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Wednesday, 7 December 2005
Rummy's at it again!
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Rummy really out-did himself in a Speech to an audience at the John's Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies yesterday. Responding to the media furor over the revelation of pentagon having paid a PR firm to plant good news stories in the Iraqi media he said, "We've arrived at a strange time in this country where the worst about America and our military seems to so quickly be taken as truth by the press, and reported and spread around the world, often with little context and little scrutiny, let alone correction or accountability after the fact."

Well, he apparently didn't read the stories in the NYT or the LA Times which had plenty of context and scrutiny. But maybe, he's referring to the coverage of his assertions about the "immediate threat" of Saddam's WMD back in 2002 or the heroic rescue of Jessica Lynch which at the time got a lot of coverage but not much scrutiny or correction.

When stories came out hinting that all this might be a bunch of bull, they got considerably less coverage by the "liberal media." As long as Judith Miller and Bob Woodward are touting the party line Rummy is fine with the press, but when other less embedded reporters point to "crazy" stuff like torture, renditions, White Phosphorus or media campaigns bought and paid for by the pentagon, then suddenly the charge is we're not hearing the good news about Iraq. (The media hates the military.)

As regards his comments on the pentagon's shenanigans in pushing bogus news in Iraq, Rummy stood up like the brave leader he is and blamed the Lincoln Group: "Some people in the military signed a contract with a private contractor, and the private contractor is alleged to have written accurate stories, but paid someone in the Iraq media to carry the storey. Now, the question is, what did the contractor---was he implementing the policy properly?"

"Some people in the military?" He makes it sound like he's as much in the dark as the rest of us are. Isn't he in charge of the pentagon? The contractor was "alleged to have written accurate stories?" (That's what this is all about: writing accurate stories---silly press!) Actually, what they were doing, among other things, was taking entire paragraphs from other sources, printing them without attribution and changing certain passages to make them more flattering to the US and then paying Iraqi journalists to print them.

It seems Rummy sure has a lot of problems with contractors, what with the whole Halliburton overcharging the American taxpayer for millions and now this. He being such a big advocate of outsourcing the military’s logistics, support and intelligence functions might want to look a little closer into what these contractors are really up to. It's funny how neither Rummy or any top commanders in Iraq knew this was going on, yet Eric Schmitt found a quote back on Nov. 18th from Lt. Col. Steven Boylan, a military spokesman saying the pentagon's contract with the Lincoln Group was an attempt to "try to get stories out to publications that normally don't have access to those kind of stories." Why don't they have access to those kinds of stories and what kinds of stories are "those kinds of stories?" Does he mean the kind of stories that can only come from a PR firm on K Street?

Because I would think the Iraqis could get access to news stories just like everyone else does, through the newswires, without the Psychological Operations Dept.'s help, but the bigger concern is expressed by Michael Rubin who worked for the CPA in 2003 and 2004 who says the military is fighting with it hands tied in the information war and that terrorists and insurgents "replete with oil boom cash---do the same. We need an even playing field..." See, somehow, these terrorists are selling oil on the open market from their caves and ratlines and they're winning the war of hearts and minds because the military isn't allowed to control all the media.

Perhaps, we could just stop doing stupid things like torturing and killing detainees and leveling entire cities and stuff like that, for starters. Al-Qaeda didn't create Abu Ghraib, we did. They don't go kidnapping people off the streets of Europe and fly them to Syria to be tortured. We would have a much easier time of convincing the world that we really are the shining light of democracy and freedom if we didn't keep doing the opposite of what we profess to be fighting for.

On the Condi front: Stonewalling 101

http://writ.news.findlaw.com/mariner/20051207.html doing her part to scare everybody into submission. All this rendering and torturing we're doing (Though it’s not really torture unless a bodily organ is damaged or death occurs) is saving the lives of Europeans. The Romanians are pretty much convinced we didn't use their bases for detention and torture but former PM Adrian Nastase says, "There were some bases we put at the Americans' disposal. We can't know what happened there."

But regardless, the Romanians are being well rewarded for their "cooperation" with the U.S. and in an odd bit of timing Condi was able to secure the rights to use several bases in Romania which will be very lucrative for the impoverished country. One of the bases, Kogalniceau Air Base, had already been used in the days after 9/11 and this is the one Human Rights Watch says the CIA has made numerous trips to in their black planes. Asked about this, Condi was totally straightforward; "I am not going to talk about whether such activities take place. To do so would clearly be to get into a realm of discussion about supossed or purported intelligence activities and I simply won't do that."

Then, how about the one about mushroom clouds again: she was pretty forthcoming about all the intelligence on Saddam back in 2002. In any case, it will be interesting to see how she continues to duck every question on the grounds of protecting national security.

Program note:

Today, I got sucked in to responding to some really outrageous opinion pieces in the Inquirer, which I normally don't do, but it's taken me so long to write them that I don't really have much time for my usual snarky comments about the news of the day. Therefore, please avail yourselves of my smartass critiques of Kathleen Parker and someone called Nassim Yaziji at Non Sum Dignus.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:22 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005 4:55 PM EST
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Monday, 5 December 2005
Condi comes out fighting!
Topic: War on Terror

[AP]Condi is off for a fence mending trip to old Europe today in an effort to blunt criticism that the US has been using European airports to fly rendered terror suspects around the world and in some cases has secretly detained these suspects in Eastern European countries. TheNYT reports she, "chastised Europe leaders today, saying that before they complain about secret jails for terror suspects in European nations, they should realize that interrogations of these suspects have produced information that helped 'save European lives.'"

That's rich, she's blaming them for the whole thing! So, we kidnap some European citizens and fly them to undisclosed locations around the world, we're trying to save your lives!!!

Steven Hadley---Mr. 16-words---said yesterday on FOX that on her trip she will be addressing European concerns "in a comprehensive way" and her main message will be, "Look, we are all threatened by terror. We need to cooperate in its solution." Which means; its our way or the highway: this is a game for big boys and you have to play along with us and cut out all this whining about human rights and don't even think about letting all those official investigations into these allegations go anywhere because we'll say you were in on it too.

For its part the US is "cooperating" in the war on terror with its European allies by complying with US law (The way we interpret it.) and Hadley says, "We respect the sovereignty of the countries with which we deal." (Yeah right, ask the Italians and Spaniards about that.)

The most important point to keep in mind over all this torture nonsense is that, "We do not move people around the world so they can be tortured." Just because the US has actually admitted they made a mistake by kidnapping an innocent German citizen on vacation in Macedonia and rendered him to Afghanistan where he was tortured while being interrogated, this shouldn't be any cause for skepticism on the part of our allies, [WaPo] because when people go over the line; "The pattern is very clear. We investigate them aggressively, where appropriate charges are brought and people are punished...and procedures are changed to try and reduce the likelihood of mistakes in the future." So, even though there are dozens of known cases of suspects being killed while under the benevolent care of the CIA at these "black sites" around the world, the fact that no one has been brought up on charges, or is ever likely to be; just the very fact that we say this happens should be enough. You can take our word for it. [HRW]

Iraqi prisoner probe put on hold?

Just as we should take the word of Iraqi PM al-Jaafari that the investigation into the discovery of the detention and torture of hundreds of Sunni prisoners in the basement of an Interior Ministry facility on Nov 15 would be completed in two weeks. What, the deadline has passed and the investigation hasn't been completed? That's strange, I would think since the ones behind this are most likely in the government, they wouldn’t have to look too far to find the perpetrators, but what do I know? [AP]

Report the good news!

So, what about all the good news coming out of Iraq, why don’t the liberal media ever focus on that? Rummy says Americans should be optimistic about the way things are going in Iraq and not rely on media reports to the contrary. "To be responsible, one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks." [AP]

He should know, he's got his own media operation going on and it's a lot more balanced! A recent story written by an Iraq heaped scorn on those in the "western press and frequently those self styled 'objective' observers of Iraq [who] are often critics of how we, the people of Iraq, are proceeding down the path in determining what is best for our nation." Yeah, right on! Freedom is on the march to victory in Iraq, they don't need some media elite flunky in the US telling them what's up.

Well, it appears they do, because this was a portion of a story board written by a PR firm, the Lincoln Group, hired by the pentagon to plant pro-US propaganda in the Iraqi press to push the US line that everything is A-OK in Iraq. A report cited by the NYT from the pentagon task force on strategic communication of the Defense Science Board revealed that the government had a "fundamental problem of credibility" (Imagine that!) and called for a reinvention and expansion of its information programs. The Times said the US paid the Lincoln Group[ $5 million for the purpose of, "accurately informing the Iraqi people of American goals and gaining their support." The article by Jeff Gerth and Scott Shane goes on to say, though, that it wasn't all about simply setting the record straight: "But while meant to provide reliable information, the effort was also intended to use deceptive techniques, like payments to sympathetic 'temporary spokespersons' who would not necessarily be identified as working for the coalition...in addition the document called for the development of 'alternate or diverting messages' which divert media and public attention' to 'deal instantly with the bad news of the day.'" (What bad news?)

That's sort of what Scott McClellan does every day, so I don't see what the big deal is.

Bloggers beware!

One of the problems with "priming the pump" of the Iraqi media was brought up in a Knight/Ridder article: "'There is no 'local' media anymore,' said a senior military official in Baghdad who has knowledge of American psychological operations in Iraq. 'All media is potentially international. The Web makes it all public.'" This leads me to wonder if a lot of the stuff I see on blogs that claim to post messages from "real Iraqis" who are trumpeting the wonders of the American occupation aren't simply products of the Lincoln Group or US Psy-Ops officers. All you bloggers out there should be careful about who you let post about the "real" conditions Iraqis are living in.

Two good news stories:

An AP story on Dec. 4 from Samarra reports that,” After keeping their distance for months, Iraqis in this Sunni Arab city suddenly began cooperating with US troops, leading them to insurgents and hidden weapons caches. The reason: anger over the killing by insurgents of a local tribal chief."

The report by Antonio Castaneda says the reason for the killing of Sheikh Hikmat Mumtaz al-Bazi was either because of his connection to the US, which isn't spelled out, or "a contract dispute over a US funded project." In any case, "'That's when they decided to take a stand,' said Capt. Ryan Wylie, commander of Bravo Company, Third Battalion, 69th Armored Regiment. '"They defiantly had an idea of the terrorists and where they hang out." Even though Castaneda writes that, "almost everyone agrees that the biggest reduction in violence here is public backlash against the insurgents after the Oct. 11th killing, "he doesn't quote any locals, so it's kind of difficult to know what the people who live in Samarra really thinking or what's really going on. The piece doesn't mention whether the reporter is embedded with Bravo Company, but one assumes he is because I doubt it's safe enough in Samarra for him to just go out and talk to people on his own without a heavily armed escort.

According to this report, attacks are down to one or two a day, from seven a day before, so the US has pulled out two thirds of its troops and replaced them with Iraqi paramilitary commandos, who are most likely Peshmerga or Shiites. [Its funny this story comes out right after W. gets done with his big speech on his strategy for victory which is based on replacing US troops with Iraqis and Rummy's touting of all the tips their getting all of a sudden from Iraqis around the country. Weird, isn't it?]

In another good news story, Nancy Youseff of the Inquirer Foreign Staff writes that Iraqi troops on the Syrian border got a visit by the US and Iraqi brass to praise their progress in securing the area. "Gen. George Casey Jr., the American commander in Iraq, joined Iraqi Defense Minister Sadoun al-Dulaimi (A certifiable Looney.) and about 35 Iraqi officers who are in charge of guarding the Iraqi-Syrian border for a ceremony timed to coincided with Presidents Bush's speech yesterday..."

It seems in the aftermath of Operation Steel Curtain, the border is pretty much secured and the surrounding towns are all under control and are rapidly being manned by Iraqi security forces who are set to take over any time now. Soon, we won't be hearing any more about multiple casualties in a single attack from this part of the country, just like what happened after Fallujah II. The ten Marines who were killed this week on patrol around Fallujah was just an anomaly, I'm sure.

Democracy on the march around the world!

While we'll be hearing a lot about the "veneer" of democracy in Venezuela we probably won't be hearing too much about Kazakhstan’s presidential elections which returned Condi's old friend from her Chevron days, Nursultan Nazarbayev, to office with 85% of the vote. [NYT]

[AP]Meanwhile in Venezuela the elections there which saw big gains for the ruling party will be seen by the main stream media as less legitimate because the opposition decided to boycott the vote claiming they'd be robbed anyway. Or, it could be because they wanted to discredit the process to make Hugo Chavez look like more of a dictator? "Maria Corina Machado, who leads the U.S.-backed vote watchdog group Sumate, called the vote 'illegitimate.'

"We are going to have a single party parliament that doesn't represent ample sectors of society," she said in a statement.'" Well, of course, she's say that, since Sumate is getting its funding from the US. Why don't we see any US funded democracy groups operating in Kazakhstan? Oh, right, Nazarbayev is something less than a dictator of the Cental Asian mold. He's a good guy with a lot of oil as opposed to Chavez who is anti-democratic, even though his elections are actually compeditive when the opposition doesn't decide not to participate.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:19 PM EST
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Wednesday, 30 November 2005
Mapping out a strategy?
Topic: Bush Administraiton

Today W. launched the administration's new PR blitz to convince everybody that things really are going great in Iraq and that, "artificial timetables by politians in Washington" for a pullout is a bad idea. He spoke at the Naval Academy in Annapolis MD where he was assured of a raucous welcome by a captive audience of Navy and Marine cadets. [AP] (Besides speaking at GOP fund raisers and military bases he doesn't get out into the public much these days.) He thanked them for showing up---as if they had any choice---and made a joke about getting them out of class for an hour. [That's pretty funny, because there's no doubt he played plenty of hooky in his day, though, I doubt these future leaders of the Navy will have the same opportunity to get by on a gentleman's C just for showing up with their elite pedigree.]

This "major policy speech" on Iraq was pretty much of a dud. It was basically a rehashing of the same old tired dribble with an emphasis on the mythical Iraqi security forces taking up the fight against "rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists." I didn't hear any willingness to admit mistakes (Which are different from "experiences.") or hear anything about what we're going to do about getting out of there any time soon. Arming and training Iraqis to 'stand up so we can stand down' isn't anything new. This sounds like the same "strategy" he had back in June in a speech at Fort Bragg (But without the creepy silence.).

Back then he said, "Thousands more (of Iraqis) have stepped forward, and are now in training to serve their nation. And that is why a major part of our mission is to train them so they can do the fighting and then our troops can come home." Sound familiar? (Remember, "this will take time and patience.")

After that speech, even "conservative" commentators were disappointed by his failure to offer anything new to rally public support, but this time I'm sure they'll be falling all over themselves to say what a great speech it was and how he's finally spelled out a strategy for victory.

The right wing elite punditry will be relieved that he's actually come out and said something---anything---about the war. They've been screaming for months that Bush had to start defending the war in the face of the onslaught of Democratic and Republican criticism in congress and public opinion polls showing only minimal support for the continuation of the war. They've argued that the silence from the White House has allowed the opposition to control the "conversation" and the president had to reshape the debate. It may be too late, though; the tipping point may have come when John Murtha made his call for troops to be withdrawn within six months, basically articulating what most people are feeling about the constant reports of suicide bombings and mounting casualties that enough is enough!

Murtha let the cat out of the bag on the bogus nature of this conflict of choice and I doubt this speech, or any others that are planned for the coming weeks, are going to gain much traction with the majority of the public now convinced the whole thing is a big mess based on a big lie. The right hopes the toothpaste can be put back into the tube; however, speeches can only do so much when no one is listening.

Regardless of which way the public goes on this, the only conversation W. is having is with his hardcore base, not to the rest of the country. All the talk about freedom and terrorism will reverberate on all the news programs tonight and the right wing echo chamber will go into full carpet bomb mode. The intention is to shift the debate away from withdrawal and toward his assertions about the numbers of Iraqi battalions ready to "take the lead" in the fight, etc. and the hope is the public will zone out on the various arguments going back and forth and will just accept that there are legions of Iraqi soldiers ready to stand up so we can stand down.

What won't be discussed is the idea of immediate withdrawal, because that's just crazy talk and deeply irresponsible! (Just ask Darth Cheney, you can trust him.) Even columnists on the "left" like Trudy Rubin and Leonard Pitts are doing their part by going along with the accepted "responsible" opinion---the only one that's allowed to be aired---that, even though, yes, the war is a mess and it was foisted on us by "exaggerations"---not lies---we have to stay as long as it takes to get Iraq stable. The consensus of the elite punditry on the left and the right is that Bush has been forced to face facts by the polls and Murtha and he has no choice but to adjust his policies toward a more sensible approach to the war. A precipitous pullout would lead to a disaster in Iraq and we have to just trust that W. will do the right thing. But, he's not going to, it's just more of the same, nothing has changed.

So, while we discuss Iraqi troop levels and the merits of staying the course, the reasonable and responsible thing to do is go along with the president as he calls for another $3.9 billion to help train and buy materiel for the Iraqi security forces, this on top of the $10 billion already requested for the war next year. Above and beyond this costly price tag there are all the troops and equipment we're losing that can't be replaced for years, if ever. At some point or another we'll need the military for actually defending the country, but all the best and most experienced of our troops are getting killed and maimed over there and for what? "A democratic Iraq which will inspire reformers from Damascus to Tehran?" (But not from Cairo to Baku.)

What's really irresponsible is to ask our most patriotic and dedicated men and women to keep going back to Iraq, again and again, because we don't have a big enough military. It's not fair to expect these people to have to put their lives on hold for years, to maybe lose their marriages, their jobs, their limbs or their lives for an abstraction. People will fight indefinably to protect home and hearth, but not for a struggle against an ideology.

We have to get out of Iraq now, not in four or five years. We don't have the personnel or the money to sustain this level of involvement indefinably. The old adage that things that can't continue won't is apt in this situation. We'll get out of this mess either on our own terms, or we'll be forced into leaving by our own inability to fight anymore and that's an eventuality that we really can't afford.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:43 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 30 November 2005 2:54 PM EST
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Monday, 28 November 2005
DU is no Willy Pete.
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is at it again, this time suggesting that members of the Bush administration should be tried for war-crimes. He said this week, "You who have used nuclear weapons against innocent people, who have used uranium ordinance in Iraq should be tried as war criminals in courts."

This guy is a total whack job and as I've said before he's not doing the Iranian government any favors in its fight with the IAEA over what it sees as its right to have nuclear power. With every moronic utterance he's speeding up his inevitable untimely departure. Case in point: for a third time the parliament has rejected his nominee for oil minister and the NYT writes that a member of parliament said his,"inability to form a cabinet was laying the groundwork for his impeachment."

He's finding the most serious opposition to his policies is coming from conservatives who are now saying the matter of the appointment of an oil minister will have to be resolved by the Guardian Council or the Expediency Council. It difficult to see Ahmadinejad hanging around much longer if he keeps this up.

What most interested me about this AP story by Nasser Karimi was how Depleted Uranium (DU) was described as "far less radioactive than natural uranium" and how after DU artillery shells are fired, "the shells melt, vaporize and turn to dust." The idea that DU is somehow this harmless substance that disappears after use is just a total misstatement of the facts. The dust left over has this nasty habit finding its way into drinking water and into people's lungs.

For example, the very liberal New York Daily News did a story a while back on four soldiers from a New York Army National Guard company serving in Iraq, who the paper found were, "contaminated with radiation likely caused by dust from depleted uranium shells fired by U.S. troops, a Daily News investigation has found.

They are among several members of the same company, the 442nd Military Police, who say they have been battling persistent physical ailments that began last summer in the Iraqi town of Samawah."

If we're not concerned about Iraqi children we should at least care that our guys over there are being made ill by this and the pentagon acts like nothing is wrong. Hopefully, we'll find out what's what before these poor bastards have to spend the rest of their lives trying to get the military to come clean on DU like Vietnam vets poisoned by Agent Orange.

The debate about DU has been a long one and the pentagon has gone out of its way to make it sound like its no biggie but there is a lot out there to cause concern. Dan Fahey's, "Science or Science Fiction? Facts, Myths and Propaganda in the Debate Over Depleted Uranium Weapons", March 12, 2003 is a good place to start to get some idea of what we're dealing with.

He writes that, "According to a recent article in the Journal of Environmental Radioactivity, children playing with soil may be identified as the critical population group [for DU exposure], with inhalation and/or ingestion of contaminated soil as the critical pathway.35

Once inside the body, DU may cause harm due to its chemical toxicity and/or alpha radiation. Laboratory studies on rats indicate short-term effects of internal exposure to DU may include kidney damage, while long-term effects may include cancer, central nervous system problems, immune system disorders and reproductive effects.36 Given that a ten to 30 year lag may exist after a persons exposure to DU dust and the development of cancer,37 it is possible that effects may manifest over time.

Few humans exposed to DU have been studied, therefore little is known about the effects DU has had or may have in the future on exposed populations.

Also, "Article Collection: Depleted Uranium (2002-2004)" is an excellent resource.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:15 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 28 November 2005 5:18 PM EST
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Wednesday, 23 November 2005
Program note:
Mood:  d'oh
For some reason the computer I've been using won't post to this blog, so I transfered this week's tirade to Non Sum Dignus. Please go there for your daily dose of bull.

I will resume posting here as soon as I find out what the heck is going on.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:53 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005 2:57 PM EST
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Wednesday, 16 November 2005
Willy Pete and timelines and benchmarks.
Topic: Iraq

AFP reports the US military is defending its use of Willy Pete (White Phosphorus) during "shake and bake" missions in Fallujah last November. "'It's part of our conventional weapons inventory. We use it like we use any other conventional weapon,' said Bryan Whitman, a Pentagon spokesman. Whitman said he had no knowledge of any civilian victims of attacks with white phosphorus.

'We don't target any civilians with any of our weapons, and to suggest US forces were targeting civilians with these weapons would be wrong,' he said."

Yeah, right, seizing the main hospital wasn't targeting civilans either. In any case, how could they tell who this stuff was falling on when they were using it? Its been pretty well established in this war that telling civilans apart from insurgents is a little difficult.

But enough of that bleeding heart stuff, on to the battle of Hue!

"A report on the battle of Fallujah published in April in the army journal Field Artillery said white phosphorous "proved to be an effective and versatile munition" in Fallujah.

'We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE (high explosives),' said the report."

Lieutenant Colonel Barry Venable, another Pentagon spokesman, "It has been used in armies the world over for most the past century, I believe." Yeah, the Nazis probably used it too, so what's the big deal?

Slow poke to China:

W. is off to the Far East, where he will no doubt hope to escape the crumbling masonry of his administration crashing down on his head. China might not be far enough away, though, to get away from the consequences of his serial bungling. He did get off a parting shot at his Democratic detractors, however, on a fueling stop in Alaska---in front of a captive audience of soldiers---where he accused Democrats of giving mixed signals to our troops and the insurgents. That's rich, pull out the old 'my critics are giving the enemy aid and comfort,' bugaboo instead of actually answering the criticism that he fabricated and distorted pre-war intelligence, which is finding a lot of traction with a majority of Americans these days. He repeated the assertion that Democrats who voted for the war are now "rewriting history" and he's frankly shocked---shocked!---that they would play politics with the war in Iraq. (Lord knows Karl Rove has never used the war on terrorism as a political baseball bat to beat the Democrats with!)

The right wing pundits have apparently been given their talking points, because I've heard this claim that the Democrats who spoke "truth" then are "speaking politics now." Scott McClellan got the ball rolling last Sunday saying both Republicans and Democrats, including those in the Clinton administration,” came to the conclusion, that Saddam Hussein was a threat and a threat that needed to be addressed." It's funny that an administration that was so hell bent on wiping any evidence of the Clinton administration off the map---going so far as to immediately yank the DC "taxation without representation" license plate off the presidential limo---are now constantly invoking his name in their desperate attempts to save their asses. Before he was "Slick Willy, "a liar who couldn't be trusted with your teenage daughter, now all of a sudden, he's up there with W. in the great pantheon of terror fighters.

The claim that Clinton saw Saddam as a threat that needed to be dealt with was furthered by Rummy who joined the fight by quoting Sandy Berger's warning of Saddam's intention to use WMD if he was given a chance, out of context, and citing the fact that Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, but failed to mention that Bubba was basically forced into it by Republican pressure during the Lewinsky scandal and never had any intention of following through. The Clinton administration policy was containment always, never a violent overthrow of Saddam's regime. And I do seem to remember that when the inspectors "were forced out" and the US bombed Baghdad, the right wingers all accused Clinton of the tail wagging the dog, trying to distract the public's attention away from his very serious blow job problems. (Can't have it both ways guys.)

Anyway, if congress in 2002 hadn't had to rely on that shoddy production Bush & Co. called a National Security Estimate, which consisted of faulty conclusions and information partly provided by drunks and liars masquerading as Iraqi "defectors," perhaps they would have asked more questions instead of willingly swallowing their tripe and then asking for seconds. It didn't help that most polities in congress are by nature spineless weasels and were played like a Stradivarius by the Chalabi/Miller echo chamber orchestrated from the bowels of Cheney's bat cave to perfect effect. I do recall seeing some brave Democrats standing on the steps of congress with hundreds of bags of mail written by their constituents pleading with them not to allow this illegal war, but the media hardly noticed.

Congressional rebels!

Lucky W. is out of town, because the Senate voted 79-19 to require the administration to give three month updates on what they're doing to get us out of Iraq and that 2006 should be, "a period of significant transition to Iraqi sovereignty." The Republicans just rewrote the Democratic bill and took out the part about a timetable, which Dan Bartlett spun into a positive. (These guys really have no shame!) Lindsay Graham said, "We want to get into the ball game, we're off the sidelines." Well, better late than never (About 2,070 dead too late), I guess, but it would have been nice if instead of waiting for public support to go south they had exercised the traditional "role of the Congress in war time," before the war had started. Republican Senator Chuck Hagel called for Bush to start drawing down troops levels next year. And as for Rummy and the right wing smear campaign, "Each American has a right to question our policies in Iraq and elsewhere and should not be demonized or condemned for disagreeing with," the administration. Yeah, right on!

Along with this provision added into the Defense appropriation bill Lindsay Graham's Habeas Corpus stripping rule was toned down, now allowing detainees to challenge their "enemy combatant" status and appeal any ruling in the so-called military tribunals. McCain's ban against cruel and inhuman treatment is also included, all of which has to be hashed out in conference, which will be interesting considering that Bush has said he will veto the entire Defense spending bill if these items are included. How afraid of voter backlash over the war Congress is should drive the debate, I would think. The dream scenario is; all these provisions are kept in and W.'s veto is overturned. (Will never happen.)

Israel:

The Israeli Captain R., who shot a 13 year old Palestinian girl 15 times in the face, has been cleared of all charges by a military court in the Oct. 5, 2004 incident near Rafah. The BBC reports,"The army says it accepts the commander's claim that he fired into the ground near the girl after coming under fire in a dangerous area. It has not explained why the officer shot into the ground rather than at the source of the fire."

Well, if nothing else he should be cashiered for being a terrible shot. How do you manage to empty your magazine into a girl's face and claim you didn't mean to do it?

In Bush administration scandal news:

Former CPB chairman Kenneth Tomlinson violated the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967 according to CPB Inspector General Kenneth Konz. AP says, "There was evidence the report said to suggest that "political tests" or qualifications were used as a major factor in the hiring of the new CPB president Patricia S. Harrison, in violation of federal rules...The report also faulted Tomlinson for hiring a consultant to review program content on PBS shows such as Now With Bill Moyers. Konz said Tomlinson did not obtain proper authorization from the board for the consultant's $20,000 contract. The consultant kept track of whether guests on the shows were "anti- or pro-Bush" and "anti- or pro-Tom DeLay," the report said." (Why does every sctechy political maneuver always have DeLay's name attached to it?)

Unfortunatly, breaking this law doesn't bring any criminal penalties. If he had been still working for the CPB he could have been sanctioned, but in this instance he gets off scott free.

In Iraq:

While the Senate is calling for the US to hurry up and train Iraqi military and police forces, news is out that US troops of the Third Infantry Division found by accident 173 Iraq detainees who had been malnourished and tortured in an Iraqi detention facility in the Jadriyah section of the capital. [AP] Surprisingly, all the prisoners appeared to be Sunnis and their captures, members of the Badr Brigade. This follows the news that the Wolf Brigade, another Shiite militia, has been busy rounding up hundreds of "suspects," also Sunnis, in the northeast province of Diyala.

In any case, the Interior Ministry's undersecretary of security, Maj. Gen. Hussein Kamal, told Reuters: "They were being abused. This is totally unacceptable treatment. I saw signs of physical abuse by brutal beating, one or two detainees were paralyzed, and some had skin peeling off various parts of their bodies. I've never seen a situation like this during the past two years in Baghdad. This is the worst." No doubt this won’t be the last. If the US soldiers hadn't been following up on a missing 15 year old, they never would have found them and they would have most likely followed their predecessors into ditches around town with their hands bound and bullets in the back of their heads.

Have no fear, PM Ibrahim Jaafari vows to lanch a thourough investigation. A deputy PM has been put in charge of looking into this incident and a wider inquiry into prisons condition will be led by "ministers and other figure," Jafaari. Wow, don't you feel better now? I hope none of those ministers are associated with Sciri, because besides being a large part of the government also happen to be the political wing of the Badr brigade.

The real question is how much pressure the US is going to put on the Iraqis to clean up their act. I'm going to guess, not too much. We've spent all this time arming these thugs and pushing them to take charge, we're not about to start arresting their commanders who are up to their ears in torture and extra judicial killings.

[See this blog for info on what are now militias but will be later called 'freedom fighters.}

Posted by bushmeister0 at 2:01 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 21 November 2005 3:17 PM EST
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Monday, 14 November 2005
Husaybah under control? Operstion truth curtain continues.
Topic: Iraq

This link from Madtom says Colonel Stephen W. Davis, the Commander of Marine Regimental Combat Team - 2 currently operating in western Iraq and engaged in Operation Steel Curtain in the border town of Husaybah, claims:

"Husaybah has been cleared and secured. Coalition forces are now conducting combat patrols. Construction is underway for basing of Iraqi and U.S. troops to maintain a permanent presence in the city, and provide security. We had a real good plan, but the execution was even better. I am pleased with the results of Operation Steel Curtain."

As I wrote back in May, Husaybah has been a thorn in the military's side since the beginning of the occupation. Husaybah is the entry point to the Ramadi/Fallujah pipeline that supplies the foreign insurgency. Ramadi is hardly secure and Fallujah, despite being leveled and depopulated back in November, is still not secure, so news of Husaybah being under control is just slightly questionable.

Bugging out?

According to AP: "Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Chalabi said Friday that U.S. troops could begin leaving in significant numbers sometime next year." Wasn't this guy just is DC getting feted by all his neocon freinds? Doesn't this statement kind of undermine Bush's insistence that timelines help the insurgency? Does this have anything to do with conversations he's had with top officials in the administration? Very odd.

John Kerry called for the pull out of 20,000 troops after the Dec. 15th elections, but the pentagon said they'd go back to their "baseline" of 135,000, down from the current 160,000, or so, so I don't see that Kerry's arimatic adds up, what difference would his plan make?

John McCain, on the other hand, is calling for 10,000 extra troops to get a hold of the situation over there, but will 10,000 more cause things to change one way or the other?

Tony B-liar says British troops might pull by the end of next year, which dovetails with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani saying 8,500 British soldiers could be gone by the end of 2006. "8,500 British soldiers could be gone by the end of 2006," B-liar says, if, "the job is done.
." [Reuters]

Has he passed this by W.? This assumes of course, B-liar is still PM when 2006 come around.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:24 PM EST
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We won't torture! Suuuure we won't, wink, wink.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

I'm back! Man, it’s been a weird week and I haven't been able to write at all. I hope all two of you who read this blog will come back occasionally to check up on what is going to be a very uneven posting schedule for a while.

Since I last posted, I have yet to see anything in the mainstream press about the chemical weapons in Fallujah story. Its good to see, though, W. has at least said that "we don't torture," although one has to wonder, if this is such an absurd notion, why he feels the need to say it in the first place. The whole Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, "black site," controversy is all just an aberration, I'm sure. We have to keep in mind that we're dealing with an enemy that "lurks and plots and plans and wants to hurt America again." (Why is it whenever I hear him say, "hurt America again," it always makes me think he's talking about child abuse?) You can bet, "we'll aggressively pursue them, but we'll do so under the law."

That will be quite a departure from the current policy. The trick is to rewrite the laws to make anything they feel like doing legal from now on. This is why while the administration talks about following the law, they've got Cheney going up to Capital Hill to strong arm the senate into exempting the CIA from John McCain's defense bill provision to ban torture and Lindsay Graham---who should know better---is trying to get congress to pass a law preventing the courts from ruling on any aspect of our detainee policies, except for narrow procedural questions, saying basically that Habeas Corpus doesn't apply to detainees at Gitmo anymore. (So, Habeas Corpus is one of the oldest and most fundamental underpinnings of our basic freedoms, big deal, we're fighting people who don't care about that, so we have to act more like them!)

All these frivolous lawsuits are totally unnecessary! "It’s not fair to our troops fighting in the war on terror to be sued in every court in the land by our enemies based on every possible complaint," says Graham. What the hell is he talking about? Which soldiers are being sued and wouldn't this sort of thing tend to endanger our troops in the future if we set the international standard for prisoner treatment by saying no laws apply? Every possible complaint?: From what I understand all the detainees are asking for is a hearing to determine whether their ongoing confinement is justified.

There seems to be a bit of a conundrum involving our war aims: on the one hand, we're losing about 3 soldiers a day and spending a billion dollars a month in Iraq trying to spread our form of democracy around the world---which includes everyone having the right to their day in court---but on the other hand we're denying the most basic legal rights of our great democracy to the detainees at Gitmo on the pretext that since they aren't on US territory they aren't entitled to them.

Five democrats voted for Graham's bill:

-Joseph I. Lieberman of Connecticut
-Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana
-Ben Nelson of Nebraska
-Kent Conrad of North Dakota
-Ron Wyden of Oregon

Shame on them!

[The New York Times - Freedom And Human Rights]


Leaders against terror to get the boot?

Things aren't going well for Tony B-liar and W. in their war on terror these days. Last week B-liar's draconian terror laws were voted down in the House of Commons, with many of his Labour MPs turning against him. Questions are now being raised about whether he can continue to stay in power after being so weakened by his lying about the war. His entire legislative agenda is in danger now that he's basically suffered a massive vote of no confidence by his own party.

The same could be said about W.’s agenda. Congressional Republicans weren’t even able to force through their big budget slashing bill last week, which before the elections on Tuesday seemed to be a sure thing.

W. showing up in the 11th hour to support Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore for governor of Virginia didn't help. Peter Baker in the WaPo wrote before the vote that, the White House decided at the last moment to reroute W.’s plane from his very successful trip to the Summit of the America’s in the hope that a Kilgore victory might revive Bush’s political corpse. Baker quotes Scott Reed, a Republican strategist who ran Robert J. Dole's presidential campaign in 1996 as saying, “They're going to own the results either way, so why not land the plane? If Kilgore wins, the president's political heart keeps beating. At the same time, given Bush's broader problems,” Reed said, "it doesn't change the dynamics."

No, indeed, the dynamics are still pretty bad. A new poll out has Bush’s approval rating at about 36%; that’s pretty low and two thirds now find him untrustworthy. His party is running away from him as fast as they can. As already noted by many pundits, the Democratic win in New Jersey wasn’t such a big shocker, but it is significant that John Corzine attacked Doug Forrester’s link to Bush, showing pictures of the two together while at the same time using a speech in which Clinton, of all things, praised the democrat. When a democrat can win an election in any state using Clinton as a cheer leader, you know the Republican’s have problems.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:39 PM EST
Updated: Monday, 14 November 2005 3:44 PM EST
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Wednesday, 9 November 2005
Meet Willy Pete all over again.
Topic: U.S. Military issues.

I worte back in April about Marines using Willy Pete, or White Phosphorus, on Fallujah at my other blog---Non Sum Dignus---but the news is so much worse than I could have thought.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica is reporting Willy Pete, "was used as a chemical weapon in the rebel stronghold of Fallujah. And it was used not only against enemy combatants and guerrillas, but again innocent civilians."

RAI News 24 has broadcast, "video and photographs taken in the Iraqi city during and after the November 2004 bombardment which prove that the US military, contrary to statements in a December 9 communiqu? from the US Department of State, did not use phosphorus to illuminate enemy positions (which would have been legitimate) but instend dropped white phosphorus indiscriminately and in massive quantities on the city's neighborhoods."

See indymedia.ie for links to Video and pix. See also Phillybits for instant pix which are extremely graphic.

This is just breaking so I'll be back later. See Non Sum Dignus for lots of links and background on this story.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:45 PM EST
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Friday, 4 November 2005
Dear W., don't come home.
Topic: Bush Administraiton

A few days ago I asked how long W. could stay out of DC while his administration implodes and it turns out it might be for quite a while. He's going to be traveling for pretty much the whole month of November. That's a good piece of timing because a new Post-ABC News poll came out today and among the mostly very negative opinions people have of the administration, one of the most troubling for the brains behind Bush has to be this one:

"A clear majority -- 55 percent -- now says the administration deliberately misled the country in making its case for war with Iraq -- a conflict that an even larger majority say is not worth the cost.

About 3 in 4 -- 73 percent -- say there have been an unacceptable level of casualties in Iraq."

That's a pretty bad combo; too much lying and too much dying.

Living in the Americas:

According to the AP Bush is having no troubles at all finding common ground with his fellow hemospheric leaders at the Summit of the Americas. He told Argentine President Nestor Kirchner that Manu Ginobili from, a guard for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association, has made, "A vital contribution to a basketball team from the state in which I live. But he's also a good ambassador for your country." Well, at least we can all agree on that. Before he met Bush, Kirschner said that he would "win by a knockout" in his discussions with Dubya. Hugo Chavez said he might sneak up behind W. and scare him and thousands of demostrators yelled "Bush get out!" So, all in all, it looks like this summit will be as sucessful as the last one in Chile when Bush had to rescue his body guard..

Where's the money?

The WaPo reports:

"Two months after the government began allotting billions of dollars for disaster relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, subcontractors in the Mississippi Gulf Coast say they are not being paid. As a result, they say, they cannot pay their workers, who are mostly immigrant laborers and who have painted homes, removed debris and completed other salvage chores."

A subcontractor of a company controlled by Halliburton Co., which was awarded a no-bid contract for disaster relief work by the Bush administration, is still waiting to get paid. According to the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, "150 immigrant workers, both legal and illegal," are waiting on $100,000 in unpaid wages.

If they think they have it bad, they should talk to the foreign workers Halliburton exploits in Iraq!

Naturally the government is getting right on this problem, right?

Not so much: "Spokesmen for the Department of Homeland Security and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which oversees about $50 billion in hurricane relief, said they were unaware that subcontractors and workers were not being paid. The U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which hired contractors for debris removal, did not respond to a request for a comment.

Tamara Faulkner, a spokeswoman for the inspector general's office at DHS, which is responsible for overseeing more than 100 disaster relief contracts, said the issue has not been mentioned in reports."

Posted by bushmeister0 at 12:54 PM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 9 November 2005 2:58 PM EST
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