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Friday, 8 July 2005
The bombings in London.
Topic: General News.

What to say about the events of yesterday in London? From the descriptions of eyewitnesses the effect of the four nearly simultaneous bombings on the Underground and a double-decker bus were truly horrific. Not that the Brits haven’t had their fair share of bombings in the past during World War Two or the IRA bombing campaigns of the 70’s and 80’s, but this really was a barbaric act as Tony Blair has said, probably the worst thing to happen to England since the Blitz. It was painful to see the anguish on Blair’s face as he spoke of the attacks after returning to London. I couldn’t help but feel the genuine sense of loss he felt at this awful turn of events. After all, he was hosting the G-8 summit and was, I’m sure, entirely committed to actually helping the people of Africa and securing a better and healthier future for the world and then this happened; a noble attempt to do real good, snuffed out by such a senseless act. What a tragedy. I saw the newspaper this morning and there was a picture on the front page of a woman sitting on a man’s shoulders holding up the Union Jack celebrating London being awarded the 2012 summer Olympics and I couldn’t quite wrap my around the idea I was still living in the same world.

This is just a terrible thing that has happened and it brought back all the memories from when I was living in DC on September 11th. A BBC reporter described the eerie atmosphere on the streets hours after the attacks, people walking down the streets seemingly disconnected from what was going on around them, just walking, much as I noticed as I made my way down K street from 7th st. NW on my way to Dupont Circle that morning. Just a weird numbness, like ‘what the hell is going on, this is crazy?’ Crowds standing in front of store windows looking at TVs showing the WTC burning, cars behind them in the middle of intersection running red lights, horns blowing, rush hour in reverse, trying to get the hell out of dodge, fighter jets blowing afterburners overhead, lines at pay phones, people in their business suits at ten in the morning buying bottles of wine and then, no doubt, going home and staring at the endlessly repeated video of the towers falling one by one, as I did, until late into the night until we just couldn’t take it anymore.

It occurred to me after initial shock of the news that this same type of pointless carnage goes on every day in Iraq, the only difference being the method, usually car bombs, and that there are a lot more of them, with hundreds of more casualties. Some days in Baghdad alone there are a dozen or more such attacks, why is this one so much more troubling to us? The “bleed-out” of terrorists, warned of in a recent CIA report, [Iraq now is No. 1 extremist training spot study says] to other parts of the world appears to have begun and the rationale put forward by president George Bush for remaining in Iraq, to fight them there rather than in our own streets, gets weaker every day. While we should be strengthening our defenses at home and training our first responders, instead we send them over to Iraq in National Guard units.

I’m sure there will be many questions asked about how the British intelligence agencies missed the boat on these attacks and why 1,500 police were sent from the capital to Gleneagles. The same questions that were asked here after 9/11 will come up. The taxpayers pay billions to these agencies and they have a lot of powers given to them that have curtailed many civil liberties, yet they blew it. Why? How did this happen?

Remember Iraq?

While the world’s attention is focused on London, in Iraq the group that took Ihab al-Sharif has killed the kidnapped Egyptian envoy. Al-Qaeda in Iraq said, “Iraq is not longer safe for infidels.” The Pakistani and the Bahraini envoys that were attacked earlier in the week have relocated to Jordan and the Egyptian government has closed its mission there and evacuated the staff. So much for getting Arab countries to support the Iraqi

In a strange development yesterday Iran and Iraq have signed an agreement for the Iranians to train Iraqi military forces. Leila Fadel and Hannah Allam of the Inquirer foreign staff report, “In Tehran, Iranian defense minister Ali Shamkhani said Iran and Iraq would form joint committees to work out cooperation on clearing minefields and “modernizing Iraq’s army.”

In another worrying development, al-Qaeda in Iraq has announced the formation of a special militia to fight the Badr Brigade, the military arm of SCIRI. They’re the ones being accused of hunting down Sunnis and killing them, not to be confused with the wolf brigade and the regular Iraqi forces who apparently are also rounding up Sunnis and killing them, as I noted in more detail previously.

Also in Iraq, our old friend, and the Iranian’s, Ahmad Chalabi is at it again; it appears he is involved in an effort with other powerful Shiite leaders to get full autonomy for the oil rich south, much as the Kurds now do in the north. The New York Times reports the main instigator is one Bakr al-Yaseen who “has ties to Jalal Talibani, the Iraqi president and a Kurd, and is demanding the same broad powers…including an independent parliament, ministries and regional military force.” The plot thickens. I wonder how much the Iranians are involved in this whole deal? The Kurds are all for this because this strengthens their call for a loose federation rather than a strong government ruled from Baghdad. “’I support a real region in the south,’ said Abdul Khalik Zengana, a senior official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of the two main Kurdish parties. ‘That will help to enhance federalism in Iraq. We bless this step.’” I’m sure a weak Shiite dominated Iraq is just what the doctor ordered when it comes to what Saudi Arabia and Egypt want.

From the G-8 meeting I saw a report that Vladimir Putin was going to press the U.S. for a timetable for leaving Iraq, not just Central Asia. This to me is a pretty significant development. I don’t know how far this would have gotten, or if he even brought it up with “W” after the attacks yesterday, but with China and the Central Asian nations behind him, it seems Putin is feeling his oats. Once things settle down, I’m sure this will come up again. This all must have something to do with Iran. They’re the pivot in the region. Now that they’ve signed a big energy deal with China and have the Russians helping them with their nuclear power plants they are probably feeling a little freer to throw their weight around. The situation in Afghanistan is spinning out of control, so that flank is safe, and they’ve obviously made some inroads into the Iraq situation getting all chummy with the Shiite dominated government, Israel is busy with the Gaza pull out and the political fallout from that with the settlers, so, right now, they’re sitting pretty.

And our position is getting weaker by the day. At the G-8 Bush obstructed everything the rest of the members wanted to get accomplished on global warming and African aid, Italy is unhappy with us about the CIA kidnapping case from 2003, Russia is attempting to form some sort of counter to the U.S. in Central Asia, China is telling the congress to butt out of their business and looking to hook up with various investment entities like Carlyle to help their bid for Unical, Hugo Chavez is creating a alliance of Caribbean and South American countries to sell cheap oil to and getting cozier with China, so is Bolivia, and all we’re left with is a mess in Afghanistan and in Iraq. We have friends, though, like Saudi Arabia and Pervez Musharrif in Pakistan and good old Moramar in Libya. With friends like these…


Judith Miller gets what’s coming to her.

So Time magazine is buckling under pressure and giving Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the prosecutor in the Valerie Plame case, the notes of their correspondent Matt Cooper which name the source in the White House who outed Joseph Wilson’s wife, the CIA agent. I must say, I don’t agree that journalists should have to reveal their sources under any circumstances, but in this case it’s not like they’re protecting a whistle blower or deep throat or anything. Judith Miller has been a shill for the right wingers for a long time: citing unnamed sources in her articles to trash Clinton and spreading Ahmad Chalabi’s propaganda about WMD in Iraq, its about time she got her comeuppance. Good riddance to bad trash, I say.

Now, Matt Cooper has decided to testify in front of the Grand Jury and Miller has gone to a DC lockup. (Tee hee!.) The reports filed papers a few days ago asking for house arrest in case the judge decided to lock them up, but the special council rejected the request by noting that Miller’s experiences in the Iraqi desert would make her “far better equipped than the average person jailed in a Federal facility” to handle a little time in stir. After this is all over you can just see the book deals and the T.V. talk shows: ‘oh Oprah, poor me I was protecting democracy!’

And where are the right-wingers in all of this? Aren’t they outraged by this naked abuse of prosecutorial power, by this government over reach? Nope! Their man, the one who started this whole mess, Robert Novak, has apparently already testified and has cooperated fully with the prosecutor. So much for journalistic integrity on the right side of the spectrum! Oh, but he’s a columnist, not a journalist, right? He just crosses that line back and forth when it suits him, when judges start asking him questions.

Schiavo case closed:

Now that Jeb Bush has wasted God knows how much taxpayer money in his petty attempt to get Michael Schiavo for murdering his wife, he has announced the case is closed. State Attorney Bernie McCabe said Schiavo’s statements about when he called 911 were consistent and that “this consistency, coupled with the varying recollections of the precise time offered by other interested parties, lead me to the conclusion that such discrepancies are not indicative of criminal activity.” Bush said, “Based on your conclusions, I will follow your recommendations that the inquiry by the state be closed.” That’s it Jebster? Nothing left in the quiver? Common’, maybe Schiavo kicks little puppies are smokes crack or something. Never mind, you’ve got your rightwing nut bona fides in place. Maybe, there’s a vice-presidential spot out there for you somewhere.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:20 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 8 July 2005 3:21 PM EDT
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Thursday, 7 July 2005
Attack on the Underground.
Topic: General News.

So, I was all prepared for my usual snarkiness this morning and I see that the London Underground was attacked today. The first thing that came into my mind was 9-11 and that sick feeling in my stomach I had running around DC trying to get home and find out what was going on. The swirling chaos, people running red lights, traffic jams, long lines at the beer store...I really understand what they must be going through over there and I feel for them.

Presdient Bush wasn't reading any books about goats
as far as we know but his initial comment was:

"The war on terror goes on."

Thanks for that, very inspirational. Is Ruddy around anywhere?

Here are some eyewitness accounts of what went on there today from the Guardian:

"And then the announcement came as we were stuck at King's Cross station that we should all come out. We all took our time. It happens all the time.

As I was going towards the exit there was this smell. Like burning hair. And then the people starting walking out, soot and blood on their faces. And then this woman's face. Half of it covered in blood. How can you just carry on with your day?"

And another:

"Really insane and surreal day. My office is literally round the corner from where some of the blasts took place and I have spent the morning trying to make sure my friends are OK. I think they are, but the mobile phone networks are down so I haven't been able to confirm. There is no major panic here, just an underlying sense of confusion and despondency. Nobody is communicating and certainly nobody is able to concentrate on work. I guess it's a delayed sense of shock."

That sounds just like I felt on 9-11.

Looks like the Metropolitian Police are a little short handed as they have so many cops up at the summit, the governemnt announced they're being rapidly redeployed.

Claim of responsibility:

The Guardian:

"A group called The Secret Organisation of al-Qaida in Europe today said it carried out the series of blasts in London in retaliation for Britain's involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The group's statement appeared on a website popular with Islamic militants, according to Elaph, a secular Arabic-language news website, and Der Spiegel magazine in Berlin, which both published the text on their sites.

The statement, which also threatened attacks against Italy and Denmark, said: "Rejoice, Islamic nation. Rejoice, Arab world. The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan."

I'm out of time, hang in there London, we're with you!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:28 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 8 July 2005 3:00 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 6 July 2005
Update on missing recon team in Afghanistan:
Topic: General News.

I wrote previously about the missing Navy Seals, in Kunar province Afghanistan, but at the time I didn’t know that two had been found dead and another is still missing. That leaves one still unaccounted for. The mysterious Taliban spokesman Mullah Latif Hakimi had said at the weekend that one soldier had been captured and there would be video in a few days. [Yeah, right.] While this search is on-going in Kunar province the U.S. has admitted to killing 17 civilians in a town called Chechal after dropping two bombs on a house that the pentagon said was a “terrorist target.” Naturally, the weapons used were “precision guided munitions” from a B-52 so if they got killed its their own fault. It appears the civilians were killed when they went to look at the wreckage of the initial attack. The pentagon says “the targeted compound was a known operating base for terrorist attacks in Kunar province as well as a base for medium level terrorist leaders.” Strange how the bodycount is exactly the number of our dead, so far, isn’t it [Not exactly: there is another American missing after falling down a ravine in a humvee.] “U.S. forces “regret the loss of innocent lives…however, when enemy forces move their families into locations where they conduct terrorist operations, they put innocent civilians at risk.” See? It’s entirely their fault. Where exactly are the “terrorists” supposed to take their families anyway? I mean the whole country is a war zone. Why couldn’t they have waited to use their precision-guided weapons for a more opportune moment when the medium-level terrorists were actually engaging in combat?

What is surprising about his story is the reaction from our good allies in the Afghan government. The New York Times quotes a spokesman for Hamid Karzai, Jawed Ludin, as saying, “We know terrorists kill people, destroy mosques and schools…but we should be careful not to cause harm or kill people. That is unacceptable.” Wow, Karzai keeps this up and he’s going to have to hire his own bodyguards.

Central Asia for the Central Asians!

Now comes news, just as W is running over Scottish policemen on his mountain bike at the Gleneagles resort at the G-8 summit, that the “Shanghai Cooperation Organization,” a group of Central Asian nations plus China and Russia is saying ‘here’s your hat what’s your hurry’ to their buddy Dubya. Our allies in the war on terror in the region “regard it as essential that the relevant members of the antiterrorist coalition set final deadlines for the temporary use of said infrastructure facilities and for the presence of military contingents of members countries.” [Deadlines and bench-marks, isn’t that what L. Paul Bremer was always talking about?] All the countries in the area apparently prefer to deal with Vlad the Impaler rather than the cowboy from Waco. This is a bit puzzling considering we’ve been throwing powder puffs at Islam Karimov since the massacre in Andijan. Perhaps they are confused by the messages we’re sending them. While Foggy Bottom hurls diplomatic arrows at the regime, the pentagon sends trunks of money. Maybe, certain dictators are afraid Condi Rice’s rhetoric about ‘instability is good for democracy’ might actually be serious. They see us bogged down in Iraq, militarily and diplomatically, they see how much we owe China in debt and are thinking they might just go with the up and coming power, China. They smell blood in the water. Obviously, Russia is good for cheap weapons and they speak the language and they are a moderately valuable counter balance to the ravenous Chinese dragon, but they’re still pretty weak. Add Hugo Chavez trying to set up a regional oil cartel in the Caribbean; with ambitions of countering the U.S. in the hemisphere and you start to see a pattern forming here. Bush and Co. say we can invade where ever we want, when ever we want, and the rest of the world starts thinking maybe they have more in common with eachother than they thought they had. Get rid of those petrodollars, we’ve got the Euro now!

Israel creates facts on the ground.

The Israelis president Moshe Katsav told Israeli Army radio that extremists in the settler movement might try “and carry out extremist acts…like trying to kill the prime minister [Ariel Sharon],” in order to stop the pullout from the Gaza strip. Pretty strong stuff there; what has the world come to when Arik is the most hated political leader in the settler crowd? Even Effie Eitam, Mr. ethnic cleansing nut job, said the settlers had crossed the “red-line” by attacking Palestinians and blocking roads. Will wonders never cease? There is one thing that is going on that I sort of alluded to yesterday, that while the media is transfixed by the Supreme Court battle, Israel would try to pull something. I was only half joking. It seems the government has decided to start bulldozing Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem again. (8 houses on Monday) There are thousands of Palestinian houses built without permits (as if they could ever obtain them), that are on a list to be knocked down. Of course, this has nothing to do with creating more “facts on the ground” that will leave Israel is complete control of East Jerusalem even before anything is negotiated with the PA leading to the creation of a Palestinian state. Oh, pooh-pooh!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 7:42 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 26 July 2005 12:12 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 5 July 2005
Missing in Afganistan.
Topic: General News.

As of the moment my writing, the search is on for what the pentagon is now saying is a recon team of four men in a mountainous region in the east of Afghanistan near the city of Asadabad in Konar Province near the Pakistani border where a MH-47 Chinook helicopter was shoot down by Taliban fighters last Tuesday, killing American 16 soldiers. An RPG brought down the Chinook during either an effort to reinforce the team or to extract them. (Reports now say one sailor has been found alive.) The story from the pentagon is still unclear. It is reported now that hundreds of U.S. forces are in the area looking for the lost soldiers. A self styled Taliban spokesman, Mullah Latif Hakimi, quoted by various news organizations claims the Taliban have captured one American. Apparently, the area in question is very rugged and perfectly suited to traditional Afghan insurgent tactics, which have been known to, in the past, lead to costly defeats for invaders. Time will tell.

What the hell is going on in Afghanistan anyway? I thought after three years over there it was all wrapped up. Instead, the Taliban are back with a vengeance, literally, the poppy crop is bountiful and we’re taking serious loses from car bombs, RPGs and IEDs. Last I heard the Talibs were history and the Afghan people were rallying behind their elected government. Perhaps the reports of victory were premature, a senior Afghan official is quoted in the NY Times as saying, “We were wrong. It seems they were spending the time preparing.” [Mood of anxiety engulfs Afghans as violence rises]

Everyone is talking about what a disaster it would be to pull the troops out in Iraq, but what about Afghanistan? What the hell are we doing there and when will those poor bastards be coming home? What major defeat to U.S. prestige will us leaving Hamid Karzai to his own devices do? (Hell, the Chinese will be taking over the Goddamn Centgas pipeline anyway when they buy Unical, so our job is done, as far as I can see. Let them worry about the freakin’ pipeline.)

It might be time for another one of those stay-the-course speeches by Bush with the creepy silence and green tarp in the back covering the basketball court. I dunno. What about the “Pakis,” as W likes to call them? What is Pervez doing to stem the flow of insurgents into Afghanistan? Regime change in Damascus might be the only answer!

Senate Supreme Court conformation hearings are quaint.

But wait! Here comes the best distraction from the mess in Iraq, and now in Afghanistan, too: A Supreme Court nomination fight. They could nuke Kabul and you wouldn’t find out about it until next month. Sounds like the perfect opportunity for “operation revenge cull” in Baghdad and maybe a little Israeli incursion into Lebanon to boot. And you’ll never hear that story about the V.A.’s 1.5 billion dollar budget shortfall because they forgot to ask for it, again. (Down the memory hole.)

Everybody is talking about Alberto Gonzalez (Mr. Water-boarding.) being Bush’s choice, but I don’t know. The left hates him because of all those torture memos and the right hates him because he’s not sufficiently rabid when it comes to the government getting into the gynecology biz. Then again, forgetting the fact that he’s a real lightweight when it comes to the law and apparently doesn’t have his own opinions on things, this might actually be the perfect candidate from Bush’s handlers view. Both sides equally despise him so he’d be considered a moderate, right? Where’s that baby king Solomon?

Lincoln was a gun nut and Diane Rehm is a commie!

My time is limited today (sorry for the lack of links), but I thought these two items are of interest:

One reason the government is a little slow on paying for things thee days might be because they are spending money on things like this. It appears reverend Louis Sheldon, of the Traditional Values Coalition, told the Park Service an eight-minute film they show at the Lincoln Memorial was full of liberal bias. [AP] “The video gave the impression that Lincoln would have supported abortion and homosexuality.” AP reports a FOIA request found the Park Service spent $20,000 scrambling to get video footage of “ President Bush, pro-gun advocates, and pro-Iraq war rallies, “ and even considered removing Clinton, to revamp the video. Some might say the Park Service was turning into another propaganda arm of the administration and caved to one religious nut, but no! Park Service deputy-director Don Murphy says the service has a “responsibility to present a balanced approach. We do not respond solely to any special interest group.” No not solely, they heard from the White House, too I’m sure. And whoever the political commissar at the service is.

Liberal Bias at NPR: (The lesson is: sucking up doesn't pay.)

Then there is the CPB. All these years NPR has been trying to get over to the “right” side of the nuts in congress, all those endless stories about anti-abortion activists, the worshipful wall-to-wall coverage of Ronald Reagan’s death, all those powerpuff questions to all the leading lights of the right wing, trying everything they could not to even utter the name Bill Moyers and this is what they get!

Kenneth Thomlinson launched secret investigation to monitor liberal bias on public radio. [AP] A “researcher” Fred Mann, whose work product of 50 pages was exposed by Sen. Byron Dorgan, who called it a “little nutty” and a sham, cost the tax-payers $14,700. [Note: in the president’s budget 1 million was cut from efforts to teach children about the dangers of obesity because it was considered redundant since Nickelodeon and the Disney channel has similar drives.] Those reds under investigation were, Bill Moyers, Tavis Smiley, David Broncaccio (A big time commie) and Diane Rehm and for a little balance Tucker Carlson. (What?) They call Diane Rehm the Red Queen; I don’t know what she thought she was getting away with. She says she feels betrayed because she actually interviewed Thomlinson and he didn’t mention he had siced a radio spy on her. Tough luck Madam Mao.

Come to Iraq: The rules are different here.

AP:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Insurgents mounted attacks against Arab and Muslim diplomats in Iraq on Tuesday, wounding Bahrain's top envoy in a kidnapping attempt. Pakistan's ambassador also escaped an assault on his convoy. The attacks came three days after gunmen seized Egypt's top envoy to Iraq as he was buying a newspaper in the capital..."

Pakistan's enoy "AFP Younis Khan will be shifted to the Jordanian capital Amman following Tuesday's assassination attempt, the third attack in four days on a foreign diplomat in Iraq's main city, Pakistan's foreign ministry said."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:07 PM EDT
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Thursday, 30 June 2005
Jebster digs up the dead.
Topic: General News.

News from the dumbshine state:

I know this is old news but I just wanted to get my licks in on the Jebster. (That’s what we used to call Jeb Bush when I was living there.) The Governor feels the Schiavo case needs to be reopened because there’s “new evidence,” which he won’t reveal, that an investigation should be opened into why Michael Schiavo took so long to call 911 when his wife collapsed and went into a coma. On Larry King two years ago Schiavo appeared to contradict a statement he had made to the police 15 years ago and it appears there is a 70-minute gap some how or other, so the Governor is calling out Torquemata.

Make no mistake, this has absolutely nothing to do with the autopsy that showed Terry Schiavo’s brain was half the size it should have been and she was blind to boot, which was very embarrassing to jackasses such as senator and doctor Tom Coburn(R. Oklahoma.) who made his diagnosis of Terry Schiavo before she died: “All you have to do is look at her on T.V. Any doctor with any conscience can look at her and know that she does not have a terminal disease and know that she has some function.” Perhaps the senator should stick to what he knows best, sterilizing under age girls.

In any case, even Jeb’s republican supporters are mortified by this new twist in the Schiavo case, but I say give them enough rope. Perhaps a little trip in the way-back-machine might better explain the insanity that reigns in Florida:

Back in the 18th century, Florida was divided into two states under the Spanish, east and west Florida. After the seven years war, which some historians consider the actual 1st world war, Spain lost and England traded Barbados for Canada and the Floridas in the peace of 1763 with France. English public opinion at the time wasn’t thrilled with the trade.

I quote from “The Origins of the American Revolution,” by John C. Miller, 1933:

“The Floridas, taken from Spain in 1763, were regarded as a waste of swamp and sand, which, groaned an Englishman, would be “the dwelling of desperate villains” and the chief product of the country seemed likely to be “disease and lamentation.”

So, you can see, nothing much has changed much since then. Nowadays, the approximate dwelling of the desperate villain is in Tallahassee.


Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:17 AM EDT
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Wednesday, 29 June 2005
Bush's speech, back to 9-11.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Bush’s speech last night was long on propaganda and short on specifics: pretty much what I expected. I thought he would try harder to emphasize all the progress in Iraq but instead he pulls out 9-11. Where did that come from? I heard one of the talking heads bringing up the fact that the poll numbers for the war were down even among republicans, so I don’t think the speech was so much to change anybody’s mind but to buck up his base. When you look at the speech from this perspective it makes sense. Who else still believes there’s any connection between Saddam and Bin Laden? Who still believes the insurgents in Iraq are the same people who destroyed the WTC and on their way here if we pull out?

“The terrorists can still kill the innocent but they cannot stop the advance of freedom. The only way our enemies can succeed is if we forget the lessons of 9-11.” (The fight against a tactic must continue because the killers hate freedom.)

Now, that sort of rhetoric will only work on the most dyed in the wool republicans. What do the lessons of 9-11 have to do with Iraq? What does the “advance of freedom” have to do with WMD? I thought the lessons of 9-11 were about the breakdowns in intelligence and the bureaucratic infighting between the CIA and the FBI, which led us to miss the flashing red light warning us of an imminent attack. “Al-Qaeda determined to attack inside United States” didn’t contain any actionable information remember? Fore!

And OBL is back in the rotation. Haven’t heard about him lately. That was kind of a risk bringing him up, I mean, where is he? We’re “hunting down the terrorists” but, not so much with Osama. The one person most responsible for 9-11 is still making tapes and Bush is even quoting him now. (I’m sure they made sure there weren’t any secret messages in the quotes.)

But that’s old news; we’re all about looking ahead now. No more talk about those Downing Street memos, nothing new there. We always knew Bush wanted to go to war with Iraq, even though that was never brought up in pundit-land before the war. Bush knew it, the media knew it, but no one bothered to tell the American people. Recently a ABC/Washington Post poll showed 52% of American’s now feel they we “intentionally misled” into the war and 57% the administration “intentionally exaggerated” the evidence of WMD. So, the only ones left to lie to are his core of ditto-heads. Senator Lindsay Graham of South Carolina told Rummy even his constituents are “going south.” Hence the trip to Fayetteville and a friendly captive audience, who will at least make him feel better.

Captive Audience

Speaking of captive audiences: no mention of Gitmo in the speech. It seems U.N. Human Rights investigators want an invite to what Rummy calls the most transparent prison in the world, but so far no Cuban cigar. An AP article says the “failure of the United States to respond to requests since early 2002 is leading experts to conclude Washington has something to hide in the Cuban naval base.” Investigator Manfred Nowak is quoted as saying, “ At a certain point, you have to take well founded allegations as proven in the absence of a clear explanation by the government.” Of course, we all know terrorists are trained to lie. But the investigators press statement says, “Many of these allegations have come to light through classified [US] documents.” The FBI lies too. Documents can be interpreted different ways. Maybe, the terror suspects tortured themselves to embarrass us! An internal pentagon investigation found no evidence of anything. The prisoners are well fed.

Extraordinary renditions:

Now on to “extraordinary renditions.” [WaPo Our allies in the war on terror, the Italians, are after 13 U.S. citizens suspected of being CIA agents who kidnapped an Egyptian imam known as Abu Omar, who was whisked out of the country in February 2003 and was transferred to a third country where he was probably well fed but not tortured. These guys apparently weren’t too clandestine. The Milan prosecutor has traced their whereabouts during the kidnapping mission by following the cell phone records and credit cards bills they rang up. They stayed at all the best hotels and spent a lot of taxpayer money.

“During January 2003, they were regular patrons at the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan, which bills itself as “one of the worlds most luxuriously appointed hotels” and features a marble-lined spa and a mini-bar Cokes cost $10.” After the mission, that seems to have ended up in Egypt, all but one of the agents came back to Italy. “Four checked into luxury hotels in Venice. Two others spent a couple of days in the Italian Alps.” Today there’s a report the Italians are seeking the extradition of the 13 including one known to be the former CIA station chief. That’s a pretty sticky diplomatic wicket the CIA has gotten us into. Bush said last night there were 30 nations with troops in Iraq, I think there might be 29 soon. [Note: there are more security contractors in Iraq, 20,000, than all the “coalition” troops combined.]

Elections in Iran:

Then there are the elections in Iran. Perhaps, W should have kept his mouth shut during the run-up to the votes as many Iranians took his criticism of the poll as “undemocratic” call to go out and vote. The we-love-the-Shah crowd here in the U.S. also helped by urging the Iranians to boycott the vote. The Iranian government actually allowed the pro-Shah broadcasts from L.A. to go through. The call to boycott backfired, because it just pissed most Iranians off. One woman who voted for Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the first round was quoted as saying, “It made us want to come out,” another man wanted the reporter to “Tell George Bush that his is not the master of our destiny!”

Even though Iran isn’t exactly a democracy, there were elections that were more or less free. Freer than in Uzbekistan or Ayzerbijan, where Richard Armitage congratulated Ilham Aliev for his "strong performance"; after he won 92% of the vote in true soviet style. All the right wingers are pooping their pants over Ahmadinejad becoming president, but who thinks he’ll have anymore influence on things than Khatami had?

Naturally, the Iranians will continue their nuclear efforts and our protests over this issue just got a little weaker as the NY Times reports the “Bush administration is planning the government’s first production since the Cold War of plutonium 238…the hot substance, valued as a power source, is so radioactive that a speck can cause cancer.” The government plans to produce 330 pounds over 30 years. “Officials say the program could cost $1.5 billion and generate more than 50,000 drums of hazardous and radioactive waste.” It sure would be nice if we had somewhere to get rid of all that waste. But, no worries, it won’t produce any green house gases, which don’t exist anyway. “The plutonium apparently is “intended for secret missions…Timothy A. Frazier, head of radioisotope power systems at the Dept. of Energy, said none of the classified missions would involve nuclear arms, satellites, or weapons in space.” Well, we all know when they say stuff like that you can take it to the bank. They never say one thing and do another.

The forgotten war:

No mention of Afghanistan in Bush’s speech last night either. Things are heating up there again. Since the snows melted 29 U.S. troops have died and perhaps 20 more were killed yesterday in a Chinook crash. The fighting has gotten very intense causing over a hundred deaths in the last week alone. The AP reported on the 24th that, “Radio intercepts indicate two top Taliban commanders are with dozens of rebels battling in the southern mountains against a blistering barrage from Afghan and U.S. forces, senior government officials said yesterday…Defense Ministry spokesman Zahir Marad said the two commanders in the battle area were Mullah Dadullah and Mullah Brader, both well-known figures in the Taliban rebellion who are accused of orchestrating attacks across much of Afghanistan’s violence-ridden south.” I knew he should have had a pack of cards for those guys too. Would Mullah Omar or OBL be the ace of spades?

There doesn’t appear to be any end to the fighting in the forgotten war, either, so stay the course. Currently there are 19,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and I guess they won’t be coming home anytime soon. What about our good friends in Pakistan? What are they doing for us? These groups fight us and go right back across the border, just like the insurgents do in Syria, but as of yet no outraged calls for regime change in Islamabad.

By the way if CNOOC actually buys Unical, does that mean they own the Centgas pipeline? Boy, what a wasted effort the Afghan invasion would be if that happened!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:27 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 7 July 2005 11:51 AM EDT
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Tuesday, 28 June 2005
Operation: "stay the course."
Topic: Iraq
Gosh, I’m really looking forward to president Bush’s Iraq speech tonight from Ft. Bragg. [Wasn’t that the base Jesse Helms warned Clinton to bring plenty of bodyguards to?] I’m really interested to see how he spins 1,300 Iraq deaths [700 in Baghdad alone!) and over 100 U.S. solders dead since April 28th into a mission almost accomplished speech.

On the one hand he’ll say we’re not going to be there forever because there’s over 170,000 Iraqi troops ready to take up the fight, but on the other hand we can’t abandon the Iraqis because they’re not ready to defend their democracy yet. Let’s see how he assures the Shiites and the Kurds we’re not leaving and at the same time convinces the American people we are.

Just as soon as the Iraqis get that pesky constitution written, which will be happening anytime now, we’re out of there. The insurgents are clearly desperate seeing all this success, so they’re going to be even more deadly so we have to stick to it because our national security depends on a democratic Iraq. That message ought to go over in the heartland.

Perhaps not, it appears the old adage, “you can’t fool all of the people all of the time,” might be catching up with Dubya’ and Co. A Washington post poll says only 22% of those asked thought the insurgency was getting weaker. Not that the White House pays any attention to polls or anything, (This speech has nothing to do with the polls), but I think using the 82d Airborne as a backdrop—just like the “Mission Accomplished” banner on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln--- just might be a calculated move. You can’t argue with the Commander-in-Chief’s position on this because the troops are behind him (Literally) and if you’re not, you’re against the troops. (The Post poll also found 51% now believes the war wasn’t worth it. Pretty sobering numbers, but nothing a few hundred uniforms and a bunch of American flags can't fix.)

More signs of progress!

In a strange bit of timing, the military began a new offensive today, code named “Operation Sword,” along the Euphrates River, once again aimed at routing out insurgents and those “rat lines” we hear so much of. So far these big offensives, beyond leveling houses and displacing civilians, don’t seem to be doing much besides leaving other areas unprotected, which the insurgents then re-deploy to and attack. Doesn’t anyone in the pentagon know Bedford Forrest’s old insurgency axiom, “hit ‘em where they ain’t?”

There’s a report today from the AP that the U.S. military, not the Iraqis, is going to expand its prisons to help contain the more than 10,002 detainees it already has plus another 4000 more its expecting. Guy Rudsill, a spokesperson for detainee operations in Iraq is quoted as saying, “We are past the normal capacity for both Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca. We are at surge capacity.” The AP report says Rudsill attributes the rise in the number of prisoners to, “successful ongoing military operations against the insurgency and terrorists.” Right. You can really tell the insurgency is in its “last throes” by the vast numbers of prisoners you’re taking, who are, naturally, all guilty. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be there, right?

Rummy says, by the way, there are different ways of interpreting what “last throes” means. Rummy told FOX, “last throes could be a violent last throes, or placid and calm last throes.” (What the meaning of “is,” is.) He expects, though, “you’ll see an escalation of violence between now and the [next round of Iraqi] elections.” (Never heard that before. At least, he didn’t say “run-up.”)

Kill them. Kill them all.

Maybe, instead of getting overcharged by Halliburton for all this construction of new warehousing for “the usual suspects” we should take a page from the Iraqi security forces’ playbook. It appears that since the election they’ve been rounding up 100s of Sunnis and killing them. An article in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer claims Iraqi Shiite commandos are “arresting” Sunnis, beating and electrocuting them, then putting a bullet in the back of their heads. They just don’t dump the bodies though, oh no, their police after all, they drop them off at the hospital. The Inquirer relates the unsolved murder case of Anwar Jassim, a Sunni welder, who was taken from his home by “a large group of men dressed and equipped as police commandos:

“The abductors dropped Jassim’s body at Baghdad’s Yarmuk Hospital the next day, hospital staffers said. According to hospital record, Jassim had a bullet wound in the back of his head and cuts and bruises on his abdomen, back and neck. The man in charge of Yarmuk morgue…said he remembered the day the commandos brought Jassim’s corpse. The commandos told me to keep the body outside the refrigerator so that the dogs could eat it because he’s a terrorist and he deserves it.” (More democratic “untidiness.”)

An American advisor to the Iraqi Interior Ministry says the claims of Iraqi commandos carrying out these killings is, “either rumor or innuendo. You can buy a police uniforms in 20 different places in the market.” Oh that’s good, nice to see they’ve really got a handle on the problem. The article points out, however, the insurgents must be pretty well off to be able to afford the Toyotas they drive around in, which cost $55,000, the Glocks they carry, about $500 each, and the sophisticated radio gear that “are rarely used by anyone other than Western contractors and Iraqi security forces.”

The problem says Ghathanfar al Jasim, an attorney general on Iraq’s national judicial council is that,“ We cannot admit that our police are doing it; it would make them weak” After all, you must understand, the Sunnis are attacking groups like the Wolf Brigade: “When a man kills another man [from their group] what you think will be the result? How do you think the Wolf Brigade would behave?” (Indeed, we’d better keep them sweet, they’re going to be our new freedom fighters when we bug out.)

Sounds like a Lebanese style civil war in the making to me.

Bush will frame the issue of us “staying the course” as a fight of us against them. Profeesor Steven Biddel of the Army War college describes what’s going on there as really a “covert civil war masquerading as an insurgency against American occupation." Both sides in this inter-sectarian brawl are playing us and the masterminds at the pentagon are getting suckered again. No wonder Jaafari doesn’t want us to leave, we’re there to prop up him up until he can solidify his position. We need the Peshmerga 80,000 fighters, so we’re looking the other way while they ethnically cleanse Kirkuk, which could lead to even more serious consequences when the Turks get involved; which they will, because Kirkuk is a red line for them and we’re really playing with fire if we think regime change in Syria is a great idea. If everything falls apart there, what happens to the Syrian Kurds? Ever think of that Condi?

Who said it would be a “cake walk?” Not us!

Not that anyone in the administration ever said it was going to be easy in Iraq before they dragged us into this. In March of 2003 Cheney said he thought the war would go “relatively quickly…weeks rather than months.” In February of 2003 Rummy said, “It could last six days, six weeks, I doubt six months.” Seven months later Rummy said, “Never said that. Never did…you’re thinking of someone else.” He never said the threat from Iraq was “imminent” threat either. He said “immediate.” There’s a big difference there. There are various interpretations you can get from that. (That’s what I heard a New York Times editor say on Washington Week about the Downing Street memo.)

In any case, we never talk with terrorists. No, we do, we don’t negotiate with them, I forgot. Even though the pentagon has been denying for months that talks are going on with insurgents, Rummy had to admit yesterday that they are because of a Sunday Times article revealing the U.S. had met “face to face” with insurgent commanders at a villa in Balad, twice. Now, Rummy says “there probably have been many more [meetings] than that.” Rummy says these meeting “go on all the time.” (I like how he makes it sound like this is just common knowledge.) It’s all up to the Iraqis because we’re just “facilitating” these “talks.” The Iraqis “will decide what their relationships with various elements of the insurgency will be.” OK, so if they want to talk with Zarqawi, that’s cool too, right?

There are reports the insurgent negotiators are asking for a timeline for U.S. withdrawal as a starting point for discussing an end to fighting. Hmmm…our presence in Iraq couldn’t be what’s keeping the recruiting numbers up for the rebels, could it? There are no good solutions to this situation, but us getting out would take the wind out of the foreign element’s sails, at least. Then the Shiites and the Kurds could divvy up the country into their respective zones of influence and get on with it, although the question of the Kurds taking the northern oil fields is still a potential causas belli for an entirely new war. And I’ve got to think the Saudis and other Sunni countries wouldn’t be happy with Iraq getting all cozy with Iran, their Shiite brothers. This is a decades long disaster of our making, but it doesn’t have to include losing 100 troops every month for as far as the eye can see either. We have to cut our loses and go, a proposition the naked emperor and his tailors will resist until they are inevitably forced to make the choice between staying the course in Iraq or seeing their political aspirations at home go down the toilet.


Today's news:

AP:

"BAGHDAD, Iraq - A suicide car bomber killed an influential Shiite member of parliament and his son as they drove to the capital Tuesday, an attack likely to stoke ethnic tensions on the first anniversary of the transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqis.

The attack that killed Dhari Ali al-Fayadh, his son and two bodyguards was one of several around the country carried out by suicide bombers. Other attacks killed one U.S. soldier in Balad, 50 miles north of Baghdad, and one in Tikrit. Two soldiers were wounded. At least 1,743 members of the U.S. military have died since the war began in 2003, according to an Associated Press count."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:05 PM EDT
Updated: Tuesday, 28 June 2005 4:07 PM EDT
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Tuesday, 21 June 2005
Victory right around the coner.
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

Bush has a plan for victory in Iraq. At a meeting with leaders from the EU yesterday he said:

"The report from the field is that while it's tough, more and more Iraqis are becoming battle-hardened and trained to defend themselves and that's exactly the strategy that's going to work."

Which Iraqis is the question. Is he talking about the insurgents? If the article by Anthony Shadid and Steve Fainaru in the Post last week is any indication, he's talking about the insurgents, he just doesn't know it.

"We don't want to take responsibility; we don't want it," said Amar Mana, 27, an Iraqi private whose forehead was grazed by a bullet during an insurgent attack in November. 'Here, no way. The way the situation is, we wouldn't be ready to take responsibility for a thousand years.'"

Never fear, hot off his big success in getting that pipeline built for Unical in Afghanistan, (And almost getting killed last week) Zalmay Khalizad is going to take on the Iraqi insurgency and crush it! "I will work with Iraqis to break the back of the insurgency." Good luck.

Condi said on Sunday "This Week" that the insurgent's MO of blowing up civilians wasn't's a good political move. Maybe, she should take her own advice. No doubt "Operation Spear" was a rousing success but leaving towns with no houses standing kind of undermines the winning heats and minds part of it.

The war against Christians.

Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.) feels Christians are taking it on the chin from Godless dems and he's not going to take it anymore. (Is there an election coming up?)

The WaPo says:

In the middle of the House debating..."a Democratic amendment to the annual defense appropriations bill that would have required the Air Force Academy to develop a plan for preventing "coercive and abusive religious proselytizing..." Hostettler [Isn't that the evil SS guy on Hogan's Heros?]let loose:

"the long war on Christianity in America continues today on the floor of the House of Representatives" and "continues unabated with aid and comfort to those who would eradicate any vestige of our Christian heritage being supplied by the usual suspects, the Democrats."

"Like a moth to a flame, Democrats can't help themselves when it comes to denigrating and demonizing Christians," he said."

Bonehead! Christians are really on the run at the Air Force Academy. (When they're not raping they're prayin'.)

An Air Force Chaplin, Capt. MeLinda Morton, who was cashiered for trying to promote religious tolerance, alleges Academy endorsed zealotry. The New York Times reports the group "Americans United for the Separation of Church and State said:

"...that academy officers and staff members opened mandatory events at the academy with prayer, sent e-mail academy-wide with religious taglines, and published advertisements in the academy newspaper asking cadets to contact them to "discuss Jesus." The report is based on interviews with current and former academy staff and faculty members and cadets.

Fliers advertising a showing of the movie "The Passion of the Christ" were placed at every seat in the dining hall, with the tagline, "This is an officially sponsored USAFA event," according to the report."

There is currently an investigation going on looking into accusations "that officers, staff members and senior cadets inappropriately used their positions to push their evangelical Christian beliefs on Air Force cadets."

An NY Times editorial from last week says:

"In an overdue burst of candor, the superintendent of the Air Force Academy has acknowledged that his campus is so permeated with evangelical proselytizing that it will take years to rid the institution of religious intolerance. Lt. Gen. John Rosa Jr. said he finds the problem of cadets unfairly pressured to adopt Christian beliefs and practices occurring throughout "my whole organization," with offenders among faculty, staff and students.

"Perception is reality," the general apologetically declared of numerous complaints that cadets' constitutional rights have been violated by militant evangelists wielding peer pressure with the blessing of authority figures in the chain of command."

Nothing wrong with that, right? After all these anit-God liberal judges are more dangerous than a few guys with beards, flying planes in the World Trade Center, right?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 11:53 AM EDT
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Thursday, 16 June 2005
The militias are our saviours. I mean, "freedom fighters."
Topic: Iraq

Here's a way to win hearts and minds, or get us involved in a centuries old tribal conflict of biblical proportions that could spread all over the region.

WaPo:

"Police and security units, forces led by Kurdish political parties and backed by the U.S. military, have abducted hundreds of minority Arabs and Turkmens...Seized off the streets of Kirkuk or in joint U.S.-Iraqi raids, the men have been transferred secretly and in violation of Iraqi law to prisons in the Kurdish cities of Irbil and Sulaymaniyah, sometimes with the knowledge of U.S. forces. A confidential State Department cable...said the 'extra-judicial detentions" were part of a 'concerted and widespread initiative' by Kurdish political parties 'to exercise authority in Kirkuk in an increasingly provocative manner...The abductions have 'greatly exacerbated tensions along purely ethnic lines' and endangered U.S. credibility, the nine-page cable, dated June 5, stated. 'Turkmen in Kirkuk tell us they perceive a U.S. tolerance for the practice while Arabs in Kirkuk believe Coalition Forces are directly responsible.'"

Our little bastards in Iraq and our ticket out.

This goes along with our sudden tolerance of various Shiite militias roaming around Iraq killing Sunnis.

President Talabani thinks a combination of militias and the "security forces," if there any left alive, could roll up the insurgency in no time.

BBC:

"In my opinion, Iraqi forces, the popular forces and government forces, are now ready to end the insurgency and end this terrorism," he said. "But there is a kind of thinking inside the [outgoing interim] government that they must not use [them].

Asked how long it would take for Iraqi security forces to be in a position to replace the US-led coalition, President Talabani said the transition could take place straight away if a new strategy were adopted.

The Kurds have in the past offered the use of their estimated 80,000 Peshmerga guerrillas for security tasks but have been turned down. So, too, has the Iranian-influenced Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (Sciri) and its Badr brigade, another well-trained fighting force.

"We cannot wait for years and years of terrorist activity because we haven't enough government forces," the president said."

The Council On Foreign Relations [CFR] web site explains:

"There are a growing number of small, homegrown, paramilitary-style brigades being formed by local tribes, religious leaders, and political parties. Some battle Iraq's largely Sunni insurgency alongside official Interior and Defense ministry troops; others operate without official assistance or sanction. The larger, more established militias, such as the Badr Organization and peshmerga, are tied to Iraq's leading political parties, organized along sectarian lines, and enforce order in their respective regions. The relationship of these groups to the official U.S.-trained Iraqi security forces is variable and complex."

[There are also 20,000 American security contractors operating in Iraq from various companies who are beholden to no one. There is no law that covers their presence there. What happened in Fallujah with the arrest of 19 contractors by U.S. Marines last week is just the tip of the ice berg, when it comes the massive mess Rummy and Co. have gotten us into.One might image what happens when we actually do get out of there and all these war hardened contractors come back home and can't find a comparable job paying $100,000 a year. There's always Venezuela I guess, or a newly "liberated" Cuba.]

The Wolf Brigade was the target of the suicide bombing in the groups cafateria yesterday that killed 25 and wounded 30. The CFR says of them:

"Last December, the Wolf Brigade--backed up by the Iraqi army and U.S. military--achieved notoriety after launching a series of counterinsurgency operations in Mosul, a Sunni stronghold northwest of Baghdad. Their popularity was further buoyed by the success of Terrorism in the grip of justice, a primetime show on U.S.-funded Al Iraqiya television that features live interrogations of Iraqi insurgents by commandos. In one recent show, Abu Walid questioned around 30 shabbily dressed suspects, some clutching photos of their victims, waiting to confess their crimes."

Nice guys these.

Bring the troops home.

AP:

"WASHINGTON -President Bush would have to start bringing home U.S. troops from Iraq by Oct. 1, 2006, under a measure a small bipartisan group of House lawmakers — including a Republican who voted for war — proposed Thursday.

Among the resolution's sponsors are Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C., who voted for the Iraq war but now says the United States has done what it can in Iraq and the reason for going to war —Saddam Hussein's alleged possession of weapons of mass destruction — has been proven false.

'After 1,700 deaths, over 12,000 wounded, and $200 billion spent, we believe it is time to have this debate and discussion on this resolution,' Jones said.

Two years ago, Jones helped lead an effort to ensure Capitol Hill cafeterias retooled their menus to advertise "freedom fries" instead of french fries to protest France's opposition to the war.

The other resolution sponsors are Ron Paul, R-Texas, who voted against the war, and two Democrats who've opposed it, Reps. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio and Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii."

Pretty powerful stuff. I feel a tipping point approaching.

The beat goes on...

APAP:

"The deaths of...six U.S. troops came Wednesday during insurgent attacks that killed 58 people, making it the deadliest day of violence in more than a month. At least 1,714 U.S. military members have died since the war began in 2003, according to an AP count.

Five Marines were killed after their vehicle was attacked near Ramadi, 70 miles west of Baghdad, the military said Thursday. Officials in Ramadi had reported a roadside bomb blast in the pre-dawn hours. [That's not the same 5 marines killed last thursday in the same manner.]

A sailor attached to the Marines' unit also was killed Wednesday in Ramadi by gunfire, the military said."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:46 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 15 June 2005
It's official: the war is pointless.
Topic: Iraq

Well, as usual I'm a a day late and a dollar short. Everybody has already seen the article in the Inquirer Generals: military can't end insurgency

It's a pretty startling admission by the generals in charge of fighting the war over there, who have been talking about he "desperation" of the insurgency for the past 5 months, to finally be coming out like General Casey did in the piece and say:

"The political process will be the decisive element."

Or, Brig. Gen. Donald Alston, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq, who said:

"I think the more accurate way to approach this right now is to concede that ... this insurgency is not going to be settled, the terrorists and the terrorism in Iraq is not going to be settled, through military options or military operations."

Now, what's going on here? Bush and Cheney are still droning on about the insurgency being in its "last throes" but the military is saying the war is pointless.

Lt. Col. Frederick P. Wellman is quoted as saying of the insurgency ""We can't kill them all...When I kill one I create three." (Should have thought about that before launching "operation phantom fury!")

Rummy must have given the ok for these interviews, so is he going off the reservation or what?

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:04 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 24 June 2005 4:23 PM EDT
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