Joe Biden makes it plain regarding President Bush's un-American conduct in Israel:
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), piling on to Democratic complaints about President Bush’s speech in Israel today:
“This is bullshit, this is malarkey. This is outrageous, for the president of the United States to go to a foreign country, to sit in the Knesset ... and make this kind of ridiculous statement.”
Speaking before the Knesset, Bush said that “some people” believe the United States “should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along."
"We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said. "As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is — the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."
Democrats have interpreted the comments as an attack on Sen. Barack Obama, and Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the president was out of line.
“He is the guy who has weakened us,” he said. “He has increased the number of terrorists in the world. It is his policies that have produced this vulnerability that the U.S. has. It’s his [own] intelligence community [that] has pointed this out, not me.”
Biden noted that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have both suggested that the United States ought to find a way to talk more with its enemies.
"If he thinks this is appeasement, is he going to come back and fire his own cabinet?” Biden asked. “Is he going to fire Condi Rice?”
How about firing himself? After all, Bush is the man who turned to the Iranians after 9/11 for cooperation against our mutual enemy, al-Qaida, in neighboring Afghanistan. Bush then "appeased" al-Qaida itself, by pulling American troops out of the Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia (whom he constantly appeases, even though they produced 15 of the 19 hijackers who flew planes into our buildings on 9/11, and their money funds global terrorism...) giving in to one of Osama bin Laden's chief complaints. Gates and Rice have indeed advocated talking to the Iranians, and worse, Bush's Iraq policy has done more to benefit Iran than a decade of its own war with Iraq ever could. Bush has made Iran the preeminent power in the Gulf region, and by driving up oil prices, his war has enriched the Mullahs to no end.
So congratulations Mr. Bush, you're our Appeaser in Chief.
Damn, I love Chuck Hagel! My favorite Republican lawmaker (and a man who should be running for president) is at it again, calling out the Bushies in no uncertain terms:
"This is one of the most arrogant, incompetent administrations I've ever seen personally or ever read about," the always blunt and frequently quotable Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., said yesterday during an appearance at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.
"This administration in my opinion has been as unprepared as any administration I'm aware of," Hagel added, "not only the ones that I have been somehow connected to and that's been every administration -- either I've been in Washington or worked within an administration or Congress or some way dealing with them since the first Nixon administration. I would rate this one the lowest in capacity, in capability, in policy, in consensus -- almost every area, I would give it the lowest grade. ...
"And you know, I think of this administration, what they could have done after 9/11, what was within their grasp. Every poll in the world showed 90% of the world for us. Iran had some of the first spontaneous demonstrations on the streets of Tehran supporting America. They squandered a tremendous amount of opportunity."
Hagel, who toyed with the idea of running for president himself, also said:
He would be open to the idea of either working in a Democratic administration or even running as the vice presidential nominee on a Democratic ticket -- though, he conceded, "I probably won't have to worry about it" because he's unlikely to be asked.
"If there was an area that I thought I could make a difference and influence policy, leadership, outcome ... then I would entertain" those possibilities, Hagel said. ...
Don't count on not being asked, Chuck. You're one of the few clear-thinking, independent-minded Republicans in Congress, and one of only a handful of people who truly embody the term "Senator" -- quite the opposite of the kow-towing, royal boot-licking Joe Liebermans around you. If you ran for president, I would seriously consider crossing political lines to support you.
The full transcript of Hagel's remarks can be found on the CFR website.
Percentage of Americans who want Congress to investigate the actions of the Bush-Cheney administration during and after the 9/11 attacks, according to a new Zogby poll. Also, according to the poll, more than 30 percent favor the immediate impeachment of the president and/or vice president.
Meanwhile, even Wolf Blitzer is now acknowledging the failures of the Iraq campaign, pointing out these unpleasant statistics to one of the Bush faithful during his program on CNN:
Bombings, sectarian slayings and other violence related to the war killed at least 1,773 Iraqi civilians in August, the second month in a row that civilian deaths have risen, according to government figures obtained Friday. In July, the civilian death toll was 1,753, and in June it was 1,227.
Oh and the ethnic cleansing since the surge? It's up.
When you're a chickenhawk... never bring up Vietnam
George W. Bush, America's second most powerful chickenhawk (Dick Cheney being the first,) made a serious mistake this week, during a speech before the Veterans of Foreign Wars. In pleading for more time and more support for his Mesopotamian disaster, he stumbled upon an unfortunate analogy. Said the Texas, Alabama and Massachusetts Air National Guard no-show:
"One unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like boat people, re-education camps and killing fields..."
"Historical parallels of that kind are not very helpful, and I don't think they happen to be right," she said. "This is a different set of circumstances, with different stakes for the United States."
Yeah, a set of circumstances a lot like Vietnam...
Meanwhile, in his speech, Bush also walked back from any criticism of the administration of Iraqi P.M. Nouri al-Maliki. Said Bushie about his equally incompetent, Shiite militia-coddling pal:
"Prime Minister Maliki's a good guy, good man with a difficult job and I support him," Mr Bush told military veterans in Kansas city.
The president also vowed to stay the course in Iraq and for the first time compared the situation to the Vietnam War, arguing that America's withdrawal had been catastrophic for millions of people.
"As long as I am commander in chief we will fight to win," Mr Bush said to resounding applause from a conference of US military veterans in Kansas City, "I'm confident that we will prevail."
And why so nicie?
The Iraqi prime minister had earlier reacted angrily to what he called the "discourteous" remarks from his US allies.
AdvertisementHe suggested that if the was not treated well by the Americans, he would find another patron much less to their liking, such as Iran or Syria.
"Those who make such statements are bothered by our visit to Syria," said Mr Al-Maliki.
"We will pay no attention. We care for our people and our Constitution and can find friends elsewhere.
"No one has the right to place timetables on the Iraq government. It was elected by its people."
The message was driven home to president Bush overnight.
So Iraq is, or isn't, Vietnam, we're never leaving, and Maliki's doing a heckuva job. Well alrighty then.
Back to Bush's Vietnamization strategy, David Gergen weighs in:
"He may well have stirred up a hornet's nest among historians," Gergen stated. "By invoking Vietnam, he raised the automatic question, 'Well, if you've learned so much from history, Mr. President, how did you ever get us involved in another quagmire?' ... It's surprising to me that he would go back to that, and I think he's going to get a lot of criticism."
"This is not a man who's talking about compromise," Gergen emphasized "This is not a man who's talking about a Plan B. ... This a man saying, 'I'm hanging tough.'"
"The reason we lost Vietnam, in part, was because we had no strategy," said Gergen. "And the problem we've got now in Iraq, what is the strategy for victory? ... It's not clear we have a winning strategy in Iraq. That's what cost us Vietnam. That's why we eventually withdrew under humiliating circumstances."
"[Bush] talks black and white," Gergen concluded. "Victory or withdrawal, those are the two options. And Democrats and Republicans are saying, 'Mr. President, there is a third option here, and that is a partial pullback. Stay there, try to prevent a civil war.' ... Today, there was no indication he was willing to do that."
Update: Watch Dubya for yourself:
Update: Veterans react to Bush's chicken hawkery...
FBI Director Robert Mueller's notes following the now infamous March 2004 visit to the bedside of then-ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft provide fresh contradictions between Mueller's and then-acting A.G. James Comey's accounts of the "Godfather"-esque attempt to strong arm a sick man into Okaying an illegal domestic wiretapping program, and the "recollection" of Alberto Gonzales. The Washington Post reports:
Then-Attorney General John D. Ashcroft was "feeble," "barely articulate" and "stressed" moments after a hospital room confrontation in March 2004 with Alberto R. Gonzales, who wanted Ashcroft to approve a warrantless wiretapping program over Justice Department objections, according to notes from FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III that were released yesterday.
One of Mueller's entries in five pages of a daily log pertaining to the dispute also indicated that Ashcroft's deputy was so concerned about undue pressure by Gonzales and other White House aides for the attorney general to back the wiretapping program that the deputy asked Mueller to bar anyone other than relatives from later entering Ashcroft's hospital room.
Mueller's description of Ashcroft's physical condition that night contrasts with testimony last month from Gonzales, who told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Ashcroft was "lucid" and "did most of the talking" during the brief visit. It also confirms an account of the episode by former deputy attorney general James B. Comey, who said Ashcroft told the two men he was not well enough to make decisions in the hospital.
"Saw AG," Mueller writes in his notes for 8:10 p.m. on March 10, 2004, only minutes after Gonzales and White House chief of staff Andrew H. Card Jr. had visited Ashcroft. "Janet Ashcroft in the room. AG in chair; is feeble, barely articulate, clearly stressed."
The typewritten notes, heavily censored before being turned over to the House Judiciary Committee, provide further insight into a tumultuous but secret legal battle that gripped the Justice Department and the White House in March 2004, after Justice lawyers determined that parts of the warrantless wiretapping program run by the National Security Agency were illegal.
Although Mueller did not directly witness the exchange between Ashcroft, Gonzales and Card, his notes recounted Comey's personal statement that Ashcroft at the outset said that "he was in no condition to decide issues." Ashcroft also told the two men he supported his deputy's position on the secret program, Mueller said Comey told him.
Comey had precipitated the confrontation by informing the White House days earlier that the Justice Department would not approve the wiretapping program's continuation in its present form. Gonzales and Card then decided to see if they could get Ashcroft to sign a certification that it was legal.
After the meeting concluded without success, the Bush administration decided to proceed with the program anyway. But Comey, Mueller and half a dozen or so other Justice Department officials threatened to resign if it was not changed. The standoff was averted after President Bush agreed to make changes, Mueller and others have testified, but the changes have never been described.
In his notes, Mueller recounts Comey's statement that Ashcroft complained to Gonzales and Card at the hospital about being "barred" from obtaining "the advice he needed" about the NSA program because of "strict compartmentalization rules" set by the White House. Although Ashcroft, as attorney general, had been fully briefed about the program, many of his senior legal advisers were not allowed to know about it, officials said.
Gonzales was White House counsel at the time of the hospital visit and replaced Ashcroft as attorney general in 2005. "We never had any intent to ask anything of him if we did not feel that he was competent," Gonzales testified, adding later: "Mr. Ashcroft talked about the legal issues in a lucid form, as I've heard him talk about legal issues in the White House."...
Drip ... drip ... drip ... can anyone argue with any credibility that we have a functioning office of attorney general at the moment, while it's being helmed by a perjurer?
President Bush has appeared delusional before, with stories that he told Britain's Tony Blair in 2003 that God told him to invade Iraq and thus, solve the Palestinian-Israeli crisis. But now, Bush apparently has gone completely around the bend. In short, he means to keep the U.S. in Iraq, not for one more year, or five, or even ten, but more like 50 ... or forever. A disturbing portrait from the Dallas Morning News:
Friends of his from Texas were shocked recently to find him nearly wild-eyed, thumping himself on the chest three times while he repeated "I am the president!" He also made it clear he was setting Iraq up so his successor could not get out of "our country's destiny."
(Read the entire piece here, it's got great insights into how our intervention has shattered the traditional societal structures of the Middle East, resulting in metastasizing terrorism...)
And Bush himself has made it plain that no matter what reality presents itself, he never intends to allow our troops to leave Iraq. In fact, Bushie says we should stop thinking of Iraq as a quagmire, like Vietnam, and start thinking of it like an armed stalemate, like Korea:
Presidential spokesman Tony Snow said Bush has cited the long-term Korea analogy in looking at the U.S. role in Iraq, where American forces are in the fifth year of an unpopular war. Bush's goal is for Iraqi forces to take over the chief security responsibilities, relieving U.S. forces of frontline combat duty, Snow said.
"I think the point he's trying to make is that the situation in Iraq, and indeed, the larger war on terror, are things that are going to take a long time," Snow said. "But it is not always going to require an up-front combat presence."
Instead, he said, U.S. troops would provide "the so-called over-the-horizon support that is necessary from time to time to come to the assistance of the Iraqis. But you do not want the United States forever in the front."
In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, overthrew its regime (which posed a hypothetical threat), and, in the four years since, has kept about 150,000 troops in the country to kill terrorists (who weren't in Iraq before the war), to train the Iraqi army (which the Bush administration, for still-mysterious reasons, dismantled at the occupation's outset), and to keep a "low-grade" sectarian civil war (which erupted amid a vacuum of authority) from boiling over.
In the half-century-plus since the Korean armistice of 1953, just 90 U.S. soldiers have been killed in isolated border clashes in Korea. In the mere four years since the toppling of Saddam Hussein in 2003, more than 3,000 American servicemen and women have been killed, and the number rises every day.
To sum up, we intervened in South Korea as a response to an invasion and as part of a broad strategy to contain Communist aggression. We intervened in Iraq as the instigator of an invasion and as part of a broad strategy to expand unilateral American power. We remained in South Korea to protect a solid (if, for many years, authoritarian) government from another border incursion. We are remaining in Iraq to bolster a flimsy government and stave off a violent social implosion.
In other words, in no meaningful way are these two wars, or these two countries, remotely similar. In no way does one experience, or set of lessons, shed light on the other. In Iraq, no border divides friend from foe; no clear concept defines who is friend and foe. To say that Iraq might follow "a Korean model"—if the word model means anything—is absurd.
Related: Tony Snow tries to clean it up, and fails.
Both Mr Bush and the Queen addressed the crowd as the royal couple approached the end of a six-day US visit that included ceremonies marking the 400th anniversary of the British settlement in Jamestown, Virginia, and the Kentucky Derby.
Mr Bush noted the Queen's long history of dealing with successive American Governments, just barely stopping himself before dating her to 1776, the year the 13 British colonies declared their independence from Britain.
Elizabeth has occupied the British throne for 55 years and is 81.
"The American people are proud to welcome your majesty back to the United States, a nation you've come to know very well. After all you've dined with 10 U.S. presidents. You've helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 - in 1976," Bush said.
Hm ... terrible pity those etiquette lessons didn't take... There's a quite fancy dinner on tap for tonight:
It will also be closely watched by Washington's social elite for its clash of cultures: Texas swagger meets British prim. Dinner attire is white tie and tails - the first, and probably the only, white-tie affair of the Bush administration - and the president, not a white-tie kind of guy, was said to be none too keen on that, until Mrs. Bush put her foot down.
"I think Mrs. Bush is thrilled to have a white tie dinner, and we'll leave it at that," Amy Zantzinger, the new White House social secretary, said Friday as she arranged a seating chart for 134 on a huge computerized screen behind her desk in the East Wing.
... oh, and how about this for awkward:
Zantzinger said she was not swamped with requests; anybody who hadn't already received one of the elegant gold-rimmed invitations (hand-penned by a calligrapher, then engraved) apparently knew it would be gauche to ask. Still, the exclusivity has made for some awkward moments, as when the social secretary ran into the first President Bush in the hallway of the West Wing the other day.
Rudy Giuliani says George W. Bush will go down in history as a great president. Unfortunately, Rudy is very much alone in that belief. But for a few stalwarts, most Americans believe Mr. Bush to be an abject failure. In fact, only 28 percent of Americans int he latest Newsweek poll approve of the job Bush is doing as president. In the same poll, any of the top Democratic contenders would beat any of the Republicans, Rudy included, if the presidential election were held today. No surprise there. (One possible surprise, Barack Obama, who is becoming the darling not only of the media, but also of some prominent former Bush Republicans, does the best of the top tier Dems against the GOP's top guns.)
House Congressional Resolution 63 has been approved, "Disapproving of the decision of the President announced on January 10, 2007, to deploy more than 20,000 additional United States combat troops to Iraq." The Yeas were 246 and the Nays were 182. 17 Republicans voted with the Democrats, of whom only two opposed the resolution.
Here's how it will work. President Bush will continue to insist that Iran is funneling weapons and money to Iraqi militias who are in turn, killing American troops, but that, aw shucks, he doesn't have ANY intention of starting another war... But he will ratchet up the rhetoric, and the tactical provocations, like detaining Iranian officials in Iraq, hoping to trigger an overreaction by Tehran. Then he will make a sober sounding speech to the nation, stating that by his authorization, U.S. troops have been forced to retaliate against these outrageous acts, "in the name of peace." We will be at war with Iran, and nobody will have had the opportunity to stop it -- not Congress, not the American people.
#5. The entire Middle East region is imploding, starting with Iraq, but increasingly including Lebanon, something which strengthens Syria, which further strengthens Iran, because those two countries are seen as uniquely able to get their arms around the chaos, in a way we clearly cannot. A military confrontation with Iran could have disastrous consequences for the region, and could suck the United States into a quaqmire that would make Iraq look like a walk in the park. And this time, there will be no "coalition."
The sleeper issue that's (also) sinking the president
Forget the war ... okay don't forget the war ... but there's another issue that folks on the left and in the center are sleeping on (still) but that is further weighing down President Bush: it's the continued illegal immigration standstill, and it currently is embodied in the case of two border patrol agents who are serving long prison sentences for shooting an alleged illegal immigrant and then covering it up. Conservative politicians and pundits, including CNN's Lou Dobbs, are demanding that the president DO something, including pardoning the men, one of whom was recently beaten up in prison. Here's the latest, and it's hot. From Raw:
Several Republican lawmakers have sharply criticized the imprisonment of two border agents who were convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler in the back and attempting to cover it up.
Appeals to President Bush to pardon the two men, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, have increased since one was assaulted by fellow inmates in a federal prison last weekend.
Yesterday, two Repulican Congressmen had strong words to say about Bush, with one even threatening impeachment.
"Reps. Walter Jones, R-N.C., and Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., blasted President Bush for not intervening in the case, with Rohrabacher hinting that he would consider pressing for impeachment if either of the two agents was killed in prison," Dave Montgomery reports for McClatchy Newspapers.
"Now, I tell you, Mr. President, if these men -- especially after this assault -- are murdered in prison, or if one of them lose their lives, there's going to be some kind of impeachment talk in Capitol Hill," Rohrabacher said.
WASHINGTON - The Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday apologetically retracted staff members' comments that two Border Patrol agents convicted of shooting a Mexican drug smuggler had told investigators they intended "to shoot Mexicans."
The department's inspector general issued the retraction at a congressional hearing as the department released a previously sealed report into the conduct of the two agents, Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean.
Congressional pressure to remove the two agents from prison - either through presidential pardons or by releasing them on bail pending appeal - intensified Wednesday after reports that fellow inmates assaulted Ramos over the weekend.
The case has become a cause celebre among conservative groups, which contend that Ramos and Compean were railroaded by overzealous federal prosecutors who gave the drug smuggler immunity to testify against the two agents.
U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton of San Antonio has defended his handling of the case, saying the agents seriously overstepped their authority by attempting to cover up the shooting of the smuggler, Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila, and destroying evidence. They began serving their sentences last month. Compean faces 12 years in prison, Ramos 11.
The Homeland Security Department, which includes the Border Patrol, released its inspector general's report after four Texas lawmakers demanded the document to compare it with information from a briefing that department staff members gave them in September.
The aides told the lawmakers that the two agents had admitted to investigators that they intended to "shoot Mexicans." But Inspector General Richard L. Skinner said under questioning by Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, that the statements were erroneous, and he apologized.
The report also contradicted statements made in the briefing that the two men knew that Aldrete-Davila was unarmed and didn't pose a threat. The report contained a transcript of Compean's account to investigators, in which he said that he and Ramos were trying "to kill the alien" because they thought he had a gun.
McCaul described the errors as serious misrepresentations that painted a distorted picture of the case.
"My complaint here is that they weren't forthcoming with all the evidence," McCaul said.
So will Bush relent, and give in to the base? If he does, he risks angering Hispanics, whom he sees as crucial to the GOP's national electoral future. If he doesn't, he'll have hell to pay with his own base.
Laura has named President Bush's new executive pastry chef, and he has an impressive resume. William 'Bill' Yosses...
... is trained in classical French cooking, was the White House Holiday Pastry Chef for the 2006 holiday season, helped open Paul Newman's Dressing Room in Westport, Conn., and ran the pastry department at the Tavern on the Green Restaurant in New York City.
He's also active in Spoons Across America, "a not-for-profit organization dedicated to educating children, teachers, and families about the benefits of healthy eating.
Yosses is an author too, though the White House didn't list that among his credits. He co-wrote Desserts for Dummies.
... Well, at least he's found exactly the right person to bake for... other door, Bushie ... other door ... out you go...
This morning on the radio show, James T and I discussed our theories about why with all of the Bush administration being eaten alive over missteps in Iraq, Condi Rice remains strangely unscathed. We speculated that it could be because she's seen as weak, and a mere reflection of her boss ... or because she has somehow insulated herself by staying out of the media's way ... ? My theory was that the administration was shielding Ms. Rice in order to preserve her political viability and popularity, just in case a very senior member of the administration was unable to fulfill his duties through the end of George W. Bush's term as president.
Lawyers Paint Libby as Sacrificial Lamb By Matt Apuzzo The Associated Press
Top White House officials tried to blame vice presidential aide "Scooter" Libby for the 2003 leak of a CIA operative's identity to protect President Bush's political strategist, Karl Rove, Libby's defense attorney said Tuesday as his perjury trial began.
I. Lewis Libby is accused of lying to FBI agents, who began investigating after syndicated columnist Robert Novak revealed that a chief Bush administration critic, Joseph Wilson, was married to CIA operative Valerie Plame.
When the leak investigation was launched, White House officials cleared Rove of wrongdoing but stopped short of doing so for Libby. Libby, who had been asked to counter Wilson's criticisms, felt betrayed and sought out his boss, Vice President Dick Cheney, Wells said.
"They're trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb," attorney Theodore Wells said, recalling Libby's end of the conversation. "I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected."
Rove was one of two sources for Novak's story. The other was then-Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage. Nobody, including Rove and Armitage, has been charged with the leak. Libby is accused of lying to investigators and obstructing the probe into the leak.
Cheney's notes from that meeting underscore Libby's concern, Wells said.
"Not going to protect one staffer and sacrifice the guy that was asked to stick his neck in the meat grinder," the note said, according to Wells.
The description of the White House infighting was a rare glimpse into the secretive workings of Bush's inner circle. It also underscores how hectic and stressful the White House had become when the probe was launched.
By pointing the finger at Rove, whom he referred to as "the lifeblood of the Republican party," Wells sought to cast Libby as a scapegoat.
"He is an innocent man and he has been wrongly and unjustly and unfairly accused," Wells said.
Wait, wait, there's more ... take it away, David Corn:
And as the two legal teams began their courtroom battle, new information was disclosed about the leak affair, including the revelation that Ari Fleischer, White House press secretary at the time of the leak, had identified Valerie Wilson as a CIA officer to NBC News reporter David Gregory a week before the leak appeared in Robert Novak's July 14, 2003 column, and that Fleischer, during the subsequent criminal investigation, took the Fifth Amendment and demanded (and received) immunity before testifying to Fitzgerald's' grand jury. Fleischer told the grand jury that he had learned about Valerie Wilson's CIA affiliation first from Libby and then from Dan Bartlett, the White House communications director. (This directly implicated yet two more White House officials in the scandal.) Gregory, though, did not report the information, and he later declined to talk to Fitzgerald about his conversation with Fleischer. Fitzgerald never subpoenaed him. (In a response to an email from a colleague asking about today's disclosure, Gregory emailed, "I can't help you, sorry.") The first day of the trial also brought the news that after the Justice Department opened an investigation of the CIA leak in fall 2003, Cheney pressured the White House press office to make a statement clearing Libby of any wrongdoing....
By then, the "White House press officer" in question was one chubby, Scott McClellan, who apparently was the recipient of a hand written note from Cheney, instructing him to tell the White House press pool that Karl had nothing to do with the leak, despite the fact that Rove was the main source for at least one reporter, Matt Cooper.
The upshot here is that there apparently was a battle between the offices of the president and vice president over who would take the fall over the Plame leak, and the White House decided to throw Cheney's man off the bus, to keep Rove handy for the 2004 election -- besides, Cheney might be able to live without his brain, having had long experience living without a heart -- but Dubya? Shee-it, without his brain, he's downright catatonic.
So what were Libby and Cheney up to in the summer of 2003? More from Mr. Corn:
The case, Fitzgerald acknowledged, has been playing against a large backdrop: the war in Iraq and the controversy regarding the Bush administration's selling of the war. He also conceded that it grew out of the leak scandal and the question of who in the Bush administration had outed Valerie Wilson to reporters after Joseph Wilson publicly accused the White House of having twisted and misrepresented the prewar intelligence. But Fitzgerald attempted to focus the jury on a limited matter: several statements Libby made to the FBI and the grand jury about his role in the leak affair.
In those statements--made during two FBI interviews and two grand jury appearances--Libby said that though he had once possessed official information about Valerie Wilson's CIA employment, he had forgotten all about that, that he then heard about her CIA connection from reporters (mainly, Tim Russert of Meet the Press), and that he subsequently discussed this gossip (not official information) with other reporters. His explanation was essentially this: I forgot to remember what I had once known but had forgotten.
Fitzgerald vowed that he would demonstrate this was a pack of lies. He previewed evidence and testimony cited in the indictment and pretrial submissions that (according to Fitzgerald) shows that Libby in June and early July 2003 was an active gatherer of official (and classified) information on Joseph Wilson and his wife. Fitzgerald pointed to several witnesses who will testify that Libby requested information on the Wilsons from them when they were government officials: Marc Grossman, the No. 3 at the State Department, Robert Grenier, a CIA official, Craig Schmall, a CIA briefer, and Cathie Martin, a spokesperson for Cheney. (Fitzgerald said that Libby called Grenier out of meeting to receive information on the Wilsons from him.) He also noted that Libby, according to Libby's own notes, had learned from Cheney that Valerie Wilson worked at the Counterproliferation Division of the CIA. (This is a unit within the agency's clandestine operations directorate.)
And then Fitzgerald said that he would produce several witnesses to prove that Libby, after obtaining official information on the Wilsons, conveyed some of it to two reporters (Judith Miller of The New York Times and Matt Cooper of Time) and to the White House press secretary at the time, Ari Fleischer (with the warning the material was "hush-hush").
Libby's story to the FBI and the grand jury was that on July 10, 2003--four days after Joe Wilson (news, bio, voting record) had published an op-ed article noting he had inside information proving the administration had misrepresented the case for war--he had called Russert, that Russert had told him that Wilson's wife worked at the CIA, and that he (Libby) had believed that he was learning about her for the first time. (Libby testified that he was "taken aback" when he heard from Russert that Wilson's wife was a CIA official.) Yet, according to Fitzgerald, Libby had already discussed Valerie Wilson and her CIA affiliation with Fleischer on July 7 and with Miller on July 8. "You cannot learn something startling on Thursday that you were giving out on Monday and Tuesday," Fitzgerald declared. He charged that Libby had concocted the Russert tale to "wipe out" the fact that Libby had earlier been told about Valerie Wilson by Cheney. "This is not a case about bad memory," he maintained. Libby, he said, had been caught in a cover-up.
A diagram of Fitzgerald's case would be a straight line: Libby sought official information, he shared this classified material with reporters, he then made up a story to hide all this from investigators. To get a graphic representation of Well's argument, take a large pot of spaghetti--with plenty of sauce--and hurl it against the wall. Then look at the wall. ...
And what's it all about ... Libby?
...Because the CIA had screwed up the prewar intelligence, Wells suggested, Libby, acting on orders from Cheney and Bush, was trying to combat the popular perception--fueled by Wilson--that the White House had cooked the books on the way to war. After the criminal investigation began, Wells continued, the White House was willing to toss Libby to the wolves because Rove, the mastermind of the GOP, was too valuable to lose.
And so Rove worked like hell to keep from getting indicted, and after five trips to the grand jury, he proffered something that convinced Fitzgerald to back off. No such luck for Louis, who is now experiencing the burn of that ole' meat grinder.
Watch this trial carefully. I think it very well could end with a bang: a shot heard round the capitol as Cheney gets sucked deeper and deeper into the grinder with his former top intel guy, and suddenly, Tricky Dick needs to spend more time with his family.
Then Bushie can woo Southern Methodist with something shiny and new for his now sketchy presidential library -- the first African-American woman vice president.
Yet another conservative confronts the hard truth about Iraq, about his principles, and about President Bush, courtesy of Glen Greehwald:
Rod Dreher is as conservative as it gets -- a contributor to National Review and the Corner, a current columnist for The Dallas Morning News, a self-described "practicing Christian and political conservative."
Today, Dreher has an extraordinary (oral) essay at NPR in which he recounts how the conduct of President Bush (for whom he voted twice) in the Iraq War (which he supported) is causing him to question, really to abandon, the core political beliefs he has held since childhood. ...
As President Bush marched the country to war with Iraq, even some voices on the Right warned that this was a fool's errand. I dismissed them angrily. I thought them unpatriotic.
But almost four years later, I see that I was the fool.
In Iraq, this Republican President for whom I voted twice has shamed our country with weakness and incompetence, and the consequences of his failure will be far, far worse than anything Carter did.
The fraud, the mendacity, the utter haplessness of our government's conduct of the Iraq war have been shattering to me.
It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Not under a Republican President.
I turn 40 next month -- middle aged at last -- a time of discovering limits, finitude. I expected that. But what I did not expect was to see the limits of finitude of American power revealed so painfully.
I did not expect Vietnam.
As I sat in my office last night watching President Bush deliver his big speech, I seethed over the waste, the folly, the stupidity of this war.
I had a heretical thought for a conservative - that I have got to teach my kids that they must never, ever take Presidents and Generals at their word - that their government will send them to kill and die for noble-sounding rot - that they have to question authority.
On the walk to the parking garage, it hit me. Hadn't the hippies tried to tell my generation that? Why had we scorned them so blithely?
Will my children, too small now to understand Iraq, take me seriously when I tell them one day what powerful men, whom their father once believed in, did to this country? Heavy thoughts for someone who is still a conservative despite it all. It was a long drive home.
Welcome to the world the neocons have made.
Meanwhile, on 60 Minutes tomorrow, Bush is expected to say that no matter what Congress says or does, no matter how many Americans, including conservatives like Dreher, abandon him, his surge will go forward. Damn the torpedoes, and the loss of life that's to come. Meanwhile, those who will truly pay the price for Mr. Bush's stupidity and obstinance, prepare for Dubya's last stand in Baghdad.
And when it comes to choosing a top general to run his end of the war, Mr. Maliki goes his own way ...
FORT BENNING, Ga., Jan. 11 -- The pictures were just what the White House wanted: A teary-eyed President Bush presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to a slain war hero in the East Room, then flying here to join the chow line with camouflage-clad soldiers as some of them prepare to return to Iraq.
There are few places the president could go for an unreservedly enthusiastic reception the day after unveiling his decision to order 21,500 more troops to Iraq. A military base has usually been a reliable backdrop for the White House, and so Bush aides chose this venerable Army installation in western Georgia to promote his revised strategy to the nation while his Cabinet secretaries tried to sell it on Capitol Hill.
Assuring there would be no discordant notes here, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, the base commander, banned the 300 soldiers who had lunch with the president from talking with reporters. If any of them harbored doubts about heading back to Iraq, many for the third time, they were kept silent.
"It's going to require sacrifice, and I appreciate the sacrifices our troops are willing to make," Bush told the troops. "Some units are going to have to deploy earlier than scheduled as a result of the decision I made. Some will remain deployed longer than originally anticipated."
Among those going early will be members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team from the 3rd Infantry Division based here. Theirs was the division that spearheaded the invasion into Iraq in March 2003 and captured Baghdad. They returned in 2005 and lost 34 troops. Now, instead of heading back in May or June, they will return to Iraq in March.
Soldiers being soldiers, those who met the commander in chief Thursday saluted smartly and applauded politely. But it was hardly the boisterous, rock-star reception Bush typically gets at military bases. During his lunchtime speech, the soldiers were attentive but quiet. Not counting introduction of dignitaries, Bush was interrupted by applause just three times in 30 minutes -- once when he talked about a previous Medal of Honor winner from Fort Benning, again when he pledged to win in Iraq and finally when he repeated his intention to expand the Army.
Bush's speech essentially repeated his address to the nation the night before, and he appeared a little listless as he talked. Aides said he was deliberately low-key to reflect the serious situation. Whether the audience was sobered by the new mission or responding to Bush's subdued tone was unclear, because reporters were ushered out as soon as his talk ended.
White House officials had promised reporters they could talk with soldiers. But that was not good enough for Wojdakowski. "The commanding general said he does not want media talking to soldiers today," spokeswoman Tracy Bailey said. "He wants the focus to be on the president's speech." Only hours later, after reporters complained, did the base offer to make selected soldiers available, but the White House plane was nearing departure. ...
Why the lack of enthusiasm? Try the endless deployments, which just got a bit more endless with Bush's speech, and with this announcement from the Pentagon:
The Pentagon has abandoned its limit on the time a citizen-soldier can be required to serve on active duty, officials said Thursday, a major change that reflects an Army stretched thin by longer-than-expected combat in Iraq.
The day after President Bush announced his plan for a deeper U.S. military commitment in Iraq, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters the change in reserve policy would have been made anyway because active-duty troops already were getting too little time between their combat tours. ...
Meanwhile, Fineman has truly fallen out of love. His online commentary says Bush looked like a scared rabbit during his speechie.
Chuck Hagel, Republican of Nebraska, is the REAL maverick in the Republican Party. I haven't caught the CSPAN replay yet, but CNN just played back a portion of Hagel's grilling of Condi Rice at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, and he told Condi to her face that in his opinion, Bush's speech last night was "dangerous," and that his escalation strategy, if implemented, would constititute "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder since Vietnam." Damn. Here's the link.
Apparently, Senator Voinovich of Ohio, who has been known to lose spine from time to time, is with Hagel.
A majority of Americans oppose sending additional troops to Iraq as outlined by President Bush in his nationally televised address Wednesday night, and just one-in-three Americans said the plan for more troops and a stepped up combat efforts by Iraqi forces make victory there more likely, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.
The findings of the survey, conducted after Bush's primetime speech, represent an initial rebuke to the White House goal of generating additional public support for the mission in Iraq. The poll found that 61 percent of Americans oppose sending more than 20,000 additional troops to Iraq, with 52 percent saying they strongly oppose the plan. Just 36 percent said they back the president's new proposal.
Bush fared better among the 42 percent of Americans who actually watched the speech. Among that group, 47 percent support sending more troops, while 51 percent oppose. But the President's supporters were disproportionately represented among the audience. ...
...The poll found sharp partisan divisions on nearly every question relating to Iraq, which grows out of the political polarization that has occurred during Bush's presidency. On the question of whether congressional Democrats should cut off funds for additional forces, 83 percent of Democrats said yes and 81 percent of Republicans said no. Among independents, 51 percent support a cutoff in funding while 47 percent oppose it.
Democrats almost universally oppose Bush's plan. In the poll, 94 percent of Democrats said they were against sending more troops. Republicans were far more supportive, with 73 percent supporting Bush's plan. But nearly a quarter of Republicans in the poll said they opposed more troops, and those signs of dissent with the president's party are being echoed by some Republican lawmakers.
Although majorities of men and women oppose sending more troops to Iraq, there is a gender gap on that issue. Fifty-six percent of men oppose the president's plan while 66 percent of women oppose it. Women also are more likely to support efforts in Congress to cut off funding, with 57 percent saying they would back Democratic moves to do so compared to 48 percent of men.
Sixty percent of Americans between ages 18 and 39 support cutting off funding, compared to 51 percent of those between 40 and 59 and 43 percent of Americans over age 60.
This Washington Post-ABC News poll was conducted by telephone Jan. 10, among a random national sample of 502 adults. The results have a 4.5-point error margin.
Far beneath the surface of the tragic drama of Somalia, four major U.S. oil companies are quietly sitting on a prospective fortune in exclusive concessions to explore and exploit tens of millions of acres of the Somali countryside.
That land, in the opinion of geologists and industry sources, could yield significant amounts of oil and natural gas if the U.S.-led military mission can restore peace to the impoverished East African nation.
According to documents obtained by The Times, nearly two-thirds of Somalia was allocated to the American oil giants Conoco, Amoco, Chevron and Phillips in the final years before Somalia's pro-U.S. President Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown and the nation plunged into chaos in January, 1991. Industry sources said the companies holding the rights to the most promising concessions are hoping that the Bush Administration's decision to send U.S. troops to safeguard aid shipments to Somalia will also help protect their multimillion-dollar investments there.
Officially, the Administration and the State Department insist that the U.S. military mission in Somalia is strictly humanitarian. Oil industry spokesmen dismissed as "absurd" and "nonsense" allegations by aid experts, veteran East Africa analysts and several prominent Somalis that President Bush, a former Texas oilman, was moved to act in Somalia, at least in part, by the U.S. corporate oil stake.
But corporate and scientific documents disclosed that the American companies are well positioned to pursue Somalia's most promising potential oil reserves the moment the nation is pacified. And the State Department and U.S. military officials acknowledge that one of those oil companies has done more than simply sit back and hope for peace. ...
The stability that emerged in southern Somalia after 16 years of utter lawlessness is gone, the defeat of the ruling Islamic Courts Union now ushering in looting, martial law and the prospect of another major anti-Western insurgency. Clan warlords, who terrorized Somalia until they were driven out by the Islamists, and who were put back in power by the U.S.-backed and -trained Ethiopian army, have begun carving up the country once again.
With these developments, the Bush administration, undeterred by the horrors and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, has opened another battlefront in this volatile quarter of the Muslim world. As with Iraq, it casts this illegal war as a way to curtail terrorism, but its real goal appears to be to obtain a direct foothold in a highly strategic area of the world through a client regime. The results could destabilize the whole region.
The Horn of Africa, at whose core Somalia lies, is newly oil-rich. It is also just miles across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia and Yemen, overlooking the daily passage of large numbers of oil tankers and warships through that waterway. The United States has a huge military base in neighboring Djibouti that is being enlarged substantially and will become the headquarters of a new U.S. military command being created specifically for Africa. As evidence of the area's importance, Gen. John Abizaid, the military commander of the region, visited Ethiopia recently to discuss Somalia, while Chinese President Hu Jintao visited Horn countries a few months ago in search of oil and trade agreements.
The current series of events began with the rise of the Islamic Courts more than a year ago. The Islamists avoided large-scale violence in defeating the warlords, who had held sway in Somalia ever since they drove out U.N. peacekeepers by killing eighteen American soldiers in 1993, by rallying people to their side through establishing law and order. Washington was wary, fearing their possible support for terrorists. While they have denied any such intentions, some Islamists do have terrorist ties, but these have been vastly overstated in the West.
Washington, however, chose to view the situation only through the prism of its "war on terror." The Bush administration supported the warlords -- in violation of a U.N. arms embargo it helped impose on Somalia many years ago -- indirectly funneling them arms and suitcases filled with dollars.
Many of these warlords were part of the Western-supported transitional "government" that had been organized in Kenya in 2004. But the "government" was so devoid of internal support that even after two years it was unable to move beyond the small western town of Baidoa, where it had settled. In the end, it was forced to turn to Somalia's archenemy Ethiopia for assistance in holding on even to Baidoa. Again in violation of the U.N. arms embargo, Ethiopia sent 15,000 troops to Somalia. Their arrival eroded whatever domestic credibility the government might have had.
The United States, whose troops have been sighted by Kenyan journalists in the region bordering Somalia, next turned to the U.N. Security Council. In another craven act resembling its post-facto legalization of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the Council bowed to U.S. pressure and authorized a regional peacekeeping force to enter Somalia to protect the government and "restore peace and stability." This despite the fact that the U.N. has no right under its charter to intervene on behalf of one of the parties struggling for political supremacy, and that peace and stability had already been restored by the Islamists.
The war came soon after the U.N. resolution, its outcome a foregone conclusion thanks to the highly trained and war-seasoned Ethiopian army. The African Union called for the Ethiopians to end the invasion, but the U.N. Security Council made no such call. Ban Ki-moon, the incoming secretary-general, is being urged to treat the enormously complex situation in Darfur as his political challenge, but Somalia, while less complex, is more immediate. He has an opportunity to establish his credentials as an unbiased upholder of the U.N. Charter by seeking Ethiopia's withdrawal. ...
If Maliki’s new security plan is not bad enough, backed by 20,000 more US troops to be dispatched to Baghdad, a bill is about to be passed in the so-called Iraq parliament that received little notice as planned that will give America total control over Iraq oil for the next three decades.
The third-largest oil reserves in the world are about to be thrown open for large-scale exploitation by Western oil companies under this controversial law which is expected to come before the Iraqi parliament within days.
The US government has been involved in drawing up the law, a draft of which has been seen by The Independent last on Sunday. It would give big oil companies such as BP, Shell and Exxon 30-year contracts to extract Iraqi crude and allow the first large-scale operation of foreign oil interests in the country since the industry was nationalized in 1972.
Let’s put this into perspective. Invade the country, create civil war so that the population can only think about security, jobs and getting through the day, break up the country into manageable parts, murder the leader of the country, eliminate those who don’t go along, and steal the oil. This was the US plan was from the beginning and this is exactly what is transpiring.
While the huge potential prizes for Western firms will give ammunition to those who say the Iraq war was fought for oil, it really doesn’t matter much now. These critics are powerless over a US president back by the Zionist lobbies that do not respect international law of territorial sovereignty.
Oil industry executives and analysts say the law, which would permit Western companies to pocket up to three-quarters of profits in the early years and will operate through "production-sharing agreements" (PSAs) which are highly unusual in the Middle East, where the oil industry in Saudi Arabia and Iran, the world's two largest producers, is state controlled.
While the provision allowing oil companies to take up to 75 per cent of the profits will last until they have recouped initial drilling costs, we must look past the window dressing. . Iraq is one of the cheapest and easiest places in the world to drill for and produce oil and there are there are hundred of fields already discovered and are waiting to be developed. Big oil will be using ongoing development to keep 75%percent of the profits for ions to come.
Plunder in other words.
Furthermore, under the chapter entitled "Fiscal Regime" in this new bill, the draft spells out that foreign companies have no restrictions on taking their profits out of the country, and are not subject to any tax when doing so. After that, they would collect about 20 per cent of all profits, according to industry sources in Iraq but that is twice the industry average for such deals. Iraq's sovereign right to manage its own natural resources could also be threatened by the provision in the draft that any disputes with a foreign company must ultimately be settled by international, rather than Iraqi, arbitration.
Amid the furor of “cavil war” and the hanging of Saddam Hussein, the new oil law has quietly been going through several drafts, and is now on the point of being presented to the cabinet and then the parliament in Baghdad, without the consent of the Iraqi population.
James Paul, executive director at the Global Policy Forum, the international government watchdog, said: "It is not an exaggeration to say that the overwhelming majority of the population would be opposed to this. To do it anyway, with minimal discussion within the [Iraqi] parliament is really just pouring more oil on the fire." ...
Well, President Bush has given his speech (full text here), and as far as I'm concerned, he made only one piece of news: he acknowledged moving an additional carrier group into the Persian Gulf to essentially stare down Iran, which Bush tonight accused, along with Syria, of funding, training, and supplying Shiite insurgents inside Iraq. Bush, tonight, has delivered the coup de grace to the apparent waste of time that was the Iraq Study Group. There will be no detente with Iran, only threats, that involve stopping them from getting their "nucular" materiel, and waiting with a hair trigger for them to step out of line in Iraq. The only recommendation from the ISG that has gone into his "new" strategy is to embed American forces with Iraqi units, who he claims are preparing to filter through Baghdad afresh, going from house to house to "regain the confidence of the Iraqi people."
Here's the problem: U.S. forces don't quite trust those Iraqi forces, which Larry Korb from the Center for American Progress just pointed out to me by telephone, aren't multi-sectarian: they're either Shiite regiments or Sunni, and more than a few Americans have suspected some of them of taking part in the ethnic cleansing that's tearing Iraq apart. So we're going to filter about 16,000 troops into these units, with another 4,000 additional troops going to Anbar Province, which Bush tonight called the "most violence province in Iraq outside of Baghdad." So, what can 4,000 troops do in the second most violent province in Iraq? Dr. Korb and I agreed on this one: not much.
And since our force level in Iraq is now at around 135,000, adding 21,000 more bumps it up to 156,000, and guess what folks, we've been there before, and even at higher troops levels. It didn't work then, it won't work now.
So what were the highlights of Bush's tete a tete with America?
9:01 - Bush blames al-Qaida for fomenting the initial violence in Iraq ... in 2006! So what was going on before then, Dubya? And by the way, THERE WAS NO AL-QAIDA IN IRAQ BEFORE WE INVADED. Ah, memories...
Bush links Iran and Syria to Shiite mess-making.
Bush says that mistakes were made, including not sending enough troops in initially, and says "the responsibility for the mistakes lies with me."
9:04 - Bush gets in the obligatory 9/11 reference. Earth to Bush: Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11...
Bush also claimed that 80 percent of the sectarian violence in Iraq is taking place within 30 miles of Baghdad -- hence, the need to pour on the troop numbers there.
9:05 - Bush says the initial strategy failed because of too few troops, and too many restrictions on the ones who were there. Later in the speech, he says the Iraqi government, led by the untrustworthy (my word) Mr. Maliki, has agreed to turn the U.S. GI's loose, with no restrictions on entering sectarian neighborhoods. Well that oughta endear us to the natives...
Bush says the Iraq government will appoint some new military commandersand such, and deploy 18 brigades of military police types across the 9 districts in Baghdad, apparently with embedded American troops therein. The total U.S. troop commitment Bush is looking for amounts to more than 20,000 troops, including, as mentioned before, 4,000 for Anbar Province. (Even the neocons and their new king, John McCain, acknowledge that if you're surgin', 20,000 ain't enough. But as Dr. Korb just pointed out to me, we haven't got more than the 20,000 Bush is calling for, if we even have that many...)
Bush claims that what's new here (recall, this would be about our third bite at the surge apple,) is that U.S. troops will be unfettered by "political" restrictions, and they'll have the forces necessary to "clear and hold" areas of the city. I guess we'll just have to lean on the Lord for hope there.
9:08 - Bush says he has told Mr. Maliki that the U.S. commitment in Iraq is "not open ended," and that if the Iraqis don't play ball, they'll "lose the support of the American people..." Um ... Mr. Bush ... there IS no more support from the American people.
Bush says that "reducing ther violence in Iraq will make reconciliation possible," and that the U.S. will "hold the Iraqis" to his magic benchmarks." Goodie!
9:10 - You knew this was coming. Bush said the U.S. will give commanders on the ground more flexibility to spend reconstruction funds, and .. he plans to DOUBLE the number of so-called "reconstruction teams" (read civilian contractors) who will teach those poor buggers in Iraq how to run their oil economy and rebuild the country we f---ed up for them.
9:13 - Bush claims that a captured document proves that al-Qaida is seeking to create a new base in Iraq's Anbar province. So, 4,000 troops are going to clean that up? Fabulous!
9:13 - this was the point where Bush essentially threw out the threat to Iran, and secondarily to Syria. We're steaming into the Gulf, bitches. And we're tagging you for every Shiite-led attack on Iraqis and Americans. Boo!
Meanwhile, on Friday, Bushie is sending his gal pal Condi to the region to ... um ... well, it's probably mostly for a photo op, or to mollify that puffter Tony Blair. Oh, Palestine, Israeli crisis, moan, moan, moan...!
Big finish - Bush gravely warns the American people that "the terrorists" will make the next year a bloody, violent one. "We can expect more American and Iraqi casualties." He says that "victory in Iraq will not look like the wars our fathers fought. ... there will be no surrender on a battlefield" or some such malarky. No shit, Sherlock. In fact, there likely will be no victory at all.
And Bush warns that those who are looking for a withdrawal from Iraq would need to tell us what happens next. Says Bush, if we were to break for the exits, the Iraqi government would collapse, and it would be deep doo-doo for the region. He appeared to be trying to put not just Democrats and renegade Republicans on the spot, but also the named governments of Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and elsewhere, who have been cold comfort for him during the long, strange crapshoot in Iraq.
Oh, and there's going to be a new "bi-partisan working group" on "winning the war on terror." And guess who's going to be on board? Well, here's a hint: he's the only member of Congress mentioned by name tonight in Bush's speech, he used to be Democrat, thinks Dubya is a "great leader", and it's someone the Prez has been known to smooch from time to time.
If I'm a Connecticut Democrat, I'm feeling like quite the dumbass tonight. And I'm thinking recall...
Related: Interesting note, the Dems rolled out Barack Obama to the chat shows (Larry King Live and MSNBC) to respond to Bush's speechie. I know Hillary must just want to choke him...
Related 2: Dems, and many Republicans are on the record with their disdain for the president's plan.
Update, 10:16: On Scarborough, Lawrence O'Donnell just pointed out that in New York City tonight, there are 45,000 police on patrol. So adding less than half that number to Baghdad is almost completely meaningless...
Update: Sam Brownback, the conservative Republican who's also running for president, jumps ship
ABC News repots Bush isn't waiting for Congress. His surge is already under way ... Meanwhile, while Bush escalates, the British are cutting bait.
10:27 update: Hillary Clinton has issued a statement opposing the troop surge. It has begun in earnest. As Pat Buchanan says, the right position on Iraq is anti-war.
It's Dubya's time to shine, as he polishes up his new "don't listen to the generals" Iraq strategy ... in prime time, no less! Says the WaPo:
Bush talks frequently of his disdain for micromanaging the war effort and for second-guessing his commanders. "It's important to trust the judgment of the military when they're making military plans," he told The Washington Post in an interview last month. "I'm a strict adherer to the command structure."
But over the past two months, as the security situation in Iraq has deteriorated and U.S. public support for the war has dropped, Bush has pushed back against his top military advisers and the commanders in Iraq: He has fashioned a plan to add up to 20,000 troops to the 132,000 U.S. service members already on the ground. As Bush plans it, the military will soon be "surging" in Iraq two months after an election that many Democrats interpreted as a mandate to begin withdrawing troops.
Pentagon insiders say members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have long opposed the increase in troops and are only grudgingly going along with the plan because they have been promised that the military escalation will be matched by renewed political and economic efforts in Iraq. Gen. John P. Abizaid, the outgoing head of Central Command, said less than two months ago that adding U.S. troops was not the answer for Iraq.
Bush's decision appears to mark the first major disagreement between the White House and key elements of the Pentagon over the Iraq war since Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, then the Army chief of staff, split with the administration in the spring of 2003 over the planned size of the occupation force, which he regarded as too small.
It may also be a sign of increasing assertiveness from a commander in chief described by former aides as relatively passive about questioning the advice of his military advisers. In going for more troops, Bush is picking an option that seems to have little favor beyond the White House and a handful of hawks on Capitol Hill and in think tanks who have been promoting the idea almost since the time of the invasion. ...
In other words, welcome back, neocons...!
And not only is Bush not listening to the generals, the Congress (including Democrats AND Republicans) or the American people, all of whom oppose an escalation in Iraq, he's also not listening to the Iraqis:
Indeed, when Bush met with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in Amman, Jordan, on Nov. 30, Maliki did not ask for more American troops as part of a new Baghdad security plan he presented to Bush, U.S. officials said.
Maliki's idea was to lower the U.S. profile, not raise it. "The message in Amman was that he wanted to take the lead and put an Iraqi face on it. He wanted to control his own forces," said a U.S. official familiar with the visit. ...
Who knows whether Teddy Kennedy is out there on his own in taking the broad opposition to Bush's troop escalation plan for Iraq to the Senate floor (well, at least alone among the Democrats...) But alone or not, Kennedy is right. Iraq is Bush's Vietnam, and if the Congress enables Dubya to behave like LBJ at his most delusional during that prior debacle, then shame on them.
Meanwhile, even some of the troops waver in their confidence in the Commander in Chief. And polls show Bush has almost no support for his war escalation plan.
For gods sake even Oliver North has gone off the reservation! I think all Bushie has left is John Fund and the kooks at the Weekly Standard and AEI...
The new White House counsel is Richard Nixon's old deputy WHC. Talk about bringing back the dead. Could it be any more clear that Bush's presidency is just an extension of Tricky Dick?
Fielding is a senior partner at Wiley Rein & Fielding, a Washington, D.C. law firm. He has served the American government in a number of roles throughout his career. He served as Associate Counsel for President Nixon from 1970 to 1972, where he was the deputy to John Dean during the Watergate scandal. He was the Counsel to the President for President Reagan from 1981 to 1986. Fielding has also served on the Tribunal on the U.S.-UK Air Treaty Dispute (1989-1994), as a member of the president's Commission on Federal Ethics Law Reform (1989), as a member of the Secretary of Transportation's Task Force on Aviation Disasters (1997-1998) and as a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (also known as the 9/11 Commission).
Oh, and people, including his former boss John Dean, placed bets at one time, over whether he might have been Deep Throat. Funny, that. And why, prey tell, do the Bushies want Fielding? Two words: executive privelege...
"The key for the Administration is going to be drawing the lines on these boundaries of executive privilege and access to documents and congressional oversight — drawing the lines around the really important issues and trying to be a little more flexible on the others," said a former colleague of Fielding. "They're not going to fold, because Fielding is a very serious, hard-nosed person, and he's a tough negotiator. But they're also going not to take a totally stonewall position. That doesn't meant they're going to cave in. What it means is they're going to negotiate and focus on the things that they're truly protecting and that are truly important."
Dean was on with Olbermann tonight, and said Fielding had to practically be dragged kicking and screaming into this job. It won't be pleasant.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine thought she had herself a nice, though rather mundane little postal reform bill under her belt when she attended the signing ceremony back in December. Little did she know she was opening the door for our Mad King George to assert his right to poke through our first class mail without a warrant. Funny that.
Of course, Tony "I don't know" Snow says it's nothing special, this supposed power of the president to bypass the courts and rip open grandma's Christmas cards ... their being from al-Qaida and all ... Said Snowy:
"This is not a change in law, this is not new, it is not ... a sweeping new power by the president ... It is, in fact, merely a statement of present law and present authorities granted to the president of the United States."
Apparently, Ms. Collins is at a loss as well, having only discovered the special addition to her bill this week, the way the rest of us did, in the New York Daily News.
Why am I reposting this info, which was covered on this blog already? Because, if you actually read the news items about what the Collins bill is about, it has ... wait for it ... NOTHING to do with governmental authority over the mail. It has to do with financial regulations and reforms. For the Bush administration to slap on a measure granting sweeping new powers to the president, in a bill that's mostly about pensions, unions and postal rates, these guys have got to be truly, deeply insane. To whit:
The public will notice little immediate impact, Postmaster General John Potter said in an interview.
Over the long term, though, the measure can have a major impact on the finances of the Postal Service, perhaps delaying or reducing the amount of future rate increases, and assuring a firm basis for retiree health benefits.
One big change shifts responsibility for some retirement benefits from the post office to the treasury.
Many postal workers previously served in the military. Unlike other federal agencies, the post office was required to pay for retirement benefits earned during both military and postal careers of those workers.
The post office will still be responsible for their retirement costs for the time they worked for them, but benefits earned during military service will now be charged to Treasury - relieving the post office of having to pay billions of dollars over coming decades.
That, Potter said, will mean improved financial stability, a benefit for the post office, the public and large mail users because of rate increases that will most likely be less than they otherwise might have been.
In a second major change, a requirement that the post office place around $3 billion annually in an escrow account is ended. The law requires the agency to use that money to fund retiree medical benefits for 10 years. After that the funds may be available for other uses.
Still awake? And have you spotted the opening for the Prez to assert his right to break the seal on your Valentines?
Andrea Koppel of CNN just reported that Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (sorry, I just love typing that...) and Senate leader Harry Reid have sent a letter to Dubya, telling him in blunt language that a "troop surge" is an idea that has already been tried, and that has already failed. Not sure whether that means the Dems are laying down the gauntlet on more troops in Iraq (Reid had been one of the Dem Senators supposedly "open" to listening to Bush's surge idea) but it does indicate that Pelosi, who sided with Jack Murtha over Steny Hoyer for Majority leader mainly based on the Iraq issue (plus personal fealty) ... isn't afraid of a fight with the White House over the war. Developing...
President George W. Bush The White House Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The start of the new Congress brings us opportunities to work together on the critical issues confronting our country. No issue is more important than finding an end to the war in Iraq. December was the deadliest month of the war in over two years, pushing U.S. fatality figures over the 3,000 mark.
The American people demonstrated in the November elections that they don’t believe your current Iraq policy will lead to success and that we need a change in direction for the sake of our troops and the Iraqi people. We understand that you are completing your post-election consultations on Iraq and are preparing to make a major address on your Iraq strategy to the American people next week.
Clearly this address presents you with another opportunity to make a long overdue course correction. Despite the fact that our troops have been pushed to the breaking point and, in many cases, have already served multiple tours in Iraq, news reports suggest that you believe the solution to the civil war in Iraq is to require additional sacrifices from our troops and are therefore prepared to proceed with a substantial U.S. troop increase.
Surging forces is a strategy that you have already tried and that has already failed. Like many current and former military leaders, we believe that trying again would be a serious mistake. They, like us, believe there is no purely military solution in Iraq. There is only a political solution. Adding more combat troops will only endanger more Americans and stretch our military to the breaking point for no strategic gain. And it would undermine our efforts to get the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. We are well past the point of more troops for Iraq.
In a recent appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General John Abizaid, our top commander for Iraq and the region, said the following when asked about whether he thought more troops would contribute to our chances for success in Iraq:
“I met with every divisional commander, General Casey, the Corps commander, General Dempsey. We all talked together. And I said, in your professional opinion, if we were to bring in more American troops now, does it add considerably to our ability to achieve success in Iraq? And they all said no. And the reason is, because we want the Iraqis to do more. It's easy for the Iraqis to rely upon to us do this work. I believe that more American forces prevent the Iraqis from doing more, from taking more responsibility for their own future.”
Rather than deploy additional forces to Iraq, we believe the way forward is to begin the phased redeployment of our forces in the next four to six months, while shifting the principal mission of our forces there from combat to training, logistics, force protection and counter-terror. A renewed diplomatic strategy, both within the region and beyond, is also required to help the Iraqis agree to a sustainable political settlement . . In short, it is time to begin to move our forces out of Iraq and make the Iraqi political leadership aware that our commitment is not open ended, that we cannot resolve their sectarian problems, and that only they can find the political resolution required to stabilize Iraq.
Our troops and the American people have already sacrificed a great deal for the future of Iraq. After nearly four years of combat, tens of thousands of U.S. casualties, and over $300 billion dollars, it is time to bring the war to a close. We, therefore, strongly encourage you to reject any plans that call for our getting our troops any deeper into Iraq. We want to do everything we can to help Iraq succeed in the future but, like many of our senior military leaders, we do not believe that adding more U.S. combat troops contributes to success.
We appreciate you taking these views into consideration.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Oh, and another thing: CBS is reporting that despite Bush, McCain and Lieberman's wildest neocon fantasies, the military is telling the Commander in Chief that the maximum number of troops available to carry out the McCain doctrine is not 40,000 or 20,000, but 9.000 soldiers and Marines, “with another 10,000 on alert in Kuwait and the U.S.” (sounds a lot like strategic redeployment ... doesn't it...?
Meanwhile, in what looks increasingly like a likely candidate pairing for 2008, the McCain and Lieberman Show descended on the uber-neoconservative American Enterprise Institute (home of the second-to-last neocon standing, Frederick Kagan ... the other is the ultimate survivor, perennially wrong, but still getting paid to give his opinion, Bill Kristol...) to back Bush's lonely longing for an escalation of the war in Iraq... (more on the lil' visit here ... complete with something both men will get increasingly used to this year: protesters.
Meanwhile, remember that old tale about rats and sinking ships? Guess who's belly flopping into the water now?:
... True, Saddam's hanging was just and, in principle, nonsectarian. But the next hanging might not be. Breaking precedent completely undermines the death penalty provision, opening the way to future revenge and otherwise lawless hangings.
Moreover, Maliki's rush to execute short-circuited the judicial process that was at the time considering Saddam's crimes against the Kurds. He was hanged for the killing of 148 men and boys in the Shiite village of Dujail. This was a perfectly good starting point -- a specific incident as a prelude to an inquiry into the larger canvas of his crimes. The trial for his genocidal campaign against the Kurds was just beginning.
That larger canvas will never be painted. The starting point became the endpoint. The only charge for which Saddam was executed was that 1982 killing of Shiites -- interestingly, his response to a failed assassination attempt by Maliki's own Dawa Party.
Maliki ultimately got his revenge, completing Dawa's mission a quarter-century later. However, Saddam will now never be tried for the Kurdish genocide, the decimation of the Marsh Arabs, the multiple war crimes and all the rest.
Finally, there was the motley crew -- handpicked by the government -- that constituted the hanging party. They turned what was an act of national justice into a scene of sectarian vengeance. The world has now seen the smuggled video of the shouting and taunting that turned Saddam into the most dignified figure in the room -- another remarkable achievement in burnishing the image of the most evil man of his time.
Worse was the content of the taunts: "Moqtada, Moqtada,'' the name of the radical and murderous Shiite extremist whose goons were obviously in the chamber. The world saw Saddam falling through the trap door, executed not in the name of a new and democratic Iraq, but in the name of Sadr, whose death squads have learned much from Saddam.
The whole sorry affair illustrates not just incompetence but the ingrained intolerance and sectarianism of the Maliki government. It stands for Shiite unity and Shiite dominance above all else.
We should not be surging American troops in defense of such a government. This governing coalition -- Maliki's Dawa, Hakim's SCIRI and Sadr's Mahdi Army -- seems intent on crushing the Sunnis at all costs. Maliki should be made to know that if he insists on having this sectarian war, he can well have it without us.
By Glenn Kessler Washington Post Staff Writer Friday, January 5, 2007; A06
Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said yesterday that he believes top officials in the Bush administration have privately concluded they have lost Iraq and are simply trying to postpone disaster so the next president will "be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof," in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of Vietnam.
"I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost," Biden said. "They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy -- literally, not figuratively."
Biden gave the comments in an interview as he outlined an ambitious agenda for the committee, including holding four weeks of hearings focused on every aspect of U.S. policy in Iraq. The hearings will call top political, economic and intelligence experts; foreign diplomats; and former and current senior U.S. officials to examine the situation in Iraq and possible plans for dealing with it. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will probably testify next Thursday to defend the president's new plan, but at least eight other plans will be examined over several sessions of the committee.
Other witnesses invited for at least 10 days of hearings include former national security advisers and secretaries of state, including Brent Scowcroft, Samuel R. "Sandy" Berger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Henry A. Kissinger, Madeleine K. Albright and George P. Shultz.
Biden expressed opposition to the president's plan for a "surge" of additional U.S. troops and said he has grave doubts about whether the Iraqi government has the will or the capacity to help implement a new approach. He said he hopes to use the hearings to "illuminate the alternatives available to this president" and to provide a platform for influencing Americans, especially Republican lawmakers.
"There is nothing a United States Senate can do to stop a president from conducting his war," Biden said. "The only thing that is going to change the president's mind, if he continues on a course that is counterproductive, is having his party walk away from his position."
Biden said that Vice President Cheney and former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld "are really smart guys who made a very, very, very, very bad bet, and it blew up in their faces. Now, what do they do with it? I think they have concluded they can't fix it, so how do you keep it stitched together without it completely unraveling?"
Meanwhile in a tangential story on Iraq, an American teenager hanged himself while imitating the Saddam execution.
Before the subpoenas arrive, better get a real lawyer in there
Harriet Miers is resigning from her job as White House counsel. I guess Bush loyalty only goes so far -- now that the hearings are about to begin, he recognize he'd better have a qualified lawyer around...
WASHINGTON - President Bush plans to order extra U.S. troops to Iraq as part of a new push to secure Baghdad, but in smaller numbers than previously reported, U.S. officials said Wednesday.
The president, who is completing a lengthy review of Iraq policy, is considering dispatching three to four U.S. combat brigades to Iraq, or no more than 15,000 to 20,000 U.S. troops, the officials said. Bush is expected to announce his decision next week.
Typically, a combat brigade comprises about 3,500 combat troops and more than 1,000 support personnel.
"Instead of a surge, it is a bump," said a State Department official. He spoke on condition of anonymity, because Bush hasn't yet unveiled details of what the White House is calling a "new way forward" in Iraq.
Bush had been considering proposals to send a much larger contingent into Baghdad -- as many as 30,000-40,000 soldiers and Marines.
Some experts doubt that the smaller deployment would be sufficient to halt Iraq's escalating civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims.
To marshal even 15,000 to 20,000 additional troops, Bush would have to accelerate the return of some units to the battlefield, cutting their time to train between deployments.
Advocates of a "surge" in U.S. troop levels have argued that to be effective in halting the violence, the United States would have to send a significant number of troops for an extended period of time.
Frederick W. Kagan, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy research center, recently briefed the White House on his plan to send 32,000 additional soldiers and Marines to Baghdad and volatile Anbar province. The troops would remain in Iraq for 18 months.
On Wednesday, Kagan cautioned against over-interpreting the number of troops being sent. More important, he said, is the number of individual combat brigades and battalions sent to Iraq and how they're deployed.
The State Department official said that, even at this late juncture, administration officials are debating what the extra troops would do.
So the neocons still in charge of U.S. policy want a full-on escalation, but Team Bush hasn't even gotten straight what the extra forces would do? Priceless... And what happens if we surge and it doesn't work, Mr. Kagan? ... hm....
On another matter not directly related to the McCain doctrine:
George W. Bush (or rather, some aide who will only be revealed in the memoirs) sits right down and writes himself a letter to the Democrats, and ships it off to the Wall Street Journal. In it, he calls for ... wait for it ... bipartisanship. Ahem.
Tomorrow, members of the 110th Congress will take their oaths of office here in Washington. I will have the privilege of working with them for the next two years--one quarter of my presidency, plenty of time to accomplish important things for the American people.
Together, we have a chance to serve the American people by solving the complex problems that many don't expect us to tackle, let alone solve, in the partisan environment of today's Washington. To do that, however, we can't play politics as usual. Democrats will control the House and Senate, and therefore we share the responsibility for what we achieve.
Well isn't that nice. Of course, he then goes on to say, pass my tax cuts, do what I want in Iraq, and give me a line item veto.
The NYT has more info on what helped to usher Rummy out the door...
Chaos Overran Iraq Plan in ’06, Bush Team Says
By DAVID E. SANGER, MICHAEL R. GORDON and JOHN F. BURNS
WASHINGTON, Dec. 31 — President Bush began 2006 assuring the country that he had a “strategy for victory in Iraq.” He ended the year closeted with his war cabinet on his ranch trying to devise a new strategy, because the existing one had collapsed.
The original plan, championed by Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top commander in Baghdad, and backed by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, called for turning over responsibility for security to the Iraqis, shrinking the number of American bases and beginning the gradual withdrawal of American troops. But the plan collided with Iraq’s ferocious unraveling, which took most of Mr. Bush’s war council by surprise.
In interviews in Washington and Baghdad, senior officials said the White House, the Pentagon and the State Department had also failed to take seriously warnings, including some from its own ambassador in Baghdad, that sectarian violence could rip the country apart and turn Mr. Bush’s promise to “clear, hold and build” Iraqi neighborhoods and towns into an empty slogan.
This left the president and his advisers constantly lagging a step or two behind events on the ground.
“We could not clear and hold,” Stephen J. Hadley, the president’s national security adviser, acknowledged in a recent interview, in a frank admission of how American strategy had crumbled. “Iraqi forces were not able to hold neighborhoods, and the effort to build did not show up. The sectarian violence continued to mount, so we did not make the progress on security we had hoped. We did not bring the moderate Sunnis off the fence, as we had hoped. The Shia lost patience, and began to see the militias as their protectors.”
Over the past 12 months, as optimism collided with reality, Mr. Bush increasingly found himself uneasy with General Casey’s strategy. And now, as the image of Saddam Hussein at the gallows recedes, Mr. Bush seems all but certain not only to reverse the strategy that General Casey championed, but also to accelerate the general’s departure from Iraq, according to senior military officials.
General Casey repeatedly argued that his plan offered the best prospect for reducing the perception that the United States remained an occupier — and it was a path he thought matched Mr. Bush’s wishes. Earlier in the year, it had.
But as Baghdad spun further out of control, some of the president’s advisers now say, Mr. Bush grew concerned that General Casey, among others, had become more fixated on withdrawal than victory.
Now, having ousted Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Bush sees a chance to bring in a new commander as he announces a new strategy, senior military officials say. General Casey was scheduled to shift out of Iraq in the summer. But now it appears that it may happen in February or March.
Then there's word from CNN that the U.S. reportedly sought to delay the execution of Saddam Hussein for a few weeks ... to time it for George W. Bush's state of the union speech ... er ... to prevent it looking like the latest Shia revenge killing.
Nicholas Kristoff of the NYT offers Dubya some advice, summarized nicely by the good folks at Raw Story:
Aside from replacing Cheney, characterized as "the single worst influence on your foreign policy, as well as the most polarizing figure in your administration," Kristof also advises the president to "seriously engage Iraq's nastier neighbors, including Iran and Syria, and renounce permanent military bases in Iraq"; to "start an intensive effort to bring peace to the Middle East"; to "confront the genocide in Darfur"; to "revive the theme of compassionate conservatism by extending your excellent five-year AIDS program"' to "address climate change"; to "put aside those thoughts of a military strike on Iranian nuclear sites, and make it clear to Israel that we oppose it conducting such an attack"; to "address our disgraceful inequities in health care"; and to "revive the reform proposals that President Clinton urged in 1999," rather than just "giving up" on Social Security. ...
... "Tenth, don't toss this newspaper to the floor and curse the press for your unpopularity," Kristof writes. "Instead, borrow from your playbook after you lost the New Hampshire primary in 2000 -- grit your teeth, retool and steal ideas from your critics and rivals."
With Saddam executed following a U.S. invasion, it's easy to look rather simplistically at Iraq and the U.S. as enemies. That, of course, is far too simplistic. From the Research Unit for Political Economy:
In 1979, Saddam, already effectively the leader of Iraq, became president and chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council. The entire region stood at a critical juncture.
For one, the pillar of the US in West Asia, viz, the Pahlavi monarchy in Iran, was overthrown by a massive popular upsurge which the US was powerless to suppress. This made the US and its client states deeply anxious at the prospect of similar developments taking place throughout the region.
For another, in Iraq Saddam had drawn on the country’s oil wealth to carry out a major military build-up, with military expenditures swallowing 8.4 per cent of GNP in 1979. Starting in 1958 Iraq had become an increasingly important market for sophisticated Soviet weapons, and was considered a member of the Soviet camp. In 1972 Iraq signed a 15-year friendship, cooperation and military agreement with the USSR. The Iraqi regime was striving to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. Apart from Israel, the only army in the region to rival Iraq’s was Iran’s. But after 1979, when the Shah of Iran was overthrown, much of the Iranian army’s American equipment became inoperable.
The Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980 (on the pretext of resolving border disputes) thus solved two major problems for the US. Over the course of the following decade two of the region’s leading military powers, neither of them hitherto friendly to the US, were tied up in an exhausting conflict with each other. Such conflicts among third world countries create a host of opportunities for imperialist powers to seek new footholds, as happened also in this instance.
... Despite its strong ties to the USSR, Iraq turned to the west for support in the war with Iran. This it received massively. As Saddam Hussein later revealed, the US and Iraq decided to re-establish diplomatic relations—broken off after the 1967 war with Israel—just before Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980 (the actual implementation was delayed for a few more years in order not to make the linkage too explicit). Diplomatic relations between the US and Iraq were formally restored in 1984—well after the US knew, and a UN team confirmed, that Iraq was using chemical weapons against the Iranian troops. (The emissary sent by US president Reagan to negotiate the arrangements was none other than the present US defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld.) In 1982, the US State Department removed Iraq from its list of “state sponsors of terrorism”, and fought off efforts by the US Congress to put it back on the list in 1985. Most crucially, the US blocked condemnation of Iraq’s chemical attacks in the UN Security Council. The US was the sole country to vote against a 1986 Security Council statement condemning Iraq’s use of mustard gas against Iranian troops — an atrocity in which it now emerges the US was directly implicated (as we shall see below).
Brisk trade was done in supplying Iraq. Britain joined France as a major source of weapons for it. Iraq imported uranium from Portugal, France and Italy, and began constructing centrifuge enrichment facilities with German assistance. The US arranged massive loans for Iraq’s burgeoning war expenditure from American client states such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. The US administration provided “crop-spraying” helicopters (to be used for chemical attacks in 1988), let Dow Chemicals ship it chemicals for use on humans, seconded its air force officers to work with their Iraqi counterparts (from 1986), approved technological exports to Iraq’s missile procurement agency to extend the missiles’ range (1988). In October 1987 and April 1988 US forces themselves attacked Iranian ships and oil platforms.
Militarily, the US not only provided to Iraq satellite data and information about Iranian military movements, but, as former US Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) officers have recently revealed to the New York Times (18/8/02), prepared detailed battle planning for Iraqi forces in this period—even as Iraq drew worldwide public condemnation for its repeated use of chemical weapons against Iran. According to a senior DIA official, “if Iraq had gone down it would have had a catastrophic effect on Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and the whole region might have gone down [ie, slipped from US control—Aspects] —that was the backdrop of the policy.” ...
When Saddam Hussein looked in disbelief at the over-sized noose that was fitted by masked volunteers around his neck, the man who helped to put it there by invading Iraq and toppling the dictator was soundly asleep at his ranch in Texas.
It was only nine o'clock in the evening in Crawford but George Bush was already embedded in the land of nod, with orders not to be woken until the morning.
The blithe indifference of deep slumber was the final snub to the dead man who once described himself as "Salahadin II", "the Redeemer of all the Arabs" and "the Lion of Baghdad".
Some might think that George Bush can't afford to sleep soundly these days with his approval ratings in the cellar and his policy towards Iraq in inertia.
But while the world stirred to comment, cyberspace buzzed with applause or condemnation and Cable television hyperventilated, George Bush soldiered on in sleep. He arose only at 4.40am, we are told, which is his usual time of rising.
One hour later he had a 10-minute conversation with his National Security adviser Stephen Hadley about the events in Baghdad. ...
...On one level, the hanging of Saddam Hussein is the end of a dramatic family saga that has pitted the Bushes of Texas against the Husseins of Tikrit.
It is a saga that started with a tacit alliance.
When George HW Bush was vice president, Saddam Hussein was still seen as a potential partner thanks to his status as the enemy of America's enemy, Iran.
It was in 1983 that Donald Rumsfeld was dispatched to Baghdad as a friend of the Reagan administration to shake the hand of Saddam Hussein and offer America's help against the ayatollahs during the Iran Iraq War.
Alliance finally turned into animosity when Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and President Bush cobbled together an international alliance of Western and Arab states to remove him from Kuwait but not from power.
"The butcher of Baghdad" began to call President Bush "the viper" and George junior, "the son of the viper".
It was at that time that the famous Al Rashid hotel in Baghdad received an elaborate mosaic of President Bush "the criminal", which patrons were forced to stomp across on entering the lobby.
Two years later Saddam Hussein tried to get President Bush assassinated.
The White House has always maintained that personal grudges had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq.
And yet in September 2002, as preparations for war were well under way, George Bush the younger told a Houston fundraiser: "This is after all the man who tried to kill my dad." ...
...The personal side of this bitter family saga is over.
But even from his unmarked grave, Saddam Hussein will continue to haunt the Bush administration and define the legacy of the 43rd president of the United States.
Saddam had always promised to lure, fight and defeat the Americans in the cities of Iraq.
No-one thought at the time that this would happen after he had already been deposed.
But his prophetic threat is becoming reality, triggering a multi-headed insurgence that no longer fights on his behalf, and a vortex of sectarian violence that makes a conventional civil war look organised and coherent.
Saddam Hussein's death appears to be imminent and that his death by hanging will likely be videotaped. In fact, the U.S. may hand the former Iraqi dictator over to Iraqis as early as today. Assuming he survives long enough to make it to the gallows, the execution could take place in days, weeks, or maybe on Dubya's State of the Union speech day!
Ford, Nixon were BFFs... And Ford's pardon of Nixon may not have been the bald escape from justice that some have judged it to be:
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28 — President Gerald R. Ford was never one for second-guessing, but for many years after leaving office in 1977, he carried in his wallet a scrap of a 1915 Supreme Court ruling. A pardon, the excerpt said, “carries an imputation of guilt,” and acceptance of a pardon is “a confession of it.”
Mr. Ford’s decision to pardon Richard M. Nixon for any crimes he might have been charged with because of Watergate is seen by many historians as the central event of his 896-day presidency. It also appears to have left him with an uncharacteristic need for self-justification, though friends say he never wavered in his insistence that the pardon was a wise and necessary act and that it had not resulted from any secret deal with his disgraced predecessor.
“I must have talked to him 20 times about the pardon, and there was never a shred of doubt that he’d done the right thing,” said James Cannon, a Ford domestic policy adviser and author of a 1994 book about his presidency. During one of their discussions, Mr. Ford pulled out the 1915 clipping, from Burdick v. United States. “It was a comfort to him,” Mr. Cannon said. “It was legal justification that he was right.”
Over the last three decades, as emotions have cooled, many who were initially critical of the pardon have come to share Mr. Ford’s judgment that it was the best way to stanch the open wound of Watergate. In 2001, a bipartisan panel selected Mr. Ford as recipient of the Profile in Courage Award from the John F. Kennedy Library, singling out for praise his pardon decision, which Mr. Ford later said he believed was a major factor in his failure to win election to the presidency in 1976.
In a 2004 interview with Bob Woodward, reported Thursday night on The Washington Post’s Web site, Mr. Ford offered another, less lofty motive for the pardon: his friendship with Nixon, which lasted for two decades after the pardon and which letters show was closer than publicly understood.
“I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon,” Mr. Ford told Mr. Woodward, “because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn’t want to see my real friend have the stigma.”
Few dramas in American political history remain more riveting than that of Nixon’s exit and Mr. Ford’s reaction, at first halting and then decisive, to the looming possibility of a former president on criminal trial for months on end.
“At the time, I thought this was going to cause a problem with the public and the press, and of course it did,” said Robert T. Hartmann, a former Ford aide. “I thought he was right. But it’s also important to be seen as right and remembered in history as having done the right thing.”
Meanwhile, here's an interesting picture, from the Times today:
Gerald Ford disagreed with President Bush's decisions regarding Iraq. He told Bob Woodward, but had Woodward pledge not to reveal the information until after his death. Before he died Ford had expressed support for Bush's war.
If you ever doubted that President Bush has licked every last droplet out of the neocon Kool-Aid pitcher, you need look no further than the rumblings about his ISG-spurning, soon-to-be unveiled plan for carving out "a way forward" in Iraq. It reads like a post from "pick your right wing blog," or like a William Kristol column from the Weekly Standard.
According to Kristol and others who are following the goings-on inside Bush's palace of delusion in Washington, not only does Bush plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq (permanently, Kristol hopes, escalating the war with a focus on Baghdad, he also plans to shake off the last vestiges of his supposed conservatism by embracing an expensive "New Deal" for Iraq, pouring lard and Karo syrup onto the $663 billion Iraq boondoggle to the tune of another $10 billion (for now), probably with more to come. From the Times of London:
THE White House is expected to announce a reconstruction package for Iraq as part of a plan for a “surge” of up to 30,000 troops into Baghdad when President George W Bush unveils America’s new strategy next month. Bush is being urged to give up to $10 billion (£5.1 billion) to Iraq as part of a “New Deal” that would create work for unemployed Iraqis, following the model of President Franklin D Roosevelt during the 1930s depression.
No word on who, if anyone, will provide oversight over the spending of these fresh funds.
Bush has reportedly cowed the squishy Joint Chiefs once again, and led by the punk-ass JCS chief, Bill Casey, they are going along with Bush's escalation plan. It's all about forcing some elusive "victory," apparently at any cost. And how ironic that Bush would embrace a Rooseveltian strategy, given his family's historic distaste for FDR... oh, and then there's the small fact that Iraq's primary issue isn't an economic depression. Their economic problems are but one outgrowth of an ongoing and bloody civil war unleashed by us. FDR responded to a domestic economic crisis and a war abroad. Bush has collapsed the two into one inside Iraq, which is now the official laboratory of the bruised but unbowed neocons.
Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House and a member of the defence policy board advising the Pentagon, is calling for a cross between the New Deal and the post-second world war Marshall Plan that would “mop up every young Iraqi male who is unemployed”. He said it would be “as big a strategic step towards victory as whether you have more troops or fewer troops”.
Gingrich believes his position as a staunch conservative could help to sell the reconstruction package to sceptical Republicans who argue that Iraq has already cost too money. The Pentagon this month requested an extra $100 billion from Congress as an emergency supplement to the 2007 military budget, bringing the total to $663 billion.
So how much is Iraq worth to you? Are you prepared to watch your country spend a trillion dollars on the war, plus jobs for every accounted for Iraqi male, while your job is by no means secured here at home? The Jobs for Iraqis plan, married to the new, bigger, kick down Iraqi doors project is what it's increasingly looking like Bush will go with in 2007. God help us all. This fool is going to both bankrupt us, and destroy any last vestiges of our superpower status.
Anybody remember the Roman Empire? I don't think it ended well...
It's been a swell year in news soundbites. So now, without further ado, here is the ReidReport list of the top 10 zingers, near misses and whoopsies of 2006.
#10. "I hear the voices, and I read the front page, and I know the speculation. But I'm the decider, and I decide what is best. And what's best is for Don Rumsfeld to remain as the secretary of defense."-- President Bush explaining to the hard-headed press corps in April that Don Rumsfeld was doing a fabulous job as defense secretary, and that he hears voices ...
#9. "This is the moment to say that there are things in life worth fighting and dying for and one of 'em is making sure Nancy Pelosi doesn't become the speaker." -- Fox News' resident angry Bushophile Sean Hannity, bolstering the GOP faithful the August before the midterm elections, by explaining to them that it might take a suicidal jihad to keep the Democrats from controlling the House of Representatives. And why not! After all, it would be an AMERICAN suicidal jihad...!
#8. "You may end up with a different math, but you're entitled to your math. I'm entitled to 'the' math." -- Former electoral "genius" Karl Rove telling some snotty NPR host on October 24th that he sees tons more polls than stupid NPR does anyway, so he knows for sure that Republicans are going to hold the House and Senate ... not too long after the interview, the Republicans lost the House and Senate...
#7. "You know, education ... if you make the most of it, you study hard and you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." -- Former presidential candidate John Kerry flubbing a joke, and with the cynical help of "friends" like John McCain and the media mob, throwing his presidential ambitions off what you might call, the permanent cliff...
#6. "I have to tell you, I have been nervous about this interview with you, because what I feel like saying is, "Sir, prove to me that you are not working with our enemies." -- Tortured radio and cable TV chat host Glenn Beck pleading with 100 percent American, U.S. Congressman Keith Ellison of Minnesota to reassure him that as an American Muslim, he's not secretly working with al-Qaida, as all Muslims tend to side with the terrorists, you know... deep down inside ... their little Muslim hearts...
#5. "Halfrican and, again, his father was -- his father was from Kenya, his mother's white. OK, now, I have nothing with mixed -- nothing against mixed-race people but, my point is, when this guy stands in front of a black audience, pretending like he was born and raised in the hood, and he can identify with their problems, he doesn't allow -- he is not, in my opinion -- 'cause my opinion is your average white guy -- he is not allowed to wear the African-American badge because his family are not the descendants of slaves, OK?" -- Obscure talk radio co-host Brian Sussman showing his ass to the man who could soon be the first African-American president of the United States, Barack Obama.
#4. "This fellow here with the yellow shirt ... Macaca or whatever his name is. ...so welcome, let's give a welcomoe to Macaca over here. Welcome to Virginia and the real world of America." -- Former Virginia Senator George Allen, putting a steak through the heart of his political career, and handing the Senate to the Democratic Party, just be being his lil' old racist self.
#3. "He's a nigger! He's a nigger!!!" -- Washed up comedic actor Michael Richards coming unglued at an L.A. nightclub, and jerking many Africna-Americans out of their closet Seinfeld fix, while simultaneously inspiring "Afro-American" comedians everywhere to give up the N-word. Way to make a difference, Kramer! And can I say, "Macaca!"
#2. "I went there for a massage" -- disgraced pastor Ted Haggard explaining why he was hanging out with a crystal meth-selling male gigolo in Denver, and giving cheating bastards everywhere the best excuse EVER for getting caught in flagrante! Put that one in your excuse baggies for later, Brangelina...!
#1. "Enough is enough!! I have had it... with these muthafuckin' snakes... on this muthafuckin' plane!!!" -- Big screen bad-ass Samuel L. Jackson, proving once again, why he, and he alone, is the soundbite king, this time as the star of the campy classic, "Snakes on a (muthafuckin') plane." Bitches!
And now, here's your bonus soundbite of the day. Enjoy!
"The irony is, what they really need to do is to get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over " -- President Bush at the G8 summit this summer, chowing down on buttered rolls (like a holstein cow, or a prison inmate fresh out of solitary, you pick your visual...) discussing the vagueries of Middle East foreign policy with the U.K. prime minister, and introducing the Brit-deflating phrase, "yo, Blair!" into the universal lexicon. My, how Her Majesty's empire has fallen...
Isn't it great to live in a free country? Just ask these guys. They wanted to tell you some things about the U.S.' historic relationship (and it's current blunderous one) with Iran. And they would no. The authors of a recent piece for the New York Times used to work the Iran issue within the federal government. So when it came time to tell you what they know, they were allowed to go ahead and publish their piece ... with blacked out passages courtesy of the Orwellian bunch at the White House.
Kudos to the Times for publishing the redactions as they were, for all the world to see. I guess Tehran's got nothing on us. (P.S., read all of the citations. They're very illuminating...)
... and good thing I have my Raw Story decoder ring! Perhaps the most interesting thing you'll find in the supplemental materials is a reminder that in fact, Iraq under Saddam Hussein WAS harboring a terrorist group -- it just hapened that the terrorist group it was harboring was not strictly anti-U.S., rather it was the Iranian anti-Irani regime Mujajeddin e-Kalq, which enjoys support inside the Republican lunatic fringe in Washington, led by Florida's own, shameless and wacky, Castro-hunting, terror group defending Congresswoman, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Ileana just loves the MEK, despite their past history of anti-U.S. activity, and their very recent history of attacking Iraqi Kurds and Shia, purportedly people our troops are struggling to defend. It just gets thicker and thicker, doesn't it?
Bottom line: after 9/11 Iran was ready to help the U.S., and would have, had the kooks inside the administration not scuttled all attempts to engage Tehran on the full table of issues between our two countries. You can guess for yourself who those kooks are.
"Though it's tempting to think that adding troops for a little while would solve the problem, this is a seductive and dangerous road. It's the same vague reasoning that led to sending hundreds of thousands of troops to Vietnam. ..." -- From the editorial board of USA Today
The latest gambit: send Bob Gates to Iraq to "bypass the filter" of the uniformed military leadership, and ask the troops what they want. Well that in the hell do you think they want? They want back-up, meaning more troops. So will this be Bush's way of using the soldiers as a prop, yet again, in order to create an excuse to turn "I listen to the generals" into this year's "read my lips, no new taxes?" Righto. More from that USAT editorial:
So far, there's not much specificity beyond "more troops in Baghdad." Where in a city of 5 million would they go? Which warring groups would they fight? How would this be different from what's not working? This is the most pointed criticism of the surge idea, and the president acknowledged it at a news conference Wednesday, saying he would only approve a "specific mission." The fact that he couldn't immediately articulate one suggests the surge is an idea in search of credibility, not a strategy developed to solve a defined problem.
Assuming the short-term goal is to stabilize Baghdad, which the administration has labeled the definitive battleground, the next question is whether that is achievable. U.S. and Iraqi forces have been trying to pacify the capital since summer by massing forces there, but an unusually downbeat Pentagon report revealed this week that "Operation Together Forward" seems only to have intensified the violence. The report notes that the effort to control the violence in Baghdad worked at first, but that the insurgents adapted and violence surged again in September. One factor: Iraqi police tipped insurgents to raids by U.S. and Iraqi troops, allowing the bad guys to melt away. ...
... Bush likes to say he listens to his commanders about troop levels, and two of the nation's wisest combat veterans — former secretary of State Colin Powell and Gen. John Abizaid, the outgoing top U.S. commander in the Middle East — have advised against surging U.S. troops.
Sending more troops to Iraq would have been a good idea in 2003 to stabilize the country after Saddam Hussein was toppled. Today, it has the scent of doubling down on a losing bet, a desperate option seized upon because the cost of others is so high.
Promoters of the more-troops option Bush is considering include Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and neoconservative think tanks that supported the war and are frustrated with its failures. Those supporters should ask themselves one more question: Would they want their own children "surged" into a chaotic environment with such an ill-defined mission and limited prospects of success?
My guess would be they would not.
The bottom line is, everybody knows that the Iraq war is lost and over, except for President Bush and a last remnant of his wack-job followers. Oh, and Joe Lieberman and John McCain. How pathetic. Even Reagan Republicans like Joe Scarborough have begun to describe the president as dangerously isolated and almost delusional in his determination to "stay the course." What is it going to take? How many lives is this president willing to waste in his vain pursuit of "victory" in Iraq? Dude, there IS no victory to be had in Iraq. They're not fighting us, they're fighting each other, and we're in the way.
It's time to leave Iraq.
And if I were the Democrats in Congress, I would prevent Bush's vain little troop surge the old fashioned way: by refusing to pay for it. The Dems should tell the president: we will fund only ongoing battlefield necessities for existing forces (including necessary troop rotation), but won't give you a dime for a single soldier more. Period.