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Lets's talk about democracy
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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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