Friday, July 22, 2005

Trade Proposal

Well, neither one would allow it to go through, but'd be nice if the Dems and Repubs could make this happen--Larry Johnson for Zell Miller, straight up...zell, I'd even throw in cash and a scandal to be named later:

I submit this statement to the Congress in an effort to correct a malicious and disingenuous smear campaign that has been executed against a friend and former colleague, Valerie (Plame) Wilson. Neither Valerie, nor her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson has asked me to do anything on their behalf. I am speaking up because I was raised to stop bullies. In the case of Valerie Plame she is facing a gang of bullies that is being directed by the Republican National Committee.

Valerie Plame was a classmate of mine from the day she started with the CIA. At the time I only knew her as Valerie P. Even though all of us in the training class held Top Secret Clearances, we were asked to limit our knowledge of our other classmates to the first initial of their last name. So, Larry J. knew Val P. rather than Valerie Plame. Her name did not become a part of my consciousness until her cover was betrayed by the Government officials who gave columnist Robert Novak her true name.

Although Val started off with official cover, she later joined a select group of intelligence officers a few years later when she became a NOC, i.e. a Non-Official Cover officer. That meant she agreed to operate overseas without the protection of a diplomatic passport. She was using cover, which we now know because of the leak to Robert Novak, of the consulting firm Brewster-Jennings. When she traveled overseas she did not use or have an official passport. If she had been caught engaged in espionage activities while traveling overseas without the black passport she could have been executed.

We must put to bed the lie that she was not undercover. For starters, if she had not been undercover then the CIA would not have referred the matter to the Justice Department. Some reports, such as one in the Washington Times that Valerie Plame's supervisor at the CIA, Fred Rustman, said she told friends and family she worked at the CIA and that her cover was light. These claims are not true. Rustman, who supervised Val in one of her earliest assignments, left the CIA in 1990 and did not stay in social contact with Valerie. His knowledge of Val's cover is dated. He does not know what she has done during the past 15 years...

As noted in the joint letter submitted to Congressional leaders earlier this week, the RNC is repeating the lie that Valerie was nothing more than a glorified desk jockey and could not possibly have any cover worth protecting. To those such as Victoria Toensing, Representative Peter King, P. J. O'Rourke, and Representative Roy Blunt I can only say one thing--you are wrong. I am stunned that some political leaders have such ignorance about a matter so basic to the national security structure of this nation.

Robert Novak's compromise of Valerie caused even more damage. It subsequently led to scrutiny of her cover company. This not only compromised her "cover" company but potentially every individual overseas who had been in contact with that company or with her.

Johnson's entire statement is definitely worth reading--both for the particulars, AND for the fact that some on the right see through the neo con smoke screen--a mask which is not only hiding the mother of all cynical attempts to grab and hold on to power, but one which these days also is desperate to conceal what a disaster their policies have wrought.

Oh, and to go back to the trade theme...I'd even throw in Joe Lieberman.

Any takers?
Karl Rove Outs Another Agent

Come to think of it, Kark does look like he could be related to the villain in Goldfinger...

Big Picture

From Bad Attitudes--Ken Livingstone, Mayor of London, has zero sympathy for terrorists or terrorism...but that doesn't mean he's ready to stomp around and threaten to turn vast swaths of the earth into parking lots:

Decades of British and American intervention in the oil-rich Middle East motivated the London bombers, Ken Livingstone has suggested.

The London mayor told BBC News he had no sympathy with the bombers and he opposed all violence.

But he argued that the attacks would not have happened had Western powers left Arab nations free to decide their own affairs after World War I.

Instead, they had often supported unsavoury governments in the region.

Mr Livingstone was asked on BBC Radio 4's Today programme what he thought had motivated the bombers.

He replied: "I think you've just had 80 years of western intervention into predominantly Arab lands because of the western need for oil.

"We've propped up unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones we didn't consider sympathetic.

"And I think the particular problem we have at the moment is that in the 1980s... the Americans recruited and trained Osama Bin Laden, taught him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan.

"They didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done that he might turn on his creators."

No Justice?

Mr Livingstone said Western governments had been so terrified of losing their fuel supplies that they had kept intervening in the Middle East.

He argued: "If at the end of the First World War we had done what we promised the Arabs, which was to let them be free and have their own governments, and kept out of Arab affairs, and just bought their oil, rather than feeling we had to control the flow of oil, I suspect this wouldn't have arisen."

He attacked double standards by Western nations, such as the initial welcome given when Saddam Hussein came to power in Iraq.

There was also the "running sore" of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict.

"A lot of young people see the double standards, they see what happens in Guantanamo Bay, and they just think that there isn't a just foreign policy," said Mr Livingstone.

We could learn a lot from this sort of response--it's not a cop out, there's no "therapy" involved here--it's an understanding that vicious acts like terrorist bombings don't occur in a vacuum. It would be to our benefit to show some awareness of things like facts or history.

When George Bush, in contrast, insists that it's simply a matter of terrorists "hating freedom," he not only reveals his own intellectual laziness, but he insults the intelligence of the free citizens of his own country, and the larger western world.

We're adults, not children (although Bush reading My Pet Goat on 9/11 is probably fitting--not only is he intellectually lazy, he is patronizing to an outrageous degree). Livingstone seems aware of this level of maturity, and treats Londoners as such--and, by extension, the rest of us, since we are ALL Londoners, we are ALL Madriders, and we are ALL New Yorkers. As adults, we need to recognize that juvenile barking--or, worse, lying to invade a country that had nothing to do with Al Qaeda's vicious attacks--not only won't solve the problem of terrorism, but instead will exacerbate it.

Oh, and to cite another post from Bad Attitudes, James Doolittle reminds us that the GOP didn't always opt for the moonbat approach:

While we hoped that popular revolt or coup would topple Saddam, neither the U.S. nor the countries of the region wished to see the breakup of the Iraqi state. We were concerned about the long-term balance of power at the head of the Gulf. Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in “mission creep,” and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs …

We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-cold war world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the U.N.’s mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the U.S. could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different — and perhaps barren — outcome.

Those are the words of--George Bush...the older one.
Good News, Bad News

OK, let's get the good news out of the way--if this is true--and this--and this--then Messrs. Rove and Libby might want to start looking towards the next phase of a typical prosecution--the Let's Make a Deal part:

The other big news: Secret State Dept memo was actual Top Secret, No Foreign - which is a big deal
by John in DC - 7/22/2005 12:03:00 AM

The memo was apparently even more highly classified than has been let alone, according to a story reportedly appearing in tomorrow's Wall Street Journal (a WSJ editor apparently appeared on Countdown and said this tonight).

People who have been briefed on the case said the White House officials, Karl Rove and I. Lewis Libby, were helping prepare what became the administration's primary response to criticism that a flawed phrase about the nuclear materials in Africa had been in Mr. Bush's State of the Union address six months earlier.

They had exchanged e-mail correspondence and drafts of a proposed statement by George J. Tenet, then the director of central intelligence, to explain how the disputed wording had gotten into the address. Mr. Rove, the president's political strategist, and Mr. Libby, the chief of staff for Vice President Dick Cheney, coordinated their efforts with Stephen J. Hadley, then the deputy national security adviser, who was in turn consulting with Mr. Tenet.

At the same time, they were grappling with the fallout from an Op-Ed article on July 6, 2003, in The New York Times by Mr. Wilson, a former diplomat, in which he criticized the way the administration had used intelligence to support the claim in Mr. Bush's speech.


Two top White House aides have given accounts to a special prosecutor about how reporters first told them the identity of a CIA agent that are at odds with what the reporters have said, according to people familiar with the case.

Lewis ``Scooter'' Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, told special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald that he first learned from NBC News reporter Tim Russert of the identity of Central Intelligence Agency operative Valerie Plame, the wife of former ambassador and Bush administration critic Joseph Wilson, one person said. Russert has testified before a federal grand jury that he didn't tell Libby of Plame's identity, the person said.

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove told Fitzgerald that he first learned the identity of the CIA agent from syndicated columnist Robert Novak, according a person familiar with the matter. Novak, who was first to report Plame's name and connection to Wilson, has given a somewhat different version to the special prosecutor, the person said.

Oh, and Ari Fleischer probably has scheduled significant face time with HIS attorney:

On the same day the memo was prepared, White House phone logs show Novak placed a call to White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, according to lawyers familiar with the case and a witness who has testified before the grand jury. Those people say it is not clear whether Fleischer returned the call, and Fleischer has refused to comment.

The Novak call may loom large in the investigation because Fleischer was among a group of administration officials who left Washington later that day on a presidential trip to Africa. On the flight to Africa, Fleischer was seen perusing the State Department memo on Wilson and his wife, according to a former administration official who was also on the trip.

I guess the real question will be which rats desert the heavily listing USS George Dubya and Dick and which ones will stick around and continue gnawing at the deck chairs...still, this story continues to have legs, which is a pleasant surprise. Team Bush thought they could stifle the rapidly unraveling web of lies they wove two years ago with a quick head fake (the Roberts nomination). Turns out the press can actually focus on two issues at once...

However, while this small taste of schadenfreude is nice enough (and the schaden part couldn't have happened to a more deserving individual), the US House renewed the Orwellian named Patriot Act, while a similar measure passed through the Senate Judiciary Committee--this means, should the full Senate vote yes, the two houses will work out a compromise. So much for the 1st and 4th Amendments...

And, I guess most folks are aware of even MORE trouble in London. Geez...two days in a row...however, without trying to minimize the significance of yesterday's failed bombings and today's shooting, this Telegraph article points out that even the July 7th horror is, for Iraqis, the equivalent of merely a couple of days (for instance--yesterday's violence claimed twenty victims, and two Algerian diplomats were taken hostage.

And, just because I could (thanks to some, um, medication), I managed to watch Nightline yesterday--Cynthia McFadden was assigned to do a puff piece--rivaled only by David Brooks's BIZARRE effort on behalf of John Roberts--on Pervez Busharraf, I mean Musharraf. Pervez actually engaged in a bit of Brit tweaking, noting that fundamentalist Islam isn't confined to the Tribal Belt, but flourishes in places like...England itself. He likewise defended Pakistan's less-than-enthusiastic effort to go after bin Laden, although his demeanor more closely resembled that of recent Scott McClellan public appearances--although, to be fair, the bombs tossed at Scotty are figurative...Pervez has to deal with real ones. Something tells me that Musharraf isn't really into practical jokes involving sudden, loud noises.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Ending With a Whimper

Time to put a new picture in the dictionary next to the word "pathetic."

Below the Radar Screen

So, let's have a quick look at the OTHER country where, according to Dubya, we're "making progress:"

Back home in Kabul [Karzai} is under siege as never before. The Taliban have stepped up their attacks in the south of the country, two months away from parliamentary elections.

Many believe that with the help of their former backers, Pakistan's ISI military intelligence, and infiltrated by al-Qa'ida, the Taliban are bent on returning to power through the gun rather than the ballot box.

Over the past year, the attacks in the south-east have become much more targeted and professional, according to senior British officials who express disappointment that even in Mr Karzai's home region of Kandahar the insurgency is on the rise.

"They are shooting clergy, unarmed clergy. They're killing women. They go and burn a school made of tents," President Karzai said yesterday in an interview, noting that cross-border activity from Pakistan was contributing to the unrest. Twenty-four insurgents were killed on the border last week.

He pointedly declined to praise Pakistani co-operation when asked how helpful Islamabad has been...

Four Arabs believed to be members of al-Qa'ida escaped from the US military's top-security jail at Bagram airport outside Kabul last week. The upsurge in attacks in the Pashtun south has come despite the presence of 70,000 Pakistani troops along the border. "We do see that they would not be able to carry out their attacks, they would not be able to have explosives or bombs or other material if somebody didn't help them. There definitely is help coming to them from somewhere," Mr Karzai said.

The US-backed President, who was democratically elected in November 2004 nearly three years after being appointed interim leader, rarely ventures outside Kabul.

The country is virtually cut in two, with the northern provinces relatively quiet while conflict continues in the south, where the US-led coalition is on the trail of Osama bin Laden and the Taliban leader Mullah Omar. The Taliban claimed responsibility for shooting down an American helicopter in the east of the country last month.

Somebody alert Vice pResident Cheney that he can confidently assert that the Afghan insurgents are "definitely in their last throes"--provided, of course, that we think of throes in the 'violent' sense.
More Spin

Compare and contrast these articles--first, we've got Rummy tasting a giant forkful of chickenshit and saying, "My golly, that's some fine chicken salad!"

Pentagon Report Will Note Iraq Progress

There has been encouraging progress toward stabilizing Iraq, even while insurgents and foreign fighters "remain effective, adaptable and intent on carrying out attacks," Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday...

By the way, that's the report due to Congress on July 11th--but Team Bush is filing just a little late (hmmm...wonder if Dubya did that in college?)

Rumsfeld said information about the readiness and performance of U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces — one of the most telling measures of progress — would be included in a classified annex to the report but not made public.

I believe that's bureaucratese for "not ready by a long shot." Today's New York Times has more:

Iraqis Not Ready to Fight Rebels on Their Own, U.S. Says

About half of Iraq's new police battalions are still being established and cannot conduct operations, while the other half of the police units and two-thirds of the new army battalions are only "partially capable" of carrying out counterinsurgency missions, and only with American help...

Only "a small number" of Iraqi security forces are capable of fighting the insurgency without American assistance, while about one-third of the army is capable of "planning, executing and sustaining counterinsurgency operations" with allied support, the analysis said.

And, let's not forget, "readiness," or "trained," aren't exactly well defined by this administration--because that would demonstrate what a crock their assessments are. Juan Cole recently published a letter he received from an Australian veteran that gives the Bush administration a swift kick to the teeth when it comes to what constitues a "trained" soldier:

Let me tell you what it takes to train a soldier who comes off the streets and into barracks:

We have to presuppose clean barrack-room accommodation, including decent beds, lavatories, mess halls and showers; arrangements for pay that result in families receiving cash on time; and a welfare system that caters for both recruits and their families. There must be padres for all religious denominations. (Please stop laughing.)

In a recruit training battalion of a thousand or so young men (in Iraq it will be only men) there must be a headquarters staffed by skilled administrators and experts in imparting military skills. Then the requirement for each company of 200 (or so) is for a dedicated staff of six officers, a sergeant major and 4 company office staff, a quartermaster sergeant (and staff), five sergeant instructors, and about 12 corporal instructors. All of these soldiers must have been specially selected for their expertise in administration and instruction. (Not every skilled and brave soldier is by definition either an administrator or an instructor : some of the most courageous soldiers I have ever known have found it impossible to convey their knowledge to others or even understand how they are administered. This tends to frustrate personnel selectors. Mind you : How many personnel selectors has the Iraqi army got?)

All these instructors work their asses off for 12 weeks, for at least 12 hours a day, to produce a basic soldier. And let me emphasize that what they produce is the absolute BASIC soldier -- no more. The product is not a fighting man. He is incapable of employing his individual skills immediately in a team -- a fighting platoon - because there is much more to learn before joining his battalion.

The soldier (we are talking infantry, here ; forget the much longer training for technical arms and the administrative services) then has to go off to specialist training to fit him for his unit. This takes another two months or so. Then his theoretical knowledge is put into practice in the battalion, in which he is a member of a platoon. --- But he will only function reasonably if he joins a trained platoon of skilled soldiers who are themselves a team and who trust their commander and non-commissioned leaders.

Then he is trained in sub-unit tactics and shown where he stands in relation to such grand events as a company attack and so forth. He receives detailed and painstaking instruction about the various phases and types of conflict, such as counter-insurgency warfare. The recruit will not be a reasonably efficient soldier for at least a year. And then he starts to really learn his trade.

And my picture is that all this instruction of recruits takes place in peacetime, in a non-threatening environment, with instructors who are not only highly-skilled but speak their own language (training in Afghanistan is a linguistic nightmare for Afghan instructors, never mind the foreigners).

I could go on and on. But I think you might get the message : the training system for Iraqi soldiers is a very sad joke. Rumsfeld's pronouncements about the number of "trained" soldiers are ridiculous and wicked lies. The man is not in touch with reality.

There are some Iraqi military units in uniform. At best they are brutally incompetent. They are not soldiers because they have not been trained to be soldiers. This is a terrible legacy by the invaders. But what else did we expect?

In other words, we're not even talking "at the level of ARVN forces." That'd require some improvement.
"S" Doesn't Stand for "Superman"

The Decline and Fall of the Rovian Empire continues apace with this article from the Washington Post:

A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.

Overseas, things aren't a whole lot better--Juan Cole notes an article he just wrote for Salon titled The Iraq War is Over and the Winner is...Iran. Excerpt:

'the Bush administration cannot have been filled with joy when Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and eight high-powered cabinet ministers paid an extremely friendly visit to Tehran this week. The two governments went into a tizzy of wheeling and dealing of a sort not seen since Texas oil millionaires found out about Saudi Arabia. Oil pipelines, port access, pilgrimage, trade, security, military assistance, were all on the table in Tehran. All the sorts of contracts and deals that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney had imagined for Halliburton, and that the Pentagon neoconservatives had hoped for Israel, were heading instead due east. Jaafari's visit was a blow to the Bush administration's strategic vision, but a sweet triumph for political Shiism.'

Ouch. Not exactly the neo-con agenda there, although maybe Dubya can work with it...

And Patrick Cockburn has the latest from inside Iraq--just when you think it can't possibly get any worse...

A current slogan of the powers-that-be in Washington and London is that we should "stay the course in Iraq". Perhaps one needs to live in Baghdad to know that there is no course. "The Americans are making it up from day to day," a senior Iraqi official told me. "They make a mistake and then try to correct it by making a bigger mistake."

The only real continuity in US policy in Iraq over the past two years has been the need to present what is happening here as a success to the American voter. After the invasion in 2003 there was an attempt at full occupation under the Coalition Provisional Authority. This imperial takeover provoked armed resistance by the five million Sunni Arabs. At this time the US did not want elections as demanded by Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the Shia religious leader. It was only when it became clear that the US could not withstand a Shia uprising that elections turned out to have been an immediate American goal all along.

Zigzags in policy have been interspersed with spurious "turning points" . In December 2003 there was the capture of Saddam Hussein. The guerrilla war continued to escalate. Six months later there was the much-trumpeted handover of sovereignty to an interim Iraqi government. This had equally little effect. This January, there was the election, sold as the moment the tide would turn. Half a year later, Baghdad has turned into a slaughterhouse...

The London bombings are already making it more difficult to have a sane discussion about what course to pursue in Iraq. President Bush is able to deflect criticism of his catastrophic misjudgements by suggesting his critics are soft on terrorism. Now the same thing is happening in Britain with Tony Blair and Jack Straw denouncing Chatham House for suggesting that events in Iraq boosted terrorism.

It obviously has. Immediately around my hotel, eight suicide bombers, probably non-Iraqis, have blown themselves up in the past 18 months. It always seemed to me horribly likely that some, at least, of these pious and fanatical young Muslims radicalised by events in Iraq would, instead of perpetrating atrocities here, turn their attention to Britain.

New World Order? More like New World Chaos. Thanks Dubya. Thanks Dick. Thanks Karl.

Shroeder noted that yesterday was the anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Think about how things have changed since then...

1969: Man on the Moon--One Giant Leap for Mankind.
2005: Chimp in the White House--One hand still in the tree, one foot still on the trunk--and the other hand free for throwing rocks.

One Giant Leap--backwards...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

"Rules? In a Knife Fight?"

There are any number of reasons why I'll link to Whiskey Bar on almost a daily basis--but a big reason is that Billmon is simply so goddamned right--in both content and style:

You know, the Republican Party is full of rich people -- but that didn't stop the machine from trying to paint John Kerry as a cross between Mr. Magoo and Thurston Howell III...

Blasting Roberts as a corporate lawyer is an excellent smear tactic. People hate lawyers. They dislike and mistrust big corporations. It also conveniently happens to be true...

In fact, if I were running a propaganda campaign to try to soften Judge Roberts up before his confirmation hearings, I'd probably go a hell of a lot further than Moveon. I'd call him a fat cat corporate lawyer who made millions catering to wealthy CEOs. A Washington insider who has spent his entire adult life shuttling back and forth between K Street and Wall Street. An arrogant, out-of-touch Ivy Leaguer who probably vacations at posh resorts with other arrogant, out-of-touch Ivy Leaguers. (And I would say it no matter where he actually vacations -- or even if he takes no vacations at all.)

I would dig up every client that Roberts ever represented, and God help him if any have had even the slightest trouble with the criminal justice system. I'd put together ads juxtaposing pictures of him with photos of Bernie Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski and Ken Lay, and run them in selected media markets, just below the national media's radar screen. And if Roberts has ever issued any rulings that in any way, shape or form have made it more difficult to fight crime or terrorism, some of those ads would morph him into Pedro (sic) Escobar or Osama bin Ladin.

I'd make a lot of hay out of Roberts' ruling in the infamous french fry case -- using it as a parable for an eggheaded judge who has plenty of book learning but no common sense. If the girl was African American, so much the better for targeted ads on urban radio stations.

Ditto for Roberts's ruling on the POW damage claims. I'd get some disabled Gulf War I vets to do testimonials and hold press conferences: "Saddam only destroyed my health, but Judge Roberts destroyed my faith in my country." Gulf War Veterans for Truth has a nice ring to it.

And if all this still failed to derail the nomination, then I'd hang it around Bush's neck -- as just another sign of how arrogant and out of touch this White House has become after five years in power. And I'd hang it around the neck of every Republican Senator next year: "Those crazy sons of bitches put a POW hater on the Supreme Court!"

Is any of this true? Welllllll . . . you know, truth is such a fickle thing. I mean, I wouldn't just make up stuff. But every fact would be presented and framed to reinforce a larger theme -- of John Roberts the corporate fat cat.

In other words, I would run my slime campaign exactly the way the Republicans run theirs. I'd tear the bark off the bastard, to quote Lee Atwater's famous phrase. And let the Republicans and the corporate media howl -- it would only "catapult the propaganda."

Most importantly of all, I would do it energetically and unapologetically. And I would expect every political hack in the Democratic Party to do likewise -- or, at a minimum, keep their whimpy mouths shut. Or else.

OK, enough with the fantasies. Would I really do these things if I was calling the shots for a Democratic Party magically transformed into a well-oiled (and well-funded) political machine? Probably not -- for reasons explained in my previous post. But the decisions about whether or not to do them would be ruthlessly pragmatic: Would it work? How dangerous would it be? Risk and return, baby. Risk and return...

I mean, it's time to wake up, guys. We've got a different rule book now -- brought to you by Karl Rove and the propaganda machine from hell. The Republicans don't use those tactics because they're sick, sadistic bastards (well, not only that). They use them because they work. And until the Dems learn to play by the same rules, they're going to get their heads handed to them, time after time after time.

That doesn't mean doing everything the Rovians do. (You never know, there may be war crimes trials in this country someday.) But it does mean abandoning any false hope that truth, justice and the American way will somehow triumph over the machine -- just because they're true and just and American. They won't: not unless the machine's opponents develop a hell of a lot more street smarts than they appear to have now.

Ah, shoot--just check out the entire post.

And go ahead and read everything else, because in fact, the bartender notes that Roberts might well be a lost cause--or, at the very least, not worth the ammunition expense, particularly given the very real possibility that Team Bush, weakened or not, might get three more chances to pack the court before it's all over. Still, the fact is there's nothing wrong with a little borking now and's good political exercise.

The right has, for the last 30 odd years or more, turned its firehose on the left, blasting away with various (untrue) slurs: un or anti-American, "soft" on crime/drugs/terror/welfare/poverty, pro-gay/lesbian, anti-religion, and, while a little below the radar, there's always been a tacit appeal to racism coming from the GOP, aka, the Southern Strategy (sometime, it wasn't quite so subtle, e.g. Ronald Reagan going to Philadelphia, Mississippi, in 1980)--hell, they've turned the word "liberal" into a slur itself. And, how has the left replied?

We haven't. We've ceded territory (although, I'll admit that, back in the day, the leftist in me was ready to lump liberals into the same boat with moderate conservatives, i.e., part of the problem--but, as the song goes, I was so much older then...). We allowed the GOP to trash social programs (by playing the race card, no less), while the REAL welfare queens cheated the country out of FAR more than the chump change EVER bilked by anyone on the receiving end of St. Ronald's scorn. Fiscal prudence, on the part of Senator Kerry, was turned into "soft on terror" during the 2004 campaign. Michael Dukakis was tarred and feathered with Willie Horton--a double dip--hitting the race card AND the soft on crime button (though prison furlough programs are hardly the domain of one political party).

On the other side of the coin, it's not like the GOP doesn't have its share of coke sniffers, potheads, "alternative" lifestylers (note: NOT THAT THERE'S ANYTHING WRONG WITH THAT, Ken), "anti" Americans (or at least haters of the democratic process)--and even a few folks here and there who are willing to subvert national security for cheap political gain. Now, true, it's not all that easy to go on the offensive against these (no pun intended) VERY offensive folks when you lack a "liberal" media bullhorn ("ah, where was that Moscow gold liberal media when we needed it?"). However, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, you go to (political) war with what you've got...and you certainly shouldn't cede ground without a fight (on that note, a good bit of my own scorn for one Bill Clinton was based his constant "triangulation," which always managed to look like a partial surrender).

Sure, there's a danger to playing hardball, as opposed to bean bag (IIRC, Hullabaloo pointed out that political success via the baiting and hatemongering method doesn't always translate into success in governance--e.g., The which, you can add the drunken cokehead and his team of chickenhawks). But worrying about that possibility is once again ceding ground--ground in this case that hasn't even been observed, much less taken.

Besides, is it even possible to do worse than the band of nincompoops controlling the government these days? Think about it--asleep at the wheel during the summer of 2001, letting bin Laden escape later that year, showing zero concern for a sputtering economy (though, as befits their style, blaming Clinton), posturing and talking tough about Saddam Hussein, who, for all his thuggery, WASN'T a threat to the United States--and, after failing to establish a genuine coalition, trotting out a farcical "Coalition of the Bribed Willing" that's fading faster than Arctic summer, AND somehow managing to MIS-manage the war effort to the extent that the most powerful military ever assembled was sent off to war inadequately equipped (and in inadequate numbers)...and is now being held to at best a stalemate against an insurgency that isn't exactly the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers...these people should be fighting for their political lives, not prancing around like peacocks.

Liberals/leftists/progressives should be getting their own tar and feathers ready...for example, what was it that was said about Bill Bennett and his thing for video poker? Oh yeah--I remember now:

"There's a term in the trade...We call them losers."

Exactly. And Bennett is as much the embodiment of the GOP establishment as anyone. Time to start pinning the label where it belongs.
"Enemy Combatant"

From Talk Left, here's a link to an interview with Moazzam Begg, who was arrested at his home in Pakistan, held in prisons in Kandahar, Bagram, and Guantanamo, and finally released after three years with NO charges filed.

Begg was beaten, kicked, hogtied, and hooded during his captivity--but in all probability, he was one of the lucky ones. He was a resident of Pakistan, but holds British citizenship, and grew up speaking English--so at least he could communicate with his captors. If you click over to read the interview, you'll see that Begg also points out that some guards in Afghanistan and Cuba were relatively decent; however, he witnessed numerous abuses, including the murder of two detainees. He also notes a phenomenon observed by numerous others: plenty of detainees had NO ties to terrorism prior to their incarceration, but might be angry enough upon release to either look for revenge, or at least look away when fundamentalist lunatics take action.

Reverse this--assume for a moment Begg was an American citizen taken into custody in, say, Arizona, hustled across the border, subjected to "intensive interrogation," shipped halfway across the world (say, to a prison in the Canary Islands), then, three years later, released without charge. Is that justice, by ANY stretch of the imagination?
Ye Olde Parchment Paladins

The Editors say they found this in their archives--I'm glad they decided to share.

The Big Picture

Juan Cole once again pieces together the broader ramifications of Bush, Roberts, and global issues:

George W. Bush's nomination of John Roberts, Jr. is a setback for American women, just has his policies in Iraq have produced a setback for women's rights in the Arab world. Indeed, Bush has been bad for women all around the globe.

Oh, and here's how his administration feels about "freedom" for half of Iraq's population:

The same juvenilization of women, the rendering of them wards of men, can be seen in Bush's Iraq. Contrary to the propaganda Bush's team is so good at producing, the secular, Arab nationalist Baath Party had passed some of the more progressive laws and regulations about women in the Middle East. Iraqi women in the 1970s had unprecedented opportunities for education and entry into the professions. The Bushies like to pose as liberators of Muslim women, but they have brought to power Muslim fundamentalists who are obsessed with subjugating women.

Ed Wong of the NYT reports that a draft of the new Iraqi constitution contains a provision that puts personal status law under the authority of religious judges. Marriage, divorce, inheritance and other such matters would be judged according to the religious law of the community to which the person belonged. This step would be a big set back for women's rights in Iraq.

But setbacks are, to Team Bush, "making progress."
Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

To be perfectly honest, I didn't know a thing about John Roberts (the judge--hell, for that matter I don't know a whole lot about John Roberts the newscaster, except that he's...a television reporter)...from what I've read thus far, he's definitely a Bush loyalist (worked on winning the REAL election in 2000--the one decided by...Sandra O'Connor); as an attorney, he's drafted anti-choice briefs that warm the collective hearts of religious wingnuttia--but he's more likely to be at a DC power breakfast or lunch than snake handling outside Roanoke. The double Harvard credential (undergraduate and legal) and his previous confirmation to the DC Appeals Court will work in his favor...though there's the slight possibility that his mendacity towards Gulf War I POW's (hey, remember them? Wingnuts don't) and 12 year olds daring to want fries with their subway ride might make him sweat, but just a bit. For better or worse, it looks like we'll soon have Justice Roberts on the court--and whether mouth breathers like Tony Perkins and James Dobson consider him the answer to their 'nut prayers is something we'll find out down the road...

But...I digress. While the Roberts nomination is the latest shiny thing, there's still the rapidly tarnishing--though perpetually dull--Karl Rove. Today's revelation is yet another direct hit on the Roveweiler, who, to my knowledge, has no teflon, but instead relies on diversionary tactics--like the boss pointing and braying, "Hey, look over here--it's John Roberts!"

White House deputy chief of staff Karl Rove did not disclose that he had ever discussed CIA officer Valerie Plame with Time magazine reporter Matthew Cooper during Rove’s first interview with the FBI, according to legal sources with firsthand knowledge of the matter.

The omission by Rove created doubt for federal investigators, almost from the inception of their criminal probe into who leaked Plame's name to columnist Robert Novak, as to whether Rove was withholding crucial information from them, and perhaps even misleading or lying to them, the sources said.

Lying to the FBI...Gee, I think you can go to jail for that. However, lying to the FBI is just one of many charges that could be filed against Rover, Scooter, and who knows who else (The Poor Man suggests a suitable sentence for Robert Novak should be be indicted and convicted: exposure to sunlight). Presumably, Fitzgerald is aware of this--so, even if the medulla reliant press corps drops the Rove potato(e), Karl is still bleeding--and, if Waas's reporting is correct, the wounds could be serious, if not, politically speaking, fatal.

Which might be the only justice we can expect for the evil bastard--public humiliation and (possibly) nominal jail time--which is better than nothing, but still pales in comparison to the crimes committed, which go far beyond smearing Joe Wilson and blowing Valerie Wilson's cover (oh, and, lest we forget, the cover of OTHERS who worked for Brewster Jennings & Associates, as well as exposing anyone known to have met with the company) for partisan hackery. No, Rove and Team Bush have blood on their hands--the blood of the soldiers who they sent off to war, inadequately equipped, on a mission that was a fraud. They have on their hands the blood of AT LEAST 25,000 innocent Iraqis, who barely merit a mention in the press (so much for wingnut "concern for the suffering Iraqi people"). And they've damaged the reputation of the United States, perhaps permanently.

Hell, even if Rove IS sentenced to six months or so, it's as if crime, in his case, paid.

But I wouldn't mind seeing Novak exposed to sunlight.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

$700 Billion for War--Not One Cent for Louisiana Coastal Restoration

Blake thinks this means drastic action, and hell, if this could actually be done, I'd take a shift.

YRHT and Schroeder (in comments), are ready to man the valves.

As for me, I hope this hammers home the point that George W. Bush's only his political career, and the people who fund it.
Whack OUR Mole

Last week, I cited AmericaBlog's post re: Mohammed Naeem Noor Khan, who'd been successfully "turned" by Pakistani authorities and was informing on his erstwhile Al Qaeda buddies until Team Bush proudly announced that HE was the reason for ramping up the terror color code during the Democratic National Convention...thereby blowing his cover.

Well, it seems that no less an expert than Richard Clarke contends that infiltration of terrorist cells is the BEST way to prevent future terrorist attacks:

The best way, however, to stop such attacks is through intelligence penetrations of terrorist circles. Only last month, almost four years after 9/11, did the administration agree to create a National Security Service within the F.B.I. to enhance our ability to perform such penetrations. It will be more years before this service is fully operational.

No wonder Team Bush was out to get him--he makes way too much sense...

By the way--the only way to actually GET moles into terrorist circles is to either turn them, like Pakistan did (and lord only knows what measure of stick and carrot they used) OR, you find willing allies among people who can do this FOR you...the latter requiring a measure of respect--which isn't exactly forthcoming from folks who see images from Abu Ghraib, or hear stories about Guantanamo...or understand how broken things have gotten in Iraq. No, those things tend to turn folks AWAY from us.

Let's hope the damage isn't irreversable.
Pattern of Deception

Molly Ivins cuts through the elephant shit and sets her sights on a slime mold known as Turdblossom:

The entire Republican Party is shocked (!) anyone would think that Karl Rove (!!) would leak a story to damage a political opponent. Oh, the horror...

Attacking an opponent's wife is standard operating procedure for Rove. Have Republicans actually convinced themselves that he wouldn't do such a thing? People, sometimes party loyalty asks too much.

Actually, we are missing the point here. The point being that Joseph Wilson is merely one of the many people who provided one of the by now innumerable pieces of evidence that this administration lied about why we went to war in Iraq. When former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill wrote that Bush planned to invade Iraq from the day he took office, the administration went after O'Neill. When Richard Clarke disclosed that the Bushies wanted to use Sept. 11 to go after Saddam Hussein from Sept. 12 on, they went after Clarke. They went after Gen. Zinni, they went after Gen. Shinseki and everyone else who opposed the folly or told the truth about it. After they got done lying about weapons of mass destruction and about connections to Al Qaeda, they switched to the stomach-churning pretense that we had done it all for democracy. Urp...

If the Washington press corps had a memory bank longer than 10 minutes, they could have exposed this years ago: the lies so often directly contradict one another. Before the war, the CIA was such a wussy organization it kept trying to downplay weapons of mass destruction in Iraq: After the war, it was all the CIA's fault, they had exaggerated the weapons of mass destruction. And so on and so on.

The trouble with piling lies on top of lies is that we can't even agree on facts anymore. I read the right-wing commentators, and it's not that we're not on the same page -- we're not even in the same library. They read the Downing Street memos and convince themselves they don't mean what they say. I really don't understand: Is it that hard to admit you're wrong when you're wrong? Is it that hard to admit that the invasion of Iraq has been a disaster? Isn't it self-evident?

If you support someone politically, you are not required to believe they are perfect. Did I think Bill Clinton had a sleazy affair while he was president? Yes. I just didn't care. I didn't think it had anything to do with the way he was running the country. You can't dismiss this. You can't not care about lies and war. Not if you care about American soldiers.

I think the real problem these days with wingnuttia is that they've simply discarded the Iraq war with the ease that one might toss a candy wrapper out of the car (I've noticed wingnuts LOVE to litter). Iraq is barely on their radar screen, except for the occasional rumbling about all the schools we've built or painted--or the even less occasional rant about goons like, Iraq is no longer a shiny, they'll go back to what they do best--sliming.
War Zone--USA

Betcha didn't know that government officials are going on the record stating, unequivocally, that the territory of the United States is a "battlefield:"

RICHMOND, Va -- A government attorney argued today that America is a battlefield and President Bush therefore has the authority to detain enemy combatants indefinitely in this country.

Paul D. Clement, acting solicitor general of the United States, made the comments came as a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit here is considering whether to overturn a lower court ruling that Jose Padilla should be charged with a crime or released. In 2002, Padilla, a former Chicago gang member and Muslim convert, was taken into custody by the military and has been held without trial ever since...

The panel assigned to hear the arguments was Judge J. Michael Luttig of Alexandria, an appointee of former President George H.W. Bush, and two appointees of former President Clinton: Judge M. Blane Michael of Charleston, W.Va., and Judge William B. Traxler Jr. of Greenville, S.C.

The judges were most concerned with how to handle Padilla in light of the Supreme Court's ruling last year on Yaser Esam Hamdi. Another American citizen, Hamdi was captured by the military with Taliban forces in Afghanistan and placed in a Navy brig in Norfolk. The Supreme Court ruled that his detention was lawful, but he was entitled to a hearing to challenge the allegations against him.

But moments after Clement began his oral argument, Luttig interrupted to say that "arguably, Judge [Sandra Day] O'Connor in 'Hamdi' limited that law to the battlefield detention, did she not?" Padilla was picked up at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport on a warrant from a federal court in New York, and only later turned over to the military.

"That's not how I would read the case," Clement responded.

Luttig repeatedly pressed Clement, even after the solicitor general noted that Padilla's alleged intentions as a soldier of al Qaeda -- to target civilians -- constituted "unlawful combatancy" even if he were on a battlefield in uniform.

"Those accusations don't get you very far," Luttig replied, "unless you're prepared to boldly say the United States is a battlefield in the war on terror."

Clement answered, "I can say that, and I can say it boldly."

But Michael said that Padilla wasn't captured anywhere near a battlefield. "You captured Padilla in a Manhattan jail cell," Michael said. "What, in the laws of war, allows you to undertake a non-battlefield capture and hold them for the duration? I don't think you cite anything."

Michael, addressing Clement's claim that America is a battlefield, then asked, "to call the United States a battlefield, wouldn't you have needed a specific authorization from Congress? It's not up to us as a court to develop laws of war."

Andrew G. Patel argued the case for Padilla, who has been held in a South Carolina brig for three years, and only last year was granted the right to meet with his attorneys. "I may be the first lawyer to stand here," Patel told the panel, "and say I'm asking for my client to be indicted by a federal grand jury."...

No date was set for when the panel might rule. The losing side could then ask that the entire Fourth Circuit rehear the case, and then the case is probably headed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

After the hearing, Donna Newman, another of Padilla's lawyers, said, "We are quite confident that we will prevail because there simply is no authority for the president to detain an American citizen on American soil." She said, "If the traditional sense of what the battlefield is has changed, then we need Congress to come in. We do not let a president determine ad hoc what a battlefield is."

Well, let's hope that we don't let the president make an ad hoc determination as to what constitutes a "battlefield," particularly when those alleged to be ON the field are designated enemy combatants, and eligible for an all expenses paid permanent stay in Camp Delta or X-Ray. If that happens, you might as well just pack it up and say goodbye democracy and rule of law.

Geez--if Padilla, or, for that matter, anyone else is guilty of conspiracy, or attempted criminal action, then put the SOBs ON TRIAL and show the world two things--one, these are REALLY BAD people, and TWO, civilized societies have rules and procedures in place that ensure due process AND civil society. It's not that difficult.
Last Throes

Or, "making progress:"

In the last week this city has seen 22 car bombs, with 10 on a single day - last Friday. Not far from Baghdad, at Musayyib, between Hilla and Karbala, nearly 100 Shia Muslims were killed...

As I flew in, sitting in the aircraft cockpit, Baghdad lay dark and irregular, like a blotch of ink, straight ahead of us. Below lay the ribbon of road from the south.

In the months after the US-led invasion of Iraq we used to drive up that road to get to Baghdad. By the beginning of 2004 that was already becoming much too dangerous, and we had to fly.

Notorious road

The pilots looked at each other, and the plane went into a fierce dive, down towards the military airfield on the south-west of the ink-blotch.

We straightened out, then banked so steeply to the left that everything loose skidded across the cockpit floor. Then a sudden turn, equally heart-wrenching, in the other direction.

During the hour-long flight the pilots scarcely spoke to me. Ever since an RAF Hercules went down north of Baghdad, six months ago, air crews have concentrated totally on the job of getting their planes in safely...

I visit Baghdad at least four times a year, to see how things are developing. Since the fall of Saddam in May 2003, and the capture of Baghdad, after which major operations were declared over, I have been here eleven times.

Each time the security situation has been markedly worse than the time before...

The US and British governments saw the invasion of Iraq as a liberation, a way of getting rid of a particularly nasty regime. Instead, things are getting much worse.

The casualty figures mean that on average as many people are now dying here every day as were killed in the London bombings nearly two weeks ago.

It has become a civil war, fought out with car bombs and shots to the head, while the foreign forces, US and British and the rest, look on, incapable of stopping it. This isn't how things were supposed to turn out here.

Yeah, making in, "progressing towards a civil war." Or, maybe it's making progress...towards relieving Halliburton of its abestos liability:

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have already cost taxpayers $314 billion, and the Congressional Budget Office projects additional expenses of perhaps $450 billion over the next 10 years...

The Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan Washington think tank, has estimated that the Korean War cost about $430 billion and the Vietnam War cost about $600 billion, in current dollars. According to the latest estimates, the cost of the war in Iraq could exceed $700 billion.

Put simply, critics say, the war is not making the United States safer and is harming U.S. taxpayers by saddling them with an enormous debt burden, since the war is being financed with deficit spending.

Man, Bush & Cheney have really worked out a hell of a deal--not only do they make OTHER people's kids fight their war...they're gonna sock other people's GRANDKIDS for the bill.

Of course, at this level of "progress," the grandkids might be doing some fighting, too.

And who are they fighting--and dying for?

Cause and Effect

When this greets you first thing in the morning:

A classified State Department memo that may be pivotal to the CIA leak case made clear that information identifying an agent and her role in her husband's intelligence-gathering mission was sensitive and shouldn't be shared, according to a person familiar with the document...

The paragraph in the memo discussing Ms. Wilson's involvement in her husband's trip is marked at the beginning with a letter designation in brackets to indicate the information shouldn't be shared, according to the person familiar with the memo. Such a designation would indicate to a reader that the information was sensitive. The memo, though, doesn't specifically describe Ms. Wilson as an undercover agent, the person familiar with the memo said.

Then it's probably not all that surprising to see this as the diversion distraction reaction...

Otherwise, this might get even closer (not that it isn't the inevitable result anyway...but Team Bush is getting so desperate that ANY diversion...even one for just a few better than no diversion at all).
More Gasoline, Please

Leave it to wingnuttia to ratchet up the inflammatory rhetoric at a time when sentient, higher life forms would choose to let things cool down a bit:

A Colorado congressman told a radio show host that the U.S. could "take out" Islamic holy sites if Muslim fundamentalist terrorists attacked the country with nuclear weapons.

Rep. Tom Tancredo made his remarks Friday on WFLA-AM in Orlando, Florida. His spokesman stressed he was only speaking hypothetically.

Talk show host Pat Campbell asked the Littleton Republican how the country should respond if terrorists struck several U.S. cities with nuclear weapons.

"Well, what if you said something like -- if this happens in the United States, and we determine that it is the result of extremist, fundamentalist Muslims, you know, you could take out their holy sites," Tancredo answered.

"You're talking about bombing Mecca," Campbell said.

"Yeah," Tancredo responded.

Later, when advised he had dug himself into an awfully deep hole, Tancredo was heard to say, "dig faster!"

On a more serious note--is there any doubt that nut jobs who lean towards bin Laden's way of thinking will use this as motivational material? Way to go, Congressman--but on the bright side, I'll bet you're in a strong position to make the list of Top 10 Conservative Idiots of the Week.
Thug Team Player

If Karl Rove is found guilty of genocide indicted, or otherwise so heavily implicated in the Plame scandal that continued "employment" in his present position is impossible, then Daily Kos diarist Social Networker has helpfully provided a neat, concise resume. Who says you can't turn chicken(hawk)shit into chicken(hawk)salad?

Oh, and in a late update, it seems as if someone's interested in Karl's, um, unique skills.
Better Than "News"

Juan Cole considers the conviction of abortion clinic/Atlanta Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph:

Christian Terrorist Rudolph Sentenced
What the Rightwing Press Will not Say

...Rudolph is driven by the ideology of the "Christian Identity" hate group. Terry Nichols of the Oklahoma City bombing was likewise connected to Christian identity and their "Elohim City".

Of course, you won't see the headline above in American newspapers, even though any Muslim who acts as Rudolph did would be called an "Islamic terrorist" (a particularly objectionable term because "Islamic" means "having to do with the Muslim faith). It is like talking about "terrorism rooted in Christianity."

Other things you won't see in the American press about this story (satire alert):

Thomas Friedman will not write an op-ed for the New York Times about what is wrong with white southern Christian males that they keep producing these terrorists. He will also not ask why Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson are not denouncing Eric Rudolph every day at the top of their lungs.

No reporter will interview frightened Iraqis about their fears at hearing that there are 138,000 armed Christians in their country belonging to the same faith as the bomber, Rudolph, some of them from his stomping grounds of Florida and North Carolina.

Daniel Pipes will not write a column for the New York Post suggesting that white southern Christians be put in internment camps until it can be determined why they keep producing terrorists and antisemites.

George W. Bush will not issue a statement that "Christianity is a religion of peace and we will not allow the Eric Rudolphs to hijack it for their murderous purposes."

Frank Gaffney will not write a column for the Washington Post castigating the Republican Party for appeasement in surrendering to the terrorist threats of radical Christians, by now opposing reproductive rights.

Max Boot will not point out that if the United States could only keep the Philippines in the early twentieth century by killing 400,000 Filipinos, than that was what needed to be done, and if the US can only beat back radical Christians by killing 400,000 of them, then that may just be necessary.

Pat Buchanan will not write a column blasting King George III for having promoted the illegal immigration into the American south of criminal elements, whose maladjusted descendants are still making trouble.

Monday, July 18, 2005

So Much for Theory

Time to scrap the "flypaper" rationale once and for all:

New investigations by the Saudi Arabian government and an Israeli think tank -- both of which painstakingly analyzed the backgrounds and motivations of hundreds of foreigners entering Iraq to fight the United States -- have found that the vast majority of these foreign fighters are not former terrorists and became radicalized by the war itself.

The studies, which together constitute the most detailed picture available of foreign fighters, cast serious doubt on President Bush's claim that those responsible for some of the worst violence are terrorists who seized on the opportunity to make Iraq the ''central front" in a battle against the United States.

''The terrorists know that the outcome [in Iraq] will leave them emboldened or defeated," Bush said in his nationally televised address on the war at Fort Bragg in North Carolina last month. ''So they are waging a campaign of murder and destruction." The US military is fighting the terrorists in Iraq, he repeated this month, ''so we do not have to face them here at home."

However, interrogations of nearly 300 Saudis captured while trying to sneak into Iraq and case studies of more than three dozen others who blew themselves up in suicide attacks show that most were heeding the calls from clerics and activists to drive infidels out of Arab land, according to a study by Saudi investigator Nawaf Obaid, a US-trained analyst who was commissioned by the Saudi government and given access to Saudi officials and intelligence.

A separate Israeli analysis of 154 foreign fighters compiled by a leading terrorism researcher found that despite the presence of some senior Al Qaeda operatives who are organizing the volunteers, ''the vast majority of [non-Iraqi] Arabs killed in Iraq have never taken part in any terrorist activity prior to their arrival in Iraq." weapons of mass destruction, no flowering of democracy, and no laying of a trap for swarthy international terrorists. Instead, individuals radicalized by Bush's bluster are responding to the joining with the insurgents.

In other words, Team Bush's response to a firestorm of terror was to insist that the only logical method of approach was...bucket after bucket of GASOLINE. Well, that insures a long lasting conflagration--one that certainly benefits SOME folks, although you've got to wonder if they've ever asked themselves if the price is worth it.
"Shoot Me"

I saw this over the weekend--IIRC, it's at least the second time a soldier has asked to BE SHOT by a relative or friend to avoid another round of "front line in the war on terror:"

A Chicago Marine and his cousin have been charged with felonies after the Marine begged to be shot to avoid returning to Iraq and his cousin acquiesced.

Moises Hernandez had recently returned home from Iraq and was reportedly having nightmares about going back to the war, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.

"Shoot me," the 19-year-old Hernandez allegedly told his cousin, who, hesitant at first, then allegedly shot Hernandez in his leg last weekend.

Hernandez initially told police he was hit by random gang gunfire, but detectives investigated and subsequently charged him with a felony for filing a false police report.

The cousin, Juan Hernandez, also 19, was charged with felony weapons charges.

Since the shooting, Hernandez has returned to his unit at Camp Pendleton in California, where the incident is under investigation by the Marines.

Moises' father, Ray Hernandez, told the newspaper his son was troubled when he returned home at the end of June, experiencing nightmares and shaking.

He said his son was in Indonesia after the December's tsunami and talked about the bodies saw floating in the ocean. In Iraq, he also saw death up close, his father said.

Say what you want about this young kid, but I'll guarantee one thing--he's still a lot braver than any of the chickenhawks who sent him over there to begin with.
Because Free Elections Aren't Free

YRHT posted about this, citing America Blog and The New Yorker. Short version: in yet another not-surprising-at-all revelation, Team Bush looked at the election problem in Iraq (the problem being the possibility that Iraqis would be, ahem, too democratic and elect candidates who appealed to THEM, instead of Bush approved slate) and throwing money at it--covertly, and, quite possibly, illegally.

In what's becoming a whole new way of "restoring dignity" to Washington, administration officials are busily engaged in the latest DC fad: parsing, noting that "no individuals received funds, but declining to confirm or deny that money was passed around to political parties."

The idea behind the plan was to avoid the very real possibility of an electoral embarrassment, i.e., supermajority of Shi'a delegates, and to that extent it succeeded. As for the money itself, well, some went to fund a media blitz for Iyad Allawi--while some apparently went for more direct influence, i.e., it funded direct fraud.

Allawi's organization ended up doing better than expected, although it ended up ranking a distant third in the voting outcome...but considering just how bad Iraq IS, a few crumbs are better than no slice whatsoever. Still, as Oyster notes, supporting "democracy" via fraud isn't exactly democratic. To use a different metaphor, it's like fucking for virginity.

Of course, it could be that the United States, contrary to Mr. Bush's oft repeated claims, doesn't give a shit about anything resembling democracy in Iraq. For instance, Today in Iraq links to this article written by Tom Fox, who recently returned from the country, and notes a bit of white man's burden--and its corollary, western disdain--for Iraqis themselves:

Having grown up the Southern U.S. and having a very racist father, it was a very bizarre experience hearing almost the same comments being made against Iraqis that I heard as a child being made against blacks. The same venom, for lack of a better word, was coming out of their mouths as they denigrated the people, culture and societal norms of Iraq.

Equally disturbing for me was the colonialist attitude of most of the business- connected internationals (most of the contractors I talked to were South African or English and most of the businessmen were American and all except one were white males). Remarks like, "We have to show them how it's really done", or "They don't have a clue how it's done in the West". There seemed, to me at least, to be no attempt at understanding, much less respecting, the culture of the people they ostensibly are here to work in partnership with.

I have to assume the racist attitudes of the security contractors stems from the necessity for a human being to dehumanize and marginalize another human being in order to kill them. Dehumanization is a mind game military-leaders the world over have used to indoctrinate recruits with and it also seems to be the case with these mercenary soldiers.

The colonialist attitudes are harder to grasp. Is colonialism something unique to white, male Westerners? (And I include myself in this category.) Do we see Iraq the same way as Kipling saw India, that of being "the white man's burden" to bring Western civilization to the uncivilized Arabs and Kurds?

The degree of disdain is evident to anyone who's been following the Iraqi debacle. Combined with an almost complete ignorance of the country, a naiive belief in every shred of this administration's propaganda (and, let's be fair, the previous administration's as well), and a total denial of anything other than a Disneyesque outcome to the entire sorry operation--the latter point STILL being front and center to the wingnut if we can still salvage a victory there because, after all, "they LOVE us! Of course they love us!"--we've managed to spill gallons of blood and waste billions of dollars for...rigged elections that make old-style Louisiana politics look like the Jeffersonian ideal AND the almost certain eventuality of civil war, followed by some degree of Islamic theocracy (oh, and we'll not even get a T-shirt out of it).

Wow--what a bargain.
Lies, Part II

The double dip edition--first, from Talk Left, here's an interesting insight into the Vice pResident's mental processes...seems as if Dick either has a highly selective memory...or he finds nothing wrong with lying through his teeth.

Short version: sort of like how, last fall, Cheney insisted he'd "never met" John Edwards until the night of their "debate," despite photographic evidence proving the contrary, we have the Dickster insisting he'd "never met" Joe Wilson, the charge d'affaires in Baghdad in 1990-1991...when Cheney was Secretary of Defense. Hmmm.

And, in the interests of balance, we've also got the nominal top of the ticket engaged in a bit of selective memory himself--as Talking Points Memo puts it, the "new" standard for ethics in the Bush White House is "no felons"--or, at least none who haven't yet been convicted. We'll see how that, um, devolves over time...I'll bet I'm not the only one who wouldn't be surprised if the standard drops to "no felons--unless their appeal is pending" in the not so distant future.
Defining "Terrorism"

Years ago, I remember a "clean up" effort in Baton Rouge where local police ran around an area near campus rounding up as many "undesirables" as they could grab on a given night, using excuses like violation of open container laws (conveniently not enforced on football Saturdays, by the way) or even littering (a friend of mine was so charged when police pulled a piece of paper out of his back pocket. They were looking for an ID, and said friend was handcuffed).

Meanwhile, real, serious crime continued apace, particularly just down the road--for those who don't know Baton Rouge, the area just north of LSU's campus is a massive slum, reaching essentially to downdown.

It seems like that sort of mentality is active on a national level:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has collected at least 3,500 pages of internal documents in the last several years on a handful of civil rights and antiwar protest groups in what the groups charge is an attempt to stifle political opposition to the Bush administration.

The F.B.I. has in its files 1,173 pages of internal documents on the American Civil Liberties Union, the leading critic of the Bush administration's antiterrorism policies, and 2,383 pages on Greenpeace, an environmental group that has led acts of civil disobedience in protest over the administration's policies, the Justice Department disclosed in a court filing this month in a federal court in Washington.

The filing came as part of a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act brought by the A.C.L.U. and other groups that maintain that the F.B.I. has engaged in a pattern of political surveillance against critics of the Bush administration. A smaller batch of documents already turned over by the government sheds light on the interest of F.B.I. counterterrorism officials in protests surrounding the Iraq war and last year's Republican National Convention.

If you prefer the Post's version:

FBI agents monitored Web sites calling for protests against the 2004 political conventions in New York and Boston on behalf of the bureau's counterterrorism unit, according to FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The American Civil Liberties Union pointed to the documents as evidence that the Bush administration has reacted to the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States by blurring the distinction between terrorism and political protest. FBI officials defended the involvement of counterterrorism agents in providing security for the Republican and Democratic conventions as an administrative convenience.

I suppose you could say that at least it keeps the FBI busy; however while they're dilligently keeping tabs on obvious bomb throwers like the ACLU, United for Peace and Justice, etc. etc., and doing their best to ensure that, in the words of one statement, "the diversity of New York, and the multiplicity of this nation - community organizers, black radicals, unions, anarchists, church groups, queers, grandmas for peace, AIDS activists, youth organizers, environmentalists, people of color contingents, global justice organizers, those united for peace and justice, veterans, and everyone who is maligned by Bush's malicious agenda" would be thoroughly monitored, some real, genuine, horrific acts of terrorism continue to occur.

Over the weekend, Frank Rich, writing about the Rove scandal, used the Alfred Hitchcock term "MacGuffin" to describe the latest attempts from Team Bush to heap slime on Joe Wilson and/or Valerie Plame. Rich cites the O.E.D.:"[a MacGuffin is] a particular event, object, factor, etc., initially presented as being of great significance to the story, but often having little actual importance for the plot as it develops." That's dead on accurate in regards to Rovegate, and not all that off the mark when it comes to G-Men ignoring genuine terrorists and, instead, targeting people who exercise their First Amendment rights. Which, by the way, is precisely the fear many of these same folks had when the Patriot Act was rammed through--that such provisions would be used against activists, as opposed to terrorists.

Which, um, isn't exactly all that new for the FBI...although, to come full circle in this post, an older friend told me about a COINTELPRO operative here in Baton Rouge in the late 60's/early 70's who helped CREATE a surprisingly active (for a southern campus) student body (which he then informed on, at least until the student newspaper discovered his day job). So, while the actual fact that activist groups are being monitored is certainly troubling, one can always hope that the people in charge are sufficiently incompentent stumblebums...

Being an official "enemy" isn't always such a bad thing, particularly when the one's doing the fingering are such idiots. Unfortunately, they happen to be heavily armed, and today's political climate is about one spark away from generating support for "shoot first, then ask questions," if it's not there already.

Which is why people are protesting in the first place.

And, one thing that ISN'T is terrorism. But try to tell that to the clown posse running the show in DC.