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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

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.

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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.

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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.


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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.


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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.

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Frist’s Career Is Almost Over

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