Thursday, May 31, 2007


Bush seems to think that the situation in Iraq is similar to the situation in Korea, and requires the same solution. This is mind-numbingly stupid – frighteningly so. Who is the “external” enemy being kept out? Where exactly is the boundary, the DMZ, that will be protected? Where can the troops be stationed in safety over the long haul? Is he talking about a FIFTY YEAR commitment, as we’ve had in Korea?

I’d like to see a Senate vote on THAT proposal.

With every passing day it becomes clearer and clearer: they have no clue – NONE – of what they are doing and what they are hoping to accomplish
[Reuters] President George W. Bush would like to see a lengthy U.S. troop presence in Iraq like the one in South Korea to provide stability but not in a frontline combat role, the White House said on Wednesday. . . [read on]
[DS] I have believed, from the beginning – though I have always hoped to be proven wrong – that the Bush White House (i.e. Cheney) has had as its principal goal in Iraq the establishment of a permanent military presence in that country. . . [read on]
[Josh Marshall] The president says so many stupid things about Iraq that it's sort of hard to know which ones to focus on. But in purely political terms if no others I would think the president's critics would want to focus in on what the White House said about how long the president thinks US troops should stay in Iraq. . . .

As TPM Reader DS made clear in the email we posted earlier, there's only one goal that makes sense of that strategy. And that is to permanently dominate the cluster of oil fields in southern Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Iran. Nothing to do with democracy, as though that needed saying. But also nothing to do with terrorism. We're permanently occupying Iraq to lock down the world oil supply.

But all that is commentary. The headline is clear enough to get the message out: the president wants US troops in Iraq for decades to come. . . .

[WG] The proper analogy for Iraq is still Vietnam. While the government we created in South Korea was functional and able to control its population, the government we have created in Iraq, like the government we created in South Vietnam, has been largely irrelevant. In Iraq, Shiites and Sunnis are fighting us, our al Maliki government, the Kurds, each other and themselves in a last-man-standing free-for-all. While it's tempting to try to find some method to the madness of the last few years, you won't find it in a 50-year plan to control the oil supply of the Middle East. That's a pipe dream that didn't survive the occupation. By floating the Korean occupation as an analogy for Iraq, Bush has created one more leaky vessel to cling to as his presidency is swept into the backwaters of history. . . .

How much can we trust General Petraeus’s own evaluation of how well his new Iraq war policy is working?
[Ilan Goldenberg] So would this ever happen in the corporate world? You have an employee. He’s doing a job. You ask him to evaluate how he is doing his job. You base your entire evaluation on his own assessment without getting any objective outside input. Sounds ridiculous doesn’t it. But that’s exactly what President Bush wants us to do when evaluating whether or not the "surge" is working. . . .
Over the weekend, Fox News pundit Fred Barnes claimed that in September, Gen. David Petraeus will report “great progress and say [Baghdad] is heavily pacified.” That optimistic assessment is not shared, however, by one of Petraeus’ key advisers.

On CBS Evening News last night, Stephen Biddle, an early proponent of the escalation, argued that Bush’s strategy in Iraq is “likelier to fail than succeed at this point.” Biddle assessed that there is “maybe a one in ten” chance the escalation will succeed. “Maybe it’s a one in five longshot, if we play our cards right,” he said. . .
[Rich Lowry] Was talking to an influential Republican strategist who thinks if Iraq looks the way it does now in September, Bush will lose about 25 Senate Republicans on a bill with some sort of timetable for withdrawal. . .

You think there isn’t a desperate troop shortage?
[Jeralyn Merritt] Army Returns Soldiers With Missing Limbs to Active Duty . . .

Bush worries that America is “losing its soul” (not that Mr. Torture and Secret Rendition has had anything to do with that)


Bush announces a $30 billion AIDS program. Does ANYONE believe the money will be administered fairly and effectively – or will this just be another boondoggle for theocratic “abstinence” programs?
[NYT] “This money will be spent wisely,” Mr. Bush said in the White House Rose Garden, where the brilliant sunshine and the music of birds seemed incongruous, given the seriousness of the subject.

[Tristero] That's right. Bush actually said, “This money will be spent wisely.” If that ain't a tipoff, I dunno what is. . .

Bush in denial
[Tim Grieve] But for our money, the most interesting part of Ron Hutcheson's interview with Bush comes toward the end, when he asks the president whether Karl Rove was "the main guy drawing up the list" of U.S. attorneys who were fired last year. "Just look at the facts as they've come out," Bush says.

Hutcheson: It's unclear.

Bush: There has been plenty of testimony, plenty of hearings, plenty of statements. And one thing is for certain, that there was no wrongdoing done.

The question, again, wasn't whether there was "wrongdoing done," but whether Rove was the "main guy drawing up the list" of U.S. attorneys who were fired. We'd call Bush's response a nondenial denial -- if only there had been any denial in it at all.

Yes, it WAS all about the phony “voter fraud” agenda the White House wanted them to pursue
[Daniel Politi] The LAT fronts a look at how the former U.S. attorney for Minnesota, Tom Heffelfinger, who was frequently praised as an effective prosecutor, ended up on the infamous Department of Justice list of U.S. attorneys who could be fired. It increasingly looks like Heffelfinger's work to protect the voting rights of Native Americans was at least partly to blame. His name appeared on the list only three months after his office began questioning a state directive that would have forbidden tribal ID cards as a valid form of identification at the voting booth. . .

[Josh Marshall] One of my first introductions to how aggressively the post-2000 Rove GOP was going to use bogus 'vote fraud' stories to stop minorities from being able to vote came in the extremely close South Dakota senate race back in 2002. . . It was a riveting and also profoundly disgusting story. . .

Rove protégé Tim Griffin reportedly OUT as US Attorney in Arkansas – and wait ‘til you see what his new gig might be

Get more popcorn
Justice Department investigators have widened an internal probe of the firings of U.S. attorneys to include a broader examination of hiring practices at the sprawling department, including the troubled Civil Rights Division and programs for beginning lawyers, officials said yesterday.

"We have expanded the scope of our investigation to include allegations regarding improper political or other considerations in hiring decisions within the Department of Justice” . . .


On the other hand, there are plenty of reasons to be suspicious of these “internal” investigations – a case in point

Now that Fitzgerald has affirmed unambiguously that Valerie Plame WAS a covert agent, will a single one of the right-wing’s apologists, pundits, hired guns, and hackologists admit they were wrong when they were pooh-poohing the notion that there was any underlying crime at stake, because they said she wasn’t?

Wolfie’s replacement, Bob Zoellick, may not have smooth sailing over at the World Bank

Here’s something you probably didn’t know about Fred Thompson, the new savior of anybody-but-Rudy-McRomney Republicans
[Atrios] Candy Crowley just informed me that Fred Thompson had a "bout with cancer" but that he's "cancer free." . . .

Thompson has indolent lymphoma. It's incurable. It will kill him, if something else doesn't first. It may not kill him very soon. He may live many years. But he's not "cancer free."
[Matt Yglesias] I think Thompson is going to end up as a case study in why governors have an easier time winning the White House than do Senators. If you combined Thompson's persona and TV skills with a few token gubernatorial accomplishments (cut taxes eleventeen times, tripled awesomeness, etc.) you'd have a bitchin' presidential contender.

Instead, as a 1990s-vintage GOP Senator he has no real accomplishments to his name and a voting record ready to be mined for attacks . . .[read on]


McCain/Lieberman in ’08? They can share photos
CNN reports that Lieberman is on an unannounced "surprise" visit to Baghdad. Paula Hancocks followed Lieberman around. She talked to Lieberman and reported, "He said he was happy with the progress. . .”
[McClatchy] The soldiers smiled and greeted him, stood with him for pictures and sat down to a lunch of roast beef and turkey sandwiches. It was unclear if they ever asked their questions....It isn't clear whether [Spc. David] Williams mentioned the last line on his note card, the one that had a star next to it.

"We don't feel like we're making any progress," it said. . .

Theocracy watch: Sam Brownback (R-KS) plays “how low can you go?”
[Tristero] Sam Brownback's ghost writer gives us the Republican candidate's opinion of science and reality. He's against 'em both. On principle. The amount of deliberate misinformation, bad science, and even worse theology in this op-ed achieves a new high on the Idiocies Per Sentence Index (tm). However, while there is plenty of stupidity to unpack in Brownback, I'd like to focus on only one small rhetorical detail . . .

[Mark Kleiman] Scientists are popularly respected, and friendly to Democrats. The Republicans have been mistreating scientists and science. This is a political opportunity for the Democrats, but one they're not currently grabbing. . .

Please explain it to me: Why isn’t it fair game to ask Dick and Lynne Cheney to comment on this?
Concerned Women for America spokesman blasts Mary Cheney and girlfriend as just "playing house," not "real parents," birth of son is "tragedy" . . . .

Of course, Cheney doesn’t think he has to answer for ANYTHING
“A lawyer for Vice President Dick Cheney told the Secret Service in September to eliminate data on who visited Cheney at his official residence, a newly disclosed letter states.”

The Sept. 13, 2006, letter from Cheney’s lawyer says logs for Cheney’s residence on the grounds of the Naval Observatory are subject to the Presidential Records Act.

The Justice Department filed the letter Friday in a lawsuit by a private group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, seeking the identities of conservative religious leaders who visited Cheney at his official residence. . . .

UPDATE: Such unethical secrecy is not new for the Vice President. In 2005, the Center for Public Integrity discovered that “Cheney and his staff have been unilaterally exempting themselves from long-standing travel disclosure rules followed by the rest of the executive branch, including the Office of the President.”
[CBS News, April 15, 2007] Despite the conviction of his former chief of staff in a high-profile trial, Vice President Dick Cheney said today that he has not had an opportunity to speak to his friend, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, the highest-ranking official of the Bush administration to be convicted of federal crimes.

[NY Post, March 21, 2007] Vice President Dick Cheney spoke to Hudson Institute members Monday at the Union League Club. Asked about a possible pardon for Scooter Libby, he smiled and said, "You can imagine how I feel about that." Libby himself was seated in the front row.

Bonus item: More Stupid White Men
Michael Griffin NASA Administrator has told America's National Public Radio that while he has no doubt a trend of global warming exists "I am not sure that it is fair to say that it is a problem we must wrestle with. . . . I guess I would ask which human beings - where and when - are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that's a rather arrogant position for people to take."
[Dennis Kucinich, on why he has agreed to participate in the Fox News sponsored debate when all the major Democratic candidates have declined] "I know some people object to Fox News," Kucinich said, "and they take issue with Fox coverage, and the way Fox covers the news. I've taken issue with Fox on many occasions, but I don't hesitate to be questioned by Fox or any of its affiliates. I've also taken issue with the New York Times -- which, after all, was largely responsible for selling the Bush war plans to the American people” . . . [read on!]
[Paul Kiel] Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons’ run-ins with the FBI, a cocktail waitress, the Wall Street Journal and most recently his state’s legislature, have gotten the new governor’s tenure off to a “rocky start” . . . It looks like the Republican governor’s involvement in myriad scandals might be catching up with him. . .

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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.***

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


May, deadliest month of the year in Iraq, third deadliest all-time, and it’s not over yet
[Dick Cheney, May 30, 2005] I think we may well have some kind of presence there over a period of time. But I think the level of activity that we see today, from a military standpoint, I think will clearly decline. I think they're in the last throes, if you will, of the insurgency.

It’s inexcusable that the Bush gang lied to drive the country into war – but, you know, this isn’t okay either
A new biography of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton has once again raised the issue of whether members of Congress read a key intelligence report before the 2002 vote to authorize war in Iraq.

Clinton did not read the 90-page, classified National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq. . .

For members of Congress to read the report, they had to go to a secure location on Capitol Hill. The Washington Post reported in 2004 that no more than six senators and a handful of House members were logged as reading the document. . .

The intelligence report did contain passages that raised questions about the weapons conclusions, said John McLaughlin, then deputy director of the CIA.

"I think if someone read the entire report, they would walk away thinking the intelligence community generally thinks he has weapons of mass destruction, but there are quite a bit of differences," he said.

On “fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here.” Support for Bush’s war, what remains of it, has moved beyond any semblance of coherence or consistency
[Josh Marshall] There's a very troubling, but not very surprising article in today's Times about the outward flow of jihadists from Iraq into neighboring countries. Lebanon, Jordan are cited as examples. But one could likely list all the neighboring states and Europe and the United States as destinations for fighters either trained in the Iraqi insurgency or wielding methods honed there against American troops.

On its face it is almost a storyline you might expect war supporters to embrace -- Iraq as the central front in the 'War on Terror', a breeding ground of terrorism now spreading to other countries. Again we see the leitmotif of the president's war on terror -- evidence of the abject failure of his policies marshaled as evidence of the necessity of pursuing them.

We're so far deep into this mess that sometimes I believe we're past the point of argument. You look at the evidence and you either see it or you don't. Or perhaps more agnostically, you look at the evidence and one of two completely contradictory narratives makes sense. Whichever is right, the assumptions brought to the issue are so divergent as almost to defy argument or debate. . . [read on]


Bush, head cheerleader of denying the facts – and, for once, a mainstream news outlet calls him on it
[AP] Bush said: "I recognize there are a handful there, or some, who just say, `Get out, you know, it's just not worth it. Let's just leave.' I strongly disagree with that attitude. Most Americans do as well."

In fact, polls show Americans do not disagree, and that leaving — not winning — is their main goal. . . [read on]

The FACT is, he’s even starting to lose the base
Despite President Bush's low popularity [28%] he is still getting better marks than the weakest ratings for Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter, according to a new analysis from Harris Interactive. . .

[NB: I think this certainly qualifies as the most ridiculous attempt to put a positive spin on terrifically bad news . . .]


Another edition of “Putting Bush on the couch”

We're learning more about the forged Niger uranium document that helped build the case for war – and triggered the whole Plame mess
One day in December 2002, [Alan] Foley [head of the CIA's Weapons Intelligence Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Center] called his senior production managers to his office. He had a clear message for the men and women who controlled the output of the center's analysts: "If the president wants to go to war, our job is to find the intelligence to allow him to do so." . . .

[McJoan] I second both Schwartz and Kevin Drum in saying that maybe Congress should think about interviewing Mr. Foley, extensively and under oath. . .

[Digby] Not stovepiping, not intelligence failure --- they just made stuff up . . .

The real source of the Plame leaks
[Dan Froomkin] Special counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald has made it clearer than ever that he was hot on the trail of a coordinated campaign to out CIA agent Valerie Plame until that line of investigation was cut off by the repeated lies from Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby. . .

Fitzgerald has repeatedly asserted that grand-jury secrecy rules prohibit him from being more forthcoming about either the course of his investigation or any findings beyond those he disclosed to make the case against Libby. But when his motives have been attacked during court proceedings, Fitzgerald has occasionally shown flashes of anger -- and has hinted that he and his investigative team suspected more malfeasance at higher levels of government than they were able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. . .

It was established at trial that it was Cheney himself who first told Libby about Plame's identity as a CIA agent, in the course of complaining about criticisms of the administration's run-up to war leveled by her husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson. And, as Fitzgerald notes: "The evidence at trial further established that when the investigation began, Mr. Libby kept the Vice President apprised of his shifting accounts of how he claimed to have learned about Ms. Wilson's CIA employment."

The investigation, Fitzgerald writes, "was necessary to determine whether there was concerted action by any combination of the officials known to have disclosed the information about Ms. Plame to the media as anonymous sources, and also whether any of those who were involved acted at the direction of others. This was particularly important in light of Mr. Libby's statement to the FBI that he may have discussed Ms. Wilson's employment with reporters at the specific direction of the Vice President." . . . [read on]

[Newsweek] An unclassified summary of outed CIA officer Valerie Plame's employment history at the spy agency, disclosed for the first time today in a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, indicates that Plame was "covert" when her name became public in July 2003. . .

NOW they tell us
As the Bush administration completes secret new rules governing interrogations, a group of experts advising the intelligence agencies are arguing that the harsh techniques used since the 2001 terrorist attacks are outmoded, amateurish and unreliable. . .

More on the Nazi origins of the “enhanced interrogation” euphemism

The Democrats may have lost the battle over the Iraq spending bill – but they can still win the war
[CNN] In the months ahead, lawmakers will vote repeatedly on whether U.S. troops should stay and whether Bush has the authority to continue the war. The Democratic strategy is intended to ratchet up pressure on the president, as well as on moderate Republicans who have grown tired of defending Bush administration policy in a deeply unpopular war. . .

Will the Dems call for a special prosecutor to investigate DOJ misconduct?

As Mark Kleiman says, let’s start shining the light on Fred Thompson – the best GOP alternative to Rudy McRomney


Giuliani’s trumped-up 9/11 street cred

The immigration debate is a tailor-made wedge issue that the Dems can use to divide and demoralize the Republicans (a game the GOP has played brilliantly against them for years) – will the Dems be clever enough to do it effectively?

Just another crooked Republican
[Kos] The FBI has been on a tear in Alaska of late, cracking a ring of corrupt Alaskan state legislators (all Republican, of course), who had the temerity to call themselves the "Corrupt Bastards Club". (The Anchorage Daily News has a whole section dedicated to the FBI investigation.)

And my, who turns up as a target of the FBI investigation? Our favorite Internet expert and bridge builder extraordinaire -- Ted Stevens. . .

Newt goes ballistic
Newt Gingrich is one of those who fear that Republicans have been branded with the label of incompetence. He says that the Bush Administration has become a Republican version of the Jimmy Carter Presidency, when nothing seemed to go right. “It’s just gotten steadily worse,” he said. “There was some point during the Iranian hostage crisis, the gasoline rationing, the malaise speech, the sweater, the rabbit”—Gingrich was referring to Carter’s suggestion that Americans wear sweaters rather than turn up their thermostats, and to the “attack” on Carter by what cartoonists quickly portrayed as a “killer rabbit” during a fishing trip—“that there was a morning where the average American went, ‘You know, this really worries me.’ ” He added, “You hire Presidents, at a minimum, to run the country well enough that you don’t have to think about it, and, at a maximum, to draw the country together to meet great challenges you can’t avoid thinking about.” Gingrich continued, “When you have the collapse of the Republican Party, you have an immediate turn toward the Democrats, not because the Democrats are offering anything better, but on a ‘not them’ basis. And if you end up in a 2008 campaign between ‘them’ and ‘not them,’ ‘not them’ is going to win.” . . . [read on]


Wolfie’s replacement
[Matt Yglesias] Robert Zoellick, who doesn't seem to have done the country any good as US Trade Representative or as Deputy Secretary of State, but who also has the rare distinction of having served at a high level of the Bush administration without directly causing any major fiascos is set to head the World Bank. . . .

Theocracy watch: Tom DeLay is hearing Voices in his head

Theocracy watch, pt 2: Remember that when Bush wants more money for “abstinence programs,” this is really about his larger agenda of funneling as much public money to religious organizations as possible – watch for a big upsurge in this during his remaining months in power

Why is the Bush gang AGAINST testing meat for mad cow disease?

Hmmm. . . now why would Fox News have cut back their coverage of the Iraq war (half the coverage of other networks)? Thanks to Buzzflash for the link

Bonus item: The new $600 million US embassy in Iraq – yep, they’re settling in for a long, long, stay

***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 (

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, May 29, 2007


Hey, how’s it going?
After a six weeks away, CBS Chief Foreign Correspondent, Lara Logan, returned to Iraq and shared her stark observations with Bob Schieffer this morning on "Face The Nation." Logan spoke about the deteriorating conditions in Bagdad and the underlying theme coming out of Iraq; sectarian killings are down, but U.S. troop deaths are up and the number of attacks on our soldiers are on the rise.

Schieffer: "What's your assessment at this point, is it better, worse, or about the the same as when you left?"

Logan: "Well, I can tell you Bob, I've only been gone for about six weeks and just the drive from the airport into Baghdad itself was really visually disturbing. You could sense there is a dramatic change in the feeling in the city itself. It looks like a wasteland. The drive really reminded me of something out of Armageddon."

Ask the troops
[Kevin Drum] In the New York Times today, Michael Kamber writes that after spending a week with an infantry company in Baghdad he can find virtually no one who still believes they're doing any good in Iraq . . .
"We're helping guys that are trying to kill us"

Bush’s version
"Those who serve are not fatalists or cynics," he added. "They know that one day this war will end, as all wars do. Our duty is to make sure this war was worth the sacrifice" and that the fighting men and women succeeded — and "where tyrants and terrorists are frustrated and foiled ... where our nation is more secure from attack."

"This is our country's calling," Mr. Bush said. "It's our country's destiny." . . .


Iraq’s newest export
[Steve Benen] The good news is there appears to be something of an “exodus” of terrorists leaving Iraq. The bad news is they’re leaving because they’ve finished their training and are now prepared to wreak havoc elsewhere. . .

Most of the White House’s Iraq rhetoric, particularly during the fight with Congress over war funding, emphasizes the significance of preventing Iraq from becoming a launching pad for terrorism. If we withdraw from Iraq, Bush and others argue, terrorists will establish training camps, create a base of operations, and launch attacks elsewhere.

What Bush and his allies neglect to mention is this is already exactly what’s underway in Iraq right now. . . .
[Swopa] Consider it George W. Bush's lasting gift to the world. . . .


Diplomacy: what a concept!
[Steve Benen] [I]t's worth noting that after years of saying talks with Iran would be reckless and irresponsible, the Bush gang is grudgingly accepting the reality that Dems have been pushing for quite a while.

Would it be rude to point out how often this has happened of late? Dems said Bush should talk directly to Syria; Bush said Dems were weak to even suggest it; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should talk to North Korea and use Clinton's Agreed Framework as a model for negotiations; Bush said this was out of the question; and Bush eventually came around. Dems said Bush should increase the size of the U.S. military; Bush said this was unnecessary; and Bush eventually came around.

And Dems said Bush should engage Iran in direct talks, particularly on Iraq. It took a while, but the president came around on this, too.

For years, all we've heard from the right is that Bush is a bold visionary when it comes to foreign policy, and Dems are weak and clueless. And yet, here we are, watching the White House embrace the Dems' approach on most of the nation's major foreign policy challenges.

Now, if Bush could just bring himself to accept the Democratic line on Iraq, too, we'd really see some progress.


Suppressing unfavorable news coverage


More evidence that Republicans are ready to bail on the President’s war policies come September
[Steve Benen] When Chuck Hagel makes comments like these, it's expected. When Jeff Sessions makes them, it's unusual.

In addition to Sessions, Sen. Gordon Smith (R-Ore.) recently said he "won't be the only Republican, or one of two Republicans, demanding a change in our disposition of troops in Iraq" by September. Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) said he'll need to see "significant changes" by September. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) wants a change if the policy isn't working "by the time we get to September." Sen. Norm Coleman (R-Minn.) said, "There is a sense that by September, you've got to see real action on the part of Iraqis. I think everybody knows that, I really do."

We'll see. Anyone who has ever bet on congressional Republicans bucking the White House on war policy has lost money. Either way, whether war supporters like it or not, September is circled on DC's calendar.
[LAT] U.S. military leaders in Iraq are increasingly convinced that most of the broad political goals President Bush laid out early this year in his announcement of a troop buildup will not be met this summer and are seeking ways to redefine success. . .

Military officers said they understood that any report that key goals had not been met would add to congressional Democrats' skepticism. But some counterinsurgency advisors to Petraeus have argued that it was never realistic to expect that Iraqis would reach agreement on some of their most divisive issues after just a few months of the American troop buildup.

[Kevin Drum] These unnamed "counterinsurgency advisors" would be right if nobody had been working on any of these key goals until February 2007. In fact, though, they've been key goals for a long time. The problem isn't that we won't have any progress to show after six months, the problem is that we don't have any progress to show after four years.

Paul Krugman presents a worthy offering for Memorial Day
Now that war has turned into an epic disaster, in part because the war’s architects, whom we now know were warned about the risks, didn’t want to hear about them. Yet Congress seems powerless to stop it. How did it all go so wrong?

Future historians will shake their heads over how easily America was misled into war. The warning signs, the indications that we had a rogue administration determined to use 9/11 as an excuse for war, were there, for those willing to see them, right from the beginning — even before Mr. Bush began explicitly pushing for war with Iraq.

In fact, the very first time Mr. Bush declared a war on terror that “will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated,” people should have realized that he was going to use the terrorist attack to justify anything and everything.

When he used his first post-attack State of the Union to denounce an “axis of evil” consisting of three countries that had nothing to do either with 9/11 or with each other, alarm bells should have gone off. . . [read on]

What the Department of Homeland Security ISN’T doing

It’s at the point where, whenever somebody quits this administration, you assume they are escaping with legal questions nipping at their heels
As the Bush administration inches closer to its concluding months, more top aides are headed out to the private sector. Sara M. Taylor, the White House political director and microtargeting guru who has been with George W. Bush from the outset of his first presidential campaign, is the latest staff member to leave the president's employ. . .

Paul Wolfowitz: the only person left on the planet who thinks his resignation deal was some sort of vindication (well, we knew he was capable of incredible self-deception already, didn’t we?)
"I'm pleased that finally the board did accept that I acted in good faith and acted ethically," he said. . . [read on]

More incredible self-deception:
[Vanity Fair] With nearly two-thirds of Americans opposed to the war, one could be forgiven for thinking that [Richard] Perle might be looking for cover. Earlier this year, Vanity Fair magazine published an article raising the astonishing prospect that Perle, one of the most ardent advocates of war on Iraq, had been having second thoughts. . .

Why we should know who wrote letters of support for Scooter Libby for his sentencing hearing

***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 (

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, May 28, 2007


The Party of the Big Lie
In defending the Iraq war, leading Republican presidential contenders are increasingly echoing words and phrases used by President Bush in the run-up to the war that reinforce the misleading impression that Iraq was responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. . . [read on]


This isn’t complicated is it?
[Maureen Dowd] The president said an intelligence report (which turned out to be two years old) showed that Osama had been trying to send Qaeda terrorists in Iraq to attack America. So clearly, Osama is capable of multitasking: Order the killers in Iraq to go after American soldiers there and American civilians here. There AND here. Get it, W.?

The president is on a continuous loop of sophistry: We have to push on in Iraq because Al Qaeda is there, even though Al Qaeda is there because we pushed into Iraq. Our troops have to keep dying there because our troops have been dying there. We have to stay so the enemy doesn’t know we’re leaving. Osama hasn’t been found because he’s hiding. . .

Bush is reportedly “furious” about the story yesterday saying that planning has begun for a 50% pullout of troops next year (before the elections). Why would he be angry? (1) They do intend to do this, but they want to make the announcement on their own schedule, in their own way, and don’t want to make it seem like a necessary response to crumbling Congressional support. (2) They actually have no intention of pulling out troops any time soon, and they want to keep expectations low that this is even a possibility. (3) Whether they will or won’t pull out troops, they’re furious about the leak itself, and an increased culture of leaks (which they controlled so rigidly early in Bush’s tenure) suggesting that more and more people are covering their own rears rather than reinforce the Bush message machine

Listen to the troops
“In 2003, 2004, 100 percent of the soldiers wanted to be here, to fight this war,” said Sgt. First Class David Moore, a self-described “conservative Texas Republican” and platoon sergeant who strongly advocates an American withdrawal. “Now, 95 percent of my platoon agrees with me.” . . .

Six Memorial Days under George Bush
[May 28, 2001] It is not in our nature to seek out wars and conflicts. . . [read on!]

John McCain’s torturous deviations on Iraq

US mercenaries in Iraq are not covered by US military laws, and they are protected from coverage by local Iraq laws. The consequences of this stunning lawless status are quite predictable
Employees of Blackwater USA, a private security firm under contract to the State Department, opened fire on the streets of Baghdad twice in two days last week, and one of the incidents provoked a standoff between the security contractors and Iraqi forces, U.S. and Iraqi officials said.

A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.

Blackwater confirmed that its employees were involved in two shootings but could neither confirm nor deny that there had been any casualties, according to a company official who declined to be identified because of the firm's policy of not addressing incidents publicly. . . .



More from Cheney’s West Point commencement address
"As Army officers on duty in the war on terror, you will now face enemies who oppose and despise everything you know to be right, every notion of upright conduct and character, and every belief you consider worth fighting for and living for. Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States. Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."

[Digby] Benen wryly observes that it would be nice if Cheney referred to the "protections of the Geneva Conventions and the US Constitution as a good thing, perhaps protections that he's proud of?"

No kidding. He talks about such things as if they are some sort of anachronistic nicety that everyone agrees is completely ridiculous. . . [read on]
[Matt Yglesias] This, of course, is exactly the sort of thing one would point to as an example of the moral superiority enjoyed by a liberal democracy when fighting a group of murderous fanatics -- we treat people in accordance with domestic and international law in a manner consistent with the basic principles of human rights and human dignity; they do not. But in Dick Cheney's America our delicate sensibilities fall away too.


The growing problem of Iraq’s refugees

Looks as if the threat of mass resignations over the DOJ’s refusal to approve illegal surveillance, and Bush’s efforts to circumvent or pressure them, was even worse than we’d heard
[Newsweek] Back at the Justice Department, there is an equally extraordinary scene. Appalled by the White House's heavy-handed attempt to coerce the gravely ill attorney general, virtually the entire top leadership of the Justice Department is threatening to resign. The group includes the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum and the chief of the Criminal Division, Chris Wray. Some of them gather in the conference room of Deputy Attorney General James Comey, who describes Ashcroft's bravely turning away the president's men from his hospital bed. The mood that night in the conference room was tense -- and sober.

"This was a showdown," says a former senior Justice Department official who was there. "Everybody understood the choice they were making and the gravity of the situation. Everybody knew what the stakes were." A different source estimated that as many as 30 top DOJ officials would have resigned. . . .

[NB: And still Gonzales maintains that there was no serious disagreement over the policies]


Gee, no one wants to be a US Attorney under this administration – I wonder why

Iraq or Anna Nicole Smith? A survey of media priorities

How the press keeps their thumbs on the scale
[Avedon Carol] Jonathan Alter has an interesting view of things: Basically, if the public believes something that's totally wrong because the Republican spin machine keeps pushing it, Democrats can't afford to contradict it. Oh, that's not exactly what he says, but it's what it amounts to. The first rule people need to learn about dealing with lies is to stop repeating them. I hate to disagree with my friend keninny about this, but what Alter is doing is precisely what creates so many problems for Democrats - refusing to acknowledge that if you want to do the right thing and have people understand why you're doing it, you must tell them. Tell them the Republicans are lying about who is preventing funding from going to the troops, and that cutting off funding for the occupation does not mean leaving the troops high and dry in the desert. (Giving Bush what he wants does that, and has been doing so since the beginning.) Glenn Greenwald understands this, and understands that every time a Democrat caves in saying it's because we can't just leave those poor kids out there without proper funding, they are reinforcing the GOP lie, and thus making it harder to do the right thing. . . .


Bonus item: Gay pride – a breeding ground for terrorists?

***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 (

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, May 27, 2007


Bush’s great achievement
[Jonathan Freedland] One of the few foreign policy achievements of the Bush administration has been the creation of a near consensus among those who study international affairs, a shared view that stretches, however improbably, from Noam Chomsky to Brent Scowcroft, from the antiwar protesters on the streets of San Francisco to the well-upholstered office of former secretary of state James Baker. This new consensus holds that the 2003 invasion of Iraq was a calamity, that the presidency of George W. Bush has reduced America's standing in the world and made the United States less, not more, secure, leaving its enemies emboldened and its friends alienated. Paid-up members of the nation's foreign policy establishment, those who have held some of the most senior offices in the land, speak in a language once confined to the T-shirts of placard-wielding demonstrators. They rail against deception and dishonesty, imperialism and corruption. The only dispute between them is over the size and depth of the hole into which Bush has led the country he pledged to serve. . . . [read on]
[Craig Crawford] Whether you call it admirable resolve or blind stubbornness, George W. Bush’s refusal to compromise has once again kept management of the Iraq War firmly in his own hands. . .

Faced with nothing but bad news from Iraq, coupled with the enduring and widespread fear that his strategies are showing little or no hope of producing a turnaround on the battlefield or in public opinion, an unpopular president has been able to secure unfettered financing to maintain an unpopular war with no end in sight. How has Bush done this? . . .


More on the false promise of possible troop reductions (some day, perhaps, let’s wait and see)
[Glenn Greenwald] For four straight years, the same set of war supporters have constantly and repetitiously given the same exact false assurances about Iraq -- virtually verbatim -- in order to protect themselves politically. It is hard to know what is more amazing about this ritual -- (a) how stupid they believe Americans are that they can make the same commitments over and over which never transpire, or (b) that the press jumps each time to proclaim the imminent troop reductions as though it never happened before . . . [read on]


And sure enough:
[Reuters] The White House on Saturday played down a newspaper report that the Bush administration was weighing a scenario for possibly sharp cuts in U.S. troop levels in Iraq next year. . .

Bush claims he’s still credible on Iraq because “he reads the intelligence” – but does he?
[Steve Benen] In other words, the White House managed to reject what intelligence agencies got right and embrace what the agencies got wrong. How exquisitely true to form. . . [read on]

The lies that built the case for war

No shame
[Joe Sudbay] As John notes . . . the Bush administration refused to provide IED-proof vehicles that troops in Iraq desperately wanted. Think Progress has the video of a last night's CBS News report on "the outrageous delay" in getting the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles to Iraq. These types of stories about sending troops to the Iraq war without proper equipment have been pervasive. Yet, today, Dick Cheney had the audacity to assure the graduating class at West Point that he and George Bush would make sure they had "all the equipment, supplies, manpower, training and support" they needed for "victory."


Could this story BE more revealing?
[Steve Benen] When it comes to Middle East policy, career U.S. intelligence officer Patrick Lang is hardly a slouch. He was in charge of the Middle East, South Asia, and terrorism for the Defense Intelligence Agency in the 1990s, and was later tapped to run the Pentagon's international spying operations.

So when he sat down in 2001 with Doug Feith for a job interview, Feith probably should have been anxious to bring someone with Lang's experience, stature, and expertise into the young Bush administration. Feith needed someone to run the Pentagon's office of special operations and low-intensity warfare, and Lang had been recommended for the position. The interview didn't go well. . .

[TP] Lang went to see him, he recalled during a May 7 panel discussion at the University of the District of Columbia.

"He was sitting there munching a sandwich while he was talking to me," Lang recalled, "which I thought was remarkable in itself, but he also had these briefing papers -- they always had briefing papers, you know -- about me.

"He's looking at this stuff, and he says, 'I've heard of you. I heard of you.'

"He says, 'Is it really true that you really know the Arabs this well, and that you speak Arabic this well? Is that really true? Is that really true?'

"And I said, 'Yeah, that's really true.'

"That's too bad," Feith said. . .

"That was the end of the interview," Lang said. "I'm not quite sure what he meant, but you can work it out."

A nice primer on political rhetoric: and why the Democrats have been losing this game

An example:
"Enhanced interrogation techniques"

Hmmm. . . . Obama and McCain don’t seem to like each other much. Let’s watch!

Look, I’m all for the Congressional Black Caucus: but it was a mistake to get into bed with Fox News, and now they’re paying the price for it

Sunday talk show line-ups
[Zachary Goldfarb] NBC's "Meet the Press" gives New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D) his due as the sole guest. Richardson announced early this week (for the third time) that he is running for the Democratic presidential nomination.

Meanwhile, long shot candidate Jim Gilmore (R), the former governor of Virginia, will appear on ABC's "This Week." Also on the show will be Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez for a discussion of immigration legislation.

"Fox News Sunday" has another long shot candidate, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee (R). Also appearing are Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex.).

CBS's "Face the Nation" has Sens. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) and Carl Levin (D-Mich.). And CNN's "Late Edition" has two 2008 candidates -- Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) and Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) -- as well as Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee.

Bonus item: Bill Maher on the French (thanks to AG for the link)

***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 (

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, May 26, 2007


Our gullible press falls once again for a “we may be planning for the possibility of the contingency of considering under certain circumstances to perhaps reduce troop levels at some unspecified point in the future” story

[Big Tent Democrat] If you buy this one, the Times has a nice bridge to sell you . . .

How many times have we heard that one? . . . [read on]
[Atrios] NA GA HA PEN

But it has the intended effect, driving THIS story off the headlines
Intelligence analysts predicted, in secret papers circulated within the government before the Iraq invasion, that al-Qaida would see U.S. military action as an opportunity to increase its operations and that Iran would try to shape a post-Saddam Iraq.

The top analysts in government also said that establishing a stable democracy in Iraq would be a "long, difficult and probably turbulent process." . . .
Months before the invasion of Iraq, U.S. intelligence agencies predicted that it would be likely to spark violent sectarian divides and provide al-Qaeda with new opportunities in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a report released yesterday by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Analysts warned that war in Iraq also could provoke Iran to assert its regional influence and "probably would result in a surge of political Islam and increased funding for terrorist groups" in the Muslim world. . .


Come September. . .
[Faiz] Whether the September reassessment successfully results in a drawdown currently depends on whether Gen. David Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, issues a candid report about the deteriorating conditions resulting from the escalation. Already, Petraeus has said that his report will not say “anything definitive.”

Center for American Progress Senior Fellow and former Reagan Pentagon official Lawrence Korb writes in the Philadelphia Inquirer today that Petraeus cannot be trusted to deliver an unbiased report . . .
[Hunter] For the love of God, do not shovel publicity crap about how anything is going to be different in September. You know, I know, the mailman knows, and the wastepaper basket down the hall knows that come September, a half-Friedman Unit away, precisely nothing will have changed. The "surge" will still be "surging", the Republicans will still be blustering about how any minute now they're going to start getting serious about oversight, but not quite yet, the administration will still be saying that with just six more months, real progress will be at hand, and a great number of Democrats will be cowering in abject terror of taking any position more forceful than a stern talking-to.

And in the intervening three months between then and now, somewhere around 300 more Americans will have been killed. While Congress and the president yet again declare a mulligan on the entire issue and decide to wait a few months, that's how the time is being bought, and that's how it's going to be paid for.

That's not OK, and it's not going to be OK. . . .

Yes, there still ARE people like this
[JDG] Yes, our war in Iraq is very much like the one in Viet Nam, but not the way its opponents mean the comparison. What's similar is this: Both of these war efforts by the United States have been sabotaged, probably on purpose, and we will probably lose this one as we lost Viet Nam, by the media's practice of showing us the daily body count in color on the nightly news every single day, again and again and again and again!

It is simply impossible for a democratic country to pursue any war, no matter how justified, to a successful conclusion under those conditions.

No matter what you think of the merits of the present war, it's obvious that two choices lie before America: either we go back to our pre-1950 policy (which most countries in the world still follow) of wartime censorship -- not just of information that would help enemy commanders, but also of information that would undermine our own public's morale -- or we may as well pack it in and invite China to rule our country, since we can never possibly win another war.

Follow-up on a Bush-Cheney split over what to do to Iran

Why do all those Constitution-lovers hate America?;_ylt=Air30H.P8o7cWtJ1FiCKq2qs0NUE
Senate Democrats are backing a bill that would grant new rights to terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, including access to a lawyer regardless of whether the prisoners are put on trial. . . .

It’s a story because THEY SAY it’s a story: the phony “flak” flak

Monica 2.0: “"At heart, I am a fairly quiet girl”
[Emily Bazelon and Dahlia Lithwick] Goodling, in fact, described herself as a "type-A woman" who blocked the promotion of another type-A woman basically because the office couldn't tolerate infighting between two strong women. . . . That move sounds pretty grown-up and steely. Yet in her testimony this week before the House judiciary committee, Goodling turned herself back into a little girl, and it's worth pointing out that the tactic worked brilliantly. . . .

To be sure, plenty of twenty- and thirty- and eightysomethings refer to themselves and their friends as girls. Particularly when there are mojitos around. But they don't often do so before the U.S. Congress. The same Goodling who once wanted to be powerful, so powerful that she refused to relinquish her power to hire and fire assistant U.S. attorneys even when she changed jobs at the Justice Department. . . .

And at the heart of Goodling's ingénue performance? The astonishing claim that while she broke the law, she "didn't mean to." This is the stuff of preschoolers, not cum laude graduates of law school. The images we can't shake: By night, the blond demon driver in the convertible who gets pulled over for speeding and charms the cops out of giving her a ticket with lots of hair-tossing and "I didn't know I was doing 90 miles per hour, officer …" By day, the busy-bee administrative assistant Girl Friday, beloved for responding to late-night calls with a winning "can do" flair. All of which would be sexist for us to invoke, had Goodling not gone so far to evoke it herself.

But heed the lesson, girlfriends. It works. . . [read on]


Who, me?,1,940844.story
The Justice Department said it could find no record to support claims by Goodling that taking politics into account to fill positions on the immigration bench had been approved by department officials.

Goodling is already under investigation on suspicion of violating federal civil service rules and department policy for considering political activity while she conducted reviews of candidates for career prosecutors. . .

The internal Justice Department investigation, although focused on Goodling, could turn up embarrassing information about Gonzales' management practices and what, if anything, he knew about the role that politics played in hiring employees protected by civil service laws. . . .
The Justice Department considered political affiliation in screening applicants for immigration court judgeships for several years until hiring was frozen in December after objections from department lawyers, current and former officials said yesterday.

The disclosures mean that the Justice Department may have violated civil service laws, which prohibit political considerations in hiring, for as long as two years before the tenure of Monica M. Goodling . . .

The impact of DOJ politicization on immigration judges

They’re not done yet: going after Rove and his (illegal) RNC emails

[Paul Kiel] Emails show that White House and Justice Department officials worked together for months to install Griffin, dating back to last summer. Rove's aides in the White House Office of Political Affairs were intimately involved. Up until now, however, there had been no evidence of direct communication between Rove and Griffin about the appointment. But an email contained in documents released earlier this week shows Griffin directly emailing Rove and his deputies in the White House Office of Political Affairs . . . [read on]

The politics of the immigration debate (thanks for Buzzflash for the link)

Libby’s sentencing: the documents he and his lawyers don’t want you to see
[Emptywheel] Jeff argues that the most important news in the presentencing memo is that Plame was covered by the IIPA statute [i.e., she WAS a covert agent] . . .

First, there are the several times when Fitzgerald suggests that Libby's lies served to protect Dick [Cheney] . . .

This one where he points out that Dick may be behind the whole thing. . . .

This one where he suggests Libby and Cheney coordinated Libby's story. . . .

And my favorite, suggesting "coordination." You know, as in conspiracy . . .
[Emptywheel] I noted earlier that there was a mini-controversy brewing over whether the letters sent, arguing that Libby shouldn't go to jail because he's too important, should be released to the public. You may think I'm joking. But Jeffress is particularly worried about the letters getting released to you. To me. To bloggers.


The OPC’s final draft recommendations on firing Lurita Doan got softened
[Emptywheel] Gosh, you think that Scott Bloch, under attack by the Bush Administration, might softpedal such harsh conclusions? . . .

Now, I can only speculate as to what happened here--whether the White House instructed Bloch to back off its harsh recommendation, whether Bloch did so on his own, or whether this is an elaborate plot on Bush's part to simultaneously discredit OSC and get his buddy Lurita off for breaking the law.

But in any case, do you see how perfectly it works? In addition to the Doan actions, the OSC is also currently investigating Monica Goodling and the DOJ as a whole for their use of partisan tests in hiring for merit positions. More importantly, it is investigating Karl Rove for doing business on the RNC server, for his political PowerPoints, and, um, just about everything else he does. No matter how you slice this, this serves to discredit OSC (either Bloch did spike the investigation, or the whole leak is orchestrated). Now, neither Rove nor Goodling fall under the same Senate-approved category as Doan (so, for example, OSC might be able to fire the already-resigned Goodling; I'm less sure about Rove). But all of those discussions will now take place against the background of this leak.

To be honest, I wasn't looking forward to Doan's upcoming visit to Waxman's committee before this. Now, I am. . .

Decline and fall (thanks to Buzzflash for the link)
American men in their 30s today are worse off than their fathers' generation, a reversal from just a decade ago, when sons generally were better off than their fathers, a new study finds. . .

The findings suggest "the up escalator that has historically ensured that each generation would do better than the last may not be working very well" . .

Still in denial over global warming

The Kentucky governor’s race: not normally of interest here, except that it features an excellent opportunity to get rid of the egregious liar and criminal Ernie Fletcher (R)

Theocracy watch: Bush’s long-term legacy – creating a foothold for evangelicals in government (thanks to AG for the link)


Polls, polls, polls
[NBC] Most Americans do not believe either the Bush Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs has done a good job in meeting the needs of the men and women who have returned home from Iraq. 70% disapprove of the job the Bush Administration has done . .
[Juan Cole] It isn't amazing that 61% of Americans think the US should never have invaded Iraq. . . [read on]

***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 (

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.***

Friday, May 25, 2007


Back from China, returning to our normal production schedule. . . .

Congress passes Iraq funding bill (with toothless “benchmarks”) – both sides claim victory. Yawn
Congress voted Thursday to meet President Bush’s demand for almost $100 billion to pay for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan through September, providing a momentary truce in a bitter struggle over war policy.

Even before the House and the Senate acted, Mr. Bush welcomed the legislation, which does not set the timetable sought by Democrats for withdrawing troops but requires the Iraqi government to meet a series of benchmarks as a condition of receiving further American reconstruction aid.

The measure also calls for reports from Mr. Bush in July and September about how his strategy is unfolding in Iraq and requires independent assessments of the performance of the Iraqi government by Sept. 1 and the abilities of Iraqi military forces within 120 days. . . .
But the ground beneath the president on the issue remains precarious, as he himself recognized yesterday in addressing Iraq, which was the focus of questioning during a 50-minute session in the Rose Garden. There was little gloating over his victory in Congress, only praise of bipartisanship and a sober new warning to the Iraqi government to shape up. . .
[AP] Democrats may have lost the first round with President Bush on ending the war in Iraq since taking over Congress in January, but they say their fight has just begun.

In the months ahead, lawmakers will vote repeatedly on whether U.S. troops should stay and whether Bush has the authority to continue the war. The Democratic strategy is intended to ratchet up pressure on the president, as well as on moderate Republicans who have grown tired of defending Bush administration policy in a deeply unpopular war.

“I feel a direction change in the air,” said Rep. John Murtha (news, bio, voting record), D-Pa., chairman of the House panel that oversees military funding. . . .

“Those of us who oppose this war will be back again and again and again and again until this war has ended,” said Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass. . . . ]read on]

Bush immediately starts lowering expectations: don’t expect things in Iraq to get better. . . .;_ylt=AoNeKT50b.M.R4oJIR.W_8sE1vAI
He predicted Iraqi insurgents and al Qaeda will attempt to influence the U.S. debate on the war by launching spectacular attacks in advance of the U.S. military's assessment of the war's progress in September.

"It could be a bloody -- it could be a very difficult August," Bush said. . . .

And. . . tah da! . . . yet another “new” strategy in Iraq is being developed
Top U.S. commanders and diplomats in Iraq are completing a far-reaching campaign plan for a new U.S. strategy, laying out military and political goals and endorsing the selective removal of hardened sectarian actors from Iraq's security forces and government. . .


[NB: It's another new plan, see? We need to give it more time to work]

No, Iraq isn’t Viet Nam, but for those of us who remember, the echoes are eerie
If we quit Vietnam," President Lyndon Johnson warned, "tomorrow we'll be fighting in Hawaii, and next week we'll have to fight in San Francisco." . . . [read on!]
[Josh Marshall] President Bush, yesterday: "Now, many critics compare the battle in Iraq to the situation we faced in Vietnam. There are many differences between those two conflicts, but one stands out above all: The enemy in Vietnam had neither the intent nor the capability to strike our homeland. The enemy in Iraq does.”

There are so many problems and distortions with this statement that it is difficult to know where to start. . .


The next phase of the Senate’s report on prewar intelligence to be released later today
In a move sure to raise even more questions about the decision to go to war with Iraq, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence will on Friday release selected portions of pre-war intelligence in which the CIA warned the administration of the risk and consequences of a conflict in the Middle East.

Among other things, the 40-page Senate report reveals that two intelligence assessments before the war accurately predicted that toppling Saddam could lead to a dangerous period of internal violence and provide a boost to terrorists. But those warnings were seemingly ignored. . .

Does Cheney think Bush is a wimp?

The Goofus Files: Bush’s surreal, incoherent press conference
[John Aravosis] I totally missed the bizarre exchange Bush had with ABC's Martha Raddatz at his press conference this morning. First, Bush told the reporters, twice, that if we leave Iraq before "victory," Al Qaeda will come to America and kill our children. He then said that if the Iraqi government asked us to leave today, we'd leave. He repeated that answer, twice. . . .
Q: Mr. President, moments ago you said that al Qaeda attacked us before we were in Iraq. Since then Iraq has become much less stable; al Qaeda has used it as a recruiting tool, apparently with some success. So what would you say to those who would argue that what we’ve done in Iraq has simply enhanced al Qaeda and made the situation worse?

BUSH: Oh, so, in other words, the option would have been just let Saddam Hussein stay there? Your question is, should we not have left Saddam Hussein in power? And the answer is, absolutely not. Saddam Hussein was an enemy of the United States. He’d attacked his neighbors. He was paying Palestinian suicide bombers. He would have been — if he were to defy — and by the way, cheating on the U.N. oil for sanctions program — oil-for-food program. No, I don’t buy it. I don’t buy that this world would be a better place with Saddam Hussein in power, and particularly if — and I’m sure the Iraqis would agree with that.

[Steve Benen] Given the president’s small and confused worldview, he’s simply unable to answer the question. By any reasonable measure, Bush’s policies have made an awful situation tragic. We invaded Iraq in part because it was a destabilizing force in the Middle East, and we made it and its region less stable. Al Qaeda is getting stronger, not weaker. Terrorist attacks are going up, not down. Casualty rates are increasing, not decreasing.

Confronted with this fairly obvious and straightforward reality, Bush offers a forceful response: Saddam Hussein was a bad guy.

It’s like having a foreign policy argument with a six-year-old. . .
[Scarecrow] In what may have been his most fear-mongering performance to date, the President mentioned al Qaeda about 20 times. But when reporters asked why his Administration had not caught Osama bin Laden, Bush evaded the question except to say that bin Laden had not been caught because he was hiding.

THE PRESIDENT: Why is he at large? Because we haven’t got him yet, Jim. That’s why. And he’s hiding, and we’re looking, and we will continue to look until we bring him to justice. . . .
[Bush] There's a lot of people in the world who don't believe that people whose skin color may not be the same as ours can be free and self-govern. I reject that. I reject that strongly. I believe that people who practice the Muslim faith can self-govern. I believe that people whose skins aren't necessarily -- are a different color than white can self-govern.

[Digby] He's an inspiration. . . [read on]
[Steve Benen] To his enormous credit, NBC’s David Gregory, at this morning’s press conference in the Rose Garden, asked the president one of the more important questions Bush has heard in quite some time.

“Mr. President, after the mistakes that have been made in this war, when you do as you did yesterday, where you raised two-year-old intelligence, talking about the threat posed by al Qaeda, it’s met with increasing skepticism,” Gregory explained. “The majority in the public, a growing number of Republicans, appear not to trust you any longer to be able to carry out this policy successfully. Can you explain why you believe you’re still a credible messenger on the war?” . . .

Go back and look at the question again — Gregory asked why Americans should find the president credible on Iraq after he’s gotten every question, every challenge, and every opportunity wrong. The president started by sort of addressing the point — he says he’s credible because he reads the intelligence — but even that’s hardly reassuring. First, he’s misinterpreted the intelligence before. Second, he’s been reading the intelligence since before the war began and has nevertheless managed to screw up every step of the way.

I don’t want to overstate the significance of the exchange, but it struck me as important. In dealing with the most important policy matter in a generation, the president is no longer trustworthy. Asked why we, the people, should believe what he has to say about this crisis, the president gives a 400-word response — that doesn’t answer the question. Not even close.

It’s rather striking. Bush has not only lost his credibility about a war, he’s reached a point at which he can’t even explain why Americans are wrong to distrust him. . . Even by Bush’s low standards, it was a pathetic display.
[Dan Froomkin] Despite President Bush's attempt yesterday to win back support for the war in Iraq by reminding people of the dangers posed by al-Qaeda, today's coverage is full of skepticism and distrust. And given the chance to address his lack of credibility at a hastily scheduled press conference this morning, Bush was unable to reassure the doubters. . . . [read on]


Sounding more than a little beleaguered, Bush responded "I thought it was interesting how you started your question, ‘over the months,’ I think you said, ‘over the last months'... this investigation is taking a long time…. kind of being drug (sic) out, I suspect for political reasons… as I mentioned it the other day, it’s 'grand political theater.'" . . .
[Steve Benen] To fully appreciate how inarticulate all of this was, you’ll have to see the clip — Paul Kiel posted it. I particularly liked the phrase “drug out,” instead of the correct “dragged out,” in part because of the irony — the president sounded quite medicated when he said it. . . .


Review of Monica 2.0’s seriously creepy performance on Wednesday. Despite her explicit admission of repeated illegal acts, Republicans praised her testimony as further proof that “nothing wrong happened here”
[Josh Marshall] It's interesting to note how the House Republicans continue to praise Monica Goodling for her testimony even as she admits to repeated criminal acts (namely, using partisan affiliation as a criterion for hiring career employees).

Good summaries

[William Fisher] Monica Goodling, the former White House liaison for the Justice Department, confirmed Wednesday during testimony before a House Judiciary Committee hearing that she used a political litmus test in screening applicants for hire as Justice Department employees in what appears to be a violation of numerous federal laws. . . . She said, "I crossed the line," with regard to applicants for civil service positions, "But I didn't mean to." . . [read on]
"I may have gone too far, and I may have taken inappropriate political considerations into account on some occasions," Goodling said. ''And I regret those mistakes.''

Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Va., hammered Goodling on her decisions to hire prosecutors who favored Republicans.

"Do you believe they were illegal or legal?" Scott asked.

"I don't believe I intended to commit a crime," Goodling, a lawyer, answered. . .
[Slate] [Goodling] tells Brad Sherman, D-Calif., that she looked at Web sites detailing the political contributions made by applicants for assistant U.S. attorney positions, and that she felt she could take account of political considerations in evaluating immigration judges. (Kyle Sampson told her that was OK.) She tells the committee that she didn't give one job candidate a position, adding, "I didn't know she was a Democrat. But I had heard she was a liberal." . .
Former colleagues said that she prevailed upon the head of the office, Michael A. Battle, to replace two long-serving officials who probably would have viewed the firing of prosecutors without cause as highly suspicious, and helped install a fellow Regent law school graduate as a replacement.” . .

Who told her it was okay to do this? (And who’s in legal trouble next?)

Witness tampering?
Goodling did produce more information about Attorney General Alberto Gonzales many people will find disturbing. She testified that after it became clear earlier this year that Goodling and Gonzales would likely be called before Congress to testify, Gonzales discussed with Goodling facts related to the firings in a way that some could argue was an attempt by the nation's highest law enforcement official to coach or perhaps even tamper with a federal witness. . .
[Steve Benen] On a related note, how did Dems on the House Judiciary Committee know to ask Goodling about the awkward chat she had with Gonzales? Apparently, Goodling’s lawyer told them to ask about it. . . .
[Avedon Carol] Fredo Gonzales comes up with a lovely excuse for illegally coaching Monica Goodling on her testimony: "The statements made by the attorney general during this meeting were intended only to comfort her in a very difficult period." . . .


[Paul Kiel] How do senior Justice Department officials end up giving false testimony to Congress? Well, it's complicated, Goodling testified. But first you start answering one question, then you get another question, and then you get another and then all of a sudden people were answering questions that they didn't have answers for. "It just snowballed into a not good situation."

Goodling: McNulty lied. McNulty: Goodling lied

Acting under orders?
[TP] In denying her own role in the firings, Goodling pointed a finger at the White House, appearing to suggest that the attorney purge may have arose from a group of select White House advisers.

“I have never attended a meeting of the White House Judicial Selection Committee. The attorney general and Kyle Sampson attended those meetings. To the best of my recollection, I’ve never had a conversation with Karl Rove or Harriet Miers while I served at the Department of Justice. And I’m certain that I never spoke to either of them about the hiring or firing of any U.S. attorney.”
[Paul Kiel] When Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) asked whether the committee needs to go to the White House to get answers about the White House role in the firings, Goodling conceded, "I can't give you the whole White House story."

[From the comments] Goodling worked directly with Rove staffer J Scott Jennings.

Goodling worked directly with Rove staffer Jane Cherry.

Look for a bombshell on Cherry shortly.

Christian? Don’t make me laugh

More video “highlights” from her testimony

No confidence vote for Gonzales coming in June
[Josh Marshall] This has to be one of the funnier quotes I've seen about Alberto Gonzales in some time. Apparently the AG is the Justice equivalent of Wayne Gretzky, Winston Churchill and, I don't know, Albert Einstein rolled into one. Says Sen. Wayne Allard (R-CO): "If he steps down, who is it that we can find to replace him? Right now, I don't see an alternative."

The irreplaceable man. . .

Pat Leahy (D-VT), master of irony
“It is curious that yet another senior Justice Department official claims to have limited involvement in compiling the list that led to the firings of several well-performing federal prosecutors. What we have heard today seems to reinforce the mounting evidence that the White House was pulling the strings on this project to target certain prosecutors in different parts of the country.

“It is deeply troubling that the crisis of leadership at the Department allowed the White House to wield undue political influence over key law enforcement decisions and policies. It is unacceptable that a senior Justice Department official was allowed to screen career employees for political loyalty, and it confirms our worst fears about the unprecedented and improper reach of politics into the Department’s professional ranks.

“As Congress continues its oversight to pull back the curtain on the politicization of the Justice Department, it is abundantly clear that we must do all we can to get to the truth behind this matter and the role White House played in it.”

[Steve Benen] You know, it is curious. These questions are pretty straightforward, but no one is able to answer them. Lawmakers asked Kyle Sampson about who drew up the list of U.S. Attorneys to be fired and how those names got on the list. Dunno, he said. They asked Alberto Gonzales. Beats me, he said. They asked Paul McNulty. Ask everybody else, he said. They asked Monica Goodling. Ask anybody else, she said. . .

Career DOJ officials of both parties are disgusted

Lurita Doan, head of GSA, violated the Hatch Act – and now Henry Waxman wants her to return before his committee to explain it (involved again: Scott Jennings. . . see a pattern here?)
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel has found that General Services Administration chief Lurita Alexis Doan violated the federal Hatch Act when she allegedly asked GSA political appointees during a January briefing how they could "help our candidates" win the next election, according to a report by the office. . . .
[Paul Kiel] General Services Administration chief Lurita Doan was such a hit in her hearing with the House oversight committee last time around, Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) wants her back. . . .

Waxman wants to know if Doan tried to smear agency employees who testified against her in an investigation by the Office of Special Counsel. All the employees who were witnesses, she told investigators, were biased against her -- they were poor performers who "will not be getting promoted and they will not be getting bonuses or special awards or anything of that nature." . . .

Things that make you go hmmmm……
[Politico] “Senior White House aide Karl Rove and White House Council Fred Fielding were just spotted leaving a meeting room just off the Senate floor in the Capitol. But neither gave a reason for their trip to the Hill. . . . Rove remained mum, simply smiling and greeting the staffers who quickly surrounded him. ‘Something big must be happening‘ a startled Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said as he watched Rove walk out the building.”

Percentage of Americans who believe “generally, things in the country are seriously off on the wrong track,” a higher number “than at any time since the Times/CBS News poll began asking the question in 1983. The figure had been in the high 60’s earlier this year.” . .

McClatchy being punished by Defense Dept for its war reporting?

Bonus item: Crying Wolf? Girlfriend dumps him

The latest rumor to replace Wolfie at the World Bank? You won’t believe it
[A] loyal administration ally who retired from the Senate last year amid speculation that he would run for president, which he declined to do after his political fortunes fell with those of the administration. . .

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