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.
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.
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!