Thursday, November 30, 2006


The Iraq Study Group will unanimously recommend a troop pullout in Iraq – and Bush will ignore them
The bipartisan Iraq Study Group reached a consensus on Wednesday on a final report that will call for a gradual pullback of the 15 American combat brigades now in Iraq but stop short of setting a firm timetable for their withdrawal . . .
[Daniel Politi] Barring any unexpected revelations next week, it's pretty safe to say a common reaction might be: Is this it? And that is exactly the kind of reaction some commission members seem to have before the release, says the LAT. "I think expectations of our group are seriously overrated," former Sen. Alan K. Simpson, a commission member, said. The Pentagon and the White House are also creating their own reviews . . .

What a nice little summit. Maliki may have had real doubts about coming, since he had a threat from the Sadrists to pull out of his coalition if he did. To help “encourage” him, the Bush gang (leaked?) an internal memo saying they’re not sure Maliki has the spine to be a loyal partner in peace. To demonstrate his appreciation, Maliki blows off the start of the summit, but does eventually show up for a photo op with Bush. Substantively, who knows what was accomplished, except to raise even further suspicions that the interests of the US government and the interests of the Iraqi government may be moving further and further apart
Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki of Iraq and King Abdullah II of Jordan cancelled a meeting with President Bush at the last minute today, against the backdrop of a radical Shiite cleric’s boycott of the Maliki government and the disclosure of a classified White House memo that was highly critical of Mr. Maliki. . .
Jon Alterman, former special assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs, said the memo's doubts about al-Maliki "seemed calculated to steel his spine."

"This memo reads to me more like a memo to Prime Minister al-Maliki than to President Bush," said Alterman, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "It has his entire to-do list as well as a list of what he'll get if he agrees."
[Daniel Politi] [N]one of the papers seems to look into exactly why it was leaked at such a convenient time, right before the president's trip. Did the White House want to send Maliki a message? And if so, did Maliki's abrupt cancellation mean the plan backfired?
It would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to implement most of the key ideas for quelling the Iraqi civil war that are outlined in a classified Nov. 8 memo to President Bush from National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, experts said Wednesday.

Trying to push anti-U.S. Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr out of the ruling coalition led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as the memo suggests, would be throwing gasoline on a fire. . .
Lawmakers and Cabinet ministers loyal to anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr said Wednesday they have carried out their threat to suspend participation in Parliament and the government to protest Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's summit with U.S. President George W. Bush.


Bush says he has complete confidence in Maliki (yeah, right)
George W. Bush praised Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki as the "right guy" for Iraq on Thursday . . .
[Dan Froomkin] The memo describes a guy who talks a good game, but is ultimately clueless and incompetent -- and who has been lulled into believing that his rhetoric is true by a small circle of like-minded advisers.

That's Maliki. . .

The White House “explains”
Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq and King Abdullah II of Jordan abruptly backed out of a meeting with President Bush on Wednesday, leaving the White House scrambling to explain why a carefully planned summit meeting had suddenly been cut from two days to one.
MR. BARTLETT: The President is going to have a bilateral and dinner with the King of Jordan. Since the King of Jordan and Prime Minister Maliki had a bilateral themselves, earlier today, everybody believed that negated the purpose for the three of them to meet tonight, together, in a trilateral setting. So the plan, according to -- since they had such a good, productive bilateral discussion, was just for the President to deal with bilateral issues and other issues with the King this evening in a dinner setting, and then the meetings set for tomorrow will still take place as scheduled. . .

Q So the dinner is off, the three-way.


Q Well if Maliki -- he was never going to the dinner anyway, right? It was just supposed to be a meeting.

MR. BARTLETT: There was going to be a trilateral meeting, and then the dinner with the King. Now, since they already had a bilateral themselves, the King of Jordan and the Prime Minister, everybody felt, well, there's no reason for them to do a trilateral meeting beforehand, because matters had been discussed.

Q So the scheduled trilateral is scrapped.


Q But the dinner -- all three of them are still going to be at the dinner?

MR. BARTLETT: No. . . . The President will see Prime Minister Maliki in the morning. . .

Q No connection to the memo, whatsoever?


Q The King and the Prime Minister had a meeting, but the Prime Minister hasn't seen the President since he got here, and the President changed his schedule to come here for this meeting.

MR. BARTLETT: The President requested the meeting. This was the President requesting the meeting with the Prime Minister. And the substantive meetings on Iraq -- look, they were not going to be doing a full detail discussion in a trilateral setting about Iraq and the future of Iraq and the strategy anyway, that just wouldn't be appropriate. So it was going to be more of a social meeting anyways. But the fact that they had already had a good meeting together, felt like it negated the purpose to doing so. . .
[John Aravosis] According to the Associated Press, that little "casual dinner" with George Bush, as the White House is calling it, that Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki is blowing off tonight, well it wasn't just a dinner, it was a "high-stakes summit". . .

And Reuters is calling it "a crisis meeting." . . .

[NB: But, but. . . Dan Bartlett says it was canceled because things were going so WELL that it wasn’t necessary. He wouldn’t lie to us about that, would he?

Actually, Bush was told the meeting was off BEFORE HE EVEN ARRIVED in Jordan, and the press let Bartlett get away with a real howler. . .
The president and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice were already aboard Air Force One, on the way to Amman from Riga, Latvia, where they had been attending a NATO summit meeting, when they received the news by telephone . . . ]

Needless to say, this was not the triumphant press coverage they were hoping for

What game is Colin Powell playing?
Speaking with CNN reporter Hala Gorani in Dubai today, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Iraq’s violence meets the standard of a civil war and thinks President Bush needs to acknowledge that. According to Gorani’s report, Powell said if he were heading the State Department right now, he would recommend that the Bush administration adopt that language “in order to come to terms with the reality on the ground.”

Ditto Newt Gingrich?
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich told a New Hampshire audience yesterday that unless the Bush administration admits that the war in Iraq is a "failure," it will never develop a strategy to leave the country successfully. . .

Ditto ditto Tom Friedman?
Given this, we need to face our real choices in Iraq, which are: 10 months or 10 years. Either we just get out of Iraq in a phased withdrawal over 10 months, and try to stabilize it some other way, or we accept the fact that the only way it will not be a failed state is if we start over and rebuild it from the ground up, which would take 10 years. This would require reinvading Iraq, with at least 150,000 more troops, crushing the Sunni and Shiite militias, controlling borders, and building Iraq's institutions and political culture from scratch. . . If we're not ready to do what is necessary to crush the dark forces in Iraq and properly rebuild it, then we need to leave -- because to just keep stumbling along as we have been makes no sense.

[Greg Sargent] Putting aside the absurdly arbitrary nature of these numbers, here's the question: If President Bush says no go to an increase in troops, or if the increase is substantially less than the 150,000 that Friedman says are "necessary," will his following column call outright for withdrawal?

Eleven countries, including Britain, knew about Bush’s secret prisons and rendition flights

More and more base Pentagon spending is being packaged into “emergency supplemental bills” for the war on terror. Let’s hope that with the Democrats in charge we start getting more honest budget numbers,1,940956,full.story

The Senate Intelligence Committee is going to be an interesting place, as they start investigating and disclosing the things that Pat Roberts (R-KS) spent his entire term as chair trying to cover up. And where will Roberts be when this happens?

Bad move
It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers. . .

When I called Bush a “pissy little jerk” yesterday over his confrontation with Jim Webb, whose son is serving in Iraq, maybe I was being too kind
[Tristero] I want to focus entirely on the unspeakable callousness Bush displayed here.

Folks, political enemy or friend, that is no way - ever- for anyone to talk to the father of a kid who's in a combat zone.

This is the same man who reminisced about his hell-raisin' during a speech at the worst natural disaster in American history. This is the same man who, when, asked to name his greatest achievement while president, "joked" that it was when he caught a large fish in his fake pond on his Crawford estate - sorry, ranch. This is the same man who, when informed that a second plane had hit the World Trade Center in less than 10 minutes, sat reading "My Pet Goat" in a children's classroom. This is the same man who, in front of a supporter who he assumed wouldn't report it, mockingly imitated a woman about to be executed in his state.

Voting machines in the Florida 13th district are tested, found to be faulty (“human error,” the state says - uh-huh). The new Democratic House could void the results and order a new election. I think they should: major vote discrepancies like this shouldn’t just be relegated to the category of “s—t happens,” and until states start paying a price they aren’t going to get serious about reforming a system that people are rapidly losing faith in
[NB: In one precinct, a 24% undervote rate!!]

[Chris Bowers] There is, however, a way that Democrats can solve this problem without the need for further lawsuits or recounts. Considering how close the election was, how flawed the voting was because of the machine error, and that the voting problems caused the result of the election to flip sides, the only just solution is for a new election in FL-13. After January 4th, House Democrats will have that power. . .

Clever analysis: why do Republicans have such a problem with basic democratic institutions and practices?

The kind of people they are: it turns out that Barack Obama (rhymes with “Osama”) has the middle name of “Hussein” too. So this is the stuff of which Republican campaigns against him will be run

What kind of twisted world view generates THIS? (thanks to Mary A. for the link)
Abortion procedures have caused a decrease in the number of U.S. residents, leading to a shortage of workers in the country and an increase in immigration of undocumented immigrants, according to report drafted by the Missouri Special Committee on Immigration Reform . . . The report was dated Oct. 24 and signed by all 10 Republicans on the committee, but it was not signed by any of the six Democrats on the panel. It says that the "lack of traditional work ethic, combined with the effects of 30 years of abortion and expanding liberal social welfare policies have produced a shortage of workers and a lack of incentive for those who can work." . . .

Update on an earlier story: Colorado family WILL be allowed to display a “peace wreath” for Christmas, without being fined,1299,DRMN_15_5177400,00.html

Bonus item: Heh-heh
Gun Guy Robbed at Gun Show
Finally today, clear proof that firearms simply don’t protect anything. They don’t prevent crime, and even with training and experience, when it happens, they don’t stop it. . .

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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, November 29, 2006


Pissy little jerk, isn’t he?
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. . .

[NB: How hard would it have been for Bush to say, “I hope so too,” or “As soon as possible, Jim”?]
[Kos] [I]t's good Webb didn't slug Bush. Democrats will get back at him by making 2007 and 2008 the most miserable two years of his life.

More details:

“Stay the course” means stay the course
“There is one thing I’m not going to do. I am not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete,” Bush said in a keynote speech . . .

“No question it’s tough, no question about it,” Bush said . . . “There’s a lot of sectarian violence taking place, fomented in my opinion because of the attacks by al-Qaida causing people to seek reprisal.”
[Josh Marshall] Okay, not that it's a surprise. But let's just stipulate for the record that the election results earlier this month didn't mean jack to the president when it comes to Iraq. Here's a story in the Times with the president not only blaming everyone but himself for the disaster he's created in Iraq . . .

The Times piece does a pretty good job explaining how everyone in the military and intelligence circles now agrees that 'al Qaida' (whatever that means in Iraq exactly) is not the real issue in what's happening. But to the president, it's still us versus al Qaida. Possibly with outside support from Dr. Evil and KAOS. I really never thought this country could be run for a significant period of time by a president who seems captive of dingbat conspiracy theories and the strategic complexity of a children's bedtime story. . .

“Fresh thinking”:
President Bush will ask the embattled Iraqi prime minister for ideas on how to train Iraqi forces faster so they can shoulder more responsibility for securing the nation . . .

Bush puts the screws to Maliki
[NYT] Specifically, the United States wants Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt to work to drive a wedge between the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, and the anti-American Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr, whose Mahdi Army has been behind many of the Shiite reprisal attacks in Iraq, a senior administration official said. That would require getting the predominantly Sunni Arab nations to work to get moderate Sunni Iraqis to support Mr. Maliki, a Shiite. That would theoretically give Mr. Maliki the political strength necessary to take on Mr. Sadr’s Shiite militias.

[Laura Rozen] So one last bid at keeping the Sunnis in, at national reconciliation under Maliki, with presumably the implicit threat to Sunni allies being that if they don't help make it happen, the US can let things take their course, and let the Shiites create the facts on the ground and in the government that the Sunnis will not be able to deny. In return, the US promised renewed effort on the Israel-Palestinian front. The message to Maliki: sideline Sadr and rein in the Mahdi army, while the US focuses on the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda. And if this doesn't work? What's Plan D?

Plan D?
Q Will the President talk to Maliki about U.S. troop withdrawal in any way?

MR. HADLEY: I don't -- U.S. troop withdrawal? I don't think so. I think what he will be talking about --

Q Will he talk about troop --

MR. HADLEY: -- what he will be talking about is what we need -- of the security challenges we face, what we need to do to meet those challenges. . . But we're not at the point where the President is going to be in a position to lay out a comprehensive plan at this point. The President is going to be listening to Maliki, giving Prime Minister Maliki some assurance that we're going to develop this way ahead -- that he and the Prime Minister are going to obviously develop this way ahead together.
[Bush] “My questions to him will be: What do we need to do to succeed? What is your strategy in dealing with the sectarian violence? . . .

“I will ask him: What is required and what is your strategy to be a country which can govern itself and sustain itself? And it’s going to be an important meeting, and I’m looking forward to it.”

[Steve Benen] Let me get this straight. After nearly four years of war, and with conditions deteriorating by the day, Bush has given up on articulating his own vision for victory, and plans to ask Maliki if he has any ideas?

In other words, Bush says we’re stuck in Iraq and we’ll accept nothing less than victory. Asked how we achieve this victory, the president seemed to respond, “Beats me; let’s see what that Maliki guy has to say.” . . . [read on]

Why it won’t work:

A classified memorandum by President Bush’s national security adviser expressed serious doubts about whether Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had the capacity to control the sectarian violence in Iraq . . .

The memo:


Expect more of this: blaming the Iraqis for our failures

Who said it?
“‘Stay the course’ is gone. We’re going to try and devise some new strategies, hopefully with the President’s concurrence,” the senator said. “Our soldiers, sailors and airmen should not be in there, risking their lives, losing their lives to stop a Civil War.”

The New York Times joins the “civil war” club


WH web site: it’s not “civil war,” it’s “renewal in Iraq” (thanks to Josh Marshall for the link)

Leaving the bill for the next President
[Christina Larson] Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Colin Powell's former chief of staff, tells me he's been trading emails with folks around town -- generals, colonels, Pentagon officials -- who have been looking carefully and analytically for the last two years at what it will cost to reconstitute the military after Iraq. In other words, the bill to bring Army and Navy battalions back to the status they were in before the invasion. That includes training, equipment, replacing Apache helicopters, humvees, tanks, rifles (we have burned them up in Iraq faster than life cycle projections), etc. The current estimate: $50 to $100 billion. "The next president will face a staggering bill," Wilkerson says, not even counting the costs of further efforts in Iraq.

Do you know who’s actually ON the Iraq Study Group?
It is led by co-chairs James A. Baker, III, the nation’s 61st Secretary of State and Honorary Chairman of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy at Rice University, and Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman and Director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

The other members of the study group include: Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., Edwin Meese III , Sandra Day O'Connor, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Charles S. Robb, and Alan K. Simpson. . .

[Andrew Bacevich] Neither do its ranks include any Iraq war veterans, family members of soldiers killed in Iraq, or anyone identified with the antiwar movement. None possesses specialized knowledge of Islam or the Middle East. . . [read on]

A federal judge struck down President Bush's authority to designate groups as terrorists, saying his post-Sept. 11 executive order was unconstitutionally vague . . .

The Goofus Files
[Bush wants to base US tax policy on Estonia?] I appreciate the fact that you got a flat tax, you got a tax system that's transparent and simple. . . . And the interesting contribution that a country like Estonia is making is that, people shouldn't have to live under tyranny. We just did that; we don't like it.

A couple of days ago, I pointed out how Republicans blamed Democrats for the increase in Iraq violence leading up to the election by claiming that the insurgents wanted to help the Dems win. Since the violence has gotten even worse AFTER the election, I asked ironically how the Repubs would find a way to blame the Democrats (who haven’t even taken control yet) for THAT too. I was joking, but I shouldn’t have underestimated them

Newt Gingrich, behind the mask
[Manchester Union Leader] Gingrich, speaking at a Manchester awards banquet, said a "different set of rules" may be needed to reduce terrorists' ability to use the Internet and free speech to recruit and get out their message.

"We need to get ahead of the curve before we actually lose a city, which I think could happen in the next decade," said Gingrich . . .
[SusanG] But there’s yet a further irony in the event. While real, live speech would be monitored if Gingrich were in charge, there’s one so-called “speech freedom” which Gingrich wants entirely unsupervised, unrestricted and de-regulated, according to the Boston Globe coverage of the same event:

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Monday that First Amendment rights need to be expanded and cited the elimination of McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms as one solution.

Gingrich, a Republican, suggested allowing people to give any amount to any candidate as long as the donation is reported online within 24 hours. . .

Got that? Shut your mouth and let the rich and corporate donors open their wallets. It’s the American way.

If this isn’t one of the sickest perversions of the original intent of the First Amendment, I don’t know what is.

Was it Patrick Leahy (D-VT) who said about Arlen Specter (R-PA): he’s always there for you, except when you really need him?
[Glenn Greenwald] In an excellent new New Yorker article, Jeffrey Toobin documents how Arlen Specter lambasted the Military Commissions Act as a tyrannical, unconstitutional, profoundly unjust atrocity, only to then, like the good boy that he is, cast his vote in favor of it. After his habeas corpus amendment failed, "Specter, visibly angry, left the Senate chamber. He told reporters that he thought the habeas ban was 'patently unconstitutional' and vowed to vote against the detainee bill." The next day -- the next day -- he voted in favor of it. . . [read on]

[Josh Marshall] You may have read today's AP story about how the government's civil liberties oversight panel was "impressed" with the privacy protections built into the president's warrantless wiretapping program.

Over at TPMmuckraker, Justin Rood has the rundown on why you should take that with a grain of salt. . . .

How the GOP handles your money: deeply in debt, they’re still asking for big donations AFTER losing the elections

Ho, ho, ho. . . ha-ha . . . sorry, still laughing . . .
[Paul Kiel] When the White House nominated Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL) to succeed Ken Mehlman as Chairman of the Republican National Committee, some wondered why they'd exchanged one man with a Jack Abramoff problem for another.

The RNC won't vote to approve Martinez until January. But we hear that new revelations about Martinez's ties to the now-imprisoned Abramoff are due to be released before that happens. If that happens, and it jeopardizes Martinez's bid to lead the GOP, the party could face some serious questions about why it can't seem to find a qualified, muck-free leader. . .

Theocracy watch: so much for their “Christian” values
The president-elect of the Christian Coalition of America, which has long served as a model for activism for the religious right, has stepped down, saying the group resisted his efforts to broaden its agenda to include reducing poverty and fighting global warming. . .

[Glenn Greenwald] Whenever you think that Bush followers cannot descend any lower into un-American authoritarianism, they always prove you wrong. Congressman-elect Keith Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the U.S. Congress, has said that he will take his oath of office on the Koran rather than the Bible, since -- as a Muslim -- he happens to believe in the Koran and not the Bible. Dennis Prager has a column (cheered on by various extremists) insisting that Ellison "not be allowed to do so," arguing that "if you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress":

What Ellison and his Muslim and leftist supporters are saying is that it is of no consequence what America holds as its holiest book; all that matters is what any individual holds to be his holiest book.

Forgive me, but America should not give a hoot what Keith Ellison's favorite book is. Insofar as a member of Congress taking an oath to serve America and uphold its values is concerned, America is interested in only one book, the Bible.

If you hadn't read that for yourself, wouldn't it be hard to believe that someone is actually arguing this? Prager is essentially asking: What has happened to America where now it seems that people can decide for themselves what books they will believe are holy? . . . [read on]

House Intel Committee: it won’t be Harman OR Hastings

“Progressive realpolitik” – what do you think?
[Chris Bowers] I have a few things I need to do, and I think I am writing this post in order to procrastinate. Still, I thought it would be interesting to actually list the pragmatic rules that I feel progressive must follow in order to build a progressive governing coalition.

1. The Democratic Party is the primary vessel of the progressive coalition. It is impossible to enact real change without an electoral apparatus within your movement. In a two-party system, it is thus necessary to adopt one of the two parties as the electoral vessel of your coalition.

2. Within the coalition, intra-party democracy must always be adhered to. All party nominees must be determined by an elective primary open to all registered members of the party in the relevant district. The winner of the primary must always be supported by all members of the party apparatus, and all rank and file members should vote for the nominee (especially those who voted in the primary).

3. Party elections should be fair and open to all members of the party, and no one should ever be forced or muscled off of a ballot for a party office or nomination for public office.

4. There are no litmus tests to join the coalition. No one has to read or sign off on any document stating support for a particular policy. If someone wants to join, registering as a Democrat should be the only requirement.

5. Under no circumstances should any member of the party apparatus support any member of any opposing coalition, (in other words, any other political party).

6. Outside of issues relating to corruption, Democrats must never criticize each other in the same manner that Republicans criticize Democrats.

7. No Democrat should ever publicly call any Democrat unelectable, or publicly rank candidates based on perceived electability.

8. Don't expect the party to change on it's own. Be prepared and willing to change it yourself.

As Montana goes, so goes the nation? New law requires a paper record of all e-voting

Bonus item: Arianna goes after Bush’s half-billion dollar presidential library plans (don’t miss it)
Comedy writers and lovers of the absurd all across America have a bounce in their step today . . .

***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, November 28, 2006


This would be funny if it weren’t so sad – now the news media are making a point of ANNOUNCING that they are finally prepared to call Iraq a “civil war.” Next up: when they decide to start calling it a “defeat”
“Beginning this morning, MSNBC will refer to the fighting in Iraq as a civil war — a phrase the White House continues to resist. But after careful thought, MSNBC and NBC News decided over the weekend, the terminology is appropriate, as armed militarized factions fight for their own political agendas. We’ll have a lot more on the situation in Iraq and the decision to use the phrase, civil war.”
[Dan Froomkin] The White House is howling in protest. . .

But the main Washington Post story today continued to use "sectarian strife." A widely-published Reuters dispatch today adopted "sectarian conflict" and McClatchy in a report from Baghdad relied on "sectarian violence." Other papers declared that Iraq is on the verge of civil war, but has not gotten there yet, with an Associated Press story calling Iraqi President Jalal Talabani’s visit to Iran an effort to prevent "Iraq’s sectarian violence from sliding into an all-out civil war.”
Civil War in Iraq Near, Annan Says . . .
[CHRIS] MATTHEWS: It seems to me the President's afraid that people will begin to think it is a civil war and not the way he wants to define it, which is we gotta fight them there before they fight us here.

[DANA] PRIEST: Well, I think one of the reasons the President resists that label is because it equates almost with a failure of U.S. policy. I will say for the Washington Post, we have not labeled it a civil war. . . We try to avoid the labels, particularly when the elected government itself does not call its situation a civil war. I certainly -- and I would agree with General McCaffrey on this -- absolutely the level of violence equals a civil war.

[NB: In other words, she believes it is a civil war, but if the WH says don’t call it that, fine with her]

It’s always about what you call it
President Bush intensified diplomatic efforts on Monday to quell rising violence in Iraq and Afghanistan, turning to allies as his national security adviser said the conflict in Iraq had entered "a new phase" . . .

The last word
[The Daily Show] Stewart: Certainly from an Iraqi perspective, what this is called makes no difference.

Oliver: Oh, really? If you have lost a loved one in this conflict, and statistically if you're an Iraqi you have, wouldn't you rather know it wasn't in a Civil War but rather a territorial arglebargle of regional qualms?

Stewart: 3,000 Iraqis died just this month. To argue over what to call it seems like semantic quibbling.

Oliver: Semantic quibbling? Oh, well, I wouldn't call it that.

Stewart: What would you call it?

Oliver: A minor linguistic flareup between two parties of different terminological points of view.

Stewart: It's really the same thing.

Oliver: It's "same-ey." For now let's agree to disagree on how we state our agreements. Agreed?

All you need to know about the Iraq Study Group (thanks to Atrios for the link)
[Jim Henley] Three quotes from the NYT account of the Iraq Study Group’s draft report, in reverse order because that’s the best way to tell the real story:

Administration officials appear to be taking steps that will enable them to declare that they are already implementing parts of the Baker-Hamilton report, even before its release.

This will be unsurprisingly easy.

Mr. Bush spent 90 minutes with commission members in a closed session at the White House two weeks ago “essentially arguing why we should embrace what amounts to a ‘stay the course’ strategy,” said one commission official who was present.

And did it have an effect, do you suppose?

“It’s not at all clear that we can reach consensus on the military questions,” one member of the commission said late last week.

The draft report, according to those who have seen it, seems to link American withdrawal to the performance of the Iraqi military, as President Bush has done. But details of the performance benchmarks, which were described as not specific, could not be obtained, and it is this section of the report that is most likely to be revised.

Your tax dollars at work, Loyal Readers. By the time the commission publishes a report it will have worked eight months coming up with a verbose, “centrist” way to say “Stay the course.”


Worse and worse
[Daniel Politi] The Post's lead also has some interesting nuggets of information thrown into the story. According to officials, Vice President Cheney was "basically summoned" by Saudi Arabia to discuss Iraq, and the trip was not the simple meeting of two allies, as was initially portrayed. The paper also talks to an intelligence official who says Sadr's Mahdi Army has grown quickly in the last year, and now has anywhere from 40,000 to 60,000 members, which makes it more effective than the official Iraqi army. . . .

The Post fronts a Marine Corps intelligence report from August that says U.S. troops are no longer able to control the insurgency in Iraq's Anbar province. . . Sunnis in Anbar are constantly fearful for their lives, as al-Qaeda in Iraq basically runs the province.
[WP] "... In a sign of the discord in Washington, the senior U.S. intelligence official said the situation requires that the administration abandon its long-held goal of national reconciliation and instead 'pick a winner' in Iraq. He said he understands that means the Sunnis are likely to bolt from the fragile government. 'That's the price you're going to have to pay,' he said." . . .

Washington will likely be pressing Maliki to dump Sadr in favor of Hakim. McClatchy piece asks whether what the US does this week really matters. "We're not in control any longer," military analyst Andrew Bacevich tells the paper.

[Former DIA analyst] Jeffrey White described the multi-layered violence in Iraq this way: "(The) Sunni insurgency remains one of the engines of this civil conflict, this civil war. And there is militia violence now. And you have coalition violence. You have major Sunni-on-Sunni violence in Anbar province. ... And you have criminal violence, widespread Shia-on-Shia violence in the South."

"The elements of violence and resistance and just the bloodymindedness are so embattled it requires something major and enduring (by the United States) or just get out," he said. . .

I’ve been chewing over this idea for a few days, and now here’s George Packer advocating much the same thing: maybe this is the best we can do

Bush keeps talking about a global network of terror – and sure enough, he has helped to create one
A senior American intelligence official said Monday that the Iranian-backed group Hezbollah had been training members of the Mahdi Army, the Iraqi Shiite militia led by Moktada al-Sadr. . .,00050001.htm
"We don't have solid evidence that Iran is helping Al-Qaeda in Iraq. They are helping the Al-Mahdi. They are helping some of the extremist Shia groups in Iraq. . .” Iraq's National Security Advisor Mowaffak al Rubaie said. . . .
[CNN] [Iranian President] Ahmadi-Nejad's hand may in fact have never been stronger. With an ambitions nuclear program, the world's third largest oil reserves, a massive army and ballistic missile arsenal he's also gained huge popularity on the so called Arab street by supporting Hezbollah's recent fight against Israel. . .
[Josh Marshall] The truth or falsity of this new intel from the same sources of the reliably bogus intel of recent years, though, seems of secondary interest to the debate that's getting set up. It's a recipe and the argument for staying in Iraq permanently. We can't get out because getting out means coming to an accommodation with Iran and Syria who've already been meddling in Iraq.

If we're trying to overthrow the Iranian government -- which we've said we are -- is it greatly surprising that they're either having or allowing their proxies to help train the Iraqi militia which is helping pin us down in Iraq?

That doesn't mean it's good or bad, only that it's hardly unexpected. And it brings us back to the key question: what's our goal in Iraq. Not what it may or may not have been three years ago. But what is it right now? Is being in Iraq making us more or less secure? Do we want to stay there indefinitely or do we want to began the process of leaving in such a way as to leave as stable and safe a situation as possible? Those are the key questions. Letting a purported connection between Hezbollah and the Mahdi Army drive our thinking is just another way of saying we want to stay forever because if we don't Iran will have won.

The Times quotes former NSC official Flynt Leverett saying: “That sound to me a little bit strained. I have a hard time thinking it is a really significant piece of what we are seeing play out on the ground with the various Shiite militia forces.”

I think he has it just right.

The end of statecraft
[NB: A missing name in this otherwise sharp account: the feckless Condoleezza Rice, who was a lousy National Security Advisor and who has been an empty Chanel suit as Sect’y of State]

The Bush gang promises a tough and thorough investigation (uh-huh) of its domestic spying policies – carried out by their own guy at the DOJ

Here’s what will happen when the Democrats in congress start to investigate the Bush gang

What in the world has the news media seen in George Bush since the election to believe that he is actually prepared to compromise or moderate any of his policies?

The silly season: more predictions that Cheney is quitting (no, no, and no)

Newt Gingrich gives us the benefit of his careful, modulated thinking on what to do in Iraq. . .
"Victory or death."

[NB: Let’s see. When Patrick Henry uttered his famous line, “Give me liberty or give me death,” it was HIS death he was willing to risk. Do you think Newt means the same thing?]

Rush Limbaugh utters much the same thing, but in this case he means, “Victory or death. . . for all those miserable rag heads”
Rush Limbaugh said: "[W]ell, let's just have them. Let's just have the civil wars . . . because I'm just fed up with this." Limbaugh then asserted: "Fine, just blow the place up. Just let these natural forces take place over there instead of trying to stop them." Additionally, Limbaugh claimed: "[E]verbody comes to us. . . So we go and try to fix it and our own people, Democrats and the left in our country do their best to sabotage our efforts, and then we get blamed for trying to clean up the messes that these people start."
[Josh Marshall] I know we're supposed to get really outraged over this sort of thing and bent out of shape. But why exactly? These guys -- really the whole movement -- are so pitiful, such utterly pathetic whiners and fools, it's hard to treat them as anything but spoiled children.

They’re losing their minds (truly)

When will the news media stop making excuses for John McCain’s flip-flops and lies?

Why people have a serious issue with Jane Harman as chair of the House Intelligence committee – and why the media’s adoration of her says more about their own need for self-justification than anything about her qualifications

Looking for a third way:

Joe Lieberman (D? - CT) is going to be costing the Democrats again and again once they take over
Roll Call (sub. req.) has a story about how Democratic Senate aides are rather unhappy with The Last Honest Man's hiring of McCain loyalist, "prodigious leaker" to the press, and extraordinarily silly person Marshall Wittmann. Basically, they know Wittmann's loyalties are elsewhere and he'll likely leak everything both to the press and to his Republican pals so they won't be able to actually talk when he's in the room. . .


Bad news: a follow-up from yesterday
The United States Supreme Court refused today to stop a federal prosecutor from reviewing the telephone records of two reporters for The New York Times. The records, the paper said, include information about many of the reporters’ confidential sources.

In a one-sentence order offering no reasoning and noting no dissenting votes, the Supreme Court rejected a request from The Times to stay a lower court’s decision while the paper tried to persuade the high court to review the case. . .

Theocracy watch: what is “Christianism”?

Compassionless conservatives

Did the National Science Teachers Association (good guys) sell out? (thanks to Jon C for the link)
At hundreds of screenings this year of "An Inconvenient Truth," the first thing many viewers said after the lights came up was that every student in every school in the United States needed to see this movie. . . So the company that made the documentary decided to offer 50,000 free DVDs to the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) for educators to use in their classrooms. It seemed like a no-brainer.

The teachers had a different idea: Thanks but no thanks, they said.

In their e-mail rejection, they expressed concern that other "special interests" might ask to distribute materials, too; they said they didn't want to offer "political" endorsement of the film; and they saw "little, if any, benefit to NSTA or its members" in accepting the free DVDs. . . .

Accepting the DVDs, they wrote, would place "unnecessary risk upon the [NSTA] capital campaign, especially certain targeted supporters." One of those supporters, it turns out, is the Exxon Mobil Corp. . .

The twins
Amid a growing barrage of front-page headlines, U.S. embassy officials "strongly suggested" President Bush's twin daughters, Jenna and Barbara Bush, cut short their trip to Buenos Aires because of security issues, U.S. diplomatic and security sources tell ABC News.
[John Aravosis] I've defended these girls before because, well, they're (or they were) teenagers. And you know, teenagers like to go out drinking, and I get that. But at some point, you put aside your tiara as most powerful brat in the world and start acting like an adult. But not in the Bush family. Oh no. The US embassy warned that they could not provide adequate security for the Bush twins during their current visit, and the Bush twins basically told the embassy to go to hell. They're staying anyway.
[Reuters] The U.S. Embassy in Argentina rejected reports that it had told President George W. Bush's twin daughters to leave the country after a widely publicized purse-snatching incident. . .
ABC News has now learned First Daughter Barbara Bush left Argentina late Sunday night, after being urged to cut short a birthday vacation trip by U.S. embassy officials concerned about the security of the Bush twins after a week of intense media coverage.

Her sister Jenna, however, plans to remain . . .

George’s fancy-shmancy presidential library (half a billion dollars’ worth). Hey, the man just really enjoys spending other people’s money . . . .

Hardly counts as news: another Republican backs out of his term-limits promise
[Ric Keller (R-FL)] "As a rookie candidate, I underestimated the value of experience and seniority. I will not spend my entire career in Congress, but I will seek re-election in 2008," he said in a written statement. "There is unfinished business."

Katherine Harris (R-Disneyworld) hopes that the Democrat wins her old House seat so she can run for it again in ‘08


No surprise that even the audit of the dubious Florida 13th district vote (18,000 mostly Democratic votes not counted) is being run by the Republicans

USA Today wakes up to the need for a paper receipt as a check on e-voting machines

Bonus item: Is there a better metaphor than this?
[Atrios] When the history of this era is written, I hope it is remembered that the President of the United States created a deck of cards with "bad guys" on it. The media, rather than seeing this is a bizarre and infantile thing, thought it was wonderful. . .

***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, November 27, 2006


There is a growing recognition that US policy is no longer driving events in Iraq. TV pundits want to explore “what we can do” to improve the situation there, or “what the Democrats suggest” as an alternative to Bush policy. I don’t think any of that matters any more – whatever we do, the competing forces within Iraq, and the direct intervention of its neighbors, will do far more to determine future events. Asking what OUR solution should be assumes that there is a possible “solution” and that our choices are the determining factor now – both of which are fundamental errors. All that is in our control is how and when our troops leave: other matters will take their course more or less despite our efforts
“The state has collapsed. . .”
Just days before President Bush and Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki of Iraq are to hold talks, Mr. Maliki said today that his country was in a “political crisis” . . .
The motorcade of Iraq's prime minister was pelted with stones on Sunday by fellow Shi'ites in a Baghdad slum . . .
King Abdullah of Jordan, who will host a meeting between President Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki this week, said today that the situation in Iraq is quickly disintegrating . . .


It’s worse than you think
[John Aravosis] Bush, Rummy, Condi, Cheney, O'Reilly, Hannity and the rest of the pathetic Republican liars in Congress and beyond have repeatedly told the American people that Iraq is actually going much better than we see on TV. We see only see the bad stuff on TV, they tell us. The American media is liberal and biased, they refuse to tell Americans how good things really are in Iraq. . .

CNN's John Roberts [says] What Americans are seeing on TV about Iraq "is being sanitized" - it's WORSE than we see on TV . . .

Over here, complete chaos reigns too
[Athenae] Things will be horrible if we leave. The answer to that last is always, unequivocably yes, yes, it will. Iraq will continue to be chaos, civil war, a breeding ground for hatred of America and a place of misery for those who live there. . . . It's time to stop dancing around that and just admit it. If we leave, it will be awful. For us, for them, for everyone.


We lost this war three weeks after the invasion . . .
[Matt Yglesias] The more I read about this [Baker/Hamilton] commission the less I like it. The news that the commission deliberate excluded "extreme" views even though the "extreme" left view has majority support is pretty maddening. The real problem, though, is that as best I can tell the Commission has the wrong mandate. Rather than a group charged with finding an optimal Iraq policy for the United States of America, it's charged with finding a formula that suits the interests of the American political establishment -- of Democrats who backed the war, and of Republicans who'd like to see their political party survive the disaster of George W. Bush. So while they'd like a policy that makes things better, what they need is a policy that can espoused while minimizing embarrassment to said establishment. Unfortunately, the latter goal makes the former substantially impossible.
Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski issued a strong, preemptive criticism of the Baker Commission studying alternatives for Iraq. Brzezinski said that while the commission “will probably come out with some sound advice on dealing with the neighborhood,” it essentially “will offer some procrastination ideas for dealing with the crisis.”

Brzezinski added that “This is a mistaken, absolutely historically wrong undertaking. The costs are prohibitive. If we get out sooner, there will be a messy follow-up after we leave. It will be messy, but will not be as messy as if we stay.” . . .,8816,1562949,00.html
The conditions on the ground in Iraq are deteriorating so rapidly that even the Baker commission is struggling to keep up. . . Although Baker has said the commission will develop its proposals by consensus, there were signs last week that the group had hit some speed bumps. Sources say renewed pressure from both political flanks in the U.S. is making it difficult for the commission's center to hold. Emboldened by their takeover of Congress, Democrats have sent unmistakable signals that they favor some movement, if not reduction, of forces at the earliest possible date. Meanwhile, present and former government officials say Vice President Cheney intends to oppose any proposal that would make regional talks with Iran or Syria a key part of the U.S.'s Iraq strategy, even though Baker favors such an opening. As the commission broke for Thanksgiving, the partisan pincer movement was beginning to provoke some talk of stalemate. "The impulse toward consensus has diminished somewhat," a close panel observer told TIME. "Everything that is happening--the election, the postelection, the situation in Baghdad--makes it more difficult."

Baker and Hamilton held dozens of listening sessions this summer and fall, but members for the most part were careful not to stake out their positions. With a tentative mid-December deadline just a couple of weeks away, the decision-making process is just beginning. Commission members, said a close adviser, "are just now trying to make sense of what they heard, what the choices are and who stands where on those choices." While a Baker-led deal is still a good bet, several sources said, the odds that the commission will be unable to provide a clear user's guide for cleaning up Iraq are narrowing.

[NB: While Time tries hard to construct this as a bipartisan “pincer movement,” there is one and only one reason the commission is in trouble: the Bush gang has already made it clear that they aren’t interested in receiving its recommendations – in fact, they already have the Pentagon working on an alternative set of proposals:]
[Kevin Drum] When push comes to shove, the commission members are going to have a hard time finding a consensus because (a) at least some of them will insist on an honest analysis, but (b) Baker will be unwilling to endorse a report that President Bush is likely to reject. . . It's just too hard for most of these guys to break ranks and admit in public that the fate of Iraq is no longer something we can control.

So the Kabuki dance continues.


Another Republican calls for MORE troops (will this be the Pentagon "alternative"?)
[Joe] Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) endorsed the McCain plan to send more U.S. soldiers to Iraq. Cornyn wants an additional 20,000 - 50,000 additional troops to go to Iraq. Like McCain, he's delusional. But if more troops is what McCain and the GOP are pushing, so be it. . .

More calls for withdrawal from those who were damning the Democrats just a few weeks ago for talking about withdrawal

Back home, the ongoing war has become invisible
[Bob Herbert] This indifference is widespread. It enables most Americans to go about their daily lives completely unconcerned about the atrocities resulting from a war being waged in their name. . .

The neo-con vision of remaking the Middle East has succeeded!
Jordan's King Abdullah, who will host President Bush this week during emergency talks on Iraq, said yesterday that the Middle East faces the prospect of three simultaneous civil wars erupting. . .

Jonathan Chait (only partly joking): bring back Hussein!

No joke:
'In Saddam's time I never saw a friend killed in front of my eyes. I never saw neighbours driven out of their homes just for their sect. And I never saw entire families being slaughtered and killed' . . .

Whither Bush?
[Daniel Politi] Some analysts urge Bush to be serious about working with Democrats, while others suggest he can still shape policy but must choose his battles carefully. . . . If the president chooses to continue pursuing a conservative agenda, he might not get anything approved by the new Congress, but if he compromises with Democrats he might anger his conservative base. . .

[Jacob Weisberg] The conservative era in American politics, which has coincided with my entire adult lifetime, came to an end two weeks ago. . .

[NB: Not likely, but it’s nice to think so]

Where McCain actually stands on the issues (funny that it took so long for such an article to appear)


Trent Lott is back in the Republican leadership, and he has some scores to settle with Karl Rove and the Bush White House

Police state watch,1,868028.story
The Justice Department asked the Supreme Court on Saturday not to prevent a federal prosecutor from examining the telephone records of two reporters at The New York Times . . .

The dollar drops, and recession appears on the horizon,,1956925,00.html
The US dollar has reached a 'tipping point' as foreign exchange markets wake up to the threat that the Federal Reserve will have to slash interest rates in the new year to stave off recession, analysts say. . . .


Dems: just say NO to any Bush-initiated Social Security “reform”


John Dingell (D-MI) plans several investigations before his committee
- The new Medicare drug benefit. "There are lots and lots and lots of scandals," he said. . . .

- Spending on government contractors in Iraq, including Halliburton Co., the Texas-based oil services conglomerate once led by Vice President Dick Cheney. . .

- An energy task force overseen by Cheney. It "was carefully cooked to provide only participation by oil companies and energy companies” . . .

- A review of food and drug safety, particularly in the area of nutritional supplements.
[Tristero] The real issue is not going to be serving subpoenas. Oh, they'll serve them all right. Nor will the issue be whether or not the White House will obey them. They won't.

No, the real issue is what will happen when the White House refuses to respond to nearly any subpoenas. One thing is for sure: Bush and Cheney are prepared to bring down the US government rather than comply. What will Congress do then? And how far will Congress be willing to push?

Exit polls used to be the standard check against voting error or fraud – today, the results of exit polls are hidden, and then secretly corrected to FIT the actual vote totals after the fact, lest they cast doubts about the integrity of elections. Wonder why?

If Bush is serious about bipartisanship and civility, here’s a simple first step he could take . . . but won’t (thanks to Avedon Carol for the link)

Looks like Brent Wilkes, Duke Cunningham’s pal, is anticipating a defense conducted largely through the media (why else hire Mark Geragos?)


Looking ahead to 2008, and the growing role of the progressive netroots

Bonus item: Revising history
[Atrios] [I]f one goes to Mission Accomplished Day at and then clicks on the video link there's something interesting.

Notice anything weird? The black bar at the bottom of the video?

They clipped off the top quarter of the video, and pushed the rest up, in order to hide the Mission Accomplished banner.

[NB: There is some dispute about the meaning of the black bar – but it misses the point, which is that the banner no longer appears in the video:]

Extra bonus item: “The divisive issue of peace”

[NB: So, will they rewrite the divisive Christmas carol too: "Peace on earth, good will toward men"?]

***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, November 26, 2006


As of today, the war in Iraq has lasted longer than the Second World War

In Iraq, the insurgency is stronger than ever – and self-sustaining
The insurgency in Iraq is now self-sustaining financially, raising tens of millions of dollars a year from oil smuggling, kidnapping, counterfeiting, corrupt charities and other crimes that the Iraqi government and its American patrons have been largely unable to prevent . . .

[David Kurtz] What makes the piece murky is no distinction is made between "insurgents," "terrorists," and other militant groups in Iraq. Maybe that's the approach of the secret report that the NYT piece is based on. But it would seem to me that lumping all of the various armed factions in Iraq into one category called "the insurgency" would be to miss many important differences in the goals and strategies--and the means of funding--of the many disparate groups currently operating in Iraq. . . The overwhelming impression I'm left with from the piece is that more than three and half years after ostensibly seizing control of Iraq, the U.S. government is still largely ignorant of the armed groups arrayed against its efforts there.

“An act of desperation”
The Bush administration charged yesterday that the escalating violence in Iraq committed by both Shiites and Sunnis over the past two days is a "brazen effort" to bring down the fragile government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

The White House also said President Bush has no intention of backing out of talks next week with the Iraqi leader, despite threats yesterday from a powerful Shiite militia to pull out of the government if Maliki goes ahead with the meeting. The talks, set for Thursday in Amman, Jordan, have suddenly taken on the air of a crisis summit, as Iraq slides closer to all-out civil war. . .

"Iraq is breaking down, not breaking up" into pieces, said Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. . .

"This summit is an act of desperation. The White House doesn't know what it can do," said David Rothkopf, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace fellow and the author of "Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power." "The situation is deteriorating more rapidly than anyone anticipated and to an unending depth.

"I don't think, in modern American history, there is another example of such egregious failure of policy and execution. We're really seeing something unprecedented here. Even Vietnam was a slower decline, and the military forces were more in balance. . . . I don't know anyone who thinks there is an outcome in Iraq now that is hopeful." . . . [take a deep breath, and read on]

The beginning of the end?
[DHinMI] [T]he McClatchy wire service is reporting that followers of Shiite radical Muqtada al-Sadr have taken over a radio station in Baghdad and are urging attacks on named Sunni leaders and neighborhoods. . .

This is as ominous a development as anything I recall since the invasion of Iraq. Losing control of the airwaves is a standard indicator that a government has completely lost control of the country. Without even the figleaf of civil authority, Baghdad will probably spin in to absolute chaos.

Even worse than the government losing control of the airwaves is the historical precedent. Many will recall that the Rwandan genocide began when Hutu radicals used state radio to call for the massacre of Tutsi and any Hutu who didn't support the massacre of the Tutsi.

This could be the beginning of a mass bloodletting in Baghdad, and the beginning of the end of a unified Iraq.
In the aftermath of one of the deadliest spasms of violence, a new level of fear and foreboding has gripped Baghdad, fueled in part by sectarian text messages and Internet sites, deepening tensions in an already divided capital. . .


The mysterious Mr. Cheney


More McCain double-talk: when you say the only solution is X, and that X is unlikely to happen, what is your next move?
[NB: Isn’t this all a way for him to avoid saying, the war is lost and there are no good options any more?]

Here’s what a REAL straight shooter sounds like, John
[Chuck Hagel, R-NE] There will be no victory or defeat for the United States in Iraq. These terms do not reflect the reality of what is going to happen there. The future of Iraq was always going to be determined by the Iraqis -- not the Americans.

Iraq is not a prize to be won or lost. It is part of the ongoing global struggle against instability, brutality, intolerance, extremism and terrorism. There will be no military victory or military solution for Iraq. Former secretary of state Henry Kissinger made this point last weekend.

The time for more U.S. troops in Iraq has passed. We do not have more troops to send and, even if we did, they would not bring a resolution to Iraq. Militaries are built to fight and win wars, not bind together failing nations. We are once again learning a very hard lesson in foreign affairs: America cannot impose a democracy on any nation -- regardless of our noble purpose.

We have misunderstood, misread, misplanned and mismanaged our honorable intentions in Iraq with an arrogant self-delusion reminiscent of Vietnam. Honorable intentions are not policies and plans. . .


The neo-cons are worried about the overly “centrist” Baker-Hamilton commission


Here’s Bush’s Next Big Problem
JUDY WOODRUFF: E.J., very quickly, back home, you have the House Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, saying she wants a caucus of House Democrats. She's invited Zbigniew Brzezinski from the Carter administration, Richard Holbrooke, the former U.N. ambassador, to sit around and talk to them. What else can the Democrats do, other than just criticize? Are they in a position now to be part of a constructive solution?

E.J. DIONNE: Well, some of that's up to the president. I mean, the president, under our system, has almost the entire power over foreign policy, unless Congress is willing to cut off funds for the war, which most of the Democrats have said they don't want to do because they don't want to endanger our troops.

But a lot of the people who voted for the Democrats in this year's elections were voting for -- to use a Democratic slogan -- a new direction in Iraq, and they were voting to get us out of there. So I think it's incumbent upon the Democrats to put together alternatives. . .

JUDY WOODRUFF: David, what is the most useful role for the Democrat right now in this?

DAVID BROOKS: . . . I think, the president's biggest problem would be the Republicans, not the Democrats. House Republicans, Senate Republicans -- those few that remain, that happy band -- they want to be out. They do not ever want to face another election, 2008, with American troops substantially in Iraq. And so they are going to be a bigger problem for the White House than the Democrats probably.

E.J. DIONNE: I think that's right. And I think the Democrats don't want to be in a sort of "stab in the back" position. They don't want the Republicans to take the mess that they started and, if it turns out badly, they'll blame the Democrats for it. So they have to walk a very careful line.

[Reuters] Outgoing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld authorized the mistreatment of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, the prison's former U.S. commander said in an interview on Saturday.

Former U.S. Army Brigadier General Janis Karpinski told Spain's El Pais newspaper she had seen a letter apparently signed by Rumsfeld which allowed civilian contractors to use techniques such as sleep deprivation during interrogation.

Karpinski, who ran the prison until early 2004, said she saw a memorandum signed by Rumsfeld detailing the use of harsh interrogation methods.

"The handwritten signature was above his printed name and in the same handwriting in the margin was written: "Make sure this is accomplished" . . .

Rumsfeld also authorized the army to break the Geneva Conventions by not registering all prisoners, Karpinski said, explaining how she raised the case of one unregistered inmate with an aide to former U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez.

"We received a message from the Pentagon, from the Defense Secretary, ordering us to hold the prisoner without registering him. I now know this happened on various occasions."

[SusanG] Now that Rumsfeld’s been thrown under the bus, revelations come seeping out of the woodwork . . .
[Dan Froomkin] Former General Karpinsky (demoted to Colonel) has an axe to grind: she was made into the scapegoat for Abu Ghraib. Circumstantial evidence is pretty strong that higher-ups who reported directly to Rumsfeld, notably Gen. Miller, were at least as much to blame, but they escaped all responsibility.

How reliable a witness is Karpinsky? Hard to say -- but reliable enough to deserve a hearing. Or two: one in the House and one in the Senate, say. . .

Josh Marshal gives the state of play over the House Intelligence Committee chair fight

Matt Yglesias forecasts the upcoming struggles over congressional oversight (short version: don’t get too excited)

Voting irregularities a nation-wide problem
Tens of thousands of voters, scattered across more than 25 states, encountered serious problems at the polls . .

Sunday talk show line-ups
FOX NEWS SUNDAY: Sen. Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Reps. Charles B. Rangel (D-N.Y.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and John D. Dingell (D-Mich.).

THIS WEEK (ABC): Sens. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.); King Abdullah of Jordan.


FACE THE NATION (CBS): Sens.-elect Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

MEET THE PRESS (NBC): Reps. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) and Ike Skelton (D-Mo.); Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Calif.); retired Army Gens. Barry R. McCaffrey and Wayne A. Downing.

LATE EDITION (CNN): Sens. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.); Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie; Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele (R-Md.); former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger; former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski; retired Army Brig. Gen. James A. Marks; retired Marine Lt. Gen. Michael P. DeLong.

Bonus item: Your daily Mo-Do
[Maureen Dowd] After the Thanksgiving Day Massacre of Shiites by Sunnis, President Bush should go on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News and give an interview headlined: “If I did it, here’s how the civil war in Iraq happened.”

He could describe, hypothetically, a series of na├»ve, arrogant and self-defeating blunders, including his team’s failure to comprehend that in the Arab world, revenge and religious zealotry can be stronger compulsions than democracy and prosperity. . . [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.***