The War in Iraq Was Always About Oil

July 19, 2007 at 12:52 pm | Posted in American politics, Iraq, Middle East, oil, Paul Wolfowitz | 4 Comments

Paul Wolfowitz, the architect of the war in Iraq said so himself back in 1992.

While the U.S. cannot become the world’s “policeman,” by assuming responsibility for righting every wrong, we will retain the pre-eminent responsibility for addressing selectively those wrongs which threaten not only our interests, but those of our allies or friends, or which could seriously unsettle international relations. Various types of U.S. interests may be involved in such instances: access to vital raw materials, primarily Persian Gulf oil; proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles, threats to U.S. citizens from terrorism or regional or local conflict, and threats to U.S. society from narcotics trafficking.

In the Middle East and Southwest Asia, our overall objective is to remain the predominant outside power in the region and preserve U.S. and Western access to the region’s oil. We also seek to deter further aggression in the region, foster regional stability, protect U.S. nationals and property, and safeguard our access to international air and seaways. As demonstrated by Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, it remains fundamentally important to prevent a hegemon or alignment of powers from dominating the region. This pertains especially to the Arabian peninsula. Therefore, we must continue to play a role through enhanced deterrence and improved cooperative security.

Raw Power vs The Rule of Law, or Why Democrats Can’t Do a Single Thing About Bush

July 19, 2007 at 9:49 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, liberals, Media, Military, nationalism, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations, Thoughts, Torture, violence, Voter Suppression, War, War on Terror, Washington DC, World Events | 8 Comments

I have closely observed the goings on of my government (as best as I can seeing how secretive they want to be) these past five years, ever since Bush decided to go to war with Iraq back in the summer of 2002. (Read Bill Schneider’s “Marketing Iraq: Why Now?” where you can read Andrew Card’s comment: “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.” They decided over the summer to attack Iraq. The rest was all a matter of marketing, selling it to the American public). They got the war rammed down Americans’ throats, with an extremely complicit media rooting the Administration on, damned be anyone that stood in their way.

The corrupting influence of raw power began immediately after 9/11. I’m sure in the very first seconds of realizing the potential power the Executive could yield, the Administration probably had good intents, but those were just a few seconds. They realized just how much power they really had: raw power. And they realized they must keep it a secret, for if it really got out, they would be forced to follow the rule of law, and not the rule of raw power. They took advantage of all the support (90% approval ratings and support from many nations around the world) and ran with it as far as they thought they could go. Karl Rove told Republicans in January of 2002 to run with the war in the November elections and they would win seats. They did and they won seats. They got the war they wanted, on the cheap, small force, shock and awe military might that defeated a ragtag worn down Iraqi military in three weeks. No surprise there. No wonder so many neo-conservatives and their allies chortled after the war, and drank in their wine of success.

Reports and studies, however, were there from the beginning that all was not well, and that continuing down this path would lead to serious problems for America. The most serious is the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Unchecked, the Bush administration began, right from the start, right from 2001 and early 2002, to employ power beyond what is written in the Constitution. Why? Because they saw what raw power there was in the Executive Branch and they took it. Even so, they knew they were doing wrong, or they wouldn’t be so secretive about it. Only those with something to hide, hide something. So right from the start, the United States of America began torturing people, employing techniques learned from the Soviets and the Nazis. They kept this as much of a secret as they could. For they knew if this were to get out, they would be in trouble. The American public still had more raw power over the administration, at least until after the 2004 presidential election. Once that election passed and Bush won, their raw power achieved the ultimate. For the next four years, no one could stop them. So some of their secrets could get out. In fact, by slowly getting out, the secrets became acceptable. Like any watcher of pornography, you can justify the soft porn at first, but you cannot justify the hardcore. Once you get enough of the soft porn, the hardcore becomes acceptable and even desirable. It soon becomes a part of who you are.

In 2006 something wonderful happened. America broke out of the spell of this administration and its evils. A lot of Democrats and liberals (and many independents) were hopeful to see a change.

Unfortunately that is not going to happen. You see, the Bush administration has tasted of raw power and they will not let go. In fact, even if the Democrats get a veto proof majority in these next 18 months, there is nothing to hold back the Bush administration from simply defying the veto overrides of Congress. Note with what impunity the administration is telling private citizens not to show up for Congressional subpoenas! They even claim executive privilege over documents related to Pat Tillman’s debacle. Why? Because they can. There is no raw power above them, so why should they listen to anyone or do anything for anyone? They answer to none but themselves.

We must realize that there is only one thing that can actually end this raw power by this administration over these next 18 months and that is a full on revolution where the American people rise up and kicks this administration out of power. Congress has no raw power to impeach this president. He will simply defy their will. Why should he bother with Congress? He has no incentive. He has nothing to lose.

America has not been in as dangerous and precarious position as it is today. We must go back to the rule of law. For the rule of law to have any real effect, those who broke the rule of law must be punished and held accountable. Otherwise, what is the purpose of law? Without any punishment, there is no law. Unfortunately this will not happen, and we will have to deal with the administration as currently constituted for the next 18 months. We will have to deal with a possible military strike on Iran. We will have to deal with attempts by this administration to fix the next election so that they ensure a Republican president and a security and secrecy over what they have done these past six years. What Republican candidate today is going to actually hold anyone in the Bush administration accountable for their crimes? What Republican candidate today will punish anyone in this administration?

For that matter, what Democrat will truly do what needs to be done? I bet that even they will come up with some rationale about healing the wounds of Bush’s divisiveness and let them get away with it. Again, if there is no punishment, can there really be a law? If there is no law, what do we have?

Jack Balkin writes about why this is so important:

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

This administration is by far the worst that America has ever seen. But it is far more dangerous than that. Their policies and their use of raw power has done serious and potentially permanent damage and harm to the rule of law and the Constitution. Note for example the audacity of Sara Taylor claiming her oath to the president rather than to the Constitution. When corrected, now how smugly she replied:

Leahy: And then you said, I took an oath to the President, and I take that oath very seriously. Did you mean, perhaps, you took an oath to the Constitution?

Taylor: Uh, I, uh, yes, you’re correct, I took an oath to the Constitution. Uh, but, what–

Leahy: Did you take a second oath to the President?

Taylor: I did not. I–

Leahy: So the answer was incorrect.

Taylor: The answer was incorrect. What I should have said is that, I took an oath, I took that oath seriously. And I believe that taking that oath means that I need to respect, and do respect, my service to the President.

Leahy: No, the oath says that you take an oath to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. That is your paramount duty. I know that the President refers to the government being his government — it’s not. It’s the government of the people of America. Your oath is not to uphold the President, nor is mine to uphold the Senate. My oath, like your oath, is to uphold the Constitution.

This was an unscripted moment showing the reality of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. Loyalty is NOT to the Constitution, but to the president. Because the real raw power is not in the Constitution, but in Bush and Cheney. Note also Cheney’s ludicrous claim that is was not part of the executive branch, and thus cannot be held in check by any rules or regulations. These are but a few examples of the raw power employed by the Bush administration. (Heck, let’s not even bring up Scooter Libby!).

What can be done? At this point we must continue to reveal the secrets, show Americans just how much the Bush administration is not for the Constitution they took an oath to uphold. Continue forcing them to explain themselves. History will be the judge. If the administration attempts to start a fight with Iran, we must take to the streets and say NO! It won’t do much to actually stop them, but that’s all we can do, unless we’re riping for a real revolution.

The Real Neo-Conservatives, Unscripted

July 17, 2007 at 12:42 pm | Posted in American politics, conservatives, corruption, neo-conservatives, Republicans, secret combinations | 3 Comments

From their recent cruise in Mexico. They are still in power, until 2009, and hopefully no more.

The Decay of the Constitution

July 15, 2007 at 9:10 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democracy | 1 Comment

Jack Balkin writes about a very disturbing point regarding what the Bush administration has done to the Constitution.

At this point in Bush’s Presidency three things matter above all others. They motivate this final round of constitutional hardball: The first is keeping secret what the President and his advisers have done. The second is running out the clock to prevent any significant dismantling of his policies until his term ends. The third is doing whatever he can proactively to ensure that later governments do not hold him or his associates accountable for any acts of constitutional hardball or other illegalities practiced during his term in office.

If the NSA program and the Torture Memos were examples of the second round of constitutional hardball, the Libby commutation and Harriet Meiers’ refusal to testify before Congress are examples of the third round. Although his Presidency now seems to be a failure, Bush’s third round of constitutional hardball may be every bit as important as the first two. That is because if Bush is never held accountable for what he did in office, future presidents will be greatly tempted to adopt features of his practices. If they temper his innovations and his excesses only slightly, they will still seem quite admirable and restrained in comparison to Bush. As a result, if Congress and the public do not decisively reject Bush’s policies and practices, some particularly unsavory features of his Presidency will survive in future Administrations. If that happens, Bush’s previous acts of constitutional hardball will have paid off after all. He may not have created a new and lasting constitutional regime, but he will have introduced long-lasting weaknesses and elements of decay into our constitutional system.

Saudis Make Up Most of the Foreign Presence in Iraq Against Americans

July 15, 2007 at 2:40 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Iraq, King George, Saudi Arabia | Leave a comment

There were fourteen Saudis on the flights on 9/11. And most of the foreign presence in Iraq come from Saudi Arabia.

Although Bush administration officials have frequently lashed out at Syria and Iran, accusing it of helping insurgents and militias here, the largest number of foreign fighters and suicide bombers in Iraq come from a third neighbor, Saudi Arabia, according to a senior U.S. military officer and Iraqi lawmakers.

About 45% of all foreign militants targeting U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians and security forces are from Saudi Arabia; 15% are from Syria and Lebanon; and 10% are from North Africa, according to official U.S. military figures made available to The Times by the senior officer. Nearly half of the 135 foreigners in U.S. detention facilities in Iraq are Saudis, he said.

Fighters from Saudi Arabia are thought to have carried out more suicide bombings than those of any other nationality, said the senior U.S. officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the subject’s sensitivity. It is apparently the first time a U.S. official has given such a breakdown on the role played by Saudi nationals in Iraq’s Sunni Arab insurgency.

He said 50% of all Saudi fighters in Iraq come here as suicide bombers. In the last six months, such bombings have killed or injured 4,000 Iraqis.

The situation has left the U.S. military in the awkward position of battling an enemy whose top source of foreign fighters is a key ally that at best has not been able to prevent its citizens from undertaking bloody attacks in Iraq, and at worst shares complicity in sending extremists to commit attacks against U.S. forces, Iraqi civilians and the Shiite-led government in Baghdad.

So why don’t we declare war on the Saudis? After all, their people are killing ours. Their people killed 3000 of ours on 9/11. Remember, it was the Saudi King that summoned our vice president. Summoned. Not requested, not invited. Summoned.

A Realistic Assessment on Progress in Iraq

July 14, 2007 at 5:23 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Democrats, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Iran, Iraq, King George, Media, Military, neo-conservatives, Republicans, Saudi Arabia, secret combinations, Thoughts, violence, War, War on Terror, World Events | 3 Comments

Whatever you do, if you want a real assessment about the situation in Iraq, do NOT listen to the President of the United States. Read Patrick Cockburn instead, for example. What will you learn? You’ll learn that, yes, Iraqis did progress on a few of the 18 benchmarks, but all the areas where they improved were insignificant, and the areas where Iraqis must have improved, about six benchmarks, Iraqis made absolutely no improvement at all. Things like security and politics. The very important stuff. No improvement at all.

The White House yesterday sought to suggest possible change for the better in Iraq by saying that there had been satisfactory progress on eight of the 18 goals set by Congress. Unsatisfactory progress is reported on six, unsatisfactory but with some progress on two and “too early to assess” on a further two.

The picture it hopes to give – and this has been uncritically reported by the US media – is of a mixture of progress and frustration in Iraq.

The wholly misleading suggestion is that the war could go either way. In reality the six failures are on issues critical to the survival of Iraq while the eight successes are on largely trivial matters.

Thus unsatisfactory progress is reported on “the Iraqi security forces even handedly enforcing the law” and on the number of Iraqi units willing to fight independently of the Americans. This means that there is no Iraqi national army but one consisting of Kurds, Shia and Sunni who will never act against their own communities. Despite three years of training, the Iraqi security forces cannot defend the government.

Set against these vitally important failures are almost ludicrously trivial or meaningless successes. For instance, “the rights of minority political parties are being defended” but these groups have no political influence. The alliance of Shia religious and Kurdish nationalist parties that make up the government is not keen to share power with anybody. This is scarcely surprising since they triumphantly won the election in 2005.

There have been some real improvements over the past six months. Sectarian killings in Iraq have declined to 650 in June compared with 2,100 in January. So-called “high-profile” bombings, including suicide bomb attacks on Shia markets, fell to 90 in June compared with 180 in March. But it is doubtful if these are entirely or even mainly due to the US surge.

The fall in sectarian killings, mostly of Sunni by Shia, may be largely the result of the Mehdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr being told by their leader to curb their murder campaign. It is also true that last year, after the attack on the Shia shrine in Samarra on 22 February 2006, there was a battle for Baghdad which the Shia won and the Sunni lost.

Baghdad is more and more Shia-dominated and the Sunni are pinned into the south-west of the city and a few other enclaves. As Sunni and Shia are killed or driven out of mixed areas, there are less of them to kill. Some 4.2 million people in Iraq are now refugees, of whom about half have fled the country.

The real and appalling situation on the ground in Iraq has been all too evident this week. Thirty bodies, the harvest of the death squads, were found in the streets of Baghdad on Wednesday. The figure for Tuesday was 26 and, in addition, 20 rockets and mortar bombs were fired into the Green Zone killing three people. This was significant because they were fired by the Mehdi Army, who had been upset by criticism made on them by the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. By way of gentle reproof they shelled his offices in the Green Zone.

What does this mean? It means that the surge is not having the intended effect. That is, if the intended effect was indeed a progress in security and political resolutions in Iraq, the surge has not succeeded, and probably will not succeed no matter how long we continue pressing this surge. The problem we are facing here at home is two fold. The public is now dead set against the war, and the military does not have any new fresh troops for the fight. A government cannot go to war without the nation behind it. Once it loses the nation, it will fairly quickly lose the war. The reason is that the soldiers come from the nation. Now, the military will run out of new soldiers to send to Iraq next April. Once April comes around what is the military going to do? They don’t say. Why not? Because their civilian bosses at the White House order them to remain silent. Why? Because it would hurt them politically.

Listen guys, the Republicans, by continuing this charade will lose badly in the November 2008 elections. They don’t seem to realize this. They believe that the American public will somehow never ever consider dropping them all. They figure that the more they filibuster Democratic legislation the more they can paint the Democrats as unable to rule. But this time the Americans will not forget (as they usually do with their massively short term attention span) that it was the Republicans who pressed for this war. This is important because if it were not for the Republicans, we’d get more honest assessments about this war and about what to do with our dear soldiers who fight for us. Instead, April will come around and well, we’ll still be living in denial while our soldiers come home wounded and weakened, stretched to the limit, and not the fighting force that can or will win our battles for us. This is very dangerous. Republicans would rather not talk about that. Neither their cohorts who control the media (see for example this latest evidence that even the New York Times would rather portray a political situation in Republican light—liberal media indeed).

What should happen?

In the real world, what should happen, especially when it comes to war, is to end the politicization. Republicans must stop using the soldiers as political fodder against Democrats. It must end. Were regular Americans to realize just how much the soldiers have been used by Republicans for political points, well, maybe many of them, the conservative kind, don’t mind the hypocrisy. In any case, it must end. It won’t unfortunately. But this is what should happen. We should look realistically at our situation now. We should assess just where this war has taken us, just what the costs have been. Will we actually do that? Not likely. Why not? Because partisan politics has gripped our nation at just the wrong time. Who is to blame for that? Karl Rove of course. As long as he is still employed we will never get an honest assessment.

The best solution for America right now in regards to Iraq is to begin talking about a way out of Iraq. The British were able to do so. We could learn a lot from the British it seems. One of the lessons is that you have to plan a good escape from the situation. The problem with Vietnam, and unfortunately the problem we will face with Iraq, is that we did not have a good plan of escape. So in the end you had a helicopter on top of the embassy with thousands of people trying to take it. What a shameful way to leave. Who is to blame for that? None other than Nixon of course. He orchestrated the ending of the war so that it would cast a bad light on the Democrats. But it was he, in the end, who left Vietnam the way he left it. George Bush does not wish to talk about how to leave Iraq. He would rather punt that on to the next administration (at this point assuredly a Democratic one). The moment the next administration withdraws the troops, he, from the sidelines, will criticize and demonize the next administration for failing in Iraq, and for not continuing his “grand crusade—er mission.” Why would he do this? Because in his heart, George W. Bush does not care about the troops as much as he cares about scoring political points for his Republican party.

The British withdrawal from southern Iraq also opens a window into our future for us to see what would happen with a withdrawal of foreign occupying troops. The Shi’ite militias turn on each other. This is the expected outcome. Why? Well, we go back to our realistic assessments. We keep pretending to believe that somehow the new Iraqi “army” will be loyal to the “government.” But please, let’s be honest. The real power lies in the militias, and will do so until the Americans leave to let the militias work it out on their own just how to run a large country the size of Iraq. What may really end up happening is that Iraq breaks down to tribal groups, as before World War I. Who knows, that may be what is actually best for a region like Iraq. The problem is that our world today prefers the nation-state. How would tribal organizations manage in such a system? Especially one like Iraq with all those lucrative resources?

In any case, Iraq will not fall to Al-Qaida. Al-Qaida’s presence in Iraq is small, and homogeneous. Their power is nowhere near that of the Shi’ite militias or the Kurdish militias. Will the Shi’ites try to murder all the remaining Sunnis? Not if the Sunnis have their own militias who protect their own. Also, if Iraq goes tribal, it won’t remain so for long. Here is where you get into the danger of a possible regional conflict. Iran will most likely eat up the Shi’ite south and east while Saudi Arabia will take in the Sunnis in the west. Will Saudi Arabia (or the United States) allow Iran to take possession of such a large amount of land with oil? Of course not. What about Turkey and Kurdistan? Turkey does currently have 140,000 troops on the border with Kurdistan. Turkish leaders have to think more of domestic politics than their obligations to foreign powers. The domestic politics demand action against the Kurds.

It really is unfortunate, and very tragic that we cannot have a realistic assessment about our actions in Iraq. The American people deserve to know the entire situation so they can make a realistic decision on whether or not to follow the president’s plan or some other. Whipping up the frenzy of Al-Qaida does nothing to solve the problem. I really hope Republicans can understand this. At this point, I am not holding my breath.

Where in the World is America’s War Czar?

July 13, 2007 at 7:00 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Iraq, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Y’all remember Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, you know, the new War Czar. Since he was confirmed three weeks ago have we heard a single thing from him? Where in the world is Lt. Gen. Lute? Anyone have a guess? You’d figure with the two most important wars our country is fighting, he’d be out there doing…well, something.

Al-Qaida, Stronger Than Ever

July 11, 2007 at 9:28 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, corruption, War on Terror | 2 Comments

Looks like these past six years have been a complete and utter failure.

A new National Intelligence Estimate presents a sobering analysis of terrorism threats to the United States, concluding that Al Qaeda has reconstituted its core structure along the Pakistani border and may now be a stronger and more resilient organization today than it appeared a year ago, according to three U.S. intelligence officials familiar with the draft document.

So what can be done?

First of all, fire the failed leaders! Remove Bush and Cheney from power. Now!

Quote of the Day – Bennie G. Thompson

July 11, 2007 at 11:09 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, secret combinations, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Courtesy of The Gavel, Committee on Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie G. Thompson responds to Michael Chertoff’s “gut feeling.”

Dear Secretary Chertoff:

Over the past five years, tens of billions of taxpayer dollars have been dedicated to standing up and building capacity at the Department of Homeland Security. The Department of Homeland Security is charged with deterring, preventing and responding to the threat of terrorism. To that end, systems have been erected to identify risks and communicate them to the American public. With all the resources you have at your disposal and all the progress that you assure us that you are making, I cannot understand why you are quoted in the Chicago Tribune as saying you have a “gut feeling” that we are entering a period of heightened risk this summer.

Words have power, Mr. Secretary. You must choose them wisely—especially when they relate to the lives and security of the American public. What color code in the Homeland Security Advisory System is associated with a “gut feeling?” What sectors should be on alert as a result of your “gut feeling?” What cities should be asking their law enforcement to work double shifts because of your “gut feeling?” Are the American people supposed to purchase duct tape and plastic sheeting because of your “gut feeling?”

The Committee on Homeland Security has repeatedly emphasized the importance of getting specific, actionable information to our first preventers in law enforcement and other emergency response providers. I urge you to follow up on your “gut feeling” and share whatever information our nation’s first preventers need to be on alert and prepared. Otherwise, we run the risk of communities taking it upon themselves to mobilize for every possible threat. This not only would result in communities depleting their scarce homeland security resources but runs contrary to your efforts to move toward a risk-based approach to homeland security.

This fall, we will be marking the sixth anniversary of the most deadly terrorist attack on U.S. soil. With likely action on legislation to implement the unfinished business of the 9/11 Commission, Congress is poised to give you more and better opportunities to work with law enforcement in a constructive manner.

Mr. Secretary, I urge you to clarify your comments by providing concrete direction to the State, local and tribal stakeholders and if necessary make the required changes to the Nation’s threat level to ensure that the American public can take the necessary steps to protect their families, businesses and communities.

I would be happy to convene a classified briefing of our Members to discuss the threat to our nation if you believe that such a briefing is warranted.

Sincerely,

Bennie G. Thompson

Chairman, Committee on Homeland Security

Well said.

Compassionate Conservatism, Except Toward Iraqi Refugees

July 11, 2007 at 9:37 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, family values, Iraq, Syria | 5 Comments

The Bush administration and the Republicans claim they are “compassionate conservatives,” whatever that really means. Well, someone ought to ask them why under the Bush administration, the United States has only accepted 202 Iraqi refugees to this point. 202. That’s it. That’s all the Iraqis fleeing the horror of what is happening in their home country the United States has allowed to enter. By comparison, Syria has taken in 449,000.

Kinda makes you look foolish when Bashir Assad is more compassionate to displaced Iraqis than the Republicans who claim they are compassionate.

Crying Wolf

July 11, 2007 at 9:34 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Republicans, secret combinations, War on Terror | Leave a comment

There they go again. The Bush administration in an attempt to change the subject is warning of an increased threat this summer. Only problem is that Mr. Chertoff’s warning comes from a “gut feeling” and not from any actual evidence of a new threat.

Huh, interesting timing to have a “gut feeling” as we’re going to have the Democrats bring up bills this week to withdraw troops from Iraq.

On Lies, Credibility Gaps, Friedman Units, Good Christian Conservatives Gone Bad, and Approval Ratings

July 10, 2007 at 12:51 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, Cheney, Congress, conservatives, corruption, Democracy, Evangelicals, family values, friedman units, George W Bush, Iraq, King George, Republicans, Revising History, secret combinations | 3 Comments

For any but the hardcore conservative, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is nothing but a proven liar. Well evidence has come to light showing just how badly he has lied to the American people and under oath to Congress. You see, in April 2005 he testified to Congress the following:

“There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse.”

When talking about the FBI’s new powers under the Patriot Act. Well, that was a lie.

As he sought to renew the USA Patriot Act two years ago, Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales assured lawmakers that the FBI had not abused its potent new terrorism-fighting powers. “There has not been one verified case of civil liberties abuse,” Gonzales told senators on April 27, 2005.

Six days earlier, the FBI sent Gonzales a copy of a report that said its agents had obtained personal information that they were not entitled to have. It was one of at least half a dozen reports of legal or procedural violations that Gonzales received in the three months before he made his statement to the Senate intelligence committee, according to internal FBI documents released under the Freedom of Information Act.

The acts recounted in the FBI reports included unauthorized surveillance, an illegal property search and a case in which an Internet firm improperly turned over a compact disc with data that the FBI was not entitled to collect, the documents show. Gonzales was copied on each report that said administrative rules or laws protecting civil liberties and privacy had been violated.

The reports also alerted Gonzales in 2005 to problems with the FBI’s use of an anti-terrorism tool known as a national security letter (NSL), well before the Justice Department’s inspector general brought widespread abuse of the letters in 2004 and 2005 to light in a stinging report this past March.

This is America’s top law enforcer.

Next comes General Kevin Bergner, a Bush administration operative who is now the spokesman in Iraq who said the following:

The U.S. command in Baghdad this week ballyhooed the killing of a key al Qaeda leader but later admitted that the military had declared him dead a year ago.

The incident shows the eagerness of the command to show progress in dismantling al Qaeda at a time when Democrats and some Republicans are pressing President Bush to withdraw troops from Iraq. Army Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander, has declared al Qaeda enemy No. 1 in Iraq.

Brig. Gen. Kevin Bergner began his Monday news conference with a list of top insurgents either killed or captured in recent operations. He said they had been eliminated “in the past few weeks” and were “recent results.”

“In the north, Iraqi army and coalition forces continue successful operations in Mosul,” he told reporters. “Kamal Jalil Uthman, also known as Said Hamza, was the al Qaeda in Iraq military emir of Mosul. He planned, coordinated and facilitated suicide bombings, and he facilitated the movement of more than a hundred foreign fighters through safe houses in the area.” All told, Bergner devoted 68 words to Uthman’s demise.

Uthman was indeed a big kill, and the military featured his death last year in a report titled “Tearing Down al Qaeda.”

The Bush Administration wishes so badly to inform us that we’re fighting “Al-Qaida in Iraq” that they are willing to tell us that they’ve killed the same guy again a whole year later. Anybody wonder why some of us do not trust a single word that comes out of the mouth of a military spokesman?

Friedman Units. Those fun six month periods so generously created by Mr. Tom Friedman of the New York Times, where the most vital period in our conflict in Iraq is always the “next six months.” Well, today is July 10. Six months ago, Bush unveiled his “surge” strategy. Let’s see what proponents said six months ago about this new strategy. (Courtesy of Atrios):

Senator Kerry and Michael O’Hanlon:

So my question to each of you, in sum, is if there isn’t sufficient evidence of this kind of summitry and diplomacy — if there isn’t a sufficient political process in place — and I want your judgment as to whether or not there is — will more troops have any chance of, in fact, getting what we want, or is it going to make matters worse? And if it does, where are we after putting them in in six months if it hasn’t worked? Mr. O’Hanlon?

MR. O’HANLON: Senator Kerry, very tough question. I like your idea of a ledger. On the positive side of the troop surge proposal, I would say we all know tactically there have never been enough troops in Iraq to clear and hold. So that’s the tactical argument for this case. It would have been a much more compelling argument three and four years ago than it is today, but I think it remains at some level in the plus column. On the negative column, of course, we know that there is no political resolution of these very sectarian divides —

Brigadier General James “Spider” Marks:

FOREMAN: Six months from now, are we going to look at this area right here where most of them are going to go and say we’re better off or worse off?

MARKS: We need to say we’re better off.

ZAHN: We need to, but will we?

MARKS: There are ways to achieve that. And it’s not mutually exclusive. It’s not a political solution better than a military solution. All of these are essential ingredients to a solution. So it’s not a military strategy.

CBS News:

Pentagon officials expect US troops to stay in the streets for about six months before turning security over to the Iraqis. `If it hasn’t happened in six months,’ one official said, `we’ll know it’s not working.

Tim Russert:

Unless considerable progress is made in Iraq in a relatively short time, you will see Republicans crossing over and joining Democrats in challenging his Iraq strategy in a bipartisan way. This is a dead serious six months we’re approaching.

Chris Matthews:

MATTHEWS: Well, I don`t think it`s his last stand. I think it`s the second to the last stand. I think asking for more troops suggests hope that if we try a little harder, it will work. I think the next go-around, six months from now, or a year from now, perhaps, you`ll see the president come back to the American people and say, give me one last shot at this. I think he has one more chance after this. It`s not the end of the game.

This is the second to the last battle, I believe, of this war politically. But I do believe his numbers will continue to go down. I think we`ll see casualties in the streets of Iraq, Baghdad. It`s going to be a bloody campaign and I don`t think it`s going to yield stability.

Michael O’Hanlon:

He has one last shot, and that’s the way to look at it, I think. It’s Hail, Mary time.

Mary Matalin:

But we will be able to know in the next six months, although the sustained effort has to take longer than six months.

David Kerley:

You know, we’ve talked about that before here, Sam, on this program, that this is, the President believes, his last shot.

Pat Buchanan:

BUCHANAN: He has said it this time. The last test is right now.

This is why I`m saying, look, this is the last chance for Maliki, the last chance for the Americans. The acid test is whether they go after the Mahdi army, which I think knows we will go after them. And that`s why I think it may very well run to earth for the next six months.

SCARBOROUGH: We have to — we have to do that. We have to go after al-Sadr. We have to go after the Mahdi army. And, if we are, in fact, trying to start a democracy over there, and bring justice to Iraq, then, we have to arrest or kill al-Sadr.

Who still believes these bamboozlers?

Next, Good Christian Conservatives Gone Bad. I give you Senator David Vitter of Louisiana. He is a person found on Deborah Palfrey’s list of persons seeking, uh, companions, yeah, that’s what they are called…

Funny thing is that Senator Vitter has been one of the most outspoken people on banning same-sex marriage, because it is destructive to the family and all. Blah Blah Blah. It’s truly a Shakespearean comedy of errors, especially when you put into perspective what his wife said back in 2000 when talking about President Clinton’s West Wing escapades with one intern named Monica:

Asked by an interviewer in 2000 whether she could forgive her husband if she learned he’d had an extramarital affair, as Hillary Clinton and Bob Livingston’s wife had done, Wendy Vitter told the Times-Picayune: “I’m a lot more like Lorena Bobbitt than Hillary. If he does something like that, I’m walking away with one thing, and it’s not alimony, trust me.”

Heh, the good Senator should probably get a good iron chastity belt ready.

The ironic thing is that Senator Vitter got his position after Senator Livingston resigned after his affair was disclosed. Senator Livingston, as some may recall, was one of the strongest voices against Clinton’s White House escapades with one intern named Monica. Ironic indeed.

Finally, the news gets good for those who dislike Bush. His disapproval rating is as bad as Nixon’s. That’s right, no presidents have been as disliked than George W. Bush and Richard Nixon. Both have disapproval ratings at 66%. Nixon was lucky to have resigned when he did. Assuredly his numbers would have tanked even worse with impeachment proceedings going on. It is indeed a wonder how impeachment proceedings have not begun yet on George W. Bush, with all that has been said and done. But no worries, Bush still has 18 months to go even lower than Nixon and become America’s most hated president ever.

Rove: Troops to Come Home Before 2008 Election

July 9, 2007 at 12:09 pm | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, Republicans, violence, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

Karl Rove has revealed once again the White House’s strategy for the 2008 elections, just like he had revealed the strategy for the 2002 elections. What is the strategy? Well, according to THE math (as opposed to the real math), Iraq will not figure in to the 2008 elections because, according to him, troops will be home before then. Or at least begin the “post-surge redeployment”, the Bush administration’s new catchy phrase that totally avoids describing what in actuality it really is: a withdrawing of troops from the field of operations. See, Bush is vetoing any such actions now because they are not on HIS timetable. His timetable is timed perfectly with November of every even year. That’s the timetable of most concern to the Bush White House. Whatever works to make Republicans stay in power is what works for Bush. They assume many things wrongly because of this. For example, the surge is a failure, not complete, but a failure nonetheless. Violence continues. Political solutions are somewhere at the bottom of the dank Euphrates that runs through Baghdad.

But none of that matters. It is all a matter of perception. This is why the public face is what it is. They are selling a story. They have to follow the script.

REPORTER: Mr. President, if you decide…

BILL MOYERS: But the White House press corps will ask no hard questions tonight about those claims. Listen to what the President says:

PRESIDENT BUSH: This is a scripted…(laughter)

REPORTER: Thank you Mr. President–

BILL MOYERS: Scripted. Sure enough, the President’s staff has given him a list of reporters to call on.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Let’s see here… Elizabeth… Gregory… April…Did you have a question or did I call upon you cold?

APRIL: No, I have a question (laughter)

PRESIDENT BUSH: Okay. I’m sure you do have a question

ERIC BOEHLERT: He sort of giggled and laughed. And, the reporters sort of laughed. And, I don’t know if it was out of embarrassment for him or embarrassment for them because they still continued to play along. After his question was done. They all shot up their hands and pretended they had a chance of being called on.

APRIL: How is your faith guiding you?

PRESIDENT BUSH: My faith sustains me because I pray daily. I pray for guidance.

ERIC BOEHLERT: I think it just crystallized what was wrong with the press coverage during the run up to the war…I think they felt like the war was gonna happen. And, they– the best thing for them to do was to get out of the way.

PRESIDENT BUSH: Thank you for your questions.

Be on the watch, America. The Bush administration will try once again to pull the wool over your eyes. Please see through their muck.

Redeployed to Iraq and Afghanistan for the FIFTH Time

July 9, 2007 at 11:48 am | Posted in America, American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Iraq, Military, War on Terror, World Events | 5 Comments

An Army Reservist in Miami is being ordered back to Iraq for a fifth time. He’s not upset at being sent back, as he finds his duty to his country honorable. But he is suing the Army to hold off his redeployment so he could finish up his degree in engineering, and to make sure he doesn’t lose his house (which he would if he were redeployed).

The United States military, as currently designed, an all-volunteer force with only so many, can only handle so much continuous fighting before they become a “broken” military. Apparently that end will come next April when the military will basically run out of soldiers. This is scary stuff. Our military is so badly weakened by our actions in Iraq that, well, if we are tested by a truly powerful enemy, we really won’t have the capability to defend ourselves.

General Michael Rose wrote: (h/t Hellmut at Headlife)

It is hardly an overstatement to say that had Britain not ended the American War of Independence when it did, it could never have been in a position to defeat Napoleon.

Today, of course, the United States finds itself in much the same position as Britain in 1781. Distracted and diminished by an irrelevant, costly and probably unwinnable war in Iraq, America could ultimately find itself challenged by countries like China and India. Unless it can find a leader with the moral courage of Pitt, there is a strong probability that it will be forced to relinquish its position as the global superpower — possibly to a regime that does not have the same commitment to justice and liberty that the United States and Britain have worked so hard to extend across the world over the past two centuries.

The sound of the first shot fired at Lexington in 1775 echoed across the world. So too did the firing of the last shot six years later at Yorktown. That second echo brought salvation for Britain, and ultimately great benefit to the entire world.

Smart thinking says that we should be far more concerned about our national security than the national security of another nation. The greater threat lies not from the cave-dwelling terrorists, but from other nations who might just take advantage of our weakened position to increase their power vis a vis us.

There really is nothing more we can do in Iraq right now that is worth the cost we are incurring. We must reduce our costs if we are to ensure our position in the world stays the way it is. Otherwise in perhaps just a few years, we will find ourselves no longer in charge of the direction of this world. And that is a far scarier position for us to be in than with an unstable Iraq.

The Ugly Side of George W. Bush

July 8, 2007 at 7:13 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Republicans, secret combinations | Leave a comment

In the wake of the Scooter Libby commutation (and eventual pardon—come January 2009—unless we impeach him before then), it must be shown that George W. Bush was never a nice man. In fact, back in 1999, we got to see his dark, real side.

In the week before [Karla Faye Tucker’s] execution, Bush says, Bianca Jagger and a number of other protesters came to Austin to demand clemency for Tucker. “Did you meet with any of them?” I ask.

Bush whips around and stares at me. “No, I didn’t meet with any of them,” he snaps, as though I’ve just asked the dumbest, most offensive question ever posed. “I didn’t meet with Larry King either when he came down for it. I watched his interview with [Tucker], though. He asked her real difficult questions, like ‘What would you say to Governor Bush?’ ”

“What was her answer?” I wonder.

“Please,” Bush whimpers, his lips pursed in mock desperation, “don’t kill me.”

This charming little vignette comes from Tucker Carlson’s profile of George W. Bush in the premiere issue of Talk. Carlson’s attitude toward Bush is clearly positive. But the profile is nonetheless devastating, because Carlson is a good reporter who’s captured his subject’s unattractive aspects as well as his appealing ones.

Carlson’s major theme is that Bush is “comfortable with himself” and “doesn’t give a damn what you think of him.” (Message: I don’t care.) He has risen above the obsession with what other people think that marks most politicians. Yet the Bush who emerges from the profile is remarkably thin-skinned. Carlson notes that while “the Larry King–Karla Faye Tucker exchange Bush recounted never took place” on television, “Tucker did imply that Bush was succumbing to election-year pressure from pro-death penalty voters. Apparently Bush never forgot it. He has a long memory for slights.” If this is what Bush considers payback, remind us to stay on his compassionate side.

For sheer ugliness, nothing else in the article matches Bush’s remarks on the death penalty. (When he sees Carlson’s horrified reaction, Bush “immediately stops smirking”: ” ‘It’s tough stuff,’ Bush says, suddenly somber, ‘but my job is to enforce the law.'”) But the section other Republicans in the race are likely to seize on comes when Carlson asks “whether the number of abortions has gone up or down since he’s been governor. ‘I don’t know,’ he shrugs. . . . ‘Probably down. Not because of anything we’ve done, though. We haven’t passed any laws.'” Where Carlson sees a refreshing reluctance to exaggerate accomplishments, others — including a lot of pro-lifers who have been giving Bush the benefit of the doubt — are likely to see a breezy indifference to what Bush says he considers to be the taking of innocent human life. (The abortion rate in Texas, incidentally, has declined slightly since 1994.)

Apart from specific gaffes, conservative readers may conclude that Bush just doesn’t seem presidential — at least by pre-Clinton standards. He swears, a lot, in public. He cries. In response to a question after a speech, Bush mentions that he was not a virgin when he got married. How different is this from Clinton’s having answered the boxers-or-briefs question, for which he’s been pounded for years?

Bush, according to Carlson, “believes that his connection to his softer emotional side is part of the key to political success.” But in this profile, his flippant, vulgar, and arrogant side is more visible. No wonder Bush’s aides are trying to undercut the story. Says spokesman Scott McClellan, “In some areas it reflected the governor’s personality and in others we felt the writer misread the governor.” As for Karla Faye Tucker’s execution, “Anyone who knows the governor knows that it was a very emotional and agonizing decision he took very seriously.” He’s not saying Bush was misquoted.

Fascinating isn’t it. My how even the National Review has changed, and now fully support all the president’s worst decisions, those where he obviously is obstructing justice.

Just note, conservatives, how poisonous George W. Bush has been to your political ideology. One of your most conservative leaning publications could look at George Bush’s most ugly moments and call it what it was. Today? Heh, it’s okay if George Bush obstructs justice. No worries for conservatives. That’s normal business.

“No One Can Fight the Power of the Government”

July 8, 2007 at 6:41 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, George W Bush, Pakistan, secret combinations, War, War on Terror | Leave a comment

So says General Musharraf of Pakistan, the man George W. Bush would rather defend than attack Al-Qaida.

Lead Poisoning Leads to Violent Crime

July 7, 2007 at 10:05 pm | Posted in American politics, violence | 4 Comments

Wow, fascinating! A new study has come out to show that lead poisoning causes people to have a higher propensity to commit violent crimes. The research is very strong, and just fascinating. It also happens to be another stake in the heart of Giuliani’s campaign, as it happens that it wasn’t actually his policies that reduced crime in New York in the 1990s. He just happened to be in the right place at the right time. Heh, too funny.

Although crime did fall dramatically in New York during Giuliani’s tenure, a broad range of scientific research has emerged in recent years to show that the mayor deserves only a fraction of the credit that he claims. The most compelling information has come from an economist in Fairfax who has argued in a series of little-noticed papers that the “New York miracle” was caused by local and federal efforts decades earlier to reduce lead poisoning.

The theory offered by the economist, Rick Nevin, is that lead poisoning accounts for much of the variation in violent crime in the United States. It offers a unifying new neurochemical theory for fluctuations in the crime rate, and it is based on studies linking children’s exposure to lead with violent behavior later in their lives.

What makes Nevin’s work persuasive is that he has shown an identical, decades-long association between lead poisoning and crime rates in nine countries.

“It is stunning how strong the association is,” Nevin said in an interview. “Sixty-five to ninety percent or more of the substantial variation in violent crime in all these countries was explained by lead.”

Read the whole article. Just fascinating.

US Aborted Strike On Al-Qaida Because of Musharraf in Pakistan

July 7, 2007 at 5:41 pm | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Foreign Policy, George W Bush, Military, Pakistan, Republicans, secret combinations, War on Terror | 1 Comment

Well well well, it seems the United States under George W. Bush would rather protect a military dictator who holds nukes and nearly used them on his rival than take out Al-Qaida.

A secret military operation in early 2005 to capture senior members of Al Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas was aborted at the last minute after top Bush administration officials decided it was too risky and could jeopardize relations with Pakistan, according to intelligence and military officials.

The target was a meeting of Al Qaeda’s leaders that intelligence officials thought included Ayman al-Zawahri, Osama bin Laden’s top deputy and the man believed to run the terrorist group’s operations.

But the mission was called off after Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, rejected the 11th-hour appeal of Porter J. Goss, then the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, officials said. Members of a Navy Seals unit in parachute gear had already boarded C-130 cargo planes in Afghanistan when the mission was canceled, said a former senior intelligence official involved in the planning.

So here’s the question. What is Bush’s top priority if it isn’t taking out those who attacked us on 9/11?

Some Truth From Iraq

July 7, 2007 at 9:23 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, corruption, Iraq, Military, secret combinations, violence, War, War on Terror | 2 Comments

It is so refreshing to read a more truthful and accurate account of what is going on in Iraq. It is such a shame that these kinds of reports are so few and far in between. Don’t ever read Michael Gordon’s pieces in the New York Times if you want to know what is REALLY going on in Iraq. Today, however, we have a retired Foreign Service Officer who worked in the middle of it all saying it like it really is:

Baqubah is a battlefield, the site of a major push against al-Qaeda and other insurgents. The houses that haven’t been destroyed are riddled with bullet holes. Many of the Iraqis I worked with are dead, and many others have fled.

The reason for some of this destruction lies, as our newspapers tell us, in the outpouring of al-Qaeda operatives from Baghdad, a result of the latest U.S. troop “surge” into the capital. Much of the responsibility, however, is ours.

The actions of American troops have prompted much of the resistance in Diyala province. More important, these actions are symptomatic of other factors, including the short attention span of the American people, the regular rotation of our troops, the understandable desire of each commander to distinguish himself, and our very American belief that we can solve problems quickly when others can’t. We have allowed all of these factors to run away with the war in Iraq.

Kiki then goes on to describe several incidents that highlight our failures. I recommend reading the entire piece if you want an accurate portrayal of the problems in Iraq. Kiki’s conclusion:

And we Americans? We are trumpeting our “new” initiative of enlisting Sunni tribal chiefs to our side. We are busy “building confidence” among the Iraqi security forces who, we now admit, have had sectarian tendencies. We’re also mounting a massive campaign against . . . our “enemies.”

We have forgotten or not bothered to remember what we have done over the past months.

But the Iraqis have not forgotten. They have lived this chapter before. Only it was better then, last year.

So well said.

“I Will Restore Honor and Dignity to the White House”

July 6, 2007 at 6:03 am | Posted in American politics, Bush Administration, conservatives, corruption, George W Bush, Republicans, Scooter Libby, secret combinations | 3 Comments

So said George W. Bush during the 2000 Campaign:

What I am saying is America wants somebody to restore honor and dignity to the White House. That is what America is looking for.

How’s he done, y’all?


(courtesy of Anne Telnaes)

Remember that conservatives are saying that, hey, Clinton did it too, in pardoning Marc Rich at the end of his term. Remember, Marc Rich’s lawyer was one named Scooter Libby.

This is the “honor and dignity” of the Bush White House. Pardon those who have damning information about your secret combinations so that your own crimes and lies are hidden still. That’s their honor and dignity. Really, America, do you need further evidence that this is the most crooked and worst administration in the history of our fine nation? Richard Nixon has nothing on George W. Bush. When all the facts come out, we’re going to look fondly at the innocent days of the Nixon administration.

PS: Other good posts on this travesty are from Guy Murray and Scarecrow at Firedoglake.

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