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Lets's talk about democracy
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Monday, 25 October 2004
Just a little "untidiness."
Well, at least these explosives aren't in the hands of that madman Saddam!

GREELY, United States (AFP) - The White House played down the loss of 350 tonnes of high explosives in Iraq which Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry said was proof of the administration's "blunders."

President George W. Bush had known about the lost explosives for 10 days, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors were informed because the munitions were considered dual-use materials and subject to monitoring, said McClellan, traveling on Bush's re-election campaign.

McClellan blamed the disappearance on "some looting that went on in Iraq toward the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, or during and toward the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom." [Oh well, that's okay then.]

The Iraqi ministry of science and technology informed the IAEA of the disappearance of about 350 tonnes (380 tons) of mainly HMX and RDX explosives on October 10, agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming in Vienna told AFP.

IAEA officials informed the US mission in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, on October 15. National security councilor Condoleezza Rice was informed and she told Bush, the spokesman added. [That's reassuring. Condi is right on the ball. It's no one's fault though.]

The missing explosives "can be used in a nuclear explosion device" as the blast to trigger the chain reaction, Fleming said, adding: "That's why it was under IAEA verification and monitoring" before the March 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

McClellan said the US Department of Defense "directed the multinational forces and the Iraqi Survey Group to look into this matter, and that's what they are currently doing." [Better late than never I suppose.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:44 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 25 October 2004 7:01 PM EDT
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War Crimes.

The Washington Post:

At the request of the CIA, the Justice Department drafted a confidential memo that authorizes the agency to transfer detainees out of Iraq for interrogation -- a practice that international legal specialists say contravenes the Geneva Conventions.

It permits the CIA to take Iraqis out of the country to be interrogated for a "brief but not indefinite period." It also says the CIA can permanently remove persons deemed to be "illegal aliens" under "local immigration law."

The treaty prohibits the "[i]ndividual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory . . . regardless of their motive."

The 1949 treaty notes that a violation of this particular provision constitutes a "grave breach" of the accord, and thus a "war crime" under U.S. federal law, according to a footnote in the Justice Department draft.

"For these reasons," the footnote reads, "we recommend that any contemplated relocations of 'protected persons' from Iraq to facilitate interrogation be carefully evaluated for compliance with Article 49 on a case by case basis."

It says that even persons removed from Iraq retain the treaty's protections, which would include humane treatment and access to international monitors. [Yeah, right. See Rummy on being made to stand for 8 hours]

International law experts contacted for this article described the legal reasoning contained in the Justice Department memo as unconventional and disturbing.

"The overall thrust of the Convention is to keep from moving people out of the country and out of the protection of the Convention," said former senior military attorney Scott Silliman, executive director of Duke University's Center on Law, Ethics and National Security.

"The memorandum seeks to create a legal regime justifying conduct that the international community clearly considers in violation of international law and the Convention." Silliman reviewed the document at The Post's request.

White House officials disputed the notion that Goldsmith's interpretation of the treaty was unusual, although they did not explain why.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 6:37 PM EDT
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Wednesday, 20 October 2004
Operation Days of Penitence

So after two weeks of killing and destruction in order the IDF says to stop Palestinians from firing Qassam rockets from Gaza, Qassams are still landing in Israel. So what was accomplished? 130 Palestinians at least were killed and dozens of houses bulldozed, thanks in part to Caterpillar armoured tractors.

Among the dead there were a large number of children including 2 school girls who were shot while they were sitting at their desks.

This is the most egregious story from the offensive though:

Israel's top military prosecutor has opened an investigation into a platoon commander whom soldiers accuse of emptying an ammunition clip into a 13-year-old Palestinian girl after earlier shooting her twice to make sure she was dead, the army said yesterday.

In media interviews, soldiers said the commander approached the girl, who they said had been shot from more than 200 feet away by soldiers who mistook her for a bomb-carrying militant entering a forbidden zone in Rafah, a Gaza Strip refugee camp.

The commander repeatedly shot the girl as they pleaded with him to stop, the soldiers said.

Iyman Hams, 13, was shot and killed Oct. 5. Initially the army had said soldiers shot and killed Hams as she planted a bomb near an army outpost in southern Gaza.

In disguised voices and without revealing their identities, soldiers told a different, chilling story to Israeli television stations Sunday night.

They said the platoon commander fired two bullets from close range at the girl, who had already been shot, to confirm that she was dead.

Two soldiers then described the commander going back a second time and spraying her with automatic-weapon fire.

The soldiers told Yediot that before the commander shot the girl they shouted to him over the two-way radio: "Don't shoot, she's a little girl."

"We saw her from a distance of 70 meters. She was fired at ... from the outpost. She fled and was wounded. I understood that she was dead.

The platoon commander neared her, shot two bullets at her, returned toward the force, turned back to her, put the weapon on automatic -- and emptied his entire clip," one soldier said.


A Human Rights Watch report, entitled: "Razing Rafah -- Mass Home Demolitions in the Gaza Strip", said: "The pattern of destruction strongly suggests that Israeli forces demolished homes wholesale, regardless of whether they posed a specific threat, in violation of international law."

The New York-based organisation's executive director Kenneth Roth questioned Israel's insistence that the demolition of more than 2,500 houses over the past four years was necessary to destroy underground tunnels used by Palestinian militants to smuggle weapons into Gaza from Egypt.

Rather, he said the demolitions were about "creating a buffer zone, slice by slice" to facilitate long-term control over the Gaza Strip.

"The army is not serious, it wants to use the excuse (of tunnels) to invade, destroy and create a buffer zone," he told reporters at the launch of the report in Jerusalem.

The accusations of international law violations were echoed by Hansen as he toured the Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza, the main focus of the recently ended Operation Days of Penitence which left around 130 Palestinians dead in less than three weeks.

"Most of what we have seen here in Jabaliya over the last two weeks is a gross violation of international and humanitarian law," he said.

Hansen told reporters that at least 90 houses had been destroyed but added the figure was "a low estimate but will increase, I am sure, as we get more and more careful surveys".

"That means that hundreds of people -- I believe 600 to 700 -- will be added to the rows of homeless which is already 20,000 people in Gaza," he said.

The U.N. ambulances that were supposedly transporting weapons, weren't really after all.

Hansen was involved in a furious row with Israeli authorities during the offensive, when they said that UNRWA had allowed one of its ambulances to be used by Palestinian militants to transport makeshift missiles used in attacks on southern Israel.

Israel later retracted their allegations but refused to apologise to UNRWA.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:54 PM EDT
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Brent Scowcroft blasts Bush.

Scowcroft told the Financial Times that:

...the current President Bush is "mesmerized" by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, that Iraq is a "failing venture" and that the administration's unilateralist approach has harmed relations between Europe and the United States.

"Sharon just has him wrapped around his little finger,"

"I think the president is mesmerized." He added: "When there is a suicide attack [followed by a reprisal] Sharon calls the president and says, 'I'm on the front line of terrorism,' and the president says, 'Yes, you are . . . ' He [Sharon] has been nothing but trouble."

When I first heard Sharon was getting out of Gaza I was having dinner with Condi [His protege] and she said: 'At least that's good news,' " [You mean it isn't all good news Condi?] Scowcroft recounted. "And I said: 'That's terrible news. . . . Sharon will say: 'I want to get out of Gaza, finish the wall [the Israeli security barrier] and say I'm done.' "

[See Oct. 1st posting for more on Sharon folding up the road map.]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:24 PM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 20 October 2004 4:29 PM EDT
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Saturday, 16 October 2004
What about those Anthrax attacks?
Justice Department runs and hides from its record:

Federal Judge Reggie B. Walton scolded the Justice Department for failing to stop leaks describing former Army scientist Steven J. Hatfill as a "person of interest" in the investigation of the anthrax attacks.

"It doesn't seem to me there's a significant likelihood of anything in the near future that's going to change the status quo," said Walton, who is presiding over a civil suit filed by Hatfill that accuses the Justice Department of defaming him and violating his privacy.

Walton told government lawyers that he was "extremely troubled" by recent newspaper articles that quote anonymous law enforcement sources as saying the FBI remains interested in Hatfill.

"They're undermining what this country is supposed to be about -- that is, that we treat people fairly," Walton said of the anonymous sources. "If you don't have enough to indict this man, then it's wrong to drag his name through the mud."

"That's not a government I want to be a part of.

It's wrong, and you all need to do something about it."

[Three years and counting...if we could only get Pariot Act II passed!!!]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:46 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 16 October 2004 4:49 PM EDT
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Snickering Bush bullish on his record.
According to an article in the Post about Bush's visit to "Bank One Park" in Nevada after the debate, a rabid Bushite was not happy with John McCain being there to campaign with the great warrior president:

"Sit down, you Kerry-loving traitor," a man standing behind the third-base dugout yell(ed). [That's respect for a real war hero.]

(A) bumper sticker slapped across the heckler's Bush-Cheney T-shirt says "4 out of 5 dictators support John Kerry (phone service not available in Saddam's hole)."

[Oh, that's rich! We'll just forget about Moammar Kadhafi and the Saudi royal family and Perves Mushariff and about dozen other dictators sitting on vast oil reserves.]

Bush also reinterated that John Kerry can run but he can't hide, from his record. [I guess Osama can run and he has hidden.]

"Bush sometimes punctuates his sentences with quick cackles, even when he hasn't said anything funny. He did this more than usual Thursday, giggling, for instance, upon mention that Nevada has a 4 percent unemployment rate.

"I'm proud of my record, heh heh heh," he says. "But my opponent seemed to want to avoid talking about his, heh heh heh heh.""

[Oh really...]

Deficit at new record.

The federal government reached its $7.4 trillion debt ceiling yesterday, forcing Treasury Secretary John W. Snow to delay contributing to one of the federal employees' pension systems to avoid running out of cash and possibly defaulting on government debt.

Treasury has on five occasions delayed pension fund payments as it approached its limit on borrowing. Three of those incidents came under President Bush -- in 2002, 2003 and yesterday -- as Republicans in Congress have become leery of voting to raise the debt limit. The others were during the rapidly spiraling deficits of 1985 and the budget showdown between the new Republican Congress and President Bill Clinton in 1995.

When Bush came to office, the debt ceiling was $5.95 trillion and had last been raised in 1997.

"Following the presidential debate, where more attention was given to the candidates' wives than to the budget deficit . . . it is hard to see where the leadership to put the country back on the path of fiscal responsibility will come from," said Maya MacGuineas, president of the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

[That bastard Kerry. He hates lesbians! How about that anti-gay marriage amendment? Spread the love Dick!]

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:39 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, 25 October 2004 6:44 PM EDT
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Grover Norquist's buddy sent up the river for 20 years...

The Washington Post:

A federal judge yesterday sentenced Muslim activist Abdurahman Alamoudi to the maximum 23-year prison term for illegal dealings with Libya that included his involvement in a complex plot to kill the Saudi ruler. [Crown Prince Abdullah]

Once so prominent that his influence reached the highest levels of the U.S. government, Alamoudi stood before U.S. District Chief Judge Claude M. Hilton in a green prison jumpsuit and said quietly: "I regret my involvement in everything unlawful I did."

[Of course, Moammar is now our good friend, eventhough he was plotting to kill Crown Prince Abdullah while we were negotiating with him, during his transformation into a "statesman."]

Grover's troubling ties to terrorists

From David Horowitz's right wing frontpagemag:

...it seems beyond dispute that Grover Norquist has formed alliances with prominent Islamic radicals who have ties to the Saudis and to Libya and to Palestine Islamic Jihad, and who are now under indictment by U.S. authorities.

Equally troubling is that the arrests of these individuals and their exposure as agents of terrorism have not resulted in noticeable second thoughts on Grover's part or any meaningful effort to dissociate himself from his unsavory friends.

As Frank Gaffney's article recounts, Grover's own Islamic Institute was initially financed by one of the most notorious of these operatives, Abdurahman Alamoudi, a supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah who told the Annual Convention of the Islamic Association of Palestine in 1996, "If we are outside this country we can say `Oh, Allah destroy America.'

But once we are here, our mission in this country is to change it." Grover appointed Alamoudi's deputy, Khaled Saffuri to head his own organization.

Together they gained access to the White House for Alamoudi and Sami al-Arian and others with similar agendas who used their cachet to spread Islamist influence to the American military and the prison system and the universities and the political arena with untold consequences for the nation.

[Boy, Grover's face must be red!

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:18 PM EDT
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The mess in Iraq not playing well with reservists.
The Washington Post reports:

A platoon of Army reservists in Iraq is being investigated for allegedly refusing to carry out a convoy mission its members deemed too dangerous, Army officials said yesterday.

On Wednesday, 19 soldiers from the 343rd Quartermaster Company failed to report for a planned fuel convoy from Tallil Air Base across central Iraq to Taji, a base north of Baghdad, the Army said in a statement issued in Iraq.

An initial report indicated that some of the 19 soldiers (not all) refused to participate in the convoy as directed," the Army statement said. Brig. Gen. James E. Chambers, commander of the Army's 13th Corps Support Command...

The soldiers were concerned about the roadworthiness of their trucks and the lack of a helicopter escort for the mission, according to Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.), who said he had talked with the wives of two of them who live in his district.

The Army statement called the incident "a temporary breakdown in discipline." [What about the 35% of ready reservists that have yet to show up?]

The unit felt that the vehicles they were required to drive weren't safe, both mechanically and in lacking armor to protect the personnel inside," he said. [Must be that damn Kerry voting against the 87 billion.]

In addition, he said, the troops had expected to be protected by attack helicopters, but then were told that the aviation escort was unavailable. [SNAFU]

Military Poll says:

The National Annenberg Election Survey found that 62 percent in the military sample said the administration didn't send an adequate number of troops to Iraq.

And 59 percent said too much of a burden has been put on the National Guard and the reserves when regular forces should have been expanded instead.

Family members were more critical of the administration's Iraq policy than those on active duty.

This critical view comes from a military group that has a more favorable view of President Bush, Iraq, the economy and the nation's direction than Americans in general.


_Six in 10 of the regular military in the sample said they were properly trained and equipped.

_Only four in 10 of the Guard members and reservists questioned said they were properly trained and equipped. [Hmmm]

Freedom is on the march.

Car bombs killed five U.S. troops in Iraq, the U.S. military said Saturday, the latest in a string of such attacks at the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

[That brings to 25 killed this week, if Im counting correctly.
Green Zone hit for the first time. Maybe they should call it the rose zone, in honor of the president's glasses...]

The Guardian:

Suicide bombers penetrated the coalition's heavily fortified Green Zone in the heart of Baghdad for the first time yesterday, killing 10 people in two blasts that tore through a restaurant and street market.

The bombs were "hand-carried explosives", the military said, and were taken in by two suicide bombers. At least four American security con-tractors were killed. They worked for DynCorp.
Another 20 people were injured, mostly Iraqis, as well as four more Americans.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 4:03 PM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 16 October 2004 4:06 PM EDT
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What about Poland?

International Herald Tribune-

WARSAW, Oct. 15 - Prime Minister Marek Belka of Poland narrowly survived a vote of confidence on Friday after telling Parliament, "We will not stay in Iraq an hour longer than is needed."

"Poland will reduce its contingent from the start of 2005 and will discuss subsequent reductions," Mr. Belka said during a speech to Parliament. But, he stressed, the withdrawal of some of the 2,500 Polish troops should not lead to instability in Iraq.

Government officials said Mr. Belka's speech could be an acute embarrassment to President Bush. The president, in the first of his debates with Senator John Kerry, the Democratic challenger, praised President Aleksander Kwasniewski for sending troops to Iraq. He made a point of telling Mr. Kerry that Poland backed the United States.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 3:41 PM EDT
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Thursday, 14 October 2004

The last debate:

Bush on "Osama who?" in response to Kerry's chanrge that he said he didn't worry about Bin Laden.

Gosh, I don't think I ever said I'm not worried about Osama bin Laden. That's kind of one of those exaggerations. Of course we're worried about Osama bin Laden. We're on the hunt after Osama bin Laden. We're using every asset at our disposal to get Osama bin Laden.

Actually, according to the Post:

...in a news conference on March 13, 2002, Bush said when asked about the search for the al Qaeda leader: "So I don't know where he is. You know, I just don't spend that much time on him, we haven't heard much from him. . . . And I wouldn't necessarily say he's at the center of any command structure. And, again, I don't know where he is. I --I'll repeat what I said. I truly am not that concerned about him."

Tom Shales notes:

...During otherwise adamantly pro-Bush analysis on Fox News Channel after the debate, the commentators had to agree that the record showed Bush made such a statement not just once but twice.

Bush cracks himself up:

In all due respect, I'm not so sure it - it's credible to quote leading news organizations about - oh, never mind. [Ha,ha,ha!He slays me!]

On the dangerous Canadian drugs and cheap prices he's trying to protect us from:

We're working with Canada to - hopefully they'll produce a - help us realize the vaccine necessary to make sure our citizens have got flu vaccinations during this upcoming season. [Oh, Canada]

Being lectured by the president on fiscal responsibility is a little bit like Tony Soprano talking to me about law and order in this country -John Kerry

On that subject, the Congress didn't get much done this year but they did manage to pass a huge tax cut for the big corporations.

Not that we can afford any of this. Talk about tax and spend liberal, Bush and the congressional republicans are the proverbial drunken sailors. Let's see how bad things really are, shall we?

The Washington Post says.

According to the White House budget office, about half of the change [from surplus to deficit] can be attributed to factors largely outside the president's control: recession, a weak recovery, the bursting of the stock market bubble and the unanticipated costs of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

But the other 50 percent is attributable to policy choices.

The four tax cuts account for about 30 percent of the change. The remaining 20 percent was spending, including the cost of the war in Afghanistan and the preemptive invasion of Iraq.

Since 2001, government spending has risen 23 percent, from $1.86 trillion to $2.29 trillion this year. Defense spending increased 48 percent, while non-defense spending went from $343 billion in 2001 to $436 billion, a 27 percent increase.

The Bush administration didn't just sit there and watch the deficit get wider. They actually exacerbated it," said Larry Kantor, global head of economics and market strategy at the British financial giant Barclays Capital

Foreign governments lent the Treasury $3.5 billion in 2001 and $7.1 billion in 2002. Last year, the figure soared fifteenfold, to $109 billion. Japanese reserves of U.S. Treasuries climbed from $317 billion when Bush came to office to $695 billion in July.

During the president's term, China surpassed Britain as the United States' second largest foreign lender, with its holdings more than tripling from $50 billion in December 2000 to $166 billion in July.

[Don't worry though, no worries at the Treasury Dept. Worry worts get fired. Ask Paul O'Neill]

"We're not going to tell you that we don't want to see smaller deficits," said Timothy S. Bitsberger, acting assistant Treasury secretary for financial markets. "But we see nothing in the market to suggest we're having trouble funding our deficit."

Bush has shown no sign of worry either. Since the 2003 tax cut passed, he has beaten back repeated Democratic efforts to roll back some tax cuts to pay for the war in Iraq. Earlier this year, he rebuffed demands by some moderate Republicans to offset the cost of future tax cuts with spending reductions or tax loophole closures.

His 2005 budget proposal included $1.4 trillion in additional tax-cut costs, including expansive new savings accounts that would eliminate taxes on capital gains, dividends and interest for virtually every American.

In July, when GOP leaders moved to extend expiring tax cuts for just two years to hold down the cost, the president quashed the deal, demanding a five-year extension at a cost of $146 billion. He signed the bill this week.

We're broke!

When Bush took office in January 2001, the government was forecasting a $5.6 trillion budget surplus between then and 2011. Instead, it is now expecting to accumulate an extra $3 trillion in debt -- including a record $415 billion in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30.

The government has to borrow an average of more than $1.1 billion a day to pay its bills, and it spends more on interest payments on the federal debt each year -- about $159 billion -- than it does on education, homeland security, justice and law enforcement, veterans, international aid, and space exploration combined. [Talk about a "tax gap"]

No really, we're broke.

The White House has ordered draft budgets for 2006 that would cut spending on homeland security, veterans affairs and education, according to White House documents.

Corporate give away.

The latest tax cut which even Treasury Secretary John Snow has said is a bad idea Bush is sharpening up his pen to sign.

Again the Post:

...critics -- including budget watchdogs and liberal activists -- decried what they saw as a cornucopia of special-interest tax cuts that would complicate the tax code, favor companies doing business overseas and ultimately worsen the budget deficit.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pronounced it "disgraceful" and "a classic example of the special interests prevailing over the people's interest."

The centerpiece tax cut -- worth $76.5 billion over 10 years -- provides tax deductions that would effectively lower the corporate income tax rate from 35 percent to 32 percent for U.S. "producers," defined broadly to include traditional manufacturers, Hollywood studios [Grover Norquist put the kybash on that. See K-Street Project], architectural and engineering firms, home builders, and oil and gas drillers, among others.

Beyond those centerpieces are hundreds of smaller measures that benefit restaurant owners and Hollywood producers; makers of bows, arrows and sonar fish finders; NASCAR track owners; and importers of Chinese ceiling fans.

General Electric alone could reap tax breaks measured in billions from two provisions: One, costing $7.9 billion over 10 years, that would allow companies with large overseas manufacturing and financial services operations to mingle subsidiary profits for tax purposes, and another that would reduce taxation by $995 million over 10 years on income from shipping and the leasing of aircraft.

Posted by bushmeister0 at 5:01 PM EDT
Updated: Thursday, 14 October 2004 5:26 PM EDT
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