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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Actual press reports of an anti-war protest

In our continuing series today on how the Bush admin is weakening, take a look at this. As one who was against the Iraq folly from day of Colin Powell's speech at the UN, I've always kind of kept an eye on the protest coverage. On Feb. 14 there was the massive, and I mean massive, set of anti-war rallies around the world. Half million people in New York, a million in London, a quarter million in Rome, et, etc, and it still didn't get as much sympathetic ink as this protest of seventy did.

Again, I think it's a clear sign of the waning fortunes of the Bush admin. During the coverage of the Feb 14 protests, no quotes from the protesters were really given, and to have a slogan repeated in an article. Incredible.

Even in the coverage of the Saturday radio address, it says, "Bush crowed about the strength of the U.S. economy on Saturday and credited his hotly debated tax cuts for the growth."

Lame Duck. It's what's for dinner.


About 70 anti-war protesters shouted "bring the troops home" from Iraq near President Bush's ranch on Saturday, prompting two White House officials to come out to meet with mothers who lost children in combat in Iraq. ....

"W. killed her son! W. killed her son!" the crowd shouted. They also shouted "Bring the troops home now" and held up signs with slogans such as "Impeach the Chicken-Hawk-in-Chief."

And for the coup de grace, the last line.

Bush spoke at the end of the first week of his 33-day working vacation.

Update: From AFP top ten stories, as well. the second paragraph:

Under a blistering sun, some 50 anti-war activists chanted "Bush, liar" and "How do you ask a soldier to be the last person to die for a lie?" outside the gates of the sprawling Prairie Chapel ranch near Crawford where the president is spending a month's vacation.

They did however use that god awful "Prarie Chapel" which was dreamed up by the new media team.

Update: From another Reuters piece on a Rumsfeld speech. No way these statements were reported even six months ago.

His speech was interrupted at one point by a woman who stood up and shouted: "Rumsfeld, you lied to us!"

Rumsfeld paused during his remarks but made no mention of the incident as the woman was hustled from the room by hotel security. Several minutes later, as the defense secretary was departing, a man who had been sitting in an area reserved for reporters strode forward and yelled: "Mr. Rumsfeld, military families think you're lying to them!"

Never again.

Take a moment today to remember Hiroshima Aug. 6, 1945. We should do everything we can to make sure this never happens again.

Bush's falling numbers

Bush's polling numbers are still falling, really sagging at this point. You gotta wonder what the Bush admin is going to do to bolster those numbers before the midterms. And will a wounded Rove still be able to make his magic?

(the big surprise to me is that the security number is down to 51%)


As U.S. troops endured a deadly week in Iraq, 61 percent of Americans polled say they disapprove of the way President George W. Bush is handling the war in Iraq, according to a new NEWSWEEK poll. Thirty four percent say they approve. This is Bush’s lowest rating on Iraq and the first time it has dropped below 40 percent in the NEWSWEEK poll. And 50 percent of those polled say the United States is losing ground in its efforts to establish security and democracy in Iraq; just 40 percent say the U.S. is making progress there. ......

Meanwhile, Bush’s approval ratings have dropped to 42 percent; 51 percent of Americans say they disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job as president. ......

Fifty-four percent of Americans say they are dissatisfied with the way things are going in the United States at this time, according to the latest NEWSWEEK poll. Just over a third say they are satisfied. .....

Bush earns his best marks for homeland security, with 51 percent of Americans saying they are satisfied with his handling of the matter, though that is a drop of six points from a NEWSWEEK poll taken in March. Bush earns significantly lower marks on his handling of the economy (40 percent approve), education (44 percent), energy policy (34 percent), the environment (39 percent) and Social Security (32 percent).

In general, 28 percent say the war in Iraq has made Americans safer from terrorism; 64 percent say it has not, the poll shows.

Bush backs down on Iran.

Perhaps this statement from Friday is the reason that the anti-Iran story, next entry, was leaked to run Saturday. Once again, it's the State Dept, who wants to negotiate and not rush against Iran(Iraq), versus Department of Defense officials who are advocating a weaponized strategy.

Perhaps, Bush backing this statement might mark an ebbing of the warlike neocon influence, after all, Perle resigned before the election with a cloud hanging over him for corruption in the Conrad Black, as well as Trireme Partners, things. Wolfowitz was promoted out of policy influence, and Feith, head of the Iraq intel fixing Office of Special Plans, resigned not too long ago. Feith was Larry Franklin's boss, currently indicted on handing classified intel to AIPAC officials.

So, maybe after the neocons dropped Bush in Iraq without a plan, the realists are making a bit of a comeback. And take a look at this statement and the following entry, and tell me if you see a connection.


The United States on Friday explicitly accepted for the first time that Iran can develop civilian nuclear programs, backing an EU proposal to allow Tehran to pursue atomic power in exchange for giving up fuel work.

In a compromise that completed a gradual shift in U.S. policy, Washington acquiesced because it believes the EU offer has enough safeguards to prevent Iran from diverting its civilian work into making nuclear bombs.

Whattya think?

More anti-Iran from unnamed officials

I think the war hawks learned their lesson from the Iraq affair; it's far better to have inflammatory information, true or not I don't know, piped out through anonymous "officials" that way you don't get questioned about it later. This is the exact same kind of "officials" story that Judith Miller printed over and over in the lead up to Iraq. Aluminum tubes, UAV's, the infamous mobile bio-weapons labs, all of these were front page NYTimes with a Judy Miller byline. All of them cited "military and intelligence officials", and none of them were true.

So, as the pro-Likud crazies start to try and gin up a war on Iran, you can see why I'm more than a little skeptical of stories like this.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 - Many of the new, more sophisticated roadside bombs used to attack American and government forces in Iraq have been designed in Iran and shipped in from there, United States military and intelligence officials said Friday, raising the prospect of increased foreign help for Iraqi insurgents.
And if anyone wants to get their nose outta joint about the pro-Likud use, I just want to say a few things. There are indeed a large number of the hawkish elements in the Bush Admin who have direct ties to the Likud government, the authors of the "Clean Break" strategy as well as a number of others who serve on JINSA or other like organizations.

Second, I strongly support the majority Israeli opinion that want peace negotiations. It is the illegal actions of the current Likud government with which I take issue. And if you don't think the actions are illegal, I can only say that, forget everything else, the settlements are illegal under UN law. The fact that this is not enforced shows the errors of the security council veto system, not innocence.

NYTimes goes after Rove/Novak relationship.

All the dirty laundry on Rove and Novak has been out there for years, alot of it from the Bush's Brain book and BBC's Greg Palast reporting, and it's finally breaking through into the news channels. I think the fact that the NYTimes printed this highly unflattering article is a pretty clear sign that the political stars of both Rove and Novak are falling.

Conventional wisdom must believe they are going down, and in traditional Washington style, everybody's gonna pile on to get even for even the slightest of slights. And after all the hatchet jobs these two have done, things are gonna get really ugly.

Couldn't happen to two more deserving guys.

The other firm belonged to Mr. Rove's chief competitor, John Weaver, and Mr. Rove was so angry, Texas Republicans say, that he retaliated by leaking the information about Mr. Mosbacher to Mr. Novak.

Keep your eyes open for the re-emergence of the bug Rove planted in his own office in the Mark White governor's run.

On the other hand.....

On the other hand, look at the soft pedaled version of transferring classified information to Israel that the NYTimes gives in the AIPAC scandal. Remember, Rove/Novak are yet to be indicted while Rosen has been indicted as well as caught on tape numerous times discussing the fact that he knew he was transferring classified information.

Foreign spies taking classified info out of the DoD and it gets this coverage.

"Cry bias, and let loose the dogs of war."

Again, NYTimes.

Use of Espionage Law in Case Troubles Analysts

WASHINGTON, Aug. 5 - In early 2003, Steven J. Rosen, an influential lobbyist on Israeli affairs, heard from "a friend" at the Pentagon about a classified government report on Middle East policy, federal prosecutors say, and he thought others should know about it, too.

Within hours, Mr. Rosen was discussing details of the secret material with Israeli officials as well as with a senior fellow at a Washington policy institute, prosecutors say. A few days after that, he contacted several reporters in town to encourage them to pursue what he considered a big story, related to the formulation of American policy on Iran.

"I'm not supposed to know this," he confided to a reporter, according to federal officials who were wiretapping his conversations. ....

But some legal analysts(HOW MANY?), lobbyists and media lawyers said Friday that they were troubled by the government's broad reading of the law. They said the government's indictment in the case and the strong message it sent could be read as signaling that anyone receiving classified information - including lobbyists, private policy researchers and reporters - might be committing a crime, even if the aim was to further public policy debate. ....

Friday, August 05, 2005

Huzzah! The Novak Witch is Dead!!!!

The Novak witch is dead and there was great rejoicing.

NEW YORK -- CNN suspended commentator Robert Novak indefinitely after he swore and walked off the set Thursday during a debate with Democratic operative James Carville.

Update, here's the video.

Update, more gossipy blog coverage here, here, and here.

Juba the Sniper of Baghdad

Interesting piece for the tactics fans out there in the Guardian on a sniper called Juba.

They have never seen Juba. They hear him, but by then it's too late: a shot rings out and another US soldier slumps dead or wounded.

And if the tactics intrigue you, I would highy recommend the book War of the Rats by Robbins, a fictionalized account of snipers in Stalingrad. It's a little old so it can probably be found at your local used bokk store.

(the amazon link is not an endorsement of amazon, I'm not a big fan, it was just the easiest way to link to book info.)

Thursday, August 04, 2005

New BBC report on US "Secret Jails"

Just a brief story from BBC about two "detainees" and their experience.

Two Yemeni men claim they were held in secret, underground US jails for more than 18 months without being charged, Amnesty International has said. .....

The men were transferred in May this year to Yemen, where they are still being held without charge.

Amnesty says the Yemeni authorities say they are only holding the men because the US has "made it a condition of their release from secret detention".

AIPAC scandal indictments

This is significant in regard to the rush to war. Many allegations have been made that the flow of information did not just flow out of the Pentagon through Franklin, but also back in to Feith's outfit, the Office of Special Plans, which "stovepiped" intelligence onto Cheney's desk. This is one of the mechanisms through which bad intelligence was supplied to create a case for the war.


The new indictment charges Steven Rosen, formerly AIPAC's policy director, with illegally receiving classified information from Franklin and with illegally helping Franklin pass on written classified information.

The indictment also charges Keith Weissman, AIPAC's former senior Middle East analyst, with illegally receiving classified information.

How does this fit in with 4G warfare?

Big talk from DoD about retooling the army to fight 4th generation warfare, briefing papers advocating strike teams ready to defend anywhere in the US, Iraq and Afghanistan guerilla wars, how much help would this really be?

(Washington, D.C., August 3, 2005) - The Bush Administration appears poised to resume the production of antipersonnel mines, Human Rights Watch said today in a new briefing paper. The United States, which has not manufactured antipersonnel mines since 1997, will make a decision in December whether to begin production of a new antipersonnel mine called Spider. The Pentagon has requested a total of $1.3 billion for development and production activities for another new antipersonnel mine called the Intelligent Munitions System, with a full production decision expected in 2008.
Land mines generally kill civilians. Tell me again about hearts and minds.

Is Rape God's Plan?

I was reading about Pataki vetoing a bill to make RU486 available behind the counter without a perscription, (his rationale was that such a drug should not be available to minors without parental consent.) The allegation being made by the pro-choice people is that Pataki, historically very pro-choice, just vetoed this to start his presidential bid rolling by catering to the religious right.

So, the question becomes, why is the religious right, or at least certain sects of protestant christianity in America, absolutist pro-life? Their rationale is that god creates every life, therefore it is not our place to interfere. Taking this logic to its extreme, absolutist anti-abortion christains, and by extension, foes of RU486, are taking the stance that rape is part of god's plan. But what about systematic rape where the goal is to destroy a sect or race such as in the wars of Darfur, former Yugoslavia, and the Congo? Is that part of god's plan?

And by logical extension, should man be interfering in the spread of disease. If it's god's plan for meningitis to kill hundreds of school children aren't we working against god in distributing anti-biotics? Should they be banned?

But if we can interfere in disease, and prolong life(Schiavo) to alter god's plan, then why the logical disconnect on abortion? What is the psychology of this argument on an individual level? Is it some manifestation of a fear of dying? Is it something to do with heaven/hell? I'm not a religious person at all, so I have no real framework to analyze this.

Separately, but related, why are there no significant non-religious/a-religious anti-abortion groups? I'm not talking about the scientific arguments that these religious group use, I'm talking about the lack of any substantial non-religious organized opposition to abortion. Seemingly all opposition, all this pressure to upend Roe v. Wade, and ban RU486, and the whole lot is coming solely from a relatively small section of the religious/non-religious spectrum. It's just curious.

Now, I don't want to get into the science, I know the science and that's not what this is about. I'm just trying to explore the arguments.

I would appreciate comments on this one, because I really don't get it. To comment, just click on the light blue comments at the bottom of this entry. The blogger comment only allows a short space, so feel free to post an answer over several entries, they are displayed chronologically, so it should read fine. And if you know someone who doesn't read this who can help me out, please email this entry to them, either with the little envelope or just cut and paste this into an email, so they can respond.

I just don't get it, and I'm looking for help.

USAToday with civil liberties poll.

Sorry, I couldn't find a link for just the poll, (No CNN story found easily, and detailed info on new Gallup polls is behind a subscription wall) so you'll have to click to the article and look at the poll summary in the box on the left.

• Support for requiring everyone to show an ID before entering an office building, and for adding airport-style security on mass transit systems.

• Opposition to making it easier for police to read e-mail or tap phones, and to allowing the government to imprison citizens suspected of terrorism without trial for years.

• A split over whether to allow police to stop people on the street at random and ask for ID. Random searches on the street were opposed.

• Support for requiring all Americans to carry a national ID card, but narrow opposition to requiring Arabs, including those who are citizens, to carry special IDs. A narrow majority favored requiring Arabs to undergo more intensive security checks at airports.

Interesting Semantics

I found the attempt to rebrand the "war on terror" as the "Struggle against Violent Extremism" with that awful acronym SAVE, an interesting semantic point. All of the uses of SAVE came out of the Dept. of Defense followed by phrases, I remember joint chiefs Richard Myers, about how the "war" wording implies that miltary men in uniform were the answer, and that the solution should be recognized as a much broader joint effort across the entire government. Not bad.

But then we get this yesterday in the NYtimes.

GRAPEVINE, Tex., Aug. 3 - President Bush publicly overruled some of his top advisers on Wednesday in a debate about what to call the conflict with Islamic extremists, saying, "Make no mistake about it, we are at war."

In a speech here, Mr. Bush used the phrase "war on terror" no less than five times. Not once did he refer to the "global struggle against violent extremism," the wording consciously adopted by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other officials in recent weeks after internal deliberations about the best way to communicate how the United States views the challenge it is facing.

Now, what is this? Bush, quite obviously, gets a political benefit from the "war" phraseology, I'm not gonna go into that as I think it's fairly obvious, but the really curious thing about this semantic divide, is why the Dept of Defense wanted to broaden the language.

I think this is an effort by DoD to crawl out from under primary responsibility for the level of success/failure this "war" is having. I don't think this bodes particularly well for the "war" effort, which effectively means that you are at risk of terror attack.

Another possibility would be a de-emphasis of of the war imagery to aid in recruiting, but I would discount that as a primary motivation. I don't think getting soft and fuzzy for recruiting purposes would get a signature off Rumsfeld's desk.

It's all just pretty curious, something to think about over that bowl of Cheerios.

What do you think it means?

Rafael Palmeiro faces pejury charges while...

Rafael Palmeiro faces pejury charges for his statements to congeress on steroids while......

John Bolton gets appointed after lying in his congressional testimony.

Condi Rice gets promoted after the whole "Bin Laden determined to strike US" thing.

Elliot Abrams was convicted of this and somehow now works in the Bush Admin.

Mushroom Cloud, UAV, last throes Cheney continues to make things up about Syria and Iran.

It's early, I'm still muddy, help me out with more "while"s.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Believe in Peak Oil?

Well, Exxon believes in peak oil.

Without any press conferences, grand announcements, or hyperbolic advertising campaigns, the Exxon Mobil Corporation, one of the world's largest publicly owned petroleum companies, has quietly joined the ranks of those who are predicting an impending plateau in non-OPEC oil production. Their report, The Outlook for Energy: A 2030 View, forecasts a peak in just five years.

Add them to the list of Shell, BP, and Chevron that I know about.

Pretty good semi-technical article from The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It only publishes once a month, but there's usually a few pretty good articles.

An update on the Iraq mess bombing

Remember the bombing of the unprotected mess tent that the US Army kept referring to as a lucky shot. Well, maybe not so lucky and not a rocket.

(Source is NY Post via Weekly Standard so read it in context.)

ON December 21, a terrorist blew himself up in the U.S. military mess hall in Mosul, in northern Iraq. Twenty-two people were killed, including U.S. soldiers and contractors.

And now comes big news: The perpetrator was the oldest son of a diplomat from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, our alleged ally in the War on Terror.

Journalists turn on Judy Miller

From Editor and Publisher.

NEW YORK The board of The American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA) has voted unanimously to reverse an earlier decision to give its annual Conscience in Media award to jailed New York Times reporter Judith Miller, E&P has learned.

The group's First Amendment committee had narrowly voted to give Miller the prize for her dedication to protecting sources, but the full board has now voted to overturn that decision, based on its opinion that her entire career, and even her current actions in the Plame/CIA leak case, cast doubt on her credentials for this award. ......

Suskind on Rove

From Laura Rozen's blog

this Ron Suskind article's introduction to Ralston and Rove is worth revisiting:

...Eventually, I met with Rove. I arrived at his office a few minutes early, just in time to witness the Rove Treatment, which, like LBJ’s famous browbeating style, is becoming legend but is seldom reported. Rove’s assistant, Susan Ralston, said he’d be just a minute. She’s very nice, witty and polite. Over her shoulder was a small back room where a few young men were toiling away. I squeezed into a chair near the open door to Rove’s modest chamber, my back against his doorframe.

Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. "We will fuck him. Do you hear me? We will fuck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever fucked him!" As a reporter, you get around—curse words, anger, passionate intensity are not notable events—but the ferocity, the bellicosity, the violent imputations were, well, shocking. This went on without a break for a minute or two. Then the aide slipped out looking a bit ashen, and Rove, his face ruddy from the exertions of the past few moments, looked at me and smiled a gentle, Clarence-the-Angel smile. "Come on in." ...

Pre war CIA Iraq activity

Who would have ever thought that a group the CIA supported would go bad? (paging Mr. Bin Laden.)

Before the war in Iraq began, the CIA recruited and trained an Iraqi paramilitary group, code-named the Scorpions, to foment rebellion, conduct sabotage, and help CIA paramilitaries who entered Baghdad and other cities target buildings and individuals, according to three current and former intelligence officials with knowledge of the unit.

After Baghdad fell, the CIA used the Scorpions to try to infiltrate the insurgency, to help out in interrogations, and, from time to time, to do "the dirty work," as one intelligence official put it.

In one case, members of the unit, wearing masks and carrying clubs and pipes, beat up an Iraqi general in the presence of CIA and military personnel, according to investigative documents reviewed by The Washington Post and according to several defense and intelligence officials.

CIA control over the unit became weaker as chaos grew in Iraq. "Even though they were set up by us, they weren't well supervised," said an intelligence official.

Mauritanian Coup

I know absolutely nothing about Mauritanian politics. But in the true tradition of this blog, try and see if you can reconstruct the history. (Taya is the current leader)

NOUAKCHOTT (Reuters) - Members of Mauritania's presidential guard took over state television and radio on Wednesday and blocked streets in the capital Nouackchott in what a diplomat said could be a coup attempt. ....

Taya seized power in a 1984 coup. He has angered many Arabs in the country, which straddles black and Arab Africa, by shifting support from former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to Israel and Washington in the 1990s.

Mauritania -- which hopes to start pumping oil early next year -- is one of only three Arab League member states that have established diplomatic ties with Israel.

It is also one of the most repressive countries in the region toward Islamist movements, analysts say. .....

The United States has been sending military experts to train soldiers in Mauritania and other countries in the region to combat militants thought to be operating in the Sahara.

More marines die in Iraq.

Fourteen U.S. Marines and a civilian interpreter were killed Wednesday in western Iraq, the U.S. command said.

The Marines, assigned to Regimental Combat Team 2, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward), were killed in action early Wednesday when their vehicle was hit by an improvised explosive device, the military said. One Marine was also wounded in the attack. .....

The latest losses come on the heels of the deaths of seven U.S. Marines in combat two days ago in the volatile Euphrates Valley of western Iraq. .....

At least 39 American service members have been killed in Iraq since July 24 — all but two in combat. In addition, the Iraqi Defense Ministry said that since the beginning of April, more than 2,700 Iraqis — about half of them civilians — had been killed in insurgency-related incidents.

Horrible. That brings the total of Dead US military to 1821 according to this site which tracks such things.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A tale of rendition and torture.

A tale of Rendition and torture from the Guardian of London. I don't know anything about this guy except what's printed in this article. His story is kind of a Rorschach test, and I don't know if I believe him. But I'll bet there are millions of Muslims who will believe this, not to mention some Central Americans and others who suffered torture while the quiet anglo stood in the back.

We can publish all the good news we want about Iraq. We can create satellite channels in Iraq, the Arab world, and now, South America. But none of it will matter. In allowing questionable and illegal prisoner treatment, and not acting to eliminate it the moment it came to light, we have lost our credibility. Even if this is all lies, it will be belived by many, and in that America has already lost the battle of ideas, and thus, the war.

So, Rorschach test, do you believe it?

The story:Alleged bomb plotter claims two and a half years of interrogation under US and UK supervision in 'ghost prisons' abroad

And his diary: One of them took my penis in his hand and began to make cuts. He did it once, and they stood still for maybe a minute, watching my reaction. I was in agony. They must have done this 20 to 30 times, in maybe two hours. There was blood all over. "I told you I was going to teach you who's the man," [one] eventually said.

Interesting piece on NY subway bag searches.

Not really a big fan of Reason, but this article/editorial/comment on the NY subway bag searches is pretty interesting. Oh, and pretty short.

But if the illusion of security won't fool the terrorists, at least it fools the public. "I see it also as giving some comfort to the riding public," said Commissioner Kelly. "Reassuring the public is a legitimate objective," said RAND's terrorism expert. "You might say, dismissively, it's just to make people feel better. But we shouldn't dismiss it." ......

As I read the relevant Supreme Court decisions, if the police said they would be randomly searching bags for drugs, unlicensed guns, or other contraband, mentioning in passing that of course they would also arrest anyone they happened to find with a bomb, the searches would be unconstitutional. But since they've said they are randomly searching bags for bombs, mentioning in passing that of course they will also arrest anyone found with drugs, an unlicensed gun, or other contraband, the searches probably will be upheld.

Bush addresses the Hitler Youth

Okay, that's an exaggeration, but take a look at this picture of Bush addressing the Scout Jamboree and tell me it doesn't look a little familiar.

Here's a few odd snips from a couple of places to go along with the picture.

"Overall, Bush’s speech was about patriotism and community and military service to the nation."

"Bush said the Boy Scouts "understand that freedom must be defended," and touted what he called the "armies of liberation." The Army has fallen behind its recruiting goals amid the Iraq war."

"Mark Hunter, the director of marketing and administration for the Chief Seattle Council, said it was enforcing a national policy. The Boy Scouts is a faith-based organization, he said, and the issue of God is not negotiable. Aside from the vow of reverence in the Scout Law, every Boy Scout pledged a duty to God in the Scout Oath."

"and military recruiters working the crowd."

"Men in black "Army" T-shirts coached young boys to chant "OO-rah" like soldiers. A giant "ARMY" hot-air balloon bobbed overhead."

(I can't find anywhere that tells me how many military recruiters were there, but I'm willing to guess that it was alot.)

If only we'd had this in Iraq

We might not be in Iraq if the parallel version of this had been allowed to come out. So, when Cheney starts talking mushroom clouds out of Iran, we can say, "no hurry."


A major U.S. intelligence review has projected that Iran is about a decade away from manufacturing the key ingredient for a nuclear weapon, roughly doubling the previous estimate of five years, according to government sources with firsthand knowledge of the new analysis.

The carefully hedged assessments, which represent consensus among U.S. intelligence agencies, contrast with forceful public statements by the White House. Administration officials have asserted, but have not offered proof, that Tehran is moving determinedly toward a nuclear arsenal. The new estimate could provide more time for diplomacy with Iran over its nuclear ambitions. President Bush has said that he wants the crisis resolved diplomatically but that "all options are on the table."

The new National Intelligence Estimate includes what the intelligence community views as credible indicators that Iran's military is conducting clandestine work. But the sources said there is no information linking those projects directly to a nuclear weapons program. What is clear is that Iran, mostly through its energy program, is acquiring and mastering technologies that could be diverted to bombmaking.

And then on the same day, we also get the french playing good cop. (I think you can guess who the bad cop is.)


French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said if Teheran went ahead with its plan it should be referred to the UN Security Council.

The French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said such a move by Teheran would spark a major international crisis.

Iranian officials say the decision to resume uranium processing at its Isfahan plant is irreversible.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Whole bunch of quick stuff.

I don't trust the Fox news people, but.....

On FOX News Channel's Day Side, Terrorism Expert John Loftus revealed that Haroon Rashid Aswat, the suspect wanted by British Police for "masterminding" the July 7th London bombings and July 21st attempted bombings is in fact an asset of MI6, the British Secret Service. According to Loftus, Aswat has been under the protection of MI6 for many years.

It's actually far more complicated than that, check the video about 3 minutes, you won't believe it. And I don't know the credibility of the guy being interviewed, but its amazing.

Then there's this. If you're a fan of NPR, they had a much clearer presentation.

Leaked emails from two former prosecutors suggested the US military commissions to try detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are rigged, fraudulent and thin on evidence, Australian national radio reported.

In one of the emails obtained by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, prosecutor Major Robert Preston wrote to his supervisor in March last year that the process was perpetrating a fraud on the American people.

And finally:

A Sunday Herald investigation has discovered that coalition forces are holding more than 100 children in jails such as Abu Ghraib. Witnesses claim that the detainees – some as young as 10 – are also being subjected to rape and torture

As always, click the blue links for the content.

John Bolton was a director of PNAC!!

This is just more from the site in the previous post. As I was exploring, I realized they also index organizations (think tanks, commisions, panels, etc,) limited mainly defense corporations, some DoD advisory boards, as well as an index of further more detailed organizations.

The most interesting thing thus far is that Bolton was a director of PNAC from 98-01 during the crucial period when they published their blueprint for the dangerous, escalating foreign policy we are following. In its logical conclusion, either we will go into fairly open conflict with China, or they will submit which I feel is highly unlikely.

But then again that's nothing compared to the nuclear posture review, but that's gonna be a long post I'll approach another day.

This is a goldmine.


Now, know your source, just from a cursory reading, it's quite obvious that the people who put this together are pretty left and very anit-Bush, anti-neocon, but if you're looking for an unflattering but factually accurate one page profile on one of the neocons and what they've had their fingers on, as well as alot of the others in and around the bush admin, click the link and pick a name.

Here's Elliot Abrams, convicted Iran Contra figure, one of my favorite Bush administration characters.

I'm gonna reprint this

Alot of you may have seen this, but I think it's important enough to be posted here.

From the American Conservative Magazine

In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration who brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran. The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections.

Again, I think this is more posturing and threat to the Iranians that they'd best not work at cross purposes with Dick Cheney's PLAN. I mean, we couldn't just bomb Iran willy nilly because of the political as well as the nuclear fallout. Somehow, I just don't think that the world is gonna buy the Iraq argument on Iran.

But I do think this is significant in that it tells me, that the US has so little access to Al Quaida, their plans and operatives, that they believe an unwilling Iran being threatened into action would bave more effect than all our efforts, not to mention all our money, spent since 9-11.

I recognize that those two are not exclusive, but if our government had a handle on it, they wouldn't be publicly threatening Iran to get help.


Wapo on other recess appointments

This is from the WaPo, an AP list of other recess appontments. Notice the Bush one's are all political, while the Clinton's are replacement candidates and the gay discrimination guy. I do remember the civil rights guy and he was pretty controversial.

President Bush: 106 recess appointments, including Bolton, mostly to minor posts. Among them:

_Anthony J. Principi, chairman of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, April 2005. Bush used the recess to also appoint the panel's other eight members, circumventing a move by Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., to delay the base closings.

_William Pryor, 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, February 2004. The Alabama judge's re-nomination and Senate approval this June was part of a deal struck by centrist senators to avoid a judicial filibuster battle.

_Charles Pickering, 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, January 2004. First nominated in 2001, he was blocked by Senate Democrats. He retired when his temporary appointment expired last December.

_Eugene Scalia, Labor Department solicitor, January 2002. Bush extended Scalia's term by naming him acting solicitor in November 2002, with the intent of re-nominating him before a GOP-controlled Senate. But Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, resigned in January 2003.

_Otto Reich, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere, January 2002. The former Reagan White House aide left when his recess term expired the following November.


President Clinton: 140 recess appointments over two terms. Among them:

_Former Sen. Wyche Fowler, D-Ga., ambassador to Saudi Arabia, August 1996. Put in the post two months after a bombing that killed 19 American soldiers stationed there, he received Senate confirmation in October 1997 and served until March 2001.

_Mickey Kantor, commerce secretary, April 1996. He replaced Ron Brown, who died in a plane crash, but left in January 1997 before his nomination went before the Senate.

_Roger Gregory, 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, December 2000. He was later re-nominated by Bush and confirmed by the Senate.

_Bill Lann Lee, assistant attorney general for civil rights, August 2000. Blocked by Senate Republicans, he was appointed acting assistant attorney general in 1997, then received the recess appointment to serve out Clinton's term.

_James Hormel, ambassador to Luxembourg, June 1999. A gay philanthropist whose nomination was blocked by Senate Republicans, he remained ambassador until near the end of Clinton's term.


_The first President Bush made 77 recess appointments over one term, and President Reagan made 243 over two terms.

Hurrah for the BBC

In the BBC obit for Fahd, they included this tidbit.

See two posts ago for context.

Fahd was said never to have forgiven Faisal for this humiliation.

There were rumours at the time - which still circulate in Arabic language chat rooms - that Fahd had something to do with Faisal's assassination by a disturbed young man in 1975.

Like most court gossip, that remains an un-proven allegation and it was certainly not acted upon by the royal family's inner circle.

The Test of America

To me, the greatest test America faces in the next few years in its struggle for greatness will be how we handle the truth about the lies that were use do lead us into the war in Iraq. The early efforts did not bode well, 9-11 commission made great efforts to minimize the fact that Iraq had no ties to 9-11; various senate and presidential commissions on the intelligence have blamed systemic failures and poor communications between the various intelligence apparati.

But the truth is out there percolating around. The forged Niger documents being the most concrete example, but there are others like the creation and practices of the Office of Special Plans, and Cheney's unprecedented hard pressure on the CIA to make intelligence match policy.

And it's little things like this whch give me some hope.

A former employee has charged the Central Intelligence Agency was told by an informant in the spring of 2001 that Iraq had abandoned a major element of its nuclear weapons program, The New York Times reported.

But the newspaper said the agency did not share the information with other agencies or with senior policy makers.

In a lawsuit filed in federal court here in December, the former CIA officer, whose name remains secret, said that the informant told him that Iraq's uranium enrichment program had ended years earlier and that centrifuge components from the scuttled program were available for examination and even purchase, the report said.

The paper said the officer, an employee at the agency for more than 20 years, was fired in 2004.

In his lawsuit, he says his dismissal was punishment for his reports questioning the agency's assumptions on a series of weapons-related matters, according to The Times.

He also charged that he had been the target of retaliation for his refusal to go along with the agency's intelligence conclusions.

King Fahd's compressed history.

King Fahd officially died last night. Not gonna write too much on this right now, as it will take some days to really start to see the politics of this shake out. Right now, the actors are all too busy scrurrying around behind the scenes trying to enact all the plans and deals they have been making since Fahd first drew ill. This also explains why Prince Bandar left the US ambassadorship just a few weeks ago.

So, as this falls in line with the earlier post on compressed history entry on Chalabi, right now, I'm just gonna put up some of the summary history the news services are publishing on Fahd.

Now, please remember, that this death is not a surprise, and that the obit/history parts of these article have been written and waiting for awhile so they are not just a contextual aside, but a fully intentional summation. As you read these clips, take a moment to think of what they're leaving out. This is how history is created.

First AP

Fahd died at approximately 2:30 a.m. EDT, a senior Saudi official in Washington told The Associated Press. President Bush was alerted within minutes of Fahd's death, the official said on condition of anonymity because he's not authorized to talk for the government. The king's funeral was to be held Tuesday evening, he said. ......

During his rule, the portly, goateed Fahd, who rose to the throne in 1982, inadvertently helped fuel the rise of Islamic extremism by making multiple concessions to hard-liners, hoping to boost his Islamic credentials. But then he also brought the kingdom closer to the United States and agreed to a step that enraged many conservatives: the basing of U.S. troops on Saudi soil after the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

In his last years, Fahd was more of a figurehead than the actual ruler — so he was sidelined as the close relationship he nurtured with the United States deteriorated after the Sept. 11 attacks. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, and many in the U.S. administration blamed kingdom's strict Wahabi school of Islam for fueling terrorism.

Abdullah oversaw the crackdown on Islamic militants after followers of Saudi-born Osama bin Laden launched a wave of attacks, beginning with the May 2003 bombings of Western residential compounds in Riyadh. Abdullah also pushed a campaign against extremist teaching and preaching and introduced the kingdom's first elections ever — municipal polls held in early 2005.

And Abdullah — who before coming to power had not been happy with Saudi Arabia's close alliance with and military dependence on the United States and Washington's perceived bias toward Israel — rebuilt the kingdom's ties with the U.S. He visited President Bush twice at Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, most recently in April 2005. ......

In the 1980s, Riyadh, Washington and Islamabad, Pakistan, mobilized Islam to fight Soviet occupiers of Afghanistan. Millions of Saudi riyals were donated to that effort and thousands of Saudis joined the jihad, including bin Laden, in a recruitment drive encouraged by the government. The king's official biography says Fahd was "an ardent supporter" of the Afghan mujahedeen.

But after the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, Fahd, like U.S. and Pakistani officials, gave little attention to the mujahedeen, who turned that country into a training ground for their attacks, including the 9/11 suicide hijackings.

The Reuters version of history

He used the huge oil revenues to back Saddam Hussein's Iraq in its eight-year war with Shi'ite Muslim Iran, but when Saddam invaded neighboring Kuwait, Fahd invited U.S. forces to Saudi Arabia to launch their recapture of the tiny emirate in 1991.

His decision to let half a million non-Muslim fighters into Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest sites, angered Saudi scholars and a Saudi-born mujahideen fighter in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden.

Bin Laden turned against the royal family and its U.S. allies. Ten years later his al Qaeda network, using mainly Saudi hijackers, carried out the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks which plunged Saudi-U.S. ties, a cornerstone of Fahd's reign, into crisis.

The attacks revealed strains between Fahd's foreign policy, which linked his country inextricably to the world's sole superpower, and the royal family's alliance with largely anti-American and ultra-conservative religious scholars at home.

In 2003, al Qaeda launched a violent campaign inside Saudi Arabia, targeting Westerners, security forces and oil sites

And of course, AFP

Believed to have been born in 1921, Fahd took charge in 1982 of a vast kingdom which is the world's largest petroleum exporter and holds a quarter of global oil reserves.

He guided Saudi Arabia through the most turbulent era in its history, which saw the kingdom survive two Gulf Wars only to have to confront the menace of Islamic extremism.

Two years of strife perpetrated by Islamic extremists has claimed the lives of 90 civilians, 42 security personnel and 113 militants, according to official figures.

Saudi's alliance with the United States, the cornerstone of Fahd's foreign policy was sorely tested by the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States, in which 15 out of the 19 attackers were Saudi.

(Interesting this first AFP article has no mention of Iraq/Afghan/Al Quaida.)


Overall, King Fahd's reign, which in effect began with the long illness of his predecessor, King Khalid, was characterized by immense change.

He oversaw the exploitation of the kingdom's oil wealth, the expansion of its private sector and sent a generation of Saudis to be educated in the West. He let hundreds of thousands of American troops be based in Saudi Arabia during the first war against Iraq despite heated criticism from other Arab countries.

His influence ranged from helping the Reagan administration orchestrate and finance its complicated, illegal operation to sell arms to Iran while aiding Nicaraguan rebels; to giving hundreds of millions of dollars to Palestinians fighting Israel, to establishing religious schools, some of which have been described as breeders of terrorists, throughout the Islamic world.

The power and prestige of controlling the world's biggest pool of oil, a quarter of the planet's reserves, spoke for itself. But depressed petroleum prices during much of King Fahd's reign, which began in 1982, engendered economic pressures unthinkable during the high-flying 1970's. As population surged and employment opportunities dwindled, the kingdom's per capita income sunk to a third of what it had been at the time of King Fahd's coronation.

The king nonetheless used his ability to pump more oil almost at will as a damper on oil prices so as not to damage the world economy. But he understandably worried when prices fell too low to pay the kingdom's bills, and in 1986 sacked his famous oil minister, Ahmed Zaki Yamani, for allowing crude prices to fall to $10 a barrel from $30. (Some have also suggested the royal family tired of the charismatic oil minister's news media attention.) .....

In 1994, the king stripped Osama bin Laden of his Saudi citizenship because of his activities against the royal family. The king's other antiterrorist actions, many probably actually performed by Prince Abdullah, included removing more than 2,000 radical preachers from their mosques. .....

The State Department, the British Foreign Office and private human rights monitors, meanwhile, persistently criticized Saudi Arabia's treatment of non-Muslims, women and prisoners. ......

He made no attempt to hide his status as one of the world's richest men. Even when following the traditional Arab passion of visiting the desert, he made the trip in a fleet of 18-wheel Mercedes trucks. In "The Saudis: Inside the Desert Kingdom" (Norton, 1987), Sandra Mackey said he "built one elaborate palace after another," including an exact replica of the White House in Washington, D.C. (He never moved in because of the political repercussions of a Saudi king's imitating an American president.)

In "The Arabs" (Random, 1987), David Lamb reported that King Fahd employed the Washington artist who designed the floating space city in "Star Trek" to refurbish his Boeing 707 with gold-plated hardware, a three-story elevator and plastic chandeliers. His yacht was the size of a luxury liner. .....

After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan in 1979, King Fahd joined with the United States to aid Afghans fighting the Russians. Hume Horan, a former United states ambassador to Saudi Arabia, wrote in a 2004 article for the American Enterprise Institute that William J. Casey, then director of the Central Intelligence Agency, visited the king in 1987.

The American brought a shiny, detailed Kalashnikov. Its stock featured a brass plaque saying that the weapon had been taken from the body of a Russian officer.

"Mr. Casey might as well have been giving the keys to the Kingdom of God itself," Mr. Horan wrote. "The king rose, flourished the weapon, and struck a martial pose." .....

When Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990, King Fahd faced a thorny problem. During the war between Iraq and Iran in the 1980's, Saudi Arabia gave Iraq $25 billion in aid. The king first urged negotiations to encourage Iraq to retreat.

Then Defense Secretary Richard Cheney visited the king to make the case that Saudi Arabia stood a good chance of being Iraq's next victim. He displayed satellite photos of Iraqi missiles aimed at Saudi Arabia and other threats.

The king huddled with his advisers, Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor wrote in their book, "The General's War: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf" (Little, Brown, 1995). The authors said the king won over his doubters by pointing out that the Kuwaitis who had fled had been put up in luxury hotels in Saudi Arabia. He asked what country would put up the Saudis in their hotels.

Saudi Arabia allowed the Untied States to station troops in the kingdom. Judith Miller in her book "God Has 99 Names" (Simon & Schuster, 1996) said the king built a consensus for the controversial action partly by convincing one of the country's most respected religious scholars, Sheikh Bin Baz, to issue a fatwa, or order, to sanction the use of force to evict Iraq.

But Ms. Miller said the king was disappointed that the United States ended hostilities before Saddam Hussein was destroyed. She said the disgruntled Saudis briefly prolonged the war by delaying their translation of the surrender document.

In 2003, Saudi Arabia was less helpful when the United States attacked Iraq. The kingdom's rulers again tried, and again unsuccessfully, to convince the United States to use diplomacy, not war. This time, only 10,000 troops were based in the kingdom compared with 550,000 during the first war. The smaller force was quietly removed soon after Mr. Hussein's defeat.

And I'm gonna leave out the WaPost Obit because it is huge and actually, pretty thorough. The bottom line summary seems to be this. Fahd was a great stabilizing influence on Saudi Arabia, who aided the US by funding Iraq in the Iraq/Iran war, then on seeing Iraq in Kuwait, called on the US to save their ass. They were involved tertiarily in the Iran Contra thing, and, although funding the formation of Al Quaida in Afghanistan, they have no connection with anything they've ever done wrong.

Is that what you remember?

No mention of Wahabi madrassas which continue to train youth in a particularly fervent brand of Islam. No mention of the fact that even today, Saudi is the biggest contributor to Al Quaida with significant contributions from the royal family. No real mention of the role Saudi played in Iran Contra or the opening of the Spigots that helped break the Soviets hard currency income. No mention of the vast financial ties to the Bush clan through oil and defense. No real mention of the serious oppression and torture the regime used to stay in power. No questioning of the distribution of the oil wealth primarily to the royal family.

Oh, and don't forget his poor relations with Israel. Only mentioned in the NYTimes piece, as a positive, which it wasn't.

What did I forget?

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Newsweek - Secret Memo—Send to Be Tortured

Not a smoking gun, but its pretty darned warm.

Secret Memo—Send to Be Tortured

Aug. 8, 2005 issue - An FBI agent warned superiors in a memo three years ago that U.S. officials who discussed plans to ship terror suspects to foreign nations that practice torture could be prosecuted for conspiring to violate U.S. law, according to a copy of the memo obtained by NEWSWEEK. The strongly worded memo, written by an FBI supervisor then assigned to Guantanamo, is the latest in a series of documents that have recently surfaced reflecting unease among some government lawyers and FBI agents over tactics being used in the war on terror. This memo appears to be the first that directly questions the legal premises of the Bush administration policy of "extraordinary rendition"—a secret program under which terror suspects are transferred to foreign countries that have been widely criticized for practicing torture.

In a memo forwarded to a senior FBI lawyer on Nov. 27, 2002, a supervisory special agent from the bureau's behavioral analysis unit offered a legal analysis of interrogation techniques that had been approved by Pentagon officials for use against a high-value Qaeda detainee. After objecting to techniques such as exploiting "phobias" like "the fear of dogs" or dripping water "to induce the misperception of drowning," the agent discussed a plan to send the detainee to Jordan, Egypt or an unspecified third country for interrogation. "In as much as the intent of this category is to utilize, outside the U.S., interrogation techniques which would violate [U.S. law] if committed in the U.S., it is a per se violation of the U.S. Torture Statute," the agent wrote. "Discussing any plan which includes this category could be seen as a con-spiracy to violate [the Torture Statute]" and "would inculpate" everyone involved.

One of the real crimes of all this torture is that we will never be able to prosecute these people, that's why they will be detained for the duration of the war on terror(indefinitely,) and why others are being sent to countries where their tortured confessions are admissible. The very application of these techniques forces the rest of the violations of what we thought were our constitutional rights to trial and judicial oversight. Once the decision was made to torture, all the rest had to follow.

The real crime to me lies in the people who have been released from Guntanamo. Take the four released Brits who described some pretty black letter torture at Guantamo. They were, in turn, released by the British. The US gov't tortured innocent people. It reminds me of the ancient witch tests, the only way we can know your innocence is to torture you until we are satisfied that you are innocent.

Oh, and also, they were going to hold the Guantanamo prisoners until the end of the Global War on Terror. As it's been rebranded now to the Struggle Against Violent Extremism(with the insipid acronym SAVE) are they all now to be released?

This is not the America I was brough up to believe in.

If you're gonna have a cover up.....

If you're gonna have a coverup, it helps to get your story straight.

Sudan VP's Plane Is Said to Disappear

By MOHAMED OSMAN, Associated Press Writer 14 minutes ago

A plane carrying the former rebel who ascended to Sudan's No. 2 leadership post has disappeared after losing contact, a Sudanese Cabinet minister said Monday on state television, contradicting earlier reports.

The statement came hours after state television interrupted its regular programming to say that Vice President John Garang "has landed safely at a camp in southern Sudan" after his flight from Uganda was reported missing in bad weather on Sunday.

Communications Minister Abdel-Basit Sabdarat said Sudan's president had ordered the country's air force to search for the aircraft.

"Up to now we do not have any concrete new information about the whereabouts of the plane," said Sabdarat, who also is the government spokesman.

He also said the plane left Uganda on Saturday evening, leaving it uncertain exactly when the aircraft went missing.

Garang, 60, is a charismatic figure whose leadership is seen as key to ensuring the endurance of the peace agreement signed in January. The accord ended 21 years of war by providing for power sharing between the Khartoum government and Garang's southern-based rebels.

It is hoped that his role in the transitional government, which took office in July, could help bring peace to other volatile regions in Sudan, including Darfur.

Ugandan army spokesman 2nd Capt. Dennis Musitwa said Sunday that Garang was on a helicopter that left Uganda on Saturday after he made a private visit to the country.

"They left yesterday in a Ugandan chopper," Musitwa told The Associated Press. "What we know is that the aircraft got weather problems and crash-landed." The discrepancy about the kind of aircraft could not immediately be reconciled.

"We have not established where they landed. They have not reached where they are supposed to reach, and we are trying to locate them," he said.

But any suggestion of a crash had been denied by a spokesman for Garang's political party, Yasir Arman, who said in Nairobi, Kenya, that Garang was "safe and sound" in southern Sudan. Arman declined to give further details Sunday.

Garang, who earned a doctorate from Iowa State University, led the Sudan People's Liberation Army in the war between the Muslim north and mainly Christian and animist south.

The settlement made Garang first vice president as well as president of southern Sudan, letting him set up an interim administration there until a referendum in six years' time on secession.

In its earlier report, Sudanese television said Garang was heading to a former rebel base in southern Sudan when contact was lost with his aircraft.

President Omar el-Bashir clearly saw Garang as an important partner in sealing the peace, ensuring the south does not secede, and in repairing Sudan's international reputation. With a speed stunning to many in Sudan, the Sudanese state media went from describing Garang in the darkest terms to respectively calling him "Dr. Garang" after the peace deal was struck.

From the "just keeping an eye on it" file

I don't know how I feel about this. I just find it interesting.

Sunday Times

Over the past fortnight Israeli intelligence agents have noticed something distinctly odd happening on the internet. One by one, Al-Qaeda’s affiliated websites have vanished until only a handful remain, write Uzi Mahnaimi and Alex Pell.

Someone has cut the line of communication between the spiritual leaders of international terrorism and their supporters. Since 9/11 the websites have been the main links to disseminate propaganda and information.

The Israelis detect the hand of British intelligence, determined to torpedo the websites after the London attacks of July 7.

The article then goes into how Al Quaida uses the internet and how it's useful to them. One aside. Notice there's no sites listed, no evidence, no backing, just a statement. Somebody gave them this story because they wanted it printed. Just interesting.

The headline says enough

Bush plans 50th ranch trip in five years

USA Today

It will be the president's 50th trip to the ranch since he was elected nearly five years ago......

.....The White House said the date of Bush's return to Washington has not been set, but McClellan said the president will be in Texas throughout August. Bush has gone to Crawford every August since he's been president.

Say a little prayer.

This has gone pretty much under the radar here, but it's pretty awful.


Torrential rain lashed Mumbai again, disrupting flights, hampering rescue efforts and bringing more misery as the death toll from the heaviest downpours in the Indian city's history neared 1,000.

Authorities issued new flood alerts and appealed to residents to stay indoors as the Mumbai Meteorological Department predicted "heavy rainfall" in the next 48 hours in Maharashtra and adjoining states.

The city's low-lying suburbs were again flooded knee-deep as police urged people not to travel on certain routes and rail services were disrupted or cancelled. Many trees were uprooted across the city.


Living on the gulf coast and having been through something similar but on a much smaller scale, I cannot describe the total helplessness and isolation you feel as you watch the water rise unstoppable. I can't imagine what this must be like. I read where they got 37 inches in a day in some places. Truly horrible.

Also, I don't know about the science of this, but I include it here simply for context. It's gonna get worse, there, here, everywhere before it doesn't get better. From what I understand of the topic, this would be early to be able to detect significant shifts; the general trend would probably be true, but it would be nearly impossible to separate from statistical variation.

So, grain of salt for the headline making researcher looking for grant money.

Study: Warming Is Intensifying Hurricanes

By JOSEPH B.VERRENGIA, AP Science Writer2 hours, 39 minutes ago

Is global warming making hurricanes more ferocious? New research suggests the answer is yes. Scientists call the findings both surprising and "alarming" because they suggest global warming is influencing storms now — rather than in the distant future. .......

But some scientists questioned Emanuel's methods. For example, the MIT researcher did not consider wind speed information from some powerful storms in the 1950s and 1960s because the details of those storms are inconsistent.

Researchers are using new methods to analyze those storms and others going back as far as 1851. If early storms turn out to be more powerful than originally thought, Emmanuel's findings on global warming's influence on recent tropical storms might not hold up, they said.

The compression of history

It's always been kind of interesting the way history gets compressed with time. Unless an individual is of special interest or study, his lifetime of actions gradually shrink in time to a summary of a few sentences and the composition of these sentences becomes more and more a matter of consensus. George Wahsington: Father of our country, led the revolutionary army, first president, chopped down a cherry tree, etc. There are a few more entries for Washington because of his place in history and the fact that he is taught as fundamental US history in middle school. But they don't teach slave owner, opressor of women, elitist, evil capitalist, or whatever. What did he do before he was general/president?

Let me just say, I got nothin' 'gainst George, just using this as an example of historical compression and how we all pretty much have absorbed this half paragraph condensation of his life as our collective understanding of the man. You can pick your historical figure and look at the same phenomenon. FDR, new deal, WWII, but also led a significant rise in federal power, supported J Edgar, and tromped on civil rights. Again, you get the idea.

So, when I come across these summaries, Rove and Wilson are starting to get them too as context in their shared story, I always find them interesting as they are the beginnings of the formation of what we call history.

This is from a Reuters piece on Chalabi's convoy being attacked.


A former ally of the United States who lobbied strongly in Washington for the invasion of Iraq, Chalabi has made political connections since returning from exile. He also plays a key role in setting oil policy.

But he has struggled to gain popularity among ordinary Iraqis, who see him as one of the politicians who spent many years abroad and then returned to capitalize on the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

He has favored a hardline approach to dealing with Saddam loyalists leading the insurgency, opposing other politicians who say some should be allowed back to use their years of experience in intelligence and security to help stabilize the country.

Why do we hate Cuba?

Our question today is why do we still hate Cuba? Okay, I know, Cuban missile crisis, but that was over forty years ago, and since then Cuba has more or less been a good world citizen. I know about the periodic bouts of repression, but those have taken place in many Central/South American and Carribean countries. Heck, right now we are supporting the gov't of Haiti who is sending death squads into some politically active neighborhoods and searching out and killing political activists. Not a peep from the Condi Rice State Dept.

So what is Cuba's big crime, big enough that we have tried to assassinate Castro on innumerable occasions?

I mean, read this AFP :

Tensions have escalated between Cuba's government and dissidents, but both sides bitterly rejected Washington's appointment this week of a "transition coordinator" to speed President Fidel Castro's downfall.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Thursday named Caleb McCarry the US "Cuba transition coordinator" to "accelerate the demise of Castro's tyranny" on the Caribbean island the Communist guerrilla leader has run since 1959. ......

The appointment of a transition coordinator was part of a plan signed into law by US President George W. Bush, designed to tighten sanctions already in place against Cuba for 40 years, including restrictions on visits of US families to their relatives on the island.

The recommendations were made over a year ago by a Bush-appointed commission, empaneled to find ways to accelerate the downfall of the Communist regime.

I find it difficult to believe that all this is, after forty years and god knows how much money lost, simply for some votes in Fla(although we now know that those can be pretty important.)

My best guess is that, at this point, it is to destroy a counter example. Just as they fear the independence of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, they cannot allow a successful Cuba which does not follow neoliberal capitalism.

Again, Kennedy's problems with Cuba were understandable, but since then, Castro has outlasted seven presidents and looks to outlast an eighth, and parts of three of those, the last fourteen years or so they have had no state sponsor. And despite the ridiculous claims that Cuba was developing a Bio-Weapons program from some of the Bush Crazies(again, not denied by Bolton,) they really haven't done anything.

So, help me out. Why do we still spend all this money and political capital on this tiny impoverished island?