Wednesday, November 30, 2005

BULLET POINTS

Bush unveils his “Strategy for Victory” in Iraq – yet another stage in the p.r. battle that has little to do with changing our prospects in Iraq, and everything to do with trying to change perceptions at home

The plan: http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/Iraq%20National%20Strategy%2011-30-05.pdf

The coverage:
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/30/international/30military.html
As President Bush lays out on Wednesday a more detailed strategy that he says will achieve victory in Iraq, administration officials are pressing yet another effort to prepare the Iraqis to secure their country with less reliance on American forces.

American military officials in Iraq said Tuesday that they had requested $3.9 billion for next year to help train and equip Iraqi troops, build new police stations and outfit Iraqi soldiers with new uniforms. . . . That amount would be part of a larger spending request to Congress for the overall war effort and is on top of the $10.6 billion that lawmakers have already approved to rebuild Iraq's security forces.

http://makeashorterlink.com/?N2EE25E3C
The administration is under pressure to convince increasingly skeptical Americans that the president's strategy for Iraq is headed in the right direction. . .

The p.r. spin:
http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/victory-deconstructed.html
[Think Progress] After two-and-a-half years and 2,110 U.S. fatalities, the Bush administration finally released a “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” (NSVI). The problem is, it’s not a new strategy for success in Iraq, it’s a public relations document. The strategy describes what has transpired in Iraq to date as a resounding success and stubbornly refuses to establish any standards for accountability. It dismisses serious problems such as the dramatic increase in bombings as “metrics that the terrorists and insurgents want the world to use.” Americans understand it’s time for a new course in Iraq. Unfortunately, this document is little more than an extended justification for a President “determined to stay his course.”

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_digbysblog_archive.html#113330292314260485
[WP] In shaping their message, White House officials have drawn on the work of Duke University political scientists Peter D. Feaver and Christopher F. Gelpi, who have examined public opinion on Iraq and previous conflicts. Feaver, who served on the staff of the National Security Council in the early years of the Clinton administration, joined the Bush NSC staff about a month ago as special adviser for strategic planning and institutional reform.

Feaver and Gelpi categorized people on the basis of two questions: "Was the decision to go to war in Iraq right or wrong?" and "Can the United States ultimately win?" In their analysis, the key issue now is how people feel about the prospect of winning. They concluded that many of the questions asked in public opinion polls -- such as whether going to war was worth it and whether casualties are at an unacceptable level -- are far less relevant now in gauging public tolerance or patience for the road ahead than the question of whether people believe the war is winnable.

"The most important single factor in determining public support for a war is the perception that the mission will succeed," Gelpi said in an interview yesterday.

http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2005/11/index.html#008465
The new National Security Council report on Iraq is really the season's best beach foreign-policy read. Wildly optimistic, proudly Manichean, and fully bulletpointed, it's exactly the report you would've expected to read three years ago, which may explain why the word "terror" (or its variants) appears more than 100 times in the 35 page document, 10 times on the first page, and five times in the first five sentences. Think they're trying to tell us something?

More: http://thinkprogress.org/2005/11/30/deconstructing-iraq-strategy/

http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001124.html

The p.r. spin overseas:
http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_atrios_archive.html#113332685676507986
[LAT] As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. . The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents, and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

The jokes:
http://thinkprogress.org/2005/11/29/national-strategy/
[Judd] Shouldn’t we have had a “National Strategy for Victory in Iraq” before the war started?

http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2005/11/index.html#008467
[WP] The new report says the U.S. strategy is working in Iraq, but victory will take time and many challenges remain. It also outlined how the United States defines victory in Iraq, why it is vital to U.S. interests, who the enemy is and how the strategy is being implemented.

[Ezra Klein] So the new strategy is that the old strategy is working. Finally, a plan for success.

http://billmon.org/archives/002346.html
[Billmon] A Strategy for Victory
• Use lots of bullet points
• Failure is not an option
• If it moves, bomb it
• Death squads
• Phased withdrawal
• Use more bullet points.

http://www.first-draft.com//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4701
[Holden] I just don't see any plan here.

No "we will do x, y, and z." No milestones, benchmarks, or requirements. Just the same old fuzzy wishes without any details about how those wishes will be acheived.

And talk about repetitive -- 13,328 words that could easily be cut down to 100. Rumsfeld tried to ban the words "insurgent" and "insurgency" yesterday, but Chimpy's New and Improved Plan uses both 21 times. "Victory" pops up 27 times, but saying the word over and over again won't make it happen. Still, "Victory" can't hold a candle to "Build" or "Building" (57 appearances).

The New and Improved Plan adds two new words to the English language: "Rejectionists" (13 appearances) and "Saddamists" (8 appearances). Surprisingly, "stay" and "staying" appear just three times, and "course" appears just once (in a Condi quote). "Troops" appears only twice, "Torture" not at all.

http://tbogg.blogspot.com/2005/11/groundhog-day-someone-take-wheel.html
“Groundhog Day” [just go read it all]

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/30/85433/808
On May 2, 2003, President George W. Bush was flown onto an aircraft carrier which was moved further out to sea to make for better pictures and said: “[M]y fellow Americans, major combat operations in Iraq have ended. . .” [read on!]

Scotty reappears!

http://www.first-draft.com//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4691
Q Are we going to be shocked by anything in it? I mean, the President has outlined the strategy before, right?

MR. McCLELLAN: What's that?

Q Are we going -

MR. McCLELLAN: I think one purpose of providing this document is so that the American people can have a clear sense of our strategy for success in Iraq, and so that they can see how we look at the enemy, the nature of the enemy that we're facing and they can see how we define success in Iraq and how we are going about achieving victory in Iraq. And that's an important thing for the American people to be able to look at and understand.

[Holden] I'll take that as a "no".

The point: as far as I can tell, this document serves little purpose now, except as something that can be pointed back to in a few months as laying out the criteria which, at that time, will be proclaimed as the evidence of success that justifies a significant troop withdrawal. People seem surprised that Bush didn’t announce that now: I think the point is to set the basis for him to do so later (I’ve been predicting, in his January State of the Union address)

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/victory-plan-is-out.html
[Reuters] Lack of a troop withdrawal timetable does not mean the U.S. stance will remain static, the White House said. "We expect, but cannot guarantee, that our force posture will change over the next year, as the political process advances and Iraqi security forces grow and gain experience," the document said.

Two who agree with me: http://www.slate.com/id/2131125/

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007661.php

Two who disagree with me: http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_atrios_archive.html#113336505366080260

http://www.prospect.org/weblog/archives/2005/11/index.html#008466

I almost led with this story today. It is a stunner

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007663.php
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reports on a recent exchange between Donald Rumsfeld and General Peter Pace, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The subject was torture:

When UPI's Pam Hess asked about torture by Iraqi authorities, Rumsfeld replied that "obviously, the United States does not have a responsibility" other than to voice disapproval.

But Pace had a different view. "It is the absolute responsibility of every U.S. service member, if they see inhumane treatment being conducted, to intervene, to stop it," the general said.

Rumsfeld interjected: "I don't think you mean they have an obligation to physically stop it; it's to report it."

But Pace meant what he said. "If they are physically present when inhumane treatment is taking place, sir, they have an obligation to try to stop it," he said, firmly.

[Kevin Drum] This is why Abu Ghraib happened: because of people like Rumsfeld, who insisted on cutting corners, using clever circumlocutions in place of plain language, and refusing to take a firm stand on doing the right thing. Pace is having none of it, and good for him. . . The military may not always live up to its ideals, but at least they insist on having some. Rumsfeld should have been fired long ago for not understanding this.

More: http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/11/30/11448/218

The Rumsfeld manure spreader shifts into overdrive: the Iraqi troops are making amazing progress (again!)

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_atrios_archive.html#113332865706296658
Rumsfeld said this today:

Consider the progress of the Iraqi security forces over the past year. In August 2004, five Iraqi army battalions were effectively in the fight. Today the number is 95. . . In July 2004, there were no ready operational Iraqi army divisions or brigade headquarters. Today there are at least seven operational divisions and 31 operational brigade headquarters. . . In July of 2004 there were no ready special police commando, public order or mechanized police battalions under the Ministry of Interior. Today there are 28 such battalions conducting operations. . . And last year there were about 96,000 fully trained and equipped Iraqi security forces. And today there are over 212,000 trained and equipped security forces.

Strange, really. In October 2003 Big Don said:

In less than six months, we've gone from zero Iraqis providing security to their country -- you don't have that chart, there it is -- to close to 100,000 Iraqis currently under arms. . . Indeed, the progress has been so swift that Iraq is already the second largest of the security forces in the coalition. It will not be long before they will be the largest and outnumber the U.S. forces. And it shouldn't be too long thereafter that they will outnumber all coalition forces combined.

http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/11/29/224215/45

More Rumspeak: http://www.first-draft.com//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4693

This is our Commander in Chief

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_atrios_archive.html#113330406153191950
These are serious times in which we live, and it requires serious, experienced people to deal with the problems that we're confronted with. And the biggest problem we got is we're still at war. I wish I could report to you we weren't at war, but there's an enemy that still lurks that wants to do harm to the United States of America. And they want to do us harm because we stand squarely for freedom and democracy and we're not going to change. You see, they can't stand the fact -- (applause) -- they can't stand the fact that we allow people to worship freely, or to speak their mind in the public square, or to print articles the way they want to print them in America. They have a different view of the world. They've got this vision of darkness that stifles dissent and stifles the freedoms that many of us take for granted. . . You know, I just recently came off a trip to the Far East. . . And it struck me that I was in a region of the world where there -- where wars had started.

More Bushspeak: http://www.first-draft.com//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4692
Q Is there going to be investigating the allegations that there are U.S.-run terrorist detention centers abroad? Don't the American people deserve an accounting of why these places exist and what's being done there?

THE PRESIDENT: The United States of America does not torture. And that's important for people around the world to understand.

Bubble Boy

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2005/11/29/BL2005112900634.html
[Dan Froomkin] What does it say about the president of the United States that he won't go anywhere near ordinary citizens any more? And that he'll only speak to captive audiences?

President Bush's safety zone these days doesn't appear to extend very far beyond military bases, other federal installations and Republican fundraisers.

Tomorrow, Bush gives a speech on the war on terror -- at the United States Naval Academy. Then he attends a reception for Republican party donors.

Today, he visits a U.S. Border Patrol office, then attends a Republican fundraising lunch.

Yesterday, he spoke at an Air Force base and a Republican fundraiser.

Before leaving the country on his recent trip to Asia, Bush made one last speech -- at an Air Force base in Alaska. A few days before that, he spoke at an Army depot in Pennsylvania. When he delivered a speech on Nov. 1 about bird flu, it was to an audience of National Institutes of Health employees.

The best chance ordinary citizens have had in ages to be anywhere near the president comes Thursday at 5 p.m., when the Bushes participate in the Pageant of Peace tree lighting ceremony on the Ellipse. But it won't exactly be a policy speech -- and anyway, tickets to that event were distributed three weeks ago.

When was the last time that Bush spoke in a forum open to citizens who are representative of the diverse array of views in the country? Certainly not since last October's presidential debates, and not often before then, either.

The White House advance team has long been sensitive to the potency of imagery in presidential events, going to great lengths to stage dramatic backdrops for Bush's appearances. In particular, they have used uniformed, on-duty military audiences many times before to underscore his case for war.

During last year's campaign, White House advance teams began screening audiences at Bush events to insure that only supporters were allowed in. After the election, that policy gave way to a new, "invitation only" approach, in which tickets to so-called public events were distributed largely by Republican and business groups. Now Bush is in phase three, where almost everyone he appears before is either on the federal payroll or a Republican donor.

I've written a lot about Bush's bubble before. In particular, I've wondered if Bush suffers from being so sheltered from dissent, and I've raised the question of whether taxpayers should be funding presidential events to which the public is never welcome.

Why is this happening? Is it related to the widespread public dissatisfaction with his policies, particularly in Iraq? Is Bush reluctant to appear before an audience that might not clap at his applause lines? Is he afraid of dissent? Are his aides shielding him against his will? Is it just a matter of stagecraft, to avoid any incident that might lure the media off message?

We don't know, of course, because no one has actually asked the White House to explain. . .

Hand-picked audiences who love to hear Bush speak

http://www.first-draft.com//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=4702






Larry Sabato offers Bush a five-point plan for recovering his failed Presidency, which I don’t mind reproducing as helpful advice (since there’s no chance Bush will do any of them)

http://politicalwire.com/archives/2005/11/29/a_plan_for_bushs_recovery.html
• Accept Reality on Iraq. . .
• Take Credit for the Economy. . .
• Retool. . .
• Re-staff. . .
• Admit One Big Error. . .


Bush’s plan to stack the federal bench

http://susiemadrak.com/2005/11/30/09/34/stacking-the-deck/
A little-noticed provision in the massive House budget bill would fulfill the longtime goal of conservatives to split the San Francisco-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, creating a new 12th circuit appellate court and allowing President Bush to name a slate of new federal judges. . .

Where the leading Dems for 2008 stand on Iraq “exit strategies”

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/29/121322/46

More proof that Samuel Alito has it in for abortion rights

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/30/AR2005113000723.html

Shunned. The GOP just wants everyone to know that Randy Cunningham is a really bad guy that none of them ever had anything to do with, and whose personal corruption says nothing about how deep their party has had its snout in every source of graft available since the day they took power

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/30/national/30indict.html
Concerned that the stain of former Representative Randy Cunningham's admission that he took bribes and evaded taxes could damage the party's prospects, President Bush and other Republican leaders issued strong denunciations of Mr. Cunningham's actions on Tuesday.

With several investigations focusing on top Republican officials and growing public unease over the war in Iraq and economic policy at home, party leaders moved to distance themselves and their party from Mr. Cunningham's felony plea. . .

http://www.americanpolitics.com/20020806memoryhole.html
[August 2002] "There is an old adage," said House Majority Leader Richard K. Armey (R-Tex.). "To the victor goes the spoils."

“Nice tries”: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_digbysblog_archive.html#113330990853636452

Cunningham and the CIA: http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003168.html

Viveca Novak’s testimony helps Rove. Uh-huh, sure: (a) This report comes via his legal team. (b) She’s a personal friend of his chief lawyer

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/viveca-novaks-testimony-supposed-to.html

More: http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_digbysblog_archive.html#113328983444375172

Whispers about Bob Woodward, Colin Powell, and Dick Cheney

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007657.php

Bonus item: Al Franken

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/29/8059/9638
"You can't count on them to give you straight information. You can't count on them to tell us straight why we're going to war. You can't count on them to tell us what's happening over there.

You can't count on them to do their homework. To keep track of our money. You can't count on them to punish war profiteers. You can't count on them to protect our troops.

You can't rely on them for much of anything. Armor. Veterans' benefits. You can't count on them for the true story of how Jessica Lynch was captured, or how Pat Tillman died. Even for how the "Mission Accomplished" sign went up on the U.S.S. Abraham Lincoln. They actually lied about that.

You can't count on them to count terrorist attacks. You can't count on them to count civilian victims. You can't count on them to listen to military commanders and send in enough troops, or to not lie about the commanders asking them to send more troops, or to listen to Colin Powell and not torture people, or to not lie about whether the torture policies started at the top.

You can't trust them to care. About Iraqis. About Americans.

You can't trust them to do the work of actually signing killed-in-action letters. You can't trust them not to lie about not signing killed-in-action letters.

You can't count on them to acknowledge any mistakes whatsoever. You can't trust them not to lie when confronted with those mistakes.

You can't trust them not to believe their own propaganda.

You can't trust them. Period."

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

PLEA BARGAINS

Is Karl Rove in trouble again?

http://rawstory.com/news/2005/Testimony_from_Roves_former_assistant_may_1128.html
Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald will present evidence to a second grand jury this week in his two year-old investigation into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson that could lead to a criminal indictment being handed up against Karl Rove, President Bush’s deputy chief of staff, attorneys close to the investigation say. . .

The attorneys say that Rove’s former personal assistant, Susan B. Ralston -- who was also a special assistant to President Bush -- testified in August about why Cooper’s call to Rove was not logged. Ralston said it occurred because Cooper had phoned in through the White House switchboard and was then transferred to Rove’s office as opposed to calling Rove’s office directly. . . . But those close to the probe tell RAW STORY that Fitzgerald obtained documentary evidence showing that other unrelated calls transferred to Rove’s office by the switchboard were logged. He then called Ralston back to testify.

Earlier this month, attorneys say Fitzgerald received additional testimony from Ralston -- who said that Rove instructed her not to log a phone call Rove had with Cooper about Plame in July 2003. . . If true, this is perhaps the most significant evidence Fitzgerald has obtained suggesting Rove deliberately sought to mislead investigators. . .

Those close to the investigation say Fitzgerald will present evidence to the grand jury later this week obtained from other witnesses who were interviewed by the Special Prosecutor or testified, showing that Rove made misleading statements to Justice Department and FBI investigators in an attempt to cover-up his role in the leak when he was first interviewed about it in October 2003. . . Two things are clear, the sources said: either Rove will agree to enter into a plea deal with Fitzgerald or he will be charged with a crime, but he will not be exonerated for the role he played in the leak.

If Rove does agree to a plea, Fitzgerald is not expected to discuss any aspect of his probe into the President’s senior adviser because Rove may be called to testify as a prosecution witness against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney. Libby was indicted last month on five counts of lying to investigators, perjury and obstruction of justice related to his role in the leak.

More: http://talkleft.com/new_archives/013248.html

And what was that Viveca Novak testimony all about?

http://talkleft.com/new_archives/013242.html
Fitzgerald is interested in Luskin and Novak's conversations from May, 2004 forward. What happened in May, 2004? On May 21, 2004 Matt Cooper was subpoenaed. . .

http://firedoglake.blogspot.com/2005/11/i-call-partial-mulligan.html
First, and all credit goes to Jeralyn on this one, it is highly possible that something Luskin said to Viveca Novak (and that was pubished with attribution to Luskin in Time, who gave a lot of on the record interviews) may call into question any perjury defense based on recantation that Rove may be trying to raise.

In order to stop a charge of perjury, a defendant may "recant" (or retract and correct) a statement made to the grand jury which was false. In order for a recantation defense to apply, however, the information (1) cannot have substantially affected the proceeding and (2) it cannot have become clear to the defendant that the lie has been or will soon be exposed. (The DoJ has fantastic information on how USAttys evaluate perjury cases and defenses.)

Which leads me to something that Tom McGuire brought up. What if Fitz is after information that may have been passed from Viveca Novak to Luskin and on to his client? If this information gave Rove a heads up that Cooper might soon spill the beans about their conversation, he might want to get ahead of that and make the offer to Fitz to go before the grand jury again to recant prior testimony.

It sure would explain the rush to testify under oath -- again -- but if Rove knew that something harmful was going to be said to his position prior to testifying, he no longer has a recantation defense.

http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/2359
[Swopa] So even one of the Post's sources seems skeptical that Viv is much more than an innocent bystander whose name Luskin threw at Fitzgerald at the last second just to keep Karl Rove from making the first official Bushite perp walk. I suspect their doubts are well-founded.

More: http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007653.php

Here’s all you need to know, as far as I’m concerned

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/28/AR2005112801683.html
It could not be learned what Luskin and Novak, who are friends, discussed that could help prove Rove did nothing illegal in the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters and the subsequent investigation of it.

Tom DeLay's eager to resume the reins of power. . .

http://politicalwire.com/archives/2005/11/28/delay_seeks_to_retake_position.html
Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX) "is positioning himself to immediately reassume the post of House Majority Leader if a Texas judge dismisses allegations that DeLay violated state campaign finance laws back in 2002," Roll Call reports.

. . . except for one teeny little problem

http://www.slingshot.org/2005/11/28/anti-delay-sentiment-growing-in-house-gop-conference/
[A]n anti-DeLay faction in the Conference appears to be growing, however, with some senior Republicans privately estimating their ranks at around 60 lawmakers. These Members have not yet united around any one alternative candidate, and many are not enamored with Rep. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), who has been handling both the Majority Leader and Whip roles since DeLay stepped down. . .

Duke Cunningham (R-CA) admits massive corruption, quits

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/29/national/29indict.html
Representative Randy Cunningham, a Republican from San Diego, resigned from Congress on Monday, hours after pleading guilty to taking at least $2.4 million in bribes to help friends and campaign contributors win military contracts.

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_11_27.php#007121
I was just looking through the list of Duke Cunningham's offenses in the article (sub.req.) on the Roll Call website. And it's breath-taking. . . The stuff we knew about, the boats and house purchases, were really only the tip of the iceberg. . .

How’d he do it?

http://www.slate.com/id/2131179
[Eric Umansky] The papers don't really explain what happened to the Pentagon contracts Cunningham rigged. And TP sees only a WP editorial raising a related issue: How exactly does the appropriations system work—or not work—given that one congressman seems to have the power to shovel money to specific contractors, crooked or not? (Cunningham's shenanigans were made all the easier by the fact that, as USAT recently reminded, the contracts were part of the military's classified, "black budget.")

More: http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003162.html

His resignation letter (Tom DeLay, take notes)

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/28/18125/168
The truth is -- I broke the law, concealed my conduct, and disgraced my high office. I know that I will forfeit my freedom, my reputation, my worldly possessions, and most importantly, the trust of my friends and family. . . I am now almost 65 years old and, as I enter the twilight of my life, I intend to use the remaining time that God grants me to make amends. . . The first step in that journey is to admit fault and apologize. The next step is to face the consequences of my actions like a man. Today, I have taken the first step and, with God's grace, I will soon take the second.

Well, it couldn’t happen to a nicer guy

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_digbysblog_archive.html#113327957498289001
[Digby] The Duke-stir has been a prick for years. He said that the liberal leaders of congress should be lined up and shot. He calls for the death penalty for drug dealers and then cries at his son's sentencing hearing for possession of 400 lbs of marijuana and asks for mercy because his son has a good heart. Here's how the conservative San Diego Tribune editorial board described him back in 1998. . .

But that’s not the Big Story: the news is, part of his plea deal is cooperating -- and other Republicans (including everyone’s favorite vote-counter, Katherine Harris) are in the cross-hairs

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_11_27.php#007125

And the White House too!

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/11/28/cunningham-white-house/

The Abramoff story keeps spreading into the Bush admin as well as Republican congressmen

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=10000103&sid=aSn4ZmlPPIpw&refer

The Washington Post has been the site of some of the worst examples of on the one hand/on the other hand reporting, but this takes the cake. Republicans are entangled in multiple webs of scandals, both GOP congressional leaders are under inquiry, and half the White House is running around getting lawyers – but, you know, the Democrats are just as bad!

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_11_27.php#007126
[From a reader] A reasonable person could read this Jeffrey Birnbaum article in the Washington Post and mistake it for an RNC press release. Among the article's assertions:

Corruption affects both parties, not just Republicans

Occasional prosecutions actually illustrate how clean Congress is on the whole

The public distrusts both parties, not just Republicans (this point is made twice in the article)

The public distrusts incumbents in general, not just Republicans

Voters don't care about party affiliations of officials charged with corruption, especially in cases they've heard of (I'm not kidding)

Voters have a general, theoretical dislike of "too much money in politics" rather than a specific dislike of specific (mainly Republican) corrupt politicians

"Happens all the time," "nothing new," and "goes in cycles" are both trotted out as well William Jefferson, William Jefferson, William Jefferson.

Even the headline reads like it was carefully focus-grouped by Frank Luntz: "A Growing Wariness About Money in Politics"

Larry Wilkerson lifts the lid on the Bush gang’s prewar lies

http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001121.html
Former State Department Chief of Staff Col. Lawrence Wilkerson continues to hammer the White House over torture and detainee abuse revelations -- but is also suggesting that as he learns more from various sources, his original views that the White House was not involved in duplicity regarding Iraq WMD intelligence is evolving. . . In a very important BBC interview this morning, Wilkerson speculated that the White House did cherry-pick and try to manufacture intelligence estimates that matched its biases.

http://makeashorterlink.com/?Y53115D3C
Wilkerson blamed Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and like-minded aides. He said Cheney must have sincerely believed that Iraq could be a spawning ground for new terror assaults, because "otherwise I have to declare him a moron, an idiot or a nefarious bastard." [read it all!]

More: http://www.workingforchange.com/article.cfm?itemid=19929

Woodward had three sources telling him AT THE TIME that prewar intelligence was being cooked, but he never followed up on the story

http://www.consortiumnews.com/2005/112805.html

He deserves this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/bob-woodward-the-dumb-bl_b_11363.html

Colin Powell blasts White House for its attacks on Murtha

http://www.seeingtheforest.com/archives/2005/11/breaking_powell.htm
An angry former Secretary of State Colin Powell is blasting the Bush White House for attacking Rep. Jack Murtha, who undermined troop morale and encouraged al Qaida last week with his call for an immediate U.S. pullout from Iraq.

"To attack him the way he was attacked, accusing him of being a Michael Moore, was disgraceful and was not worthy," a Powell told the New York Post's Deborah Orin, who described him as "livid."

"Jack Murtha is great friend of mine," Powell declared. "He's a great patriot.

Iraq=Vietnam

http://blogs.salon.com/0000014/2005/11/29.html#a948

More: http://www.sltrib.com/utah/ci_3260927
Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, flubbed Monday and referred to Iraq as Vietnam while commenting on Fox News against an immediate troop withdrawal. . .

Our bastards

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/29/71615/553
[NYT] As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods. Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks. . .

http://www.slate.com/id/2131179
[Eric Umansky] The LAT and NYT both—finally—front the rise of what appear to be Shiite death squads operating as part of Iraqi government forces. The LAT says U.S. military advisers now agree that the term "death squads" is apt. "There are such groups operating—yes, this is correct," said the inspector general for Iraq's Interior Ministry. There has been evidence mounting for months that government-affiliated units have been executing Sunnis, but there's been little coverage and plenty of official denial. (TP suspects the lack of coverage has nothing to do with politics and everything to do with the media's tendency to stick with what's hot. Until the other week the conduct of Iraqi forces didn't qualify.)

One human rights group told the NYT that 700 Sunni civilians have been killed or disappeared over the last four months. "There is no question that bodies are turning up," said an investigator for the group. "Quite a few have been handcuffed and shot in the back of the head. The stories are pretty much consistent across the board, both in the manner that the men are being abducted and in who they say is taking them." Knight Ridder has a similar story, with sources talking about more secret jails where detainees are tortured.

As for who is in the death squads, the LAT says Shiite militia have "infiltrated Iraq's police force." It's an interesting choice of words since as the story itself later explains, the militia haven't "infiltrated," they've been recruited. In fact, the LAT quotes one U.S. officer as saying the militia-cum-police unit behind the recently discovered torture center reports directly to the head of the Interior Ministry. (TP flagged that possibility the other week.)

Referring to two different Shiite militia groups, one U.S. officer told the LAT, "The Mahdi Army's got the Iraqi police and Badr's got the commandos. Everybody's got their own death squads." The officer added that "up to 90 percent" of the 35,000 police in one part of Baghdad have some connection to the Mahdi army, which is firebrand cleric Moqtada Sadr's posse. And yes, the LAT has the more detailed story and is today's must read.

More: http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003167.html

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007654.php

Sy Hersh’s big story about the future of Bush’s Iraq policy is posted and on the web now

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/051205fa_fact

More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/blog/2005/11/28/BL2005112800846.html

Bush tries to make sense on immigration reform, fails

http://talkleft.com/new_archives/013250.html

How bad was CAP, the Princeton group Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito belonged too? Worse than you know. He MUST answer for this affiliation

http://obsidianwings.blogs.com/obsidian_wings/2005/11/alito_and_cap.html
[Hilzoy] CAP was not about opposing affirmative action. It supported quotas that favored white men. CAP was about opposing the presence of women and minorities at Princeton. Period. Moreover, its tactics were despicable. In retrospect, it was one of the first instances of what has now become a familiar pattern: an extremely well-funded organization dedicated to spreading lies about some opponent in an effort to force that opponent to change course through the sheer volume of vitriol and harassment that a lot of money can buy. Samuel Alito pointed with pride to his membership in CAP in 1985.

Where is Scott McClellan?

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/11/28/wheres-scottie/

Bonus item: Have you seen “Minority Report”?

http://susiemadrak.com/2005/11/29/06/04/department-of-pre-crime/
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended the unlimited detention of suspected terrorists saying, in an interview published on Tuesday, that it benefitted the United States and the entire world.

“You can’t allow somebody to commit the crime before you detain them, because if they commit the crime, thousands of innocent people die,” she told the USA Today daily.

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Monday, November 28, 2005

CUT AND RUN

This could become another Abu Ghraib, or worse – it shows what happens when you try to run a war with private sector mercenaries

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2005/11/27/wirq27.xml
A "trophy" video appearing to show security guards in Baghdad randomly shooting Iraqi civilians has sparked two investigations after it was posted on the internet, the Sunday Telegraph can reveal. . . The video has sparked concern that private security companies, which are not subject to any form of regulation either in Britain or in Iraq, could be responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent Iraqis.

More: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/27/172747/10

Video: http://www.crooksandliars.com/2005/11/27.html#a6076

You’d better sit down. This story could give you vertigo. The White House is claiming now that Democratic proposals, like Murtha’s, to begin troop withdrawals in six months show that THE DEMOCRATS HAVE FINALLY COME AROUND TO BUSH’S OWN VIEW

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/bush-says-democrats-have-embraced.html
[AFP] The White House for the first time has claimed possession of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own. . .

The statement late Saturday by White House spokesman Scott McClellan came in response to a commentary published in The Washington Post by Joseph Biden, the top Democrat of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in which he said US forces will begin leaving Iraq next year "in large numbers.". . .

Even though Bush has never publicly issued his own withdrawal plan and criticized calls for an early exit, the White House said many of the ideas expressed by the senator were its own.

[John Aravosis] And I guess we're supposed to forget the fact that Bush and Cheney pilloried Democrats for embracing a withdrawal plan only a week ago. . . Time for the media to ask Bush what changed in the last week that suddenly makes a withdrawal acceptable?

Keep in mind that “withdrawal” is an indefinite term (thanks to Ann Lopez for the link)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11144.htm
The US Air Force’s senior officer, Gen. John Jumper, stated US warplanes would remain in Iraq to fight resistance forces and protect the American-installed regime "more or less indefinitely." . . . Gen. Jumper let the cat out of the bag. While President George Bush hints at eventual troop withdrawals, the Pentagon is busy building four major, permanent air bases in Iraq that will require heavy infantry protection.

http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/27/16340/139
Sy Hersh appeared on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer today and discussed his new New Yorker article "Up in the Air," which provides a little more details about the Bush administration's withdrawal proposal. During the interview, Mr. Hersh said that the Bush administration will probably withdraw US troops from the ground next year, but that won't mean that will be the beginning of the end of the war. . .

HERSH: Well, you know, what I was writing about in The New Yorker this week is our plan is to pull out American troops if we start to do that. And I think the president probably will next year. But the war is not going to slow down. We're going to increase the pace of air operations. There's going to be more bombing in direct support of Iraqi units now.

BLITZER: Let me read to you what you write in The New Yorker magazine, the article entitled "Up in the Air." "A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President's public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower. Quick, deadly strikes by U.S. warplanes are seen as a way to improve dramatically the combat capability of even the weakest Iraqi combat units.". . . [much, much more]

More: http://www.juancole.com/2005/11/us-air-power-to-replace-infantry-in.html

I’ve been suggesting that Bush wants to spring his big withdrawal announcement after the Iraqi elections, in his January State of the Union speech – and that HE wants to be the one to announce it, not seeming to be responding to pressure. It will be interesting to see if he can wait that long

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-usiraq28nov28,1,5534102.story
Amid declining public support for the war in Iraq, two prominent Republican senators urged President Bush on Sunday to be more forthcoming about the increasingly costly and uncertain effort to defeat the insurgency and establish a self-sufficient democracy.

"We want to hear from the administration," said Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. "We want more co-option of the Congress by the administration so that we're on the same wavelength.". . . Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said Bush should provide a detailed status report to the American public.

Should the Democrats press the issue and offer an explicit withdrawal plan in the next month or so, pre-empting Bush’s Big Announcement? I say “yes”

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/28/0152/5390

House GOP realizes that they made a huge mistake in attacking Murtha and his withdrawal proposal as cowardly, treasonous, and disloyal to the troops (now that the White House is preparing its own withdrawal plan) – so, of course they are trying to rewrite the record

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/28/politics/28hastert.html
Representative J. Dennis Hastert, the speaker of the House, is taking issue with a political appeal sent out by Senator John Kerry, saying the senator falsely accused him of labeling Representative John P. Murtha a coward. . .

"Dennis Hastert - the speaker of the House who never served - accused Jack Murtha of being a coward," Mr. Kerry said as he listed Republican attacks on Mr. Murtha.

Ms. Backus said that comment was based on news reports and the general tone of an initial statement released by the office of Mr. Hastert, Republican of Illinois. It said that America "must not cower" in fighting the war on terror and that Mr. Murtha and other Democrats "want us to wave the white flag of surrender."

[Hastert spokesman] Bonjean noted that Mr. Hastert did not use the term directly about Mr. Murtha and expressed his strong respect for the Democratic lawmaker while simultaneously differing on Iraq policy. In his blog, Mr. Hastert wrote last week: "I need everyone to understand that I have known Congressman Murtha a long time. He's a good man."

Republicans are also breaking ranks over Bush torture policies

http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003146.html

More: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/25/AR2005112501552_pf.html

More from the Sy Hersh report, on Bush’s scary state of mind

http://dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/27/16340/139
BLITZER: In this new article you have in The New Yorker, you also write this about the president: " 'The president is more determined than ever to stay the course,' the former defense official said. 'He doesn't feel any pain. Bush is a believer in the adage, "People may suffer and die, but the Church advances." ' He said that the president had become more detached, leaving more issues to Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney. 'They keep him in the gray world of religious idealism, where he wants to be anyway,' the former defense official said."

HERSH: Suffice to say this, that this president in private, at Camp David with his friends, the people that I'm sure call him George, is very serene about the war. He's upbeat. He thinks that he's going to be judged, maybe not in five years or ten years, maybe in 20 years. He's committed to the course. He believes in democracy.

HERSH: He believes that he's doing the right thing, and he's not going to stop until he gets -- either until he's out of office, or he falls apart, or he wins.

BLITZER: But this has become, your suggesting, a religious thing for him?

HERSH: Some people think it is. Other people think he's absolutely committed, as I say, to the idea of democracy. He's been sold on this notion.

He's a utopian, you could say, in a world where maybe he doesn't have all the facts and all the information he needs and isn't able to change.

I'll tell you, the people that talk to me now are essentially frightened because they're not sure how you get to this guy.

We have generals that do not like -- anymore -- they're worried about speaking truth to power. You know that. I mean that's -- Murtha in fact, John Murtha, the congressman from Pennsylvania, which most people don't know, has tremendous contacts with the senior generals of the armies. He's a ranking old war horse in Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. The generals know him and like him. His message to the White House was much more worrisome than maybe to the average person in the public. They know that generals are privately telling him things that they're not saying to them.

And if you're a general and you have a disagreement with this war, you cannot get that message into the White House. And that gets people unnerved.

BLITZER: Here's what you write. You write, "Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the president remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding."

Those are incredibly strong words, that the president basically doesn't want to hear alternative analysis of what is going on.

HERSH: You know, Wolf, there is people I've been talking to -- I've been a critic of the war very early in the New Yorker, and there were people talking to me in the last few months that have talked to me for four years that are suddenly saying something much more alarming.

They're beginning to talk about some of the things the president said to him about his feelings about manifest destiny, about a higher calling that he was talking about three, four years ago.

I don't want to sound like I'm off the wall here. But the issue is, is this president going to be capable of responding to reality? Is he going to be able -- is he going to be capable if he going to get a bad assessment, is he going to accept it as a bad assessment or is he simply going to see it as something else that is just a little bit in the way as he marches on in his crusade that may not be judged for 10 or 20 years.

He talks about being judged in 20 years to his friends. And so it's a little alarming because that means that my and my colleagues in the press corps, we can't get to him maybe with our views. You and you can't get to him maybe with your interviews.

How do you get to a guy to convince him that perhaps he's not going the right way?

Jack Murtha certainly didn't do it. As I wrote, they were enraged at Murtha in the White House. . .

I'm talking about sort of a crisis of management. That you have a management that's seen by some of the people closely involved as not being able to function in terms of getting information it doesn't want to receive. . .

http://nydailynews.com/front/story/369436p-314247c.html
Embattled White House aides have begun to believe President Bush must take the reins personally if his evaporating agenda and credibility are to be salvaged.

"We're just plodding along," admitted a senior Bush aide from deep within the West Wing bunker. "It's up to the President to turn things around now."

Even as his poll numbers tank, however, Bush is described by aides as still determined to stay the course. He resists advice from Republicans who fear disaster in next year's congressional elections, and rejects criticism from a media establishment he disdains.

"The President has always been willing to make changes," the senior aide said, "but not because someone in this town tells him to - NEVER!"

For the moment, Bush has dismissed discreetly offered advice from friends and loyalists to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and bring back longtime confidant Karen Hughes from the State Department to shore up his personal White House staff.

"He thinks that would be an admission he's screwed up, and he can't bring himself to do that," a former senior staffer lamented.

So aides have circled the wagons as Bush's woes mount, partly hoping they can sell the President on a December blitz of media interviews to help turn the tide.

"The staff basically still has an unyielding belief in the wisdom of what they're doing," a close Bush confidant said. "They're talking to people who could help them, but they're not listening."

Two sources said Bush has not only lost some confidence in his top aides, as the Daily News has previously reported, but is furious with a stream of leaks about the mood within the West Wing.

"He's asking [friends] for opinions on who he can trust and who he can't," one knowledgeable source said. . .

A card-carrying member of the Washington GOP establishment with close ties to the White House recently encountered several senior presidential aides at a dinner and came away shaking his head at their "no problems here" mentality.

"There is just no introspection there at all," he said in exasperation. "It is everybody else's fault - the press, gutless Republicans on the Hill. They're still in denial."

“Bush-Cheney rage” http://www.topplebush.com/oped2348.shtml

No one quite knows what it means yet, but a second reporter from Time magazine is coming in to give testimony on the Plame scandal. It ain’t over, folks

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/28/politics/28leak.html
The reporter, Viveca Novak, who has written about the leak investigation, has been asked to testify by the special counsel in the case, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, about her conversations with Robert D. Luskin, a lawyer for Mr. Rove, the magazine said.

http://justoneminute.typepad.com/main/2005/11/woodwards_sourc.html
[Tom Maguire] What Fitzgerald hopes to get from her that he can't get directly from Luskin is a mystery to me. And why the reporter agreed to cooperate is a puzzle - is Luskin suspected of some crime? Did he lie to Fitzgerald but tell the truth to a reporter?. . . If Luskin is not suspected of a crime, why does he not retain the normal source confidentiality privileges? Did Luskin waive them for some reason? Were all of his interviews completely on the record? Or has TIME simply thrown in the towel and decided not to oppose this prosecutor?

More: http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003149.html

http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/2354

Bush's Next Big Issue to try to distract attention from the war and Plame: immigration

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_11_27_digbysblog_archive.html#113313960450304342

[NB: How can Bush balance the red-meat xenophobia much of his base wants with forgiveness for undocumented workers, which many corporations and many Latino supporters want?]

John Bolton is busily breaking up pottery at the UN, as he was hired to do: but he is also alienating close allies, like Britain

http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/001115.html

Bush’s economic brain trust is empty

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/27/business/yourmoney/27view.html
IT'S no secret that hurricanes and wars have swamped the economic agenda that George W. Bush planned for his second term. In the commotion, however, one fact has gone largely unnoticed: much of Washington's expert economic team has disappeared.

The chairmanship of the Council of Economic Advisers will soon be vacant, and two spots on the Federal Reserve Board that were recently filled by academic economists already are. There is no assistant secretary of the Treasury for tax policy, and the director's chair at the Congressional Budget Office, currently occupied by Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, will soon be empty, too.

The White House and Congress need as many as five academic economists of high caliber, and it's not obvious where they will come from. The Republican Party may be facing something of a shallow bench.

"Bush's reputation in at least the academic community is about as low as you can imagine," said William A. Niskanen, who was a member of the council during President Ronald Reagan's first term. . .

Bonus item: Fox News, network of hacks

http://thinkprogress.org/2005/11/27/wallace-never-linked/
[Chris Wallace, “newsman”] “[T]hat specific quote there where you say he couldn’t distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, he wasn’t saying that they were linked at all. He was saying one was as bad as the other, and when he said in that same answer something about that Saddam Hussein would like to use a terrorist network, he wasn’t saying that they would like to use al Qaeda. So you’re making a link there that the President never made.”

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Sunday, November 27, 2005

THE PLOT AGAINST AMERICA

(with kudos to Philip Roth, who saw it coming)

http://www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com/catalog/titledetail.cfm?titleNumber=696111

Awful, but I can’t say it’s much of a surprise. The Defense Dept, far from limiting its independent intelligence operations (which served us so well in the lead-up to the war), and despite recommendations that they be merged under coordinated administration with the CIA, continues to spread. . . this time, into domestic surveillance!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/26/AR2005112600857.html
The Defense Department has expanded its programs aimed at gathering and analyzing intelligence within the United States, creating new agencies, adding personnel and seeking additional legal authority for domestic security activities in the post-9/11 world. . . The Pentagon has pushed legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exception to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies, as long as the data is deemed to be related to foreign intelligence. Backers say the measure is needed to strengthen investigations into terrorism or weapons of mass destruction. . .

http://www.usndemvet.com/blog/archives/002974.html
We are supposed to have civilian oversight of military activities unless I misunderstood 9th grade civics. So now the 1600 Crew has succeeded in bringing us one step closer to Grampaw Prescott's carefully supported, chosen government, Nazi Germany. We have laws like Posse Comitatus for a reason, and here we're getting a circumvention by the military being it's own self-propelled judge, jury and executioner against American Citizens. . .

More police state activities (and no, that term doesn’t seem hyperbolic any longer)

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/27/national/nationalspecial3/27enemy.html
When Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales announced last week that Jose Padilla would be transferred to the federal justice system from military detention, he said almost nothing about the standards the administration used in deciding whether to charge terrorism suspects like Mr. Padilla with crimes or to hold them in military facilities as enemy combatants. . . The upshot of that approach, underscored by the decision in Mr. Padilla's case, is that no one outside the administration knows just how the determination is made whether to handle a terror suspect as an enemy combatant or as a common criminal, to hold him indefinitely without charges in a military facility or to charge him in court. . . Indeed, citing the need to combat terrorism, the administration has argued, with varying degrees of success, that judges should have essentially no role in reviewing its decisions. . .

Spreading freedom and democracy abroad as well. . .

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,1651789,00.html
Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and are even in danger of eclipsing his record, according to the country's first Prime Minister after the fall of Saddam's regime. . . 'People are doing the same as [in] Saddam's time and worse,' Ayad Allawi told The Observer. 'It is an appropriate comparison. People are remembering the days of Saddam. These were the precise reasons that we fought Saddam and now we are seeing the same things.'

In a damning and wide-ranging indictment of Iraq's escalating human rights catastrophe, Allawi accused fellow Shias in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centres. The brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police, he said. . .

His comments come as a blow to those hoping that Iraq was moving towards normalisation under the new government. In a speech on Wednesday, Bush is expected to hail the improved readiness of Iraqi troops, which he has identified as the key condition for withdrawing US forces. . .

He added that he now had so little faith in the rule of law that he had instructed his own bodyguards to fire on any police car that attempted to approach his headquarters without prior notice, following the implication of police units in many of the abuses.

Meanwhile. . .

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007642.php
[WP] The leader of Iraq's most powerful political party has called on the United States to let Iraqi fighters take a more aggressive role against insurgents, saying his country will only be able to defeat the insurgency when the United States lets Iraqis get tough.

. . . Hakim gave few details of what getting tough would entail, other than making clear it would require more weapons, with more firepower, than the United States is currently supplying.

. . . In Iraq, "there are plans to confront terrorists, approved by security agencies, but the Americans reject that," Hakim said. "Because of that mistaken policy, we have lost a lot. One of the victims was my brother Mohammad Bakir, because of American policies."

"For instance, the ministries of Interior and Defense want to carry out some operations to clean out some areas" in Baghdad and around the country, including volatile Anbar province, in the west, he said.

Done deal: the U.S. is pulling out troops, the only question is when it gets announced (see yesterday’s PBD)

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-withdraw26nov26,0,7710697,full.story

http://www.juancole.com/2005/11/rubaie-us-will-withdraw-completely.html

More: http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003143.html

In order to pull out, they will have to proclaim the “readiness” of the Iraqi troops. Is there any reason to believe that?

http://jabbs.blogspot.com/2005/11/bush-administration-preparing-to-tout.html

False choices

http://www.tompaine.com/articles/20051123/cheneys_false_choices.php

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/opinion/13257342.htm
[Carl Hiaasen] Getting a war lecture from Dick Cheney is like getting dating advice from Michael Jackson. . .

On bombing Al-Jazeera

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/bush-and-al-jazeera-insane-story.html
Looks like the Bush wanting to bomb al-Jazeera story isn't going away. . .

Truly depressing

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/26/AR2005112600360.html
Four U.S. soldiers face disciplinary action for burning the bodies of two Taliban rebels _ a videotaped incident that sparked outrage in Afghanistan _ but they will not be prosecuted because their actions were motivated by hygienic concerns, the military said Saturday.

TV footage recorded Oct. 1 in a violent part of southern Afghanistan showed American soldiers setting fire to the bodies and then boasting about the act on loudspeakers to taunt insurgents suspected to be hiding in a nearby village.

Islam bans cremation, and the video images were compared to photographs of U.S. troops abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison. Afghanistan's government condemned the desecration. Muslim clerics warned of a violent anti-American backlash, though there have been no protests so far.

American commanders immediately launched an inquiry and vowed that anyone found guilty would be severely punished, fearing the incident could undermine public support for the war against a stubborn insurgency four years after U.S.-led forces ousted the Taliban.

The U.S.-led coalition's operational commander, Maj. Gen. Jason Kamiya, said two junior officers who ordered the bodies burned would be reprimanded for showing a lack of cultural and religious understanding, but that the men had been unaware at the time of doing anything wrong.

Kamiya also said two noncommissioned officers would be reprimanded for using the burning of the bodies to taunt the rebels. The two men also would face nonjudicial punishments, which could include a loss of pay or demotion in rank.

"Our investigation found there was no intent to desecrate the remains but only to dispose of them for hygienic reasons," Kamiya said. He added that the broadcasts about the burned remains, while "designed to incite fleeing Taliban to fight," violated military policy.

Here is a serious, fair, and careful analysis of the accusation that the Bush gang actively misled the country (a.k.a. LIED) to get us into the war. Let any Bush defender answer this. . .

http://www.slate.com/id/2130884/

Concerned

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/27/politics/politicsspecial1/27alito.html
In the fall of 1985, Concerned Alumni of Princeton was entering a crisis. . . The group's members at the time included Samuel A. Alito Jr., now President Bush's nominee to the Supreme Court, although there is no evidence that he played an active or prominent role.

The group had been founded in 1972, the year that Judge Alito graduated, by alumni upset that Princeton had recently begun admitting women. It published a magazine, Prospect, which persistently accused the administration of taking a permissive approach to student life, of promoting birth control and paying for abortions, and of diluting the explicitly Christian character of the school.

As Princeton admitted a growing number of minority students, Concerned Alumni charged repeatedly that the administration was lowering admission standards, undermining the university's distinctive traditions and admitting too few children of alumni. . .

Those records and others at Mudd Library at Princeton give no indication that Judge Alito, who sits on the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, was among the group's major donors. He was not an active leader of the group, and two of his classmates who were involved and Mr. Rusher said they did not remember his playing a role.

But in an application for a promotion in the Reagan administration in the fall of 1985, Judge Alito was asked to provide information about his "philosophical commitment" to administration policies and listed his membership in Concerned Alumni.

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/even-frist-condemned-alitos-narrow.html
[Michael in NY] The latest on Alito: that far-right college group he belonged to -- Concerned Alumni of Princeton -- was condemned by none other than Senator Bill Frist way back in 1975 for presenting a "distorted, narrow and hostile view" of Princeton. In 1985, when Alito championed his ties to the group, it was sputtering to a halt, with even its own members calling the group's stances possibly racist and certainly antiquated and embarrassing.

Naturally, Alito's allies now say we shouldn't read anything into his membership in a group that even Frist thought was divisive and backwards, a group that championed a "more traditional undergraduate population," ie, a whiter one with more alumni and fewer minorities. Is there anything about Alito he hasn't distanced himself from?

Growing links between Abramoff’s Republican ties and the SunCruz murder (yes, really!)

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/news/13260001.htm
When U.S. Rep. Bob Ney assailed the owner of SunCruz Casinos in 2000, it seemed puzzling that an Ohio lawmaker would go out of his way to attack a South Florida businessman who was trying to sell his floating gaming empire.

It turns out, according to federal investigators, Ney publicly called SunCruz founder Konstantinos ''Gus'' Boulis a ''bad apple'' in exchange for the company's new owners contributing $10,000 -- in his name -- to a national campaign fund to help elect Republicans to Congress.

The latest disclosure is another South Florida link in a long-running Washington scandal that revolves around the influence-peddling of powerful lobbyists who collected tens of millions of dollars from their clients and also led investors to buy Dania Beach-based SunCruz Casinos.

Law enforcement sources say that just weeks after the controversial sale to Washington lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his business partner Adam Kidan in September 2000, the two men took $10,000 from their gambling business and donated the money to the National Republican Congressional Committee on Ney's behalf. . .

SunCruz's contribution to the National Republican Congressional Committee in November 2000 was made seven months after Ney had condemned the company's founder, Boulis, in the Congressional Record just as he was trying to sell his fleet of ships to resolve a legal dispute with the Justice Department.

He was forced to sell because he was not a U.S. citizen when he acquired his fleet. . . Just six days after the donation, Ney praised the new SunCruz co-owner Kidan in the same Congressional Record as a businessman with a ``renowned reputation for honesty and integrity.''. . .

Ney agreed to place his critical remarks of Boulis in the Congressional Record in March 2000 after Scanlon asked Ney's chief of staff, Neil Volz, to do the favor. Scanlon and Volz were close friends on Capitol Hill.

After the SunCruz sale in fall 2000, Scanlon wrote e-mails to both Abramoff and Kidan, seeking and obtaining their approval to contribute the $10,000 to the GOP's campaign committee on Ney's behalf, according to one law enforcement source. Scanlon, who did public relations work for SunCruz, also corresponded with Ney's staff about the Nov. 1, 2000 political contribution.

Scanlon and his lobbying partner Abramoff would go on to rake in as much as $80 million from their work with Indian tribal clients that owned casinos -- none from Florida. Those fees drew the scrutiny of the House Ethics Committee, Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the Justice Department.

Then, in August of this year, a South Florida federal grand jury indicted Abramoff and Kidan on charges of defrauding lenders of $60 million in the SunCruz sale. Both men have pleaded not guilty and are set to go to trial in Miami federal court in January. . .

In his plea agreement, Scanlon agreed to help federal authorities in Washington and Miami.

He admitted to helping Abramoff and Kidan buy SunCruz by persuading Ney to insert comments into the Congressional Record that were ''calculated to pressure the then-owner to sell on terms favorable'' to the buyers. . .

Boulis, the entrepreneur known for launching the Miami Subs chain, was slain in a mob-style hit on Feb. 6, 2001. Four months later, SunCruz sank into bankruptcy under the new ownership led by Abramoff and Kidan.

More: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_11_27.php#007111

If it can happen to Tony Blair. . .

http://www.politics.co.uk/party-politics/labour-party/poll-finds-blairs-popularity-at-new-low-$15099468.htm
A YouGov poll for the Daily Telegraph finds that while 73 per cent of voters believed the prime minister could be trusted in October 1997, this has now fallen to 25 per cent. . .

http://www.upi.com/InternationalIntelligence/view.php?StoryID=20051123-052153-2622r
This will not be a happy Thanksgiving for President George Bush, but he need just look across the Atlantic to know it could be worse. His only reliable ally, Britain's Tony Blair, now seems to be facing the full-scale parliamentary inquiry into the Iraq war -- its justification, conduct and aftermath -- that Bush has been able to avoid. . .

The decline of the news media – and the reasons for it. A great two-parter from Michael Massing in NYRB

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18516

http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18555

Is Bob Woodward actively helping the WH’s Plame defense?

http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2005_11_20_digbysblog_archive.html#113304926346230293

More on who leaked to Woodward: the case for and against Armitage

http://www.needlenose.com/node/view/2351

Bonus item: there is no end to their pettiness

http://www.pandagon.net/archives/2005/11/republicans_in.html
ON May 26, Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, sponsored a resolution congratulating Carrie Underwood for winning the "American Idol" television program.

Last Friday, Senators Jon Corzine and Frank Lautenberg, Democrats of New Jersey, sponsored a resolution congratulating Bruce Springsteen on the 30th anniversary of his album "Born to Run."

Guess which resolution got shot down by the party in power?

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***

Saturday, November 26, 2005

PRETZEL LOGIC

Why Cheney’s dishonest and hate-filled attacks on war critics don’t make sense as a defense of the Bush policy – even if you took them at face value

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/24/AR2005112400477.html

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_11_20.php#007108
[Josh Marshall] We've just witnessed a ferocious two weeks of attacks over the future direction of our policy in Iraq. And in that brawl, the White House and its surrogates have launched all manner of attacks against those who would 'cut and run' before 'our job is finshed' in Iraq,

Now comes this article in Saturday's Los Angeles Times which reports that said turbo-testicular worthies have reviewed the situation and -- surprise, surprise! -- our job appears to be almost done. . .

Again, it’s all about WHO gets to announce the troop withdrawal plan – here’s my guess that Bush is holding it for his State of the Union speech in January

http://www.ericumansky.com/2005/11/everything_is_g.html

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_11_20_atrios_archive.html#113301086954110385

Alito’s explanations for his ethical lapses are worse than the offenses themselves

http://makeashorterlink.com/?E2272283C
Judge Samuel Alito has said he did not break a federal ethics law when he ruled in a case involving the company that handles his mutual fund investments. . . Alito and the White House have offered several explanations: that a computer glitch allowed the disqualification issue to slip through undetected, that Alito's 1990 pledge to stay out of Vanguard appeals only applied to his initial service, and that the promise was "unduly restrictive."

"The explanation causes greater concern than the problem," said Stephen Gillers, a professor specializing in legal ethics at New York University's School of Law. "It would have all gone away if Judge Alito had said, `This was an oversight.' People can forgive oversights. We all have them."

Doug Kendall, executive director of the Community Rights Counsel, a public interest law firm, said the response was "inconsistent and somewhat incoherent.". . . "His explanation has made it an issue that will continue through the (Senate) hearings," said Kendall.

Judges who have even one share of stock in a company are not allowed to rule in cases involving that company. Because of that, recusals are common at the high court.

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/alito-has-problems-with-ethics-as-in.html
[Joe in D.C.] Alito told the Senate under oath that he WOULD NOT rule in cases involving Vanguard. . . Alito heard a case involving Vanguard anyway. Then, he was indignant when challenged. . . Bottom line: Scalito told the Senate one thing, then did the opposite. He can't be trusted.

How the New York Times helped Bush and his gang sell the war in Iraq

http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001570350

Padilla and other Small Potatoes

http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/003140.html

Abramoff scandal continues to spread. . .

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/11/25/AR2005112501423_pf.html
The Justice Department's wide-ranging investigation of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has entered a highly active phase as prosecutors are beginning to move on evidence pointing to possible corruption in Congress and executive branch agencies, lawyers involved in the case said.

Prosecutors have already told one lawmaker, Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), and his former chief of staff that they are preparing a possible bribery case against them, according to two sources knowledgeable about the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The 35 to 40 investigators and prosecutors on the Abramoff case are focused on at least half a dozen members of Congress, lawyers and others close to the probe said. . .

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-na-doolittle26nov26,1,7674992.story

http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2005_11/007638.php

http://www.tpmcafe.com/story/2005/11/25/12929/770

http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/corruption_in_washington_/2005/11/lowering_the_threshold_of_bribery.php

. . . including murder?

http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/week_2005_11_20.php#007105

Print the Bush/Al Jazeera memos! (Thanks to Atrios for the link)

http://www.boris-johnson.com/archives/2005/11/bush_and_al-jaz.html

More on the use of white phosphorus

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/25/2336/1984

(Former) Bush supporters losing faith

http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/26/politics/26voices.html

U.S. using Patriot Act to selectively block foreign scholars?

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1123/p02s01-uspo.html

Another way for the WH to suppress access to information

http://atrios.blogspot.com/2005_11_20_atrios_archive.html#113298272859796683

Ann Coulter, rotten to the very core

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2005/11/yet-another-reason-to-loathe-ann.html
“It is simply a fact that Democrats like Murtha are encouraging the Iraqi insurgents when they say the war is going badly and it’s time to bring the troops home…[T]hey long to see U.S. troops shot, humiliated, and driven from the field of battle. They fill the airwaves with treason…These people are not only traitors, they are gutless traitors.”

More: http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/25/18832/652

The fraud that is No Child Left Behind. Wouldn’t you know that an education policy proposed by George Bush would result in standards being LOWERED?

http://www.markarkleiman.com/archives/education_policy_/2005/11/defining_mastery_down.php

Bonus item: No, NOT Photoshopped

http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2005/11/26/21439/283

***If you enjoy PBD and support what we are doing, you can help by forwarding a copy of this issue to your friends (using the envelope link below) or by sending them a copy of its URL (http://pbd.blogspot.com).

I don't get anything personally out of this project, except the satisfaction of doing it (I don't run ads, etc). The credit really all goes to the people whose material I copy and redistribute. But if I do have a "mission," it is to get this information into the hands of as many people as I can.***