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Monday, October 31, 2005

Idiots 

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So…how’s the reconstruction going?

As the money runs out on the $30 billion American-financed reconstruction of Iraq, the officials in charge cannot say how many planned projects they will complete, and there is no clear source for hundreds of millions of dollars a year needed to operate the projects that have been finished, according to a report to Congress released yesterday.

The report, by the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, describes some progress but also an array of projects that have gone awry, sometimes astonishingly, like electrical substations that were built at great cost but never connected to the country's electrical grid.

With more than 93 percent of the American money now committed to specific projects, it could become increasingly difficult to solve those problems.

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Afternoon oys 

Lost public trust

The poll, conducted Friday night and yesterday, found that 55 percent of the public believes the Libby case indicates wider problems "with ethical wrongdoing" in the White House, while 41 percent believes it was an "isolated incident." And by a 3 to 1 ratio, 46 percent to 15 percent, Americans say the level of honesty and ethics in the government has declined rather than risen under Bush.

Ill Augur for Cheney


''This augurs ill for Cheney. Obviously, Libby is never going to say that Cheney told him to go out" and leak Plame Wilson's name to reporters, but ''there is circumstantial evidence that it happened," said David Berg, a Houston defense lawyer who represented Susan McDougal in the Whitewater case.


Ain’t Over

The lawyers said that in the past month Fitzgerald has obtained explosive information in the case that has enabled him to pursue broader charges such as conspiracy, and civil rights violations against targets like Rove. Rove could also provide information that would allow Fitzgerald to target additional officials.

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24 kids have died in Iraq since the 2000 mark was passed 

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http://icasualties.org/oif/

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Sometimes the NYT is worth reading 

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The House's Abuse of Patriotism


In the national anguish after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Congress rushed to enact a formidable antiterrorism law - the Patriot Act - that significantly crimped civil liberties by expanding law enforcement's power to use wiretaps, search warrants and other surveillance techniques, often under the cloak of secrecy. There was virtually no public debate before these major changes to the nation's legal system were put into effect.

Now, with some of the act's most sweeping powers set to expire at the end of the year, the two houses of Congress face crucial negotiations, which will also take place out of public view, on their differences over how to extend and amend the law. That's controversy enough. But the increasingly out-of-control House of Representatives has made the threat to our system of justice even greater by inserting a raft of provisions to enlarge the scope of the federal death penalty.

In a breathtaking afterthought at the close of debate, the House voted to triple the number of terrorism-related crimes carrying the death penalty. The House also voted to allow judges to reduce the size of juries that decide on executions, and even to permit prosecutors to try repeatedly for a death sentence when a hung jury fails to vote for death.

The radical amendment was slapped through by the Republican leadership without serious debate. The Justice Department has endorsed the House measure, and Representative James Sensenbrenner Jr., the Judiciary Committee chairman, who is ever on the side of more government power over the individual, is promising to fight hard for the death penalty provisions.

There are now 20 terrorism-related crimes eligible for capital punishment, and the House measure would add 41 more. These would make it easier for prosecutors to win a death sentence in cases where a defendant had no intent to kill - for example, if a defendant gave financial support to an umbrella organization without realizing that some of its adherents might eventually commit violence.

Any move to weaken the American jury system in the name of fighting terrorism is particularly egregious. But the House voted to allow a federal trial to have fewer than 12 jurors if the judge finds "good cause" to do so, even if the defense objects. Under current law, a life sentence is automatically ordered when juries become hung on deciding the capital punishment question. But the House would have a prosecutor try again - a license for jury-shopping for death - even though federal juries already exclude opponents of capital punishment.

The House's simplistic vote for another "crackdown" gesture can only further sully the notion of patriotism in a renewed Patriot Act.

Our Path to Facism


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Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Disaster of Loyalty Over Competence 

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According to Fitzgerald, Libby had conversations with at least seven other government officials about Joseph and Valerie Wilson that he did not disclose to the grand jury. Why were top White House officials and Vice President Cheney so concerned about an obscure former diplomat like Wilson? Because he had the temerity to offer public dissent. By showing how evidence of Saddam's WMDs had been cooked, Wilson undermined the very reason Augie Schroeder and the rest of the U.S. military went to war. He was more than "fair game," as Karl Rove called him. He was a mortal threat.

This has been the Bush pattern. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill presciently says a second tax cut is unaffordable if we want to fight in Iraq—he's fired. Bush's economic adviser Larry Lindsey presciently says the war will cost between $100 billion and $200 billion (an underestimate)—he's fired. Army Gen. Eric Shinseki presciently says that winning in Iraq will require several hundred thousand troops—he's sent into early retirement. By contrast, CIA Director George Tenet, who presided over two of the greatest intelligence lapses in American history (9/11 and WMD in Iraq) and apparently helped spread "oppo ammo" to discredit the husband of a woman who had devoted her life to his agency, receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

The conventional Washington explanation is that this is just old-fashioned politics. As long as you don't lie to a grand jury, there's nothing illegal here. But the consequences of a bias for loyalty over debate—even internal debate—have been devastating. The same president who seeks democracy, transparency and dissent in Iraq is irritated by it at home. O'Neill tells his story in a book by Ron Suskind called "The Price of Loyalty," and that title is the missing link in explaining the failure of the Bush presidency. The price of loyalty is incompetence. Issues don't get aired; downside risks remain unassessed.

Instead of reaching out and encouraging disagreement, Bush let neocons like Libby and Paul Wolfowitz hijack his foreign policy. Amazingly, the pros and cons of invading Iraq were never even debated in the National Security Council. If you had doubts, like Colin Powell, you were marginalized. (Powell's former chief of staff, Lawrence Wilkerson, said last week that a "cabal" of isolated policymakers ran a government of dangerous "ineptitude.") Consider the case of Brent Scowcroft. According to last week's New Yorker, former president Bush has tried to arrange a meeting between his old national-security adviser (and best friend) and his son. But after Scowcroft wrote a 2002 op-ed piece titled "Don't Attack Saddam," the president has consistently refused his own father's request. Now we know that Bush's lack of curiosity has proved fatal.

Paul Schroeder says that well-meaning people offer their condolences over Augie, "then they whisper to us, 'We oppose the war, too.' Why do they whisper?" Why? Because until now, the Bush White House has successfully peddled the idea that dissent is somehow unpatriotic. Paul and his wife, Rosemary, take a different view. "I think it's more patriotic to speak up," Rosemary says. "If the emperor has no clothes, or the president has no plan—then you have to speak out. Otherwise, you're putting all these lives in danger for no good cause."

The good news about the president's bad week is that even his conservative backers are no longer willing to keep quiet when they think he's wrong. And Fitzgerald was so impressive that the normal White House response—to savage the critic—was not an option this time. So Karl Rove survives, but the fear he stoked is easing. Four years after September 11, we're beginning to get our democracy back.

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Household Food Security in the United States, 2004 

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Eighty-eight percent of American households were food secure throughout the entire year in 2004, meaning that they had access, at all times, to enough food for an active, healthy life for all household members. The remaining households were food insecure at least some time during that year. The prevalence of food insecurity rose from 11.2 percent of households in 2003 to 11.9 percent in 2004 and the prevalence of food insecurity with hunger rose from 3.5 percent to 3.9 percent. This report, based on data from the December 2004 food security survey, provides the most recent statistics on the food security of U.S. households, as well as on how much they spent for food and the extent to which food-insecure households participated in Federal and community food assistance programs. Survey responses indicate that the typical food-secure household in the U.S. spent 31 percent more on food than the typical food-insecure household of the same size and household composition. Just over one-half of all food-insecure households participated in one or more of the three largest Federal food assistance programs during the month prior to the survey. About 20 percent of food-insecure households—3.5 percent of all U.S. households—obtained emergency food from a food pantry at some time during the year.


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Saturday, October 29, 2005

sabbath 

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$844 in food stamp cuts = 68.5 hours in Iraq

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Howard Dean Says


Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald today indicted Vice President Cheney's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, on two counts of perjury, two counts of making false statements and one count of obstruction of justice.

Libby was known to have been part of a group of White House officials that included Deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove, Deputy National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and Press Secretary Scott McClellan who were charged with selling the Bush Administration's rationale for the Iraq war to the American people.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean today issued the following statement:

"This is a sad day for America.

"Beyond the evidence that the White House manipulated the intelligence used to justify the war in Iraq, a group of senior White House officials not only orchestrated efforts to smear a critic of the war, but worked to cover up this smear campaign. In so doing, they ignored the rule of law, endangering our national security and the brave men and women who dedicate their lives to protecting our nation's security. I. Lewis Libby was a part of this internal White House group.

"This is not only an abuse of power, it is an un-American abuse of the public trust. As Americans, we must hold ourselves and our leaders to a higher standard. We cannot fear dissent. We cannot fear the truth. And we cannot tolerate those who do.

"More importantly, we can't ignore the glaring questions this case has raised about the rationale the Bush Administration used to send us to war in Iraq, a war that continues. American soldiers are still in harms way. Over 2,000 brave Americans have lost their lives, thousands of American soldiers have been wounded, and thousands of American families have made the ultimate sacrifice. Still, the President has no plan and no exit strategy. And still he hasn't answered the question, what are we doing in Iraq and when can our troops come home?

"President Bush faces a serious test of leadership; will he keep his pledge to hold his Administration to high ethical standards and give the American people what they deserve, and will he answer to the American people for these serious missteps?"


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Thugs in Pressed Collars


What emerges from the indictment is a picture of a Washington culture in which partisans routinely pass sensitive information to reporters under a cloak of secrecy. Wilson was originally an unnamed source, and once Libby decided to use similar tactics, Libby spent considerable time discussing media strategy with other officials, including then-press secretary Ari Fleischer. Libby was so concerned about leaving no fingerprints that he insisted Miller identify him as a "former Hill staffer," not as a senior administration official.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

oy veys mere 

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130 years since anyone in white indicted

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New Book About Rove

As if he didn’t have enough to worry about, Karl Rove’s legacy may be in for yet another blow. With indictments in the Valerie Plame case expected imminently, Jim Moore and Wayne Slater who co-authored the 2003 blockbuster exposé, Bush’s Brain, are releasing an updated paperback version of their book this week with a new title: Rove Exposed: How Bush’s Brain Fooled America. If Rove lands in the big house, it’s safe to say it won’t be on his reading list.

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Plame Flames Up Ladder


So history suggests that whatever Fitzgerald’s investigation concludes about Libby, Rove and the leaking of Valerie Plame’s identity, there will be strong resistance from official Washington if the prosecutor tries to track the criminality up the chain of command.

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Tip of the Iceberg


Last night I went on Hannity and Colmes to talk about my recent call to expand the Fitzgerald investigation to look at a possible White House conspiracy to deceive Congress. Mr. Hannity wanted to make a big joke out of my contention that the CIA leak issue is "only the tip of the iceberg." But I'm quite serious.

Many around Washington are expecting indictments to be handed down tomorrow on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice. Those are serious crimes; make no mistake. But I think the real question before America is this: were the actions in question part of a larger, deliberate, effort to quash dissent and march the country into war? That's why I've called for the Special Counsel's investigation to be expanded.

Specifically, I've asked that Mr. Fitzgerald seek answers to three pressing questions: whether the CIA leak incident was part of a larger, deliberate effort to deceive Congress into authorizing war in Iraq, who exactly was involved, and whether any of their actions were criminal. If a larger, intentional effort was indeed underway - as evidence is tending to show that it was - that amounts to a criminal conspiracy.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with Fitzgerald's announcement tomorrow - certainly, the Washington landscape will change radically if Rove and others are forced to step down. But indictments or not, the findings of this grand jury have primarily shown us one thing: that we need to know more about the actions of this White House in the run-up to the war in Iraq.

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Novakula in trouble


Wilson called Novak after the column appeared and, among other things, asked him why he'd cited "two administration officials" and not his CIA source when he unmasked Plame. Novak said, "I misspoke the first time we talked."

So, did Novak have a CIA source about Plame, as he stated on Meet the Press in October 2003 and to the stranger he talked to on the street in July 2003 and to Wilson in their first conversation in July? Or did he not, as he said to Wilson in July after the column appeared?

One last peculiarity for Novak to explain: He opposed the Iraq war, as did Wilson. One would think that Novak would sympathize with the ambassador on matters of foreign policy rather than describe him as an "asshole" to a stranger even before the outing column appeared in print.


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Bush Pioneer Indicted


A federal grand jury has indicted Tom Noe, the former Toledo-area coin dealer at the center of a state investment scandal, of illegally laundering money into President Bush’s re-election campaign.

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White House Imploding


NEW YORKAs the anticipation over possible indictments in the Valerie Plame case reaches excruciating levels, Watergate legend Carl Bernstein warns that comparisons to the case that made him famous more than 30 years ago must be viewed carefully.

Still, the former Washington Post reporter who shared a Pulitzer Prize for helping to expose the Nixon administration's wrongdoing says some parallels can be drawn between the two investigations, particularly the way both helped uncover extended dishonesty in the White House.

"We are obviously watching and the press is beginning to document the implosion of a presidency," Bernstein said Thursday, just hours before the Plame grand jury is set to expire. "How destructive that implosion is going to be, ultimately, we don't know yet.

"But what the Plame leak investigation has unveiled is what the press should have been focusing on long before and without let up--how we went to war, the dishonesty involved in that process in terms of what the president and vice-president told the American people and the Congress, and the routine smearing by members of the Bush administration of people who questioned their actions and motives."


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Americans Tired Of Iraq---No Link

Oct. 31, 2005 issue - The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is a tapering wall of black granite cut into the grass of Constitution Gardens. Maya Lin envisioned a scar when she designed it, a scar on this land, which is exactly right. Maybe someday his security detail could drive George W. Bush over to take a look. He'll be able to see himself in the reflective surface.

The list of names etched into the wall begins with a soldier who died in 1959 and ends with one who died in 1975. Nearly 60,000 dead are commemorated here. It is the most personal of war memorials. You can touch the cold names with your warm fingers.

The president never wanted the war in Iraq to be personal. His people forbade photographs of coffins arriving home. They refused to keep track of how many Iraqis had been killed and wounded. When "Nightline" devoted a show to the faces of soldiers who had died, one conservative broadcast outlet even pulled the program from its lineup.

The president wanted this to be about policy, not about people. Even that did not go well. The policy became a moving target. First there were weapons of mass destruction that were not there and direct links to the terrorists who attacked on September 11 that didn't exist. The removal of Saddam Hussein was given as the greatest good; it has been done. Then it became the amorphous goal of bringing freedom to the Iraqi people, as though liberty were flowers and we were FTD. The elections, the constitution, the rubble, the dead. Once again we were destroying the village in order to save it.

This all took an unfortunate turn for the administration during the president's vacation in August, when Cindy Sheehan showed up at his ranch. Say what you would about her politics or tactics, there was no doubt that she was a mother whose soldier son was now dead, and who wanted to know why. What was the cause, the point, the strategy? And suddenly many Americans started to realize that there was no good answer.

The Vietnam Memorial stands, in part, as a monument to blind incrementalism, to men who refused to stop, not because of wisdom but because of ego, because of the fear of looking weak. Not enough troops, not enough planning, no real understanding of the people or the power of the insurgency, dwindling public support. The war in Iraq is a disaster in the image and likeness of its predecessor.

During each election cycle, we ponder the question of whether character matters. Of course it does. Does anyone doubt that the continued prosecution of this war has to do with the personality of the commander in chief, a man who is stubborn and calls it strength, who wears blinders and calls it vision? When he vowed to invade Iraq, the advisers he heeded were those who, like him, had never seen combat. The one who had was marginalized and is now gone. The investigation of who leaked what to whom, of what the reporter knew and how she knew it, may be about national security and journalistic ethics, but at its base it is about something more important: the Nixonian lengths to which these people will go to shore up a bankrupt policy and destroy those who cross them on it.

The most unattractive trait of the American empire is American arrogance, which the president embodies and which this war elevated. It is not simply that we have a good system. It is the system everyone else should have. It is the best system, and we are the best people. We can mend rivalries so ancient that they not only predate our nation but the birth of Christ. We will install the leaders we like in a country we scarcely understand, leaders who will either be seen as puppets by their people or who will eventually turn against us. We have been here before.

"In Vietnam we didn't have the lessons of Vietnam to guide us," says David Halberstam, who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of that war. "In Iraq we did have those lessons. The tragedy is that we didn't pay attention to them." Or maybe only our leaders did not. The polls show the American people have turned on this war much more quickly than they did on the war in Vietnam. Of course, they are the ones who pay the price.

Perhaps the leaders of the Democratic Party should take time off from their fund-raisers and visit the Vietnam Memorial, too. They should remember one of the most powerful men the party ever produced, Lyndon B. Johnson, and how he was destroyed by opposition to the war in Vietnam and bested by those brave enough to speak against it.

At least Johnson had the good sense to be heartbroken by the body bags. Bush appears merely peevish at being criticized. Someone with a trumpet should play taps outside the White House for the edification of a president who has not attended a single funeral for the Iraqi war dead. As I am writing this, the number of American soldiers killed is 1, 992. By the time you read it, it may have topped 2,000. Will I be writing these same things when the number is 3,000, 5,000, 10,000? If we are such a great nation, why are we utterly incapable of learning from our mistakes? America's sons and daughters are dying to protect the egos of those whose own children are safe at home. Again.

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Shooting ourselves in the foot


HADITHA, Iraq - The Marines call it a necessary evil — taking over houses and buildings for military use. For the Iraqis who become unwilling hosts, it can be anything from a mild inconvenience to a disruption that tears apart lives.

In a recent offensive in Haditha, the headmaster of one school where Marines were based pressed them for a departure date so he could resume classes. At another school, Marines fortified the building with blast walls and sandbags for long-term use.

A trembling woman wept when Marines tried to requisition her home to set up an observation post with a view of a nearby road where a bomb had been planted. The Marines quickly left, using her neighbor's rooftop instead.

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Bush in meltdown



The Republican conservatives, still resentful at having swallowed Roberts, want an ultra whose implacable enmity to abortion is etched in stone.

This could mean J. Michael Luttig or J. Harvey Wilkinson who both serve on the Fourth Circuit. Or Edith Jones, from the Fifth.

But the dilemma for all Republicans in touch with political reality is that the country as a whole does not want to see Roe v Wade overturned. The voters would exact terrible vengeance on the political party perceived as being responsible for ending choice in America.

A candidate "soft on choice" might be Alberto Gonzales, Miers' predecessor in the White House and now Attorney General.

But then Bush would reignite conservative fury at a moment of extreme political weakness and also incur the charge of cronyism. Part of the Miers disaster was a failure to appreciate in the wake of Hurricane Katrina that cronyism was in disrepute.

Bush, after five years, is now at the point Clinton reached in the early summer of his first year in office: a total collapse in political credibility. Clinton reached out to a Republican fixer, David Gergen, and to Jesse Helms' campaign strategist, Dickie Morris, plus the most squalid denizens of his own party.

Who can Bush turn to?

The first lifeline would be a dishonorable mention of Dick Cheney in the grand jury's indictment, prompting the all-powerful vice president to resign.

The path would then be clear for a return of the old guard, with James Baker the man who fixed Florida for Bush in 2001, as the Renovator. The corporate sponsorship of the White House would shift from Halliburton to the Carlyle Group.

It would be the Revenge of Bush 1, already heralded by the recent onslaughts on Cheney's neocons by Brent Scowcroft and Powell's number two, Lawrence Wilkerson. It's a theme worthy of the great classical tragedians.


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Found this in a comment section 

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(this is an actual law)

PUBLIC LAW 95-79 [P.L. 95-79] TITLE 50, CHAPTER 32, SECTION 1520 "CHEMICAL AND BIOLOGICAL WARFARE PROGRAM" "The use of human subjects will be allowed for the testing of chemical and biological agents by the U.S. Department of Defense, accounting to Congressional committees with respect to the experiments and studies." "The Secretary of Defense [may] conduct tests and experiments involving the use of chemical and biological [warfare] agents on civilian populations [within the United States]." -SOURCE- Public Law 95-79, Title VIII, Sec. 808, July 30, 1977, 91 Stat. 334. In U.S. Statutes-at-Large, Vol. 91, page 334, you will find Public Law 95-79. Public Law 97-375, title II, Sec. 203(a)(1), Dec. 21, 1982, 96 Stat. 1882. In U.S. Statutes-at-Large, Vol. 96, page 1882, you will find Public Law 97-375.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jame Wolcott says 

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She ( CNN Correspondent Lopez ) can holler in capital letters all she likes, but the U.S. didn't invade Iraq to preside over a Constitutional process, it invaded because it scaremongered its citizens into believing Saddam posed a grave mortal threat to the U.S. And, given the level of violence, it would appear that "the Iraqi people" are far from unanimous in their gratitude. Richard Perle's whimsical notion that a grand square would be named in Bush's honor round about 2004 seems to be fading into the distant horizon.



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oy veys mere 

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Steven Pizzo Says

What Now?

For three more years America is going to be led by, not just a lame duck President, but a totally discredited President. In a poll taken yesterday 90% percent of those asked said they believed top Bush administration officials are guilty of either illegal or unethical behavior in the CIA leak case.

So where does that leave an un-indicted George W. Bush? There really are only two explanations and neither reflect well on him. First he can claim his closest aides conspired behind his back while he was otherwise occupied. I call that the "Exxon Valdez Defense," -- the captain was not at the helm when a careless crewman ran the ship of state aground. Unfortunately for Captain Bush that defense did not wash for the real captain of the ill-fated tanker. Because , you see, the captain is always responsible.

The other explanation is worse; that the President of the United States knew what was going on, maybe even participated in it.

Either way, Bush is finished as a force in American politics. How he ever got to become President in the first place -- not once, but twice -- will remain a subject social scientists will study and debate for decades to come. Because there was plenty of evidence that George W. Bush was a made man. He had accomplished nothing in his adult life on his own. Not one. (Click Here for more on that.)

Of course, for those of us who have covered the Bush family for years, it's no mystery at all. The best way to think of George W. Bush is as a "beard" for others. At every step in his "career" individuals of wealth and/or power groomed and then used him as their front man.

These benefactors had learned long ago that there was more money and more power to be had in the shadows than the limelight. All they needed was the right person to front for them, someone with a name, a smile, a confident swagger. Vision, dreams, hopes and ethics were not only unnecessary but liabilities in a beard. All they needed was a person they can program, wind up and send out into the public spotlight and deliver for them.

That's George W. Bush. He fit the bill to a "T." Texas oil men and companies with international agendas and voracious appetites for government contracts had found their perfect front man in GWB – a kind of Forrest Gump from the Dark Side. A man ignorant, proud of it, and willing to take direction from those he considered friends.

They began by nurturing George's pathetic efforts to become a high-rolling Texas oil man. Though his companies failed, they made sure he never did. Then they were able to further his ascendancy by indulging his playful side, buying him his own baseball team – a Texas baseball team. That raised George's public profile to just a notch below their ultimate goal, public office.

Fully groomed and programmed they finally steered George towards the goal. And it worked, probably beyond their wildest expectations. As Governor of Texas their beard kept state regulators out of their hair on dollar and cents issues critical to the oil drilling and processing industries, like air quality. That alone would have been sufficient payoff for their years of cleaning up George's business messes.

Bagging the US Presidency was an unexpected super-bonus. Still, they knew it was a development ripe with as much danger as opportunity. After all, they knew the real George W. Bush. There was no way they could send that hayseed off to the Big Show unattended. Dick Cheney and Karl Rove were tasked with keeping their idiot prince both on message and a short leash. God forbid he should ever make a speech, take a position or make a decision on his own!

All went very well for the first four years. From day one, their boy delivered, delivered and delivered again. He was a gift that just kept giving;

* $1.6 trillion in tax cuts, the bulk of which went to people like them;
* environmental laws watered down; expanded logging allowed in national forests;
* a push to open protected Alaska wilderness to oil and gas drilling;
* Iraqi oil fields suddenly within reach;
* plenty of cheap labor flooding across our southern border.
* And just as it looked as if he was on the way to fulfilling another assignment, the elimination of the estate tax, his beard fell off.

It was the thing they had always feared most – the real George W. Bush went public. There it was, for the whole world to see – a chuckling, twitching, dope of man standing in front of the America people, unleashed and unscripted. Worse yet, he was making his own decisions. He chose his friend and admirer, Harriet Miers, for the Supreme Court of the United States of America. ("Harriet who," his handlers asked.)

What went wrong? Where were his handlers?

Busy. They dropped Gorege's leash when handed subpoenas. Junior was unleashed and home alone.

It's a moment new to America, a leader who himself needs to be led, now unled. And the world watching. It's as if the police had come and dragged Edgar Bergin off stage in the middle a show, leaving Charlie McCarthy, wide-eyed, mouth agape and slumped alone on his stool.

So, what now?

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MSM out of touch


As public opinion shifts, the media will shift too. It is already starting to, although not quickly enough. Many media outlets remain out of step with the public because they are in lockstep with the war.

Readers and viewers are rebelling against what they've been seeing and reading. Viewing levels on TV news shows are down and newspaper circulation is down as well. There is a reason that some "fake-news" programs outdraw "real-news" programs.

One by one, the newspapers and journalists that backed the war are backing down. The pro-war media consensus has cracked, and not just because Judith Miller of the NY Times now admits she was wrong, wrong, wrong. Miller was not alone in pumping the rationale for war, and even as her muddled story comes out, there are bigger fish to fry in the higher ranks of media corporations where "group-think" rules.


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Oy

The attack on the Palestine hotel in Iraq was more than just an example of how fear management can improve the effects of a terrorist bombing. It was also a very important example of how the open-source insurgency has surmounted the limitations of decentralized management to mount large attacks.

The main thrust of the attack on the Palestine hotel used three suicide vehicle bombs. The third vehicle, a cement mixer, didn't reach its goal. Fortuitously, the axle of the truck became entangled in concertina wire which prevented forward movement. If it had managed to get 20 feet closer to the hotel, there is a good likelihood that it would have killed hundreds and structurally damaged the building.
The truck's entanglement also saved us from the next phase of the attack. There were guerrilla assault teams waiting in the wings to storm the hotel. These teams would have quickly overrun the hotel and taken dozens of hostages (mostly journalists and employees of private military companies). Given our experience with similar overruns in Saudi Arabia, this might have evolved into a 12-24 hour hostage drama in the heart of Iraq's global press operation. We were literally "saved by the wire" from this potential debacle (which would have been broadcast live to the entire globe). It could have become the moral equivalent of the Tet offensive or the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut.

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Seymour Hersh says How Bad It is 

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At a lecture Oct. 26 in New Jersey, Seymour Hersh spared no criticism of George W. Bush and his neocon cabal.

"How do eight or nine cultists manage to take over the government . . . and take us away from a legitimate war?" the veteran investigative reporter asked the audience at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. "How did [Dick] Cheney, who was never a neocon, get bought off?"

Hersh has been uncovering stories of wrongdoing for more than 30 years, from the cover up of the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam War to the systemic torture at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

He began his talk, "From Abu Ghraib to 9/11," by telling the packed house that he had good news - there were only 1,181 more days left to the Bush administration.

Then the bad news about Iraq: "Our best day was yesterday . . . it's only going to get worse."

Worse than what we do know, Hersh said, is what we do not know. "We don't know how much bombing they're [U.S. forces] doing, how many sorties they're doing," he said. In northern Iraq, military operations go on day in and day out, bombing towns and villages filled with mostly Turkic peoples. When the Turkish Red Crescent moves in to provide relief, they are turned back, Hersh said. Hundreds of thousands of people have been put in camps. Hersh called it "near genocide."

The bombings will only intensify next year following a pullout of some 60,000 American troops. "We are going to replace American troops with American bombs," Hersh said.

We also do not know for certain the extent of American casualties, including the number wounded. "There are casualties in the elite forces we don't know about," Hersh said, mentioning Delta Forces, Navy SEALS and Special Forces.

Although Hersh had much criticism for the American news media, he explained that it is nearly impossible to get good reporting done in Iraq these days. "Any guy that tries to get out of the Green Zone gets whacked," he said. Still, the U.S. news media could pick up dispatches from the European and Arab press that show the horrors wrought upon civilians every day, but they don't. Hersh said he doesn't know why.

Killing is not limited to bombings and firefights, Hersh said. Soldiers leading supply convoys fearful of explosive devices and ambushes plow down dark highways in Iraq at 90 and 100 miles per hour, not stopping to check for pedestrians. The audience gasped at the description.

Hersh said that most soldiers, frustrated with a faceless enemy, take out their anger on innocent civilians. But he doesn't blame the troops. "The officers are in loco parentis," Hersh said, and too often they are not doing their jobs.

The Iraq war has been characterized by a gross lack of planning and a dearth of good leadership, Hersh said. He called General Tommy Franks, who retired soon after the invasion rather than move up in the ranks, "one of the worst leaders we've had."

Likewise, General Ricardo Sanchez, who was once commander of ground forces in Iraq, is an "overrated" general, who has conducted the war with a general lack of sensitivity to Muslims, Hersh said, drawing parallels to the treatment of Vietnamese in the My Lai massacre and throughout the Asian conflict.

At the top of the heap is George W. Bush himself. "What did President Bush do after he was told about Abu Ghraib? Nada. Nothing," Hersh said. "This was his own system telling him this is a serious problem."

The military first learned of the actions at Abu Ghraib months before Hersh published his story in the New Yorker magazine and CBS broadcast photos in April of 2004. The actions at Abu Ghraib, Hersh said, were designed - from the top - to shame Muslim men into providing intelligence to the U.S. military, which was battling an "insurgency" of Baathists who had retreated upon the initial invasion. The naked piling of men, sexual harassment of Iraqi women, and vicious dog bites, Hersh said, was visited upon a prison population that military officials themselves estimated was about 70 percent innocent - civilians corralled in street sweeps. Not only have the published photos from Abu Ghraib created new insurgents; so have the phone calls from Iraqi women asking their brothers and fathers and husbands to kill them because they have been shamed.

"If you think someone from West Virginia thought this up, fine, you can have that thought," Hersh said, referring to Private Lynndie England, the torture poster girl scapegoated in the scandal.

Hersh provided valuable insight into tensions between ethnic groups in Iraq. By writing the Sunnis out of the recently approved constitution - in a vote Hersh called "meaningless" like the January elections and the upcoming elections on Dec. 15 - the insurgency has nothing to gain and no reason to negotiate.

Not that that would happen anyway. Bush doesn't talk to the insurgency, to Iran, to Syria, "because he doesn't like them." Bush, Hersh said, is a man with "no ability to perceive how wrong he is . . . there is nothing more dangerous."

The best thing that could have happened in the constitutional vote, Hersh said, would have been a defeat followed by a redrafting giving the Sunnis more participation. The constitution as it stands "emasculates the Sunnis," Hersh said.

Sunnis indigenous to Iraq make up a majority of the insurgency, Hersh guessed. He uses the term "insurgency" for lack of a better description. "Most of the world thinks the insurgents are us," he said.

Corporations throughout the Arab world are fueling sectarian violence . "In the Sunni world, there is not a major construction company not funneling money to the insurgency," Hersh said. To those companies, it is an honor to support the insurgency. On the other side, the Shia in southern Iraq are dominated by Iran. Political groups Dawa and SCIRI who are putting up candidates in elections fought on the side of Iran during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. "Iran right now is the winner . . . the Sunnis are up in arms over the spread of the Shia." Turkey's commitment to the Turkic population and their refusal to accept Kurdistan threatens to turn the Iraq war into a much larger regional conflagration.

Baghdad, considered the "jewel of the Arab world" with the best wine and the cleanest streets, has become a city carved into turfs ruled by gun-toting gangs and militias in back alleys. "There is a whole world out there we don't see. It's a turf operation," Hersh said.

Democracy in America is unrecognizable, Hersh said. The administration is rogue and the news media are lapdogs. Private companies are hired to kidnap people and render them to countries where they are tortured and murdered. Retired lawmen are paid thousands of dollars a week to be hired guns in Iraq. Unlike trained elite forces, "they're not doing for the constitution," Hersh said.

With Congress, "the big issue for me on any given day is whether they are supine or prone," Hersh said. "Where are we with our democracy? What does it mean?" The only recent hope has been the investigation headed by special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald. "Fitzgerald may come and save the republic . . . he might just shake up the doldrums," Hersh said.

Hersh is the son of European Jews who immigrated to Chicago in the 1920s. "My parents came here from the old country many years ago to get away from what this guy [Bush] is doing," Hersh said. "He is deconstructing the constitution, he's deconstructing our rights."

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In an airport the other day 

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...and a guy on a cable news channel was making the allegation that "Rove outed a US agent to get back at Joe Wilson"... and some rightwing nutcase spit out: "Agent...pshaw!!!!"

Flashback about two years ago at LAX and a guy was sitting there spitting out; "torture my ass... I could take that..."

and it kind of reminded me of the way Fox News works. they make their dumbass true believers feel that any allegation against the US is just wrong. anyone who attack Bush is lambasted, everyone who thinks Iraq was a mistake is treated to a lecture on the casualties we sustained in WWII.

so these wingnuts walk around mad enough to spit their talking points out at the airport...


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waiting..... 

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i mean this is killing me


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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

oy 

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W is not innocent here either

As the Patrick Fitzgerald juggernaut proceeds apace, they've tried to argue that this was all Cheney's doing, but I don't buy it. This wasn't the kind of thing Rove needed to "protect" Junior from. It's the kind of dirty, junior high politics that former "loyalty enforcer" Dubya delights in.

---


Prosecutor in leak case seeks indictments against Rove, Libby, lawyers close to case say

Special Prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald has asked the grand jury investigating the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson to indict Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby and Bush’s Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice, lawyers close to the investigation tell RAW STORY.

Fitzgerald has also asked the jury to indict Libby on a second charge: knowingly outing a covert operative, the lawyers said. They said the prosecutor believes that Libby violated a 1982 law that made it illegal to unmask an undercover CIA agent.

Libby’s attorney, Joseph A. Tate, did not return a call seeking comment.

---

Arriana: Forget the Agent- it’s the LYING


Let's put aside the legal arguments for a moment and just focus on this glut of lying. Clearly, these guys knew that what they were up to should be kept in the shadows. Hence Rove's desire to have his conversation with Cooper be kept on "double super secret background," his self-assessment that he'd "already said too much" to Cooper, and Libby's request that Judy Miller identify him as a "former Hill staffer" instead of the usual "senior administration official."

--


Rethugs not doing so well


The latest 2006 Battleground Poll mirrors many other recent national polls showing most Americans feel the country is on the wrong track (66%), disapprove of President Bush's job performance (54%), and prefer Democrats over Republicans in Congress (46% to 41%).

Democratic analysis by Celinda Lake: "Voters are deeply dissatisfied with the direction of the country under President Bush and the Republican Congress. If Democrats are able to position themselves as the party of reform, both economic and political, voters could very well turn 2006 into a quintessential '6-Year Itch' election."


---

Nutso Christians


(London) Anti-gay preacher Fred Phelps says that gays are responsible for the hurricanes which have hit the South this year and for 9-11 and the terrorist attack in London.

He made the statements in a British television program broadcast Tuesday night. "The Sky Report" secretly filmed Phelps for a documentary on hate.

Fifty-two people died in this year's terrorist attacks on the London transit system.

"Oh I am so thankful that happened. My only regret is that they didn't kill about million of them. England deserves that kind of punishment, as does this country (America)," Phelps said in the broadcast.

"The Sky Report" included pictures, filmed undercover inside what the network said was "the church's fortified compound".

The program showed Phelps during a weekly service in which he denounced the Roman Catholic Church as the "biggest pedophile organization in the history of the world".

Phelps' organization, which calls itself the Westboro Baptist Church, has 150 members most of which are relatives of the outspoken pastor. The 'church' is not part of any organized denomination.
---

Hilarious

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second prediction 

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nothing will happen today


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Predictions 

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Rove gets indicted for violating the Inteligence Identities Protection Act. Also Obstruction, and perjury.

Cheney for the same

Libby for the same

Hadley obstruction

Miller for perjury

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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

oy vey 

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No anonymous sources


It is this culture of anonymity, not the subpoena-wielding special prosecutors of the world, that poses the most serious danger imaginable to our First Amendment rights and our credibility as journalists. The culture of anonymity empowers political figures and hacks to lie, slander and abuse the public trust with impunity. The culture of anonymity empowers journalists with political agendas or penchants for laziness to generate front-page stories without going the extra mile to get the stories on the record, to verify the sources, or to reveal the motives of those sources or the credibility of their information. The culture of anonymity encouraged the New York Times to defend Judy Miller blindly, proving the old saw that bad facts make bad law -- pushing these sorts of highly questionable cases (in which Miller is, bottom line, a crime witness) is the surest way possible to generate unfavorable court rulings and thereby undermine our ability to protect legitimate anonymous sources in important stories. And what's the bottom line result of the journalistic culture of anonymity? It brought us Iraq WMDs, Wen Ho Lee, Richard Jewell, Whitewater and an endless parade of front-page "revelations" that turned out not only to be bogus, but to have had enormous negative impacts on individuals and nations -- shouting Fire! when there is no fire.

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more oyness 

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Presidents Past Inspire Bush's Damage Control


Facing a convergence of crises threatening his administration, President Bush and his team are devising plans to salvage the remainder of his presidency by applying the lessons of past two-term chief executives and refocusing attention on the president's larger economic and foreign policy goals.

Rarely has a president confronted as many damaging developments that could all come to a head in this week. A special counsel appears poised to indict one or more administration officials within days. Pressure is building on Bush from within his own party to withdraw the faltering Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers. And any day the death toll of U.S. troops in Iraq will pass the symbolically important 2,000 mark.

--

Dangerous Douglas Feith


WASHINGTON, Oct. 24 (UPI) -- What has Douglas Feith, the former No. 3 at the Pentagon, done to deserve so many high-ranking public hoots of derision? First he was lampooned by Gen. Tommy Franks, the commander of both the 2001 Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Iraqi Freedom in 2003. "The stupidest guy on the face of the earth," Franks was quoted as saying.

The latest surprise sally came from Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's chief of staff when he was secretary of state. "Seldom in my life," said Wilkerson, "have I met a dumber man." Wilkerson was Powell's most trusted adviser for almost 16 years.

Feith was a key cog in what Wilkerson calls the "Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal" that hijacked U.S. foreign policy and marched the country to war in Iraq with disinformation about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. The "cabal" is code for the neo-cons.

---

Regional War Likely


Three years ago, the U.S. invasion of Iraq was widely viewed as the first chapter of a region-wide strategy to remake the entire map of the Middle East. Following Iraq, Syria and Iran would be the next targets, after which the oil-rich states of the Arabian Gulf, including Saudi Arabia, would follow.

It was a policy driven by neoconservatives in and outside of the Bush administration, and they didn't exactly make an effort to keep it secret. In April, 2003, in an article in The American Prospect titled Just the Beginning, I wrote: "Those who think that U.S. armed forces can complete a tidy war in Iraq, without the battle spreading beyond Iraq's borders, are likely to be mistaken." And the article quoted various neocon strategists to that effect:
"I think we're going to be obliged to fight a regional war, whether we want to or not," says Michael Ledeen, a former U.S. national security official and a key strategist among the ascendant flock of neoconservative hawks, many of whom have taken up perches inside the U.S. government. Asserting that the war against Iraq can't be contained, Ledeen says that the very logic of the global war on terrorism will drive the United States to confront an expanding network of enemies in the region. "As soon as we land in Iraq, we're going to face the whole terrorist network," he says, including the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and a collection of militant splinter groups backed by nations -- Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia -- that he calls "the terror masters." "It may turn out to be a war to remake the world," says Ledeen. In the Middle East, impending "regime change" in Iraq is just the first step in a wholesale reordering of the entire region.


--


Attack Not reported on CNN


The mob grew more frenzied as the gunmen dragged the two surviving Americans from the cab of their bullet-ridden lorry and forced them to kneel on the street.

Killing one of the men with a rifle round fired into the back of his head, they doused the other with petrol and set him alight. Barefoot children, yelping in delight, piled straw on to the screaming man's body to stoke the flames.

It had taken just one wrong turn for disaster to unfold. Less than a mile from the base it was heading to, the convoy turned left instead of right and lumbered down one of the most anti-American streets in Iraq, a narrow bottleneck in Duluiya town, on a peninsular jutting into the Tigris river named after the Jibouri tribe that lives there.

As the lorries desperately tried to reverse out, dozens of Sunni Arab insurgents wielding rocket launchers and automatic rifles emerged from their homes.

The gunmen were almost certainly emboldened by the fact that the American soldiers escorting the convoy would not have been able to respond quickly enough.

"The hatches of the humvees were closed," said Capt Andrew Staples, a member of the Task Force Liberty 1-15 battalion that patrols Duluiya and other small towns on the eastern bank of the Tigris, who spoke to soldiers involved.

Within minutes, four American contractors, all employees of the Halliburton subsidiary Kellog, Brown & Root, were dead. The jubilant crowd dragged their corpses through the street, chanting anti-US slogans. An investigation has been launched into why the contractors were not better protected.

Perhaps fearful of public reaction in America, where support for the war is falling, US officials suppressed details of the Sept 20 attack, which bore a striking resemblance to the murder of four other contractors in Fallujah last year.


---


Frist in Huge Trouble


Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) was given considerable information about his stake in his family's hospital company, according to records that are at odds with his past statements that he did not know what was in his stock holdings.

Managers of the trusts that Frist once described as "totally blind," regularly informed him when they added new shares of HCA Inc. or other assets to his holdings, according to the documents.

Since 2001, the trustees have written to Frist and the Senate 15 times detailing the sale of assets from or the contribution of assets to trusts of Frist and his family. The letters included notice of the addition of HCA shares worth $500,000 to $1 million in 2001 and HCA stock worth $750,000 to $1.5 million in 2002. The trust agreements require the trustees to inform Frist and the Senate whenever assets are added or sold.

The letters seem to undermine one of the major arguments the senator has used throughout his political career to rebut criticism of his ownership in HCA: that the stock was held in blind trusts beyond his control and that he had little idea of the extent of those holdings.

---

Frist’s Career Is Almost Over

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afternoon oys 

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Texas senator who voted to impeach President Clinton on perjury and obstruction of justice now calls such charges 'technicalities.'



BACK in 1999 when the U.S. Senate tried and ultimately acquitted President Bill Clinton after he was impeached by the House, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas had no doubt about the seriousness of the alleged crime. Clinton stood accused of lying under oath and obstructing the investigation of his relationship with intern Monica Lewinsky.
ADVERTISEMENT


"What would we be telling Americans," Hutchison asked, "if the Senate of the United States were to conclude: The president lied under oath as an element of a scheme to obstruct the due process of law, but we chose to look the other way. I cannot make that choice. I cannot look away."

As news accounts indicate special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald might be preparing to bring perjury and obstruction of justice charges against Bush administration officials involved in the outing of CIA agent Valerie Plame, Hutchison is taking a different view. Appearing on Meet the Press Sunday, she seemed quite willing to look away from such violations this time around.

The senator decried the tendency of prosecutors and district attorneys to "go for technicalities, sort of a gotcha mentality in this country." If Fitzgerald does return indictments, she hoped that they would involve a crime and not some "perjury technicality where they couldn't indict on a crime."

When Meet the Press host Tim Russert pointed out the contradiction between her past and current positions on perjury and obstruction, Hutchison responded that there were other charges against Clinton and, "I'm not saying that those were not crimes. They are." Hutchison went on to express sympathy for homemaking maven Martha Stewart, convicted "where they couldn't find a crime and they indict on something that she said about something that wasn't a crime."

One cannot pick and choose when a charge is justified. Lying to investigators and grand juries is not a technicality. Our system of law depends on the ability of law enforcement to get at the truth, both in interviews with investigators and in sworn testimony in court. The penalties can be personally devastating and often do not hinge on other crimes. Former San Antonio Mayor Henry Cisneros continues to be dogged by a decade-long investigation set off by his admitted lies to FBI agents vetting him for a Cabinet post about how much money he had paid a former mistress, an act that was not a crime.

If Hutchison found perjury and obstruction reason enough to throw a president out of office, surely those offenses would be sufficient cause to charge people if they obstructed a probe of a potential violation of national security laws. The unmasking of a covert CIA operative can have life and death consequences for previous associates met over the years in countries around the world.

Public officials such as Sen. Hutchison do not enhance their stature when they seem to support one standard of justice for officials of the opposing party and another for their own. What was good for the Democratic goose in the Clinton impeachment trial should be good enough for the Republican gander in the Plame investigation.



Powell Has Lost His Power


But it occurs to me that there are still others who need to speak out -- which takes us back to October 19. The same day that Wilkerson was blasting away at the administration in Washington, far away in upstate New York, the man whose staff Wilkerson chiefed, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, was delivering a speech on the current world situation to a gathering at the University of Buffalo. Surveying the landscape from Europe to China to the rest of Asia, Powell concluded: “We’re not doing bad at all.”

Has anyone in this town embarrassed himself in the last five years more than Powell? At least George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld believe this toxic gimcrackery they’ve been peddling to us. Powell never believed it, and he still peddled it. There’s a word for that, and it isn’t “honor.”

Powell needs to follow Wilkerson and Brent Scowcroft and come clean.

I know he won’t; Wilkerson acknowledged at the New America lunch that Powell was upset with him for speaking out. But if Powell has any sense, he’d spill whatever beans he’s got, and soon.

Undoubtedly, wherever Powell goes, he is accorded respect. People line up to shake his hand, tell him how thrilled they are to meet him, thank him for his service to the country. Schools and VA hospital wings and such will be named after him (as they should be -- he has made history); attendees will scramble to have their pictures taken with him. And then, once he’s left the room, the liberals will whisper “whore” and the conservatives will whisper “wimp.”

Powell is finished as a person of influence. Totally finished. Am I exaggerating? Look at the way the Associated Press reported his Buffalo visit. In a 13-paragraph dispatch, five were devoted to slagging Powell through the voices of the people protesting outside. (Four of the eight positive paragraphs were one-sentence quotes.) Maybe the protestors were loony left and maybe they weren’t, but the point is the amount of play the AP writer gave them: O.J. does better than that with wire services.

OK, the AP report is a small example, but think about it: Whether you’re liberal or conservative, when is the last time you heard anyone in your circle speak of Powell in reverential tones? In Washington, and I reckon a lot of other places, it just doesn’t happen.

If I were at Hill & Knowlton and Powell came to me, I’d put it simply: “Buddy, drop the loyal-soldier thing. It’s past the point of diminishing returns. America knows you’re defending a bunch of people who a) you don’t really agree with, and b) gave you a royal screwing every chance they could. They’ve played you, and the country knows it.

“Loyalty was good, post-September 11. But now we’re post-post-September 11. People want truth today. Wilkerson and Scowcroft set the table for you. What are you worried about -- your reputation in GOP circles? You’re cooked there anyway. The conservatives haven’t forgotten your defense of affirmative action at the 2000 convention. And as for the war, they all think you leaked and submarined the boss. Look at the Fitzgerald investigation; these people are going down. Don’t stay on a sinking ship. Going public is the only way to get your reputation back. You have nothing to lose -- and a mint to make on your memoir.”

I know; Powell won’t do it. But we may be hearing from him whether he likes it or not. Remember the famous “S” memo that was circulated on Air Force One during the Africa trip? It was generated in the State Department. Powell surely read it -- and he surely knows several things about the White House crusade against Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame, and about ginned-up case for war in general. If Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe spreads wide enough, Powell may be breaking ranks not at the New America Foundation or in The New Yorker. He may be doing it in a deposition.

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Arctic Thaw is happening in a big way 

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morning statistics 

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66% say War was wrong


100% of these 1999 kids is dead

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Monday, October 24, 2005

oyness 

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Bush Having To Rely On Own Judgement


"He's like the lion in winter," observed a political friend of Bush. "He's frustrated. He remains quite confident in the decisions he has made. But this is a guy who wanted to do big things in a second term. Given his nature, there's no way he'd be happy about the way things have gone."

Bush usually reserves his celebrated temper for senior aides because he knows they can take it. Lately, however, some junior staffers have also faced the boss' wrath.

"This is not some manager at McDonald's chewing out the help," said a source with close ties to the White House when told about these outbursts. "This is the President of the United States, and it's not a pleasant sight."

The specter of losing Rove, his only truly irreplaceable assistant, lies at the heart of Bush's distress. But a string of political reversals, including growing opposition to the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina's aftermath and Harriet Miers' bungled Supreme Court nomination, have also exacted a personal toll.

Presidential advisers and friends say Bush is a mass of contradictions: cheerful and serene, peevish and melancholy, occasionally lapsing into what he once derided as the "blame game." They describe him as beset but unbowed, convinced that history will vindicate the major decisions of his presidency even if they damage him and his party in the 2006 and 2008 elections.

At the same time, these sources say Bush, who has a long history of keeping staffers in their place, has lashed out at aides as his political woes have mounted.

"The President is just unhappy in general and casting blame all about," said one Bush insider. "Andy [Card, the chief of staff] gets his share. Karl gets his share. Even Cheney gets his share. And the press gets a big share."

The vice president remains Bush's most trusted political confidant. Even so, the Daily News has learned Bush has told associates Cheney was overly involved in intelligence issues in the runup to the Iraq war that have been seized on by Bush critics.

Bush is so dismayed that "the only person escaping blame is the President himself," said a sympathetic official, who delicately termed such self-exoneration "illogical."

A second senior Bush loyalist disagreed, saying Bush knows "some of these things are self-inflicted," like the Miers nomination, where Bush jettisoned contrary advice from his advisers and appointed his longtime personal lawyer.

"He must know that the way he did that, relying on his own judgment and instinct, was not good," another key adviser said.

--

The Rift In the Right


...the deeper meaning here is ideological: George W. Bush’s father was committed to a realist understanding of foreign policy. This served him well in Iraq, and not so well in Bosnia. George W. Bush, on the other hand, has become a leading proponent of democratic transformationalism; he believes it is America’s job to help non-democratic countries become democratic. The realists don’t believe that the internal organization of another country is any of our business; George W. Bush, evidently, does.

[snip]

Are the conservatives turning against the neoconservatives?

They’ve been doing so for some time. Just read George Will. Their complaint is that neoconservatives aren’t conservative; they’re liberals with guns.

---

Selling America getting harder these days


The Washington Post columnist Anne Applebaum is blunter: 'In plain English, her job is to fight anti-Americanism, promote American culture and above all to do intellectual battle with the ideology of radical Islam, a set of beliefs so powerful that they can persuade middle-class, second-generation British Muslims to blow themselves up on buses and trains.'

So she's working for us as well, is she? That's a trifle worrying because she demonstrates a worrying capacity to act the loose cannonball. Just three weeks ago in Saudi Arabia, on what was hyped as a 'listening trip', she effectively preached to a hall of veiled, local women that if they didn't like being banned from driving cars they should do something about it and secure themselves the freedoms women in the US take for granted.

This went down well with one audience - that immediately in front of her - and embarrassingly badly with the other, more distant and senior diplomatic one, who recognised that arrogant tendency to showcase their ignorance that everybody loathes about Americans abroad.

To anyone from this side of the Atlantic, with the possible exception of Tony Blair, the notion that we are represented diplomatically and publicly in the Middle East by an Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy who's a Texan God-botherer and has presumably been responsible for Bush's many displays of crassness and illiteracy, is not good news. She managed to raise eyebrows and blood pressure readings with a remark comparing Osama Bin Laden's terrorists to the US pro-abortion lobby in their 'lack of respect for human life'.

Exactly how big Hughes's weapon of mass deception is, nobody really knows, but the US Department of Defence alone employs 7,000 'professional communicators', and it's recorded that the State Department spent $685 million on public diplomacy in 2004, with critics complaining that it hasn't been increased enough since 11 September and that little of it has targeted the Muslim world.

One thing we do know is that Hughes has at her disposal the most sophisticated intelligence-gathering capability ever assembled. With thousands employed in 'Information Operations' on the US government's behalf, using every conceivable ruse from satellite surveillance to leaflet dropping to finding out how much whisky President Putin gets through of a night, knowing what's really going on everywhere should be simple.

---

Vanity Fair on Cheney


But I don't think Cheney believes that. When you start to lose, you keep losing. This is, to me, another Cheney virtue: the lack of a salesman's knee-jerk optimism. He's the mordant vice president balancing the jejune president.

The management issue is how you best spend the dwindling capital that you have. And as you begin to feel your market share eroding, how you leverage the brand identity and goodwill that remain.

I bet this was how the hurricane escaped their attention. Instead of realizing that a natural disaster—one that gives you days' warning—can be, with a little logistical skill and stage-managing, manna for a president, these guys were concentrating all their attention on Iraq. (Bush: You think we have a problem with this storm? Cheney: Halliburton can cover any damage to the refinery facilities. If the Mississippi naval bases get hit, KBR can be on the ground overnight. I'm concerned about the Sunnis … )

That's the cost of war: you can't really think about much else. And a war, which needs all your time and attention, becomes ever more problematic when most of your people have begun to think about their futures. And, in fact, have begun to think that maybe being so closely involved with this war might not be a plus. This is entropy. This is the center not holding.

But Cheney, I'm convinced, remains the center. And at the center is Iraq.

And while all the people around him are losing their heads, and worried about floods and approval ratings and their next job, I think that we can have some confidence that the vice president, however seemingly absent, is hunkered down, stubbornly, righteously, with a singularity of vision, waging war.




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Sunday, October 23, 2005

oy 

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Indonesian Students Skeptical About U.S. Policy, but Not America
By RAYMOND BONNER


JAKARTA, Indonesia, Oct. 21 - President Bush's designated hitter for America's image in the Muslim world, Karen P. Hughes, and 16 students from Indonesia's largest Islamic university shared a stage here on Friday morning. But that was about all they shared.

Ms. Hughes, the under secretary of state for public diplomacy, began by inviting the students to tell her what they were studying and what their hopes were.

The students wanted no such small talk. They wanted to talk about Iraq and America's role in the world, offering comments, opinions and questions marked by charges that the United States was "two-faced" and "unfair."

"Why does America always act as if they are the policeman of the world?" asked 20-year-old Barikatul Hikmah, wearing a black-and-white-striped head scarf, bright yellow pumps and blue jeans.

The question was met with applause from the 100 or so students in the audience.

"America feels an obligation to stand up for our founding values," Ms. Hughes answered. She quickly added that the United States was not trying to impose its system on any country, and that the values of human rights and freedom were not only American, but universal.

This is the second major foray into Islamic territory for Ms. Hughes. Last month, she met with groups in Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, and by and large, Islam here is moderate and tolerant. Indonesians bristle at the oft-held view from abroad that it is a country of Islamic extremists. To be sure, there is a fundamentalist element that would like to impose Islamic law, but it is small and, Indonesians argue, not unlike evangelical Christians in the United States.

The students who shared the stage with Ms. Hughes were told they could ask any questions, "even tough questions," said 20-year old Supenih, who like many Indonesians uses only one name. She was carrying a translated copy of "Power and Terror" by Noam Chomsky, the fierce critic of American foreign policy, which she politely tucked away before taking a seat near Ms. Hughes.

"Stop the war in Iraq," Ms. Supenih said when she got a chance to speak on the stage. "Who are the terrorists?" she asked, suggesting Mr. Bush was, because of the war. There was applause in the audience.

But Ms. Hughes said there was a difference between terrorists who have vowed to kill all Americans, Jews and even moderate Muslims, and the democratically elected leader of a country who goes to war to protect his country's Constitution.

"I want you all to come to America," Ms. Hughes said, ending the dialogue to applause that was almost too brief even to be called polite.

Meeting with foreign correspondents afterward, Ms. Hughes said she was not surprised by the students' views. In their strong opposition to the war in Iraq, they were much like university students in the United States, she said.

The students made clear that they distinguish between Americans as individuals, whom they like, and America as a country, where they want to go, as opposed to American foreign policy, which they abhor.

Ms. Supenih, the Chomsky reader, said she wanted to become an English teacher. Why English? "I care for my brothers and sisters in Indonesia," she said. Most reference books are in English, she said, and "America is the center for study."

Would she like to go to America? "Of course," she said, her eyes brightening. "That's my dream."

They never learn

Great Comment from Kos 

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I know it is surprising to those of us who knew George Bush and his people were lying from the start to think that others may just be catching on, but denial, fueled by fear and passivity, is a dark visor.

I know that many people are claiming they didn't know that the invasion of Iraq was the wrong move, or that Bush wouldn't supercede his authority when Congress gave him carte blanche to expand the authority of the executive branch for reasons of "homeland security" (gosh, how I still hate that phrase, so evocative of mid-20th Century Germany), and that is still hard for me to swallow.

I mean, after all, if I, a housewife in Connecticut, connected to the wider world mainly through my computer, the newspapers, and the television, could eke out that we were being lied to by our leaders, why then were my own Democratic representatives so willing to give away their authority to a clearly corrupt regime?

I believe it is sometimes easier to see clearly from a distance. The media is too close to its sources these days. Our Democratic representatives dine off the same plates of power as the Republican representatives, and they all choose to look the other way as our country is being hijacked - yes, stolen - by a corrupt and criminal few who are feeding off the corpse of our beloved democracy.

From my distance, in my home, this seems so sad, so meaningless, so unnecessary.

Our only hope now is that the media and the politicians who are not so deeply steeped in corporate donations will stand up, speak out, and now do the right thing by all of us. Whether they do so because they were ignorant before but now they see or because they are afraid of not only missing the boat but help sink it, I do not care.

I hope they realize that by doing the right thing now they will win the respect, the regard, and the trust of the American people.

by Patricia Taylor

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

2000 dead tomorrow or the day after 

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RIP soldiers, and God bless your souls.

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John Dean says No indictments- Steve Gilliard Disagrees 

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While people have been irrationally exuberant, I think John Dean, who, as Billmon said, been right about so much, is probably wrong here. The WH is shitscared about indictments and target letters have already been sent. Forget the nonsense about the website, the real indicator is that the WH has been achingly silent about Fitzgerald and his investigation. Why? Because they're scared. They haven't smeared him because they feel he's coming for them.

But I also think Dean's assumption is wrong here. Revealing Valerie Plame's name and then lying to the FBI cannot simply be justified by national security. Her name and status alone were state secrets. Someone knew that when they used her name.

I think someone below Rove and Libby may be tagged with the actual crime. But their problem is that they used that information, then lied to the Special Prosecutor about it. Four trips to the grand jury is not a good sign.

You have a conflict: starting the war for national security reasons, but violating a state secret to do so against a domestic critic who was basically a footnote to history?

What you have to never forget is that the CIA pushed this to DOJ. The CIA's general counsel had to make the case to George Tenet that significant damage had been done to the CIA covert operations that they needed to persue this. This wasn't something a judge thought up. The CIA had to make the case internally, and then to Justice. There was no free ride here. Everyone going in knew this would end up at the White House.

I think that mitigates much of the national security defense.

The only reason this has gone this far is very simple, but may never be raised in open court.

People died.

The revelation of Brewster Jennings, not Plame's NOC status, is the real intelligence disaster. No one outside of CIA may ever know what kind of intelligence disaster that became. I think, in the end, that is the driving factor. A priceless US intelligence asset was destroyed because of politics.

The problem, and Dean admits this, is that this case went way beyond the original crime when people thought they could outsmart Fitzgerald. People lied in ways which are just not defensible.

Also, people send signals. If people were not going to face indictment, lawyers would know. Fitzgerald would have indicated that their clients would not face further proceedings and he certainly wouldn't send out target letters. Federal prosecutions have a predictable nature. Target letters go out only when they think a true bill is coming from the grand jury. Especially when dealing with the White House. No one is going to jerk WH staff around, not even Fitzgerald. If he weren't going to prosecute, he would be issuing a report. It is unlikely, given the likelihood of civil action, he would say nothing. It's also highly unfair to the targets to leave an unspoken cloud of doubt over their heads. Even without an indictment, questions about their actions would remain.

What also needs to be understood is that if there are indictments, serious political damage would have been done. It's not Watergate, this is national security and the idea that aides to the President and VP violated national security for a political grudge is intensely damaging.

If Fitzgerald was dealing solely with Niger, then yes, I could see Dean's point. But I think the fact that the CIA pushed this referral along means they believe there was damage.

Given Bush's record, people keep looking for the deus ex machina. The problem is that there probably isn't one. Bush is in a tight position and he can't bail out Rove and friends without taking a hit, and Bush doesn't take hits for himself, much less staff.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

this is clever linking 

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This Sorry Ass Administration

Jesus Christ On A Cracker 

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If I were President, Judy Miller Would Be Hung In The National Mall

Oct. 19, 2005 - The lengthy account by New York Times reporter Judy Miller about her grand jury testimony in the CIA leak case inadvertently provides a revealing window into how the Bush administration manipulated journalists about intelligence on Iraq’s nonexistent weapons of mass destruction.

Whatever the implications for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s probe, Miller describes a conversation with Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff, Lewis (Scooter) Libby, on July 8, 2003, where he appears to significantly misrepresent the contents of still-classified material from a crucial prewar intelligence-community document about Iraq.

With no weapons of mass destruction having been found in Iraq and new questions being raised about the case for war, Libby assured Miller that day that the still-classified document, a National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), contained even stronger evidence that would support the White House’s conclusions about Iraq’s weapons programs, according to Miller’s account.

In fact, a declassified version of the NIE was publicly released just 10 days later, and it showed almost precisely the opposite. The NIE, it turned out, contained caveats and qualifiers that had never been publicly acknowledged by the administration prior to the invasion of Iraq. It also included key dissents by State Department intelligence analysts, Energy Department scientists and Air Force technical experts about some important aspects of the administration’s case.

The assertion that still-secret material would bolster the administration’s claims about Iraqi WMD was “certainly not accurate, it was not true,” says Jessica Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, who coauthored a study last year, titled “A Tale of Two Intelligence Estimates,” about different versions of the NIE that were released. If Miller’s account is correct, Libby was “misrepresenting the intelligence” that was contained in the document, she said.


"This country is in one heck of a mess."


If there is a single sentiment members of Congress heard while back in their districts this month, that was it.

In the past few days I've been speaking with Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill (mostly Republicans) about the mood back home. I've learned that it's one thing to read in the paper that two-thirds of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction. It's an altogether more bracing experience to go to town meetings and church and the supermarket and find this sentiment blasting you in the face.

The most interesting tales came from Republicans elected from districts President Bush carried by fewer than 10 points. Those districts were once moderately supportive of the president, but now, as one member of Congress said, the anger at Bush is so deep it's almost indescribable.

It's a generalized feeling of betrayal. At town meetings, big subjects like Iraq and the deficits barely come up. But there is a sense that this guy Bush promised to make us feel safe, and it's clear from the Katrina fiasco and everything else that we are not safe.

For Republicans from vulnerable districts in the Northeast and Midwest, the president has become, as another member put it, radioactive. These Republicans return from districts where they are being called upon to give back the money Tom DeLay raised for them, and go back to a Washington where G.O.P. indictments, and hence trials, promise to stretch on for years.


Bill Keller Begins His Long Slow Apology. My advice is while you explore the ramifications of intricate journalistic questions, ask yourself what it must feel like to play the guitar your whole life like Ernest Ashley, and then suddenly have an arm blown off.


I wish that when I learned Judy Miller had been subpoenaed as a witness in the leak investigation, I had sat her down for a thorough debriefing, and followed up with some reporting of my own. It is a natural and proper instinct to defend reporters when the government seeks to interfere in our work. And under other circumstances it might have been fine to entrust the details -- the substance of the confidential interviews, the notes -- to lawyers who would be handling the case. But in this case I missed what should have been significant alarm bells. Until Fitzgerald came after her, I didn't know that Judy had been one of the reporters on the receiving end of the anti-Wilson whisper campaign. I should have wondered why I was learning this from the special counsel, a year after the fact. (In November of 2003 Phil Taubman tried to ascertain whether any of our correspondents had been offered similar leaks. As we reported last Sunday, Judy seems to have misled Phil Taubman about the extent of her involvement.) This alone should have been enough to make me probe deeper.

In the end, I'm pretty sure I would have concluded that we had to fight this case in court. For one thing, we were facing an insidious new menace in these blanket waivers, ostensibly voluntary, that Administration officials had been compelled to sign.! But if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense, and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises.

Dick Stevenson has expressed the larger lesson here in an e-mail that strikes me as just right: "I think there is, or should be, a contract between the paper and its reporters. The contract holds that the paper will go to the mat to back them up institutionally -- but only to the degree that the reporter has lived up to his or her end of the bargain, specifically to have conducted him or herself in a way consistent with our legal, ethical and journalistic standards, to have been open and candid with the paper about sources, mistakes, conflicts and the like, and generally to deserve having the reputations of all of us put behind him or her. In that way, everybody knows going into a battle exactly what the situation is, what we're fighting for, the degree to which the facts might counsel compromise or not, and the degree to which our collective credibility should be put on the line."



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oy 

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Goodwill Envoy Hughes Claims Saddam Hussein Gassed 'hundreds of Thousands' of Iraqis


Actual number 5000. They can’t count votes either.



What We Are Spared From Seeing

In the large dining room, mothers prepare their son’s food, applying ketchup to hamburgers, cutting pork chops, raising tables for their wheelchairs to clear. Fathers mostly sit with slight smiles on their faces. The conversations are mundane, and sedate. Talk about family, talk about the weather, talk about the future. Recuperating from serious wounds is slow so it’s best not to go too far into the future.

In a wheelchair, a young man who barely looks 17 years old rolls by with a pair of ugly “road kill” legs -- the spaghetti I’m eating rumbles in my stomach -- followed by a soldier on crutches, doing a Frankenstein walk with stiff legs thrown outward. Several tables away, a slightly older soldier, in his early 30s, with a nasty looking scarred leg propped up on a chair, rubs his fingers over the smooth surface of his Purple Heart Medal. This is the medal given for combat wounds, to everyone wounded by enemy fire. This is the medal that delegates at the Republican Party mocked.... I need some fresh air.

In front of the hospital a man in his mid-20s sits down on the bench next to me. His right leg is bloated to at least double its normal size. Most of the top layer of skin had been removed, it’s raw reddish. Puss glistens in the sun light, or maybe it’s some kind of ointment.

“Looks like you had a bad day” I wisecrack gently.

“Yeah,” he snickers.

“An IUD?” (Improvised Explosive Device, roadside bomb or land mine.)

“Nope, bullet, it splattered bone.”

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Face it, America. You’ve been punk'd. 

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It is now quite clear that the outing of Valerie Plame was part of a broader White House effort to mislead and manipulate U.S. public opinion as part of an orchestrated effort to take us to war. The unraveling of the Valerie Plame affair has exposed their scam—and it extends well beyond compromising the identity of a CIA officer. In short, the Bush administration organized and executed a classic “covert action” program against the citizens of the United States…

… The attack on Valerie Plame Wilson was not an isolated incident. It was part of a broader pattern of manipulation and deceit. But this was not done for the welfare of U.S. national security. Instead, we find ourselves confronted by an unprecedented level of terrorist attacks and a deteriorating military situation in Iraq. At the same time, we now know that the Bush administration gladly sacrificed an undercover intelligence officer in order to keep up the pretense that the war in Iraq was all about weapons of mass destruction.

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Thursday, October 20, 2005

James Wolcott Says 

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Cries and Whimpers
Posted by James Wolcott

I couldn't agree more with Pat Lang's post at Sic Temper Tyrannis:

"In listening to the 'Beltway/K St.' crowd discuss the ever widening Abuse of Power scandal surrounding the Bush Administration I am struck by the profound immorality of many of the statements being made by people who have served for decades at the right hand of presidents and members of Congress.

"'That's just how the Game is Played,' or 'Let's not Criminalize Politics' would be samples of the kind of rhetoric floating around these days in the world of the 'talking heads.' What is meant by that?

"The idea implicit in statements of this kind by people like David Gergen and Pat Buchanan [guests last night on Chris Matthews' Hardball] is that there is nothing wrong with using the power of the executive branch of government to manipulate the press to destroy the reputations and livelihoods of political opponents. The belief seems to be that pressurizing or seducing media executives to accept false and misleading statements about critics of the policies of the government of the day is just a form of 'contact sport' and that, in fact, all is truly fair in love, war, and now politics. It seems that the 'wise men' also believe that it is just part of the game to 'recruit' reporters for the national print media and then use them as instruments of propaganda to deceive the public and contribute to the destruction of the 'loyal opposition.'

"If it is true that the politics of personal destruction are so widely accepted by the political establishment in the city named for one of the most honest men who ever lived, then perhaps we should change the name of the place. Maybe 'Nixon City' would be more realistic..."

It isn't just Pitchfork Pat and the Gargler who are coughing up furball apologetics for institutional thuggery, it's also such nominal liberals as Tom Oliphant, Richard Cohen, and Jacob Weisberg, dubbed Eschaton's Wanker of the Day. Some of the same so-called liberals who worked themselves into a capuccino froth about Clinton's Monica lie shrug off the outing of Valerie Plame and the larger campaign to mislead the country into war in Iraq as no biggie even American troops and Iraqis continue to die and F16s continue to pound targets in the very country we occupy.

I don't know what indictments, if any, are coming down the pike. But I promise you this: If there are high-reaching indictments from Fitzgerald's grand jury that threaten to rip out several vital organs of the Bush regime, the same milksop Machiavellis who extol "hardball" as the Beltway's favorite sport will suddenly start worming their fingers together in major fits of nervous handwringing and warning us these trials risk "tearing the country apart" and becoming a "terrible distraction" to more "urgent problems facing the nation."

I remember this happening during the early stages of Watergate, when many of the poohbahs of journalism and punditry tried to bottle up the surge force of the investigations, feeling that the country had been through so much pain and woe in the late Sixties (the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the riots at the Chicago convention, etc) that another national trauma would be too much to bear. This was before the full dimensions of the rot and gangsterism were known, and even the Voices of Caution (such as Hugh Sidey) were forced to concede that Nixon had to go. I fully expect a replay if there are major indictments, with David Broder assuming the role of Sidey, Richard Cohen performing his yeoman best to much everything up, etc., and the all the former hardballers going soft, saying that whatever was done to strike back at Joe Wilson is dwarfed by the more important challenges facing us in Iraq, the War on Terror, the Katrina rebuilding, and so on.

If it looks as if Cheney has to resign and Bush himself enters the Nixon danger zone, we'll hear the same frets and cries from the pundit shows about the country being torn apart and Americans losing faith in their government. But it isn't the country that will be torn apart by Plamegate any more than the country was torn apart during Watergate (which provided daily thrilling news entertainment value that bound citizens together); it's the Washington establishment that will be torn apart. And it should be torn apart. It's failed the country, and it's played by its own rules for too long, and "criminalizing politics" is exactly what should be done when political criminals deceive a nation into a war with Judith Miller serving as the Angie Dickinson to their Rat Pack and Richard Cohen auditioning for the part of Joey Bishop.

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