Saturday, September 30, 2006

So the great 'Decider-er' is saying shit like this:
George W. Bush
called for fighting America's enemies "across the world" as he stepped up his counteroffensive following charges that his policies were breeding a new generation of Islamic terrorists.

And stuff like this is being reported:

Friday's New York Times reported that the Army is so bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan that just two or three active-duty combat brigades—7,000 to 10,000 soldiers—are fully ready to deal with a crisis that might erupt elsewhere in the world.

And among the units cycling in and out of Iraq, troubles are brewing. The 3rd Infantry Division, which so quickly roared up the desert to Baghdad at the outset of this war, is scheduled to head back to Iraq soon for its third tour of duty. Yet, according to a story in today's New York Times, two of the division's four brigades aren't ready to go. They have none of their armored vehicles and only half of their troops.

Units throughout the Army are so strained, generals say, that they're going to have to rely even more on the National Guard and Reserves, which are wildly overwhelmed themselves.

How does this work? Will we hire mercenaries? Is it just another aspect of the looting of the American treasury, transferring wealth into corporate coffers? Is it all bluff? I know the administration isn't going to tell me the truth. They haven't yet.
All very bizarre. The crazies keep talking about expanding the war(s) 'sending more troops' but there's less ready troops and equipment all the time.
Just as I finished this last post this editorial from the NY TIMES came in on my news aggregator:

America’s Army on the Edge
Published: October 1, 2006

Even if there were a case for staying the current course in Iraq, America’s badly overstretched Army cannot sustain present force levels much longer without long-term damage. And that could undermine the credibility of American foreign policy for years to come.

The Army has been kept on short rations of troops and equipment for years by a Pentagon more intent on stockpiling futuristic weapons than fighting today’s wars. Now it is pushing up against the limits of hard arithmetic. Senior generals are warning that the Bush administration may have to break its word and again use National Guard units to plug the gap, but no one in Washington is paying serious attention. That was clear last week when Congress recklessly decided to funnel extra money to the Air Force’s irrelevant F-22 stealth fighter.

As early as the fall of 2003, the Congressional Budget Office warned that maintaining substantial force levels in Iraq for more than another six months would be difficult without resorting to damaging short-term expedients. The Pentagon then had about 150,000 troops in Iraq. Three years later, those numbers have not fallen appreciably. For much of that time, the Pentagon has plugged the gap by extending tours of duty, recycling soldiers back more quickly into combat, diverting National Guard units from homeland security and misusing the Marine Corps as a long-term occupation force.

These emergency measures have taken a heavy toll on combat readiness and training, on the quality of new recruits, and on the career decisions of some of the Army’s most promising young officers. They cannot be continued indefinitely....

Excerpt from Woodward's STATE OF DENIAL from tomorrow's WaPo:

In May, President Bush spoke in Chicago and gave a characteristically upbeat forecast: "Years from now, people will look back on the formation of a unity government in Iraq as a decisive moment in the story of liberty, a moment when freedom gained a firm foothold in the Middle East and the forces of terror began their long retreat."

Two days later, the intelligence division of the Joint Chiefs of Staff circulated a secret intelligence assessment to the White House that contradicted the president's forecast.

Instead of a "long retreat," the report predicted a more violent 2007: "Insurgents and terrorists retain the resources and capabilities to sustain and even increase current level of violence through the next year."...

Former Ambassador to Croatia Peter Galbraith is claiming President George W. Bush was unaware that there were two major sects of Islam just two months before the President ordered troops to invade Iraq, RAW STORY has learned.

In his new book, The End of Iraq: How American Incompetence Created A War Without End, Galbraith, the son of the late economist John Kenneth Galbraith, claims that American leadership knew very little about the nature of Iraqi society and the problems it would face after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.

A year after his “Axis of Evil” speech before the U.S. Congress, President Bush met with three Iraqi Americans, one of whom became postwar Iraq’s first representative to the United States. The three described what they thought would be the political situation after the fall of Saddam Hussein. During their conversation with the President, Galbraith claims, it became apparent to them that Bush was unfamiliar with the distinction between Sunnis and Shiites.

Galbraith reports that the three of them spent some time explaining to Bush that there are two different sects in Islam--to which the President allegedly responded, “I thought the Iraqis were Muslims!”...

I've been reading stories like the above for several months now. Also there's a great clip from the FRESH AIR radio show from April '03 of the 'genious' William Kristol describing discussions of the difference between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraqi society as 'pop sociology'.

Isn't it beyond mere garden variety irony that it's these people who now say that we (concerned, non-moronic American citizens) don't "understand the conflict in Iraq"?

When did they ever understand?

I truly hope for Democratic majority in at least one house of Congress and that some of the progressive elements therein get a chance to ask these questions and get some answers.
The current Idiocracy has to be thwarted soon.

Bush's radio address was great this morning. He defended himself from 'misimpressions' about Iraq engendered in the public in part by Woodward's book STATE OF DENIAL by denying them.

Here's a little bit from Reuters about the Democratic response to this brilliant address:

Illinois congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq veteran who lost both legs in the war, accused Republican lawmakers of failing to hold Bush accountable for what she said was a failed strategy in Iraq.

"Instead of a plan or a strategy, we get shallow slogans like Mission Accomplished and Stay the Course," said Duckworth, a Democrat who delivered the radio address on behalf of her party. "The National Intelligence Estimate revealed the unhappy truth: the war in Iraq has led to more terrorism, not less."

Asked for comment GOP Rep. Mark Foley wanted to know , "Do I make you horny?"

It was unclear whether he was asking the American People, the reporter or a passing troop of Boy Scouts this question.

A nut or what?

On the September 27 edition of his nationally syndicated radio show, Michael Savage asserted that an employee of The Washington Times charged with soliciting a 13 year-old girl for sex over the Internet "should get a reward that it wasn't a boy. I actually was thrilled to see it was only a girl." He then added: "I mean, there is still a normal pervert out there. It's hard to believe." Savage also claimed that there is an "obsession with child molestation" in "the American media," which is engaging in a "new witch hunt" against child molesters because "they don't have the guts to take on radical Islam."...

From a Hill veteran reader:

When historians look back on the 2006 midterms and the Democratic sweep of both the House and Senate, they will look back on Friday, September 29th as the day that sealed the GOP's fate:

-- The Mark Foley resignation is huge. It turns a safe GOP seat into a seat that is now a likely Democratic pickup, and will demand at a minimum party resources that Ken Mehlman would have wanted to deploy elsewhere. You take the Foley seat and add it to the Delay, Ney, and Kolbe seats, those are four seats where GOP incompetence and scandal has converted from sure GOP seats to likely Dem pickups (the Kolbe seat is where Jim Kolbe is retiring and a KKK symphathizer is the GOP nominee).

More importantly, as unfair as it is, this scandal will resonate along the lines of the House banking scandal and free ice deliveries that doomed the Dems in 1994. The party of family values had a Member in its leadership who was inveighing against Internet porn at day, but using it to communicate with minors at night. This is bad, bad, bad for the GOP image;

-- The Woodward book will suck up all the oxygen on TV and talk radio for the next week; a whole week of "free media" for the Dem argument that the Bushies have irrevocably screwed up Iraq; any GOP focus on terrorism next week will be lost;

-- Finally, rumors tonight (reported on NBC News) of a possible military coup in Baghdad, prompting the sudden imposition of a citywide curfew.

I was retaining skepticism on Dem prospects until today. But this is it -- the GOP is in for a shellacking on November 7th.

Update: The NBC Nightly News video has the report of an alleged Iraqi military coup plot, which supposedly did not get beyond the planning stage. Didn't we already know about this? Posted by Laura at September 29, 2006 08:01 PM...

Jeeze! Look at this collection of cranks!

Here's the link to David Sanger's piece from the NY Times:

Every single one of these people are assholes. Let the investigations begin...

Friday, September 29, 2006

Report: Abramoff team had 485 contacts with White House (AP/CNN)

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Jack Abramoff had hundreds of contacts with White House officials, but they brought mixed results for the convicted lobbyist's clients, according to a congressional report.

The draft report of the House Government Reform Committee said the documents -- largely Abramoff's billing records and e-mails -- listed 485 lobbying contacts with White House officials over three years, including 10 with top Bush aide Karl Rove.

Abramoff and associates were successful in getting appropriations for some of their Indian clients, but efforts to influence presidential appointments and nominations "were often not successful," according to the report, obtained Thursday. (Read complete final report -- PDF)
There were several instances where the documents -- supplied by Abramoff's former lobbying firm -- indicated Rove ate at an Abramoff restaurant, Signatures. There was one occasion where Abramoff got Rove NCAA basketball tournament tickets, but Rove may have paid for them.
Learning that Rove would appear at his restaurant, Abramoff wrote, "I want him to be given a very nice bottle of wine and have Joseph whisper in his ear (only he should hear) that Abramoff wanted him to have this wine on the house."

George Bush's Iraq in 21 Questions

By Tom Engelhardt

Recently, in one of many speeches melding his Global War on Terror and his war in Iraq, George W. Bush said, "Victory in Iraq will be difficult and it will require more sacrifice. The fighting there can be as fierce as it was at Omaha Beach or Guadalcanal. And victory is as important as it was in those earlier battles. Victory in Iraq will result in a democracy that is a friend of America and an ally in the war on terror. Victory in Iraq will be a crushing defeat for our enemies, who have staked so much on the battle there. Victory in Iraq will honor the sacrifice of the brave Americans who have given their lives. And victory in Iraq would be a powerful triumph in the ideological struggle of the 21st century."

Over three years after the 2003 invasion, it's not unreasonable to speak of George Bush's Iraq. The President himself likes to refer to that country as the "central front [or theater] in our fight against terrorism" and a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), part of which was recently leaked to the press and part then released by the President, confirms that Iraq is now indeed just that -- a literal motor for the creation of terrorism. As the document puts it, "The Iraq conflict has become the ‘cause célèbre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world, and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement." A study by a British Ministry of Defense think tank seconds this point, describing Iraq as "a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world"

So what exactly does "victory" in George Bush's Iraq look like 1,288 days after the invasion of that country began with a "shock-and-awe" attack on downtown Baghdad? A surprising amount of information related to this has appeared in the press in recent weeks, but in purely scattershot form. Here, it's all brought together in 21 questions (and answers) that add up to a grim but realistic snapshot of Bush's Iraq. The attempt to reclaim the capital, dipped in a sea of blood in recent months -- or the "battle of Baghdad," as the administration likes to term it -- is now the center of administration military strategy and operations. So let's start with this question:...

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Bubble:
These are Newsweek's latest covers by region.
They (corporate media conglomerates) want you (people in the US) to be stupid.
Here's an idea; don't let them.

Wallace falsehood: said in Clinton interview that he asked Bush admin officials "plenty of questions" about failure to catch bin Laden

Summary: During his interview with former President Bill Clinton on Fox News Sunday, Chris Wallace asked Clinton why he failed to "do more" during his presidency to put Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden "out of business," a question, Clinton said, Fox News "do[esn't] ask the other side." Wallace denied the charge, responding, "That is not true."

In a taped interview with former President Bill Clinton that aired on the September 24 edition of Fox News Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Clinton why he failed to "do more" during his presidency to put Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden "out of business." Clinton responded with a vigorous defense of his administration's anti-terrorism policies, noting that he instituted a "comprehensive anti-terror strategy" during his tenure in the White House and that many conservatives had accused him at the time of being "too obsessed with finding bin Laden." He then told Wallace: "I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you've asked this question of. ... Tell the truth." Wallace replied, "Have you ever watched Fox News Sunday, sir? ... We ask plenty of questions." Clinton later stated, "[Y]ou people ask me questions you don't ask the other side," to which Wallace responded, "That is not true." In fact, in dozens of interviews over the past five years with senior Bush aides, Wallace and former host Tony Snow have repeatedly failed to ask pressing questions regarding the Bush administration's efforts to pursue Al Qaeda in the eight months prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks -- and in the years since.

Here is a list of senior Bush administration officials interviewed on Fox News Sunday since September 11, 2001. (White House press secretary Tony Snow previously hosted the program. Wallace succeeded him in December 2003.):

  • Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; 9/10/06
  • National Security adviser Stephen Hadley; 8/6/06
  • Rice; 7/16/06
  • Rice; 6/4/06
  • Rice; 5/21/06
  • Rice; 3/26/06
  • Rice; 12/18/05
  • Hadley; 12/4/05
  • Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld; 11/20/05
  • Rice; 10/16/05
  • Rumsfeld; 6/26/05
  • Rice; 6/19/05
  • Hadley; 5/15/05
  • Then-White House chief of staff Andrew Card; 5/1/05
  • Rumsfeld; 3/20/05
  • Hadley; 3/13/05
  • Vice President Dick Cheney; 2/6/05
  • Rice; 1/30/05
  • Rice (then-National Security adviser); 10/10/04
  • Rice; 6/27/04
  • Rice; 6/6/04
  • Rice; 4/18/04
  • Rumsfeld; 3/28/04
  • Card; 12/7/03
  • Rumsfeld; 11/2/03
  • Rice; 9/28/03
  • Rice; 9/7/03
  • Rice; 7/13/03
  • Rumsfeld; 5/4/03
  • Rumsfeld; 3/30/03
  • Rice; 2/16/03
  • Card; 1/26/03
  • Rumsfeld; 1/19/03
  • Rice; 11/10/02
  • Rice; 9/15/02
  • Card; 6/9/02
  • Rice; 5/26/02
  • Cheney; 5/19/02
  • Rice; 5/5/02
  • Card; 4/14/02
  • Rice; 2/3/02
  • Cheney; 1/27/02
  • Rumsfeld; 11/11/01

In the March 28, 2004, interview with Rumsfeld, Wallace did press him on whether the Department of Defense should have "been thinking more about" terrorism prior to 9-11 and asked him to respond to the "basic charge that, pre-9-11 ... this government, the Bush administration, largely ignored the threat from Al Qaeda." Referring to Rumsfeld's testimony before the 9-11 Commission regarding the Defense Department's anti-terrorism efforts, Wallace remarked, "[I]t sure sounds like fighting terrorism was not a top priority."

But beyond this exchange, the Fox News Sunday interviews listed above have almost entirely ignored several key questions regarding the Bush administration's efforts to pursue bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Why did the White House not respond more forcefully to the August 6 CIA memo warning of an impending bin Laden strike against the United States?

On August 6, 2001, the CIA delivered a now-famous "Presidential Daily Brief" (PDB) to Bush entitled "Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in U.S." The memo stated that, although the FBI had "not been able to corroborate" a 1998 report that bin Laden was seeking to "hijack a U.S. aircraft," "FBI information since that time indicate[d] patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."

The administration appears to have done little in response to the August 6 PDB. The 9-11 Commission stated in its report that it "found no indication of any further discussion before September 11 among the President and his top advisers of the possibility of a threat of an al Qaeda attack in the United States" -- this despite the fact that "[m]ost of the intelligence community recognized in the summer of 2001 that the number and severity of threat reports were unprecedented."

News of the August 6 memo first broke on May 18, 2002. During Cheney's appearance on Fox News Sunday the following day, Snow brought up the memo and asked him, "Why didn't we connect the dots?" But in their subsequent interviews with Bush administration officials, Wallace and Snow repeatedly failed to ask them if they regretted not reacting more forcefully to it. Wallace even avoided questioning Rice about it days after she discussed the memo during her testimony before the 9-11 Commission, as the weblog Think Progress noted.

Why did the Bush administration demote Richard Clarke?

Former counterterrorism official Richard Clarke left the White House in January 2003, shortly after being demoted by the Bush administration. He subsequently criticized the administration's response to the alarming intelligence delivered prior to 9-11. During the September 24 interview, Clinton said that Clarke was "loyal" to former presidents Reagan, George H. W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush. Clinton then noted that despite Clarke's loyalty, the Bush administration "downgraded him and the terrorist operation," which prompted Clinton to ask Wallace, "I want to know how many people you asked, 'Why did you fire Dick Clarke?' " Clinton later said: "This country only has one person who's worked against terror, from the terrorist incidents under Reagan to the terrorist incidents on 9-11. Only one: Richard Clarke."

In his numerous interviews with Bush administration officials, Wallace mentioned Clarke only once, as Think Progress noted, in the March 28, 2004, interview with Rumsfeld. But in that interview, Wallace failed to question Rumsfeld on Clarke's demotion.

Why didn't the Bush administration do anything in response to the bombing of the USS Cole?

During the interview, Wallace asked Clinton about the "attack on the Cole" and why, "after the attack," the Clinton administration "didn't do more." Wallace was referring to the USS Cole bombing on October 12, 2000, roughly three months before Clinton left the White House. Clinton noted that he didn't have much time to respond to the bombing and asked Wallace: "I want to know how many people in the Bush administration you asked, 'Why didn't you do anything about the Cole?' "

As Think Progress noted, no Bush administration official has ever been asked about the administration's lack of response to the Cole bombing by a host of Fox News Sunday -- this despite the fact that the FBI and CIA did not certify that bin Laden was responsible for the attack until early 2001.

Why did Bush not heed the CIA's call for more troops to help catch bin Laden at Tora Bora?

In an April 17, 2002, article on bin Laden's escape from the Tora Bora region of Afghanistan in late 2001, The Washington Post reported that the Bush administration's "failure to commit U.S. ground troops to hunt him was its gravest error in the war against al Qaeda, according to civilian and military officials with first-hand knowledge." The article noted that several "[a]fter-action reviews, conducted privately inside and outside the military chain of command, describe the episode as a significant defeat for the United States." Further, the Post quoted a senior counterterrorism official saying, "We [messed] up by not getting into Tora Bora sooner and letting the Afghans do all the work. ... We didn't put U.S. forces on the ground, despite all the brave talk, and that is what we have had to change since then."

But in their subsequent appearances on Fox News Sunday, senior Bush aides did not face any questions regarding the Bush administration's decision-making at Tora Bora.

In 2006, investigative reporter Ron Suskind shed even more light on the incident in his new book, The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America's Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 (Simon & Schuster, June 2006). Suskind disclosed that CIA officer Henry "Hank" Crumpton, the head of the agency's Afghanistan campaign at the time, had told Bush in late November 2001 that Pakistani and Afghan fighters were "definitely not" equipped to handle the mission and that "we're going to lose our prey if we're not careful." According to Suskind, Crumpton "strongly recommended the marines, or other troops in the region, get to Tora Bora immediately." But despite delivering this recommendation to Bush directly, the administration never committed more troops to the area, and bin Laden ultimately escaped.

Since Suskind's book release in June, Wallace has interviewed both Rice and Hadley, but he did not ask either of them about this revelation...
Chris Wallace & FOX really stepped in the Big Dawg poop yesterday. The one bottom-line thing you want from a 'news' station is truth. That's what FOX lacks. They have everything else but not that.
One of the great things about Media Matters for America is that it's helmed by David Brock, a reformed right wing hit man. He knows how these sleaze balls operate, he was one.
It's truly a site worth visiting often.

Sunday, September 24, 2006


Fox News tried to swiftboat Clinton on his Bin Laden record a la “The Path to 9/11” on Sunday, and the former president responded with a brutal fact-soaked tongue-lashing. After defending his record, Clinton turned the tables and went after the network’s conservative agenda.

Watch it:

Some good fact check links here regarding Wallace's history of asking Bush Administration members the 'tough' Questions. Big surprise, he doesn't. Why? 'Cause he's a FOX NEWS whore.

It's obscene that FOX is allowed to call itself a 'news' network. It's a propaganda bureau right out of Orwell's 1984.

Clinton beat Chris Wallace like a rented mule. He wouldn't accept the biased 'frame' of his questions and insisted on answering with his own truthful contextualization.

A whirl wind of 'been there, done that' vs a paid prostitute party hack.

It was beautiful and a good lesson. A lesson I'm sure is lost on the dwindling Bush loyalists.
I have a feeling the finer points of political debate are lost on that crowd. Afterall BC was dealing with issues that require sentences longer than a bumper sticker.
New York Times:

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23 — A stark assessment of terrorism trends by American intelligence agencies has found that the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.

The classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes a more direct role to the Iraq war in fueling radicalism than that presented either in recent White House documents or in a report released Wednesday by the House Intelligence Committee, according to several officials in Washington involved in preparing the assessment or who have read the final document.

The intelligence estimate, completed in April, is the first formal appraisal of global terrorism by United States intelligence agencies since the Iraq war began, and represents a consensus view of the 16 disparate spy services inside government. Titled “Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States,’’ it asserts that Islamic radicalism, rather than being in retreat, has metastasized and spread across the globe...

Washington Post:

The war in Iraq has become a primary recruitment vehicle for violent Islamic extremists, motivating a new generation of potential terrorists around the world whose numbers may be increasing faster than the United States and its allies can reduce the threat, U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded.

A 30-page National Intelligence Estimate completed in April cites the "centrality" of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, and the insurgency that has followed, as the leading inspiration for new Islamic extremist networks and cells that are united by little more than an anti-Western agenda. It concludes that, rather than contributing to eventual victory in the global counterterrorism struggle, the situation in Iraq has worsened the U.S. position, according to officials familiar with the classified document...

LA Times:

WASHINGTON — The war in Iraq has made global terrorism worse by fanning Islamic radicalism and providing a training ground for lethal methods that are increasingly being exported to other countries, according to a sweeping assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies.

The classified document, which represents a consensus view of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, paints a considerably bleaker picture of the impact of the Iraq war than Bush administration or U.S. intelligence officials have acknowledged publicly, according to officials familiar with the assessment...

In the October 2nd Weakly Sub-Standard ( ) Kristol & Kagan's editorial is titled MORE TROOPS. These guys are like really smart, ya know?
Kristol works for FOX News. He & O'Reilly are enlisting this week. As generals, of course. These two mental giants & rough, tough fightin' men are going to straighten things out.
The National Intelligence Estimate is just a bunch of bunk. These guys know better.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Read it yourself: Clinton-Wallace fireworks on Fox

"At least I tried" to get Osama bin Laden and shut down al-Qaeda, former president Bill Clinton tells Chris Wallace in a fiery interview taped today. Portions of it are airing tonight on Fox News Channel. The entire one-on-one will be broadcast this weekend on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace (check your local listings).

Clinton says that "they" -- referring to the current Bush administration -- "had eight months to try, they did not try. I tried."

Thanks to Fox News, we've got a transcript of what appears to be the feistiest part of the showdown (click "read more" to see what we're talking about). The Clinton-Wallace encounter gets downright explosive at moments, as the two start interrupting each other and Clinton takes great umbrage at Wallace's questions -- which start with "why didn't you connect the dots and put him (bin Laden) out of business?"

Atrios blogged earlier that the former president was angry because he thought the questions would focus on his Clinton Global Initiative.

But now, on to the transcript:

Wallace: When we announced that you were going to be on Fox News Sunday, I got a lot of e-mail from viewers. And I have to say I was surprised, most of them wanted me to ask you this question. Why didn't you do more to put bin Laden and al-Qaeda out of business when you were president? There's a new book out, I suspect you may have already read, called The Looming Tower. And it talks about the fact that when you pulled troops out of Somalia in 1993, bin Laden said "I have seen the frailty and the weakness and the cowardice of U.S. troops." Then there was the bombing of the embassies in Africa and the attack on the Cole.

Clinton: OK let's just --

Wallace: May I just finish the question sir? And after the attack, the book says, that bin Laden separated his leaders, spread them around because he expected an attack and there was no response. I understand that hindsight is always 20/20 --

Clinton: No, let's talk about it.

Wallace: But the question is, why didn't you connect the dots and put him out of business?

Clinton: Let's talk about it. I will answer all those things on the merits, but first I want to talk about the context in which this arises. I'm being asked this on the FOX network. ABC just had a right-wing conservative running their little pathway to 9/11, falsely claiming it was based on the 9/11 commission report with three things asserted against me directly contradictory to the 9/11 commission report. And I think it's very interesting that all the conservative Republicans who
now say I didn't do enough claim that I was too obsessed with bin Laden.

All of President Bush's neo-cons that I was too obsessed with bin Laden, they had no meetings on bin Laden for nine months after I left office. All the right wingers who now say I didn't do enough, said
I did too much, the same people. They were all trying to get me to withdraw from Somalia in 1993 the next day after we were involved in Black Hawk Down and I refused to do it and stayed six months and had an orderly transfer to the United Nations.

OK, now let's look at all the criticisms, Black Hawk Down, Somalia, there is not a living soul in the
world who thought Osama bin Laden had anything to do with Black Hawk Down or was paying any attention to it, or even knew al-Qaeda was a going concern in October 93.

Wallace: I understand.

Clinton: No, no, wait. Don't tell me that -- you asked me why didn't I do more to bin Laden, there was not a living soul, all the people who now criticize me wanted to leave the next day. You brought this up, so you get an answer. But you -- secondly ...

Wallace: .. bin Laden says, but it showed the weakness of the United States.

Clinton: Bin Laden may have said it -- but it would have shown the weakness if we left right away. But he wasn't involved in that, that's just a bunch of bull. That was about Muhammad Aidid, a Muslim warlord, murdering 22 Pakistani Muslim troops. We were all there on a humanitarian mission; we had no mission, none, to establish a certain kind of Somali government or keep anybody out. He was not a religious fanatic ...

Wallace: Mr. President ...

Clinton: ... there was no al-Qaeda ...

Wallace: With respect, if I may, instead of going through '93 and ...

Clinton: No, no -- you asked it. You brought it up.

Wallace: May I ask you (INAUDIBLE) question, and then you can answer?

Clinton: Yes.

Wallace: The 9/11 commission, which you talk about -- and this is what they did say, not what ABC pretended they said ...

Clinton: What did they say?

Wallace: They said, about you and President Bush, and I quote, "The U.S. government took the threat seriously, but not in the sense of mustering anything like the kind of effort that would be gathered to confront an enemy of the first, second or even third rank."

Clinton: First of all, that's not true with us and bin Laden.

Wallace: Well, I'm telling ... (CROSS TALK)

Clinton: Let's see what Richard Clarke said. Do you think Richard Clarke has a vigorous attitude about bin Laden?

Wallace: Yes, I do.

Clinton: You do, don't you?

Wallace: He has a variety of opinions and loyalties, but yes. (CROSS TALK)

Clinton: He has a variety of opinions and loyalties now, but let's look at the facts: he worked for Ronald Reagan, he was loyal with him; he worked for George H.W. Bush, he was loyal to him; he worked for me, and he was loyal to me; he worked for President Bush, he was loyal to him. They downgraded him and the terrorist operation.

Now, look what he said -- read his book and read his factual assertions -- not opinions, assertions. He said we took vigorous action after the African embassies, we probably nearly got bin Laden ...

Wallace: But what ...

Clinton: Now, wait a minute -- wait, wait, wait. (CROSS TALK)

No, no -- I authorized the CIA to get groups together to try to kill him. The CIA was run by George Tenet that President (Bush) gave the medal of freedom to, and he said he did a good job setting up all these counter terrorism things. The country never had a comprehensive anti-terror operation until I came there.

Now if you want to criticize me for one thing, you can criticize me for this: after the Cole, I had battle plans drawn to go into Afghanistan, overthrow the Taliban and launch a full-scale attack search for bin Laden. But we needed basing rights in Uzbekistan -- which we got after 9/11. The CIA and the FBI refused to certify that bin Laden was responsible. While I was there, they refused to certify. So that meant I would have had to send a few hundred special forces in in helicopters, refuel at night. Even the 9/11 commission didn't do that.

Now, the 9/11 commission was a political document, too. All I'm asking is, anybody that wants to say I didn't do enough, you read Richard Clarke's book ...

Wallace: Do you think you did enough, sir?

Clinton: No, because I didn't get him.

Wallace: Right.

Clinton: But at least I tried. That's the difference in me and some, including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now. They ridiculed me for trying. They had eight months to try, they did not try. I tried. So I tried and failed. When I failed, I left a comprehensive anti-terror strategy and the best guy in the country, Dick Clark, who got demoted...

Friday, September 22, 2006

Howard Gensler at the Philadelphia Daily News ( writes:

Al Qaeda's after O'Reilly? Yeah, right

IT'S NICE to see back spinning out quirky, investigative news items, including this one on Bill O'Reilly.

The pompous pundit recently told Barbara Walters in a "20/20" interview that "the FBI came in and warned me and a few other people at Fox News that al Qaeda had us on a death list."

(Actually it wasn't al Qaeda, but Keith Olberman.)

Now the no-spin-meister may have some spinnin' to do:

"I've never heard that before," a Fox News correspondent told Radar. "I do know the government has warned Fox about threats in the past, but I don't think they involved specific people."

An exec at another cable news channel had some no-spin of his own: "That sounds like absolute bulls--- to me," he said. "It's typical O'Reilly.

"We've never received any similar warnings from the FBI or any other government agency, and we've done plenty of reporting to piss off Bin Laden."

Lastly, a federal official told Radar, "I'm not aware of any FBI agents warning anyone at Fox News of their presence on any list... . For that matter, I'm not aware of any al Qaeda hit list targeting journalists."

O'Reilly's a journalist?

Asked about O'Reilly's claim, Fox News' spokesperson Leah Yoon had "nothing to say," as never-wrong O'Reilly's comments are being aired on ABC.

"We shouldn't be shouldering the burden of something he said on someone else's network," she said.

Huh? If Katie Couric went on Fox News and said she was abducted by space aliens, CBS would shoulder that burden.
I wonder who else is on this death list. Bugs Bunny maybe? Kelly Ripa? They got the alligator hunter already...
O'Reilly is just so plain full o' shit.
Remember when he claimed that his 'boycott' of France had caused the French economy 13 million dollars damage and backed up his claim with a quote from the 'Paris Business Review'?
Problem there was there is NO 'Paris Business Review'.
What a doofus.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

CIA ‘refused to operate’ secret jails

By Guy Dinmore in Washington

Published: September 20 2006 22:07 | Last updated: September 20 2006 22:07

The Bush administration had to empty its secret prisons and transfer terror suspects to the military-run detention centre at Guantánamo this month in part because CIA interrogators had refused to carry out further interrogations and run the secret facilities, according to former CIA officials and people close to the programme.

The former officials said the CIA interrogators’ refusal was a factor in forcing the Bush administration to act earlier than it might have wished.

When Mr Bush announced the suspension of the secret prison programme in a speech before the fifth anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, some analysts thought he was trying to gain political momentum before the November midterm congressional elections.

The administration publicly explained its decision in light of the legal uncertainty surrounding permissible interrogation techniques following the June Supreme Court ruling that all terrorist suspects in detention were entitled to protection under Common Article Three of the Geneva Conventions.

But the former CIA officials said Mr Bush’s hand was forced because interrogators had refused to continue their work until the legal situation was clarified because they were concerned they could be prosecuted for using illegal techniques. One intelligence source also said the CIA had refused to keep the secret prisons going.

Senior officials and Mr Bush himself have come close to admitting this by saying CIA interrogators sought legal clarity. But no official has confirmed on the record how and when the secret programme actually came to an end.

John Negroponte, director of national intelligence, who was interviewed by Fox News on Sunday, said in response to a question of whether CIA interrogators had refused to work: “I think the way I would answer you in regard to that question is that there’s been precious little activity of that kind for a number of months now, and certainly since the Supreme Court decision.”

In an interview with the Financial Times, John Bellinger, legal adviser to the state department, went further, saying there had been “very little operational activity” on CIA interrogations since the passage last December of a bill proposed by Senator John McCain outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners.

Mr Bellinger said the secret prisons remained empty for the moment. But he defended the US position that use of such prisons did not contravene international conventions as some in Europe have argued. He also said that, theoretically, the Pentagon as well as the CIA had the legal right to run such facilities. The CIA declined to comment.

Key figures among the 14 prisoners transferred to Guantánamo, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, had been held in secret centres for three years or more...

September 21, 2006

Keep Away the Vote

One of the cornerstones of the Republican Party’s strategy for winning elections these days is voter suppression, intentionally putting up barriers between eligible voters and the ballot box. The House of Representatives took a shameful step in this direction yesterday, voting largely along party lines for onerous new voter ID requirements. Laws of this kind are unconstitutional, as an array of courts have already held, and profoundly undemocratic. The Senate should not go along with this cynical, un-American electoral strategy.

The bill the House passed yesterday would require people to show photo ID to vote in 2008. Starting in 2010, that photo ID would have to be something like a passport, or an enhanced kind of driver’s license or non-driver’s identification, containing proof of citizenship. This is a level of identification that many Americans simply do not have.

The bill was sold as a means of deterring vote fraud, but that is a phony argument. There is no evidence that a significant number of people are showing up at the polls pretending to be other people, or that a significant number of noncitizens are voting.

Noncitizens, particularly undocumented ones, are so wary of getting into trouble with the law that it is hard to imagine them showing up in any numbers and trying to vote. The real threat of voter fraud on a large scale lies with electronic voting, a threat Congress has refused to do anything about.

The actual reason for this bill is the political calculus that certain kinds of people — the poor, minorities, disabled people and the elderly — are less likely to have valid ID. They are less likely to have cars, and therefore to have drivers’ licenses. There are ways for nondrivers to get special ID cards, but the bill’s supporters know that many people will not go to the effort if they don’t need them to drive.

If this bill passed the Senate and became law, the electorate would likely become more middle-aged, whiter and richer — and, its sponsors are anticipating, more Republican.

Court after court has held that voter ID laws of this kind are unconstitutional. This week, yet another judge in Georgia struck down that state’s voter ID law.

Last week, a judge in Missouri held its voter ID law to be unconstitutional. Supporters of the House bill are no doubt hoping that they may get lucky, and that the current conservative Supreme Court might uphold their plan.

America has a proud tradition of opening up the franchise to new groups, notably women and blacks, who were once denied it. It is disgraceful that, for partisan political reasons, some people are trying to reverse the tide, and standing in the way of people who have every right to vote...

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

What Would War Look Like?

A flurry of military maneuvers in the Middle East increases speculation that conflict with Iran is no longer quite so unthinkable. Here's how the U.S. would fight such a war--and the huge price it would have to pay to win it

By Michael Duffy

09/19/06 "
Time" 09/17/06 -- -- The first message was routine enough: a "Prepare to Deploy" order sent through naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two mine hunters. The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said to be ready to move by Oct. 1. But inside the Navy those messages generated more buzz than usual last week when a second request, from the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), asked for fresh eyes on long-standing U.S. plans to blockade two Iranian oil ports on the Persian Gulf. The CNO had asked for a rundown on how a blockade of those strategic targets might work. When he didn't like the analysis he received, he ordered his troops to work the lash up once again.

What's going on? The two orders offered tantalizing clues. There are only a few places in the world where minesweepers top the list of U.S. naval requirements. And every sailor, petroleum engineer and hedge-fund manager knows the name of the most important: the Strait of Hormuz, the 20-mile-wide bottleneck in the Persian Gulf through which roughly 40% of the world's oil needs to pass each day. Coupled with the CNO's request for a blockade review, a deployment of minesweepers to the west coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed--but until now largely theoretical--prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.

No one knows whether--let alone when--a military confrontation with Tehran will come to pass. The fact that admirals are reviewing plans for blockades is hardly proof of their intentions. The U.S. military routinely makes plans for scores of scenarios, the vast majority of which will never be put into practice. "Planners always plan," says a Pentagon official. Asked about the orders, a second official said only that the Navy is stepping up its "listening and learning" in the Persian Gulf but nothing more--a prudent step, he added, after Iran tested surface-to-ship missiles there in August during a two-week military exercise. And yet from the State Department to the White House to the highest reaches of the military command, there is a growing sense that a showdown with Iran--over its suspected quest for nuclear weapons, its threats against Israel and its bid for dominance of the world's richest oil region--may be impossible to avoid. The chief of the U.S. Central Command (Centcom), General John Abizaid, has called a commanders conference for later this month in the Persian Gulf--sessions he holds at least quarterly--and Iran is on the agenda.

On its face, of course, the notion of a war with Iran seems absurd. By any rational measure, the last thing the U.S. can afford is another war. Two unfinished wars--one on Iran's eastern border, the other on its western flank--are daily depleting America's treasury and overworked armed forces. Most of Washington's allies in those adventures have made it clear they will not join another gamble overseas. What's more, the Bush team, led by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, has done more diplomatic spadework on Iran than on any other project in its 51/2 years in office. For more than 18 months, Rice has kept the Administration's hard-line faction at bay while leading a coalition that includes four other members of the U.N. Security Council and is trying to force Tehran to halt its suspicious nuclear ambitions. Even Iran's former President, Mohammed Khatami, was in Washington this month calling for a "dialogue" between the two nations.

But superpowers don't always get to choose their enemies or the timing of their confrontations. The fact that all sides would risk losing so much in armed conflict doesn't mean they won't stumble into one anyway. And for all the good arguments against any war now, much less this one, there are just as many indications that a genuine, eyeball-to-eyeball crisis between the U.S. and Iran may be looming, and sooner than many realize. "At the moment," says Ali Ansari, a top Iran authority at London's Chatham House, a foreign-policy think tank, "we are headed for conflict."

So what would it look like? Interviews with dozens of experts and government officials in Washington, Tehran and elsewhere in the Middle East paint a sobering picture: military action against Iran's nuclear facilities would have a decent chance of succeeding, but at a staggering cost. And therein lies the excruciating calculus facing the U.S. and its allies: Is the cost of confronting Iran greater than the dangers of living with a nuclear Iran? And can anything short of war persuade Tehran's fundamentalist regime to give up its dangerous game?

(More at link above)

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean issued the following statement on President Bush's address today to the United Nations General Assembly in New York:

"Today we heard more of the same rhetoric from a desperate President Bush who is worried more about his party's political prospects this November than about how to protect America and fight and win the real war on terror. The president's freedom agenda has been replaced by the era of incompetence. The Bush Administration's policies, including the disastrous handling of the Iraq War, have hurt America's credibility around the world and at home. The president and the Republican-controlled Congress took their eye off the ball by focusing on Iraq and letting North Korea and Iran grow stronger. After invading Iraq without UN support, President Bush now finds UN member countries wary of U.S. proposals on a range of issues from ending the genocide in Darfur to disarming Iran's nuclear program. President Bush and the Republicans' commitment to their failed foreign policies have stripped away our credibility with other nations, making America and the world less safe.

"At the same time, Republicans in Congress have rubber-stamped the president's failed agenda and repeatedly blocked Democratic attempts to keep our country safe. Americans are looking for new leadership and a new direction in America's foreign policy that's both tough and smart."

Monday, September 18, 2006

Retired Colonel: ‘We Are Conducting Military Operations Inside Iran Right Now. The Evidence Is Overwhelming.’

Just now on CNN, Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner (Ret.) said, “We are conducting military operations inside Iran right now. The evidence is overwhelming.”

Gardiner, who taught at the U.S. Army’s National War College, has previously suggested that U.S. forces were already on the ground in Iran. Today he added several additional new points:

1) The House Committee on Emerging Threats recently called on State and Defense Department officials to testify on whether U.S. forces were in Iran. The officials didn’t come to the hearing.

2) “We have learned from Time magazine today that some U.S. naval forces had been alerted for deployment. That is a major step.”

3) “The plan has gone to the White House. That’s not normal planning. When the plan goes to the White House, that means we’ve gone to a different state.”

Clip & transcript:

Keith Olbermann is doing great work at MSNBC. It's in a whole other class than the rest of the TV pansies like O'Reilly, Hannity, etc. TV seems to be so opposite to the populace. The majority of registered, likely voters are anti-Bush now & have been for quite awhile. You wouldn't know that from TV. It's funny in a way to listen to the litany of unreality but what it really is is what happens when you let mass media be controlled by a handful of gazillion-aires catering to right wing cranks. TV has replaced actuality for the weaker minds among us. It's sad. Olbermann is a good antidote. I don't see him. I don't watch cable or much TV at all. KO reads well though in a way none of the others do. I hear clips on radio & online of many of the commentators. They're delirious sometimes, it's like a step through the mirror into bizarro world. Why would anyone with half a brain listen to anything that Bill O'Reilly says & mistake it for reality. The guy thought there was a 'war on Christmas'. He calls mild-mannered middle-of-the-road Democrats 'bomb-throwing radicals' & such. Hyperbolic bullshit. I guess there's a certain number of people who buy it. It seems fewer all the time.
KO's the man for me. Just give me some truth...

Bush owes us an apology

The President of the United States owes this country an apology.

It will not be offered, of course.

He does not realize its necessity.

There are now none around him who would tell him or could.

The last of them, it appears, was the very man whose letter provoked the President into the conduct, for which the apology is essential.

An apology is this President's only hope of regaining the slightest measure of confidence, of what has been, for nearly two years, a clear majority of his people.

Not "confidence" in his policies nor in his designs nor even in something as narrowly focused as which vision of torture shall prevail -- his, or that of the man who has sent him into apoplexy, Colin Powell.

In a larger sense, the President needs to regain our confidence, that he has some basic understanding of what this country represents -- of what it must maintain if we are to defeat not only terrorists, but if we are also to defeat what is ever more increasingly apparent, as an attempt to re-define the way we live here, and what we mean, when we say the word "freedom."

Because it is evident now that, if not its architect, this President intends to be the contractor, for this narrowing of the definition of freedom.

The President revealed this last Friday, as he fairly spat through his teeth, words of unrestrained fury directed at the man who was once the very symbol of his administration, who was once an ambassador from this administration to its critics, as he had once been an ambassador from the military to its critics.

The former Secretary of State, Mr. Powell, had written, simply and candidly and without anger, that "the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism."

This President's response included not merely what is apparently the Presidential equivalent of threatening to hold one's breath, but within it contained one particularly chilling phrase.
REPORTER: Mr. President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says the world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. If a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state feels this way, don't you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you're following a flawed strategy?

MR. BUSH: “If there's any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it's flawed logic,” Bush said. “It's just -- I simply can't accept that. It's unacceptable to think that there's any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.

Of course it's acceptable to think that there's "any kind of comparison."

And in this particular debate, it is not only acceptable, it is obviously necessary.

Even if Mr. Powell never made the comparison in his letter.

Some will think that our actions at Abu Ghraib, or in Guantanamo, or in secret prisons in Eastern Europe, are all too comparable to the actions of the extremists.

Some will think that there is no similarity, or, if there is one, it is to the slightest and most unavoidable of degrees.

What all of us will agree on, is that we have the right -- we have the duty -- to think about the comparison.

And, most importantly, that the other guy, whose opinion about this we cannot fathom, has exactly the same right as we do: to think -- and say -- what his mind and his heart and his conscience tell him, is right.

All of us agree about that.

Except, it seems, this President.

With increasing rage, he and his administration have begun to tell us, we are not permitted to disagree with them, that we cannot be right. That Colin Powell cannot be right.

And then there was that one, most awful phrase.

In four simple words last Friday, the President brought into sharp focus what has been only vaguely clear these past five-and-a-half years - the way the terrain at night is perceptible only during an angry flash of lightning, and then, a second later, all again is dark.

“It's unacceptable to think," he said.

It is never unacceptable to think.

And when a President says thinking is unacceptable, even on one topic, even in the heat of the moment, even in the turning of a phrase extracted from its context, he takes us toward a new and fearful path -- one heretofore the realm of science fiction authors and apocalyptic visionaries.

That flash of lightning freezes at the distant horizon, and we can just make out a world in which authority can actually suggest it has become unacceptable to think.

Thus the lightning flash reveals not merely a President we have already seen, the one who believes he has a monopoly on current truth.

It now shows us a President who has decided that of all our commanders-in-chief, ever, he alone has had the knowledge necessary to alter and re-shape our inalienable rights.

This is a frightening, and a dangerous, delusion, Mr. President.

If Mr. Powell's letter -- cautionary, concerned, predominantly supportive -- can induce from you such wrath and such intolerance, what would you say were this statement to be shouted to you by a reporter, or written to you by a colleague?

"Governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government.”

Those incendiary thoughts came, of course, from a prior holder of your job, Mr. Bush.

They were the words of Thomas Jefferson.

He put them in the Declaration of Independence.

Mr. Bush, what would you say to something that anti-thetical to the status quo just now?

Would you call it "unacceptable" for Jefferson to think such things, or to write them?

Between your confidence in your infallibility, sir, and your demonizing of dissent, and now these rages better suited to a thwarted three-year old, you have left the unnerving sense of a White House coming unglued - a chilling suspicion that perhaps we have not seen the peak of the anger; that we can no longer forecast what next will be said to, or about, anyone who disagrees.

Or what will next be done to them.

On this newscast last Friday night, Constitiutional law Professor Jonathan Turley of George Washington University, suggested that at some point in the near future some of the "detainees" transferred from secret CIA cells to Guantanamo, will finally get to tell the Red Cross that they have indeed been tortured.

Thus the debate over the Geneva Conventions, is in fact not about further interrogations of detainees, but about those already conducted, and the possible liability of the administration, for them.

That, certainly, could explain Mr. Bush's fury.

That, at this point, is speculative.

But at least it provides an alternative possibility as to why the President's words were at such variance from the entire history of this country.

For, there needs to be some other explanation, Mr. Bush, than that you truly believe we should live in a United States of America in which a thought is unacceptable.

There needs to be a delegation of responsible leaders -- Republicans or otherwise -- who can sit you down as Barry Goldwater and Hugh Scott once sat Richard Nixon down - and explain the reality of the situation you have created.

There needs to be an apology from the President of the United States.

And more than one.

But, Mr. Bush, the others -- for warnings unheeded five years ago, for war unjustified four years ago, for battle unprepared three years ago -- they are not weighted with the urgency and necessity of this one.

We must know that, to you, thought with which you disagree -- and even voice with which you disagree and even action with which you disagree -- are still sacrosanct to you.

The philosopher Voltaire once insisted to another author, "I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." Since the nation's birth, Mr. Bush, we have misquoted and even embellished that statement, but we have served ourselves well, by subscribing to its essence.

Oddly, there are other words of Voltaire's that are more pertinent still, just now.

"Think for yourselves," he wrote, "and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too."

Apologize, sir, for even hinting at an America where a few have that privilege to think and the rest of us get yelled at by the President.

Anything else, Mr. Bush, is truly unacceptable....

The Kafka Strategy

Published: September 18, 2006

What we’ve seen over the past few years from Bush, Cheney & Company has been the stuff of Kafka, not Madison and Jefferson.

The president seemed about to lose it at times last week. He was fighting with everybody — tenacious reporters frustrated by the absence of straight answers about the treatment of terror suspects; key Republican senators who think it’s crazy for a great country like the U.S. to become a champion of kangaroo courts and the degradation of defendants; even his own former secretary of state, Colin Powell, who worries that the world is coming to “doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.”

It seemed that the only people the president wasn’t fighting with were the Democrats, who have gone into a coma, and the yahoos who never had much of a problem with such matters as torture and detention without trial.

As Marvin Gaye once sang, “What’s going on?”

The people at the top are getting scared, that’s what’s going on. The fog of secrecy is lifting, and the Bush administration is frightened to death that it will eventually have to pay a heavy price for the human rights abuses it has ordered or condoned in its so-called war on terror.

The Supreme Court has ruled that the Geneva Conventions apply to the prisoners seized by the administration, which means that abusing those prisoners — as so many have said for so long — is unquestionably illegal. And there is also the possibility that the Democrats, if they ever wake up, may take control of at least one house of Congress, giving them the kind of subpoena power and oversight that makes the administration tremble.

Bush, Cheney & Co. are desperately trying to hold together a house of cards that is ready to collapse because their strategy and tactics for fighting terrorism were slapped together with no real regard for the rule of law. What we’ve seen over the past few years has been a nightmare version of the United States. Torture? Secret prisons? Capital trials in which key evidence is kept from the accused? That’s the stuff of Kafka, not Madison and Jefferson.

The reason President Bush has been trying so frantically to get Congressional passage of his plan to interrogate and try terror suspects is that he needs its contorted interpretations of the law to keep important cases from falling apart, and to cover the collective keisters of higher-ups who may have authorized or condoned war crimes.

There’s no guarantee that the administration can properly bring to justice even the worst of the bad guys, people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and 13 other high-profile prisoners who were recently transferred from a secret C.I.A. program to the detention center at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. These are men accused of the most heinous of offenses, crimes that would subject them to the death penalty.

But it’s widely believed that some or all of them were tortured. In civilized countries, evidence obtained by torture is inadmissible in a court of law.

The Bush administration would also like to deny terror suspects, even those facing the death penalty, the right to see evidence against them that is classified. This is a concept that is so far beyond the pale it makes most legal scholars gasp.

“We don’t charge people — particularly in capital offenses, but in minor offenses, as well — without letting them see the evidence that is being offered against them,” said Scott Horton, a prominent New York attorney and Columbia law professor who has done extensive human rights work.

“Let’s imagine you’re a prosecutor,” said Mr. Horton. “Are you going to seek the death penalty against someone and convict them and let them be sentenced to death without letting them know what the evidence is against them? No way. What prosecutor wants that?”

One of the biggest concerns of the administration is the possibility of evidence emerging that could lead to charges of war crimes against high-ranking officials. The president and others in the administration have argued that they are seeking changes in the law in order to protect soldiers and ordinary interrogators in the field against war crimes accusations.

But there are already clear guidelines — short of war crimes prosecutions — for dealing with soldiers and civilian interrogators who abuse prisoners. The Abu Ghraib prosecutions are a good example.

The people who would have to worry, if war crimes were found to have been committed, would be those at the top of the command structure who crafted policies that were illegal and ordered them carried out — or who turned a blind eye to atrocities.

“Those are the ones,” said Mr. Horton, “who are vulnerable.”

Rick Jacobs @ The HuffPo writes:

...It's worth pausing to recall the insidious nature of Halliburton's role in the invasion and occupation of Iraq. As with so much related to the Bush/Cheney Administration, the truth is stranger than fiction. We did not need Oliver Stone for this one; Robert Greenwald's fact-based documentary tells it better than any novelist could imagine.

We all by now know that Dick Cheney retired from the Pentagon in 1993 to accede to the thrown of Halliburton, an oil field services company based in Houston. Under Mr. Cheney's reign, Halliburton acquired Dresser Industries which included the Kellogg Company (the K of KBR), a major engineering firm. True to form, Mr. Cheney's acquisition did not include much due diligence. After Mr. Cheney left Halliburton with tens of millions of dollars in his pocket largely earned because of his connections to Middle East dictators, Halliburton had to cough up $2.3 billion in cash, about $1.2 billion in stock and another $55 million in IOUs to help pay off the tens of thousands of people in this country who had suffered and/or died of asbestos poisoning at the hand of Dresser, which Mr. Cheney had acquired and for which Mr. Cheney was (and apparently still is) handsomely compensated. If this sounds a bit like Mr. Cheney's due diligence with respect to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, it should. He never bothered to look at what Dresser had before he bought it for Halliburton and he never bothered to look at what Iraq had before he broke it for the U.S.

As Messrs. Cheney and Rumsfeld planned the war in Iraq beginning during the first year of the Bush Administration, Mr. Cheney's Halliburton was the contractor of choice to do the work that the military had always done in past wars. This time, though, the war would be privatized to suit the ideology and obfuscation of the Bush team, which wanted to pretend that the number of people we'd need in Iraq would be small (so outsource it) and that the government can be privatized (so outsource it to friends)...


It's clear why Halliburton CEO David Lesar and his hyperbole machine attacked Iraq for Sale on Friday without even seeing it. On Monday, 18 September in Washington, Senator Dorgan, a crusader for truth and oversight of companies such as Halliburton, together with Senators Reid and Bingaman, is holding hearings with four witnesses from the film who will talk about the "Friday Massacre." The senators know that Halliburton has been profiteering at the expense of taxpayers, soldiers and its own employees. Mr. Lesar is scared that finally, with a film that everyone can see and hearings that everyone will watch, his reliance on the federal trough may come to an unhappy end. Having looked across town at his former Enron neighbors, even Mr. Lesar has to remember the old Wall Street adage: Bulls have their day. Bears have their day. But pigs always get slaughtered....

Sunday, September 17, 2006

A License to Abuse
Mr. Bush says he has "one question" for Congress. The right answer to it is "no."
Sunday, September 17, 2006; Page B06

PRESIDENT BUSH made crystal clear Friday that he has one overriding concern about the legislation on foreign detainees before Congress. His "one test," he said, was whether Congress would authorize what he repeatedly called "the program" -- that is, the CIA's network of secret prisons and its brutal treatment of the people in them. "Congress has got a decision to make," Mr. Bush declared during a news conference. "Do you want the program to go forward or not?"

That is indeed the most important question before Congress and the nation. So allow us to elaborate, again, exactly what Mr. Bush means by "the program." He's talking about the practice of sequestering terrorist suspects indefinitely and without charge in secret foreign locations and holding them incommunicado even from the International Red Cross. Until recently, such "disappearances" were the signature of Third World dictatorships. U.S. adoption of them has roiled relations with our closest European allies and impeded collaboration with foreign police and intelligence services.

Mr. Bush also wants the CIA to be able to treat its detainees to such practices as "cold cell," or induced hypothermia, in which detainees are held naked in near-freezing temperatures and repeatedly doused with water; "long standing," in which prisoners are handcuffed in an uncomfortable standing position and forced to remain there for up to 40 hours; and prolonged sleep deprivation.

Throughout the world and for decades, such practices have been called torture. That's what the United States called them when they were used by the Soviet KGB. As the president himself tacitly acknowledges, they violate Geneva and other international conventions as well as current U.S. law. News that the United States has used these techniques -- as well as waterboarding, an ancient torture technique that simulates drowning -- has gravely damaged U.S. standing in the world and the fight against terrorism. It increases the danger that captured U.S. servicemen will be exposed to similar treatment by nations that might otherwise feel obliged to respect the Geneva standards....Rather than admit that he wants to legalize disappearances and torture, Mr. Bush ominously warns that "the program" won't continue unless Congress passes his bill. He says "time's running out," even though it's not. There are no detainees in the CIA prisons at the moment, according to the president, and the only clock running out is that measuring the midterm election campaign...

U.S. war prisons legal vacuum for 14,000

In the few short years since the first shackled Afghan shuffled off to Guantanamo, the U.S. military has created a global network of overseas prisons, its islands of high security keeping 14,000 detainees beyond the reach of established law.

Disclosures of torture and long-term arbitrary detentions have won rebuke from leading voices including the U.N. secretary-general and the U.S. Supreme Court. But the bitterest words come from inside the system, the size of several major U.S. penitentiaries.

"It was hard to believe I'd get out," Baghdad shopkeeper Amjad Qassim al-Aliyawi told The Associated Press after his release — without charge — last month. "I lived with the Americans for one year and eight months as if I was living in hell."

Captured on battlefields, pulled from beds at midnight, grabbed off streets as suspected insurgents, tens of thousands now have passed through U.S. detention, the vast majority in Iraq.

Many say they were caught up in U.S. military sweeps, often interrogated around the clock, then released months or years later without apology, compensation or any word on why they were taken. Seventy to 90 percent of the Iraq detentions in 2003 were "mistakes," U.S. officers once told the international Red Cross.

Defenders of the system, which has only grown since soldiers' photos of abuse at Abu Ghraib shocked the world, say it's an unfortunate necessity in the battles to pacify Iraq and Afghanistan, and to keep suspected terrorists out of action.

Every U.S. detainee in Iraq "is detained because he poses a security threat to the government of Iraq, the people of Iraq or coalition forces," said U.S. Army Lt. Col. Keir-Kevin Curry, a spokesman for U.S.-led military detainee operations in Iraq.

But dozens of ex-detainees, government ministers, lawmakers, human rights activists, lawyers and scholars in Iraq, Afghanistan and the United States said the detention system often is unjust and hurts the war on terror by inflaming anti-Americanism in Iraq and elsewhere...
It seems to me that you'd have to be insane to think this is OK.

Rasmussen Reports - September 17, 2006

The latest Bush bounce is over. Today, 41% of American adults approve of
the way that President Bush is performing his job and 57% disapprove. That's
exactly where the numbers were before the President's 9/11 speech.

Overall 21% of Americans Strongly Approve and 42% Strongly Disapprove.
As one wag put it: even cadavers bounce when dropped.
After the fall of Saddam Hussein's government in April 2003, the opportunity to participate in the U.S.-led effort to reconstruct Iraq attracted all manner of Americans -- restless professionals, Arabic-speaking academics, development specialists and war-zone adventurers. But before they could go to Baghdad, they had to get past Jim O'Beirne's office in the Pentagon.

To pass muster with O'Beirne, a political appointee who screens prospective political appointees for Defense Department posts, applicants didn't need to be experts in the Middle East or in post-conflict reconstruction. What seemed most important was loyalty to the Bush administration.

O'Beirne's staff posed blunt questions to some candidates about domestic politics: Did you vote for George W. Bush in 2000? Do you support the way the president is fighting the war on terror? Two people who sought jobs with the U.S. occupation authority said they were even asked their views on Roe v. Wade.

Many of those chosen by O'Beirne's office to work for the Coalition Provisional Authority, which ran Iraq's government from April 2003 to June 2004, lacked vital skills and experience. A 24-year-old who had never worked in finance -- but had applied for a White House job -- was sent to reopen Baghdad's stock exchange. The daughter of a prominent neoconservative commentator and a recent graduate from an evangelical university for home-schooled children were tapped to manage Iraq's $13 billion budget, even though they didn't have a background in accounting.

The decision to send the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest is now regarded by many people involved in the 3 1/2 -year effort to stabilize and rebuild Iraq as one of the Bush administration's gravest errors. Many of those selected because of their political fidelity spent their time trying to impose a conservative agenda on the postwar occupation, which sidetracked more important reconstruction efforts and squandered goodwill among the Iraqi people, according to many people who participated in the reconstruction effort.

The CPA had the power to enact laws, print currency, collect taxes, deploy police and spend Iraq's oil revenue. It had more than 1,500 employees in Baghdad at its height, working under America's viceroy in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, but never released a public roster of its entire staff.

Interviews with scores of former CPA personnel over the past two years depict an organization that was dominated -- and ultimately hobbled -- by administration ideologues.

"We didn't tap -- and it should have started from the White House on down -- just didn't tap the right people to do this job," said Frederick Smith, who served as the deputy director of the CPA's Washington office. "It was a tough, tough job. Instead we got people who went out there because of their political leanings."

Endowed with $18 billion in U.S. reconstruction funds and a comparatively quiescent environment in the immediate aftermath of the U.S. invasion, the CPA was the U.S. government's first and best hope to resuscitate Iraq -- to establish order, promote rebuilding and assemble a viable government, all of which, experts believe, would have constricted the insurgency and mitigated the chances of civil war. Many of the basic tasks Americans struggle to accomplish today in Iraq -- training the army, vetting the police, increasing electricity generation -- could have been performed far more effectively in 2003 by the CPA.

But many CPA staff members were more interested in other things: in instituting a flat tax, in selling off government assets, in ending food rations and otherwise fashioning a new nation that looked a lot like the United States. Many of them spent their days cloistered in the Green Zone, a walled-off enclave in central Baghdad with towering palms, posh villas, well-stocked bars and resort-size swimming pools.

By the time Bremer departed in June 2004, Iraq was in a precarious state. The Iraqi army, which had been dissolved and refashioned by the CPA, was one-third the size he had pledged it would be. Seventy percent of police officers had not been screened or trained. Electricity generation was far below what Bremer had promised to achieve. And Iraq's interim government had been selected not by elections but by Americans. Divisive issues were to be resolved later on, increasing the chances that tension over those matters would fuel civil strife.

To recruit the people he wanted, O'Beirne sought résumés from the offices of Republican congressmen, conservative think tanks and GOP activists. He discarded applications from those his staff deemed ideologically suspect, even if the applicants possessed Arabic language skills or postwar rebuilding experience.

Smith said O'Beirne once pointed to a young man's résumé and pronounced him "an ideal candidate." His chief qualification was that he had worked for the Republican Party in Florida during the presidential election recount in 2000.

O'Beirne, a former Army officer who is married to prominent conservative commentator Kate O'Beirne, did not respond to requests for comment.

He and his staff used an obscure provision in federal law to hire many CPA staffers as temporary political appointees, which exempted the interviewers from employment regulations that prohibit questions about personal political beliefs.

There were a few Democrats who wound up getting jobs with the CPA, but almost all of them were active-duty soldiers or State Department Foreign Service officers. Because they were career government employees, not temporary hires, O'Beirne's office could not query them directly about their political leanings.

One former CPA employee who had an office near O'Beirne's wrote an e-mail to a friend describing the recruitment process: "I watched résumés of immensely talented individuals who had sought out CPA to help the country thrown in the trash because their adherence to 'the President's vision for Iraq' (a frequently heard phrase at CPA) was 'uncertain.' I saw senior civil servants from agencies like Treasury, Energy . . . and Commerce denied advisory positions in Baghdad that were instead handed to prominent RNC (Republican National Committee) contributors."

As more and more of O'Beirne's hires arrived in the Green Zone, the CPA's headquarters in Hussein's marble-walled former Republican Palace felt like a campaign war room. Bumper stickers and mouse pads praising President Bush were standard desk decorations. In addition to military uniforms and "Operation Iraqi Freedom" garb, "Bush-Cheney 2004" T-shirts were among the most common pieces of clothing.

"I'm not here for the Iraqis," one staffer noted to a reporter over lunch. "I'm here for George Bush."...

Here's something we can get stopped with the Dems in control of the House. With pResident 'Skank' & Uncle Dick in charge it's been open house to corruption. Give up on the 30% of Faux News watchers & Limpball listeners, they don't know, they don't want to know. But there's plenty of people who'd care if they knew what's going on. Unfortunately there's not a 'librul' media there's a media that's owned by gazillionaires with their snouts in the trough. Maybe we can get the 'equal time' provision back that Ronnie 'Wetbrain' Raygun deregulated. Everytime the networks shows crap like Path to 9/11 they have to show a documentary like this. The morons can do without two more hours of brain-melting reality TV or hyped up no-talent talent shows...

A new film uses the $45 six-pack of Coke to open another front in the political battle over Iraq, decrying what it calls profiteering and incompetence by defense contractors with the right political connections.

Robert Greenwald, who took aim at Wal-Mart in a 2005 documentary, has turned his lens on private firms hired to help the U.S. military fight the war in Iraq with the just-released "Iraq for Sale."

He is raising questions about outsourcing for an unpopular war in time for the November congressional elections.

The film's premise that billions are being diverted to companies that are overcharging U.S. taxpayers for shoddy services, as illustrated by the expensive soda pop or a purported $100 fee for washing a bag of laundry.

Other jobs outsourced under multimillion-dollar contracts included interrogating prisoners at Abu Ghraib or security details in which private contractors have been killed.

The film quotes a three sources saying the U.S. military in Iraq paid $45 for Coca-Cola -- it was for either a case or a six-pack, depending on who's talking. The assertion is meant to undercut the belief that hiring private contractors is cost-efficient...


Others in the film who have received multimillion-dollar contracts from the Pentagon -- information and communications contractor Titan Corp., a unit of L-3 Communications; security company Blackwater; and information technology company CACI -- declined to comment or did not return phone calls seeking comment.

"When I first heard about the Cokes, I thought, well, one person did that so we're not going to use that. And we heard it a second time, and a third time and a fourth time. So we began to focus on the corporate pattern," Greenwald told Reuters.

That pattern, the documentary asserts, shows a "revolving door" in which high-ranking officers leave the Pentagon to join defense contractors, which in turn lobby members of Congress and contribute millions of dollars to their electoral campaigns.

Those factors, combined with the pressure of supplying the troops at war in Iraq, created what Greenwald called a "perfect storm" for corruption.

The director said he hopes the documentary calls attention to military outsourcing in time for the November congressional elections. The Democratic Policy Committee, a party oversight body, will hold hearings on the topic in Washington on Monday.

"As a citizen, I'm looking for my elected leaders to protect me, to protect my tax dollars and to protect my security," Greenwald said. "And the obscenity over war profiteering is doing neither."...

Saturday, September 16, 2006

...The problem is, almost everything that President Bush understands about his own war on terrorism is wrong. According to nearly a dozen former high-ranking officials who have been on the front lines of the administration's counterterrorism effort, the president is not only fighting the wrong war -- he is fighting it in a way that has actually made the threat worse. The war on terrorism, they say, has been mismanaged and misdirected almost from the start, in no small part because the president simply does not understand the nature of the enemy he is fighting.

"I hate the term 'global war on terrorism,' " says John O. Brennan, a CIA veteran who served as the first director of the National Counterterrorism Center, the primary organization set up by Bush to analyze all intelligence about terrorism and coordinate strategic operational planning. "I hate the tough talk, you know, the 'we're gonna kill these guys' stuff."...