Saturday, April 10, 2004

Whiney Joe to David "I'm Writing As Bad as I Can" Brooks: I'll always be here for you. 

Disgusting. Brooks quotes Lieberman as if Whiney Joe were somehow either responsible or a representative Democrat. Man, there's nothing lower than trolling for media coverage in Brooks's column, is there?

And I think I'll put in this quote from Brooks: "If people like Sistani are forced to declare war on the U.S., the gates of hell will open up."

Two reasons:

First: To lay down a marker for when we know that Bush's policies have totally ... Well, make up your own coarse expression.

Second: This means that the Shi'ite Sistani has Bush by the balls, right?

Oh, and third: Kos—targetted and abused by wingers, operatives, and the overly pliant for his very success—got this analysis spot on from the word go, when nobody else was saying it: Sistani is the one with whom we must ultimately make a deal. Maybe Bush should have Karl make a call...

Iraq insurgency: Some unfiltered information 

A letter from an unnamed contractor, via Josh Marshall:

The fighting two nights ago was loud and widespread throughout the northern and northwestern parts of Baghdad ... areas such as Yarmouk, Sadr City had almost continuous gunfights and rocket attacks. When we heard US forces using the main gun on M-1 tanks at 1 AM we knew it was serious insurgency at hand. ... There was a report of a massive ambush by one security firm that tried to drive in from Amman. Reports have 25-40 gunmen opening up on them. They lost all of their vehicles and had to be given a mercy lift by a passing Iraqi minivan. ... The abductions of the Japanese hostages is a sign that we have entered a new phase of bad as abduction requires a permissive environment for the hostage taker.
(via here)

A new phase of bad... Eesh.

General Kimmet is wrong if he thinks that he will destroy the Badr brigade or Sadr Army as a military organization because there isn't really one ... he will disperse them into small, highly armed teams of friends and ... voila! Al Qaeda-Iraq or Hezbollah-Iraq will be borne in numbers we will not be able to control. Since the ICDC [the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps] seem to have run off and joined the opposition in Nasiriyah it may reflect the true loyalties of the new Iraqi army and Police. No one is going to cross their family, tribe or religious community for the Americans.

Leaderless resistance.... You'd think the wingers would understand that....

The correct answer is to back off, leave Sadr alone and start to throw lots of money into jobs projects and utilities for the south before this summer's electricity and gas shortages ... will that work? Probably not. But we have just antagonized the core of the Shiite resistance and putting them to work is better than letting them fight us 24/7.

An actual policy prescription. I don't think the operatives in the "Republican Palace" are going to go for "jobs projects" in a big way, though, do you?

Don't sign this petition! 

It calls for Bush not to accept the nomination in 2004. And there are several Republican signers. As one of its authors writes:

Core Republicans are experiencing an Oh Shit Moment where they are realizing that Bush could actually lose the election. Even though the polls for the last month have indicated a close race between Bush and Kerry, core Republicans have always believed their candidate would prevail in the end.
(via Smart Genes Weblog)

I like the idea of an "Oh Shit Moment" for Republicans. (Seems like some RNC hacks are feeling that way: "Mr. [Roger] Stone, who worked to help Mr. Bush win the Florida ballot fight in 2000 [said:] "While the conduct of the war was probably a plus for the president, it now has the potential to be a negative."

We want the Republicans to lose, right? Since only a Democrat can start to undo the damage the Republicans can do. Like cockroaches in the ktichen cabinets, it isn't so much that they're there, it's what they leave behind....

Text of the Bush PDB: It's money 

Is here in HTML, via The Agonist, and in proprietary PDF, via CNN.

And you know, the funny thing is, there's no money sentence. That is, there's no sentence that says: "AQ is going to hijack four airplanes on 2004-09-11 and fly them into the WTC, the Pentagon, and the White House." So, no "actionable intelligence," right? File and forget, and get on with the vacation....

But not so fast. The entire PDB is money.

Remember the old Sherlock Holmes story?

HOLMES:... And the curious incident of the dog in the night.
WATSON: The dog did nothing in the night.
HOLMES: That was the curious incident.

So, what are the curious incidents in the PDB? In fact, there are two:

1 There are no action points in the memo. There is no plan. We know that the intelligence people "had their hair on fire" over the summer about AQ chatter. (Read Clarke's book, or see here.) And here's a memo all about AQ, and there's no plan for dealing with AQ. In a CYA town like DC, that's almost unheard of. And if the memo doesn't have any CYA in it, that means there was no pressure from Bush to do anything. Otherwise, the action points would have been there. Bush's passivity here is almost surreal. (Bush's defenders keep sliming Clinton for an inadequate response on the AQ-attacked USS Cole. All the more reason for action points in this PDB!

2. There was no followup. The widows keep asking for it, and noone can show it, for the good reason that there wasn't any. Here again, Bush is almost surreally passive.

NOTE For background, back here and here.

Yep, we negotiated with 'em. So they aren't terrorists, right? 

Wonder how many phone calls to Crawford this took?

The US-led coalition and insurgents in the Sunni bastion of Fallujah agreed to a 12-hour ceasefire beginning today at 0600 GMT (1600 AEST) after six days of fierce clashes which claimed the lives of hundreds of people, an Iraqi mediator said.

However, the insurgents threatened to kill a presumed American citizen unless the siege of the Sunni Muslim town was lifted in the latest example of their new tactic of kidnapping foreigners to win concessions on the ground and put pressure on US allies in Iraq.

"The two sides have agreed to observe a 12-hour ceasefire tomorrow, Sunday, at 10am," or 0600 GMT (1600 AEST), a senior member of the Iraqi Islamic Party, Hatem al-Husseini, said.

"This will pave the way for the gradual pullout of US Marine troops from Fallujah," Husseini said after a meeting with coalition officials in Baghdad on his return from the mediation talks in the town west of the capital.

A senior coalition spokesman had no comment on the negotiations but said a statement would be issued later today.

The apparent breakthrough came after the coalition suspended offensive operations in Fallujah and offered the talks.
(via The Age)

Weird. We offered the talks.

So tell me again what our policy is here? Did we get the "bad guys" in Fallujah we started this thing for? Have we arrested Sadr? And why are we negotiating with his army if we want to arrest him, or did we flipflop on that?

So tell me again why the war in Iraq should make me feel safer? 

From drip, drip, drip to splash, splash, splash:

Americans are also increasingly concerned that by invading Iraq, the Bush administration has increased the risk that large numbers of people will be killed or injured in a future terrorist attack on the United States. Forty-two percent of those polled now share that concern, whereas just 28 percent of those polled at the end of the last year were similarly worried.
(via Newsweek)

More blowback.

But it's OK! Since Bush has been serious about funding the first responders... Oh, wait....

Iraqi insurgency: "Negotiating with terrorists" verbiage now inoperative 

Following up on this Atrios post, it seems that the military (never mind the operatives in the "Republican Palace" in the Baghdad green zone) don't believe they are fighting terrorists, at least not in Fallujah:

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the coalition military spokesman in Baghdad, dropped references to the insurgents as terrorists and criminals - "We do not negotiate with terrorists" - and described them as likely remnants of Saddam Hussein's military.

"We believe what we are seeing in Fallujah are former military, perhaps former Saddam fedayeen, perhaps former Republican Guard," he said. "How they fight indicates military training, rather than terrorist training."
(via Knight Ridder)

Former Republican Guard, eh? You mean the guys Bremer fired, while allowing them to hold onto their weapons?

When I wear my tinfoil hat, I can almost believe this chaos is exactly what Bush wants, since he seems to be achieving chaos so brilliantly.

Iraq insurgency: Meet the new boss 

The RNC-... Oh, I'm sorry, CPA-picked Iraqi Interior Minister "resigned"—if it were the US, we'd say "to spend more time with his family"—and the RNC... Sheesh, I keep saying that, I meant to say CPA (back) immediately picked a new Interior Minister. Stirling Newberry has some useful analysis on the meaning of these latest orchestrated events:

After pressuring the old Interior Minister, Nori al Badran, to resign, military governor Bremer appointed hardliner and long time Provisional Iraqi Governing Council member Samir Shakir Mahmoud Sumaiday to the Interior Minister Post.

Mahmoud's appointment, combined with the decision to lift sanctions against weapons sales and exports to Iraq, signal that the US is going forward with preparations for an all out "Iraqetization" of the occupation, with the intent of equipping the police force. Sumaiday is a proponent of an appointed new Iraqi government, a "security first" policy and a refusal to negotiate with violent or even dissident elements in Iraq.

However, taken together, his public statements paint a clear picture as someone who has been unwavering in toeing the US line on Iraq, and an active and charismatic spokesman for it. His promotion to Interior Minister sends a clear signal that the US intends to escalate, not negotiate, through he current crisis.
(via The Agonist)

Though I must say, it isn't clear who to negotate with, or what to negotiate about. Perhaps Bush had decided, as President Clinton did in the context of a far more slow-moving coup, "We'll just have to win, then."

Incidentally, Sistani has his own militia, and they're still on the sidelines. What's up with that?

President Vacation flipflops the flipflop of the original flipflop and releases the PDB 

On Easter Saturday, yet, as alert reader Xan points out. Details:

At the demand of the 9/11 commission, the White House made public on Saturday a classified intelligence document from a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that told President Bush of al Qaeda plans to attack the United States with explosives or hijack airplanes.

The document, entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike Inside the United States" ... said the FBI had detected "patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York."
(via Reuters)

Airplane (dot!) ... Hijack (dot!) ... Buildings in New York (dot!)....

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice insisted in her public testimony to the 9/11 commission last week that the memo contained mostly historical information and did not warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.

Her account could be contradicted by the fact that the memo included information from three months beforehand that al Qaeda members were trying to enter the United States for an attack with explosives.

Maybe to Condi three months is history.... Anyhow, President Vacation reads the memo, and ... Takes a long nap, and goes back to cutting brush.

Operation Mellifluous Footwear continues! (back).

One tank: $100,000,000. One grenade: priceless [update] 

More proof that we're winning:

A U.S. tank was set on fire on a highway west of Baghdad on Saturday and locals said it had been hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by a 10-year-old boy.
(via Reuters)

The problem with asymmetrical warfare is that, well, it's asymmetrical.

No, but seriously. If our invasion and occupation of Iraq has brought happiness to just one small boy...

UPDATE Leah reminds us to check out 1 Samuel 17:49.

TROLL PROPHYLACTIC: Yes, I'm sorry the troops in the tank are in danger. And I'm even sorrier they were put in that position by the fecklessness and strategic masterminding of President Vacation (back).

UPDATE Kerry's reaction to this incident:

“I saw on television before I came in here, the images that have not been as present as they might be to Americans, they're the images of a tank being hit by a rocket, RPG, the images of the wounded—our soldiers—our young men, scrambling out of the tank, bloody. That is the price of serving your country. We honor, every single one of us here today, we come here today first and foremost to say to our troops how proud we are of them, how grateful we are for their service to country, and how much we support them even as they carry out a difficult task at a difficult policy. No matter what our feelings about the war, we support the troops.''
(via MSNBC)

Damn straight. And who made the policy so goddamned "difficult"?

Spit in the Ocean 

Atrios points us to the news that the Pentagon is recognizing reality and is going to request more troops. This being the Bush Administration, of course, there's the fine print:

Abizaid told reporters in Iraq he wanted several thousand more troops, and indicated they may come from the 3rd Infantry Division, which only returned from its last Iraq deployment six months ago.

How sick is this joke? Earlier this week, while I was in France, Le Figaro quoted an analyst with Jane's Defence Weekly about the necessary U.S. response to the burgeoning revolt (no link, sorry). Advised the analyst: send in overwhelming force. "The first rule of counterinsurgency is that more troops you have, the fewer deaths you suffer." According to Jane's analyst, the conventional metric would dictate at least 500,000 troops in Iraq. We currently have 135,000.

Bush is sending in a few thousand. How long before people wake up to the lethal incompetence we've unleashed on ourselves?

"The enemy," retorted Yossarian with weighted precision, "is anybody who's going to get you killed, no matter which side he's on." --Catch-22

Reading Terminal: Philly shoots itself in the foot yet again 

So I'm blogging away, enjoying the Reading Terminal's new WiFi facility—and recharging my battery.

And a security guard walks up, and tells me I can't be plugged into the wall.

"Why?" I ask.

"Because it's wireless."

"That doesn't apply to the wire running into the wall! Can I talk to your supervisor?"

And so the supervisor comes over.

"Why can't I plug my computer into the wall?" I ask.

"Because you aren't paying for the electricity."

"Can I give you a quarter?"

"It's a policy."

"It's a stupid policy. I'm not going to spend my money here if I can't do this. Why did you get the WiFi installed? Can I talk to the marketing director?"

"I'm the marketing director. I'm the head of security."

Well. In some ways, no big thing. The security people were perfectly good humored and courteous. But it's still a stupid policy. I could be writing a laudatory posting about the Reading Terminal Market, just like I did last Saturday, hoped to this Saturday, and for many Saturdays to come, and instead I'm writing this.

Sheesh. Looks like I need to write to info@readingterminalmarket.org, attention "Kelly Novak," about how stupid this policy is. Readers, especially if you're from Philly, please feel free to write too.

"Bring it on!" 

They are, aren't they?

Editor and Publisher on Judy "Kneepads" Miller 

It's a three-ring circus! After Miller gets done clowning, Okrent comes on, and then Sulzberger. And none of them talk about the circus elephant: The way the Times, and so much of the SCLM, enabled the Iraq war by serving as "house organs" for Bush.

so far the public editor has looked the other way in failing to comment on the damning recent statement by Sulzberger on the Miller/WMD controversy. It constituted an indictment of the way he, and Miller's editors, saw her role in covering WMD and the war from "the inside" (reported at E&P Online, March 22).

Sulzberger admitted that Miller's sources were wrong "absolutely." But then "the administration was wrong ... So I don't blame Judy Miller for the lack of finding weapons of mass destruction. I blame the administration for believing its own story line to such a point that they weren't prepared to question the authenticity of what they were told."

Well, if [Miller's sources] weren't going to question themselves, wasn't it the role of the press to question them -- instead of so often acting as stenographers for inside sources and defectors? No one is blaming Miller for not finding WMD in Iraq (though she tried mightily while she was there), but rather for hyping their existence before and after the war. The Times too often swallowed the government's narrative on these weapons of mass disappearance.

And some high-placed intelligence analysts (not to mention other members of the media and vast numbers of the American public) surely believed in the authenticity of what the Times was telling them. One imagines a circle of blind animals, linked to one another: The Times tied to the tail ohttp:// the government which was tied to the tail of Iraqi defectors who were tied to the tail of the Times.
(via Editor and Publisher, from American Leftist)

A "circle of blind animals" ... Well put.

Fortunately, all the institutional problems that led of Miller's stenography have now been fixed, and current coverage of the Iraq war, the 9/11 commission, and the various criminal investigations under way against the Bush administration are in no way affected. Oh, wait...

Iraq insurgency: Contractor captured, held hostage 

More proof that we're winning:

Television footage on Saturday showed an American, apparently a civilian, being held hostage by Iraqi guerrillas.

Britain's Sky News aired film from Australia's ABC showing the man saying he had been seized after a convoy was attacked.

The Pentagon had said on Friday that several civilian contractors and two U.S. soldiers were missing after a military fuel convoy was ambushed on the main highway west of Baghdad.

"They attacked our convoy," the American said, sitting beside a hooded gunman in the back of a car before it sped off past a burning tanker truck on a major road.

In Washington, a Pentagon official said he was aware of the footage but could make no further comment on it. Up to four civilians may be missing after Friday's convoy attack, he added.

"I had as few as two and as many as four. But I haven't any hard numbers on contractors unaccounted for," he said.

Civilians are widely employed by the U.S. military in Iraq, as truck drivers and security guards among other tasks.
(via Reuters

This whole concept of privatizing the war isn't looking so good now, is it? Maybe the "largest mercenary army in the world" (See "Republic of Mercenaries," back) could go in and rescue the guy... Or maybe not...

NOTE As usual, get your war coverage (the Iraqi war, I mean) from The Agonist.

More troops to Iraq: Rummy to Abizaid: "Thanks for your input, now I'll decide." 

Sigh... Those cakewalkers just don't want to let go, do they?

U.S. Central Command chief Gen. John Abizaid has requested more forces for Iraq and was discussing plans Friday with U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a senior defense official confirmed.

Abizaid told reporters in Iraq he wanted several thousand more troops, and indicated they may come from the 3rd Infantry Division, which only returned from its last Iraq deployment six months ago.

Pentagon officials said it was unlikely the 3rd ID would be called up so quickly.

The senior defense official said Abizaid's request was too specific for a warfighting commander to make. The forces Abizaid gets will be decided on by the Joint Staff in Washington. He is supposed to limit his requests to capabilities and Washington decides, based on scheduling and skills and equipment, how to fill those requirements.

Rumsfeld promised this week if Abizaid wanted more forces he would get them.
(via UPI)

Funny we need to do this to fight some bitter-enders, isn't it?

Remember how Shinseki was ridiculed and humiliated by exactly the same Washington cakewalkers who are now deciding for Abizaid? Sheesh!

Hey, here's an idea! Why don't we give a few (more) billions to Blackwater, and let them fight the whole thing?

NOTE For some very nice quotes on the cakewakers being very publicly wrong see the as-ever excellent Kos.

Iraq Insurgency: Iraqi Governing Council tottering 

An Iraqi "vocal supporter" just turned against us:

As the U.S. sought to stamp out uprisings across central and southern Iraq, its civilian administrators faced a different kind of turmoil in Baghdad.

A Shiite member of the Iraqi Governing Council, Abdul Karim Mohammedawi, suspended his membership in the 25-member body and four others threatened to follow suit to protest what they described as collective punishment of Fallouja residents by Marines.

"We condemned U.S. military operations in Fallouja which [were] a form of mass punishment in response" to last week's killing and mutilation of four U.S. security contractors, Adnan Pachachi, a senior council member, told Al Arabiya television. Pachachi has been one of the occupation's most vocal supporters.
(via LA Times)

Man, we can't even hold onto the stooges....

NOTE Excellent analysis from Billmon here.

The War President 

(for larger image visit: Michael Moore)

Those who take the most from the table
Teach contentment.
Those for whom the taxes are destined
Demand sacrifice.
Those who eat their fill
Speak to the hungry of wonderful times to come.
Those who lead the country into the abyss
Call ruling too difficult
For ordinary men.
--Bertolt Brecht

NOTE For the original artist and mirror sites, see back here.

Bush flipflops the flipflop on the PDB 

Bush is a meta-flipflopper!

The classified briefing delivered to President Bush five weeks before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks featured information about ongoing al Qaeda activities within the United States, including signs of a terror support network, indications of hijacking preparations and plans for domestic attacks using explosives, according to sources who have seen the document and a review of official accounts and media reports over the past two years.

The information on current threats in the briefing, titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," stands in contrast to repeated assertions by national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and other Bush administration officials as recently as this week that the document is primarily historical and includes no warning or threat information.

The commission investigating the Sept. 11 attacks, which has demanded that the 11/2-page document be declassified, referred to it in a March 24 report as "an article for the president's daily intelligence brief on whether or how terrorists might attack the United States."

White House officials, after indicating Thursday that the briefing document could be declassified within a day, announced yesterday that they were delaying any release until at least next week.

"We are actively working on declassification and are not quite ready to put it out," said Sean McCormack,
(via WaPo)

It takes a while to fill up a slime bucket as big as the one they'll need to beat this one.

"Bush Was Warned of Possible Attack in U.S., Official Says" 

Well, well, well.

WASHINGTON, April 9 — President Bush was told more than a month before the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, that supporters of Osama bin Laden planned an attack within the United States with explosives and wanted to hijack airplanes, a government official said Friday.

A "government official"—Deep Throat2?

The warning came in a secret briefing that Mr. Bush received at his ranch in Crawford, Tex., on Aug. 6, 2001. A report by a joint Congressional committee last year alluded to a "closely held intelligence report" that month about the threat of an attack by Al Qaeda, and the official confirmed an account by The Associated Press on Friday saying that the report was in fact part of the president's briefing in Crawford.

The disclosure appears to contradict the White House's repeated assertions ...

Masterful understatement!

that the briefing the president received about the Qaeda threat was "historical" in nature and that the White House had little reason to suspect a Qaeda attack within American borders.
(via The Times)

And now Bush is on vacation again. Impeachment, anyone?

Calypso Fly Swat Jamboree 

The best posts are the ones that write themselves. Or better yet, the ones that someone else writes for you. Which is exactly the case as it applies to the following entry from MJS. Plus, you can dance to it.

by MJS

I was shaking the trees when a monkey fell out
He landed hard and he started to shout:
"Why everybody always messing with me?
I’m just a stupid monkey in a stupid tree!"

I was swatting at flies when the monkey came round
He got real mad and he jumped up and down:
Why everybody got to remind me
I need a fly swatter and a strategy!

Come on down now, come on down
Come on down now, come on down
Swat at the flies that are buzzing around
Swat the flies and shake the trees
That stupid monkey just do what he please

I was drinking a soda in the Lone Star state
Looking at the sky and thinking of fate
Just then a monkey on the radio station
He say: Don’t ask me nothin’ when I’m on vacation.

I was dodging a bullet in the sands of Iraq
I was hoping my buddies had covered my back
Just then a monkey fell out of they sky
And gave us fake turkey and a plastic pie

Come on down now, come on down
Come on down now, come on down
Swat at the flies that are buzzing around
Swat the flies and shake the trees
That stupid monkey just do what he please

I was shaking the trees when a monkey fell out
He landed hard and he started to shout:
Why everybody always messing with me?
I’m just a stupid monkey in a stupid tree

I was swatting at flies when the monkey came round
He got real mad and he jumped up and down:
Why everybody got to remind me
I need a fly swatter and a strategy!

(repeat chorus)

Lyrics by MJS.

Friday, April 09, 2004

5:00 horror: Bush flipflops on the PDB 

Like we knew he would (back):

The Bush administration announced Friday that it would declassify a top-secret presidential briefing paper [, titled ""Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States,"] that outlined the threat from Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaida terrorist network a month before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

It remained unclear whether the entire document would be declassified or the government would black out certain sections, claiming national security requirements.

"It comes from the most sensitive sources and methods that we have as a government," Vice President Dick Cheney [in2002, when the document was first requested]. "It's the family jewels, from that perspective."
(via Miami Herald)

Dick "Dick" Cheney's "family jewels"? Eeew....

And isn't it great that all the "foreign leaders" the wingers and their MWs were whining about can see that Bush can be rolled? Now that's really great for the country, isn't it?

"Bush Administration Says Voting Was Free From Fraud" 

In Algeria ...

Still, the kind of headline I like to see! (via AP)

The Days Of Our Lives 

This day, Tresy has returned from Paris. We may love Paris in the Springtime, (and we do) but we love Tresy all the days of our lives.

And now to two of our Friday not-regular features:

TODAYS QUESTION: Who said or implied that there was a "silver bullet" that could have prevented 9/11, by which, to be completely clear, we mean what happened on that day in 2001, and do not mean could have prevented the date or the day themselves from happening?

ANSWER TO TODAY'S QUESTION: No one. Absolutely no one. Mention of a "silver bullet" in relation to 9/11 occurred only in Condi Rice's rhetorical answer yesterday, during her public testimony in front of the 9/11 Commission, to a non-existent accusation.


If 233 is the answer, what are the questions?

Okay, it's a trick question. Here's a hint. Yes, there are two correct answers.

Another hint: If 78 is the question, what is the answer? Or, if 5 is the answer, what is the question? Last hint: If 500 is the answer, what are the questions? Yes, there are two correct answers to that one, too.

If we were as classy as the NYTimes Sunday Crossword Puzzle, we'd withhold the answer until tomorrow.

But we ain't, so here are the answers:*

233 is the number of days the Bush administration had been in office on the morning of 9/11, 2001; to be absolutely clear, that number does not refer only to that morning; the entire day was their 233rd day in office. For the reference see Condi Rice and at least one of the Commissioners.

233 is also the number of days since taking office that President George W. Bush has spent at his Crawford Texas ranch.

78 is the number of visits since taking office that he has made to Camp David.

5 is the number of visits since taking office that he has made to the family manse in Kennebunkport.

500 is the number of total days, thus far, that President Bush has spent in visits to these three "retreats."

500 days is also 40% of the number of days, thus far, that President Bush has been in office.

Please note: farmtoons accompanying illustration can be found here

We apologize if we may have seemed excessively tendentious in our phrasing of this post, but we are blogging under oath today. Exactly what oath we are, unfortunately, unable to specify in a PG-13 world, and on this, a family blog.**

*Answers courtesy of Josh Marshall and the WaPo.

**This is a family blog in the sense that all who post here are members of their own families, we like to think of Corrente and its readers as one kind of family and blogtopia, (thank-you skippy) itself as a proudly post-modern extended family that includes all manner of humankind, elfkind, hobbits, all animals, all non-vertebrates, all manner of flora and fauna, the oceans and all other waters, rising and not rising, the very planet itself, and all the rest of the universe. ***

***Andrew Sullivan liberal idiocy or liberal self-parody prophylactic: This statement is a willful exaggeration (see also irony, parody, and satire) of liberal inclusivity, though it is true that I loved the three Lord of the Ring movies, am inordinately fond of animals, wild and domesticated, plants as well as foodcrops, cultivated and uncultivated, as well as the planet itself and its human inhabitants, in the sense that Gary Snyder means in his brilliant little book, "The Practice Of The Wild," and I love a fair number of those humans; I'm not that fond of the universe - fascinating yes, but also awfully scary.

Updated for numerical accuracy: the correct number should have been 233, not 322. I win the booby prize.

UPDATE See farmer's portrait of President Vacation.

Red and blue 

Excellent analytical material here, on a series originally published in (where else...) the Austin American-Statesman.

Laugh along with aWol 

Jay Leno:

"The White House Easter egg hunt will be open to the public, but President Bush will not be there. How embarrassing would that be? It's bad enough he can't find weapons of mass destruction, what if he can't find any Easter Eggs either."

"President Bush has begun his Easter week vacation in Crawford, Texas. It's part of his plan to get in touch with ordinary Americans, to see what it's like to be at home and not working."
(via Reuters)

If only it didn't hurt so much when I laugh....

Bush in the White House: The lights are on, but nobody's home 

The numbers tell the story:

President Bush spent the second straight day out of public view on his ranch in Crawford, Tex.

This is Bush's 33rd visit to his ranch since becoming president. He has spent all or part of 233 days on his Texas ranch since taking office, according to a tally by CBS News. Adding his 78 visits to Camp David and his five visits to Kennebunkport, Maine, Bush has spent all or part of 500 days in office at one of his three retreats, or more than 40 percent of his presidency.
(via WaPo)

Of course, I guess we can all be thankful that Bush isn't working any more than he is ....

Ben-Veniste: Grandstanding by 9/11 commission members blew it 

If they didn't lay a glove on Condi, that's because they weren't punching.

As Ben-Veniste told Paula Zahn on CNN last night: "The difficulty was, in the format [with eveh member being given 10 minutes to speak], we just didn't have enough time to go into long answers and get our questions addressed."

He added: "Our point is this. We had intelligence information regarding al Qaeda operatives. We knew about planes as missiles. The question is, if we had butted heads together, because we knew the FBI wouldn't talk to the CIA. The CIA wouldn't talk to the FBI. This is a leadership issue to butt heads together and shake the trees and get the information that was in the system into the hands of individuals who could make a difference. We didn't do anything to protect our airports.

"There were CYA ["cover your ass"] missives going out, yes, there's a potential for hijacking. But nobody did anything different."
(Froomkin in WaPo)

Condi was waiting for the tree to shake, instead of shaking the tree herself.

Kerry weighs in on Iraq: Administration gridlocked by ideology and arrogance 

It's good to hear this said at last. Also, I like the measured way Kerry is talking here.

"This administration has been gridlocked by its own ideology and its own arrogance," Kerry told about two dozen Democratic donors at a breakfast meeting. "Yes, we can succeed but, boy I tell you, it's a lot tougher."

The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee said President Bush should admit the conduct of the war in Iraq and the country's subsequent reconstruction "is more complicated than they thought it was."

Critics have complained that Bush rushed into war with Iraq on the advice of hawks in his administration like Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, and without a realistic plan for its aftermath.

Kerry said Bush had failed to minimize the risk for U.S. soldiers in Iraq as well as the cost to taxpayers.

"This administration has stubbornly refused to involve other countries in the real decision-making," the Massachusetts senator said. "I think this is a failure of diplomacy, a failure of foreign policy, a failure of creative leadership."

Kerry said the United States now had three options in Iraq.

The first -- to continue along the same lines -- would mean American troops would remain exposed, taxpayers would bear billions of dollars in costs and "we will go down a very dangerous road where the outcome is very difficult.

Option two, you could just say 'okay, you guys don't want democracy? We'll see you. We're out of here.' Not acceptable, because nobody believes that we are better off with an Iraq that is unstable.

The third alternative -- what Kerry called the "smart" approach --- was to reach out boldly and clearly to the international community, explain their stake in not having a failed Iraq and give them real say in its transformation.
(via Reuters)

He's talkin' sense, Merle!

And Bush will reach out to anyone else when hell freezes over. Looks to me like the June 30 deadline is a fig leaf for option 2: "we're outta here." As usual, Atrios is right: We need to find something that works."

Readers, what do you think of Kerry's options? Are there others?

UPDATE Comment from alert reader SW:

Option #2 isn't a Bush option. They are building 14 permanant bases. We might cut and run regarding the pretense of reconstruction the country. But there is no way these guys are giving up their bases. The bases are why they fought the war. Getting someone to sign the treaty granting basing rights is the only purpose for the interim government that we are going to "hand off" soverignty to 9/30. So we are never leaving Iraq. They've got Gitmo in their eyes.

See Chalmers Johnson's The Story of Empire on this point.

Friday cat photos 

A little old, but still timely!

An elaborate Neolithic burial site uncovered in the Shillourokambos settlement on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus reveals that the friendship between cats and humans may go back 9,500 years. Prior to the discovery, Egyptians were thought to be the first to keep cats as pets, around 2,000 to 1,900 BC.

Scientists, who published their findings Thursday in the journal Science, say a skeleton of a young cat was found just a few inches from the remains of a human, buried in a similar fashion.
(via CNN)

And the cats weren't listening to us back then either (unless they wanted to, of course).

Paris in the Springtime 

Boy, look what happens when you go away to Paris for 2 weeks to catch a little RnR.

Watching the US screw up from a foreign vantage point is an interesting experience. First thing you discover: the rest of the world goes on. While the French press amply covered the disintegrating situation in Iraq, the main show was its own confrontation with the privatization and austerity policies of the Chirac government, reaction to which recently catapaulted the Left into the catbird seat in regional elections. If you want to see what vigorous public debate on domestic economic issues looks like, watch the French when their cherished social safety net is threatened. I realize (and so do the French, from the amount of play that foreign reaction to the anti-"reform" vote got in its own press) that with unemployment rate over 9%, a VAT of 19%, and public debt exceeding EU limits, the French may arguably be in a state of denial about the need for change.

But you know what? From what I could tell, they don't much care what the outside world thinks. And one has to admire a country that can actually drive the President to roll back at least one austerity measure because of its adverse effect on "young artists." As Tom Frank scathingly points out in the current Harper's, in America the Right can be on the verge of rolling back every progressive reform instituted since Teddy Roosevelt, and the very regions and sectors being decimated will vote to return the Right to power, as they have at every opportunity over the last 20 years. Thank you sir, may I have another?

Who's in denial?

There was also extensive, nearly obsessive coverage of the 10th Anniversary of the Rwanda genocide, and the extent of French complicity in the tragedy. I'll go out on a limb and guess there was nearly no such coverage in the US press, despite ample reason for self-criticism on our part.

From what I could tell, the semi-official French stance on our unfolding catastrophe in Iraq is one of genuine horror at the human tragedy and apprehension at the implications for the world economy. But it's hard to miss the self-desconstructing discourse of an editorial in Le Figaro reflecting this stance, headlined "Don't Taunt the Americans," which in the course of advising its readership to resist "Schadenfreude", couldn't help but recall that France pretty much advised, based on its own unhappy colonial experience, that this would happen. Still, Le Figaro insisted that fingerpointing be put aside in favor of supporting constructive solutions that recognize the critical importance of a stable Iraq to the world at large. Whether this is to include adding troops to Iraq, however, as the delusionary minds in our government seem to hope for, I very much doubt.

Meanwhile, meta-coverage of our own press "coverage" of the Falluja atrocities marveled at its willingness to self-censor the worst images for the sake of not repeating the Somalia experience, and unduly undermining the war effort. As one article drily observed, it's hard to maintain the official line about "foreign terrorists" and "dead enders" if you display footage of children kicking charred corpses.

As for the French "war on terror," obviously I can only speak from anecdotal evidence, but for the record, every subway and railway station trash can has been nailed shut, and street-level trash cans have been replaced by transparent plastic garbage bags. Every railway station is continually patrolled by teams of uniformed soldiers toting military assault weapons. Ubiquitous signs advise citizens to report any unattended parcels, which citizens seem to do: the Musee d'Orsee was evacuated while we were there for just this reason.

Meanwhile, while standing in line at Customs in the Atlanta airport yesterday, I was able to discard my sandwich wrapper into a lovely metal trash can.

Then again, as Condi was testifying at more or less the same time, "no silver bullet" can stop a terrorist attack.

President Vacation 

BUSH: "I can't swat at flies anymore." (via Condi here).

Now we know why!

NOTE Thanks to The Agonist for the snappy headline.

UPDATE The latest lyrics from MJS "Swat the flies and Shake the Trees," up here.

A little reality therapy on the jobs numbers from Paul Krugman 

We all should have thought of this as soon as the numbers came out. Where's our war room?

For perspective, it helps to remember what solid job growth looks like. During Bill Clinton's eight years in office, the economy added 236,000 jobs per month. But that's just an average: a graph of monthly changes looks like an electrocardiogram. There were 23 months with 300,000 or more new jobs; in March 2000, the economy added 493,000 jobs. This tells us not to make too much of one month's data; payroll numbers are, as economists say, noisy. It also tells us that by past standards, March 2004 was nothing special.

And we should be seeing something special, because our economy should be on the rebound. Bad times are usually followed by big bouncebacks; for example, last year long-suffering Argentina had the fastest growth rate in the Western Hemisphere (8.7 percent!), not because of the excellence of its economic policies, but because it was recovering from a severe slump.

America hasn't had an Argentine-level slump, but we have a lot to recover from. After three years of lousy job performance, we should be seeing very big employment gains — and even after last month's report, we're not. It would take about four years of reports as good as the one for March 2004 before jobs would be as easy to find as they were in January 2001.
(via The Times)

We're still too easily intimidated....

Bush has now managed to unite the Shi'ites and the Sunnis 

We always knew he could do it!

Anbari, like other Sunni clerics, insists that while the insurgencies may reinforce each other, they do not share a command. "There is no connection. Each is its own phenomenon," he said. "But finally both of them are aiming for the benefit of the country, because the enemy is the same."

The notion of occupier as enemy appears to be spreading here. Several Baghdad residents said they were responding to the Fallujah appeal with the urgency and resolve seen after a catastrophic natural disaster. As appeals issued from the minaret loudspeakers, hotel workers, security guards and businessmen listened intently to the call for assistance to "the good people of Iraq who are facing the fire of coalition forces," then returned to work wearing solemn expressions.

"We don't need a call from the mosque," said Mohammed Najem Mausoumi as he gave blood in Kadhimiya. "A Muslim is a brother to another Muslim. This is the real Islam."

Like others in the cheerfully crowded tent, he bristled at being asked whether he was Shiite or Sunni.

A few moments earlier, Wan, the elderly contributor, had done the same. "Muslim!" she shouted, stamping a foot for emphasis. "Mohammed!"

The Sunni-Shiite divide, already narrower in Iraq than in some parts of the Muslim world, is by all accounts shrinking each day that Iraqis agree their most immediate problem is the occupation.
(via WaPo)

Well, when Bush comes back from vacation I'm sure he'll take care of it.

NOTE Kos (as usual) has excellent analysis, interpreting this as the beginning of a true Iraqi nation-state. Who knew?

Down the memory hole with Fat Tony 

Of course, Scalia never wants anything taped ("plausible deniability") except he forgot to announce that at this particulular event.

A federal marshal guarding Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia ordered two reporters to erase audio recordings they were making of Scalia's speech to a group of high school students in Mississippi on Wednesday, prompting protests from local journalists who said they were victims of official interference with the press.

"I find it very curious where a Supreme Court justice spends a significant amount of time talking about the Constitution, he seems to omit the part about freedom of the press," said Jon Broadbooks, executive editor of the [Hattiesburg] American. "What authority does the marshal service have to try to confiscate reporters' tape recorders?"
(via WaPo)

None whatever, Jon. Your point?

In the Light of the Silvery Naked Moon! 

John Gorenfeld has the Rev. Syung Myung Moon's latest post "cornonation" caper which features a recent photo of the majestic Rev. Moon hisself dressed up like some guy from one of those old Emperial margarine commercials. Also includes a link to a fundraiser dinner where the True Parental unit heaps chicken-ala-king onto that Jesus shoutin' hillbilly Roscoe Bartlett's banquet plate. Harold Ford Jr. too. (yeeks - what's with that guy?)

Plus, there's some nudity stuff and sex stuff too.

By all couples sleeping naked together will get rid of all homosexuality. In the night everything will be unified into one.

Cool. Just like sophmore year in college. At least back in the mid-seventies. Before there were homosexauls. Well, maybe there were one or two hairy-backed fruits chasing Andrew Sullivan around the Boatslip in P-Town, but that was about it. Otherwise, no, but lots of cheap Ludes! And 40 cent Buckhorns! Cheap Ludes and 40 cent Buckhorns and skinny-dip swimmin' with bow-legged women! Where do you think two thirds of the current suburban population of Columbus, Ohio came from anyway. Huh?

Well, that was back when you could feel confident about sleeping naked with just about anything over the age of 16 wearing a halter top or a Foghat T-shirt. Sadly, those halcyon days are gone, by and by, and I myself no longer sleep naked with anyone at all anymore - ever. Including Mrs. Farmer who was carted off by the UPS "man" (who I had always warned was a night feeding homosexual) several years ago during a freakish ice storm. Ever since that cold barbaric nordic evening I have slept in a pair of Kangaroo Upland Bird Boots and a warm pair of neoprene socks, one on each foot, so that I can easily flee in the dead of night, in the event homosexual teenage girls come for me too, and try to charm me with cheap quaaludes or force me listen to Grace Jones records!

"In the night everthing will be unified into one."

Beware the tuxedo Moonie. Flee in the night. Flee in comfort. Flee in Neoprene!


Thursday, April 08, 2004

Bush about to flip flop on PDB 

You know, the one presented to Bush at his "ranch" with the title "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

Members of the commission, who have been allowed to read the August 2001 report but have not been allowed until today to discuss most of its contents, joined unanimously on Thursday in calling for the entire document to be declassified and made available to the public.

In response, the White House said it was hurriedly trying to declassify the report, and White House aides said it could be made public as early as Friday, an extraordinary reversal by the White House given its insistence a year ago that the contents of the President's Daily Brief were so highly classified that they could not be released even to the commission.
(via NY Times)

Extraordinary? What's extraordinary about (a) Bush caving and (b) using classification to cover his ass, all the while claiming he's acting on principle, and then (c) throwing the principles overboard when the heat gets too great?

Bush lied, people died 

Thanks to American Leftist. (This site doesn't seem to make individual posts addressable, so scroll down to "Sunday, April 04, 2004". There are fullsize images there, and mirror sites.)

Via The Poorman via Sisyphus Shrugged.

Republic of Mercenaries: Large part of the Iraqi war completely privatized—and completely out of control 

I can't believe today could get any weirder, but it has.

Under assault by insurgents and unable to rely on U.S. and coalition troops for intelligence or help under duress, private security firms in Iraq have begun to band together in the past 48 hours, organizing what may effectively be the largest private army in the world, with its own rescue teams and pooled, sensitive intelligence.

"There is no formal arrangement for intelligence-sharing," Col. Jill Morgenthaler, a spokeswoman for the U.S. military command headquarters in Baghdad, said in an e-mail in response to questions. "However, ad hoc relationships are in place so that contractors can learn of dangerous areas or situations."
(via WaPo)

Ad hoc? WTF? Sounds like plausible deniability to me.

There is no government vetting of contract workers who carry weapons. "The CPA has let all kinds of contracts to all kinds of people," said one senior Defense Department official who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject. "It's blindsided us."

Combine that with the this Letter from a contractor (via Atrios) about Ugly American behavior from the mercenaries, and you get a very, very ugly picture.

Wait 'til one of these cowboys blows up a bus with pilgrims in it...

NOTE For more on Iraq mercenaries, and how they are being run by Republican operatives see back here.

How to fight the Qaedasphere? 

I don't know, but the first step is surely understanding the enemy, which Bush, Condi, Rummy, Cheney and the rest of the gang have consistently failed to do.

"It's a loose network of the willing," a Marine colonel lately returned from Baghdad told me Wednesday. "We are a hierarchy, so we look for other hierarchies to fight. But it's clear that what we are facing in Iraq is network-based. There's no one leader or leadership -- just like the first Palestinian intifada against the Israelis. That was a network of local groups who were able to give the appearance of a national movement. You can deal with that, but it takes maybe 10 years. We can't even plan for the next two months."
(via Alexander Cockburn in Salon)

Leaderless resistance, eh? Why the heck can't the wingers understand that?

Lots of other good stuff in this article. Get the Salon day pass.

Republic of Mercenaries: Get your mercenary gear! 

From the Blackwater Pro Shop.

Yech. Though on the other hand, why not appropriate the imagery? (via TBogg).

Bush diplomacy: Piss all over them, then demand their help 

Is this pitiful, or what?

The United States has asked more than a dozen countries to join a new international military force to protect the United Nations in Iraq, a proposal critical to persuading the world body to return there after two massive suicide attacks against its Baghdad headquarters last year, State Department officials said.

Washington has approached France, which led opposition to the war in Iraq, as well as India, Pakistan and other nations that were reluctant to join the U.S.-led coalition that invaded Iraq, U.S. and European officials said. The list includes "a good global mix," said a State Department official familiar with the proposed force. But no Arab countries or neighbors of Iraq are on the list, with Turkey notably absent.
(via WaPo)

Asking for help from the cheese-eating surrendur monkies... Oh, heck, that was just a little towel-snapping, Jacques! All in fun ... And that "old Europe" stuff? Well, you know Rummy... And the UN—we're all paid up now, right? No? I'll put Condi right on it....


We know that Bush took time off from massaging contributors in Crawford today to phone Condi and tell her she did a great job. But he didn't say at what. Whatever it was, it wasn't lying, 'cause these lies aren't any good at all!

August 6 PDB

CLAIM: There was "nothing about the threat of attack in the U.S." in the Presidential Daily Briefing the President received on August 6th. [responding to Ben Veniste]

FACT: Rice herself confirmed that "the title [of the PDB] was, 'Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.'" [Source: Condoleezza Rice, 4/8/04]
(via CAP)

Of course, if it were something important, like a blow job....

Readers? Any lawyers out there who can say whether this is perjury as opposed to just liking? It looks like a direct contradiction to me, and she was under oath.

From Crawford, Bush panders to so-called "hunters" 

I guess if you've got $20,000 dollars free you can call yourself a sportsman or whatever you damn please.

Bush roamed his 1,600-acre ranch with about 20 representatives of hunting and fishing groups.

But one of the current president's own aides has strongly criticized the practices of one of the hunting groups visiting the ranch on Thursday.

Matthew Scully, a presidential speechwriter, accused Safari Club International of mistreating animals in his 2002 book, "Dominion."

The club's members pay up to $20,000 to hunt elephants, lions or other animals, either abroad or in American "safari ranches," where the animals are penned in by fences.
Scully said the organization turned nature "into an endless theme park and the creatures into so many animatronic figures."

Scully did not return a phone call from The Associated Press seeking comment.
(via AP)

Heh. Wonder how long Scully's going to keep his job?

The Widows rip Condi a new one 

It was Condi's job to get the information

MATTHEWS: You once said that she was either lying or she’s incompetent. What do you think of her now? Do you think that’s still a fair judgment, I mean if it ever was one?

BREITWEISER: I have to say, with a laundry list of questions that that Commissioner Lehman asked her, she said she didn’t know a lot of things. And I would question what exactly did she know? And if she didn’t know it, who else would know it?

It’s her job to know that information. It’s her job to relay that information to the president and to actually, in our opinion, inform the public.
(via MSNBC)

Condi had to have known that airplanes could have been used as missiles

MATTHEWS: Let’s go through the points mentioned.

Condoleezza Rice today said that she’d never been briefed on planes being used as missiles. She reiterated that today, even though we know that Richard Clarke – and this has been uncontested – had prepared as far back as 1996 for planes being used as missiles at the Atlanta Olympics.

BREITWEISER: Not only the Atlanta Olympics, but they were doing workups for the Utah Olympics. So you know what? How does she not know that? You take the G8 Summit…

Unasked and answered question: Why no meetings to "shake the trees"?

KLEINBERG: Right. And the other thing that strikes me is that they’re talking about the FBI and the CIA not speaking to each other. Historically, that has been the case. What I don’t understand is that, considering that we knew that there was this threat, OK, why they didn’t have them in a meeting?

You know, Richard Clarke said that during the millennium plot, they had all of the principals involved in a meeting together to make sure that they could overcome that stone wall. Why couldn’t we do that? And why did they poo-poo it and they say no big deal and we didn’t need the meeting? How did they know that? Maybe if the FBI, the CIA, and the attorney general and everybody was in one room and they were talking about all of the issues – and where the threat was coming from-- they would have been able to pull at these threads.

Unasked and unanswered question: Why weren't the fighters scrambled?

MATTHEWS: I want to talk to you about the people who may have dropped the ball.

VAN AUKEN: Well, my first reaction is there’s another part to Condoleezza Rice’s statements, which was that they were focused on traditional hijackings. And they did nothing to thwart a traditional hijacking on that day either.

So when a plane misses its mark in the sky – you have a very crowded Northeast corridor – you can’t have errant planes running around there. Nobody sent up a fighter jet to go see what was happening, not to shoot the plane down, but to intercept it. So I don’t understand, if they were focused on traditional hijackings and even had that as a warning inside the PDB, why they were so slow to respond.

Unasked and answered questions: How did some officials know to stop flying?

LORIE VAN AUKEN, WIDOW OF 9/11 ATTACK: We also know that people stopped flying domestically. Ashcroft stopped flying. Pentagon officials stop flying the day before September 11. They were warned not fly on September 11. We think San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was told not to fly. That’s all domestic. You know, everybody keeps telling us how they were focused outward.

MATTHEWS: You’re talking about before 9/11 they were warned?

VAN AUKEN: Yes. Yes, right.

Fact checking Condi's ass 

Nice to have this in the same news cycle!

Thanks, Center for American Progress (via Atrios).

Say, how's that perjury charge against Richard Clarke coming? 

Just asking.

Condi: Waiting for the tree to shake, instead of shaking the tree 

I guess this glossary thing is catching on. Slate's William Saletan has a good one: "Decoding Rice's self-serving testimony". My favorite:

Chance: Factors that the administration couldn't be expected to influence because they were non-systematic. Example (answering charges that the administration might have disrupted the 9/11 plot by holding regular Cabinet "principals" meetings on terrorism): You cannot depend on the chance that some principal might find out something in order to prevent an attack. That's why the structural changes that are being talked about here are so important. Synonym: Lucky. Example: I do not believe that it is a good analysis to go back and assume that somehow maybe we would have gotten lucky by "shaking the trees." … We had a structural problem.

Bottom line: They didn't have the information because they didn't make it a priority to get the information. Just like Clarke said (back here).

First Thoughts on Condi 

Blame The Clenis™!

"We believed very strongly that an inadequate response would embolden the terrorists"—or words to that effect.

This in response to Gov. Thompson's half-assed question meant to give Ms. Condi a chance to alibi why the Bush administration had absolutely no response to the Cole bombing. Granted it had happened on the Clinton watch, but only two months before they left office, and they passed onto the Bush administration their policy, which was well along in establishing on an "actionable" basis that Al Queda and Osama were to be blamed, and such action would have included following through on their strategic previous promise to the Taliban that were there to be another attack, like the Cole, that could be tied to AQ and Osama, the Taliban government would be held responsible and be the object of direct sanctioning action, including possible military action.

Note that once the Bushies had the confirmation that it was the usual suspects, which had to be early in their administration, they did nothing - nothing strategic, nothing tactical. That was the distinction Condi made for Sen. Kerrey when he also asked about the Cole. Essentially, the Clinton administration had determined that they too needed to frame a strategic response to the Cole, for which they needed to pin down responsibility to the Afghanistan based Taliban, but they ran out of time. The Bush administration at the highest levels—Cheney, Wolfie, Rummy, and Condi—decided a response to the Cole profited them nothing, and they didn't need to worry about getting criticism because Clinton could always be blamed.

Note the assumption that whatever was good for the Bush administration was what was good for America. Note also, that their lack of response did not keep them and their surrogates, and with Condi's testimony today those at the heart of this administration have to be included here, from blaming the Cole on Clinton, and basking in the ignominy that accrued to their predeccesors' so-called lack of response, though their lack of response was based on better intelligence than the Clinton administration had, but for exactly the same reasons. Audacious arrogance!

"You cannot depend on the chance that something will fall out of an agency, a meeting, or whatever the hell those stupid Clinton people claim they were doing when they were at THEIR so-called battlestations," or words to that effect.

This at the end, in response to Thompson. Yes, but what you can depend on is that nothing, no information, no dots to be connected, will fall from nothing, from no meetings, from a total lack of attention.

Condi revels in heaping scorn on "process," that favorite of the do-nothing Clintons; that process is substance and substance is process is too post-modern for Condi; maybe why she doesn't see that saying what your policy is, talking about grand strategic visions, "framing" arguments are not the same, though not unrelated to, TAKING ACTION! The Clinton battlestations had worked to thwart any AQ attacks on American soil for the eight years following the first Trade Center bombing; maybe until they had their own doubtless superior battlestations up and running, it wouldn't have been a bad idea to continue some of what had worked for the previous administration.

Note also how meaningless were those daily briefings of the President by CIA chief Tenant. And not because of any fault of the President necessarily. The Clinton administration's daily meetings at the next level down made more sense.

The emphasis on the August 6 briefing of the President by Condi in Crawford is amusing - as if anyone really expects this President to connect any dots on his own. If Condi et al didn't connect the dots, they weren't going to be connected.

Initial response to this morning: Condi seemed defensive, had clearly come with talking points she looked forward to using to gain control of the hearing. She looked combative, contemptuous; where was all that charm - or do they just mean her smile, which I'll give her, is an exceedingly nice one. And note that she gave them exactly three hours and not a minute more. The rightwing will revel in her contempt for this process and the Commissioners tasked with carrying it out. I don't think most other Americans will. I don't think she beat back Clarke, and I don't think this is over.

One indication - MSNBC has the four widows on right now, and they are ripping all kinds of new orifices in Condi's testimony. Mindy Kleinberg has just asked the question that even if no dots could be connected before 9/11, what about that morning, what about the President finally hearing that two different airplanes had crashed into the WTC, wasn't that the time that any decently prepared administration would have finally had to connect the dots, in which case, why did President Bush read a story to a class of children?

More later: let us know what you thought.

Clarke on Condi: She proves my point 

They didn't have the information because they didn't take the trouble to get the information. Important, just not urgent.

Clarke: Well, Peter, I was asked by Senator Gorton if the adoption of the strategy in February, as opposed to September, would have stopped 9/11, and I said no. And Dr. Rice said no. I think we agree on that.

The adoption of the strategy would not have stopped 9/11. What I've said might have had some effect on 9/11 would have been if Dr. Rice and the president had acted personally, gotten involved, shaken the trees, gotten the Cabinet members involved when they had ample warning in June and July and August that something was about to happen.

And frankly, I think that Dr. Rice's testimony today, and she did a very good job, basically corroborates what I said. She said that the president received 40 warnings face to face from the director of central intelligence that a major al Qaeda attack was going to take place and she admitted that the president did not have a meeting on the subject, did not convene the Cabinet.
She admitted that she didn't convene the Cabinet. And as some of the commissioners pointed out, this was in marked contrast to the way the government operated in December of 1999, when it had similar information and it successfully thwarted attacks.

So I don't see that there are a lot of factual problems with what Dr. Rice said.

There are one or two other minor points here or there that I think are probably wrong, but overall I think she corroborated what I said. She said it was inefficient to bring the Cabinet members together to have them work to stop the attacks that they had been informed were coming.
(via ABC)


While Crawford slept ....

Rice transcript 

The Times. Have at it...

9/11 Commission: Bush still suppressing documents 

First, Bush hides them. Then, he tries to suppress them. Then he flipflops and says he'll release them. The commission goes through them and says what it wants. Then Bush flipflops again and holds some of them back. Stonewall!

The commission investigating the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks announced yesterday that it has identified 69 documents from the Clinton era that the Bush White House withheld from investigators and which include references to al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden and other issues relevant to the panel's work.

The White House turned over 12 of the documents to the commission yesterday, officials said. But 57 others, which were not specifically requested but "nonetheless are relevant to our work," remain in dispute, according to a commission statement. The panel has demanded the documents and any similar ones from the Bush administration.
(via WaPo)

Meanwhile, the WhiteWash House says they're "continuing to cooperate." Man, if this is cooperation, I wonder what resistance looks like? Come to think of it, I do know. They haven't actually tried to arrest any Democrats yet, like they did on the House floor last year... Yeah, cooperation....

Condi-lie-zza under oath: An instant "gap analysis" from Walter Pincus 

Walter Pincus chatting:

Toronto, Canada: You wrote that there were some gaps that critics would pursue. What were the most glaring gaps, in your opinion?

Walter Pincus: One obvious gap is just what the Aug. 6 PDB said about FBI concerns about then current al Qaeda highjacking talk and what was done about it. Another was what followup came after the July 5 meeting she had with Clarke where the commissioners have been told the warning about a spike in terrorist threats never was passed down the line to FBI field offices, for instance. And what did Chief of Staff Andy Card do to follow up.
(via WaPo (live))

And because of the deal Kean made to get Condi to testify, they can't call her (or anyone) back, to reconcile the gaps. And people call this commission partisan?!

So how's Condi doing? 

Feel free to post the play-by-play here.

And watch for the questions (back) ....

UPDATE Now they tell us. The Pulitzer-impaired World's Greatest Newspaper (not!) found space on its front page for an article about sushi this morning, but not for a guide to Condi's appearance before the 9/11 Commission. Sigh. Anyhow, they've published one now.

UPDATE Rice weaseling:

Rice said that when the Bush administration took office, the emphasis was on continuity, and several Clinton national security officials, including counterterrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke, were retained. But she did not attempt to directly rebut Clarke's charges that the Bush administration did not take the terrorist threat as seriously as the Clinton administration had.

Commissioners grandstanding:

The panel decided in a closed-door meeting last night that each member would have about 10 minutes of questioning and that they would proceed in alphabetical order, several members said. The approach is a departure from the commission's previous practice of appointing two lead questioners who had more time than the others, and reflects the members' desire to be aggressively involved in the high-profile hearing.

The problem is, that you can't accomplish very much in 10 minutes. Bad idea.

Families applauding as a PDB gets read from (an old one, though):

Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, a Democrat, was the first of the 10 members of the bipartisan panel to challenge Rice, focusing particularly on a briefing given to Bush on Aug. 6, 2001, at which a document was presented entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States."

As members of the audience, including some family members of 9/11 victims applauded, Ben-Veniste demanded that the report be declassified. He said even its title had been kept secret until now. Rice said it contained no specific threats.

Which Condi says is "old reporting."

Condi, your point?

The point is not that the information was not in that report. The point is that the administration didn't believe it was urgent enough to follow up on. It's their job to figure out what imformation is important, and go get it!

Condi (if she isn't lying) seems to think of herself as a passive consumer of intelligence: if it isn't "actionable," she does nothing. Where was the plant to get actionable intelligence? Well, the man with a plan had to wait eight months for a meeting....

A taxonomy of lying 

From CNN here, Rutgers law professor Sherry Kolb:

This quote stings:

Suppose that -- as many suspect has already occurred with respect to the Iraq War -- our executive branch officials lie to the American people in order to motivate important votes, and those lies lead to unnecessary and unwanted death and injury.

In that case, such lies, whether under oath or not, should be treated as the crimes that they are and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The news hook is Condi testifying under oath. I wonder why?

Explosions inside the Green Zone 

They're checking.

Via Reuters.

Retrain your attention here 

Say hello to Approximately perfect

Oh. My. God
A picture of John Ashcroft made entirely with little photos of porn people.

There's an oily lubricant joke there somewhere.

Hey! Remember when we were all going to be retrained to work in high paying high tech gizmoparks on whirring computers and learn how to plug one fancy gizmopark into another fancy gizmopark and deliver lusty bid'ness to bid'ness "services" to whoever the hell wanted that crap in the first place? And then - all retire to our all humming networked wonder homes in the Pacific Pallisades at the age of 45? Rememeber all that bullshit? So we all went out and got ourselves a heapin' helpin' of retrainin' and relearnin' and gizmopark accessorizin' including plowing through reams of imbecilic computer-lingo techno-jibberish HELP! books written by functional illiterates who couldn't compose a coherent sentence if their reproductive organs depended on it - and all that? Whatever. Well, forget it. Its time to git retrained in something else.

I'm not yet sure what that something else is but I have a feeling it might involve ringing doorbells and asking some poor tired bastard hiding inside if they've heard the good news; Jesus Holyrollin' Christ is coming, and I have a little booklet written by functional illiterates that I'd like you to read right now.

Or, maybe we'll all be retrained as porn stars? In either case, your reproductive organs may depend on it!


Visit: BUS CAMPAIGN LIES: and read....... Bush Campaign Lie #22: The Bush Plan Will 'Double the Number of Workers Receiving Job Training'.


Night of the Condi 

Condolizzard Rice channels her inner reptile in preparation for today's testimony before the 9/11 commission.

When The Music's Over (rearranged)

What have they done to the earth? - Ravaged and plundered And ripped her - And bit her - Stuck her with knives - In the side of the dawn - And tied her with fences - And dragged her down

I hear a very gentle sound - With your ear down to the ground - We want the world and we want it, We want the world and we want it, now - Now? Now!

Persian night! babe - See the light! babe - Save us! Jesus! Save us!

Turn out the light - For the music is your special friend - Dance on fire as it intends - Music is your only friend - Until the end - Until the end - Until the end

With apologies to The Doors


Wednesday, April 07, 2004

A Republic of Mercenaries 

Excellent analytical post on Iraq mercenaries by Kathryn Cramer.

Did you know that "British mercenary firms now qualify as the UK's most lucrative export earner from the country in the past year"? I certainly didn't.

Of course, in our country, mercenaries both foreign and domestic are
run by Republican operatives.

Maybe this is what is meant by becoming a service economy...

Condi-lie-zza's "mindset" excuse; How stupid do they think we are? 

I have to say, if Condi, her handlers, and (now that Bush is vacationing once again) Acting President Rove think this piece of spin is going to win for them, they should think again:

National security adviser Condoleezza Rice plans to testify tomorrow that the Bush administration was acting in a pre-Sept. 11 mindset in its efforts to combat al Qaeda and other terrorist groups and must be judged in that context, administration officials said yesterday. (via WaPo)

So, she agrees! The Bush adminsitration's focus on states prevented them from seeing the real menace clearly—or listening to anyone would could have set them straight.

It's their job to get into the right mindset.

And then, in their post-9/11 mindset.... They invaded Iraq.

And here we are. I don't care if she she sings like Condi-lie-zza Minelli...

And for those of you who will be able to follow along at home, here are the questions the 9/11 "Family Steering Committee would like Condi to answer. Let's see if any of them get asked. Here's a good one:

5. After the revelation of the Aug 6th Presidential Daily Briefing which warned that terrorists may hijack planes, you explained,

“It was an analytic report that talked about UBL’s [bin Laden's] methods of operation, talked about what he had done historically, in 1997, in 1998.
It mentioned hijacking, but hijacking in the traditional sense and, in a sense, said that the most important and most likely thing was that they would take over an airliner, holding passengers and demand the release of one of their operatives.” LINK

Comment: Al Qaeda attacks have one goal--- killing as many people as possible, usually in a spectacular way. Further, al Qaeda’s attacks are often lethal, well-planned, simultaneous strikes against symbolic or high-profile targets. Those characteristics are inconsistent with the conclusion that the most likely scenario would be hijackings in the traditional sense, especially when coupled with bin Laden’s declaration in 1998 that "every American should be a target for Muslims,” and that it is “the duty of Muslims to confront, fight, and kill British and American citizens." LINK

Please describe the analysis of al Qaeda methods of operation and what bin Laden had done historically which led you to conclude that an al Qaeda attack would be simple hijackings?

Good question! I certainly hope Condi's handlers have prepared for it, and I hope someone on the 9/11 commission asks it.

Iraq insurgency: Sunnis and Shi'ites joining forces, while Sistani calls for calm 

More doubleplusungood news:

Iraq's most influential Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, issued his first official comments about the violence on Wednesday evening, condemning the U.S. approach to dealing with the Shiite uprising. In a written statement bearing his seal, Sistani called for both sides to pursue a peaceful resolution and "refrain from escalating steps that will lead to more chaos and bloodshed."

But across Baghdad, Sistani's moderate message appeared to have been drowned out by an increasingly vocal cry from mosque minarets for people to resist the occupation and to donate money and blood to help resistance fighters in Fallujah. In perhaps the clearest sign yet of the convergence of Sunni and Shiite uprisings, announcements from Shiite mosques called on people to help Sunnis in Fallujah, while residents of Sunni neighborhoods lauded Sadr and his followers.

Portraits of Sadr and graffiti lauding him have appeared on mosques and government buildings in Sunni towns west of Baghdad, according to Arab media reports. On Monday night, gunmen loyal to Sadr joined with Sunni insurgents in Baghdad in attacking U.S. soldiers on patrol in the first reported act of collaborative Sunni-Shiite resistance activity.

"The Sunnis and Shiites are now together," said Fatah Abdel-Razzaq, 31, the owner of a falafel stand in Sadr City, a sprawling slum of 2 million that has long served as Sadr's stronghold.

In Karbala, as with Kufa and other cities south of Baghdad, Sadr's militiamen have assumed effective control of the municipality. Black-shirted members of the Mahdi Army have taken over police stations and government buildings.
(via WaPo)

It's great that we sought out Sistani (really rather moderate) so now when we need a calming influence. Oh, wait ...

It is possible, of course, that Sadr launched his uprising because he knew he was on the way out, and so good will come of all this, since the Iraqi majority will... well, do what, exactly?

Vote for Chalabi? Well, maybe not.

Split the country into three parts? Turkey would be very unhappy about a Kurdish state, and we would be very unhappy if (say) a Shi'ite south allied itself with (nuclear capable) Shi'ite Iran, and (nuclear) Pakistan. Well, maybe not.

Let us occupy their country for the forseeable future? Well, maybe not.

What are the good outcomes from this, anyhow? Readers?

NOTE From alert reader Xan, Juan Cole gives the reasons Iraq and Iran won't get together, even if they're both Shi'ites; but then we counted on the Shi'ites never getting together with the Sunnis either ....

Well, There's Still Afghanistan To Feel Good About 

Much more to say about Iraq, but listening to Rumsfeld's afternoon news conference, yes, we're finally sending more troops, made me so angry, I have to calm down before I can have anything sensible to say.

So, let's look at the good news from Afghanistan. No, not this. Or this. Or this.

The good news is that an official report has bubbled up to the surface of media consciousness that lays out specifically the ways in which the Bush administration went for a quick, cheap, dirty victory against the Taliban, and achieved almost nothing of lasting value, not even any certainty that the Taliban is truly vanquished.

I know you knew that, but this story puts the issue back in play.

Better news even than that, Sy Hersh is all over the report, the retired military man who wrote it, and you know what that means.

Everything you ever suspected about bribing war lords and not giving a damn about putting Afghanistan back together is true.

Go read.

He's A Uniter, Not A Divider 

Something so satisfying about this headline:

"Terrorism Policy Spawns Steady Staff Exodus"

And the reporter isn't just talking about in the last forty-eight hours.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Since the Sept. 11 attacks, the Bush administration has faced a steady exodus of counterterrorism officials, many disappointed by a preoccupation with Iraq they said undermined the U.S. fight against terrorism.

Former counterterrorism officials said at least half a dozen have left the White House Office for Combating Terrorism or related agencies in frustration in the 2 1/2 years since the attacks.

Some also left because they felt President Bush had sidelined his counterterrorism experts and paid almost exclusive heed to the vice president, the defense secretary and other Cabinet members in planning the "war on terror," former counterterrorism officials said.

"I'm kind of hoping for regime change," one official who quit told Reuters

There's more.

Life in a democracy is so much cheerier when journalists actually do some journalism.

This wasn't necessarily an obvious story, and not particularly glamorous, but it's the kind of connecting the dots summary I surely do admire.

Props to Caroline Drees and Reuters

So much for real estate with an ocean view 

And goodbye Manhattan....

The Greenland ice sheet is all but doomed to melt away to nothing, according to a new modelling study. If it does melt, global sea levels will rise by seven metres, flooding most of the world's coastal regions.

Jonathan Gregory, a climatologist at the University of Reading, UK, says global warming could start runaway melting on Greenland within 50 years, and it will "probably be irreversible this side of a new ice age". The only good news is that it a total meltdown is likely to take at least 1000 years.
(via New Scientist)

Heck, they vote Blue... Who needs 'em ....

Say, what about AQ's #2? I thought we were going to capture him in Pakistan? 

Just asking.

Of course, all the Iraqi stuff may have gotten in the way .....


This one's gotta sting:

The only unequivocally good policy option before the American people is to dump the president who got us into this mess, who had no trouble sending our young people to Iraq but who cannot steel himself to face the Sept. 11 commission alone.
(via Harold Meyerson in WaPo from Atrios)

Welcome to the party, Harold...

And this one too:

"Where are the people with the flowers, throwing them in the streets, welcoming the American liberators the way Dick Cheney said they would be?" Kerry said. "This is one of the greatest failures of diplomacy and failures of judgment that I have seen in all the time that I've been in public life."
(via Newsday

Everything Is Going As Predicted 

Doesn't the following read like a parody?

SHIELDS: In Fallujah, Iraq, four American security workers were killed in an ambush by machine gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades. A cheering crowd dragged their burned and mutilated bodies through the streets and hanged two bodies from a bridge over the Euphrates River.

SHIELDS: Al Hunt, what will be the impact of this atrocity on Iraq, on American policy and American politics?

AL HUNT, CAPITAL GANG: Well, Mark, it gives lie to the theory that we've turned the corner in Iraq or that this is -- the violence is the work of foreign Islamic militants. To watch that vitriolic, vituperative, teeming crowd cheering the mutilation of those Americans, women, you know, throwing things at the body, their shoes at the body, a 12-year-old poking the corpses, was -- was as unsettling about our future as it was repulsive to watch. And the Bush administration, thinking about its own reelection, has come up with this foolish June 30 turnover date. Turn over to whom? The Iraqi governing council, over one third exiles, has no credibility in the country. From talking to people who have been there -- and I certainly have not -- the Sunni triangle is as anti- American as ever. The majority Shi'ites have a virtual veto power, and are willing to use it, over almost anything we want to do. And we're still paying a price because Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz ignored General Shinseki, who said we're going to need more troops there afterwards.

The final, ultimate irony is the one Bush hope, the only hope right now, is that the United Nations special envoy, Brahimi (ph), can somehow negotiate something over the next six to eight weeks.

SHIELDS: Bob Novak, General Anthony Zinni, the CENTCOM command commander prior to -- prior to the war, Marine four-star general, said this will scare off international participation. We're going to find ourselves increasingly alone in Iraq.

BOB NOVAK, CAPITAL GANG: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) alone right now. Anybody who thought that being an occupying power in Iraq hasn't read their history in the slaughter of the British troops in 1918 and 1919. But we are there, and this is not like Somalia under the Clinton administration, where there was a very small commitment, and you could cut and run and it wasn't even much of a political embarrassment. I would think that this would strengthen the resolve of the American people, the outrage over it.

I think, quite frankly, Democrats who take the line that -- who follow Al's line and decide they're going to make this a Bush-bashing -- Bush administration-bashing operation are making a mistake, and I think Senator Kerry, instead of limiting himself to outrage over this, saying, Oh, this is because we didn't bring the U.N. -- I think that's a political mistake.

SHIELDS: Political mistake, Margaret?

MARGARET CARLSON, CAPITAL GANG: Well, you know, America's there, America must stay. But the people who didn't read about occupying forces and what they might meet is the Pentagon, not the State Department but the Pentagon, who insisted on believing Ahmad Chalabi, who said we'd be met with sweets and flowers. The United States has never recovered from not being prepared for the aftermath of the war and taking over in Iraq. And now the wages of that are haunting us still.

And June 30 is a -- is a mirage. It just -- I don't see how it can happen because the very people that the United States would be turning it over to are the very people who bamboozled us about what we'd find in Iraq, and that's the Ahmad Chalabi and the other exiles on the Iraqi governing council.

SHIELDS: Pete King, let me ask you this. The Marines are outside of Fallujah. There has to be a necessary military response, necessary military response will inevitably involve civilian casualties and Marine casualties. Does that -- doesn't that start again a cycle of violence, I mean, the portraits of this further inflaming anti-American feeling? I mean, there's a sense that you don't know how to get out or really what to do.

KING: Well, there's bound to be some anti-American feeling, but there's going to be more if we do nothing. The fact is, we have to make the tough decision. We do have to go into Fallujah. I think the Marines will do it. It'll probably be done within the next several days.

But I also have to disagree with Margaret and Al to this extent. First of all, we can go back and debate what happened after the war, but all of the things that people said were going to happen, as far as refugees, as far as utilities, as far as these mass uprising -- did not happen. It is confined to an area. I've been in Baghdad. I've been in Mosul. The fact is, there it is relatively under control. Fallujah has been a city which we stayed outside of, and this group made the mistake of going through the town. They were not supposed to. This was an unauthorized -- they were supposed to go around the city. They went through it. It's terrible what happened. But I think we make a mistake if we say this thing is, you know, just collapsing. It's not.

Also, John Kerry -- who is he saying we should bring in? I mean, the U.N. won't come in. The French won't come in. The Germans won't come it. So it's not like people are waiting to come in and we won't let them in. And as far as the June 30 turnover date, that was a date insisted upon by the Europeans. They said there won't be any hope of getting help unless we set a date.

Now, we're still going to have our troops there, but we are going to gradually be turning it over to a government. And you know, again, I don't know what the answer is, other than what we're doing now, which I think, in the context of history, will be looked upon as the right thing to have done.

SHIELDS: More of the same, Bob? Is that the answer?

NOVAK: Well, it's -- there's no -- there's no choice to it. You see, the problem is that we're -- we're seven months from a-- from an election. It seems like seven days from an election, not seven months. And-- and there is just a tendency that whatever happens, you-- the politicians are saying, Gee, how can I -- how can I protect myself or how can I bring this to my advantage, when I think ordinary Americans out there are just outraged by this -- by this -- by this barbaric treatment, and the last thing they want is some kind of a bug-out or turning it over to the French.

HUNT: Well, we certainly can't...


HUNT: Well, we certainly can't bug out, but we have the -- we have-- that what Brahimi is doing over there now, Bob. Bob has this wonderful formulation. He says, basically, anybody who didn't read history wouldn't understand what was going to happen. Terrible things have happened. Obviously, Paul Wolfowitz and Don Rumsfeld didn't read the same history that Bob Novak did. The aforementioned General Zinni said it in February, not afterward, and this week said...

SHIELDS: He did.

HUNT: ...this week again said the fact that...

NOVAK: So what did...


HUNT: ...have a post-war plan is shocking. Bob, you have to stay. You can't cut and run.

NOVAK: All right.

HUNT: But what you want to do is basically say, Hey -- but there's no accountability. There ought to be accountability from...

CARLSON: And by the way...

HUNT: ...the people who made this mistake.


NOVAK: ...politics, Al! You know that!

HUNT: That's not politics. That's called accountability.


KING: First of all, the war was won. Secondly, the fact is, there was no mass migration of refugees out of the country. There was not mass rebellion throughout the country. The fact is, 75, 80 percent of the country wants us to stay. It's 8 to 1 that people say life will be better in Iraq next year than it is now. They're optimistic about the future.

Or is it just me?

Shields comes closest to getting a handle on what has always been the fundamental contradiction in Bush's grandiose "Initiative" to bring the blessings of democracy to the Middle East by means of a full-scale invasion and years-long occupation of a Saddam-less Iraq, but do any of these fine people sound as if for them the people of Iraq are anything but an abstraction?

Note that diversionary ploy employed by Rep. King; it continues to be trotted out so often it's achieved meme status, i.e., whatever unanticipated bad things are happening in Iraq, they're less bad than the most terrible of the pre-war predictions, none of which happened, so that pretty much absolves the Bush administration of responsibility for any of the predicted less bad possible negative results of invading Iraq that have happpened.

Aside from the fact that war-skpectics weren't the ones who made those predictions, which weren't really predictions so much as projections of potential humanitarian crises by the international organizations whose job it is to prepare for such crises before they happen, the predictions of the war-skeptics have proved entirely more prescient than those invocations of the liberation of Paris in 1945 offered up by that corporate tag-team, Rummy, Wolfie & Rice.

However, since we're dealing with matters of life and death, national security, and as the President would have it, the path to a more peaceful world, it would be rotten form for any of us to point out who was right and who was wrong. We might be accused of gloating, or worse, of being on the side of our enemies.

Eric Alterman doesn't care, bless his liberal bleeding heart.

What we said before the war, in no particular order

The invasion of Iraq will cause, not prevent, terrorism.

The Bush administration was not to be trusted when it warned of the WMD threat.

Going in without the U.N. is worse than not going in at all.

They were asleep at the switch pre-9/11 and have been trying to cover this up ever since.

And they manipulated 9/11 as a pretext for a long-planned invasion of Iraq.

Any occupation by a foreign power, particularly one as incompetently planned as this one, will likely create more enemies than friends and put the U.S. in a situation similar at times to Vietnam, and at other times, similar to Israel’s occupation of Lebanon; both were disasters.

An invasion of Iraq will draw resources and attention away from the genuine perpetrators of the attack on us, and allow them to regroup for further attacks.

Bonus: Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” will increase anti-Semitism worldwide.

You can find more of Eric telling them we told them so, with links to prove it, here

Here's an interesting prediction to look back at from November of last year. Anthony Cordesman of CSIS could hardly be considered either left-leaning or anti-war, except perhaps from the fun-house mirror perspective summed up by the words FreeRepublic.com, but he has been skeptical of both the Bush doctrine and its application in Iraq. Months into the occupation, about the time that Bush went off to London with his six chiefs to sup with the Queen, CSIS released Cordesman's analytical critique of how the occupation was going, which is summarized nicely in this news analysis from The Independent, as posted to Free Republic here, which has the added advantage of including some freeper responses.

The report...is all the more devastating because of the unusual level of access provided to its author, Dr Anthony Cordesman, a specialist on Iraq. He concludes that US soldiers are dying because of the ideological approach of the administration, and "two years into office, the Bush national security team is not a team".

Mr Cordesman accuses the administration of preparing the ground for "a defeat by underplaying the risks, issuing provocative and jingoistic speeches, and minimising real-world costs and risks." Senior US officials were also deeply scornful of claims by administration officials that Saddam and his former aide Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri are orchestrating guerrilla attacks.

The report, based on a visit to Iraq by Dr Cordesman earlier this month, entitled Iraq: Too Uncertain To Call, says the army is confident it can contain guerrilla attacks but says they are becoming more sophisticated and tactics are changing.

Dr Cordesman suggests the Coalition Provisional Authority should abandon its heavily fortified headquarters in Saddam's old Republican Palace in central Baghdad. He says: "The CPA's image is one of a foreign palace complex replacing Saddam's and far too many CPA Americans in Baghdad are talking to Americans who should be working with Iraqis." He says, after extensive talks with US officers in the main combat divisions, that the CPA is seen as an over-centralised bureaucracy, isolated from the military, relies too much on contractors "and is not realistically evaluating developments in the field."

Dr Cordesman points to an important flaw in US planning since mid-summer when the Interim Governing Council was established as the Iraqi face of the occupation. He says that it has delayed "nation-building" in Iraq because of divisions, personal ambitions and lack of local following. A critical question here, which may determine the success or failure of President Bush's plan to create a provisional Iraqi government with real legitimacy, is how far the failings of the council are carried over into a new body.

Iraqi politicians independent of the US-appointed governing council interviewed by The Independent all believe that the council wanted to delay elections because its members feared they would not be elected. "They just want time to loot the country and then get out," said one Iraqi leader bitterly.

There is little in the track record of the US administration to suggest that Dr Cordesman's recommendations will be carried out, particularly at a time when Washington wants to show results on the ground in Iraq in the months before the presidential election.


The report concludes that there is an overall problem with the US administration's advocacy of "democracy" in the Middle East. "It is largely advocating undefined slogans, not practical and balanced specifics.'' It was often seen as showing contempt for Arab societies, or as a prelude to new US efforts at regime change.

"Empty slogans" Like this, perhaps?

"When tyrants fall, and resentment gives way to hope, men and women in every culture reject the ideologies of terror, and turn to the pursuits of peace. Everywhere that freedom takes hold, terror will retreat. "

That statement, the work of Bush speechwriters, is at least coherent and not content-free. But when those speechwriters have the President say, " And that is why, five months after we liberated Iraq, a collection of killers is desperately trying to undermine Iraq's progress and throw the country into chaos," the rhetoric is emptied of meaning by the fact that Iraq had been in a state of perpetual chaos from the moment those GI's pulled down that statue of Saddam.

When Bush isn't reading a speech, when he's recalling talking points, the emptiness of the rhetoric is more obvious, but oddly, the President is the best spokesman for what his Iraqi policy is really about. Here he is yesterday, in Arkansas:

THE PRESIDENT: Bob was telling me Brian Mackham (phonetic) is here. Where's Brian? Somewhere. Brian, thanks. You just got back from Iraq?

MR. MACKHAM: My dad did.

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, okay. Hi, Dad. Thank you. I appreciate your service. (Applause.) Mr. Mackham. Mr. Mackham. Colonel Mackham. What are you?

CORPORAL MACKHAM: -- Lance Corporal.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel now as far as I'm concerned. (Laughter and applause). Thank you for your service. Thank you for helping make America more secure.

We've got tough work there because, you see, there are terrorists there who would rather kill innocent people than allow for the advance of freedom. That's what you're seeing going on. These people hate freedom. and we love freedom. And that's where the clash occurs. See, we don't think freedom is America's gift to the world. We know that freedom is the Almighty's gift to every man and woman in this world. That's what we know. (Applause.)

And Mackham will tell you there's a lot of brave people there that want to be free, but they've been tortured and terrorized and traumatized by a tyrant. And it's going to take a while for them to understand what freedom is all about. We will pass sovereignty on June 30th. We will stay the course in Iraq. We're not going to be intimidated by thugs or assassins. We're not going to cut and run from the people who long from freedom. Because, you know what? We understand a free Iraq is an historic opportunity to help change the world to be more peaceful. That's what we understand in this country.

So, some Iraqi's are a little too damaged to really understand what freedom is all about. But in general, they long for freedom, too. Because God has given to all human beings a desire to be free. True enough, say I. But what do Iraqi's mean by "freedom." What does the President? Or, for that matter, God?

And here he is on Monday in North Carolina:

Saddam Hussein once again defied the demands of the world. And so I had a choice: Do I take the word of a madman, do I trust a person who had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people, plus people in the neighborhood, or do I take the steps necessary to defend the country. Given that choice, I will defend America every time. (Applause.) Thank you.

We're still being challenged in Iraq, and the reason why is a free Iraq will be a major defeat in the cause of terror. Terrorists can't stand freedom. They hate free societies. And yet, we know that free societies will be peaceful societies. We also believe that freedom is the Almighty's gift to every person in this world. It's one of the values that we hold dear. These killers don't have values. They want to shake our will. So we've got tough action in Iraq.

But we will stay the course. We will do what is right. We will make sure that a free Iraq emerges, not only for our own security, but for the sake of free peoples everywhere. A free Iraq will change the Middle East. A free Iraq will make the world more peaceful. A free Iraq will make America more secure. We will not be shaken by thugs and terrorists. (Applause.)

"Empty slogans."

Cordesman's prescience feels almost revelatory, doesn't it? Then again, you can't go wrong in assuming that this President will always eschew complexity, nuance, and reality in favor of the simple, the direct, the abstract, the comforting, however compelling and undeniable are the facts have to be ignored.

Here's an abstract of Cordesman's latest CSIS report (fair warning, it's a PDF file)on how we're doing on that nation-building mission in Iraq.

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