generator allows for ceiling fans (or “pankas”), the refrigerator, television and a few other appliances. Air conditioners cannot be turned on and the heat is oppressive by 8 am these days.

Detentions and assassinations, along with intermittent electricity, have also been contributing to sleepless nights. We’re hearing about raids in many areas in the Karkh half of Baghdad in particular. On the television the talk about ‘terrorists’ being arrested, but there are dozens of people being rounded up for no particular reason. Almost every Iraqi family can give the name of a friend or relative who is in one of the many American prisons for no particular reason. They aren’t allowed to see lawyers or have visitors and stories of torture have become commonplace. Both Sunni and Shia clerics who are in opposition to the occupation are particularly prone to attacks by “Liwa il Theeb” or the special Iraqi forces Wolf Brigade. They are often tortured during interrogation and some of them are found dead.

There were also several explosions and road blocks today. It took the cousin an hour to get to work, which was only twenty minutes away before the war. Now, he has to navigate between closed streets, check points, and those delightful concrete barriers rising up everywhere. It is especially difficult to be caught in traffic and that happens a lot lately. Baghdad has been cut up into sections and several of them may be found to be off limits immediately after an explosion or before a Puppet meeting. The least pleasant situation is to be caught in mid-day traffic, on a crowded road, in the heat- waiting for the next bomb to go off.

What people find particularly frustrating is the fact that while Baghdad seems to be falling apart in so many ways with roads broken and pitted, buildings blasted and burnt out and residential areas often swimming in sewage, the Green Zone is flourishing. The walls surrounding restricted areas housing Americans and Puppets have gotten higher- as if vying with the tallest of date palms for height. The concrete reinforcements and road blocks designed to slow and impede traffic are now a part of everyday scenery- the road, the trees, the shops, the earth, the sky… and the ugly concrete slabs sometimes wound insidiously with barbed wire.

The price of building materials has gone up unbelievably, in spite of the fact that major reconstruction has not yet begun. I assumed it was because so much of the concrete and other building materials was going to reinforce the restricted areas. A friend who recently got involved working with an Iraqi subcontractor who takes projects inside of the Green Zone explained that it was more than that. The Green Zone, he told us, is a city in itself. He came back awed, and more than a little bit upset. He talked of designs and plans being made for everything from the future US Embassy and the housing complex that will surround it, to restaurants, shops, fitness centers, gasoline stations, constant electricity and water- a virtual country inside of a country with its own rules, regulations and government. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Republic of the Green Zone, also known as the Green Republic.

“The Americans won’t be out in less than ten years.” Is how the argument often begins with the friend who has entered the Green Republic. “How can you say that?” Is usually my answer- and I begin to throw around numbers- 2007, 2008 maximum… Could they possibly want to be here longer? Can they afford to be here longer? At this, T. shakes his head- if you could see the bases they are planning to build- if you could see what already has been built- you’d know that they are going to be here for quite a while.

The Green Zone is a source of consternation and aggravation for the typical Iraqi. It makes us anxious because it symbolises the heart of the occupation and if fortifications and barricades are any indicator- the occupation is going to be here for a long time. It is a provocation because no matter how anyone tries to explain or justify it, it is like a slap in the face. It tells us that while we are citizens in our own country, our comings and goings are restricted because portions of the country no longer belong to its people. They belong to the people living in the Green Republic.

Sounds like a real blast, eh? Um, I didn't mean "blast" literally...never mind.
Guts and Old Glory

Insurgents once again demonstrate an entirely new meaning for the term "last throes:"

A series of car bombs exploded after dusk Wednesday in Baghdad, killing at least 23 people and wounding about 56, police said. Separate attacks earlier in the day killed seven others.

Meanwhile, three U.S. soldiers were killed Tuesday by small-arms fire during combat operations west of Baghdad near the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi, the military said. At least 1,727 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Gunmen also killed a former judge whose name once was on a list of Sunni Arabs joining a parliamentary committee to draft Iraq's new constitution, officials said. Separately, a Filipino hostage was released after almost eight months in captivity.

While this was happening, the US House of Representatives took up what they must think is obviously a more pressing issue than the war:

Voting once again today on an issue blending emotion, patriotism and politics, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly endorsed a constitutional amendment that would allow Congress to outlaw debasing the American flag.

The House has repeatedly passed the measure in earlier sessions, so today's 286-to-130 vote, well over the required two-thirds margin, was not surprising. The focus now will be on the Senate, where the measure has never passed. But lawmakers and lobbyists on both sides say the conservative tilt of that chamber gives the measure its best chance of Congressional approval since the Supreme Court ruled 16 years ago that flag burning was a form of protected speech.

Boy, that's a real gutsy stand. Next thing you know, they'll pass a resolution unequivocally in support of freedom. And maybe another one strongly affirming that the sun rises in the east.

Or, the Senate might unanimously apologize for failing to pass legislation outlawing lynching...or maybe not.
Kissing Up

For some reason, this (courtesy of AmericaBlog) reminds me of the old joke about tenure being like a sea anemone ("The sea anemone begins life with a rudimentary brain, which it uses to attach itself to a rock. Once attached it has no more use for the organ, which it then consumes. The process is a lot like getting tenure.")...

Short version: David Sirota criticizes so-called progressives (he singles out the New Republic as a typical rock--see joke above) who play into the hands of the wingnut right. By way of example, he points to Ari Melber, who takes the idiotic position that Democrats are somehow weak on national security issues because they didn't wholeheartedly jump at the prospect of gutting the armed forces, which is one effect of Operation $350 Billion and Counting:

You see, the GOP feeds off of people who purport to represent progressives and Democrats, yet who carry the right-wing's most shameful lies/stereotypes. Conservatives have an entire infrastructure to get the criticism as far and wide as possible. It's why Melber's piece has now gone from the right-wing New York Post, to a prominent place in the fringe-conservative Washington Times today.

This is exactly how it's supposed to work for the GOP: they grab someone who calls themselves "liberal" or "progressive" (usually from a place like the New Republic). This person typically has little - if any - political experience in the real world outside of the Beltway, and is really only interested in promoting their name at the expense of others. Then they get that idiot to validate dishonest right-wing lies in the media. Finally, they then cite that self-proclaimed "liberal"/"progressive" as proof that the GOP's dishonest stereotypes are actually true, no matter how factually inaccurate. It's a brilliant machine, actually - but it is pathetic that so many people in the insulated Washington, D.C. Democratic Establishment play along.

Suggesting that we as a country should "tolerate more casualties"--or claiming that it's ok to not supply basic equipment to soldiers despite a military budget greater than the Gross Domestic Product of some 200 nations ISN'T being strong on defense.

"Strong on defense" requires a degree of maturity the GOP simply doesn't have. They seem to be fixated on the "Every 10 years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business" idea--which is little more than geopolitical comfort food. To be genuinely strong on defense requires careful identification of the national and geopolitical interests, and multifaceted efforts to secure the same. It doesn't require a foolhardy war, based on lies--a war that's turned out to be quite a bit more than throwing "some small crappy little country" against the wall.
The South Texas Minarets

Houston's new Director of Culture, Recreation, and Tourism, Tom DeLay, wants to ensure you that, indeed, it really IS just like Iraq:

When House Majority Leader Tom DeLay sat down with reporters on Tuesday on Capitol Hill, he was asked to assess President Bush's campaign in Iraq and to respond to criticism that the military mission is not going well and the White House needs to develop an exit strategy.

DeLay offered this response: "These things take time and they take a long time, and some people get weary of the constant barrage that we see in the media.

"You know, if Houston, Texas, was held to the same standard as Iraq is held to, nobody'd go to Houston, because all this reporting coming out of the local press in Houston is violence, murders, robberies, deaths on the highways," DeLay said.

"And if you took that as the image of what is a great city that has an incredible quality of life and an incredible economy, it's amazing to me. Go to Iraq. And see what's actually happening there.

"Everybody that comes from Iraq is amazed at the difference of what they see on the ground and what they see on the television set."

DeLay was silent when asked whether Al-Kyle (duh) was active in the region; however, reports of large pickup trucks and full size vans with airbrushed sides stuck in traffic on the loop continue to surface...

Seriously,'s not like I need an excuse to stay away from Houston, but DeLay certainly makes it a LOT easier to avoid. And I defy anyone to come up with a more depressing five hour ride than that between here and there (think Chemical Corridor, but stretched out quite a bit).

Oh, and one thing DeLay got wrong...unlike Iraq, Houston's chock full of Weapons of Mass Destruction.
Congratulations: You're the 350 Billionth Dollar!

I came across a couple of mentions of this yesterday (alas, don't remember where), but Attaturk has as good an assessment as any:

Lawmakers in the United States were scheduled to vote on Monday to approve $45 billion US in additional funding for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, making the recent Middle East foray more expensive than the entire Korean War.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, Congress has approved $350 billion, mostly for combat and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The amount, which includes $82 billion approved last month, is equal to the total amount in today's dollars spent on the Korean conflict from 1950-53.

I do believe we are more than half-way to the cost of Vietnam by now.

Yes, I'm correct.

The estimated cost of Vietnam in current dollars was $584 billion, according to the Congressional Research Office. Iraq has already cost more in current dollars than either the Civil War or World War I. It is about to pass the Korean War. We are on pace to pass Vietnam in two or three years.

Link for statistic re: Vietnam. Link for Congressional approval of funds.

Here's what we've won:

23 and a half million fewer open slots for Head Start. Or
100 thousand fewer kids with medical insurance. Or
3 million fewer teachers. Or
8 million fewer 4 year scholarships to public universities. Or
a million and a half fewer public housing units.

And there's more.

We've also managed to win the resentment of most people in the Middle East (which isn't such a good thing, considering that they LIVE there--it would've been better to earn their respect and establish allies instead)--AND virtually the entire world now considers the US an unstable bully. All for only $350 billion dollars ($175 billion actually spent thus far)--and counting.
Last Throes

American casualties from bomb attacks in Iraq have reached new heights in the last two months as insurgents have begun to deploy devices that leave armored vehicles increasingly vulnerable, according to military records.

Last month there were about 700 attacks against American forces using so-called improvised explosive devices, or I.E.D.'s, the highest number since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, according to the American military command in Iraq and a senior Pentagon military official. Attacks on Iraqis also reached unprecedented levels, Lt. Gen. John Vines, a senior American ground commander in Iraq, told reporters on Tuesday.

The surge in attacks, the officials say, has coincided with the appearance of significant advancements in bomb design, including the use of "shaped" charges that concentrate the blast and give it a better chance of penetrating armored vehicles, causing higher casualties.

Another change, a senior military officer said, has been the detonation of explosives by infrared lasers, an innovation aimed at bypassing electronic jammers used to block radio-wave detonators.

And, from the "making the world safer/flypaper strategy" department:

A new classified assessment by the Central Intelligence Agency says Iraq may prove to be an even more effective training ground for Islamic extremists than Afghanistan was in Al Qaeda's early days, because it is serving as a real-world laboratory for urban combat.

The assessment, completed last month and circulated among government agencies, was described in recent days by several Congressional and intelligence officials. The officials said it made clear that the war was likely to produce a dangerous legacy by dispersing to other countries Iraqi and foreign combatants more adept and better organized than they were before the conflict...

The officials said the report spelled out how the urban nature of the war in Iraq was helping combatants learn how to carry out assassinations, kidnappings, car bombings and other kinds of attacks that were never a staple of the fighting in Afghanistan during the anti-Soviet campaigns of the 1980's. It was during that conflict, primarily rural and conventional, that the United States provided arms to Osama bin Laden and other militants, who later formed Al Qaeda.

Sounds like aiding and abetting the enemy, if you ask me. What idiots.

In almost any other scenario, Team Bush would be escorted to the door, with a firm admonition from management to "stay the hell out of here."

Can they possibly be more wrong?

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Flip Flop

Beach shoes, dying fish...and Bill Frist:

Reversing field after a meeting with President Bush, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said he will continue pushing for a floor vote on John R. Bolton for U.N. ambassador.

Frist switched his position after initially saying Tuesday that negotiations with Democrats to get a vote on Bolton had been exhausted.

Talking to reporters in the White House driveway after he joined other GOP lawmakers for a luncheon with Bush, Frist said: "The president made it very clear that he expects an up-or-down vote."

Just over an hour earlier, Frist said he wouldn't schedule another vote on Bolton's nomination and said that Bush must decide the next move.

Frist, R-Tennessee, had said there was nothing further he could do to break a Democratic stalemate with the Bush White House over Bolton, an outspoken conservative who, opponents argue, would undermine U.S. interests at the world body.

But he changed his position after talking to Bush.

Frist's abrupt public turnabout underscored the political pressures that the long-running battle over Bolton have heaped upon himself and Bush.

Six months into his final term in office, Bush is struggling to avoid the perception of a weakened lame duck at a time when his proposal for revamping Social Security has made little progress and some lawmakers are calling for troop withdrawals from Iraq.

Frist has lost control of the Republican-run Senate in recent weeks in fights over Bush's judicial appointments and earlier attempts to confirm Bolton.

Describing his talk with Bush, Frist said: "The decision in talking to the president is that he strongly supports John Bolton, as we know, and he asked that we to continue to work. And we'll continue to work."

Makes you wonder who has skeletons in what closets...and who knows.
"Every Single Day"

Here's a good question which demanded some real evasion:

Q Mr. President, we were told that you planned to sharpen your focus on Iraq. Why did this become necessary? And given the recent surge in violence, do you agree with Vice President Dick Cheney's assessment that the insurgency is in its last throes?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Adam, I think about Iraq every day -- every single day -- because I understand we have troops in harm's way, and I understand how dangerous it is there. And the reason it's dangerous is because there's these cold-blooded killers that will kill Americans or kill innocent Iraqis in order to try to drive us out of Iraq. I spoke to our commanders today -- Commander Abizaid today, and will be speaking to General Casey here this week, getting an assessment as to how we're proceeding. We're making progress toward the goal, which is, on the one hand, a political process moving forward in Iraq, and on the other hand, the Iraqis capable of defending themselves. And the report from the field is that while it's tough, more and more Iraqis are becoming battle-hardened and trained to defend themselves. And that's exactly the strategy that's going to work. And it is going to work. And we will -- we will complete this mission for the sake of world peace.

And you just heard the EU is willing to host this conference with the United States in order to help this new democracy move forward. And the reason why is many countries understand that freedom in the heart of the Middle East will make this world more peaceful.

And so, you know, I think about this every day, every single day, and will continue thinking about it, because I understand we've got kids in harm's way. And I worry about their families; and I obviously, any time there's a death, I grieve. But I want those families to know, one, we're not going to leave them -- not going to allow their mission to go in vain; and, two, we will complete the mission and the world will be better off for it.

Well, I'm certainly glad he thinks about Iraq every day--after all, it's his obsession, hubris, and delusions of grandeur that got us into that mess in the first place. If you think about it, it'd be pretty sick if he DIDN'T think about Iraq every day. That said, I doubt Bush is capable of determining what "battle hardened" means, given his own experiences. As for the "world peace" line...unfuckingbelievable. Once again, the pResident is cribbing notes from beauty pageant contestants. And, as anyone with a few functioning brain cells might note, Bush simply ignored the question. Makes you wonder exactly WHAT he's thinking about when he thinks about Iraq every day...

Bush went on to "explain" Guantanamo:

...those of us who espouse freedom have an obligation, and those who espouse human rights have an obligation to live that to those -- live up to those words. And I believe we are, in Guantanamo... You're welcome to go down yourself -- maybe you have -- and taking a look at the conditions. I urge members of our press corps to go down to Guantanamo and see how they're treated and to see -- and to see -- and to look at the facts. That's all I ask people to do. There have been, I think, about 800 or so that have been detained there. These are people picked up off the battlefield in Afghanistan. They weren't wearing uniforms, they weren't state sponsored, but they were there to kill.

And so the fundamental question facing our government was, what do you do with these people? And so we said that they don't apply under the Geneva Convention, but they'll be treated in accord with the Geneva Convention.

And so I would urge you to go down and take a look at Guantanamo. About 200 or so have been released back to their countries. There needs to be a way forward on the other 500 that are there. We're now waiting for a federal court to decide whether or not they can be tried in a military court, where they'll have rights, of course, or in the civilian courts. We're just waiting for our judicial process to move -- to move the process along.

Make no mistake, however, that many of those folks being detained -- in humane conditions, I might add -- are dangerous people. Some have been released to their previous countries, and they got out and they went on to the battlefield again. And I have an obligation, as do all of us who are holding office, to protect our people. That's a solemn obligation we all have. And I believe we're meeting that obligation in a humane way.

As well, as we've got some in custody -- Khalid Shaykh Muhammad is a classic example, the mastermind of the September the 11th attack that killed over 3,000 of our citizens. And he is being detained because we think he could possibly give us information that might not only protect us, but protect citizens in Europe. And at some point in time, he'll be dealt with, but right now, we think it's best that he be -- he be kept in custody.

We want to learn as much as we can in this new kind of war about the intention, and about the methods, and about how these people operate. And they're dangerous, and they're still around, and they'll kill in a moment's notice.

In the long run, the best way to protect ourselves is to spread freedom and human rights and democracy. And -- but if you've got questions about Guantanamo, I seriously suggest you go down there and take a look. And -- seriously, take an objective look as to how these folks are treated, and what has happened to them in the past, and when the courts make the decision they make, we'll act accordingly.

I don't even know where to begin...espousing freedom via Guantanamo? What's the expression? Like fucking for virginity...and, of course, we have the pResident's word that "many...are dangerous people." Well, that apparently means SOME aren't (see The Rude Pundit for more on this). Khalid Shaykh Muhammed, as far as I know, ISN'T at Guantanamo, and, while he makes for an easy target (my understanding is that he's become quite familiar with "waterboarding"), I don't think he's an example of the typical detainee, even if he DOES allow Bush to once again ride 9/11 for political purposes (the cynical bastard).

And exactly what solid intelligence has come from the facility? If "released detainees" have gone back to "their previous countries" and have joined the fight (exactly 5, according to this story, although the sources refuse to provide details on how this information was obtained), that kind of undercuts the rationale that good intelligence is being obtained.

Guantanamo is, quite simply, the essence of Team Bush. It is a profoundly ugly symbol of arrogance and ignorance. Who knows what people are being held there...and the world certainly hasn't been safer in the interim. Instead, Bush, following up on a juvenile fantasy, veered from the GWOT to attack Iraq, resulting in...well, all but the most delusional are aware of what's happening there.

And Bush, when all is said and done, will be able to continue to think about Iraq every day--especially when it becomes the issue that defines his one of the worst administrations ever.
Depends on What You Mean by "Repressive," I Guess

Billmon finds irony at the Wall Street Journal:

Rice, in Egypt, said that the U.S. is no longer willing to tolerate repressive regimes to bolster regional stability. She flew next to Saudi Arabia.
Ain't Got That Swing

Well, he'll always have Plato's Retreat:

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist announced Tuesday that he won't schedule another vote on John Bolton's nomination as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

In so doing, the Tennessee Republican acknowledged there was nothing further he could do to break a Democratic stalemate with the Bush White House over Bolton.

Of course, Bush can still put Bolton in on as a recess appointment (no pun intended), so perhaps he'll have his man then (again, no pun intended). Though you've got to ask yourself what on earth is driving Team Bush's insistance on a guy who's chiefly known for throwing telephones, running down halls screaming at the top of his lungs, using questionable metaphors (the "lose the top ten stories" line about the UN), etc. etc. etc.--not to mention Plato's Retreat--being nominated for a post that requires a measure of tact.

When I was young, I was subjected to a film strip (some of you younger folks might not recall these, but back then, it was a version of multimedia)--anyway, someone from the John Birch Society presented a film strip to my class full of vitriol about the organization. Standard wingnut conspiracy stuff: the Commies and the Pinkos were going to use the UN to impose Commie and Pinko standards and take away Old Glory, leading to one world Commie and Pinko government. Hmmm.

Seems like the Birchers--who, until the 1980s, were truly considered, well, insane--have gotten a seat at the table.

The UN is not a perfect agency, and even lefties like Alexander Cockburn have strongly criticized it. But, my own take on the body is that it's better than nothing at all--before everyone gets all bellicose, there should at least be a means of attempting to hash things out, particularly when the alternative is the onset of hostilities. Which brings me back to Bolton.

Having someone noted more for "kiss up/kick down" as ambassador of anything is simply stupid, although, it's keeping with the "kill in the name of freedom" policies espoused by Team Bush...which hasn't actually set the world on fire...well, metaphorically speaking, that is.

As for the potential to undermine national sovereignty--please. The United Nations' budget is smaller than that of the City of New York.

Finally, while the Security Council gets all the press and weilds what little power the agency has, plenty of non-sexy--but solid work--is done worldwide, on a shoestring budget. Agencies like UNESCO or UNICEF rarely get any press at all, despite the good things they accomplish.
Justice at Last

CNN has the headline, YRHT has more.

And you can get more details here.

This verdict might have taken 41 years, but it's a step in the right direction. Things are by no means perfect today, but I believe larger numbers of people in the South recognize that the dire pronouncements warning against Civil Rights were just plain wrong. The world hasn't turned upside down as a result--although there is still much to be done in terms of ensuring equality of opportunity for all people in this country. That's what the "American Dream" is all about.

The efforts of Cheney, Goodman, and Schwerner will not be forgotten.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Defense Dept: $425 Billion
Recruit: A Lousy T-Shirt

From AmericaBlog, a link to The Raw Story:

Marine Pfc. Jeremy Tod, 19, called home with news that his superiors were urging him and fellow Marines to buy special military equipment, including flak jackets with armor plating, to enhance the prospects of their survival. The message was that such purchases were to be made by Marines with their own money.

"He said they strongly suggested he get this equipment because when they get to Iraq they will wish they had," Tod said. Total estimated cost: $600

Tod said his son's call about two weeks ago from the Marine Corps Air Station-Yuma was a sobering reminder that the military is not prepared to equip Pfc. Tod and fellow Marines with the best equipment.

Besides the essential flak jacket with steel "trauma" plates, the shopping list for the 5-foot-5 155-pound Marine included a Camelbak (water pouch) special ballistic goggles, knee and elbow pads, a "drop pouch" to hold ammunition magazines and a load-bearing vest.

Hello--where the fuck is the $425 BILLION dollars going, Mr. Rumsfeld? And will any public official ever have the guts to ask about Pentagon fraud and waste while soldiers are being killed or wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan? Goddamn.
Das Kapital (ist Kaput)

This Gary Leupp piece in Counterpunch has an interesting quote--and link to an article by Russ Baker--as to a certain position taken by one G. "Dumbya" Bush in 1999:

"One of the keys to being seen as a great leader is to be seen as a commander-in-chief. My father had all this political capital built up when he drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait and he wasted it. If I have a chance to invade---if I had that much capital, I'm not going to waste it. I'm going to get everything passed that I want to get passed and I'm going to have a successful presidency."

Um, dream on, Mr. pResident.

However, in light of the Downing Street Memos, the quote is particularly enlightening. As Leupp points out, Bush was looking for an an ad hoc (not that he'd really know what that meant) reason to attack Iraq some year and a half or more prior to being, um, not exactly elected in 2000. Fixing intelligence was, to this administration, merely like rounding third base.

Unfortunately for Team Bush, they were under the impression that one score would win the game--which turned out to be decidedly wrong. In my archives, I've used that metaphor before--along with another one noting the differences between Football (American Rules) and Football (the game as known to the rest of the world). Well, metaphors can be more--or less--apt, but the reality is still the same: Bush was itching to invade Iraq, and Baker's article--he cites Mickey Herskowitz (who was initially hired by Team Bush to produce the fawning bio that Karen Hughes eventually cranked out)--offers some additional insight as to why:

According to Herskowitz, George W. Bush’s beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion dating back to the Reagan White House – ascribed in part to now-vice president Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan. “Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade.”

Bush’s circle of pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said Herskowitz: “They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at [Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making these magnificent speeches.”

Republicans, Herskowitz said, felt that Jimmy Carter’s political downfall could be attributed largely to his failure to wage a war. He noted that President Reagan and President Bush’s father himself had (besides the narrowly-focused Gulf War I) successfully waged limited wars against tiny opponents – Grenada and Panama – and gained politically. But there were successful small wars, and then there were quagmires, and apparently George H.W. Bush and his son did not see eye to eye...

In December 1999, some six months after his talks with Herskowitz, Bush surprised veteran political chroniclers, including the Boston Globe’s David Nyhan, with his blunt pronouncements about Saddam at a six-way New Hampshire primary event that got little notice: “It was a gaffe-free evening for the rookie front-runner, till he was asked about Saddam’s weapons stash,” wrote Nyhan. ‘I’d take ‘em out,’ [Bush] grinned cavalierly, ‘take out the weapons of mass destruction…I’m surprised he’s still there,” said Bush of the despot who remains in power after losing the Gulf War to Bush Jr.’s father…It remains to be seen if that offhand declaration of war was just Texas talk, a sort of locker room braggadocio, or whether it was Bush’s first big clinker. ”

The notion that President Bush held unrealistic or naïve views about the consequences of war was further advanced recently by a Bush supporter, the evangelist Pat Robertson, who revealed that Bush had told him the Iraq invasion would yield no casualties. In addition, in recent days, high-ranking US military officials have complained that the White House did not provide them with adequate resources for the task at hand...

Hmmm. War for the sake of political expediency...don't know about y'all, but I'm not terribly surprised.

Oh, and just for fun, here are a few other items Herskowitz passes along:

In 2003, Bush’s father indicated to him that he disagreed with his son’s invasion of Iraq.

Bush admitted that he failed to fulfill his Vietnam-era domestic National Guard service obligation, but claimed that he had been “excused.”

Bush revealed that after he left his Texas National Guard unit in 1972 under murky circumstances, he never piloted a plane again. That casts doubt on the carefully-choreographed moment of Bush emerging in pilot’s garb from a jet on the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in 2003 to celebrate “Mission Accomplished” in Iraq. The image, instantly telegraphed around the globe, and subsequent hazy White House statements about his capacity in the cockpit, created the impression that a heroic Bush had played a role in landing the craft.

Bush described his own business ventures as “floundering” before campaign officials insisted on recasting them in a positive light.

OK, I'll admit that most of that stuff is, at least for me, further proof that Bush is an incompetent twit (that might sound different if said in a Texas accent). But, back to the underlying cause for war in Iraq, let's be clear: Bush was disassembling (sarcasm)/dissembling as to the reason/rationale the moment he began blathering about Saddam Hussein. National security was NOT on his mind--a victory lap was.

If the war was so damned important, you'd think that the Bush daughters would be setting an example and volunteering. The same goes for all the other neo-con chickenhaws--they should be pushing their kids--or, if young enough, themselves--to go enlist. The fact that they don't is proof positive that the "war" is mere window dressing--and, in this case, window dressing minus the prep work--slip shod, badly done, and falling apart. Like most of the neo-con program.

But, like another blow-hard who envisioned himself a great leader, Bush did at least have the temerity to tell us in advance (well, sort of--Herskowitz made his material public in 2004). And I do wonder--if the sand initially wasn't hitting the fan--and fouling the gears, fuel lines, valves, manifolds, etc., what would be the reaction of the public? I assume most folks either didn't care or thought the 1953 CIA covert op in Iran was a jolly good idea--even though the rise of the mullahs there is directly related to that event.

It'd be nice if the public would take care to see what their leaders are doing in their name.
Like Beating Up a Kid, Then Offering Him an Ice Cream

Many of the bigger bloggers have noted the irony in the "flypaper" strategy re: Iraq, a strategery proffered as recently as Saturday during Dubya's radio address:

Some may disagree with my decision to remove Saddam Hussein from power, but all of us can agree that the world's terrorists have now made Iraq a central front in the war on terror. These foreign terrorists violently oppose the rise of a free and democratic Iraq, because they know that when we replace despair and hatred with liberty and hope, they lose their recruiting grounds for terror.

Our troops are fighting these terrorists in Iraq so you will not have to face them here at home
blah blah blah, etc. etc. ad nauseous.

Hmmm. So, on the one hand, we want to help the Iraqis, but on the other, we're hoping that despicable, ruthless murderers show up there and wreck havok with the place (and the people living there) so we can kill them...

By the way, the whole "kill them" strategery isn't exactly working out--unless you think daily suicude bombings, car bombings, truck get the point...are "successes." Oh, and I don't recall any consideration given to the wishes of Iraqi citizens when it was decided that THEY would be at the front line of the GWOT. Democracy? Well, I guess every democracy has its limits.

As does every occupation.

From King of Zembla

Sorry, Rep. Conyers--Rev. Moon Reserved the Hearing Room

From Rising Hegemon, here's an interesting observation re: the GOP leadership denying John Conyers a decent meeting room last week to hold hearings on the Downing Street Memo:

Let me see if I have this straight.
Congressman John Conyers tried fruitlessly to secure a real room for discussing the Downing Street Memo.

"Despite the fact that a number of other suitable rooms were available in the Capitol and House office buildings," he writes after being mocked in the Washington Post for playing a "dress-up game" in a tiny room -- "Republicans declined my request for each and every one of them."

But it was no sweat for the Rev. Sun Myung Moon to book a Senate auditorium from the Republican chairman of the Armed Services Committee -- for a grand masque in which the Times publisher, swathed in maroon king's robes, proclaimed himself Messiah?

I guess I still have a lot to learn about how our government works.

* * *

(Footnote: According to Moon's Unification News, Conyers was one of many congressmen involved with an earlier Feb. 4, 2004 "Peace Kingdom" event at the Reagan building, in which Moon was honored in absentia with a crown as "True Father." Moon himself did not attend.)

Check out the post--and connect to the links.
While I Was Out...

This weekend saw several noteworthy things, including Contraleeza Rice insisting that we will always be at war with Eurasia (or was that Eastasia?)--which has the unfortunate problem of being the exact opposite of what Team Bush barked before the beginning of Operation-Now-That-It's-Totally-FUBAR'ed--can anyone find a way to blame the libruls?

Re: blaming the libruls, James Wolcott cites someone named Gerard van der Leun--hmmm, what sort of name is that?--who posted a mouth frothing essay attacking--well, attacking some sort of straw man figure he refers to as "fifth column/fifth estate," and then, perhaps realizing the innate batshittedness of that, goes on to blame the American public for lacking the guts to carry out the program. Oddly, he even takes a swipe at the Great Dubya (after groveling up to the GOP with a claim that the November election was a "mandate" to pursue the war on terror, as opposed to a denunciation of "man dates" by the religious right). Leun concludes with what amounts to a desire for more 9/11's--the idea being that that's what it will take to finally embark on certain Armageddon a genuine GWOT...of course, such things really amount to a prayer for self-fulfillment of prophesy.

Wolcott responds thusly:

He should set his imagination on the window sill to cool, then close the window.

Duncan Hunter, as we all know, is jealous of the great chow served up to the prisoners at Gitmo--god only knows what he'd think if the inmates had cable tv or weights--but he's surprisingly quiet about this incident and the subsequent lawsuit:

A U.S. military policeman who was beaten by fellow MPs during a botched training drill at the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, prison for detainees has sued the Pentagon for $15 million, alleging that the incident violated his constitutional rights.

Spc. Sean D. Baker, 38, was assaulted in January 2003 after he volunteered to wear an orange jumpsuit and portray an uncooperative detainee. Baker said the MPs, who were told that he was an unruly detainee who had assaulted an American sergeant, inflicted a beating that resulted in a traumatic brain injury...

The Pentagon initially said that Baker's hospitalization following the training incident was not related to the beating. Later, officials conceded that he was treated for injuries suffered when a five-man MP "internal reaction force" choked him, slammed his head several times against a concrete floor and sprayed him with pepper gas.

The drill took place in a prison isolation wing reserved for suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban detainees who were disruptive or had attacked MPs.

Baker said he put on the jumpsuit and squeezed under a prison bunk after being told by a lieutenant that he would be portraying an unruly detainee. He said he was assured that MPs conducting the "extraction drill" knew it was a training exercise and that Baker was an American soldier.

As he was being choked and beaten, Baker said, he screamed a code word, "red," and shouted: "I'm a U.S. soldier! I'm a U.S. soldier!" He said the beating continued until the jumpsuit was yanked down during the struggle, revealing his military uniform.

The lawsuit says of the extraction team: "Armed with the highly inflammatory, false, incendiary and misleading information that had been loaded into their psyches by their platoon leader, these perceptions and fears … became their operative reality, and they acted upon these fears, all to the detriment of Sean Baker."

No one has been disciplined or punished for the assault, said Baker's lawyer, T. Bruce Simpson Jr.

Last June, a military spokesman said an internal investigation in February 2003 had concluded that no one was liable for Baker's injuries. He said training procedures at Guantanamo had been reviewed after the incident.

"While it is unfortunate that Spc. Baker was injured, the standards of professionalism we expect of our soldiers mandate that our training be as realistic as possible," the spokesman said.

I'm waiting for Hunter to come out with something like "these enemy combatants have received the best brain injuries of their lives--better than any brain injury they might have gotten in Afghanistan. And we give them prayer beads and Korans to, I don't mean boot...literally, that is."

Oh, and Chris Wallace finally got his full-fledged genuine Fox News Reporter badge/decoder ring. Way to go, Chris...your father must be really proud of you.

Over in Iraq, the term "last throes" has taken on quite an unusual meaning--apparently it means "insurgents have thoroughly infiltrated the Iraqi armed forces and can cause problems nationwide." I'm glad Veep Cheney cleared that up.

On the "Where's Osama" front, hmmmm. You've got this from last night, while this morning Porter Goss gets all diplomatic, talking about sovereignty as if Team Bush actually gave a shit. However, between what I've seen or read this weekend, I'm beginning to wonder if the neo-cons decided to turn over the doubling cube despite the abundantly clear evidence that they've, um, fucked it up badly in Iraq, and generated a backlash across the border in Iran.

Of course, neo-cons being neo-cons, we all know that the chances of introspection--or even good old fashioned 'taking responsibility'--are zero. Hell, they won't even fight the war they clamored for in Iraq, and that one was supposed to be easy. Still, Steve Gilliard and General JC Christian are trying their best to inspire the chickenhawks into enlisting...which has about as much a chance of happening as seeing PFC Jenna Bush and SPC Not Jenna Bush (or, for that matter Pvt. Dubya). See, neo-cons are kind of like consultants--they don't actually DO what they tell businesses to do, they just TELL them what to do. Nice work if you can get it.

Sort of like making jokes about Weapons of Mass Destruction.