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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Great Quote

This comes second hand, but it's a great quote.

“Other than telling us how to live, think, marry, pray, vote, invest, educate our children and, now, die, I think the Republicans have done a fine job of getting government out of our personal lives..”

-- Editorial Page, Portland Oregonian

Boycott this company

From the creepy/weird file. Who the hell at Truly Nolan thought it would help their business to set up a policy of reporting on their customers?

One of Central Florida's largest pest control companies has been recruited by police to help fight crime, according to Local 6 News.

Technicians from Truly Nolen Pest Control of America are being trained by local law enforcement to spot anything unusual as they visit customer's homes. .........

"The pest control technicians who are coming to your home to investigate termites don't have any law enforcement capabilities, but if they see some two-legged creatures trying to make their way into your home, they'll call the police." Local 6 News reporter Deborah Garcia said.

"Our point is not to invade people's houses or make them feel like their privacy is being invaded. It's just to try to have an extra set of eyes and ears out there," Truley Nolen worker Ronnie Rachels said. .......

"Truly Nolen wants criminals to know and be warned that if you see the company's yellow VW bugs, you are being watched," Local 6 News reporter Samantha Knapp said.

Promoted from comments

I thought this comment was interesting enough to stand on its own, so I'm promoting it from comments to its own entry.

Responding to my entry on Putin/China/wargames and the "Grand Chessboard" of central Asia as Zbignew Brzezinski called it in his major strategy/policy book on post cold war geopolitics.

Putin has certainly shown many moments of political shrewdness. The history of the Russian people would offer contradictory visions about his statements on the limitations of force. They've done their share of exerting same. At the same time, they've shown that the amazing forces of Napolean and Hitler, to name two, were insufficient to reach objectives. It's well known that Russians tend to be excellent chess players, and Kennedy understood that a chess mentality plays heavily into their politics. I view this comment by Putin as a savvy, mid-game move. In chess, there are three, and only three, elements that govern the game: Force, Time and Space. Leaders who mistakenly believe any one of these elements, alone, will achieve results will always be defeated by an opponent who is willing to make use of all three. In chess terms, for Putin, this is all about space (read: position). As noted with Kennedy, we've had many leaders who understood that chess is an excellent tutorial on global politics. Unfortunately, our current regime is not well schooled in this art. We've exercised too much power and expended too much time for too little position. Now, those that would choose to gain from our mistakes see a great opportunity. Our force has reached too far, too quickly for space less valuable than the effort exerted. An amateur opponent would react by attempting to immediatly apply opposing force in the incorrect belief that such over-reaching is best handled in this manner. A more elegant and refined player simply uses the opponent's "time" wasted through misdirected "force" to gain "space." In such cases, these space advantages can be positioned in such a way that the ultimate objective will be achieved in a manner that cannot be countered, period. Torasch's great tome on chess states "every pawn move weakens the position." We've moved a lot of pawns. Putin knows it. I think most Americans, on some level, know it, too.

Wild Bill
Skips a few details which are implied, Napolean, Hitler lost because they thought force and tactics could overcome space and time, and I would argue that Putin is attempting to "channel" us, limiting options as we attempt to regroup from the ill advised mad dash in response to threat.

But you gotta cut some slack because the comments section severely limits your space, and in the "tell why you like this brand in fifty words or less" genre, this is a great effort.

Yeah, and we have spent our pawns quite early in this new unipolar world.

Thought it was an excellent cross analysis. I hope you enjoy it, too.

If you take issue, fire back, Bill.

Liar! Liar! Liar!

Just gonna publish a little of this article beacuse it's so unbelievable that Bush is still saying that his Iraq war has decreased rather than increased worldwide terror.

What did the London bombers say, that they were striking back for Iraq.

What did the Madrid bombers say, that they were trying to get Spain to pull out of Iraq.

And when the big one comes here at home, who should we blame? The man who took us into Iraq, but still hasn't scrounged up the money, about the same as the 950 mil given to the oil companies in the energy bill, to put radiation detectors at the ports and borders.

Have you ever noticed the extent and expense of security for our leaders and then driven unmolested right up to the fence of your local chemical or nuclear plant? They spare no expense saving their own asses, but we're subject to budgetary restrictions. It's not about us. It's all about them.

CRAWFORD, Texas - President Bush said Saturday U.S. troops in Iraq were fighting to protect Americans at home from terrorism like the Sept. 11 attacks four years ago.

"Our troops know that they're fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere to protect their fellow Americans from a savage enemy," Bush said in his weekly radio address.

"They know that if we do not confront these evil men abroad, we will have to face them one day in our own cities and streets, and they know that the safety and security of every American is at stake in this war, and they know we will prevail," he said.

And for a more rational counter argument.

And for a more rational counterargument to Bush's speech saying that Iraq is helping defeat terrorism, let's turn to an NBC Nightly news story yesterday evening by Jim Miklaszewski. This web article was published in conjunction with the TV piece.

At the same time, some Pentagon officials now acknowledge that the two-and-a-half-year insurgent war has turned Iraq into a terrorist training camp.

U.S. intelligence indicates Islamic militants from several African nations — Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Sudan and Somalia — travel through Syria into Iraq, where they get hands-on training in roadside and suicide bombings, assassinations and kidnappings as well as counter-surveillance and counter-intelligence against military targets, constantly changing their tactics to counter American defenses.

It's that damn liberal media, again. They just won't publish what the president says whether it's true or not.

Update: Antiwar has a pretty good bit on the Bush speech.

Kudos for Costas

Something I'd never thought I'd say. Way to go Bob Costas.

While some cable TV hosts are making their living off the Natalee Holloway case this summer, Bob Costas is having none of it.

Costas, hired by CNN as an occasional fill-in on "Larry King Live," refused to anchor Thursday's show because it was primarily about the Alabama teenager who went missing in Aruba. Chris Pixley filled in at the last minute.

"I didn't think the subject matter of Thursday's show was the kind of broadcast I should be doing," Costas said in a statement. "I suggested some alternatives but the producers preferred the topics they had chosen. I was fine with that, and respectfully declined to participate."

A little more Ecuador.

I find it particularly telling that soldiers firing in self defense is seen as less justified than firing on people who tamper with oil production.

Ecuador's government warned on Friday that troops could open fire to quell protests that have crippled oil output and forced the country to ask Venezuela for a loan of crude oil so it can keep up exports. .....

Soldiers are authorized to use firearms against protesters who began to invade oil camps, sabotage equipment and block highways on Monday, new Defense Minister Osvaldo Jarrin said just hours after he took over the job.

"If strategic installations are being attacked or there is an attempt to destroy or sabotage them, maximum force will be applied, depending on the situation. They can even open fire in self-defense," Jarrin told a news conference. ........

Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Antonio Parra would ask Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for an oil loan at a meeting in Cuba on Friday, Barreiro said.

"We need the crude loan for us to be able to export and partly normalize our exports," she said, without saying how much oil Ecuador wanted.

Ecuador will meet its debt liabilities despite the protest, Barreiro said. ......

The government has accused former President Lucio Gutierrez, who was sacked by Congress in April and is now in Peru, of being behind the demonstrations.

But Palacio himself might have helped trigger the protests by inflaming popular expectations with moves including diverting money from a fund previously destined for debt payments to pay for social programs, according to Alberto Ramos, an economist at Goldman Sachs in New York.

These moves have been harshly criticized by foreign bond holders.

The government is "extremely vulnerable to social activism and other rent-seeking pressures," Ramos said in a research note.

Three Ecuadorean presidents have been toppled amid popular unrest since 1997.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Ecuador echoes Chavez

This is why the US tried to overthrow Chavez. He sets a precedent they don't want set. (see Chavez post in archives this week for context.)

Ecuador's state oil company says it is suspending crude oil exports following five days of protests in two provinces that have slashed production.

Hundreds of demonstrators in Sucumbios and Orellana have occupied oil installations and airports.

They want more of the country's oil money to be spent on infrastructure and new jobs. Ecuador is the fifth biggest oil producer in South America. ....

Not all sections of Ecuadoran society have benefited equally from oil revenues.

The traditionally dominant Spanish-descended elite gained far more than the indigenous peoples, who make up a large proportion of those who live in poverty.

Update: Actually yesterday, but still pertinant.

LIMA, Peru, Aug. 18-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's visit this week to South America had the throwback feel of a mission during the cold war, when American officials saw their main job as bolstering the hemisphere's governments against leftist insurgencies and Communist infiltration.

During stops in Paraguay and Peru, Mr. Rumsfeld and his aides warned of what they consider to be troublemaking by President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela and Washington's old cold war foe, Fidel Castro. .....

Mr. Rumsfeld's goal in Peru and in Paraguay earlier was to stitch together support for isolating Mr. Chávez, who has become bitterly anti-Washington since the United States tacitly supported a coup that briefly ousted him in 2002. But in some ways the visit has served as a reminder of how resistant Latin America is to pressure from Washington.

The two American officials traveling with Mr. Rumsfeld said Mr. Chávez, sometimes with Cuban help, was quietly backing leftist movements in Bolivia and elsewhere in the region. The officials asked not to be identified because they were in the midst of discussions with governments in the region. ....

In a stop at the Pantheon of Heroes, Paraguay's shrine to its military leaders, Mr. Rumsfeld was met by a small but vocal band of 50 young protesters holding a sign that read "No to the Yankee troops" and displaying photos of American prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib. Behind a line of police officers in riot gear, the protesters chanted, "Murderer, murderer" as Mr. Rumsfeld stood at attention while a military band played "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Trying to blame Clinton for terrorism

There seems to be a push on, through leaks of old material, to re-emphasize the mistakes made during the Clinton administration regarding terrorism. Now, I gotta say, they made some pretty big mistakes, but I think it no coincidence that in the face of Bush's falling approval numbers, and especially with his falling "terrorism" number, that all this information blaming the Clinton administration is coming out.

First was the "Able Danger" stuff brought to light by Curt Weldon republican congressman. Basic outline is that a small group of military intelligence guys wanted/tried to warn the FBI about Atta and a few other hijackers entering the country. I have been hesitant to write about this because of its source. Weldon recently published a book about how Iran was the center of all terrorism, sourcing largely from Iran Contra affair and Iraq intel supplier Manuchar Ghorbanifar. In my opinion, that book made the Iraq pre war intel look honest. ( If you're interested in the whole ABLE Danger thing, this is a good starting point.)

And now, we get this,

The United States was "not out to destroy the Taliban," a U.S. diplomat told the regime just a year before a U.S.-led invasion toppled Afghanistan's Taliban government that had harbored al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden.

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan William B. Milam held a secret meeting with an unidentified senior Taliban official in September 2000 and assured him that international sanctions on the Taliban would end if bin Laden were expelled from Afghanistan, newly declassified documents show.

As the approval numbers fall, I would expect to see more "Clinton's fault" type stories coming out, probably including a re-emphasis of the fact that they completely ignored Sudan's offer to turn over Bin Laden. But if we're gonna play the blame game, let's remember that the Taliban offered to extradite Bin Laden to a "muslim country" for trial after 9-11 in order to stave off invasion and remain in power. Who they meant by "muslim country," and the fact that all the rest of the structure would stay in tact in Afghanistan is the reason it was refused, but as they start throwing the Clinton mud, we should keep that in mind.

Putin calls for timetable for Iraq withdrawal.

Story first

August 18, 2005

SOCHI, Russia - President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called for a timetable for pulling U.S. and other troops out of Iraq and said "forceful methods" were not enough to defeat the scourge of international terrorism.

Speaking in the Black Sea resort of Sochi after meeting with Jordan's King Abdullah II, the Russian leader also said the international community needed to be more involved in helping stabilize Iraq.

"We believe it necessary to work out a schedule of gradual withdrawal of coalition troops from Iraq. Many Iraqis _ we know this well _ consider them to be occupiers," Putin was quoted as saying by Russian news agencies.

"All principal ethnic and religious groups, and political parties, including leading opposition forces, should take part in an inter-Iraqi dialogue," he said.

The Russian leader also said force alone would not be enough to defeat international terrorism.

Now, what's interesting in this, besides the interesting diplomatic twist of the Russians gaining alot of middle eatern support, is where this was published. Found it on a google search after running across a throwaway mention in another article. I think this is pretty big news, but apparently, I'm the only one. This is an AP wire story, and yet look at the places the google news search "Putin timetable withdrawal" threw back.

Mosnews, SantaFe NewMexican, Aljazeera, xinhua, Int. Herald Tribune, Financial Times, Houston Chronicle(amazing with the new ten page front section with five pages of ads), Kyrgyzstan Development Gateway, Eurasia News, SF Chronicle, Knoxville News Sentinel,CNSNEWS, Casper star tribune, nuclear engineering, and worker's world.

I mean, I think an anti-US policy statement from the President of Russia which is currently involved in unprecedented "military exercises" with China utilitizing long range bombers, the launch of an ICBM, and their minimal version of missile "counteraction" might warrant a little more mention.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

The world's policeman is a dirty cop

We've gone from being worried about being the world's policeman to being the global dirty cop working extortion and protection rackets. Oh, how I miss the internationalists.

BOGOTÁ, Colombia, Aug. 18 - Three years ago the Bush administration began prodding countries to shield Americans from the fledgling International Criminal Court in The Hague, which was intended to be the first permanent tribunal for prosecuting crimes like genocide.

The United States has since cut aid to some two dozen nations that refused to sign immunity agreements that American officials say are intended to protect American soldiers and policy makers from politically motivated prosecutions.

To the Bush administration, the aid cuts are the price paid for refusing to offer support in an area where it views the United States, with its military might stretched across the globe, as being uniquely vulnerable. .......

Most of the penalties, outlined in a law that went into effect in 2003, have been in the form of cuts in military training and other security aid. But a budget bill passed in December also permits new cuts in social and health-care programs, like AIDS education and peacekeeping, refugee assistance and judicial reforms. ......

"The exposure faced by the United States goes well beyond people on active duty and it includes decision-makers in our government," said a high-ranking State Department official who was authorized to speak about the policy but only if he was not identified. "We're not hallucinating that our officials are at risk."

Don't do the crime if you can't do the time, Condi.

The antennae are up.

I don't know enough to comment on this too deeply, but the antennae are up. The State Dept recommends this reshuffling the day after congress goes to recess, and then wants the go ahead before they get back? Just to add to it, this is all under Bolton's former post at State. Something's up.

Three weeks ago, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice held a news conference announcing broad changes to the department's arms control and nonproliferation bureaus. The first office had lost significant responsibilities during President Bush's first term as the White House pulled out of several international arms treaties. At the same time, the nonproliferation bureau's responsibilities tripled as officials handled crises with Iran, North Korea and a nuclear black market run out of Pakistan.

The bureaus had been under the control of John R. Bolton, who was about to be appointed ambassador to the United Nations after an unsuccessful confirmation process. With his departure, Rice said the bureaus would be merged into the newly named Bureau for International Security and Nonproliferation with a revised mission to address concerns such as the nexus between terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. .........

The State Department notified Congress of the plans Aug. 1, the first day of August recess, and had sought approval by Aug. 15, weeks before Congress returned and had an opportunity to explore the merger. ..........

On Monday, Bolton's chief of staff at State, Fred Fleitz, briefed staff members on the Senate committee about the merger. Many of the details and structural changes were worked out in private by a small group of political appointees who worked for Bolton.

Don't know, just sounds pretty fishy.

Blair to testify on Iraq War legality?

Okay, probably never gonna happen, but this from the Guardian caught my eye.

Tony Blair could be forced to give evidence under oath after families of 17 soldiers killed in Iraq began a legal bid yesterday to secure an independent inquiry into the lawfulness of the 2003 conflict.

A lawyer representing the families lodged papers at the high court in London, seeking a judicial review of the government's decision this May not to order an investigation into the legality of the war in Iraq. ......

Among the questions the families want to ask at court is why "the equivocal advice of March 7, in 2003, from the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, changed so that 10 days later it was completely unequivocal in giving legal support for the war?"

The families are seeking an urgent preliminary hearing so the judicial review can be held before the year's end.

"Why were these soldiers sent out to Iraq when it appears from everything in the public domain that the Iraq war was illegal and that therefore the sons and daughters of these families died for no good reason?" Mr Shiner asked.

Mr Blair has said there was no need to go "back over this ground again and again". In a letter to the families, Treasury solicitors said the government believed that military action against Iraq was fully justified.

The pre campaign environmental tour.

This is just kind of a pre-presidential campaign, get your name in the news Reuters piece. Lindsay Graham, Hillary Clinton, and John McCain took a photo op tour to the Yukon to look at the melting permafrost and listen to the local indigenous people talk about the end of their lifestyle. Not much really, but I just couldn't let the recap of Inhofe's position pass unmentioned.

The United States is the biggest emitter of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, which many scientists have linked to global warming.

Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, has dismissed global warming as a hoax and questioned scientific evidence supporting rising temperatures.

The White House has warned that mandatory caps on greenhouse gas emissions could stunt U.S. economic growth. President George W. Bush supports a voluntary plan for industry to cut greenhouse gas output.

Another name in the AIPAC scandal.

This is from the NYTimes, who spends the first two thirds of this article explaining how this guy may not be guilty, and then after my ellipses, basically tells us that he is.

WASHINGTON, Aug. 17 - The second-highest diplomat at the United States Embassy in Baghdad is one of the anonymous government officials cited in an Aug. 4 indictment as having provided classified information to an employee of a pro-Israel lobbying group, people who have been officially briefed on the case said Wednesday.

The diplomat, David M. Satterfield, was identified in the indictment as a United States government official, "USGO-2," the people briefed on the matter said. In early 2002, USGO-2 discussed secret national security matters in two meetings with Steven J. Rosen, who has since been dismissed as a top lobbyist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, known as Aipac, who has been charged in the case. .......

Only Mr. Rosen met with USGO-2, according to the indictment. At the time of the meetings, Mr. Satterfield was the deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern and South Asian affairs, which made him the State Department's second-ranking official for the Middle East.

Their meetings are listed as overt acts in a conspiracy to illegally communicate national defense secrets to a foreign government. After Mr. Rosen's first meeting with USGO-2 on Jan. 18, 2002, the indictment said, a memorandum containing the information that Mr. Rosen had obtained was sent to other Aipac employees. The indictment did not indicate who wrote the memorandum, but said that it "contained classified information provided by USGO-2."

The two men met again on March 12, the indictment said. At their second meeting, they talked about Al Qaeda, the indictment said, without saying what aspect of the terror network was discussed. On March 14, Mr. Rosen disclosed to an unidentified foreign official, "FO-2," the information that he had heard from USGO-2, the indictment said.

Prosecutors have charged that Mr. Rosen and Mr. Weissman improperly obtained classified information from Mr. Franklin, Mr. Satterfield and two other American officials. The two officials whose identities remain unclear are referred to in the indictment as "USGO-1," and a Defense Department employee identified as "DOD-B." Although USGO-1 has not been publicly identified, the people who have been officially briefed said that person was no longer in the government.

And I know that it's simple minded of me, and that it may not reflect the "realities" of the middle east, but with the indisputible fact that an intel operation was run on the American people to get us into Iraq, and some of the same people involved in those "distortions" also tied to the mishandling of classified information, I say, prosecute them for treason.

And before you get all up in arms, let me say, imagine if this had been another government, say Iran, who had a cadre of people working inside the defense dept. channeling classified info out to them.... Oh, that's right, somebody did transfer the highly classified intercept codes, as well as other info, to Iran through Chalabi.

Hang them all!!!!

UPDATE: Juan Cole's take on this.

[The second highest ranking US diplomat in Iraq, David Satterfield, has been implicated in the AIPAC spy case. Satterfield is not known for being lock step with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. But I minded two things about this article in the NYT. First, the two persons it quotes on Satterfield, Indyk and Ross, both have a long association with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, which was set up by AIPAC as a think tank to promote Israeli interests in Washington. No critic of AIPAC is quoted in the article; none. Second, the article does not stop and consider how Iraqis are going to feel about this news. I mean, he is the deputy chief of mission, as I understand the description given by the NYT. If he did leak classified information to an Israeli lobby from the US Government, wouldn't Iraqis be worried he was leaking to the Israelis from Baghdad? I mean, the US is always complaining that they are afraid anything they share with the Shiite-dominated Iraqi government goes straight to Iraq. I don't know if Satterfield is guilty of anything, but an article about this issue should at least have involved one interview with an independent Iraqi politician about the meaning of it for the latter's country.]

Is this journalism?

One of the reasons that Fox news has done so well is that they've completely changed the landscape. Despite CNN's change to actually broadcast news for one hour a day (a CNN International feed), the 24 hour networks have all devolved to Fox style content, personality driven shows, and this bizarre left-right sporting event type show. These networks no longer broadcast real news, and I don't mean that in some hypercritical way, but that literally, they no longer broadcast facts.

There is truth out there, about Iraq for instance, that isn't getting reported. Fact, the US occupation has built a significant number of schools in the non-hotspot areas of the country. Fact, many Iraqis feel the security is so bad, that they won't let their children out of the house to play, not to mention, go to school. See, you just learned something, now wasn't that easy.

But, the 24 hour networks, I can't even call them news networks anymore, barely even hold to the pretense that they are reporting anymore.

Here's what set me off, from a transcript from "Hardball," Chris Matthews, MSNBC's top show.

MATTHEWS: Let me go, Paul, before you start. What I keep doing here is asking people on and off camera who come on this program, high-ranking officers, enlisted, former officers. I get sometimes, not all the time, two different versions, the version they give me on the air and the version they give me the minute when we‘re off the air.

The version they give me when we‘re on the air is gung-ho, we‘re doing the right thing, everything is moving along. The version they give me off the air is, Rumsfeld is crazy. There aren‘t enough troops over there. We‘re not taking this seriously enough, or, we shouldn‘t be there, sometimes.
Now, if he were actually in the news business, he might actually report the fact that he has people on his show that he knows are lying. But, then, that's not what his "news" show is about, is it?

Another bad nomination.

This is just another bad nomination, another promotion for incompetence from the Bush administration. You may not have kept up with the story of these Boeing tanker leases, but here's the quick outline.

The purchase/lease was a little controversial to begin with, set to replace aircraft which still had pretty significant useable life, but that went through congress as defense spending. Then, instead of purchasing the aircraft outright, a strange deal was set up to lease these aircraft which was set to cost the government(you) an extra 30% or 2 to 3 BILLION dollars. Come to find out, the Air Force officer in charge had a $500,000/year job offer on the table from Boeing, as well as, if I remember right, a plum job for her brother or uncle or somebody.

The Bush nominee to head the Air Force is Michael Wynne.

The Air Force has jettisoned a $23.5 billion plan to lease jets from the Boeing Co. for use as air refueling tankers. Boeing's former chief financial officer and a former top Air Force official were sentenced to prison on corruption charges related to the deal.

The former Air Force official, Darleen Druyun, is serving a nine-month term at a federal prison in Florida. She admitted inflating the lease price as a "parting gift" to Boeing before leaving the Pentagon for a job at the aircraft giant in 2002.

Wynne was a deputy, then head of the Pentagon's acquisition office. A report by the Defense Department's inspector general in May faulted Wynne for not requiring the Air Force to follow proper procedures for the Boeing leases.

The report said Wynne told the White House budget office that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld approved the lease idea "after comprehensive and deliberative review by the Leasing Review Panel" when that panel had not finished its deliberations or made recommendations.

Blockading the straits of Malacca

This program the US is running to intercept ships, ostensibly to intercept WMD and drug trade has gotten so little attention. It amounts to little more than a soft, or maybe threatened, blockade south of China and North Korea. From what I've been able to gather, the effort starts at the shores of West Asia and extends south to Australia, but the significant sea presence is military ships in the Straits of Malacca, a 120 mile wide passage north of Indonesia which is the primary eastward shipping lanes for China. Not coincidentally, almost all China's oil imports pass through this screen.

It also has to be said that the Straits of Malacca are also the most heavily pirated shipping lane in the world with attacks taking place once every three days or so.

As you might guess, my issues with this are the inherent escalation of these actions, and the fact that " it could violate international law."

Little short of time right now, just use this as a mention, but I will try to find some better descriptions and activity of this operations later today.

Pakistan, which a year ago was at the center of a nuclear proliferation scandal, observed for the first time exercises held by forces from 13 nations -- including Australia, France, Germany, Britain and the United States -- under the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

The PSI scheme, in which ships and aircraft suspected of carrying weapons of mass destruction (WMD) can be intercepted, has the support of more than 60 countries, though some legal experts say it could violate international law.


Wednesday, August 17, 2005

A still more damning account of the tube shooting.

I'm not gonna say much here. You know how I feel about people being chased down and shot based solely on the suspicion of one or two officers(see earlier entries.) But this story just keeps getting worse and worse.

It has now emerged that Mr de Menezes:

· was never properly identified because a police officer was relieving himself at the very moment he was leaving his home;

· was unaware he was being followed;

· was not wearing a heavy padded jacket or belt as reports at the time suggested;

· never ran from the police;

· and did not jump the ticket barrier.

But the revelation that will prove most uncomfortable for Scotland Yard was that the 27-year-old electrician had already been restrained by a surveillance officer before being shot seven times in the head and once in the shoulder. ....

"He immediately stood up and advanced towards me and the CO19 [firearms squad] officers ... I grabbed the male in the denim jacket by wrapping both my arms around his torso, pinning his arms to his side. I then pushed him back on to the seat where he had been previously sitting ... I then heard a gun shot very close to my left ear and was dragged away on to the floor of the carriage."

The leaked documents and pictures showed the failures in the police operation from the time Mr de Menezes left home.

A surveillance officer admitted in a witness statement that he was unable to positively identify Mr de Menezes as a suspect because the officer had been relieving himself when the Brazilian left the block of flats where he lived.

Iraqi "Tet offensive?"

Sy Hersh, the guest on the Daily Show last night, made the speculation that a "Tet offensive" type attack was coming in Iraq. Despite being funny as hell, the Daily Show format is not really the best format for evidentiary support, so I can't really tell you how much of that statement was speculation and how much was reporting. The one piece of evidence he did cite was a pullback of the insurgents and a reduction in the number of attacks, although, honestly, my gut level impression is that that's not significantly true. He claimed that the guerillas might be preparing for a new battle of Baghdad, and that there was worry among the higher ups.

Now, Sy Hersh tends to have pretty heavy, if sporadic, sources so I can't just dismiss this out of hand, but the same "pullback scenario" might also be in preparation for the civil war that may follow the failure of the constitution talks and, in turn, the government.

But no matter how you slice it, the message is the same.

Keep your ears up and your head down, soldier boy. We want you to come home in one piece.

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Three car bombs exploded near a bus station and hospital in Baghdad Wednesday, killing at least 43 people and wounding 89 in the deadliest attacks in the capital in weeks, police said. Survivors searched charred buses and cars for signs of relatives. .....

It was the deadliest series of single-day suicide bombings in Baghdad in weeks, although suicide attacks with far lower death tolls occur here regularly.

*** Comedy Central hasn't put the video up, but the Daily Show is repeated about five times today if you want to see the Hersh interview.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Problem with Torture (reprint)

I'm gonna move this back to the top because if there's one thing that I think I really have to say on this blog, it's this post on the futility of torture and abuse.

This is what started me off.

Senior Pentagon officials have opposed the release of photographs and videotapes of the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, arguing that they would incite public opinion in the Muslim world and put the lives of American soldiers and officials at risk, according to documents unsealed in federal court in New York.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in a statement put forth to support the Pentagon's case that he believed that "riots, violence and attacks by insurgents will result" if the images were released.

First, if Sy Hersh is to be believed, one of the videos depicts a young Iraqi being sodomized. Yeah, that'll cause some trouble.

If this stuff does become public, it will completely undermine alot of the centrist support for the secret archipelago of prisons and renditions the US Gov't has been running. And if those come under pressure, there will be still more leaks and stories on what is really going on.

So, yeah, it's about the immediate investigation on Abu Ghraib, but it's also about the timid, "well, I guess they have to do it" supporters that have let the government disappear people under the rubric of fighting terrorism.

Second, I would question the relative worth of the information our detainee treatment provides against the political cost both in the Arab world, and in the rest of the world. In the Arab world, I would argue that our tactics are creating far more new radicals than our methods helping ensnare. Now, I must qualify this by saying that I am not privy to all the info these "interrogations" provide, but I would be willing to wager that these tactics are producing more terrorists than they are helping catch.

As to the rest of the world, the Chinas and Russias now have a free pass on whatever they want to do, not to mention the Nigerias, Sudans and the worst of the world community.

Also, the support from Europe is growing increasingly reluctant given that they know what will happen to those suspects turned over to US custody and that the officials involved may face some liability for the war crimes we commit. We are not members of the International Criminal Court, but the Italians are, where the Milan magistrate has issued arrest warrants for CIA personnel who conducted a "rendition," and the Swedes and Germans are who are now conducting separate investigations into separate rendition events. Because of Guantanamo and the outsourcing of torture to a whole slew of countries, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Uzbekistan,...., the Europeans will become increasingly hesitant to supply us with information, thus greatly hampering the "war on terror."

Third, there are several basic problems with using torture in the method the Bush admin is utilizing it.

Sub 1. You have the unconscionable torture of innocent people. There have been several cases of people being released from Guantanamo to their home countries who were then released without charge, four famously to Britain, who claimed torture. In order to establish these guys innocence, the Guantanamo system beat them, deprived them of water, kept them awake for up to three days, exposed them to extreme cold/hot/loud music/lights. To me it echoes the witch trials where the only way to prove your innocence was to die. That is unconscionable.

Sub 2. Once you've tortured these guys for information, there is no way that they will ever be able to stand trial, the evidence being obviously tainted. Let's assume that the "tactics" produced a belief of guilt, what do you do with them? You can't try them; you can't release them. So you're only alternative is to hold them without charge indefinitely. And, I don't know about you, but to my understanding, the idea that a president, solely by his fiat, can commit someone to lifetime imprisonment is both unconstitutional and anathema to the very America I was brought up to believe in. A nation of laws.

Lastly, as to the distinction between "torture" and "abuse." I understand that Rumsfeld very carefully chose that word as a softer word to describe what went on at Abu Ghraib as non- systemic and non-sanctioned to keep the blame solely on the lower level soldiers and away from himself, but to me abuse is so much worse than torture. At least with torture, no matter how strongly you oppose it, there is a purpose. In "abuse," it is simply the infliction of pain solely because of the dominant/submissive relationship in an attempt to "break them." Is that really any better?

And, for now, I'll completely leave out the discussion of whether or not torture is effective as an information gathering tool.


And, as always, comments are welcome.

Military recruiters are trying to place "Town Hall" meetings on your local TV station.

Military recruiters are trying to place town hall meetings on several major market local television stations. The basic outline is this, the military has contacted local stations in several markets with the intention of getting those stations to produce half hour "town hall" type meetings under the working title, "What it means to be a Soldier."

These would not officially be military or recruitment programs, and would be hosted by a local news anchor or reporter.

The forwarded email contained this snippet.

The rep told me they were just looking to "correct" some misperceptions about the military that have been caused by the Iraq war. My response was "well, let's be honest, shall we? You want to drive recruitment." The answer was yes.

These non-advertisements are tentatively scheduled to run in October. And the rumor is that a station in Miami has already signed on.

The reason I'm putting this up on the blog is not because I'm surprised, but because of the apparent deception of it. The couching of these things as non-military town-hall's created independently in a sense of patriotism and tribute seems really wrong to me.

I would guess that it's all part of the same attempt by the military recruiters to go after the "influencers." The Chicago Trib had a great article on the new "strength" ad series.

This comes second hand, but I know the source and he has since verified this to be true. (and for those of you who know me, it's, quite surprisingly, not the connection you would think.)

The email concluded.

Anyway -- this is a hell of a stretch and a serious sign of how desperate the efforts to get people to join really are.


Oh, that's where my ethics went.

Funny thing about ethics, they're often in the last place you look.

I'm really glad to see this, though. The Washington Post should not be involved in supporting public campaigns of the government they are supposed to be reporting on.

And, I do really like the clever construction of this event. We start with a remembrance of 9-11, and then walk to a pro-Iraq war rally. Get it? It's a metaphor of passage from our grief on 9-11, walking forward through time to a rally support the Iraq war. A very clever construction of the connection of 9-11 and Iraq.(which we know to be totally false.)

The Washington Post announced yesterday that it will back out of a controversial co-sponsorship of a Pentagon-organized event next month to remember the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and support the troops in Iraq.

The newspaper notified the Department of Defense that it would no longer donate public service advertising space to help promote the Freedom Walk, an event planned for Sept. 11. At the conclusion of the procession from the Pentagon to the Mall, there will be a performance by country star Clint Black, who recorded the song "I Raq and Roll."

"As it appears that this event could become politicized, .....

"Post news employees are subject to disciplinary action for participating in political activities that may be perceived as revelatory of personal opinions or bias," said a resolution passed earlier yesterday by the leadership of The Post unit of the Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild. "The Washington Post itself should be held to the same high standard. . . . The Guild supports The Post's stated intention of honoring the nation's veterans, including those who have served in Iraq. But the Post undermines this goal by lending its support to a political event that links the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to the war in Iraq -- a link that The Post, in its reporting, has shown to be false." ...

"There was some criticism," he said, "but just as important was the fact that there seemed to be an increased possibility that the event could become politicized."

And lastly, from the end of the same article, what the hell does this mean?

"We were counting on The Post, who seemed to understand that this is really not anything but a Freedom Walk, to let the D.C. area know about this wonderful opportunity," Barber said. (Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense for communications)

"Really not anything but a Freedom Walk"? "Wonderful opportunity?" What the hell does that mean? Just how far into Newspeak have we gone?


We'll start with the article for a change.

Acknowledging "unprecedented" opposition, the U.S. government has asked the Internet's key oversight agency to delay approval of a new ".xxx" domain name designed as a virtual red-light district.

Michael D. Gallagher, assistant secretary for communications and information at the Commerce Department, stopped short of urging its rejection, but he called on the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers to "ensure the best interests of the Internet community as a whole are fully considered."

The department received nearly 6,000 letters and e-mails expressing concerns about the impact of pornography on families and children and objecting to setting aside a domain suffix for it, he said. .....

Conservative groups such as the Family Research Council also expressed worries that creating a ".xxx" suffix would also legitimize pornographers.


We've all seen the stats, 30-40% of internet traffic is porn, and there is no better way to quickly set up some blocks than this .xxx suffix. 6,000 letters is a tiny drop in the bucket compared to the letter writing campaigns the FRC has organized in the past.

Oh, yes, and I'm sure that by attempting to block the easiest and most effective short term solution to kids 'n' porn, the porn industry will become delegitimized and will promptly go out of business.

Christian Idiots.

Driver Crushes Crosses At Anti-War Protest Site

Some are watching the Crawford protest, some aren't, but for some reason, I found this compelling.

From our television friends in Waco, Tx.

Driver Crushes Crosses At Anti-War Protest Site

Larry Northern, 59, of McLennan County, was charged Tuesday with Criminal Mischief Over $1,500 and under $20,000 after a pickup truck tore through a row of white crosses erected by anti-war protesters gathered near the President’s ranch in Crawford.

Bail was set at $3,000.

The crosses bear the names of U.S. military personnel who have died in the war in Iraq.

Witnesses said the driver swerved the truck in and out of the makeshift memorial Monday night.

The protesters who are camped out in Crawford expressed outrage at the vandalism.
And here's their video link of the knocked down crosses.

Can't get blogger to take the link easily, so just click on the story and the video is there.


I was very young in the era of stagflation, but isn't this a pretty good definition.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Consumer prices shot up in July, reflecting higher prices for gasoline and other energy products while output at the nations' factories, mines and utilities slowed sharply.

Update on the tube shooting

This from ITV, an update on the tube shooting. I wrote about this incident and the horrible implications for civil liberties and took some criticism, but there's a reason for judicial oversight. There's a reason for trials and evidentiary requirements.

It is our whole "nation of laws, not men" ethos that has previously prevented this country from travelling down the path of so many empires before it. And that's why we gotta make sure that we refuse the false argument of civil liberties vs security. No elements of the patriot act would have stopped 9-11, and, yet in the frame of security, we're allowing our freedom to be taken away.

I offer this update as a cautionary tale.

ITV News has obtained secret documents and photographs that detail why police shot Jean Charles De Menezes dead on the tube.

The Brazilian electrician was killed on 22 July, the day after the series of failed bombings on the tube and bus network.

The crucial mistake that ultimately led to his death was made at 9.30am when Jean Charles left his flat in Scotia Road, South London.

Surveillance officers wrongly believed he could have been Hussain Osman, one of the prime suspects, or another terrorist suspect.

By 10am that morning, elite firearms officers were provided with what they describe as "positive identification" and shot De Menezes eight times in the head and upper body.

The documents and photographs confirm that Jean Charles was not carrying any bags, and was wearing a denim jacket, not a bulky winter coat, as had previously been claimed.

He was behaving normally, and did not vault the barriers, even stopping to pick up a free newspaper.

He started running when we saw a tube at the platform. Police HAD agreed they would shoot a suspect if he ran.


Permanent bases in Iraq.

This from Laura Rozen from the LATimes. (Put Rozen's War and Piece on your blog list if you're a blog person. She doesn't publish a ton, but it's all original deep analysis.)

There have been significant reports of up to fourteen permanent bases being built by Bechtel and Halliburton in Iraq, basically, at the airfields and the Iraq and Syria borders, so that's not news. But I haven't previously come across the John Pike observation in the second two paragraphs, and I thought it was well worth a mention.

...Leaks from the Pentagon have deepened the uncertainty. In May, the Washington Post reported that military planning did not envision permanent bases in Iraq but rather stationing troops in nearby Kuwait. But the report noted that the Pentagon was also planning to consolidate U.S. troops in Iraq into four large fortified bases.

On the theory that concrete speaks louder than words, critics see such work as a sign the administration is planning to stay longer than it has acknowledged.

John E. Pike, a defense analyst at GlobalSecurity.org, points to another indication. Although the United States is systematically training Iraqis to fight the insurgents, he notes, the Pentagon has not taken key steps — like making plans for acquiring tanks or aircraft — to build an Iraqi military capable of defending the country against its neighbors.

To Pike that means that although the United States might reduce its troop level in Iraq, the fledgling nation, like Germany or South Korea, will require the sustained presence of a large American contingent, perhaps 50,000 soldiers. "We are building the base structure to facilitate exactly [that]," he says....

Worst headline ever

This worst headline candidate comes, surprisingly, from AFP.

Determined Iraq war protestor spoils Bush vacation.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Okay, it maybe bad science, but......

Okay, this may be bad science, I don't know, but at some intuitive level, I think it's true. Kind of like the small penis in the Camaro. Not necessarily true individually, but true collectively.

From Livescience

Men whose masculinity is challenged become more inclined to support war or buy an SUV, a new study finds.

Their attitudes against gays change, too.

Cornell University researcher Robb Willer used a survey to sample undergraduates. Participants were randomly assigned feedback that indicated their responses were either masculine of feminine.

The women had no discernable reaction to either type of feedback in a follow-up survey.

But the guys' reactions were "strongly affected," Willer said today.

"I found that if you made men more insecure about their masculinity, they displayed more homophobic attitudes, tended to support the Iraq war more and would be more willing to purchase an SUV over another type of vehicle," said Willer said. "There were no increases [in desire] for other types of cars."

Those who had their masculinity threatened also said they felt more ashamed, guilty, upset and hostile than those whose masculinity was confirmed, he said.

I guess that's why those truck ads feature manly men, to make you feel inadequate. Somehow in all the truck ads I've seen, I've never seen the guys loading an excercyle(stationary bike.)

Duck, Hugo

As those of you who were communicating with me pre-blog know, I am a huge fan of Hugo Chavez. His great crime that prompted the US attempted coup against him was that he wanted to divert a larger proportion of Venezuela's oil money to schools and local clinics. As this would amount to rewriting the existing crude deals with the oil companies, the Bush administration felt obliged to intercede with the coup to prevent the precedent it would set.

I mean, what would happen if the the Saudi or the Nigerian officials actually looked out for there own people? Can't have that.

Now, I gotta say, Chavez has done some things that I think are pretty nutty, his 6 hour Castro-esque marathon speeches, this strange new americas fund where Venezuela will channel some of the oil money to a questionably oversighted fund to be distributed for health and welfare throughout South America. Oh, and there's a land reform movement that I'm not particularly familiar with, but they can range from the cronyism of Zimbabwe to the equalizing of South Africa, so the judge is still out.

But overall, the man has serious cojones and is actually working for the welfare of Venezuelans, and, in this world of corrupt second and third world leaders, I think that's pretty cool.

Oh, and in the last week, he also threw out the US military/DEA presence cancelling the program that was their version of Plan Columbia. He accused them of spying Can you imagine that?

Anyhow, for some reason, perhaps it was the attempted coup and murder, the relationship has gotten a bit prickly. Here is the latest hype, and I emphasize that it is hype/propaganda, see below.

Oil exports to the US could stop amid growing tensions between the two countries, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said.

He described recent US government actions as "aggressive" in a speech at a youth festival in Caracas.

As a result, Venezuelan oil "instead of going to the United States, could go elsewhere," he said.

Venezuela exports about 1.3 million barrels a day to the US and is the world's fifth largest oil producer.

Tensions between the two countries have escalated since President Chavez accused the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of spying on his government.

Washington denies the charge and has accused Caracas of failing to co-operate in the fight against drug-trafficking.

On Friday the Venezuelan government withdrew diplomatic immunity from DEA agents working in the country in response to a US decision to revoke the visas of six Venezuelan officials based in Washington.

Venezuela is an important transport route for cocaine from neighbouring Colombia, which produces 80% of the world's supply.

First off, if Venezuela did cut off it's supply to the US, shipping it instead to, let's say, China, the 1.3 mbpd that China was getting elsewhere would then become available on the market, and the US could buy those instead. Simple swap.

Second, the majority of the Venezuelan crude is heavy in sulphur and requires specially fitted plants to process it, which are currently in production in the US and would take years and years to replicate elsewhere.

So, in the big picture this is a pretty empty threat except as it might impact on the futures cost of crude on the US markets.

And as to why these "boy, this Chavez is crazy" articles keep appearing in the western press, well, it's propaganda. It is an elevation of threat. The main trait in the US policies towards Latin America since the CIA sposored coup in '54, (Trujillo, Pinochet, Sandinistas) is to maintain these nations as semi-impoverished raw material providers governed by compliant rulers. And any group which rises to challenge the massive export of resources or the continued health/wealth/education inequities in any of these countries is labelled socialist/communist and targeted for regime change.

That's one reason to keep an occasional eye on the new BRIC alliance, Brazil, India, China, which has formed both in the WTO, killing the last round of talks, and in the UN, looking for permanent security council seats for the BRI portion. I mean, after all, these countries are all at roughly similar "second-world" development and comprise between 40-45% of the world's population.

Sorry, I'm stopping there. That's a long entry that was just gonna get longer.

Theocracy as God's Kingdom?

Let's put this in context. This is the second one of these "Justice Sundays" and they're kinda creepy in the mixing of church and state But since they're on the church side, and there's very little chance that a Bush admin will go after these church's tax exempt status for their obvious political activity, we gotta put up with them.

But, take just a minute to think about just what their asking for. Their target codeword is "activist judges." Now, we'll leave out details on the history of "activists judges", Skopes Monkey trials, Plessy v. Board of Education, Roe v Wade, anti-discrimination rulings, etc. , and look at these people really want.

There are two possible interpretations of their demands.

1) They want judges who will uphold their "Christian" beliefs. Not too objectionable until you look at Iran and Saudi who have similar systems of theological review of all government decisions. And that has turned out so well for the people of those countries.

2) Believing their republican majority will last forever, they want to, at the very least, neuter judicial oversight. To me, this is far more terrifying, and the implications lead to dictatorship.

I'm not being too clear, but just read this.

Christian conservative leaders and U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay rallied on Sunday to condemn activist judges and heap praise on U.S. President George W. Bush's nominee for the Supreme Court, John Roberts.

Organizers of the rally, which featured a packed audience at a Baptist church swaying and singing hymns beneath two huge American flags, said they hoped to use the gathering as a "launching pad" to mobilize Christians against judges they say are overriding the Constitution with their decisions.

Televised to churches across the country and broadcast over the Internet, "Justice Sunday II: God Save the United States and This Honorable Court" was co-sponsored by the prominent Christian conservative groups Family Research Center and Focus on the Family.

Speaking from the pulpit, DeLay, a Texas Republican, decried what he called "the judicial autocracy" that was "casting aside moral values" to rewrite the law instead of interpreting it. ......

"The recent nomination of John Roberts has spurred our country into a conversation about the court's role in our society," DeLay said.

"Wisdom does not reside in nine persons in black robes," he said. "We respect the judges but our respect does not grant judges the powers many have assumed."

I think the real pity of all this new Christo-Fascism, is that they are taking regular people's religious beliefs, and money, and channeling them into their own agglomeration of power. It's just wrong.

Isn't this what Luther rallied against to crate protestantism in the first place?

Refinery capacity is not the reason crude oil prices are going up!!!!

Sometimes logic just creeps up on you, and everytime you hear the lie, the logic just makes you angrier and angrier.

Refinery capacity is not the reason crude oil prices are going up! This is propaganda! There are some legitimate reasons that I'm sure I will get into at length on another day, rising demand, geopolitical instability, a questionable free market, the possibilities and threats of peak oil, etc., but refinery capacity is not the reason oil prices are rising.

Econ 101. If demand is limited, prices will not rise. If refining capacity is limited, rising roughly in tandem with increased world supply, that means that there is no relative increased demand for its raw material crude oil. Therefore, drawing a connection between refinery capacity and crude oil prices is not supported.

And let me say that refinery capacity is a long term issue for the economy. It can and will impact the prices of gasoline, But there is no reason to make the connection to crude oil prices.

I am willing to accept the "threats to supply" argument for rising oil prices or the increased demand from China and India argument, but this repeated mantra that it is limited US refining capacity that is driving crude oil prices up is a lie. I don't know if this lie is promulgated by the industry to get relaxed environmental standards for expansion or just the result of lazy reporting, but this is a lie that keeps being repeated and I'm getting pissed off about it.

Here's the sample from this morning that ruined my mood. This is AFP, but they're all publishing these stories.

Every scrape and bang in a US refinery is jolting world oil markets as the price of a barrel of crude shoots up toward 70 dollars and more.

While Middle East tensions and huge demand from China and India are a major concern for markets, a series of accidents at hard-pressed US refineries have fuelled fears of shortages at the pump for drivers in America and Europe in the near future.

Oil facilities in the United States, where there has been no major investment for more than a quarter of a century, are working flat out to meet growing demand.

From 70 percent 10 years ago, the Department of Energy said this week that refineries were working at more than 95 percent of capacity. And experts said there is little room for improvement which is why even small incidents can affect oil prices.

In the past week the price of a barrel of the main light sweet crude traded in New York has risen from under 63 dollars to briefly surpass 67 dollars on Friday. Gasoline prices have also hit new highs for US drivers. ....

Higher gasoline prices and an energy law recently adopted by Congress may provide some incentives to building or expanding refineries. But any new plants would take time to construct and investors are expected to move cautiously given past trends.

The new bill offered 950 million dollars as an incentive for new refineries but experts doubt it will be enough.

Now, who would want us to think it's refining capacity? Perhaps the guys who just got a nickel less than a billion dollars of taxpayer money to improve their facilities......

Oh, and if they're reporting billions of dollars of PROFIT each quarter right now, tell me again why are we subsidizing them?

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Bush gives up his last rationale.

There have been so many rationales for the war in Iraq. WMD, terrorism, the discredited flypaper theory(that the terrorists will attack our soldiers there rather than civilians here,) human rights and stopping "abuse", women's rights, building democracy, removing Saddam, improving the daily lives of Iraqis, and so on and so on.

But as we've seen, each, in it's turn, has turned out to be crap. And thus, this administration has finally given up its last rationale.

This WaPo article basically says that the new US plan is to let the Iraqis form an Islamic government, with the pretext that the constitution will allow further "steps towards democracy" later. This article also says the US is planning to turn over security to the local forces "in part, because they have local legitimacy."

What exactly is the other part? That this whole Iraq thing was a huge mistake that has cost the US 1853 dead and about 20,000 casualties without accomplishing even one of the rationales for this war. That this administration was willing to "stay the course" and let soldiers die as long as it was politically valuable, but as soon as the true level of failure seeps into opinion polls, to turn tail and run. Isn't that "not finishing the mission?" Isn't that "dishonoring the fallen?" The hypocrisy meter has pegged out.

Bush's legacy is now secure exactly as it should be.

The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.

The United States no longer expects to see a model new democracy, a self-supporting oil industry or a society in which the majority of people are free from serious security or economic challenges, U.S. officials say.

"What we expected to achieve was never realistic given the timetable or what unfolded on the ground," said a senior official involved in policy since the 2003 invasion. "We are in a process of absorbing the factors of the situation we're in and shedding the unreality that dominated at the beginning." .....

But the realities of daily life are a constant reminder of how the initial U.S. ambitions have not been fulfilled in ways that Americans and Iraqis once anticipated. Many of Baghdad's 6 million people go without electricity for days in 120-degree heat. Parents fearful of kidnapping are keeping children indoors.

Barbers post signs saying they do not shave men, after months of barbers being killed by religious extremists. Ethnic or religious-based militias police the northern and southern portions of Iraq. Analysts estimate that in the whole of Iraq, unemployment is 50 percent to 65 percent. ....

Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it, officials and analysts said. There is also growing talk of turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi forces even if they are not fully up to original U.S. expectations, in part because they have local legitimacy that U.S. troops often do not.

Still going on.

It goes on.

Five US soldiers have been killed and five wounded in roadside bomb attacks in little over 24 hours, the US military said on Sunday.

Three soldiers were killed and another wounded when their patrol struck a roadside device near Tuz, some 180 kilometres north of Baghdad, late on Friday, the military said in a statement. It gave no further details.

In western Iraq, on the main road leading to the border with Jordan, one US soldier was killed and three wounded when their combat patrol hit a roadside bomb early on Sunday.

In Baghdad, a fifth soldier died when his vehicle hit a device in the west of the city on Saturday, the military said. A second soldier was wounded in that attack.

But you gotta wonder if that has anything to do with this.

For the second time since the Iraq war began, the Pentagon is struggling to replace body armor that is failing to protect American troops from the most lethal attacks by insurgents. ......

The effort to replace the armor began in May 2004, just months after the Pentagon finished supplying troops with the original plates - a process also plagued by delays. The officials disclosed the new armor effort Wednesday after questioning by The New York Times, and acknowledged that it would take several more months or longer to complete.

Citing security concerns, the officials declined to say exactly how many more of the stronger plates were needed, or how much armor had already been shipped to Iraq.

It really is pretty unforgiveable that they haven't gotten all this straightened out by now. Also, make a point to notice how "security concerns" are being used to cover incompetence.

Let's take a look back.

Just taking a look back. These are snippets from the speech in Cincinnati Oct. 7, 2002, just before the congressional vote to delegate congress's power to declare war to President Bush.

Not really too much to say, I just kind of wanted to take a look back at how we got here.

These are clips from the text from the Whitehouse.gov website, and if you want, you can listen to this speech(realplayer) or watch the video.

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all. Thank you for that very gracious and warm Cincinnati welcome. I'm honored to be here tonight; I appreciate you all coming.

Tonight I want to take a few minutes to discuss a grave threat to peace, and America's determination to lead the world in confronting that threat.

The threat comes from Iraq. It arises directly from the Iraqi regime's own actions -- its history of aggression, and its drive toward an arsenal of terror. Eleven years ago, as a condition for ending the Persian Gulf War, the Iraqi regime was required to destroy its weapons of mass destruction, to cease all development of such weapons, and to stop all support for terrorist groups. The Iraqi regime has violated all of those obligations. It possesses and produces chemical and biological weapons. It is seeking nuclear weapons. It has given shelter and support to terrorism, and practices terror against its own people. The entire world has witnessed Iraq's eleven-year history of defiance, deception and bad faith.

We also must never forget the most vivid events of recent history. On September the 11th, 2001, America felt its vulnerability -- even to threats that gather on the other side of the earth. We resolved then, and we are resolved today, to confront every threat, from any source, that could bring sudden terror and suffering to America.

Members of the Congress of both political parties, and members of the United Nations Security Council, agree that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must disarm. We agree that the Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons. Since we all agree on this goal, the issues is : how can we best achieve it? .....

In 1995, after several years of deceit by the Iraqi regime, the head of Iraq's military industries defected. It was then that the regime was forced to admit that it had produced more than 30,000 liters of anthrax and other deadly biological agents. The inspectors, however, concluded that Iraq had likely produced two to four times that amount. This is a massive stockpile of biological weapons that has never been accounted for, and capable of killing millions. .....

We know that the regime has produced thousands of tons of chemical agents, including mustard gas, sarin nerve gas, VX nerve gas. Saddam Hussein also has experience in using chemical weapons. He has ordered chemical attacks on Iran, and on more than forty villages in his own country. These actions killed or injured at least 20,000 people, more than six times the number of people who died in the attacks of September the 11th. .....

Iraq possesses ballistic missiles with a likely range of hundreds of miles -- far enough to strike Saudi Arabia, Israel, Turkey, and other nations -- in a region where more than 135,000 American civilians and service members live and work. We've also discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical or biological weapons across broad areas. .....

Iraq could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to a terrorist group or individual terrorists. Alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints.

Some have argued that confronting the threat from Iraq could detract from the war against terror. To the contrary; confronting the threat posed by Iraq is crucial to winning the war on terror. ....

The evidence indicates that Iraq is reconstituting its nuclear weapons program. .....

Iraq has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes and other equipment needed for gas centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. ....

Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. ......

After eleven years during which we have tried containment, sanctions, inspections, even selected military action, the end result is that Saddam Hussein still has chemical and biological weapons and is increasing his capabilities to make more. And he is moving ever closer to developing a nuclear weapon. ......

I hope this will not require military action, but it may. And military conflict could be difficult. An Iraqi regime faced with its own demise may attempt cruel and desperate measures. If Saddam Hussein orders such measures, his generals would be well advised to refuse those orders. If they do not refuse, they must understand that all war criminals will be pursued and punished. If we have to act, we will take every precaution that is possible. We will plan carefully; we will act with the full power of the United States military; we will act with allies at our side, and we will prevail. (Applause.) ......

There is no easy or risk-free course of action. Some have argued we should wait -- and that's an option. In my view, it's the riskiest of all options, because the longer we wait, the stronger and bolder Saddam Hussein will become. We could wait and hope that Saddam does not give weapons to terrorists, or develop a nuclear weapon to blackmail the world. But I'm convinced that is a hope against all evidence. As Americans, we want peace -- we work and sacrifice for peace. But there can be no peace if our security depends on the will and whims of a ruthless and aggressive dictator. I'm not willing to stake one American life on trusting Saddam Hussein. ....

Some worry that a change of leadership in Iraq could create instability and make the situation worse. The situation could hardly get worse, for world security and for the people of Iraq. The lives of Iraqi citizens would improve dramatically if Saddam Hussein were no longer in power, just as the lives of Afghanistan's citizens improved after the Taliban.