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Monday, May 31, 2004

Oy Yoy Yoy 

High fuel prices are partially blamed on the fighting in the Mideast, which is another reason this political season will be a Groucho Marx moment: “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?” When prices hurt little people and benefit the giants, somebody is going to start noticing .


In between the potato salad and your third hot dog, keep in mind the price.




Talkingpointsmemo Is A Must Read Today 

(May 31, 2004 -- 09:35 PM EDT // link // print)

Up-is-downism ...

The Washington Post, May 30th 2004 ...
Scholars and political strategists say the ferocious Bush assault on Kerry this spring has been extraordinary, both for the volume of attacks and for the liberties the president and his campaign have taken with the facts. Though stretching the truth is hardly new in a political campaign, they say the volume of negative charges is unprecedented -- both in speeches and in advertising.

Bush campaign spokesman Steve Schmidt, May 31st, 2004 ...
John Kerry never misses an opportunity to deliver a political attack.
-- Josh Marshall


U.S. is lost in Afghanistan 

May 31, 2004

BY ROBERT NOVAK SUN-TIMES COLUMNIST


The handful of valiant American warriors fighting the ''other'' war in Afghanistan is not a happy band of brothers. They are undermanned and feel neglected, lack confidence in their generals and are disgusted by Afghan political leadership. Most important, they are appalled by the immense but fruitless effort to find Osama bin Laden for purposes of U.S. politics.

This bleak picture goes unreported because journalists are rarely seen there. It was painted to me by hard U.S. fighters who are committed to the war against terrorism but have a heavy heart. They talked to me not to undermine policy but to reveal problems that should and can be corrected.

Afghanistan constitutes George W. Bush's clearest victory since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. The Taliban regime has been overthrown, eliminating al-Qaida's most important base. But the overlooked war continues with no end in sight. Narcotics trafficking is at an all-time high. If U.S. forces were to leave, the Taliban -- or something like it -- would regain power. The United States is lost in Afghanistan, bound to this wild country and unable to leave.

The situation in Afghanistan, as laid out to me, looks nothing like a country alleged to be progressing toward representative democracy under American tutelage. Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-sponsored Afghan president, is regarded by the U.S. troops as hopelessly corrupt and kept in power by U.S. force of arms.





Novak On Afghanistan

Even More Discussions 

William Safire lives in different world than the rest of us. “…Have you read the encouraging headlines from Iraq? "Monthly U.S. Combat Deaths Down by Half in May" is one. "Radical Shiite Cleric's Militia Decimated in Holy Cities" is another, and finally: "Iraqi Leaders, Defying U.S. and U.N. Dictates, Choose Prime Minister."

No, those were not headlines anybody could see. In Gloomy Gus newsrooms, good news is no news….”






Apparently facts don’t mean that much to the Gray Lady.

”WASHINGTON (AP) - American troops in Iraq died in May at a rate of more than two per day, pushing the combined death count for April and May beyond 200, according to Pentagon figures.

For the National Guard and Reserve, whose part-time soldiers make up at least one-third of the 135,000 American troops in Iraq, the trend in casualties during May was especially troubling.

At least 22 citizen soldiers died, nearly one-third of all U.S. losses in May. As a percentage of the month's death toll, that is about double what it had been in most previous months of the war. It also shows that the Guard and Reserve are bearing an increasing combat load. “

Well, I hate to start piling on. But it IS the New York Times. Don’t they vet anything?


Sunday, May 30, 2004

Discussions 

Did Cheney OK A No Bid Deal Between The Pentagon And His Old Company, Of Which He Holds Over 433,000 Shares And From Which He Receives Dividend Checks?"....an Army Corps of Engineers official—whose name was blacked out by the Pentagon—that raises questions about Cheney's arm's-length policy toward his old employer. Dated March 5, 2003, the e-mail says "action" on a multibillion-dollar Halliburton contract was "coordinated" with Cheney's office. The e-mail says Douglas Feith, a high-ranking Pentagon hawk, got the "authority to execute RIO," or Restore Iraqi Oil, from his boss, who is Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. RIO is one of several large contracts the U.S. awarded to Halliburton last year."






Is The Right Wing Machine So Broken That It Can’t Tell When Two Of It’s Most Wanted List Are Already In Custody?

This is just sad.




Iraqui Women really Suffering From Abuse

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Appropriate For Memorial Day 

After a two hour bloviated speech in the hot sun preceding him, it took Abraham Lincoln minutes to deliver this, the Gettysburg Address, one the more beautiful, rogorous and concise dedications ever offered about war and sacrifice.

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion--that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth".


Discussions 

Chinks in the armor of the Bush Administration are appearing as the New York Times reports that the divisions within the White House are deep and it looks as if the administration itself is coming unraveled.

Even more proof that the undermanned invasion force may have resulted in an even bigger boondoggle, as it looks as if hundreds of millions of dollars of reconstruction tools, raw materials, and even entire warehouse they were stored in have been looted in plain site.

I must say that even the camera turning event by Emily Miller when Colin Powell Stepped outside the talkingpointmemos on Meet The Press. It’s a full blown family feud.


We Are Not The Only ones With A False Cassus Beli 

Some of the nastiest conflicts erupted here in the ethnic Bete heartland, a vital cocoa zone and a mainstay of support for President Gbagbo, who is Bete himself. That trouble boiled up last October in Broudoumé, a village not far from here. Over five days, attacks were carried out against more than 800 ethnic Dioullas - cocoa workers from the north, some of whom have been in Ivory Coast for generations but are still considered foreigners. Months later, a dozen Bete villagers were killed in reprisal. The Dioullas were attacked again and are today thought to have fled to faraway towns and villages. An untold number were killed.

The Betes said the violence started when a Dioulla woman was found trying to cast a spell on the Bete to make them sell their land. "Witchcraft was being practiced in the village by foreigners against indigenes," declared the village chief, Charles Patrice Ouraga Souele, 44, a Bete. "We decided to drive them out. It's our village."

But northerners in the area maintain that the Dioullas were thrown out not over sorcery but something far more terrestrial: control of lucrative cocoa land.





Withcraft Starts A War

Friday, May 28, 2004

Republicans Taking Care Issues That Really Matter: Gay Marriage, Stem Cell Reasearch, and now,Those PESKY Goths!!! 

BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. - Almost half of a $273,000 grant awarded in 2002 to fight the Goth culture in Blue Springs has been returned because of a lack of interest — and the absence of a real problem.

Blue Springs received the grant two years ago from the Youth Outreach Unit, money the city and U.S. Rep. Sam Graves trumpeted proudly as a way to fight a perceived Goth problem.

But $132,000 of the grant was returned because officials never found much of a problem with the Goth culture, which some students called a fad that most people eventually outgrow.

Slightly more than $118,000 of the money was earmarked for therapy, assessment and case management, and the plans also included a series of town meetings to discuss the issue.

"It never happened because referring someone for looking, acting Goth is not a concept that ever got imbedded in people's heads," project manager Allyce Ford said of the therapy proposal.

The town hall meetings didn't happen, either, she said, because there wasn't enough interest in the community to conduct them.

About halfway through the project, the focus shifted from Goths to counter cultures and negative influences facing children, Ford said.

"You have to admit if you saw one, two, three, four or more people dressed in traditional Goth, it would be discerning," she said. "Those kids have every right to be there. I hope the lessons you're teaching are tolerance and understanding."

Assistant City Administrator Eric Johnson said despite the change in focus, the project helped dispel myths and stereotypes associated with the Goth culture.

"That was part of the goal," Johnson said. "If we were able to accomplish that, we are able to accomplish somehing effective."



Yet Another Group To Discriminate Against

Kevin Drum Sticks It To Ashcroft 

couldn't have said it better myself



ASHCROFT ON AL-QAEDA....Gallimaufry catches this contemptible quote from John Ashcroft yesterday when he announced the possibility of an al-Qaeda attack in the United States this summer:

The Madrid railway bombings were perceived by Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to have advanced their cause. Al Qaeda may perceive that a large-scale attack in the United States this summer or fall would lead to similar consequences.

The supposed "consequence" of the Madrid attack, of course, was a victory by the opposition party. So Ashcroft is rather unsubtly saying that al-Qaeda would consider a John Kerry victory to have "advanced their cause."

What a despicable worm. What a revolting, loathsome, toad.



Krugman Nails It Again  



So why did the press credit Mr. Bush with virtues that reporters knew he didn't possess? One answer is misplaced patriotism. After 9/11 much of the press seemed to reach a collective decision that it was necessary, in the interests of national unity, to suppress criticism of the commander in chief.

Another answer is the tyranny of evenhandedness. Moderate and liberal journalists, both reporters and commentators, often bend over backward to say nice things about conservatives. Not long ago, many commentators who are now caustic Bush critics seemed desperate to differentiate themselves from "irrational Bush haters" who were neither haters nor irrational — and whose critiques look pretty mild in the light of recent revelations.

And some journalists just couldn't bring themselves to believe that the president of the United States was being dishonest about such grave matters.

Finally, let's not overlook the role of intimidation. After 9/11, if you were thinking of saying anything negative about the president, you had to be prepared for an avalanche of hate mail. You had to expect right-wing pundits and publications to do all they could to ruin your reputation, and you had to worry about being denied access to the sort of insider information that is the basis of many journalistic careers.

The Bush administration, knowing all this, played the press like a fiddle. But has that era come to an end?






806 

I Know This Isn’t Micheal Jackson Or American Idol. But Gis Are Still Dying In Iraq.

The Atlantic Sticks It To Wolfy  

Paul Wolfowitz could not come up with the right number when he testified on Capitol Hill recently—he was off by about 30% in his estimate of the number of Americans killed in Iraq, which at this writing is 786. He's a busy man. You can't expect him to remember how many young Americans have died for the ambition of his adult life. Had he been asked what they died for, he would not have repeated what he told Vanity Fair last year. He would not have said, "For oil." By now, on message with the rest of the administration, he'd have said, "For democracy."

Tragically, any good the US could have obtained from bringing democracy to Iraq has been vitiated by the mayhem Wolfowitz's obsession with toppling Saddam Hussein has inflicted on the Iraqi people—the 7,000 to 10,000 civilians killed, the torture victims, the populace so brutalized and humiliated by an occupation to which Wolfowitz appears not to have given a thought that over 80% want us out now. And those are just the short-term, intra-Iraq harms. Long-term, according to the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden, US interests in the Middle East have been set back a decade by Abu Ghraib.







The Bush Orthodoxy Is In Shreds  

The Guardian...a MUST READ




A series of investigations has shattered neocon self-belief


Tom Clancy Thinks Iraq Policy Is Disasterous 

A brand name author with many admirers in the military criticized the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, citing it as proof that "good men make mistakes."

That same writer said he almost "came to blows" with a leading war supporter, former Pentagon adviser Richard Perle.

The author is Tom Clancy.

The hawkish master of such million-selling thrillers as "Patriot Games" and "The Hunt for Red October" now finds himself adding to the criticism of the Iraq war, and not only through his own comments.

His latest book, "Battle Ready," is a collaboration with another war critic, retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni. "Battle Ready" looks at Zinni's long military career, dating back to the Vietnam War, and includes harsh remarks by Zinni about the current conflict.


Yep. Bush Has Lost Clancy For Sure.

Ultra Conservative Tom Clancy Goes Against Bush  

Of all the former Bush administration officials to have turned against the president, General Anthony Zinni sounds the angriest. Zinni, the burly and outspoken former Marine who served briefly as Bush's envoy to the Middle East, didn't waste words condemning his old boss on "60 Minutes" this past Sunday. On the CBS broadcast and in his new book, Battle Ready, he all but called for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the rest of the civilian Pentagon leadership to walk the plank. "It should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up. And whose heads are rolling on this?" he asked on Sunday. In his book, he writes, "In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility--at worst, lying, incompetence, and corruption."

For all the former general's fury, though, the Beltway buzz surrounding his book is fading quickly. The White House, resisting the pull of its usual strategy, has declined to give the book any extra publicity by trying to tear down its author. In any event, Zinni, who quit over Iraq in 2003, has been a vocal opponent of the Bush administration for so long now that his criticisms are old news.

But Battle Ready is still a milestone, for reasons that, paradoxically, have nothing to do with Zinni at all. It seems to have been mostly overlooked, but the co-writer of Battle Ready, and the man who gets top billing on its cover, is none other than Tom Clancy, the hugely popular author. Even if the general's criticisms don't make much of an impression, the identity of his Boswell might. Unlike Zinni, who is unknown to most Americans, Clancy is a cultural icon; his name is short-hand for the conservative, pro-military mindset typically associated with Republicans. By itself, Clancy's decision to lend his name to Zinni's book is not going to change any votes. But it's a telling indication of how precarious the president's carefully managed image as a friend of the U.S. military has become. When Ph.D. candidates of the future write the literary history of the Bush presidency, the day that a Republican administration became the bad guy in a Tom Clancy book will surely stand out as a cultural Rubicon crossed.

Clancy is perhaps the least likely writer imaginable to lend his name to a project bashing the Bush administration. Since the beginning of his literary career in the 1980s, he has been the most Republican of authors. Clancy owes his fame to Ronald Reagan, who propelled the unknown former insurance salesman to celebrity status when he endorsed The Hunt for Red October in 1985; Clancy, in turn, dedicated his novel Executive Orders to the 40th president a decade later. He is a Republican donor and reliable conservative, penning articles and book introductions against gun control and in favor of school prayer.






Kevin Drum Sticks It To The Idiots Who Argue The Fatality Rate In Iraq Is Acceptable 

I have him blog rolled- read him everyday.

But not only is this the most inane, technocratic, McNamara-esque argument possible, it also completely misses the point. As countless of his fellow conservatives have pointed out, Americans are willing to accept high casualties in wartime, but only if the goal is worth it and it looks like we're going to win. Increasingly, Americans are not sure we even have a goal in Iraq, or if we do that the current gang in the White House has the remotest clue how to get there. That's the problem, and Max's time would be better spent finding different ways of saying that on a weekly basis until his pals in the White House get the message.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Christian Love 

Hat Tip Texas Freedom Network


"Lord, you need to pay more attention to the liberal press. Those fools are
destroying any chance our good president has of taking care of those
heathens in Iraq. We suffered through eight years of that devil-liar Bill
Clinton, and now that we have a good Christian man in office, some folks
can't put aside politics and see him for the good Christian man he is. Some
folks -- namely liberals -- have implied that our great president misled us
about the war. Strike them down, Lord."

-- From the opening prayer given at a men's group in a church in Amarillo,
as quoted by Brent Biles, Amarillo Globe-News columnist. Mr. Biles gave his
own liberal-leaning prayer afterward.,/b>



Is THIS Christianity?


Consipracy Theory Hour 

Remember when it was revealed that the Saudis promised to lower oil prices in time for the election?

Perhaps that's why they are raising them now.

And How Much Real Intelligence Did All That Torture Produce? 

Very Little Came Of It

Keep this in mind the next time some republican shits on the Bill of Rights. Those who have gone before us have been here, done that and rejected it.

WASHINGTON, May 26 — The questioning of hundreds of Iraqi prisoners last fall in the newly established interrogation center at Abu Ghraib prison yielded very little valuable intelligence, according to civilian and military officials.

The interrogation center was set up in September to obtain better information about an insurgency in Iraq that was killing American soldiers almost every day by last fall. The insurgency was better organized and more vigorous than the United States had expected, prompting concern among generals and Pentagon officials who were unhappy with the
flow of intelligence to combat units and to higher headquarters.


BAGHDAD, Iraq - Three U.S. Marines were killed in action Wednesday west of the Iraqi capital, the U.S. military said. 




A statement from the command said the deaths occurred in Anbar province "while conducting security and stability operations." No further details were released due to security, the statement added.



Anbar province extends from the western suburbs of Baghdad and extends to the borders with Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. It includes such restive insurgency centers as Fallujah, Ramadi and Qaim.



As of Wednesday, 796 U.S. service members had died since the beginning of military operations in Iraq (news - web sites) in March 2003, according to the Department of Defense (news - web sites). Of those, 581 died as a result of hostile action and 215 died of non-hostile causes.



It was unclear if the latest deaths were included in that count.


Gore Gives A Thundering Critique On Bushco  

George W. Bush promised us a foreign policy with humility. Instead, he has brought us humiliation in the eyes of the world.

He promised to "restore honor and integrity to the White House." Instead, he has brought deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.

Honor? He decided not to honor the Geneva Convention. Just as he would not honor the United Nations, international treaties, the opinions of our allies, the role of Congress and the courts, or what Jefferson described as "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind." He did not honor the advice, experience and judgment of our military leaders in designing his invasion of Iraq. And now he will not honor our fallen dead by attending any funerals or even by permitting photos of their flag-draped coffins.

How did we get from September 12th , 2001, when a leading French newspaper ran a giant headline with the words "We Are All Americans Now" and when we had the good will and empathy of all the world -- to the horror that we all felt in witnessing the pictures of torture in Abu Ghraib…

… This new political viciousness by the President and his supporters is found not only on the campaign trail, but in the daily operations of our democracy. They have insisted that the leaders of their party in the Congress deny Democrats any meaningful role whatsoever in shaping legislation, debating the choices before us as a people, or even to attend the all-important conference committees that reconcile the differences between actions by the Senate and House of Representatives.

The same meanness of spirit shows up in domestic policies as well. Under the Patriot Act, Muslims, innocent of any crime, were picked up, often physically abused, and held incommunicado indefinitely. What happened in Abu Ghraib was difference not of kind, but of degree.

This Is Strange Things Are. I Actually Agree With Every Word Of Thomas Friedman 

Thomas Friedman Makes Perfect Sense

I'm glad the president gave a sober talk about where we're going in Iraq and in confronting terrorism. But I can't say I found it reassuring. I still don't feel we have a broad, workable strategy. We currently have two national commissions looking backward — one on how 9/11 happened, and another about why no W.M.D. were found in Iraq. Those are key questions. But what we really need is a bipartisan commission looking forward. I'd call it the National Commission for Doing Things Right. Its mandate would be simple: tell the country what U.S. policy would be if we were determined to do things right in confronting terrorism, no matter what the political costs — so we don't have to have yet another commission looking backward two years from now. Here's what I'd like to see:

• We would take all the money the Bush team has wasted on P.R. campaigns directed at the Arab-Muslim world and put it into three programs: a huge expansion of U.S. embassy libraries around the world, which have been cut in recent years (you'd be amazed at how many young people abroad had their first contact with America through an embassy library), a huge expansion of scholarships for foreign students to study in America, and a huge expansion of our immigration service so it can quickly figure out who should get visas to study or work in America and who shouldn't. Too many good students are getting shut out of the U.S. You don't get better P.R. from ads. You get it from bringing people into America or American libraries and letting them draw their own conclusions.

• We would adopt a 50-cents-a-gallon gasoline tax, the Patriot Tax (along with my wife's proposal: free public parking anywhere in America for any hybrid or other car getting more than 35 m.p.g.). A Patriot Tax would help pay for the Afghan and Iraq wars and help finance a Manhattan project to speed the development of a hydrogen economy, enabling the public to make a contribution to the war effort while lessening our dependence on foreign oil.

There is simply no way to stimulate a process of economic and political reform in the Arab-Muslim world without radically reducing their revenues from oil, thereby forcing these governments to reform their economies, and societies, to produce real jobs for their people. Is there anything dumber than the Bush campaign ads chastising John Kerry for once favoring a gasoline tax? Had we imposed a Patriot Tax a year ago, gasoline might still cost $2 a gallon today, but 50 cents of that would have gone to paying for American schools rather than Saudi madrassas.

• We would spearhead efforts in trade talks to reduce U.S., European and Japanese farm subsidies. Nothing would be more helpful to Pakistani, Egyptian and other poor farmers in the Muslim and developing worlds than no longer having to compete with our subsidized produce.

• We would make a serious effort to diffuse the toxic Arab-Israeli conflict, including using NATO forces to separate the parties.

• We would spell out that the war on terrorism is a long-term war on radical Islam — and while force is necessary in that effort, it is not sufficient. We have to connect all of the above dots to strengthen Arab-Muslim moderates, because only they can take on their extremists. Unfortunately, the Bush team reacted to 9/11 as if all the old rules and methods had to go. I believe 9/11 was gigantic. But the old rule book — emphasizing allies, the Geneva Conventions, self-sacrifice, economic development, education, Arab-Israeli diplomacy — was and remains our greatest source of strength in the effort to promote gradual reform in the regions most likely to breed threats to our open society.

I think David Rothkopf, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said it best: "The answer for us lies not in what has changed, but in recognizing what has not changed. Because only through this recognition will we focus on an effective multilateral response to W.M.D. proliferation, the creation of real stakeholders in globalization among the world's poor, the need for reform in the Arab world and a style of U.S. leadership that seeks to build our base of support worldwide by getting more people to voluntarily sign onto our values. We need to remember that those values are the real foundation for our security and the real source of our strength. And we need to recognize that our enemies can never defeat us — only we can defeat ourselves, by throwing out the rule book that has worked for us for a long, long time."


Must Read 

A Student Discerns 27 Different Reasons Bushco Used To Justify War  

If it seems that there have been quite a few rationales for going to war in Iraq, that’s because there have been quite a few – 27, in fact, all floated between Sept. 12, 2001, and Oct. 11, 2002, according to a new study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. All but four of the rationales originated with the administration of President George W. Bush.

The study also finds that the Bush administration switched its focus from Osama bin Laden to Saddam Hussein early on – only five months after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

In addition to what it says about the shifting sands of rationales and the unsteady path to war in Iraq, what is remarkable about the 212-page study is that its author is a student.



Wednesday, May 26, 2004

To Be Fair 

I don't think Bush is a bad person. I don't think he is evil. I think the results of some of his policies are bad and some of the people he has surrounded himself with are well intentioned but completely wrong on the issues. I want to keep that point in front. It is not him I oppose. It is his policies.

Magical History Tour 

William Saletan from Slate points to fantasy reality and revisionist history that Bushco uses to justify it’s mistakes without once taking any responsibility for the mess his administration has caused.





In press conferences, TV ads, and interviews this year, President Bush has manifested a series of psychopathologies: an abstract notion of reality, confidence unhinged from facts and circumstances, and a conception of credibility that requires no correspondence to the external world. Tonight, as he vowed to stay the course in Iraq, Bush demonstrated another mental defect: incomprehension of his role in history as a fallible human agent. Absent such comprehension, Bush can't fix his mistakes in Iraq because he can't see how—or even that—he screwed up.

Here's how Bush, in his speech this evening, described Iraq's place in history:

In the last 32 months, history has placed great demands on our country, and events have come quickly. Americans have seen the flames of Sept. 11, followed battles in the mountains of Afghanistan … We've seen killers at work on trains in Madrid, in a bank in Istanbul, in a synagogue in Tunis, and at a nightclub in Bali. And now the families of our soldiers and civilian workers pray for their sons and daughters in Mosul, in Karbala, in Baghdad. We did not seek this war on terror, but this is the world as we find it. We must keep our focus. We must do our duty. History is moving, and it will tend toward hope or tend toward tragedy.

The description is almost biblical. The narrative—"this war on terror"—is a moral test arranged by higher powers. Postwar Iraq, like 9/11, Madrid, and Bali, is "the world as we find it," not as we made it. "History," not Bush, has placed the demands of occupation on our country. "Events," not Bush's mistakes and their consequences, have come quickly. We must focus on the "duty" defined by our situation, not on how we got here.

Bush's ignorance of his part in the tragedy infects everything he says. "The swift removal of Saddam Hussein's regime last spring had an unintended effect," he observed tonight. "Instead of being killed or captured on the battlefield, some of Saddam's elite guards shed their uniforms and melted into the civilian population. [They] have reorganized, rearmed and adopted sophisticated terrorist tactics." Note the passive construction. The mistake isn't that Bush failed to prepare for guerrilla tactics commonly adopted against occupiers. It isn't even a mistake; it's an "unintended effect." The cause of that effect is Saddam's "swift removal," not Bush or anyone in his administration who engineered the removal….


Bush’s Fantasy World


The Gray Lady Apologises For Helping To Sell Administration Lies 

read it all. have a link and an excerpt

Over the last year this newspaper has shone the bright light of hindsight on decisions that led the United States into Iraq. We have examined the failings of American and allied intelligence, especially on the issue of Iraq's weapons and possible Iraqi connections to international terrorists. We have studied the allegations of official gullibility and hype. It is past time we turned the same light on ourselves.

In doing so — reviewing hundreds of articles written during the prelude to war and into the early stages of the occupation — we found an enormous amount of journalism that we are proud of. In most cases, what we reported was an accurate reflection of the state of our knowledge at the time, much of it painstakingly extracted from intelligence agencies that were themselves dependent on sketchy information. And where those articles included incomplete information or pointed in a wrong direction, they were later overtaken by more and stronger information. That is how news coverage normally unfolds.

But we have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged — or failed to emerge…


…On Dec. 20, 2001, another front-page article began, "An Iraqi defector who described himself as a civil engineer said he personally worked on renovations of secret facilities for biological, chemical and nuclear weapons in underground wells, private villas and under the Saddam Hussein Hospital in Baghdad as recently as a year ago." Knight Ridder Newspapers reported last week that American officials took that defector — his name is Adnan Ihsan Saeed al-Haideri — to Iraq earlier this year to point out the sites where he claimed to have worked, and that the officials failed to find evidence of their use for weapons programs. It is still possible that chemical or biological weapons will be unearthed in Iraq, but in this case it looks as if we, along with the administration, were taken in. And until now we have not reported that to our readers.



Gray Lady Apologises

Military Intelligence Unit Under Investigation 

From the International Herald Tribune. Have a link and an excerpt





A military intelligence unit that oversaw interrogations at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq was also in charge of questioning at a detention center in Afghanistan where two prisoners died in December 2002 in incidents that are being investigated as homicides.
.
For both of the Afghan prisoners, who died in a center known as the Bagram Collection Point, the cause of death listed on certificates signed by U.S. pathologists was blunt force injuries to their legs.
.
Interrogations at the center were supervised by Company A, 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, which moved early in 2003 to Iraq, where some of its members were assigned to the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at Abu Ghraib. The company's service in Afghanistan was known, but its work at Bagram at the time of the deaths has now emerged in interviews with former prisoners and military officials and from documents.
.
Two men arrested with one of the prisoners who died in the Bagram detention center said in southeastern Afghanistan on Sunday that they had been tortured and sexually humiliated by their American jailers. They said they were held in isolation cells, black hoods were placed over their heads, and their hands at times were chained to the ceiling. "The 10 days that we had was a very bad time," said Zakim Shah, a 20-year-old farmer and father of two who said he felt he would not survive at times during his imprisonment. "We are very lucky."


Funny How US Army Investigators Contradict Both The President AND Faux News 

Have a link and an excerpt with your coffee

US Army Investigators say torture was widespread, not a few bad apples





WASHINGTON, May 25 — An Army summary of deaths and mistreatment involving prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan shows a widespread pattern of abuse involving more military units than previously known.

The cases from Iraq date back to April 15, 2003, a few days after Saddam Hussein's statue was toppled in a Baghdad square, and they extend up to last month, when a prisoner detained by Navy commandos died in a suspected case of homicide blamed on "blunt force trauma to the torso and positional asphyxia."

Among previously unknown incidents are the abuse of detainees by Army interrogators from a National Guard unit attached to the Third Infantry Division, who are described in a document obtained by The New York Times as having "forced into asphyxiation numerous detainees in an attempt to obtain information" during a 10-week period last spring.

The document, dated May 5, is a synopsis prepared by the Criminal Investigation Command at the request of Army officials grappling with intense scrutiny prompted by the circulation the preceding week of photographs of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. It lists the status of investigations into three dozen cases, including the continuing investigation into the notorious abuses at Abu Ghraib.


Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Uh....Woops 

Iraq's U.S.-appointed leaders expressed disappointment Tuesday with the American blueprint for post-occupation Iraq, saying they must have greater control over their country's own security forces.

Iraqis Immediately Reject UN Offer

Pentagon Is Replacing Sanchez as the U.S. Commander in Iraq 

From The Gray Lady: It didn't help that he said he had never seen the abuses and general Karpinski said he had. He is not the cause of the misteps in Iraq- just the first head to roll.




The Buck Stops At General Sanchez

WASHINGTON, May 24 — The top American officer in Iraq, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, will leave his command this summer, to be replaced by the Army's second-ranking general, senior Pentagon officials said Monday.

Pentagon officials said that replacing General Sanchez with the Army vice chief of staff, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., in no way reflected on General Sanchez's handling of the widening prisoner-abuse scandal at Abu Ghraib prison, outside of Baghdad, which was under his authority.

While the move may not have come purely as a result of Abu Ghraib, General Sanchez has been under pressure recently in Iraq, especially as the insurgency has posed increasing military challenges in the central town of Falluja and in several southern towns.

His intended new assignment, which was to lead the United States Southern Command in Miami, may now have been given to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's senior military assistant, Lt. Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, leaving it unclear where General Sanchez will be assigned, one defense official said. Other officials said, however, that General Sanchez might not yet have lost that prize.

Paul Krugman Scores A Direct Hit 

The fact is, no matter what the President says or does, he will, be facing over a million lost jobs in this next election, which will make him one of the worst performing Presidents economically since Herbert Hoover.

In the past, The Republicans used the War on Terrorism to distract the public from the shitty economic news. Now they are pissed that the econimic news is drowned out by a scandal so egregious it seems unAmercican

The fact is, we didn’t want this war. We wanted something but it didn’t look like this: endless conflict, GIs dying everyday and a cost that keeps spiraling upwards. We want to paint schools in Baghdad but not when there is no money left for Schools in St. Louis. We want to create jobs in iraq but not at the expense of jobs in America. We want the Iraqis to be free, but not when the Patriot Act robs our freedoms. We want Iraqis to have medicine. But not when there are no funds to pay for our own.



Economic Numbers Still Not Great

Here's one way to look at it. The job forecast in the 2002 Economic Report of the President assumed that by 2004 the economy would have fully recovered from the 2001 recession. That recovery, according to the official projection, would lead to average payroll employment of 138 million this year — 7 million more than the actual number. So we have a gap of 7 million jobs to make up.

And employment is chasing a moving target: it must rise by about 140,000 a month just to keep up with a growing population. In April, the economy added 288,000 jobs. If you do the math, you discover that President Bush needs about four years of job growth at last month's rate to reach what his own economists consider full employment.

The bottom line, then, is that Mr. Bush's supporters have no right to complain about the public's failure to appreciate his economic leadership. Three years of lousy performance, followed by two months of good but not great job growth, is not a record to be proud of.








I Hate To Say It: David Brooks Sometimes Makes Sense. Bush's Gamble 

Speech Did Not Impress This Conservative



It's an epic gamble. Because, let's face it, we don't know whether all people really do want to live in freedom. We don't know whether Iraqis have any notion of what democratic citizenship really means. We don't know whether they hear words like freedom, liberty and pluralism as deadly insults to the way of life they hold dear. We don't know who our enemies are. Are they the small minority of Baathists and jihadists, or is there a little bit of Moktada al-Sadr in every Iraqi's breast?

Bush is putting this tenet of our national creed to a fearsome test in the worst possible circumstances. For the past year Americans have committed horrible blunders. And if this gamble fails, it won't be only the competence of our officials that will be called into question — it will be the American creed itself. Since before the nation's founding, Americans have thought of themselves as the great democratic champions of the globe.

If this gamble fails to come off, then that mission will seem, to many, false. Perhaps democracy and freedom are not really universal values, some will say. Perhaps they are just the outgrowths of a specific culture. People on the left and right will race to withdraw from the world. It will become difficult to take on the tyrants who will menace the world.

On the other hand, if we muddle through in Iraq and some semidemocratic nation slowly emerges, it won't be because of American skill. It will be because the democratic creed is so strong it can withstand the highest incompetence. Then there really will be hope for a democratic Middle East. The war on terror will really look winnable.

The Talking Points Memo President 

As someone said in another blog: This speech was a divorced from reality as you could possibly be. It was a rah rah speech that acknowledges no mistakes or even….how shall I say it? Irony!

He talked about the abuses at the Abu G prison under Saddam but mentioned only a handful of bad apples that embarassed us- even though the facts show that this abuse was endemic, hundreds of soldiers saw it and top Generals. Approved it. He mentioned the fact that the Iraqi Education Ministry is out of the job of propaganda, but there has never before been a president who uses Propaganda like this one- indeed, just this week, the GAO ruled that his Medicare ads were Propaganda. He mentioned that we would seek International support but not that he once mentioned that the UN was useless and we would not seek their permission for anything.

Bush’s Speech Divorced From Reality

If President Bush had been talking a year ago, after the fall of Baghdad, his speech at the Army War College last night might have sounded like a plan for moving forward. He was able to point to a new United Nations resolution being developed in consultation with American allies, not imposed in defiance of them, and to a timetable for moving Iraq toward elected self-government. He talked in general terms of expanding international involvement and stabilizing Iraq. But Mr. Bush was not starting fresh. He spoke after nearly 14 months of policy failures, none of them acknowledged by the president, which have left Iraq increasingly violent and drained Washington's credibility with the Iraqi people and the international community. They have been waiting for Mr. Bush to make a clean break with those policies. He did not do that last night. The speech reflected the fact that Mr. Bush has been backtracking lately, but he did not come close to charting the new course he needs to take. His "five steps" toward Iraqi independence were merely a recitation of the tasks ahead.

Mr. Bush plans a series of addresses on Iraq before June 30. It was impossible not to wonder last night why he had waited until the security situation in Iraq had become disastrous, until Americans had begun losing faith in his leadership and, indeed, until just 37 days before a crucial new phase begins the transition to Iraqi sovereignty.

It's regrettable that this president is never going to admit any shortcomings, much less failure. That's an aspect of Mr. Bush's character that we have to live with. But we cannot live without a serious plan for doing more than just getting through the June 30 transition and then muddling along until the November elections in the United States. Mr. Bush has yet to come up with a realistic way to internationalize the military operation and to get Iraq's political groups beyond their current game of jockeying for power and into a real process of drafting a workable constitution.


Monday, May 24, 2004

Our Darkest Days Are Here -By Andy Rooney 

Oh He Nails It. A Must Read

May 23, 2004

If you were going to make a list of the great times in American history, you'd start with the day in 1492, when Columbus got here.

The Revolution when we won our independence would be on the list.

Beating Hitler.

Putting Americans on the moon.

We've had a lot of great days.

Our darkest days up until now have been things like presidential assassinations, the stock market crash in 1929, Pearl Harbor, and 9-11, of course.

The day the world learned that American soldiers had tortured Iraqi prisoners belongs high on the list of worst things that ever happened to our country. It's a black mark that will be in the history books in a hundred languages for as long as there are history books. I hate to think of it.

The image of one bad young woman with a naked man on a leash did more to damage America's reputation than all the good things we've done over the years ever helped our reputation.

What were the secrets they were trying to get from captured Iraqis? What important information did that poor devil on the leash have that he wouldn't have given to anyone in exchange for a crust of bread or a sip of water?

Where were your officers? If someone told you to do it, tell us who told you. If your officers were told – we should know who told them.

One general said our guards were "untrained." Well, untrained at what? Being human beings? Did the man who chopped off Nicholas Berg's head do it because he was untrained?

The guards who tortured prisoners are faced with a year in prison. Well, great. A year for destroying our reputation as decent people.

I don't want them in prison, anyway. We shouldn't have to feed them. Take away their right to call themselves American - that's what I’d do. You aren't one of us. Get out. We don't want you. Find yourself another country or a desert island somewhere. If the order came from someone higher up, take him with you.

In the history of the world, several great civilizations that seemed immortal have deteriorated and died. I don't want to seem dramatic tonight, but I've lived a long while, and for the first time in my life, I have this faint, faraway fear that it could happen to us here in America as it happened to the Greek and Roman civilizations.

Too many Americans don't understand what we have here, or how to keep it. I worry for my grandchildren, my great-grandchildren. I want them to have what I've had, and I sense it slipping away.

Have a nice day.




Death By Injection Is Torture 

Court sides with Alabama death row prisoner
By Gina Holland, The Associated Press



WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Monday that a convicted Alabama killer can pursue an appeal claiming lethal injection is cruel and unusual punishment in his case because years of drug abuse make it too difficult to administer the fatal cocktail without painful procedures.


History lesson: GOP must stop Bush 

Carl Bernstein Calls On President’s Party To Stop Bush


Thirty years ago, a Republican president, facing impeachment by the House of Representatives and conviction by the Senate, was forced to resign because of unprecedented crimes he and his aides committed against the Constitution and people of the United States. Ultimately, Richard Nixon left office voluntarily because courageous leaders of the Republican Party put principle above party and acted with heroism in defense of the Constitution and rule of law.


Chalabi The Huckster 

With questions swirling about Chalabi's fidelity, Administration neoconservatives who once blessed Chalabi as Iraq's President-in-waiting but have watched their influence wane as Iraq has descended into chaos fell over themselves last week trying to cut loose their former friend. One of Chalabi's Pentagon boosters, Under Secretary of Defense Douglas Feith, insisted to Time that "there's all this stuff about his advising us on policy and his being highly influential, and it is wildly overstated. The stuff that's been reported about us being very close is just wrong." A top Administration source says Vice President Dick Cheney, who lobbied to continue to give financial assistance to the i.n.c. in the run-up to the U.S. invasion, saw Chalabi as merely "one of many" exiles who could aid the U.S. in Iraq. Asked by Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan whether the U.S. was "duped by a con man" into going to war, Air Force General Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, responded, "I think that remains to be seen. Probably. But I just don't know."

Yet by choosing to go after Chalabi, the U.S. risks alienating some of its few remaining allies in Iraq while inviting fresh doubts about its judgment—all at a time when the U.S. is trying to line up support for the planned transfer of power on June 30 in a last-gasp bid to stave off spiraling discontent with the occupation. "This is always the way the United States does things," Chalabi tells Time. "One of the first things they do when they come into a place is turn their backs on their friends who were instrumental in bringing them there." About that much, at least, Chalabi is right. Last week's raid signaled that Washington's romance with Chalabi is over. "He has made some choices about whether he will speak out or be against us, and he has that right," says a senior Administration official. "But we have the right to make choices as well."

The rupture between the U.S. and its favorite son has been months in the making, the product of election-year politics, bureaucratic jousting and deeply personal feuds. In January Bush invited a delegation of the Iraqi Governing Council, including Chalabi, to Washington for the State of the Union address. Chalabi sat just behind First Lady Laura Bush. But that publicity coup masked anxieties. Chalabi says that during a meeting with George W. Bush in the Oval Office, he implored the President not to hand control over Iraq's political future to the U.N. Chalabi has long railed against the U.N. for propping up Saddam through its corrupt oil-for-food program. He warned Bush that the U.N.'s envoy to Iraq, Lakhdar Brahimi, was trying to give former Sunni Baathists a role in the future government. Chalabi tells Time, "The President said to me, 'If there is anything you don't have to worry about, it's that.'" He should have been worried. In early April, with coalition forces fighting a two-front insurgency and the White House desperate for an exit strategy, Bush declared that the U.S. would back any political arrangement Brahimi could come up with before June 30. When the U.N. envoy returned to Iraq last month, he announced that members of the Governing Council would not be a part of the caretaker government he plans to name. Chalabi blames Bush for trashing the pledge he made in January. "Two months down the line, the President decides for his re-election strategy to have the U.N. determine how things are going to be in Iraq," he says.








Taking a Closer Look at the Patriot Act 

Where Are You Heading, America?

By BRIAN CLOUGHLEY

The parallels with 1930s Germany are ominous . . .

Have you read the USA PATRIOT Act right through, and examined every one of its amendments to existing legislation? Has anyone done this, apart from its authors and a few agitated souls in media, academia and some Congressional offices? It is 342 pages long, and went through the legislative process of the United States like a hot knife through butter. Senators voted 98 to 1 for the Act, and the House endorsed it by 357 to 56, but not one of those who approved its terms could possibly have had time to read it and cross-reference its details before endorsing it. This was governance by misplaced trust, because the Patriot Act is potentially the most dangerous piece of legislation in US history.

The Act alters 15 Statutes. The prerogatives, personal authority and dominance of the president of the United States have been extended to include drastic and quasi-imperial powers that threaten the liberties of all Americans.

One reason the Patriot Act is worrying for foreigners is that US military expansionism and economic domination are drastically affecting the entire world. What is decided in Washington today is immensely important for every other capital tomorrow. We are all dependent in one way or another on US policies. Therefore it is appropriate rather than impertinent that the rest of the world should comment on US domestic matters that inevitably impact on every person on the globe.

Another reason for concern is that there are alarming echoes of the 1930s, when a semi-elected and eventually-appointed national figure amassed such power as to be unaccountable to the people of his country, and went on to create mayhem and chaos to the extent that the entire world was shaken to its foundations….


…. It is far from irrelevant that Hitler was appointed Germany"s Chancellor, in legal accord with the Weimar Constitution, by President Hindenburg in 1933, just as Bush was appointed president of the United States by the Supreme Court in December 2000. Shortly after Hitler came to power the chamber housing the Parliament, the Reichstag, was set ablaze. Hitler thought this an excellent opportunity to consolidate his dominance. As Toland records, he declared : "Now we"ll show them. Anyone who stands in our way will be mown down". Nobody died in the Reichstag fire, but it was Hitler"s 9-11, and it spawned the Patriot Act of its era.

Hitler"s sweeping Decree provided that ". . . restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press, on the right of assembly and the right of association, and violations of the privacy of postal, communications, and warrants for house-searchers, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed."





MUST READ

Did Fire On A Wedding Or Not ? 

RAMADI, Iraq May 23, 2004 — A videotape obtained Sunday by Associated Press Television News captures a wedding party that survivors say was later attacked by U.S. planes early Wednesday, killing up to 45 people. The dead included the cameraman, Yasser Shawkat Abdullah, hired to record the festivities, which ended Tuesday night before the planes struck.



Oy Vey

Halliburton Drivers Tell Of Convoys Of Empty Loads Just To Be Able To Bill The Government. 

By Seth Borenstein
Knight Ridder Newspapers

WASHINGTON — Empty flatbed trucks crisscrossed Iraq more than 100 times as their drivers and the soldiers who guarded them dodged bullets, bricks and homemade bombs.

Twelve current and former truckers who regularly made the 300-mile resupply run from Camp Cedar in southern Iraq to Camp Anaconda near Baghdad told Knight Ridder they risked their lives driving empty trucks while their employer, a subsidiary of Halliburton, billed the government for hauling what they derisively called "sailboat fuel."

Defense Department records show Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, has been paid $327 million for "theater transportation" of war materiel and supplies for U.S. forces in Iraq and is earmarked to be paid $230 million more. The convoys are a lifeline for U.S. troops in Iraq hauling tires for Humvees, Army boots, filing cabinets, tools, engine parts and an unmanned Predator reconnaissance plane.

KBR's contract with the Defense Department allows the company to pass on the cost of the transportation and add 1 percent to 3 percent for profit, but neither KBR nor the U.S. Army Field Support Command in Rock Island, Ill., which oversees the contract, was able to provide cost estimates for the empty trucks. Trucking experts estimate each round trip costs taxpayers thousands of dollars.

Asked for anonymity

Seven of the 12 truckers who discussed the situation asked that they not be identified by name. Six of the 12 were fired by KBR for allegedly running Iraqi drivers off the road when they attempted to break into the convoy. The drivers disputed that accusation.

In addition to interviewing the drivers, Knight Ridder reviewed KBR records of the empty trips, dozens of photographs of empty flatbeds and a videotape that showed 15 empty trucks in one convoy.

The 12 drivers, all interviewed separately over more than a month, told similar stories.

"Thor," a driver who quit KBR and got his nickname for using a hammer to fight off a knife-wielding Iraqi who tried to climb into the cab of his truck, said his doctor recently told him he might lose the use of his right eye after a December attack. Iraqis shattered his windshield with machine-gun fire and bullets whizzed by his ear. Glass got in his eye, and he broke two bones in his shoulder, he said.

His truck was empty at the time.

"I thought, 'What good is this?' " he said.




Even The Drivers See The Bullshit

Douglas Feith. Architect Of Disaster 

What has the Pentagon's third man done wrong? Everything.
By Chris Suellentrop
Posted Thursday, May 20, 2004, at 3:56 PM PT



Of all the revelations that have surfaced about the Abu Ghraib prison-abuse scandal so far, the least surprising is that Douglas Feith may be partly responsible. Not a single Iraq war screw-up has gone by without someone tagging Feith—who, as the Defense Department's undersecretary for policy, is the Pentagon's No. 3 civilian, after Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz—as the guy to blame. Feith, who ranks with Wolfowitz in purity of neoconservative fervor, has turned out to be Michael Dukakis in reverse: ideology without competence.

It's not that the 50-year-old Feith is at fault for everything that's gone wrong in Iraq. He's only tangentially related to the mystery of the missing weapons of mass destruction, for example. (Though it's a significant tangent: An anonymous "Pentagon insider" told the Washington Times last year that Feith was the person who urged the Bush administration to make Saddam's WMD the chief public rationale for going to war immediately.) Nor was it Feith who made the decision to commit fewer troops than the generals requested. (Though Feith did give the most honest explanation for the decision, saying last year that it "makes our military less usable" if hundreds of thousands of troops are needed to fight wars.) But if he isn't fully culpable for all these fiascos, he's still implicated in them somehow. He's a leading indicator, like a falling Dow—something that correlates with but does not cause disaster.


Douglas Feith- Liar. Opportunist. Thief.

In Iraq, the Job Opportunity of a Lifetime  

Managing a $13 Billion Budget With No Experience EXCEPT THEY WERE RIGHT WING REPUBLICANS.

By Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 23, 2004; Page A01

BAGHDAD -- It was after nightfall when they finally found their offices at Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace -- 11 jet-lagged, sweaty, idealistic volunteers who had come to help Iraq along the road to democracy.

When the U.S. government went looking for people to help rebuild Iraq, they had responded to the call. They supported the war effort and President Bush. Many had strong Republican credentials. They were in their twenties or early thirties and had no foreign service experience. On that first day, Oct. 1, they knew so little about how things worked that they waited hours at the airport for a ride that was never coming. They finally discovered the shuttle bus out of the airport but got off at the wrong stop.

Occupied Iraq was just as Simone Ledeen had imagined -- ornate mosques, soldiers in formation, sand blowing everywhere, "just like on TV." The 28-year-old daughter of neoconservative pundit Michael Ledeen and a recently minted MBA, she had arrived on a military transport plane with the others and was eager to get to work.

They had been hired to perform a low-level task: collecting and organizing statistics, surveys and wish lists from the Iraqi ministries for a report that would be presented to potential donors at the end of the month. But as suicide bombs and rocket attacks became almost daily occurrences, more and more senior staffers defected. In short order, six of the new young hires found themselves managing the country's $13 billion budget, making decisions affecting millions of Iraqis.

Viewed from the outside, their experience illustrates many of the problems that have beset the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), a paucity of experienced applicants, a high turnover rate, bureaucracy, partisanship and turf wars. But within their group, inside the "Green Zone," the four-mile strip surrounded by cement blast walls where Iraq's temporary rulers are based, their seven months at the CPA was the experience of a lifetime. It was defined by long hours, patriotism, friendship, sacrifice and loss.

The CPA was designed to be a grand experiment in nation-building, a body of experts who would be Iraq's guide for transforming itself into a model for democracy in the Middle East. Unlike previous reconstruction efforts, it was to be manned by civilians -- advisers on politics, law, medicine, transportation, agronomy and other key areas. They were supposed to be experts, but many of the younger hires who filled the CPA's hallways were longer on enthusiasm than on expertise.

L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's top civil administrator, may have been the public face of the CPA, but it is these rank-and-file workers who defined the occupation at the ground level. This account of the budget team's time in Baghdad is drawn from direct observation and interviews with more than three dozen civilian and military members of the occupation government.
War on Terror



Ledeen's journey to Baghdad began two weeks earlier when she received an e-mail out of the blue from the Pentagon's White House liaison office. The Sept. 16 message informed her that the occupation government in Iraq needed employees to prepare for an international conference. "This is an amazing opportunity to move forward on the global war on terror," the e-mail read.

For Ledeen, the offer seemed like fate. One of her family friends had been killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, and it had affected her family deeply. Without hesitation, she responded "Sure" to the e-mail and waited -- for an interview, a background check or some other follow-up. Apparently none was necessary. A week later, she got a second e-mail telling her to look for a packet in the mail regarding her move to Baghdad.

Others from across the District responded affirmatively to the same e-mail, for different reasons. Andrew Burns, 23, a Red Cross volunteer who had taught English in rural China, felt going to Iraq would help him pursue a career in humanitarian aid. Todd Baldwin, 28, a legislative aide for Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), thought the opportunity was too good to pass up. John Hanley, 24, a Web site editor, wanted to break into the world of international relations. Anita Greco, 25, a former teacher, and Casey Wasson, 23, a recent college graduate in government, just needed jobs.

For months they wondered what they had in common, how their names had come to the attention of the Pentagon, until one day they figured it out: They had all posted their resumes at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative-leaning think tank.




Only Republicans Need Apply

JUST IN TIME 

Iraqis lose right to sue troops over war crimes





Kamal Ahmed, political editor
Sunday May 23, 2004
The Observer



British and American troops are to be granted immunity from prosecution in Iraq after the crucial 30 June handover, undermining claims that the new Iraqi government will have 'full sovereignty' over the state.

Despite widespread ill-feeling about the abuse of prisoners by American forces and allegations of mistreatment by British troops, coalition forces will be protected from any legal action.

They will only be subject to the domestic law of their home countries. Military sources have told The Observer that the question of immunity was central to obtaining military agreement on a new United Nations resolution on Iraq to be published by the middle of next month.


Sunday, May 23, 2004

Demand Grows to Require Paper Trails for Electronic Votes 

By KATHARINE Q. SEELYE


WASHINGTON, May 22 - A coalition of computer scientists, voter groups and state officials, led by California's secretary of state, Kevin Shelley, is trying to force the makers of electronic voting machines to equip those machines with voter-verifiable paper trails.

Following the problems of the 2000 election in Florida, a number of states and hundreds of counties rushed to dump their punch card ballot systems and to buy the electronic touch screens. Election Data Services, a consulting firm that specializes in election administration, estimates that this November 50 million Americans - about 29 percent of the electorate - may be voting on touch screens, up from 12 percent in 2000.



Avoiding 2000

A military policewoman describes the treatment of Iraqi detainees in the prison’s now-notorious Tier 1A 



Behind the Walls of Abu Ghraib



The bad stuff happened after dusk, she said. While daylight brought a string of visitors—medics, Red Cross officials, high-ranking officers—the dogs came out at night. The second-shifters brought in DVD movies to watch on their computers. Liang said she saw an image on the laptop of Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr.—one of those awaiting trial after investigators described him as one of the ringleaders in the alleged prisoner abuses. The photograph was of a snarling military dog held inches from a prone Iraqi prisoner's face. At the 4 a.m. shift change, she asked, "Why dogs?"The prisoner had been handcuffed and scared with the dogs so he'd break, someone told her. It was common to arrive at work and see a prisoner standing on a box, naked, shivering and wearing a hood, she told NEWSWEEK. One morning she came in and saw blood on the walls, although nobody could explain exactly how it got there.

Pummeling and humiliating and photographing Iraqi prisoners, Liang said, was the product of vague guidance, poor discipline, frustration that came with open-ended deployment, and boredom run amok. "I think it was just out of curiosity and boredom and anger," she said. "You're there 12 hours a day, every day, and you're pissed off at everything going on around you. We were told we were going home in September. You want to take out your anger against other people in the unit, but you can't do that. So some people took it out on the prisoners. What they [the MPs] did was wrong, but not everyone realizes that everyone in there attacked the Coalition forces and tried to kill us."

Some abuse photographs lacked context, Liang told NEWSWEEK. Take the widely-published image of a prisoner with his arms pulled behind his back and handcuffed to a bed, women's underwear pulled over his head. He was called "S--tboy," for his habit of smearing excrement on himself and the walls. "People don't know what kind of people were put inside that cellblock," Liang said. "They were crazy people. 'S--tboy' would smear it all over himself. That was the reason he was handcuffed." Liang said he spit on her as she tried to feed him. The underwear? "Just to make a joke," she said, adding that she can't recall who was responsible for it.

Another "crazy" man, in his late 20s, was brought in for allegedly looting. His refusal to eat meant the MPs fed him intravenously. He would babble over and over again: "I refuse to eat! Saddam's going to come back and kill us!" The guards invented nicknames for prisoners based on movie and television characters, Liang said. There was "Gilligan," a tiny, dim guy. There was "The Claw," whose birth defect made one hand resemble a bird claw. There was "Froggy," a man with bulging Marty Feldman eyes. And there was "Mr. Clean," who bathed obsessively. (After Mr. Clean tried to kill a guard with a pistol someone had slipped into his cell, his nickname became "Trigger.")

Moral Clarity. 

Susan Sontag’s article in the Sunday New York Times sums up the general disgust of the torture scandal. She does this through the prism of history and facts and a morality that we are willing to profess, but unwilling to practise.

It is a MUST read.

The issue is not whether the torture was done by individuals (i.e., ''not by everybody'') -- but whether it was systematic. Authorized. Condoned. All acts are done by individuals. The issue is not whether a majority or a minority of Americans performs such acts but whether the nature of the policies prosecuted by this administration and the hierarchies deployed to carry them out makes such acts likely…


… Considered in this light, the photographs are us. That is, they are representative of the fundamental corruptions of any foreign occupation together with the Bush adminstration's distinctive policies. The Belgians in the Congo, the French in Algeria, practiced torture and sexual humiliation on despised recalcitrant natives. Add to this generic corruption the mystifying, near-total unpreparedness of the American rulers of Iraq to deal with the complex realities of the country after its ''liberation.'' And add to that the overarching, distinctive doctrines of the Bush administration, namely that the United States has embarked on an endless war and that those detained in this war are, if the president so decides, ''unlawful combatants'' -- a policy enunciated by Donald Rumsfeld for Taliban and Qaeda prisoners as early as January 2002 -- and thus, as Rumsfeld said, ''technically'' they ''do not have any rights under the Geneva Convention,'' and you have a perfect recipe for the cruelties and crimes committed against the thousands incarcerated without charges or access to lawyers in American-run prisons that have been set up since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001…

… If there is something comparable to what these pictures show it would be some of the photographs of black victims of lynching taken between the 1880's and 1930's, which show Americans grinning beneath the naked mutilated body of a black man or woman hanging behind them from a tree. The lynching photographs were souvenirs of a collective action whose participants felt perfectly justified in what they had done. So are the pictures from Abu Ghraib…


… Even more appalling, since the pictures were meant to be circulated and seen by many people: it was all fun. And this idea of fun is, alas, more and more -- contrary to what President Bush is telling the world -- part of ''the true nature and heart of America.''…

… Shock and awe were what our military promised the Iraqis. And shock and the awful are what these photographs announce to the world that the Americans have delivered: a pattern of criminal behavior in open contempt of international humanitarian conventions. Soldiers now pose, thumbs up, before the atrocities they commit, and send off the pictures to their buddies. Secrets of private life that, formerly, you would have given nearly anything to conceal, you now clamor to be invited on a television show to reveal. What is illustrated by these photographs is as much the culture of shamelessness as the reigning admiration for unapologetic brutality…

… The torture of prisoners is not an aberration. It is a direct consequence of the with-us-or-against-us doctrines of world struggle with which the Bush administration has sought to change, change radically, the international stance of the United States and to recast many domestic institutions and prerogatives.



How many members of the Bush Administration are needed to replace a lightbulb? 


The Answer is SEVEN:

one to deny that a lightbulb needs to be replaced


one to attack and question the patriotism of anyone who has questions about the lightbulb,


one to blame the previous administration for the need of a new lightbulb,


one to arrange the invasion of a country rumored to have a secret stockpile of lightbulbs,


one to get together with Vice President Cheney and figure out how to pay Halliburton Industries one million dollars for a lightbulb,


one to arrange a photo-op session showing Bush changing the lightbulb while dressed in a flight suit and wrapped in an American flag,


one to explain to Bush the difference between screwing a lightbulb and screwing the country.


and finally once everyone realizes that a lightbulb must be changed, someone has to blame Hillary Clinton on the failure of the lightbulb, and the Clintons on the failure of lightbulbs in general.



It's all over the blogosphere

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Titan Torturers 

Dogs and Other Harsh Tactics Linked to Military Intelligence 

By DOUGLAS JEHL and ERIC SCHMITT




Busted!


WASHINGTON, May 21 — The use of dogs to intimidate prisoners during interrogation at Abu Ghraib in Iraq was approved by military intelligence officers at the prison, and was one of several aggressive tactics they adopted even without approval from senior military commanders, according to interviews gathered by Army investigators.

Intelligence officers also demanded strict limits on Red Cross access to prisoners as early as last October, delaying for a day what the military had previously described as an unannounced visit to the cellblock where the worst abuses occurred, according to a document from the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The role of intelligence officers in the abuse scandal is still under investigation, and the newly disclosed documents provide further details of their involvement in abuses that so far have resulted in formal charges against the prison guards, but not the interrogators.

Other Army documents first obtained by The Denver Post provided new evidence that harsh treatment extended beyond Abu Ghraib to more American-run detention centers in Iraq, revealing details about three previously unreported incidents in which Iraqi prisoners died after questioning by American interrogators.

At the Pentagon on Friday, the Army revised an earlier estimate to say that it is now actively investigating the deaths of nine prisoners in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2002, and that eight had already been determined by medical examiners to be possible homicides, involving acts committed before or during an interrogation.

In previous statements, it was not clear that so many prisoners died in interrogation, rather than being shot during riots or escape attempts. At Abu Ghraib, military intelligence units were responsible for interrogations, and military police units for guarding the prisoners and preparing them for interrogation.

The documents assembled by Army investigators starting in January and obtained by The New York Times cite accounts by American dog handlers who say the use of military working dogs in interrogations at Abu Ghraib was approved by Col. Thomas M. Pappas, the commander of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade. Previously, Pentagon and Army officials have said that only the top American commander, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez, could have approved the use of the animals for interrogations. A "memorandum for the record" issued on Oct. 9 by the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center at the prison listed as permissible a number of interrogation procedures that Army officials have said were allowed only with approval from General Sanchez. Among other things, the memorandum said the use of dogs in interrogations and the confining of prisoners to isolation cells was permitted in some cases without a prior approval from General Sanchez.

In a November report to military commanders in Iraq that was included in the documents, the Red Cross complained that its inspectors had faced restrictions "at the behest of Military Intelligence," including a one-day delay in interviewing prisoners, who were to be seen for only a short time, and asked only about their names and their health.

In the four-page report, which has not previously been made public, the Red Cross said it had nonetheless found naked prisoners covering themselves with packages from ready-to-eat military rations, and subjected to "deliberate physical violence and verbal abuse." Prisoners were found to be incoherent, anxious and even suicidal, with abnormal symptoms "provoked by the interrogation period and methods."

The document said the prison authorities "could not explain" the lack of clothing for prisoners and "could not provide clarification" about other mistreatment of prisoners.

On Capitol Hill, some Senate Republicans and Democrats expressed concern that the Pentagon withheld important supporting documents when it sent Congress copies of the 6,000-page investigative report by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba.

But a spokesman for Senator John W. Warner, a Virginia Republican who heads the Armed Services Committee, said the Army was working to fill any gaps in materials. "There does not appear to be a problem in producing materials that are germane to the facts of the inquiry," said the spokesman, John Ullyot.

The documents show that military intelligence officers at the prison and civilian contractors under their control adopted harsher tactics than previously known, and enlisted the military police in some of their interrogation methods. In many details, the documents elaborate on what has already been known since the photos of the abuses first became public last month.

To date, only seven enlisted soldiers from a military police company have been charged with crimes in connection with the abuses at Abu Ghraib, all in a single cellblock, known as Tier 1. But most have argued that they were acting with the knowledge or encouragement of the military intelligence officers who oversaw the interrogations and exerted authority over the cellblock.

A new time line provided by an Army spokesman also showed that the involvement of military intelligence personnel in abuses at Abu Ghraib began in October 2003. The first reported episode involved soldiers assigned to the Joint Interrogation and Debriefing Center, months before the major criminal investigation initiated in January into misconduct at the prison, which focused on the involvement by the military police.

Three enlisted soldiers from the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion were fined and demoted in the incident, whose broad outlines have been reported previously. The spokesman, Lt. Col. Billy Buckner, declined to identify the soldiers involved or the details of the incident, citing privacy concerns.

The documents obtained by The Times included transcripts of sworn statements from military intelligence, the military police, civilian contractors and others who were interviewed by Army investigators last January as they began to look into allegations of abuse.

The statements include several accounts from officers, including Capt. Donald J. Reese of the 372nd Military Police Company, who acknowledged having seen Iraqi prisoners stripped naked while in American detention. Captain Reese, among others, said they had been told that nudity was part of "an interrogation procedure used by M.I." or military intelligence.

One intelligence officer, Specialist Luciana Spencer, said interrogations had been staged "in the showers, stairwell or property room" of the cellblock, as well as in two interrogation centers that were formally in control of the Joint Information and Debriefing Center. The officer in charge was Capt. Carolyn A. Wood of the 519th Military Intelligence Battalion, who other Army officers have said brought to Iraq the aggressive procedures the unit had developed during her previous service in Afghanistan, from July 2002 to January 2003. She served in Afghanistan as the operations officer in charge of the Bagram Collection Point.

Steven A. Stefanowicz, a civilian interrogator who worked under contract to the intelligence unit, described an interrogation tool that he called a "Sleep Meal Management Program," in which prisoners were allowed no more than four hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, in a regime that usually lasted 72 hours. Mr. Stefanowicz said in a statement that military police were "allowed to do what is necessary," within certain limits, to keep prisoners awake during that period.

At least two noncommissioned officers, Sgts. Michael J. Smith and Santos A. Cardona, said they had used unmuzzled military dogs to intimidate prisoners under interrogation. They said they were acting under instructions from Colonel Pappas, the commander of the intelligence brigade.


Both sergeants said Colonel Pappas had assured them that the use of dogs in interrogation was permitted and did not require written authorization or approval from senior officers. The memorandum for the record issued by the interrogation center on Oct. 9 also listed the "presence of working dogs" as "approved" on the basis of authorization from the interrogation officer in charge.

Colonel Pappas has declined requests for interviews, but other Army officials have said the use of dogs in interrogations could have been approved only by General Sanchez, as outlined in a policy he issued on Oct. 10. An unclassified Dec. 12 situation update sent by Colonel Pappas's unit describes interrogation techniques permitted for use in Iraq, including "sleep management, sensory deprivation, isolation longer than 30 days, dogs," as among the "harsh approaches" that could be introduced only with prior approval from General Sanchez.

Some new details involving deaths of Iraqi prisoners that are being investigated as possible homicides were first reported in Wednesday's editions of The Denver Post, and several of them involved Special Operations Forces. The details of the incidents were confirmed Friday by Pentagon officials, who said the deaths were among the nine now being investigated by the Army.

Among the previously unknown incidents was the death in January 2004 of an Iraqi prisoner at a forward operating base in Asad, Iraq, where a detainee had resisted questioning by Special Forces soldiers from Operational Detachment Delta. The prisoner died after he was gagged and his hands were tied to the top of his cell door, in an incident being reviewed for "consideration of misconduct," the Army documents said.

In a second incident in June 2003, at a "classified interrogation facility" in Baghdad, an Iraqi prisoner was found dead after being restrained in a chair for questioning, and after being subjected to physical and psychological stress, the Army documents show. The Denver Post said an autopsy had determined that he died of a "hard, fast blow" to the head; and that while an investigation was continuing, no disciplinary action has been taken.

A third incident, whose broad outlines had been previously known, involved the death in custody of a high-ranking general, Maj. Gen. Abed Hamed Mowhoush, who died in November at a detention facility run by the Third Armored Cavalry, a unit based in Fort Carson, Colo. A Nov. 27 announcement by the American military command in Baghdad described General Mowhoush as having died "of natural causes."

In fact, according to the Army documents cited by The Denver Post, General Mowhoush died after being shoved head-first into a sleeping bag, and questioned while being rolled repeatedly from his back to his stomach. Then, according to the documents, an interrogator sat on the general's chest and placed his hands over his mouth.


The documents say the "preliminary report lists the cause of death as asphyxia due to smothering and chest compressions." American intelligence officials have said General Mowhoush died several days after C.I.A. officers handed over custody of him to the military, but they say the agency's inspector general is examining possible wrongdoing involving C.I.A. personnel.

Altogether, a senior military official said at a Pentagon briefing on Friday afternoon, 37 prisoners have died in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan since August 2002, all but five in Iraq.

Of these, 15 prisoner deaths have been determined by the Army to be cases of death by natural or undetermined causes, and 8 as justifiable homicides. Two have been determined to be homicides inside American detention centers.

Three others, including one homicide, took place outside American prisons, the senior military officer said. The officer described the remaining nine as being under active investigation. Of them, the Army official said, two were at Abu Ghraib, including the death of a prisoner there in an incident that the C.I.A. has said involved agency personnel.

The Pentagon also released copies of 23 death certificates of prisoners who died while in American custody in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, the Justice Department announced Friday that it was opening a criminal investigation into a civilian contractor in Iraq. The action represents the first time that the Justice Department has formally begun a criminal investigation in the prisoner abuse scandal, although it has been reviewing its jurisdiction in three death cases involving the C.I.A., including one in Afghanistan.

Justice Department officials said they had received a criminal referral from the Pentagon on Thursday, but would not identify the civilian contractor who is under investigation. An internal Army report in March identified two contractors at Abu Ghaib who were suspected of abuses, but it is not clear whether either one of them is the subject of the criminal investigation.

The Justice Department has asserted its jurisdiction over the conduct of civilians working for the military under an as yet untested federal statute, the Military Extraterritorial Jurisdiction Act, which allows contractors and other nonmilitary personnel working for the armed forces to be charged with crimes in civilian courts.

David Johnston and Kate Zernike contributed to this article.


Farenheit 911 Wins Palme D’Or  


Josh Marshall Perfectly Describes The Assholes Who Got Us Into This Mess  

In the popular political imagination we're familiar with the neocons as conniving militarists, masters of intrigue and cabals, graspers for the oil supplies of the world, and all the rest. But here we have them in what I suspect is the truest light: as college kid rubes who head out for a weekend in Vegas, get scammed out of their money by a two-bit hustler on the first night and then get played for fools by a couple hookers who leave them naked and handcuffed to their hotel beds.

And just think, it's on your dime and with your nation's honor -- what an added benefit.




Yet Bet, The NeoCons We ALL Knew. They Were The Chess Club

We Don’t Need No Stinkin ‘ Geneva Convention 

Lost the link- sorry


WASHINGTON, May 22 — Presented last fall with a detailed catalog of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the American military responded on Dec. 24 with a confidential letter asserting that many Iraqi prisoners were not entitled to the full protections of the Geneva Conventions.

The letter, drafted by military lawyers and signed by Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, emphasized the "military necessity" of isolating some inmates at the prison for interrogation because of their "significant intelligence value," and said that prisoners held as security risks could legally be treated differently from prisoners of war or ordinary criminals.


Friday, May 21, 2004

GAO Rules Bush Administration Used Propaganda 

Propaganda

By William M. Welch, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration violated federal prohibitions on propaganda when it issued video press releases promoting the new Medicare law, a congressional agency concluded Wednesday.

The General Accounting Office said three videos, packaged to look like independent news reports and distributed to TV stations across the country, were a misuse of federal money appropriated by Congress. The videos were produced by a subcontractor for the Department of Health and Human Services and its Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is charged with implementing the Medicare revisions enacted last year.

The Bush administration and department officials contended the videos — two in English and one in Spanish — were no different in substance from printed press releases or video promotions commonly distributed by private businesses. Critics condemned the practice, however, and said the government did not identify the source of the information in the video and was promoting a politically charged law sought by President Bush.

Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., a critic of the new law, called the finding "yet another indictment of the deception and dishonesty that has become business as usual for the Bush administration." He said the videos were "political ads" paid for with Medicare money.

HHS officials did not immediately comment on the report. The two English-language videos were narrated by a woman who signs off the piece, "In Washington, I'm Karen Ryan reporting."

The administration told investigators that at least 40 stations in 33 cities aired at least some of the video news releases in January and February.

The administration contended that the Medicare law authorized it to inform the public about changes under the new law. The GAO report, however, said that authority "is subject to the publicity or propaganda prohibition." It says federal money shall not be used "for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress." The report was signed by GAO general counsel Anthony Gamboa.

The report said investigators were unable to determine how much money was spent in violation of federal law. It said HHS estimated its cost at about $43,000 but did not document its spending. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., called on Bush's re-election campaign to repay the government.



The Texas Rush To Be In Last Place 

Texas is short $67 million to buy textbooks, putting in jeopardy the
purchase of materials for non-English-speaking elementary students and high
school biology students, officials acknowledged Thursday.


We’re Already One Of The Worst In Education

Texas Governor Perry- Oy  

"I am disappointed that the governor called this fourth special session
that just concluded without a long-term plan to fix our education system.
It was a waste of taxpayers' money and a waste of lawmakers' valuable time
for the governor not to have a real plan before he called the session. For
the tax dollars that were spent on this 28-day special session, we could
have insured 1,502 children of the working poor for a year and paid all of
the prescription drugs."

-- Texas Comptroller Carole Keeton Strayhorn chastising Gov. Perry for
calling a fourth special session.






450 Prisoners Freed 

from our Iraq prison. My question is, if they weren't guilty this morning, then why were they guilty months ago? What on Earth would be holding them for this for?

From Talkingpointsmemo 

read him everyday

Accusing top Pentagon officials of "dereliction of duty," retired Marine General Anthony Zinni says staying the course in Iraq isn't a reasonable option. "The course is headed over Niagara Falls. I think it's time to change course a little bit or at least hold somebody responsible for putting you on this course," he tells Steve Kroft in an interview to be broadcast on 60 MINUTES Sunday, May 23 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.

The current situation in Iraq was destined to happen, says Zinni, because planning for the war and its aftermath has been flawed all along. "There has been poor strategic thinking in this...poor operational planning and execution on the ground," says Zinni, who served as commander-in-chief of the U.S. Central Command from 1997 to 2000.

He blames the poor planning on the civilian policymakers in the administration known as neoconservatives who saw the invasion as a way to stabilize the region and support Israel. He believes these people, who include Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith, the undersecretary of defense, have hijacked U.S. foreign policy. "They promoted it and pushed [the war]...even to the point of creating their own intelligence to match their needs. Then they should bear the responsibility," Zinni tells Kroft.

In his upcoming book, Battle Ready, written with Tom Clancy, Zinni writes of the poor planning in harsh terms. "In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at minimum, true dereliction, negligence and irresponsibility; at worse, lying, incompetence and corruption," he writes. Zinni explains to Kroft, "I think there was dereliction in insufficient forces being put on the ground and [in not] fully understanding the military dimensions of the plan."

He still believes the situation is salvageable if the U.S. can communicate more effectively with the Iraqi people and demonstrate a better image to them. The enlistment of the U.N. and other countries to participate in the mission is also crucial, he says. Without these things, says Zinni, "We are going to be looking for quick exits. I don't believe we're there now, and I wouldn't want to see us fail here," he tells Kroft. Also central to success in Iraq is more troops, from the U.S. and especially other countries, to control violence and patrol borders, he says.

Zinni feels that undertaking the war with the minimum of troops paved the way for the security problems the U.S. faces there now - the violence Rumsfeld recently admitted he hadn't anticipated. "He should not have been surprised," says Zinni. "There were a number of people who before we even engaged in this conflict that felt strongly that we underestimated...the scope of the problems we would have in [Iraq]," he tells Kroft.

The fact that no one in the administration has paid for the blunder irks Zinni. "But regardless of whose responsibility...it should be evident to everybody that they've screwed up, and whose heads are rolling on this?"


Incompetence + No Accountability = Bad Show for Nation. I was never good at math; but I think I've got this formula right.

And what will they say about Zinni? Another disgruntled showboater like Clarke and Wilson?
-- Josh Marshall

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