Topic: General News.
This Able Danger story just won’t go away because the right wing conspiracy nuts won’t let it go. I thought the statement last week by both 9/11 commission leaders that there was nothing to these allegations would pretty much do it, but no.
9/11 commissioner Thomas Kean’s solution to this ongoing non-story is to put the Able Danger ball into the pentagon’s court. Kean says the pentagon should investigate the credibility of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer and the unnamed Navy officer who Curt Weldon says told him about Able Danger and report back to the commission. Up to now the pentagon has been reluctant to even admit Able Danger existed.
It will be interesting to see whether they come out with the real poop on Able Danger, which might also lead to more information about what these guys were really up to and what kind of data they were actually mining and who’s.
The AIPAC story:
The second highest-ranking US diplomat in Iraq has been named in an indictment against two former AIPAC employees accused of spying for Israel. David Satterfield has been identified as a US government official, or USGO-2, who revealed national security secrets to Steven Rosen who was a top lobbyist for AIPAC at the time. Even though Satterfield is not charged with anything, yet, he did give away secrets at two meetings with Rosen in 2002.
The NYT says, “Their meetings are listed as overt acts in a conspiracy to illegally communicate national defense secrets to a foreign government.” After a meeting on January 8, 2002 Rosen communicated what he had heard from USGO-2 to another official at AIPAC which the indictment says was “classified information.” Again on March 12, they talked about al-Qaeda. On March the 14th, Rosen “disclosed to an unidentified foreign official, FO-2,” the information he heard from USGO-2”
The indictment says besides Satterfield and Larry Franklin, already indicted, there were two other US officials that Rosen got secret information from. No one knows who these people are but one is called “DOD-B” (Feith? Wolfowitz?), and the other is USGO-1, who supposedly no longer works for the government.
More progress in Iraq:
This week, the US killed a number of Iraqis in a helicopter attack in Baghdad, 43 Iraqis waiting for buses to mainly Shiite destinations were killed in a triple car bombing at a bus terminal and at a hospital also in Baghdad, and four US soldiers were killed in an IED bombing yesterday in Samarra. More than 60 US troops have been killed in only 19 days of this month.
There still isn’t any sign that the delay in submitting the draft constitution to the National Assembly is going to make any difference in coming to an agreement on all the apparently intractable issues that have stymied the process thus far. The Kurds are sticking to their guns on their demand for autonomy and the de-Arabization of Kirkuk, and keeping their oil money. As for the Shiites, Ehsan Ahrari writes in the Asia Times Online that, “The leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Abdul Aziz Hakim, declared on Friday that, if the Kurds were to get their own federal state in the north, the Shi'ites should get theirs in the south.”
The Shiites fear the Sunnis and the Kurds teaming up to insist on a secular constitution. Ayatollah Ali Sistani is now behind the southern autonomy move because he wants the Koran to be not just a source of the law, but the actual law. “By having an autonomous region of their own, the Shi'ites are making sure that the primacy of Islam is guaranteed, at least in their region.”
All sides are playing a non sum game, which apparently hasn’t got through to W. who still thinks what he’s seeing here is “an example that difficult problems can be solved peacefully through debate.”
Judith S. Yaphe, a former CIA Iraq analyst at the National Defense University, is quoted in the WaPo as saying of this mess that, “We didn't calculate the depths of feeling in both the Kurdish and Shiite communities for a winner-take-all attitude.” A government official who wished to remain anonymous said, “We set out to establish a democracy, but we're slowly realizing we will have some form of Islamic republic."
What’s the hurry?
What I don’t get is what the rush is to get this constitution done now. There is a raging insurgency going on inside the country, which neither the Iraqi “government” nor the US military can get a handle on and now there’s a developing sectarian war being waged by Shiite elements being armed and funded by Iran.
The theory is that as soon as the country has a constitution and there is another election in December, the insurgents will put down their weapons and we can pack up and leave. None of this is going to happen. The US is putting the horse before the cart, I think, because usually these sorts of political agreements are made after hostilities cease. How can any constitution be viable while the Kurds and Shiites are trying to carve up the country into their own little fiefdoms and several foreign armies are roaming around blowing things up?
Republicans feeling queasy about ‘06
The NYT writes that the Republicans are getting a little worried that all the bad news coming out of Iraq might have an impact on the ’06 elections here. It sure would be nice if Bush could trumpet the success of another “turning point” in Iraq, declare victory and draw down our presence over there before the mid-terms. Grover Norquist says, “If Iraq is in the rear view mirror in the ’06 election, the republicans will do fine. But if it’s still in the windshield, there are problems.”
In analyzing the situation Adam Nagourney and David Kirkpatrick write that some Republicans “suggested that the White House was not handling the issue adroitly, saying its insistence that the war was going well was counterproductive. ‘Any effort to explain Iraq as ‘we are on track and making progress,’ is nonsense,’ Newt Gingrich said. The left has a constant drumbeat that this is Vietnam and a bottomless pit. The daily and weekly casualties leave people feeling that things aren’t going well.”
Of course, his answer is that Bush should push the “blood, seat and toil” angle against “the irreconcilable wing of Islam.” (You mean, the “go out and shop” strategy hasn’t worked?)
Right wing shrews getting desperate.
This may be the Ann Coulter and Michelle Malkin way of thinking, but its not going to wash this time. People are seeing a mother, Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son to this pointless war express her grief and outrage by camping outside the “Lazy W. Ranch” and demanding answers from the one who sent him to his death. The majority of Americans are getting sick and tired of the mounting casualties and even the bozos who supported the war because they thought gas for their Humvees would get cheaper are starting to say enough is enough.
The vicious attacks coming from the likes of Coulter on a woman who lost her son and then lost her marriage and now has to rush to her mother’s hospital bed after she suffered a stroke, is just beyond the pale to most people. The tide is turning on this issue and the tipping point is happening right on W.’s doorstep.
Early pull out is politically inevitable.
I predict no matter what happens with the Iraqi constitution the calls for withdrawal will soon become too loud for Bush to do anything else but pull out. Republican congressmen are already running away from W. as fast as they can because they’re afraid he’s going to drag them out of office.
There are notable exceptions, like Rick Santorum for instance. He apparently didn’t get the memo on the 7 Pennsylvania Guardsmen being killed in Iraq over the past week and the effect it’s having on politics in the state. Santorum’s token gay spokesman RobertTraynham read a statement by Santorum to the press responding to his likely opponent’s charge that he hasn’t taken the lead on raising questions about the war, “Doing what is best for this country is always good politics in terms of protecting us from evil dictators like Saddam Hussein.”
I hope he keeps that sort of rhetoric up because that’s just the sort of BS people are sick of hearing. Bringing up Saddam as a rationale for the war just reminds every one that there were no WMD.