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Friday, 30 September 2005
Principles and governance.
Topic: General News.

Big news today: Judith Miller is out of jail. She is going to testify to the grand jury investigating the leaking of a CIA agent’s name about what Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff, told her about Valerie Plame and Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger.

She says that by going to jail rather than reveling a source she was upholding a time honored journalistic principle. What she didn’t explain is why she spent 85 days in an Alexandria lock up (Wasn’t she in a DC jail before?) when she could have testified, because Libby signed a waiver for her to do so.

Libby’s lawyer said, “ We were very surprised to learn this had anything to do with us and wish we had known this earlier, that it was her position that she wanted to talk to Libby directly.” (Do these guys read the newspaper?) He said Miller’s lawyer approached him last month to ask if Miller could ask Libby if the waiver was genuine and not coerced. By and by, she was able to get the ok from Scooter and here we are.

This all is kind of fishy to me, there’s something defiantly rotten in Denmark. Knowing Miller’s connection to the neo-cons (John Bolton visited her in prison.) and their agenda it’s not a big surprise that her lawyer says he expects her testimony to be consistent with what other journalists have said and that it will “be helpful to him,” meaning Libby.

Yes, that’s what this was all about; journalistic principle and helping Libby and Rove avoid an indictment. She’s done her job; I can see a plumb ambassadorial appointment to Liechtenstein in her future, can’t you just?

In other Bush administration scandal news:

Lawrence Franklin, the pentagon analyst indicted on charges of giving classified documents to two AIPAC officials, will plead guilty in a plea agreement next Wednesday. All along he had professed his innocence, but now it seems he’s decided to play ball with the government and will, no doubt, testify against the two AIPAC officials Steven Rosen and Keith Weissman.

These two are charged with conspiring to obtain and disclose classified US defense information for their own political agendas and for an unnamed foreign government. I’ll give you one guess on which one. There are still some lingering questions about how Franklin got the information and what role if any deputy undersecretary of defense Douglas Feith had in this whole affair. [Inquirer] See my previous posts on this subject for more on that and this article in Tom Paine by Robert Drefuss for more on Doug Feith.

Casey at bat:

The AP reports that the pentagon’s top brass testifying to the Senate Armed Services committee yesterday wasn’t exactly a rousing success. Senators appeared to be skeptical about the pentagon’s claims of progress in training Iraqi forces after General George Casey, the top commander in Iraq, said that the readiness of Iraqi battalions able to fight insurgents on their own without US military help had gone from 3 to 1. (How much do we want to bet that one is mainly Peshmerga?)

Susan Collins, a republican, said, “It doesn’t feel like progress when we hear today that there is only one Iraqi battalion fully capable.” A rational person might come to that conclusion but from the pentagon’s point of view the good news is that 75 percent of the US trained Iraqi army was at least capable of engaging in combat, albeit with US troops providing support in most cases. Yes, that’s great news; we’re at least maintaining the status quo.

Casey “declined to give a break down of Iraqi combat readiness, which he said was classified as a secret.” I’ve asked this before, but why is this information a secret? I’m sure the insurgents knows exactly what the relative readiness and strengths are of all Iraqi forces including, home addresses of the commanders and how many bullets each soldier has. The only ones in the dark about this are congress and the American people.

So, what does this mean for General Casey’s prediction that major troop withdrawals could start to happen in early 2006? He wasn’t quite as sure this time around; he said it would depend on the political situation after the referendum. General John Abazaid assured the Senators that there were encouraging signs in the insurgency shifting to the west of Iraq, “which is a good sign, a good indicator that Iraqi and US forces are having an effect elsewhere.” Where? In Baquba where a hundred Iraqis died yesterday, or in Ramadi where a roadside bomb killed 5 Marines? I quess, Ramadi is kind of in the west, so its good to see the insurgents are staying put.

The problems with governance:

I heard Iraqi government spokesman Laith Kuba on the BBC this morning and he was pretty sanguine about the level of US troops currently in Iraq. He said attacks by insurgents were down, presumably because of all the progress being made, but the lethality of the attacks was up. So, that’s good, right? Robert Kagan was on Radio Times this morning pushing his new book, “Imperial Grunts” and he made the point that in a country of 23 million, a hundred blown up here or a hundred dead there, was an intafisimisble number in the great scheme of things.

His contention is the problem in Iraq is one of governance. He’s probably right about the governance issue, but I don’t see that problem being solved any time soon. AP reports that Zalmay Khalilzad, the US ambassador, as of yesterday was still “struggling to negotiate changes to the charter in hopes of winning Sunni support. ” Wasn’t this charter supposedly agreed to almost two weeks ago, which was two weeks late to begin with?

Remember, the TIA said that if a constitution couldn’t be submitted to the national assembly by the deadline given a new government had to be elected. They just threw that whole thing out and they’re still fiddling around with the thing. Getting the Sunnis on board is only window dressing, I don’t think the US cares if the mainly powerless and ineffectual former Ba’athists are unhappy with the final result or not, I think the real worry the State Department has is what the Saudi reaction to a Shiite dominated government in Iraq is.

The mind boggles.

Extra points:

I wrote a few days ago that NASA had announced they were going to spend $100 billion on a manned mission to Mars. I was wrong. It’s really a manned mission to the moon, which is even more pointless if you think about it in light of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and the rebuilding of a major US city. (The moon is just as good of a place to build W.’s presidential library, though.) In any case, the Chinese have their own ideas for a mission to the moon, they’re not exactly going to write us a check to beat them to it.

What if we had owed trillions to the Russians in the 60’s? I think they would have put a man on the moon, and maybe returned him safely to earth, before we did. Meanwhile, we’re asking the Russians for help with supplying the ISS because we’re SOL in the space shuttle department. How embarrassing! A US millionaire will be going up to the ISS on a Soyuz-TMA spacecraft tomorrow, by the way. Man, you know when it’s safer to travel to space on a Soyuz.

Condi in Haiti:

Back on the 27th,
Condi made a trip to Haiti to make sure upcoming elections there would be “open, inclusive and fair,” and there would be no funny business going on about allowing former democratically elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide back in. “The Haitian people are moving on,” she said. Well, that’s nice of her to say, but what about the sizable number of Haitians who still support him and are still pissed off about us ousting him in a coup?

She’s got the big title now, but she’s still the same old incompetent nincompoop she always was. Tell us the one about you not knowing that terrorists would use planes to attack the US again, Condi.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 1:38 PM EDT
Updated: Friday, 30 September 2005 2:10 PM EDT
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