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Sunday, 15 May 2005
Husaybah and the Saudis.

In a story in the WaPo today, there was this little bit of info at the very end of an article on the end of "Operation Matador:"

"Commanders said they believed some of the insurgents had slipped away to the east and to Husaybah, a lawless city on the Syrian border where foreign and local insurgents are believed to be battling among themselves for control.

The U.S. military in Iraq lacks the manpower to challenge the insurgent hold on Husaybah now, Mundy and other commanders said, and the Americans' focus will be on stabilizing the larger western cities of Fallujah and Ramadi."

We lack the manpower? Are we now stretched too thin even in Iraq? I find that a very interesting admission by the military. I did a little looking into the whole Husaybah issue and found out some very interesting things. Number one; knowing about the history and location of Husaybah, rerouting forces to "stabilize" Fallujah and Ramadi seems to be a bit counterproductive.

Since the beginning of the invasion in 2003 there have been intense clashed between our U.S. marines and insurgents, smugglers, various tribes, etc.

The situation has been like this:

Thursday, 06-Nov-2003 Story from AFP via quickstart:

"With its prime location, and a new US effort to seal the border off, the town has turned into a major battlefront, with US troops and Iraqi police coming under daily attack as they try to prevent foreign fighters and smugglers from entering Iraq.

"Husaybah is the gateway. It is a test of the wills," says Major Daniel Dwyer of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment's 1st Squadron.

From May until September [2003], we were focused on the border checkpoint and engaging the city. We didn't have the capabilities we have now," says Dwyer.

"If you were a foreigner and you wanted to come in, you would take trails or breaks in the berms (dirt walls) because of the lack of a large coalition presence. There was an opportunity for foreigners to enter."

This left the area's best infiltration point, around the Euphrates just north of Husaybah's border checkpoint, without regular patrols.

The route boasts forest camouflage, villagers willing to take a bribe and quick and easy access to the main highway leading right to the hotbeds of resistance, Ramadi and Fallujah inside the conservative, desert province of al-Anbar."

April 18 2004 marine corp moms:

"A report from embedded reporter Ron Harris from the Saint Louis Post Dispatch provides a few details on what the 3/7 [Marines] faced yesterday:

"In some of the fiercest fighting in recent weeks, five Marines were killed and dozens of Iraqi insurgents slain in a daylong battle that began early Saturday in Husaybah. Marines beat back the offensive by what was reported to be hundreds of Iraqis from another area who had slipped into this city just 300 yards east of the Syrian border."

It is obvious this is a crucial nexus of the insurgency. If they can't even get control of Husaybah, why worry about Fallujah and Ramadi, not that those two cities are under control either. Now, comes the really odd part:

May 8, 2005 netblues.com

HUSAYBAH, Iraq — The Marines stationed at Camp Gannon, on the outskirts of this outlaw town where insurgents are thick on the ground, are used to being shot at. So when they recently heard AK-47 weapons fire and dozens of mortar blasts echoing throughout the town, they weren't surprised.

This time, however, they weren't the target.

"They were shooting at each other," said Capt. Frank Diorio, the camp's commanding officer. Marines have watched insurgents lob dozens of mortar rounds at one another and engage in hours-long gunfights. And townspeople, troops here believe, have occasionally joined the fight.

Some Marines speculate that one group of insurgents may have attacked another faction. They believe that local groups are fighting those aligned with foreign militants."

Sounds pretty freaking messed up. I'm still trying to figure out what the hell we're doing there and why 1,615 of our troops are dead for it.

If you're wondering what the Syrian role in all this is and why they aren't stopping the infiltration...

October 16, 2004
newstandardnews

"Syria reports it has placed hundreds of troops along the border, but says the area is too large to control. Indeed, the US has been erstwhile unable to seal off the Iraqi side since the occupation began."

And continues to be unable to stop it. The fact that they've said they don't have the manpower to handle it right now, speaks volumes and puts paid to the notion that the Syrian govt. is complicit in it. Even Saddam had trouble keeping this area under his thumb.

The real issue is still the part Saudi jihadis are playing in this thing. The WaPo did an article (They must have read my post May 9th) saying the majority of insurgents, "foreign fighters," [we're the biggest contingent of foreign fighters], was Saudis.

"In a paper published in March, Reuven Paz, an Israeli expert on terrorism, analyzed the lists of jihadi dead. He found 154 Arabs killed over the previous six months in Iraq, 61 percent of them from Saudi Arabia, with Syrians, Iraqis and Kuwaitis together accounting for another 25 percent. He also found that 70 percent of the suicide bombers named by the Web sites were Saudi.

In three cases, Paz found two brothers who carried out suicide attacks. Many of the bombers were married, well educated and in their late twenties, according to postings.

"While incomplete," Paz wrote, the data suggest "the intensive involvement of Saudi volunteers for jihad in Iraq."

Evan F. Kohlmann, a researcher who monitors Islamic extremist Web sites, has compiled a list of more than 235 names of Iraqi dead gleaned from the Internet since last summer, with more than 50 percent on his tally from Saudi Arabia as well

One Web forum examined by The Post, a site first registered to an Abu Dhabi individual on Sept. 18, 2001, and believed to attract postings from al Qaeda, presents a regularly updated list of the "Arab martyrs in Iraq."

The forum, at http://www.qal3ah.net/ , was used by both Paz and Kohlmann in compiling their lists; other researchers also said they regularly consulted the site, which bills itself as a sort of town hall for the jihad-inclined.

Saudis were also the leading group on this list, representing 44 percent, followed by Syrians and Iraqis at less than 15 percent each..."

There might be a certain amount of Iraqis driving car bombs around and not knowing it, just hapless victims, but the majority are mainly Saudis and they are there to blow themselves up. Question is; when are we going to stop using the Syrians as scapegoats and go after the Sauid royal family, who are well aware of what's going on and aren't doing anything about it.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:15 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 15 May 2005 11:27 PM EDT
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Condi's surprise visit and 500 dead in Uzbekistan's new untidiness.
AP
"Secretary of State of Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Iraq, a day after the U.S. military announced it had successfully wrapped up a major offensive in a remote desert region near the Syrian border... she flew to Baghdad to meet with the senior leadership of Iraq's newly elected government to offer support and ask how the United States can be most useful..." After all, we're just an uninterested player here, just trying to do good. They always make it sound like when Rummy or W shows up on these "surprise" visits, there's going to be cake and ice cream for the troops. As if they could ever actually announce a visit, the whole charade just shows what a joke "liberated" Iraq is.

[The "bodies of 13 blindfolded and bound men were found shot multiple times in the head in Baghdad on Sunday, while 11 others killed in a similar fashion were discovered in a deserted chicken farm south of the capital, police said."]

Condi said..."We are so grateful that there are Americans willing to sacrifice so the Middle East will be whole, and free and democratic and at peace." Did anyone know this was what the mission over there was all about? I thought it was WMD and the threat of mushroom clouds over U.S. cities. Or at least keeping them over there instead of in our streets, but no, it's establishing freedom in the Middle East. Did everyone over there fighting and dying sign up for that?

Mission Accomplished, again.

"The U.S. military said the seven-day operation "neutralized" an insurgent sanctuary." (Fallujah? whoopse, wrong insurgent sanctuary.)

(I wonder if the timing of Condi's arrival had anything to do with the announcement of a complete victory on the Syrian border?)

"The U.S. military wrapped up a major offensive in a remote desert region near the Syrian border Saturday, saying it had cleaned out the insurgent haven and killed more than 125 militants during the weeklong campaign against followers of Iraq's most wanted terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Nine U.S. Marines were killed and 40 injured during Operation Matador — one of the largest American campaigns since militants were driven from Fallujah six months ago. The number of civilian casualties was not immediately known..." Sounding a lot like Fallujah..."Thousands fled the area during the offensive, pitching flimsy tents along sand-blown desert highways or seeking shelter in schools and mosques in nearby towns.

The military denied resident reports that they had been without water and electricity in some areas since the offensive began.

"Throughout the course of the operation, Marines strove to ensure the well-being of the local Iraqi citizens," the statement said. "According to commanders in the area, the Marines were greeted with greater hospitality from local villagers than is normally encountered." Oh well, isn't that nice. The usual hate and rock throwing was toned down to just sullen stares.

I found this interesting, "Rival groups of insurgents also were fighting among themselves around Qaim, trading mortar, rocket and machine gun fire almost nightly, Pool said. Residents acknowledged fighting in Qaim and surrounding villages began before the U.S. offensive, characterizing it as tribal clashes." Sounds to me like the entire situation is complete chaos getting worse by the day.

If the president was there right now, he's probably say something like, "Other nations in history have fought in foreign lands and remained to occupy and exploit. Americans, following a battle, want nothing more than to return home. And that is your direction tonight." Believe that?


Camp Bucca redux.

Now, that we're treating detainees in our prison camps more humanly, there was this aboration. Stuff like this never happens at Camp Bucca:

"A 30-year-old detainee detained as a "security threat" at southeastern Iraq's Camp Bucca prison died of a heart attack Saturday, the U.S. military said. An investigation is underway into his death, the military said. Camp Bucca holds more than 6,000 Iraqi detainees." I'm sure there will be a very thorough investigation.

Uzbek massacre.

AP

"On Sunday, about 500 bodies were laid out in rows in Andijan's School No. 15, a doctor in the town said. The doctor, who spoke by telephone on condition of anonymity, said the school was guarded by soldiers and residents were coming to identify dead relatives. Abdugapur Dadaboyev, an Uzbek rights activist who visited Andijan on Saturday, said he saw dead bodies in police and military uniforms lying in the streets. Civilians' bodies, in contrast, were quickly removed from the streets, he said.

At another section of the border, some 6,000 Uzbeks sought to cross into Kyrgyzstan to get shelter following the violence in Andijan. About 500 were gathered on Kyrgyz territory just across the border..."

The border situation, along with the news more towns are rioting , is especially frightening. The Fergana Valley is already a basket case, the great fear is this becomes a regional war. The guestion is what are the Russians going to do if the whole thing falls apart in Uzbekistan? We've got our hands full in Afghanistan and this uprising over the Koran is spreading into Pakistan, too.

Democracy? No, hypocracy.
The
Guardian:

"Heated criticism was growing last night over 'double standards' by Washington over human rights, democracy and 'freedom' as fresh evidence emerged of just how brutally Uzbekistan, a US ally in the 'war on terror', put down Friday's unrest in the east of the country.

Outrage among human rights groups followed claims by the White House on Friday that appeared designed to justify the violence of the regime of President Islam Karimov, claiming - as Karimov has - that 'terrorist groups' may have been involved in the uprising."

Rhetoric versus reality:

"The only force powerful enough to stop the rise of tyranny and terror, and replace hatred with hope, is the force of human freedom...Our aim is to build and preserve a community of free and independent nations, with governments that answer to their citizens, and reflect their own cultures...And because democracies respect their own people and their neighbors, the advance of freedom will lead to peace."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:13 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 15 May 2005 12:19 PM EDT
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Saturday, 14 May 2005
Our bastard in Tashkent.
For once I agree with David Brooks, when he writes, of Bush's inaugural speech:

"When he meets with dictators, as in this flawed world he must, he will not be able to have warm relations with them, because he said no relations with tyrants can be successful. His words will be thrown back at him and at future presidents...It will be harder to cozy up to Arab dictators because they can supposedly help us in the war on terror. It will be clearer that those dictators are not the antidotes to terror; they're the disease."

Well, I'm thowing it in his face. If there was any better example of a dictator being the cause of the disease, its Islam Karimov, seen here yucking it up with dubya' and below getting chummy with Rummy.


Independent human rights groups estimate that there are more than 600 politically motivated arrests per year in Uzbekistan, and over 6,500 political prisoners, some of whom are tortured to death.

According to the forensic report commissioned by the British Embassy in Uzbekistan, two prisoners last August were even boiled to death. NSC

Reuters reports today more than 200 protesters were killed and the count may go as high as 500:

"Uzbek President Islam Karimov on Saturday blamed Islamic militants for violence in which troops fired on protesters and hundreds of people are alleged to have been killed

Most of the dead were killed by heavy machineguns mounted on armored personnel carriers, he said, adding the streets were strewn with spent bullet-casings. A pro-opposition reporter counted 30 corpses and a doctor spoke of "many, many dead."

According to Kyrgyz border guards, as many as 4,000 people, including women and children, fled to the nearby village of Kara-Su on the closed border. At another point, 500 people forced their way across the border.

"I think that repression is basically the policy of the Uzbek government and this will be quite brutally suppressed, I fear," Craig Murray, Britain's former ambassador, told British television.

Former ambassador Murray said the 23 had been detained on "patently false charges of Islamic extremism."

But, as always, all a tyrant has to say is "they're terroists" and you get a reaction from the U.S. govt. like this:

State Dept. Briefing 5/13/05

"QUESTION: Uzbekistan and the EU seem to have blamed the Government of Uzbekistan for the violence. Would that be the view of the U.S. Government, too?

MR. BOUCHER: We have been looking at this situation. We have been following it closely. I would note that while we have been very consistently critical of the human rights situation in Uzbekistan, we are very concerned about the outbreak of violence in Adijan, in particularly the escape of prisoners, including possibly members of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, an organization we consider a terrorist organization.

I think at this point we're looking to all the parties involved to exercise restraint, avoid any unnecessary loss of life..." (Unarmed civilians versus armed troops is an equal match, after all. Common' protesters, stop catching bullets!))

The protesters have been using restraint since February when 23 businessmen were put on trial for being Islamic terroroists. (By the way, didn't we become violent against the British in 1775, after many years of trying to deal with them in a peacful manner. The Minutemen were also called terrorists at the time.)

Boucher says "we have been very consistently critical of the human rights situation in Uzbekistan," I'd like to know what we've done about it.

The Guardian:

"Hundreds of religious prisoners are held without trial in the central Asian state, where torture is commonplace. One prisoner was boiled to death and his mother was sentenced to six years' hard labour for her protests. She was then pardoned following international condemnation.

[Tashkent, 5 February 2004 (RFE/RL) -- A woman whose son was allegedly boiled to death in an Uzbek prison appeared in court today on charges of religious extremism and plotting against the state. Fatima Mukhadirova, the defendant, today told a Tashkent court that she believes charges were filed against her because she "made a fuss" about her son's death. (radio free europe)]

Ambassador Murray says, "The US gave $80m (#54m) in aid in 2002 to the same Uzbek security services it accused of "using torture as a routine investigation technique". No wonder we're so freindly with the Dictator Karimov. There have been reports of the secret CIA ghost jet being seen in Tashkent. Naturally, we trust the countries we send these "ghost detainees" to, not to torture them.

In any case, Richard Myers chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, (He of the jelly spine when Rummy is in the room.)says cutting aid to Usbekistan because of human rights violations is to him, "very shortsighted, and it's never productive," he said. "In fact, it can often have the opposite effect that people intend, because you lose any ability to influence at all, at least through a military standpoint." (Let freedom ring!)

General Myers sleep well at night.
NYT::

"...on Aug. 12, 2004, Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, visited Tashkent. He met with President Karimov and other officials, and he announced that the Pentagon would provide an additional $21 million to help Uzbekistan in its campaign to remove its stockpile of biological weapons.

General Myers said the United States had "benefited greatly from our partnership and strategic relationship with Uzbekistan."

While he noted that there were genuine concerns about Uzbekistan's human rights record, General Myers said: "In my view, we shouldn't let any single issue drive a relationship with any single country. It doesn't seem to be good policy to me."

Heaven forfend!

As the president said in his "Mission Accomplished" speech on May 1, 2003:

The successful conclusion of the "liberation of Iraq" was proof that:

"Men and women in every culture need liberty like they need food and water and air. Everywhere that freedom arrives, humanity rejoices and everywhere that freedom stirs, let tyrants fear."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:07 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 14 May 2005 11:35 PM EDT
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Monday, 9 May 2005
If the Saudis are doing it, let's blame Syria.

Today, the NY Times reports:

"BAGHDAD, Iraq, May 9 - A Marine task force swept through a wide area of western Iraq near the Syrian border today, killing at least 100 insurgents and raiding desert outposts and city safehouses belonging to insurgents who have used the area to import cars, money, weapons and foreigners to fight American and Iraqi forces, American military officials said...senior American commanders have increasingly blamed the porous border with Syria for allowing a never-ending stream of armed jihadists to enter Iraq and replenish the insurgency as quickly as United States and Iraqi troops can kill and capture them."

Gosh, I hope we don't accidentally go over the border and create an "incident" with the Syrians.

While we're focused on the Syrian border, more than half of the foreign insurgents in Iraq are from Saudi Arabia. I'm sure we'll be conducting a slash and burn raid on the Saudi border next, right?

In an interview on NPR, Bruce Hoffman of the Rand corporation said the vast majority of the foreign insurgents were Saudis.

MSNBCalso did an investigation into foreign insurgents and found almost half were Saudis

An official from the pentagon also said in a press briefing that "Foreign insurgents operating in Iraq seem to be coming from about 25 countries...The majority, he observed, are from Syria, Saudi Arabia and Iran."

The Daily Texan reported:

"Iraq as a battleground offers the solution to a quandary facing the Saudi clerics who have to both placate the kingdom's rulers and keep their radical base happy.

"If they preach that there ought to be absolutely no jihad, they would lose credibility and support among their followers. So what they do is preach jihad - not in Saudi Arabia, but in Iraq," said Abdul-Aziz Khamis, a Saudi human rights activist in London.

"To them, Iraq is the answer to their dilemma."

In Iraq, the Ansar al-Sunnah Army - a group that follows Wahhabism, claimed responsibility for a Dec. 21 suicide bombing at a U.S. base in Mosul, Iraq, that purportedly involved a young Saudi. The bombing killed 22 people, mostly American troops, and was one of the worst attacks since the war started in March 2003.

While Ansar al-Sunnah indicated the bomber was Iraqi, the London-based Saudi Asharq Al-Awsat daily identified him as Ahmed Saeid Ahmed al-Ghamdi, a 20-year-old Saudi medical student from Riyadh."

So why aren't we putting any pressure at all on the Saudis? Bush just had Crown Prince Abdullah to his ranch in Waco, do you think they talked about any of this? Pump more oil! Will Bashir Assad be next?

Allawi's end of insurgency countdown:
(U.S. Troops killed hits 1,600)

The same article from the NY Times also reports:

"In Baghdad today, a suicide bomber attacked a police convoy in the Saidiya neighborhood, killing two officers and two civilians, an Interior Ministry official said. Six police officers and two civilians were wounded.

The military also reported that a Task Force Liberty soldier was killed by small-arms fire near Samarra on Sunday afternoon.

Today's violence follows the killing of eight American servicemen over the weekend. In one ambush, insurgents took over a hospital in Haditha, a haven west of Baghdad for the militant leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and killed three marines and a sailor."

And the beat goes on.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:43 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 9 May 2005 4:44 PM EDT
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Sunday, 8 May 2005
Day is night, black is white. War is peace.

In Latvia yesterday W said, regarding our role in the Yalta agreement in 1945:

"We will not repeat the mistakes of other generations -- appeasing or excusing tyranny, and sacrificing freedom in the vain pursuit of stability. We have learned our lesson. No one's liberty is expendable. In the long run, our security, and true stability, depend on the freedom of others."

Except the Sudanese and a bunch of other people whose governments serve our interests. In that case our security lies with doing business with the likes of the Sudanese Mukabarat, who are behind the killing and dislocation of tens of thousands of civilians in Darfur.

Condi Rice had said earlier that "In the Middle East President Bush has broken with six decades of excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the hope of purchasing stability at the price of liberty. The stakes could not be higher. As long as the broader Middle East remains a region of tyranny and despair and anger, it will produce extremists and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends."

So, let me get this straight; we don't care if bringing "freedom" to the Middle East involves more carnage like what's going on in Iraq right now, because the lesson of Yalta is stability is a bad thing. (What was Roosevelt supposed to do anyway? Move on to Moscow from Berlin?)

So watch out Egypt, you're next. As Ricahrd Perle said, "Mubarak is no great shakes." He could go, too. Since we're all about the untidiness of democracy these days...

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:10 PM EDT
Updated: Sunday, 8 May 2005 8:08 PM EDT
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Friday, 6 May 2005
"We don't really have an exit strategy," says Rummy, "We have a victory strategy."

[Allawi insurgency count-down continues. 3 months 3 days.]

That's working about as well as the "cake walk" strategy.

Reuters:

"Guerrilla bombings and other attacks have killed more than 250 people since the cabinet was announced eight days ago.

New tensions also erupted on Friday between Iraqi security forces and supporters of radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

Followers of Sadr clashed with Iraqi soldiers after Friday prayers in Kufa, near the holy city of Najaf, and hours later gunmen killed two Sadr supporters in Baghdad, police said.

Sadr, who has led two major uprisings against U.S. troops in Iraq, has been keeping a low profile since an American military offensive against his Medhi Army fighters in Najaf last August."

If Sadr starts his attacks aginst U.S. troops again this could mean big trouble for the "victory strategy." I don't see how we fight the insurgency and Sadr at the same time. This resurgence of car bombings and the general every day mayhem going on there is taking up all the attention of the Iraqi "security forces," and they're not faring well. Over 480 of them have been killed in the past two months. That's not including the recruits who don't even get through the door before they're blown up.

AIPAC spy case.

"WASHINGTON (AP) - The FBI arrested a Pentagon analyst Wednesday on a charge alleging he passed classified information about potential attacks against U.S. forces in Iraq to employees of a pro-Israel group. Larry Franklin, 58, of Kearneysville, W.Va., turned himself in Wednesday morning.

Franklin, who specialized on Iran and Middle Eastern affairs and had clearance to review top secret information, gave the information to two people without such clearance at a luncheon meeting at a restaurant in Arlington, Va., in June 2003, FBI agent Catherine Hanna said in an affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint.

The people at the lunch were employees of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a law enforcement official said on condition of anonymity because they are not identified in court papers.

Franklin acknowledged at the lunch that the information was highly classified and asked the two people not to use it, Hanna said. It concerned possible attacks against U.S. troops by Iranian-backed groups in Iraq, the law enforcement official said.

Franklin's top secret security clearance was suspended in June 2004, the Justice Department said. He formerly worked in the office of policy undersecretary Douglas Feith."

Have no fear though, the WaPo says:

"Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said his country was not involved.

"Israel does not carry on any activity in the United States which could harm, God forbid, its closest ally," Shalom told Israel's Channel One TV."

God forbid! Except for that U.S.S. Liberty "accident" and the Jonathan Pollard "incident" Israel has been our best buddy.

See this blog July 9th, 2004 for more on Israel spying on us.
And August 31, 2004 on Israel's new nuclear tipped submarines that we can't track because of Jonathan Pollard's treason.

That other axis of evil problem.

KYOTO, Japan - Japan threatened on Friday to put the issue of North Korea's nuclear weapons program before the U.N. Security Council next month unless six-nation talks on the dispute show progress.

The North also fiercely opposes taking the issue to the Security Council, which would be a first step toward possible sanctions against the reclusive communist regime. North Korea's leaders hvave said they would consider sanctions a "declaration of war."

But the Japanese foreign minister, Nobutaka Machimura, said Friday during an Asia-Europe meeting Kyoto that Japan was thinking of pursuing the matter with Security Council.

"If there is no progress, we have to think of other options, such as taking this matter to the United Nations Security Council," Machimura told reporters after meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Ban Ki-moon."

This is kind of odd. Since when does Japan go off like this without us telling them too? They don't. This puts pressure on China and give Japan a little pay-back for the "text book" riots two weeks ago in China. A very dangerous strategy. First a missile test and then a Nuke test? Maybe. Lucky for us we aren't bogged down anywhere.

The president seems pretty confident. (He can afford to be, he's not a details kind of guy.)

"We've got good capacity in Korea. We traded troops for new equipment [Is that the new equipment they're waitng for in Iraq?],as you know; we brought some troop -- our troop levels down in South Korea, but replaced those troops with more capacity."

Boy, that's a relief. For a minute there I thought we were fucked. We've got "capacity." Take that Kim Jong il.

But wait!

"there is concern about his capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon. [Oh crap, he's got capacity too.] We don't know if he can or not, but I think it's best when you're dealing with a tyrant like Kim Jong-il to assume he can."

Like now for instance?

NYT:

"WASHINGTON, May 5 - White House and Pentagon officials are closely monitoring a recent stream of satellite photographs of North Korea that appear to show rapid, extensive preparations for a nuclear weapons test, including the construction of a reviewing stand, presumably for dignitaries, according to American and foreign officials who have been briefed on the imagery.

"The North Koreans have learned how to use irrationality as a bargaining tool," a senior American official said Thursday evening. "We can't tell what they are doing."

Nonetheless, American officials have been sufficiently alarmed that they have extensively briefed their Japanese and South Korean allies and warned them to be prepared for the political implications of a test. [Or a war.]

Several officials said they had never before seen Korean preparations as advanced as those detected in recent days, including the digging of a tunnel. That tunnel resembles the one used in Pakistan for nuclear tests in 1998.

One of the creators of Pakistan's program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, traveled to North Korea repeatedly and has admitted to Pakistani interrogators that he supplied nuclear technology to the North, American intelligence officials said.

A senior European diplomat deeply involved in the issue said this week that he suspected that North Korea was "now pursuing the Pakistani model."

Pakistan and India were both condemned and subjected to economic sanctions after their 1998 tests. But all of those were lifted after the United States determined it needed Pakistan's help immediately after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

"The North Koreans may be thinking that in two or three years, it too may be regarded as just another nuclear power, outside of the Nonproliferation Treaty, the way we now view Pakistan and India and Israel," the official said." [Israel has nukes? Who knew?]

Several black eyes on the "the war on drugs" front.

ABC news:

BOGOTA, Colombia May 4, 2005 — Colombian police have detained two U.S. Army soldiers near a huge military base southwest of the capital in an alleged arms smuggling plot, Colombian and U.S. officials said Wednesday.

The arrests mark the latest U.S. embarrassment in this South American nation. On March 29, five American soldiers were arrested after 35 pounds of cocaine were found aboard a U.S. military plane that flew to El Paso, Texas, from the Apiay air base east of Bogota.

Colombian lawmakers called for their extradition to face trial in Colombia, but U.S. Ambassador William Wood ruled out such a move, citing diplomatic immunity." [That's rich! How many times have we threatened cutting them off if they didn't didn't turn over their drug lords?]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:58 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 6 May 2005 4:27 PM EDT
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Monday, 2 May 2005
A bridge Darfur.

In his Inaugural speech president Bush said:

"When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side..."

Unless that traveler is in Darfur. According to human rights organizations dealing with the disaster in Darfur,

Political Affairs:

"Arbitrary arrest, torture and killings continue in the Darfur region of the Sudan... (An estimated) 400,000 [Figures vary wildly.] people have been killed and as many as 2 million have been displaced by violence led by a Sudanese government-backed militia known as the Janjaweed."

Colin Powell called the situation a "genocide."

BBC:

"We concluded that genocide has been committed in Darfur and that the government of Sudan and the Janjaweed bear responsibility and genocide may still be occurring."

And yet the L.A. Times reports our good friends in the Sudanese intelligence services get first class service on their flights to the U.S.:

"Late last year, a senior Mukhabarat official met in Washington with the CIA's counter-terrorism center to discuss Iraq, according to sources familiar with the talks."

Mukabarat? Wasn't that the name of Saddam's secret service? Oh, never mind, these guys aren't cold blooded killers with rape rooms etc. What? They are? But they're our cold blooded killers, right?

"Last month, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sent a letter to the Bashir government calling for steps to end the conflict in Darfur. [Well, that's good, really letting them have it right Condi?]

But the letter, reviewed by The Times, also congratulated Sudan for increased cooperation with an African Union mission to Darfur. [When?] It also said the administration hoped to establish a "fruitful relationship" with Sudan and looked forward to continued "close cooperation" on terrorism."

But, the president says we stand for our ideals that have passed down through history:

(The)..."grandest of these ideals is an unfolding American promise that everyone belongs, that everyone deserves a chance, that no insignificant person was ever born. [Unless they are born in Darfur.]

The enemies of liberty [The Sudanese government?] and our country should make no mistake: America remains engaged in the world by history and by choice, shaping a balance of power that favors freedom. We will defend our allies and our interests." [Well, we're sure defending our interest, anyway. Close enough for government work.]

Nice company we keep.
And then there's China, but we expect them to be bad guys:

Access News:

"More than 70 percent of Sudan's total export earnings come from oil sales abroad. China has a 40 percent stake in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, the main international consortium extracting oil from Sudan.

Other large stakeholders include Malaysia's Petronas and India's national oil company, ONGC Videsh.

In Washington, Chinese embassy spokesman Sun Weide defended China's oil involvement in Sudan.
"I think the relationship between China and Sudan is a normal one. And oil, I think, cooperation, is only one area," said Sun Weide. "Nothing special about that."

Certainly not! Anyone think Burma knows where OBL is?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:27 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 2 May 2005 11:39 PM EDT
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War is our last option. This is the moment of truth.

The Times-online has published two articles on evidence,leaked memos, from nine months before the war that shows Tony Blair had already made up his mind to go along with the Americans in their invasion of Iraq. Despite Bush saying "war is not my first choice, it's my last choice," he had already made up his mind to go to war and was looking for a political justification.

Even before 9-11 according to former treasury secretary Paul O'Neil, who with Ron Suskind, wrote that Bush was determined to go to war with Iraq in Feb. 2001 but was just trying find an excuse. [Sound familiar?]

Forbes:

"There are memos," Ron Suskind told CBS. "One of them marked 'secret' says 'Plan for Post-Saddam Iraq."'

Another Pentagon document entitled "Foreign suitors for Iraqi Oil Field Contracts" talks about contractors from 40 countries and which ones have interest in Iraq, Suskind said."

So, these memos coming out in England should inform the debate here on the reasons we're stuck forever in Iraq. But they won't, we don't care.

The Times:

"THE HEAD of MI6 told Tony Blair that the case for war against Iraq was being “fixed” by the Americans to suit the policy, according to a BBC documentary [Shown in March] that will reignite its battle with the government.

Sir Richard Dearlove, head of MI6, briefed Blair and a select group of ministers on America’s determination to press ahead with the war nine months before hostilities began.

After attending a briefing in Washington, he told the meeting that war was “inevitable”. Dearlove said “the facts and intelligence” were being “fixed round the policy” by George W Bush’s administration.

... {in the memo it records} a meeting in July 2002, attended by military and intelligence chiefs, at which Blair discussed military options having already committed himself to supporting President George Bush’s plans for ousting Saddam.

“If the political context were right, people would support regime change,” said Blair...at the July meeting Jack Straw, the foreign secretary, said the case for war was “thin” as “Saddam was not threatening his neighbors and his WMD capability was less than that of Libya, North Korea or Iran”.

Straw suggested they should “work up” an ultimatum about weapons inspectors that would “help with the legal justification”. Blair is recorded as saying that “it would make a big difference politically and legally if Saddam refused to allow in the UN inspectors”.

The memo says: “There is more work to ensure that the figures are accurate and consistent with the US. But even the best survey of Iraq’s WMD programmes will not show much advance in recent years.”

A separate secret briefing for the meeting said Britain and America had to create” conditions to justify a war.

The minutes show Goldsmith [Britsh AG] warned Blair eight months before war started on March 19, 2003 that finding legal justification would be “difficult”.

Admiral Sir Michael Boyce, chief of the defense staff, demanded unequivocal written confirmation.

Boyce was never shown Goldsmith’s more equivocal advice to Blair of March 7, 2003 and says today ministers failed to give him protection from prosecution at the International Criminal Court.

“I have always been troubled by the ICC,” he says, adding that if British servicemen are put on trial, ministers should be “brought into the frame as well”. Asked if that should include Blair and Goldsmith, he tells The Observer: “Too bloody right.”

Speaking of legal matters and trials for war crimes:

The Scotsman

"Lord Goldsmith, the attorney-general, warned Mr Blair he could not bypass the United Nations simply because France threatened to veto a move to war. A court "might well conclude" that war was illegal.

Yet there was no hint of this in the summary of the advice shown to the Cabinet and published - exposing Mr Blair to the charge that he misled both parliament and the public.

The extracts released last night were from the 13-page legal memo shown to Mr Blair but never seen by the Cabinet - in an apparent breach of official code. At the time of its preparation, the UN had passed Resolution 1441 warning Saddam Hussein to disarm - but had not authorized the use of force.

The Prime Minister wanted to know whether it was legal to invade Iraq without a second UN resolution...The leaked document shows Lord Goldsmith warning the legal effect of Resolution 1441 was "unclear". Indeed, he said the "safest legal course" was to seek the second UN resolution which never emerged."

Hence the Admiral's worries about the ICC.

The Brits were so worried about this and a second resolution that Rummy felt it necessary to step in to put some steel in their backbones!

Common' limeys, put up or shut up!

March 13 2003
The Age:

"US defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created a furore when he suggested that Britain might pull out of any attack on Iraq, indicating the diplomatic disarray in Washington over a second Security Council resolution.

Mr Rumsfeld's gaffe yesterday came as President George Bush stumbled in his bid for United Nations Security Council support for a war on Iraq.

After a meeting with British defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon, Mr Rumsfeld initially indicated that British forces might not participate in the war if the Security Council failed to pass a second resolution opening the way for military action.

"To the extent they are able to participate in the event that the President decides to use force, that would obviously be welcomed," Mr Rumsfeld said. "To the extent they're not, there are work-around and they would not be involved, at least in that phase."

The moment of truth.

Thus Tony Blair at the Azores conference. Still desperately trying to get some legal cover for the war, even though, by the 17th of March 2003 he had got his AG to "change his mind" of whether the war was legal or not. Jack Straw said "Any action we are involved in or in the future will be involved in will be fully consistent with our obligations under international law." Okay, you keep telling your self that.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:12 AM EDT
Updated: Monday, 2 May 2005 12:56 PM EDT
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Friday, 29 April 2005
Progess versus desperation.

President Bush last night on the war in Iraq:

"We're making good progress."

Fact check: (The president isn't a fact checker, remember?)

An estimated 12 well coordinated car bombings occurred today in Iraq. Luckily, the insurgency has spent itself, or it could have been much worse. (The "Allawi end of the insurgency countdown" is at almost three months and counting.)

The NY Times:

"At least 23 Iraqi policemen and troops were killed. Some reports put the total death toll at as many as 50 people. Later in the day, other car bomb attacks struck Diyarah, 20 miles south of Baghdad, killing two American soldiers, and near Taji, just north of Baghdad, where a bomber killed one American soldier and wounded two others. One American soldier was also killed and four were wounded by a homemade bomb Thursday night near Hawija, 150 miles north of Baghdad.

With Friday's attacks, at least 480 Iraqi policemen and troops have been killed by insurgents in the last two months, according to tallies by Western security contractors, Iraqi officials and local news accounts."

USA Today:

"President Bush...blamed rising violence in Iraq on U.S. progress being made there, saying coalition successes are making insurgents more desperate.

The more progress we make on the ground, the more free the Iraqis become, the more electricity that's available, the more jobs are available, the more kids that are going to school, the more desperate these killers become," Bush told reporters."

Sorry, that was from an article on 10/27/2003. (See Thursday, 21 April 2005 for link to a whole bunch more of the same talking points going back to the beginning of the war.)

Posted by bushmeister0 at 10:46 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 2 May 2005 11:37 PM EDT
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Ahmad Chalabi in the hen house.
Topic: Iraq
A.P..

"Thwarted in his bid to be Iraq's leader, one-time Pentagon favorite Ahmad Chalabi has nevertheless captured a key position in the new government ? a deputy prime minister's spot and temporary control of the lucrative oil ministry."

"Chalabi, a Shi'ite, replaces veteran oil technocrat Thamir al-Ghadbhan at the oil ministry's helm. Unlike his predecessors Ghadhban and Ibrahim Bahr al-Uloum, Chalabi -- scion of a Baghdad merchant family -- has no experience in the state-owned oil sector that employs 80,000."

Ahmad Chalabi has been appointed "temporary" oil minister in the new Iraqi "government?" What? That must be very reassuring to international oil interests. Keep your eyes on the silverware.

This appointment more than anything else shows the entire world what a crock this whole "sovereign Iraq" crap is. The Iraq people voted for the occupation to end. No such luck. Now, the biggest Ali Baba in Iraq has taken over the main source of the country's revenue. Imagine what the average Iraqi on the street must think about this as he waits for two days to get a few gallons of gas. (I wonder if this appointment was discussed with Crown Prince Abdullah in crawford?)

And why hasn't congress have anything to say about the man behind "curveball" getting his hands on the Iraqi oil spigot?

[Ahmad Chalabi, the onetime White House favorite who has been implicated in an alleged Iranian spy operation, sent Iraqi defectors to at least eight Western spy services before the war in an apparent effort to dupe them about Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's illicit weapons programs, current and former U.S. intelligence officials said...Because even friendly spy services rarely share the identities of their informants or let outsiders meet or debrief their sources, has only in recent months become clear that Chalabi's group sent defectors with inaccurate or misleading information to Denmark, England, Italy, France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, as well as to the United States, the officials said. Only later did the CIA learn that he ("Curveball.") was actually the brother of one of Ahmed Chalabi's top aides and had probably been coached to provide false information. The Washington Monthly.]

Oh wait, the president will explain...

I don't want cut into some of the TV shows that are getting ready to air ... for the sake of the economy." (Bush last night's press conference.)

Good night!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 10:51 AM EDT
Updated: Friday, 29 April 2005 1:48 PM EDT
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