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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Saturday Plame - John Dean's take.

Found that John Dean I was looking for earlier, again figuring that he might have a unique perspective on a White House facing indictments. He does.

Something is going to happen, and, I think, fairly soon. It has been many years since my conversations with well placed friends in Washington have reflected the sort of inside-the-Beltway tension that is now mounting. This tension was not matched during the Whitewater/Lewinsky investigation, nor during Iran-Contra. But it is very reminiscent of the wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in Nixon v. United States - the decision that famously forced Nixon to turn over his secretly recorded taped conversations -- and ended his presidency.

The similarity is, of course, because there is the real potential that this investigation and prosecution could reach right into the top of the Bush White House. How high is the source in question? Could it be George Bush himself? Dick Cheney? Karl Rove? Scooter Libby? My guess is that, in different ways, all four likely were involved in the exposure of Plame's covert identity.

Let me give you my read on who the highest-level targets of Fitzgerald's investigation probably are, and what will likely happen to them.....

While I may be letting the air out of some rising balloons, I think Fitzgerald's silence has fed speculation that postulates indictments way beyond the realistic potentials.

The really big fish in this case is the Vice President. And I have little doubt, based on my knowledge of the case, and of the way Cheney typically operates, that a case could be made against him. .....

In short, I cannot imagine any of them being indicted, unless they were acting for reasons other than national security. Because national security is such a gray area of the law, come next week, I can see this entire investigation coming to a remarkable anti-climax, as Fitzgerald closes down his Washington Office and returns to Chicago.

In short, I think the frenzy is about to end -- and it will not go any further. Unless, of course, these folks were foolish enough to give false statements, perjure themselves or suborn perjury, or commit obstruction of justice. If they were so stupid, Patrick Fitzgerald must stay and clean house.

Well worth the two minutes if you've been following this case closely.

I don't know about the validity of the defense "we broke the law because we thought it was essential to national security." How would destroying Joe Wilson's credibility, destroying his wife's career as a non-official cover WMD spy , and burning the Brewster Jennings cover benefit national security? That's a pretty big cost to pay simply to silence one critic. Was Joe Wilson really that dangerous to national security?

But Dean's the LLD, not me.

Steve Gilliard has a broader and more intelligent discussion of this here.

Hearts and Minds

Forty-five percent of Iraqis believe attacks on U.S. and British troops are justified, according to a secret poll said to have been commissioned by British defense leaders and cited by The Sunday Telegraph.

Less than 1 percent of those polled believed that the forces were responsible for any improvement in security, according to poll figures.

Eighty-two percent of those polled said they were "strongly opposed" to the presence of the troops.

The paper said the poll, conducted in August by an Iraqi university research team, was commissioned by the Ministry of Defense.

Okay, so polls of Iraqis show they don't want US forces there. And polls of Americans show that we don't want US forces there. And I would wager that if you were to poll the US forces, given the free choice, they would prefer not to be there.

So what am I missing?

On the 2,000th death in Iraq.

This is just great writing by Newsguy over at The Skeptical Observer. So in the grand tradition of bloggers everywhere, I'm gonna steal part of it.

Cindy Sheehan was co-hosting with Randi Rhodes on her Air America show this evening. Cindy said as of today, 1,992 American troops have been killed in Iraq. If that is accurate, there are seven American military personnel who are alive right now, but who will die very soon to bring the count to an even 2000.

The seven are probably young, no doubt with dreams of going home. They have people at home who love them. A wife. A girlfriend. Parents. Brothers. Sisters. But seven families who are looking forward with fear and hope will soon be at a graveside with some captain in dress uniform handing them a flag neatly folded into a triangle. Those seven are alive right this minute. They are having chow or suiting up to go out on patrol or on a dusty road in Baghdad or in some godforsaken Iraqi village on the Syrian border. Or they are just coming off patrol and sinking into a bunk with a book or watching CNN or tapping out an email to someone back home. Every one of those troopers is looking forward to tomorrow. And the day after that.

There's more, go over and read the rest.

Is this flattering?

Just a really strange puff piece on rookie congressman Patrick McHenry(R - N.C.) I can't figure out if it's supposed to be flattering or what. You judge.

Don't let his age fool you. The youngest member of Congress says he thinks he has Capitol Hill all figured out, though he's been on the job only 10 months.

"This place is a much more sophisticated junior high school," 30-year-old Rep. Patrick McHenry, R-N.C., said recently in an interview. "There are the nice guys that everybody likes, the jocks, the geeks, the bullies — they're all here. It's a representative democracy."

It's easy to imagine where McHenry fits in this analogy. The freshman lawmaker, whose birthday was Saturday, would be the kid brother, the one eager to subject himself to an occasional barb if it helps him get into the club. .....

Brash, enthusiastic and a strong believer in an aggressive conservative agenda, McHenry is clearly looked upon by GOP leaders as just the type of eager-to-please foot soldier needed for carrying on their cause. ....

And just like a kid brother, McHenry has remained loyal as scandals threaten the crowd he has joined. He continues to lead cheers for Rep. Tom DeLay, R-Texas, after his indictment on money-laundering charges, and for Karl Rove, Bush's political adviser caught up in an investigation into the leak of a CIA agent's identity. .....

When he won the primary by 85 votes, he promptly received $10,000 each from the political action committees operated by Hastert, DeLay and another Republican leader, Rep. Roy Blunt (news, bio, voting record), R-Mo. He won in November with 63 percent of the vote against Democratic social worker Anne Fischer.

Okay, so let's assume that I'm from the 10th district in N.C. I have just learned that my rep is an eager-to-please foot soldier, who remains loyal to his bosses no matter how crooked they are, and takes money from Delay and Abramoff(through Blunt) who are both under investigation for finance fraud.

So, am I happy with this guy? Just weird.

Ledeen, Ghorbanifar, and Plame

My Aunt thought this was so interesting that she sent it from the Czech Republic where she is visiting and waiting for the emminent birth of my new niece. (And no, they're not going to name her "Valerie".)

This is from Tom Paine.Com and goes into some of the possibilties on the Niger forgeries. It speculates quite a bit on the actions of the WHIG. But if you want to go down the rabbit hole and look at some of the possibilties involving Ledeen, Rhode, Franklin, Hannah, and Wurmser being involved in the Niger forgeries, this is an interesting trip.

Also, this is the second place I've seen it mentioned that Fitzgerald has looked at the Italian Parliamentary report on the origin of those forgeries. From the politics of the two people who wrote about it, I wouldn't be too surprised if this one cited the other, or they had the same source.

So, speculation, but a theory of the crime.

Also, John Dean was writing opinion pieces on Findlaw awhile back, thought that he might have an interesting perspective on a Whitehouse facing indictments, but in a quick look, I couldn't find anything.

But WHY did they kill Hariri?

The Mehlis report was released, headlines all major outlets, and it says that Syrian governement officials were involved in the killing of Rafiq Hariri. I know next to nothing about the politics of Syria and Lebanon, so I don't debate the findings, but I find it strange in all the coverage that nobody is discussing WHY they would've killed him.

I remember the time, the US was upping pressure on Syria to withdraw, and then former prime minister Hariri was killed. From what I understand, he was still a pretty major player in Lebanese politics, but I don't know the specifics.

Anybody got a mainstream source that would tell me why this group of high level Syrians would want Hariri killed?

***Gonna be a light posting day. After three days of heavy Fitzgerald frenzy, I need a day off. If anything comes up, I will put it up immediately as always, but I don't think much will be revealed today. Tomorrow probably as everybody tries to set the spin for the week, but I don't expect much today. So, I'm going to go sit outside and play with my sixteen year old dog.

She still loves the pretty days.


Friday, October 21, 2005

Today's Plame Gossip

****Check the updates at the bottom of this entry. Looks like something's gonna happen soon.

Let's start today's gossip with the change in the narrative. Obviously, reading the Plame news the last two days, there seems to be a growing number of "Blame it on Libby" stories. There's been the AP story which seems to have been sourced from Rove's defense group. There was the NYTimes piece last night, which includes Rove, but nails Libby. Then this AM, there is this LATimes piece which we'll classify as "unflattering" towards Libby.

WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was so angry about the public statements of former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, a Bush administration critic married to an undercover CIA officer, that he monitored all of Wilson's television appearances and urged the White House to mount an aggressive public campaign against him, former aides say.

Those efforts by the chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, began shortly after Wilson went public with his criticisms in 2003. But they continued into last year — well after the Justice Department began an investigation in September 2003, into whether administration officials had illegally disclosed the CIA operative's identity, say former White House aides.

It goes on into some pretty interesting examples, but the real question, to me, is who is sourcing these stories. Is it White House strategy to just pin all mistakes on Libby and throw him over the side in an attempt to contain the problem? (Much like they're doing to Michael Brown in relation to FEMA) Or is it possible that the "leak-proof" Fitzgerald in putting this out to try to pressure Libby to plead or cooperate? I've read several arguments on both sides, and despite the tantalizing permutations of Libby turning state's evidence, my belief is that it's the former.

Here's two more "blame it on Libby" pieces, Pete Yost, AP byline. Or maybe I should say one. It's the same article with two different titles, both linked by Drudge, which adds to my speculation that this "blame Libby" meme is coming from the republican side.

Update: Fitzgerald has put up a website, suddenly, just today. Seems to me this would be one of the key steps before releasing the indictments.

Via Americablog who said, "
OK, OK, we won't read anything in to this. Sure we won't. This is like when your parents put the really big present under the tree."

also has this:
The Providence Journal reports that WH Chief of Staff Andy Card had to cancel a GOP fundraiser in RI this weekend:
"All we know is that the White House called and said he had to be with the president," Morgan said. "He needs to be at Camp David this weekend."
Oh, to be a fly on the wall at Camp David this weekend. The possibilities of why Card needs to be there are endless. Who else will be there?

Back to local programming: This could be prepping a message for the press storm, figuring out a new team after a member or members are removed through indictments, just generally being around.... No telling, but the plates are shifting.

Update: The Left Coaster has a really interesting theory that the new Fitzgerald website is his counter to the republican spin. Also, a little gem from a WSJ article.
The range of questions that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has asked witnesses in the CIA leak case suggests he may be exploring whether to charge White House officials with leaking garden-variety classified information.
But lawyers and others close to the case say he may be piecing together a case that White House officials conspired to leak various types of classified material in conversations with reporters -- including Ms. Plame's identity but also other secrets related to national security. .....
In part, the weight of an indictment on leaking classified information could depend on whether the exposure of Ms. Plame caused damage. That isn't clear. Damage-assessment reports commonly are done when such leaks occur, but congressional staffers say they haven't seen any such document related to this investigation.

The CIA did produce an initial report to see if assets were in danger or needed to be moved, a government official said. But that didn't take the form of a formal report to Congress, as has occurred in bigger espionage matters.
UPDATE: Reuters has a piece up on the creation of the Fitzgerald web page, and it's pretty clear about why it suddenly appeared.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prosecutors investigating the outing of a covert CIA operative opened a Web site on Friday to post possible indictments next week and were said by lawyers in the case to be focusing on whether top White House aides tried to conceal their actions from investigators.

Also, for the first time, someone in the media gives us a possible timeline.

The CIA leak grand jury, which expires on October 28, convened on Friday with two of the lead prosecutors present, but it was unclear what issues they were working on.

Fitzgerald is expected to meet with the grand jury for a possible vote on indictments as early as Tuesday or Wednesday.

Lawyers involved in the case said prosecutors have likely already started laying out their final case to jurors, either for bringing indictments or to explain why there was insufficient evidence to do so.

After the grand jury broke up, the two prosecutors, lugging giant legal briefcases, left the courthouse without comment.

In regards to the website's appearance, Fitzgerald's spokesman "dismissed all the speculation. "I caution you not to read into it," he said."

So, new information. I don't know too much about the internal workings of Grand Juries, but if you're the prosecutor, how long would it take to convince a Grand Jury not to indict?

Update: Two quick hits, neither essential to the Grand Jury story.

1) Here is the text of the "internal" email that the NYTimes' Keller wrote regarding the paper's mistakes in handling the Judith Miller situation. (I liked this link cause it was from the WaPo)

2) Long rumored, Wilson and Plame are going to sue the administration officials involved in the leak that destroyed her CIA career. The only interesting thing in it is that they would be able depose those same administration officials. (Sorry for the Moonie UPI source, but that's where I came across it.)

On "Syria as Cambodia"

For context on the emerging comparison of Syria to Cambodia during Vietnam, see this post from yesterday.

In the comments of that post, Somadude(The Obfuscation Report) pointed out that there was a discussion of this over at DailyKos in the diaries. I did a search of the site for "Syria Cambodia" and it came back 0 entries, but I'm not sure if that search includes the diaries.

So, I did something I rarely do, I actually did a little research. Going through Googlenews(not the best, but the easiest since I don't have Lexis/Nexis), the first mention of this Syria as Cambodia idea, did indeed come from that New York Times article, but as the search showed, even beyond reprints of that particular article, the idea is beginning to be repeated in articles both for attacking Syria and against.

Curiously, I had forgotten that there was also a comparison of the leaders of the Syria and Iran with the great mass murderers of history, Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot, in the "major terrorism speech" Bush gave on October 6. Not directly related, but this is the first parallel of any kind I can find comparing Syria and Cambodia. (Interestingly, if you go to the whitehouse site, and look under President Bush - speeches this "major terrorism speech" is not listed. Guess it wasn't so major. It was on the site, but wasn't easy to find. Thanks to the moderate voice for the link to the transcript.)

Research is hard work. So, don't expect me to do it too often. - Mike

Update: Rice Says Syria Must Be Held Accountable - for the death of Hariri. Not directly on topic, but in the general area of reasons to attack Syria.

Hanky Panky on the editorial page

Take a look at this. Four unsigned(board) editorials in four(now five), admittedly small, newspapers have exactly the same opening paragraph. They do appear to be owned by the same company Freedom Communications, Ltd, but still this is deception.

That's great blogging.

Rice comes clean on Iraq?

Just a weird little article on the Rice's testimony to the senate. Sorry for the Wash Times sourcing(I know) but that's where I came across the quote in the second para. If you were a Senator who read the intelligence supplied by the administration which showed Iraq had a nuclear program and voted for the resolution based on that, how would you feel when the quote in the second para passed Rice's lips knowing what we (officially) know now?

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said yesterday that it was always the Bush administration's intent to redesign the Middle East after the September 11 attacks, which exposed a "deep malignancy growing" in the region, and that the Iraq war was part of that plan. .....

"We had to make a decision that we were going to go after the root cause of what caused September 11," she said. "So what I'm describing to you, Senator, is not what you voted for in the war resolution, but the broader strategy of the administration."

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Plame Gossip - Night Version

NYTimes has piece up tonight that seems to have some authority about it. This is about as certain as any of the coverage I've seen on Plame. Indicates Rove and Libby are targets, duh, but makes only passing mention of anybody else.

Among the charges that Mr. Fitzgerald is considering are perjury, obstruction of justice and false statement - counts that suggest the prosecutor may believe the evidence presented in a 22-month grand jury inquiry shows that the two White House aides sought to cover up their actions, the lawyers said.

Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, the lawyers said, but only this week has Mr. Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say.

With the term of the grand jury expiring in one week, though, some lawyers in the case said they were persuaded that Mr. Fitzgerald had all but made up his mind to seek indictments. None of the lawyers would speak on the record, citing the prosecutor's requests not to talk about the case. ......

At the bottom, it goes into the probable specific allegations against both Rove and Libby.

UPDATE: National Journal (Murray Wass) has a piece on Judy suddenly remembering visiting Libby on June 23, after she was shown the Secret Service logs for that day. Oh, and Libby also had not "remembered" that meeting.

Update AM: I just ran across a very weirdly written AP piece this morning. Look at the construction of the first para.

Even if White House aides leaked a covert CIA officer's identity, they were simply passing along information they'd already heard from the news media, the administration's supporters maintain in a defense that looks increasing shaky as new evidence accumulates.
Isn't that an odd construction for a lead paragraph of a news piece? Shouldn't it be "An increasingly shaky defense is being offered that White House aides.....?" Oh, and then we do get a great paragraph on the Republican Meta-Defense, the one that is used for everything thy can't blame on "liberals."

Until this week, "the news media did it" was a standard defense among Republicans trying to protect the Bush administration from the political fallout of Fitzgerald's criminal investigation. Loyalists said that even if White House aides had passed on information, they didn't get it from classified sources and were simply repeating what they heard from journalists.

Really disturbing video

This is a really disturbing video. No violence, no sex, no gore, just some guy impersonating Bush giving something like a stump speech. Normal kind of parody, then he starts talking about god, and the thing turns spooky weird. I learned something on a very visceral level. I would recommend this very highly.

Never heard of Theater Oobleck, know nothing about it. But take a look. It's only a minute twenty-four. Can't you trust me for a minute and twenty-four seconds?

Syria as Cambodia - Someone's pushing this.

On Saturday, I put up a post on a clip from the NYTimes talking about border clashes between US forces in Iraq and Some unspecified Syrian forces. But I want to focus on a particular passage.

Increasingly, officials say, Syria is to the Iraq war what Cambodia was in the Vietnam War: a sanctuary for fighters, money and supplies to flow over the border and, ultimately, a place for a shadow struggle.

That's what jumped out at me, and made me blog it. But what's curious, is that today, I came across this link at Trying to Maintain Rationality. From an opinion piece from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The parallel with the Vietnam War, where a Nixon administration deeply involved in a losing war expanded the conflict -- fruitlessly in the event -- to neighboring Cambodia, is obvious. The end result was not changed in Vietnam; Cambodia itself was plunged into dangerous chaos, which climaxed in the killing fields, where an estimated 1 million Cambodians died as a result of internal conflict.

Now, I don't know Dan Simpson, the writer of this edop, and I don't know if he lifted this idea from that NYTimes piece, but I find this recurrence of the Syria as Cambodia parallel troubling for a number of reasons.

1) The US left Cambodia a broken state when we abandoned it after withdrawal.

2) This would mark a substantial escalation in the region with our militsry already overstretched.

3) This is particularly troubling when viewed against Bush's recent remarks that the US withdrawal from Vietnam was a mistake and that we should have stayed there.(I'll try to find a supporting link for this, this afternoon.)

Is this the rational the Bush admin is going to use to invade Syria?

Has anyone else run across this occurence of Syria as Cambodia? Is this a trial balloon or a fluke? Is this parallel being pushed by someone? And if so, who? And Why?

Help me out.

UPDATE: Sort of related. The UN report on the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri concluded that it involved high ranking officials of both Syria and Lebanon. Not really a surprise, but significant in the geopolitics of it.

Today's Plame Gossip

I was watching the Astros game last night when this Rove-friendly AP story broke, so I didn't get a chance to really go through it. Looking around this morning, somebody else did a great job, so look here: Just One Minute. Focuses alot on Russert, but a good analysis.

Quick note after thinking about this article for awhile, I owe a partial apology to Jos (Why do they hate US) who said in previous comments that Rove was a "cooperating witness" who was working for Bush to pin the thing on Cheney. I still can't go that far, as there is still no evidence that Rove is "cooperating," but it does seem that he and his attorneys are trying to shape the narrative to pin all the blame on Libby. So, Jos, I'll give you a partial.

Oh, and Bush said today...

President Bush vowed Thursday to avoid the "background noise" of criminal investigations and other Republican political problems to focus on the nation's needs.

Not too much out there this morning. More updates as they come.

UPDATE: Drudge, so big grain(s) of salt, and take into account the politics and motives of the source.

NYT FRIDAY: Rove and Libby have been advised that they may be in serious legal jeopardy, but only this week has Fitzgerald begun to narrow the possible charges. The prosecutor has said he will not make up his mind about any charges until next week, government officials say... Developing...

The Delay mugshot is out.

The Delay mugshot is out. Got this from the smoking gun, they're great for this kind of stuff. They've also got the arrest warrant if you want a snapshot of it.

mini update: The AP is using this mugshot photo(defined as such) as the photo accompanying this story. Ha!

A straight-shooter in government?

Nah. they had to fire her. WaPo does a pretty good piece on Bunnatine Greenhouse who got fired for questioning the Halliburton no-bid contracts in the run up to the Iraq war.

Credit Sini over at Jusiper for the find.

And from this piece we now know why Dick Cheney went off on Leahy last year. (funny that was always left out of the narrative that went on for days.)

Bunny Greenhouse was once the perfect bureaucrat, an insider, the top procurement official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Then the 61-year-old Greenhouse lost her $137,000-a-year post after questioning the plump contracts awarded to Halliburton in the run-up to the war in Iraq.....

"[Expletive] yourself!" former Halliburton chief executiveand current veep Dick Cheney snapped at a senator last year in an exchange related to Greenhouse's allegations.


US soldiers desecrating Afghani dead.

Reuters broke this last night:

Australian television on Wednesday broadcast footage of what it said was U.S. soldiers burning the corpses of two dead Taliban fighters with their bodies laid out facing Mecca and using the images in a propaganda campaign in southern Afghanistan.

The television report said U.S. soldiers burned the bodies for hygienic reasons but then a U.S. psychological operations unit broadcast a propaganda message on loudspeakers to Taliban fighters, taunting them to retrieve their dead and fight.

A U.S. military statement released in Afghanistan said Army criminal investigators had launched a probe "into alleged misconduct by U.S. service members, including the burning of dead enemy combatant bodies under inappropriate circumstances." ......

The footage showed flames licking two charred corpses, their legs and arms outstretched, and a group of five U.S. soldiers standing watching from a rocky ledge.

Footage showed two U.S. soldiers reading from a notebook two messages that they said had earlier been broadcast.

"Attention Taliban you are cowardly dogs," read the first soldier, identified as psyops specialist Sgt. Jim Baker.

"You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to retrieve their bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be."

The other unidentified soldier read a second message, part of which said: "You attack and run away like women. You call yourself Talibs but you are a disgrace to the Muslim religion, and you bring shame upon your family. Come and fight like men instead of the cowardly dogs you are."

And from the AP version this AM:
Dupont said the soldiers responsible for the loudspeaker broadcasts were part of a U.S. Army psychological operations unit. .....

The video did not show the messages being broadcast, though it did show some military vehicles were fitted with speakers and playing loud music.

Dupont told the AP the messages had been broadcast in the local dialect but were translated into English for him by members of the Army psychological operations unit.

I have a position on this kind of thing that's not always popular. If actions in war, however horrific, are the actions of a few soldiers in the field who just "lose it," I tend to be pretty forgiving of those soldiers. I cannot imagine myself in that situation, and can sort of see how one could lose bearings amid the violence of war.

BUT. If events like these are condoned, premeditated, or committed to policy, as appears to be the case here, everyone involved, all the way up the chain should be nailed to the wall. I think the presence of psy-op troops and the presence of "military vehicles fitted with speakers" shows that this was not a moment of insanity by a few troops.

That's one of the things that has so frustrated me about Guantanamo/Abu Ghraib. Those were not the actions of a few lower level soldiers who "lost it." The evidence seems to show that those actions were policy, some formalized, some unspoken, that stretch pretty far up the chain. And it appears that those up the chain are willing to cowardly let a half dozen grunts pay for their crimes.

Cheney lies - for the files

Just a few questionable Cheney statements from the runup/promotion to the Iraq war.
From an LATimes piece.

For example, CIA officials repeatedly told Cheney and others in his circle that they did not think Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta had met with Iraqi agents in Prague, Czech Republic, before the attacks.

Nonetheless, the agency continued to receive dozens of inquiries on the topic from top officials — several times from Cheney himself. Despite the agency warnings, Cheney made reference to the Atta meeting as if it were a sure thing.

"It's been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack," Cheney said Dec. 9, 2001, on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The allegation was not backed up with reliable intelligence, as Cheney and his staff had been repeatedly told, according to a former CIA official. .....

Cheney also frequently spoke with certainty throughout 2002 about Iraq and its pursuit of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. Addressing Korean War veterans in Texas that August, he predicted that Hussein, armed with nuclear weapons, would "be expected to seek domination of the entire Middle East, to take control of a great portion of the world's energy supplies, and to directly threaten America's friends throughout the region and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail."

"Simply stated," Cheney continued, "there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction. There is no doubt that he is amassing them to use them against our friends, against our allies and against us."

Flashback: VP corruption allegations

Don't know why, just took a trip in the way back machine this morning and came across this.

Checkers - Audio MP3

I come before you tonight as a candidate for the Vice Presidency and as a man whose honesty and integrity has been questioned.

Now, the usual political thing to do when charges are made against you is to either ignore them or to deny them without giving details. I believe we've had enough of that in the United States, particularly with the present Administration in Washington, D.C. To me the office of the Vice Presidency of the United States is a great office, and I feel that the people have got to have confidence in the integrity of the men who run for that office and who might obtain it.

I have a theory, too, that the best and only answer to a smear or to an honest misunderstanding of the facts is to tell the truth. And that's why I am here tonight. I want to tell you my side of the case. I'm sure that you have read the charge, and you've heard it, that I, Senator Nixon, took $18,000 from a group of my supporters.

Now, was that wrong? And let me say that it was wrong. I am saying it, incidentally, that it was wrong, just not illegal, because it isn't a question of whether it was legal or illegal, that isn't enough. The question is, was it morally wrong? I say that it was morally wrong.

By the way, this is just a great site if you're ever looking for mp3 audio of speeches.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Today's Plame Gossip

***See update 4 (below): Wurmser turned, too?
*** Update 5 - AP story - Rove fingers Libby.

Today's Plame gossip. The NYTimes says I need to put the champagne back in the fridge today, but also indicates that there will be indictments.

WASHINGTON, Oct. 18 - The special counsel in the C.I.A. leak case has told associates he has no plans to issue a final report about the results of the investigation, heightening the expectation that he intends to bring indictments, lawyers in the case and law enforcement officials said yesterday.

The prosecutor, Patrick J. Fitzgerald, is not expected to take any action in the case this week, government officials said. A spokesman for Mr. Fitzgerald, Randall Samborn, declined to comment.

And here's a pretty complete list of everyone who has spoken with Fitzgerald.

And the NY Daily News quotes a "presidential counselor" whatever that is.

Asked if he believed indictments were forthcoming, a key Bush official said he did not know, then added: "I'm very concerned it could go very, very badly."

"Karl is fighting for his life," the official added, "but anything he did was done to help George W. Bush. The President knows that and appreciates that."

More updates later, I'm sure.

Update: Big news supporting the theory that Fitzgerald has gotten hip deep in the prewar WMD lies. From Raimondo at the libertarian Antiwar.com whom I occasionally quote here. Strong opinions, but usually some interesting news inclusions and very good meta analysis.

A parliamentary committee was charged with investigating, and they issued a heavily redacted report: now, I am told by a former CIA operations officer, the report has aroused some interest on this side of the Atlantic. According to a source in the Italian embassy, Patrick J. "Bulldog" Fitzgerald asked for and "has finally been given a full copy of the Italian parliamentary oversight report on the forged Niger uranium document," the former CIA officer tells me:

"Previous versions of the report were redacted and had all the names removed, though it was possible to guess who was involved. This version names Michael Ledeen as the conduit for the report and indicates that former CIA officers Duane Clarridge and Alan Wolf were the principal forgers. All three had business interests with Chalabi."

This piece is pretty big and wide ranging but it does show some tie ins between the Fitzgerald investigation and the Franklin/AIPAC investigation. The other gem in this article is,

No wonder my source tells me that "Fitzgerald asked the Italians if he could share the report with Paul McNulty," the prosecutor in the AIPAC case.

Update 2: By the way here are two links to pages of audio files of church bells ringing that I intend to play quite loudly if this thing ends up being pretty big. You know, end of the occupation and all, return to freedom. Link 1 Link 2 (just a quick start, I'm sure there are more and better sites, if you know of one, put the link in comments, thanks.)

Update 3: Josh Marshall says Bush must have known that Rove was lying in his first testimony to Fitzgerald. Bush's agreement with Fitzgerald included, once again, not testifying under oath. So could he lie without the fear of perjury? Read Josh Marshall's post and let me know what you think.

This is based on this NY Daily News story which says that Bush knew early on that Rove leaked the Plame name. If true, that means that Bush lied (again) in statements. Americablog says it stretches to the point of Obstruction of Justice, although I don't see that yet.

Update 4: Wurmser turned, too? This report from Raw Story gets full creedence as the were first and apparently right on Hannah.

A second aide to Vice President Dick Cheney is cooperating with the special prosecutor's probe into the outing of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, those close to the investigation say. ....

Now, those close to the investigation say that a second Cheney aide, David Wurmser, has agreed to provide the prosecution with evidence that the leak was a coordinated effort by Cheney’s office to discredit the agent's husband.

Wurmser, Cheney’s Middle East advisor and an assistant to then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Bolton, likely cooperated because he faced criminal charges for his role in leaking Wilson's name on the orders of higher-ups, the sources said.

According to those familiar with the case, Wurmser was in attendance at several meetings of the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a little-known cabal of administration hawks that formed in August 2002 to publicize the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. Those who say they have reviewed documents obtained in the probe assert that the Vice President was also present at some of the group’s meetings......

Wurmser’s cooperation with Fitzgerald would certainly come as no surprise to those who have been following his career. Last year, he was questioned by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his possible role in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel.

According to a 2004 story in the Washington Post, the FBI interviewed officials in Cheney’s office and the Pentagon, including Hannah and Wurmser, former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith and Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, to determine if they were involved in leaking U.S. security secrets to Israel, the former head of the Iraqi National Congress Ahmed Chalabi and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Sorry for such a long clip, but the circle is closing. And needless to say, as a prosecutor, you don't give Hannah and Wurmser consideration unless you are looking up the chain. So either, there's so little evidence that both are necessary to nail Libby and corroborate each other's stories, which I would doubt since there's reasonable public evidence for perjury or maybe witness tampering, or Fitzgerald is looking for a bigger fish than Libby.

Get your churchbells ready.

Update 5: AP story tonight: Rove fingers Libby. (there must be a better way to say that.)

Top White House aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby discussed their contacts with reporters about an undercover CIA officer in the days before her identity was published, the first known intersection between two central figures in the criminal leak investigation.

Rove told grand jurors it was possible he first heard in the White House that Valerie Plame, wife of Bush administration Joseph Wilson, worked for the CIA from Libby's recounting of a conversation with a journalist, according to people familiar with his testimony.

They said Rove testified that his discussions with Libby before Plame's CIA cover was blown were limited to information reporters had passed to them. Some evidence prosecutors have gathered conflicts with Libby's account. ......

Those familiar with the testimony and evidence said that:

During one of his grand jury appearances, Rove was shown testimony from Libby suggesting the two had discussed with each other information they had gotten about Wilson's wife from reporters in early July 2003.

Rove responded that Libby's testimony was consistent with his general recollection that he had first learned Wilson's wife worked for the CIA from reporters or government officials who had talked with reporters.

Rove testified that he never intended any of his comments to reporters about Wilson's wife to serve as confirmation of Plame's identity. Rove "has always clearly left open that he first heard this information from Libby," said one person directly familiar with Rove's grand jury testimony. .....

In testimony shown to Rove, Libby stated that numerous journalists appeared to have learned about Plame's identity in the period before her name was published and that he and Rove talked to each other about their contacts with reporters.

Libby's testimony stated that Rove had told him about his contact with Novak and that Libby had told Rove about information he had gotten about Wilson's wife from NBC's Tim Russert, according to a person familiar with the information shown to Rove.

Prosecutors, however, have a different account from Russert. The network has said Russert told authorities did not know about Wilson's wife's identity until it was published and therefore could not have told Libby about it.

Prosecutors also have evidence that Libby initiated the call with Russert and had initiated similar contact with another reporter, Judith Miller of The New York Times, several weeks earlier. Miller was jailed for 85 days before agreeing to testify before the grand jury. ....

Rove was pressed by prosecutors on several matters, including why he failed to mention during the first of his four grand jury appearances that he also had discussed the Plame matter with a second reporter, Matthew Cooper of Time magazine.

Rove testified during the first appearance about his contacts with Novak in the days before Novak wrote a column outing Plame's identity. When asked generally if he had conversations with other reporters in that session, he answered "no."

Rove and his lawyer subsequently discovered an e-mail Rove had sent top national security aide Steve Hadley referring to a brief phone interview he had with Cooper.

The e-mail jogged Rove's memory and during a subsequent grand jury appearance, he volunteered his recollections about his conversation with Cooper, and his lawyer provided the e-mail to prosecutors. Cooper also wrote a story about Plame.

There's alot here. Just from a quick read, it sounds to me like Rove's attorney's put this out. There's just alot in this that seems to be too good for Rove. I'm watching the Astros game, so I'll give it a better read tomorrow.

Spanish judge issues arrest warrant for 3 GI's

Don't know if you remember the details of this incident, but it was pretty controversial at the time in the international press.

A judge has issued an international arrest warrant for three U.S. soldiers whose tank fired on a Baghdad hotel during the Iraq war, killing a Spanish journalist and one other, a court official said Wednesday. ......

The Spanish judge said he issued the arrest order because of a lack of judicial cooperation from the United States regarding the case.

1 in 4 Iraq vets come home needing medical treatment

I'm not too sure about this mental health numbers in this article as it is based on self reporting during military debriefing/screening. But these are the numbers the Pentagon is supplying and I think they're significant. USA Today:

More than one in four U.S. troops have come home from the Iraq war with health problems that require medical or mental health treatment, according to the Pentagon's first detailed screening of servicemembers leaving a war zone. (Related: Troops screened as never before)

Almost 1,700 servicemembers returning from the war this year said they harbored thoughts of hurting themselves or that they would be better off dead. More than 250 said they had such thoughts "a lot." Nearly 20,000 reported nightmares or unwanted war recollections; more than 3,700 said they had concerns that they might "hurt or lose control" with someone else. ....

Overall, since the war began, about 28% of Iraq veterans - about 50,000 servicemembers this year alone - returned with problems ranging from lingering battle wounds to toothaches, from suicidal thoughts to strained marriages. The figure dwarfs the Pentagon's official Iraq casualty count: 1,971 U.S. troops dead and 15,220 wounded as of Tuesday.

Update: Oh, and apparently we need to add gambling addictions that soldiers might have picked up on on-base military run slot machines which "take in" $120 million from our troops every year.(NYTimes) And, no, I'm not kidding.

Sen. Patty Murray

I don't know much about Sen. Patty Murray of Washington(state), but my aunt has told me repeatedly that she's a very good egg. Have to support her on this one.

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon has reneged on its offer to pay a $15,000 bonus to members of the National Guard and Army Reserve who agree to extend their enlistments by six years, according to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Seattle). .....

In April, the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs ordered the bonuses stopped, Murray said.

“This is outrageous,” the senator said in a telephone interview. “It makes me angry that this administration has broken another promise to our troops.” .....

Krenke said some soldiers had been paid the re-enlistment bonuses, but she was unsure how many or whether the money would have to be repaid.

My tinfoil hat is getting pretty beat up


It sounds like a conspiracy theory, but it isn't. The pages coming out of your color printer may contain hidden information that could be used to track you down if you ever cross the U.S. government. .....

With the Xerox printers, the information appears as a pattern of yellow dots, each only a millimeter wide and visible only with a magnifying glass and a blue light.

By the way, if you're looking for causes, the EFF is the technology specific equivalent of the ACLU.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Telling Detail from Iraq.

Just a telling detail from Iraq's referendum vote.

On Saturday, when current Iraq President Jalal Talabani and Prime Minister Ibrahim Jaafari went to the polls, they didn't ceremonially drop their ballots into voting boxes in their home precincts. They voted inside Baghdad's Green Zone, where they live and work and spend most of their time, protected by a cordon of troops on the perimeter and watched over by specially trained commandos wherever they go.

Plame gossip - Has Hannah turned? (Update 2 - Cheney rumor)

Plame gossip. NY Daily News says there's a cooperating witness in the whitehouse.

Cheney's name has come up amid indications Fitzgerald may be edging closer to a blockbuster conspiracy charge - with help from a secret snitch.

"They have got a senior cooperating witness - someone who is giving them all of that," a source who has been questioned in the leak probe told the Daily News yesterday.

Rawstory rumors it might be Hannah
, a former Bolton aide at State. And further down in the Rawstory piece, we get some idea of the leverage that may be applied to turn Mr. Hannah.

Hannah is currently under investigation by U.S. authorities for his alleged activities in an intelligence program run by the controversial Iraqi National Congress (INC) and its leader, Ahmed Chalabi.

According to a Newsweek article, a memo written for the Iraq National Congress (INC) raised questions regarding Cheney’s role in the build up to the war in Iraq. During the lead up to the war, Newsweek asserts, the INC was providing intelligence on the now discredited Iraqi WMD program through Hannah and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Cheney’s chief of staff.

Conspiracy charges, as have been rumored, seem to be quite hard to make stick unless there's a cooperating witness. But with that witness, all the connections get fleshed out, so if Cheney was involved, this isn't good for him

Well, we'll all know really soon.

Update: Oh, and by the way, if you're really concerned about all this..... LOOK AT THE DAM BURSTING IN MASS.!!!!! AND LOOK AT THE TERROR THREAT IN BALTIMORE!!!!! AND THEN THERE'S THAT BIRD FLU IN EUROPE(which isn't communicable from human to human.) FEAR! FEAR! DO YOU HEAR ME? FEAR!!!!

Update 2: And I would guess that there's really something to this looking at Cheney speculation. We have the Washington Post, WSJ, and Bloomberg all reporting it, but more tellingly, I've caught segments on both MSNBC and CNN today speculating about it. Not that CNN or MSNBC have proven themselves beyond baseless speculation, but the idea of Cheney being involved seems to be reaching conventional wisdom. Look here at US News and World Report for some backing for the conventional wisdom. Baseless rumors of Cheney resigning are making the rounds in Washington and being accepted as real. By the way, the rumor says Condi Rice in as VP.

Update 3: Not quite so sure about indictments tomorrow. I'm already getting kind of weird about it all, checking constantly to see if there's anything new. Read a few pretty persuasive arguments that indictments might be put off if a couple of the smaller fish change their minds and decide to cooperate with Fitzgerald in order to avoid trial and take lighter sentences. If this happens, and Fitzgerald holds true to form, there will be no announcement from him, and he will diligently go through all their "new" testimony and potentially call people in front of the Grand Jury again which could stretch this thing out for awhile longer. There was rumor awhile back that he sought a meeting with the judges, possibly to get an extension past the looming deadline.

Maybe tomorrow. But if someone has a change of heart, maybe not tomorrow.

Update 4: This is second hand from the Nelson Report (you have to pay) through Laura Rozen on John Hannah.

Before we start, today’s hot gossip is that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald may have sent a “target letter”...an official warning of a likely indictment...to Vice President Cheney’s deputy chief of staff, John Hannah. According to sources which have been right from time to time, Hannah has told associates he has been forced to cut a deal, and that they think this includes testifying against his immediate boss, Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

Hannah’s name resonates to the insiders, since he is a samurai for UN Amb. John Bolton, detailed to the White House while Bolton was Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs...in other words, an office with folks quite likely to have known the CIA connection which may form the basis of any criminal indictments in this case...

Judy Miller witnessed an "interrogation"?

Also from Laura Rozen tonight....

According to the Chicago Sun Times, Miller witnessed the interrogation of Muhammad Salah by Israeli soldiers:

Bridgeview used car salesman Muhammad Salah recalls being beaten, housed in a "refrigerator cell" and threatened with rape by Israeli soldiers until he admitted to bankrolling overseas terrorists, according to a new filing in U.S. District Court.

In an odd twist, the interrogation was witnessed by embattled New York Times reporter Judith Miller, and defense attorneys suggested Monday the best way for the U.S. government to prove its case -- and prove Salah wasn't abused -- is to call the controversial journalist to the witness stand.

"We think the government is going to call her," said Chicago defense attorney Michael E. Deutsch.

Who's prosecuting the case against Salah? You guessed it. One Chicago-based US attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald.

Bush Polling - Holy Crap.

Got the link from Kos, But go to the Survey USA page for a better display of state by state approval numbers for Bush then broken down by demos(gender, race, party affiliation, etc.) if you're interested. The picture (left) is the graphic of Bush approval numbers in Texas vs. time over 18 months. Blue is approve, red is disapprove.

Take a look at your state. The erosion is amazing.

(It should be said that Survey USA has in the past tended to poll a little "blue," but the trend info should be pretty solid. Also, note that the sample size was 600 people per state, so if you get into the group breakdowns beyond gender, be a little careful as the sample size will be pretty small.)

Way to go Noam

Noam Chomsky, the American linguistics expert and US foreign policy critic, was named the world's top public intellectual, according to a new British magazine poll released.

And Noam was in some good company Umberto Eco-2nd, Richard Dawkins-3rd, and one of my personal heroes, Vaclav Havel-4th.

Non-scientific, but still..... And wouldn't you think that someone who would poll this high as the top public intellectual, whose name has been made in criticizing US Foreign Policy, might just once or twice find his way onto a cable news network during the controversial last few years.

Nope. Can't have criticism of the empire.

Leaving out US complicity.

This is from a much larger article on the decline of deaths through warfare since the end of the cold war. But what grabbed me were these two paragraphs.

Genocide is defined as the murder of groups because of their ethnicity, religion or nationality. Politicides are communal victims in opposition to a regime or dominant group.

The post World War II "high point" for such murders was in the late 1980s in Afghanistan, El Salvador, Uganda, Iran and El Salvador, according to political scientist Barbara Harff, now at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Let's see, late second term Reagan, Bush I.... Afghanistan, El Salvador, and Iran.

Proven US Intelligence involvement in supplying weapons and "technical" assistance in all three countries. And this article calls it genocide. Just interesting.

Sorry for the bizarre inclusion in today's Plame speculations, but my first political awareness came about reading the NYTimes reporting on the "dirty wars" in Central America during Reagan/Bush. (by the way, El Salvador twice in the article is theirs, not mine)

TV alert --- Frontline tonight.

Frontline tonight (PBS channel 8, 9PM in Houston) is looking into torture.

Cpt. Ian Fishback, who complained up the military chain for a year before finally taking his complaints to McCain and others, will be featured along with the claim that "The documentary crew got inside Abu Ghraib, and interviewed more than 30 key officials, including former Abu Ghraib commander Army Reserve Gen. Janice Karpinski."

Plus Frontline has the best narrator/voiceover guy in the business. I started watching the show years ago just because I found his voice and presentation compelling.

And if you're wondering why I'm plugging this, it is because I feel the torture scandal is the worst crime of this administration. From awhile back, but here's how I feel.

Indictments tomorrow?

Just a quick heads up in the Plame investigation. The WaPo this AM repeats the apparent interest in Cheney's activities, and hints at courthouse gossip .....

Some lawyers close to the case cited courthouse talk that Fitzgerald might announce his findings as early as tomorrow, though hard evidence about his intentions and timing remained elusive.

So, soon, all the blind speculation will end. Then we'll start the uproar phase as both sides scream about the results, although I would guess, what with the political level of this thing, his "report" will be pretty clear and thorough.

Thanks to Cephasworld for the link.

Iraqi election officials questioning results

This is not good. Defintely not good.

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Oct. 17 - Iraqi election officials said Monday that they were investigating "unusually high" vote totals in 12 Shiite and Kurdish provinces, where as many as 99 percent of the voters were reported to have cast ballots in favor of Iraq's new constitution. The investigation raised the possibility that the results of the referendum could be called into question.

In a statement on Monday evening, the Independent Election Commission of Iraq said the results of the referendum on Saturday would have to be delayed "a few days" because the apparently high number of "yes" votes required election workers to "recheck, compare and audit" the results.

I don't claim to know what the best outcome would be on this referendum to end the violence in Iraq. If it passes, we're closer to forming a more permanent government which will be able to be more forceful in security operations, but then the Sunnis will have given up their political hopes and involvement, relying on the insurgency to press their goals. If it fails, the Sunnis will likely be more politically involved in the next parliament, but the interim period will be marked by less government control.

But, I do know that allegations of vote fixing by the Shias will not be good.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bush to Blair, first Iraq, then Saudi.

Continuing from the Downing Street Memos The Independent reports this.....

George Bush told the Prime Minister two months before the invasion of Iraq that Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea may also be dealt with over weapons of mass destruction, a top secret Downing Street memo shows.

The US President told Tony Blair, in a secret telephone conversation in January 2003 that he "wanted to go beyond Iraq".

Does Fitzgerald indicate he will indict someone?

Okay, you can hew to that "he might indict and he might not" line, but after this rare announcement by the special prosecutor, I think it's pretty clear that somebody's going to be indicted.

The prosecutor investigating the outing of a covert CIA operative has yet to say whether he will bring charges but he has decided to announce decisions in the case in Washington rather than Chicago, where he is based, his spokesman said on Monday.

Special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, who has been investigating the case of who leaked the identify of Valerie Plame since 2003, is the U.S. attorney in Chicago and his staff has been tight-lipped throughout.

"If and when there would be any announcement, it would be made in Washington," said Randall Samborn, Fitzgerald's spokesman. Samborn cautioned against reading anything into Fitzgerald's decision.

People involved in the case have said they believed Fitzgerald was close to making an announcement.

Still reading tea leaves, but I don't think you book the room if you don't intend to use it. So, I read this as, "pack your toothbrush, Mr. Libby."

And by the way, Scooter, the coat over the handcuffs doesn't fool anybody.

More Plame - Speculation on Cheney

Here's the Bloomberg piece rumored several days ago on Rawstory.com.

Oct. 17 (Bloomberg) -- A special counsel is focusing on whether Vice President Dick Cheney played a role in leaking a covert CIA agent's name, according to people familiar with the probe that already threatens top White House aides Karl Rove and Lewis Libby.

The special counsel, Patrick Fitzgerald, has questioned current and former officials of President George W. Bush's administration about whether Cheney was involved in an effort to discredit the agent's husband, Iraq war critic and former U.S. diplomat Joseph Wilson, according to the people.

Fitzgerald has questioned Cheney's communications adviser Catherine Martin and former spokeswoman Jennifer Millerwise and ex-White House aide Jim Wilkinson about the vice president's knowledge of the anti-Wilson campaign and his dealings on it with Libby, his chief of staff, the people said. The information came from multiple sources, who requested anonymity because of the secrecy and political sensitivity of the investigation.

[Redacted] (Got some help from someone who was willing to the the leg work, and Cheney was indeed interviewed by prosecutors. Thanks to )

Also, to rebut the growing attempts to make this appear a minor rules infraction, I want to use an example from Americablog. And remember that Plame's portfolio was that she was the head of the CIA's investigation into WMD transfers in the Middle East. And by outing her, you put at risk of exposure and potentially death, all her contacts who were cooperating with the US on WMD issues, as well as burning and exposing the front company she was working for, burning and exposing the covers of all the other CIA operatives who were using that front.

We're at war, George Bush keeps reminding us. We cannot continue with business as usual. A pre-9/11 mentality is deadly. Putting the lives of our troops at risk is treason. ......

If a senior aide to the president had intentionally outed an American undercover agent during World War II, an agent whose work was central to our mission of defeating the Germans, that aide would very likely be put to death. While no one is yet arguing that Karl Rove be executed, it is the height of hypocrisy and hubris for the Republican party to attempt to minimize a crime that not only puts our troops at risk, but risks the lives of every American man, woman and child.

The British in Basra?

For those of you who have been reading me for awhile, you know that I have repeatedly questioned some of the more curious actions of the British in Basra, probably the most bizarre was the attack on an Iraqi prison where two British men were being held after being arrested disguised as local Iraqis and engaging in a shootout with local Iraqi police. Unfortunately, I didn't save the picture of their car's contents, but it contained significant quantities of weapons, comm and night vision gear, and EXPLOSIVES. And I keep asking what the British are up to in Basra?

Well, here's what the Iranians think. (Note: Basra is about 30 miles from the SW Iranian border.)

Iran said on Sunday Britain was behind deadly bomb attacks in Iran, sharply raising tension after Washington backed British charges that Tehran helped Iraqi militants kill eight of its troops.

Five people were killed in twin bombings in southwest Iran on Saturday.

I'll do a little hunting later to see if I can actually find any stories with evidence that go beyond he said/she said.

UPDATE: No new evidence for the above, but the British government's story has changed from "stopping inflow from Iran" to "stopping torture by infiltrating local Iraqi forces." If that's the case, then why did they have explosives in their equipment. (Boy, I wish I'd saved that photo.)

And while we're on strange things woth the British in Basra, there's this from the BBC:

Captain Ken Masters was discovered in his accommodation in Waterloo Lines in southern Iraq on Saturday.

The MoD said an inquiry was under way but the circumstances were not regarded as suspicious.

Captain Masters, who was 40 and married with two children, had served with the Royal Military Police since 1981.

"He was Officer Commanding 61 Section, Special Investigation Branch, Royal Military Police.

"He had been responsible for the investigation of all in-theatre serious incidents, plus investigations conducted by the General Police Duties element of the Theatre Investigation Group." .....

He added: "Quite often they are with British frontline forces when they go on searches and such like, and they would have been doing some of the investigations into cases against British forces on behalf of Iraqi civilians.

Forty years old, died alone in his "accomodation," and it's not regarded as suspicious. Hmmm....

"If they're dead, they're NVA. Call it in."

The US military does not kill civilians. Therefore, if they're dead they're insurgents. Right?

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. warplanes and helicopters bombed two villages near the restive city of Ramadi, killing an estimated 70 militants, the military said Monday, though witnesses said at least 39 of the dead were civilians. .....

On referendum day, a roadside bomb killed five U.S. soldiers in a vehicle in the Al-Bu Ubaid village on the eastern outskirts of Ramadi. On Sunday, a group of about two dozen Iraqis gathered around the wreckage; they were hit by U.S. airstrikes, the military and witnesses said.

The military said in a statement that the crowd was setting another roadside bomb when F-15 warplanes hit them, killing around 20 people, described by the military as "terrorists."

But several witnesses and one local leader said they were civilians who had gathered to gawk at and take pieces of the wreckage, as often occurs after an American vehicle is hit.

A tribal leader, Chiad Saad, said the airstrike killed 25 civilians, and several other witnesses said the same thing, though they refused to give their names out of fear for their safety.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

WaPo Lead Editorial

This is from the Lead Editorial in the WaPost this AM.

IT'S NOT YET clear whether senators will succeed in their effort to force the Bush administration to give up the use of "cruel, inhuman and degrading" treatment of foreign detainees, despite a 90-9 vote by the Senate. Resistance by House Republicans and the White House threat of a veto means this badly needed restoration of the American commitment to human rights faces an uphill battle in the coming weeks. ......

Administration officials frequently assert that prisoner treatment has been investigated by a number of military or Pentagon-appointed panels since the photos of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison surfaced last year. What they don't acknowledge is the lack of independence of those probes or the very wide areas they have overlooked. There has been no investigation of Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, his senior staff, and White House and Justice Department lawyers who drafted or approved policies for detainee interrogations. There has been no investigation of CIA personnel, ranging from former director George J. Tenet to serving personnel in Iraq, who are known to have been involved in the illegal hiding of "ghost detainees" from the International Red Cross and the "rendition" of suspects to countries that practice torture, as well as in cases of torture and homicide. .......

We're willing to make a prediction: Some day there will be an exhaustive investigation of how and why prisoners were abused after 2001, and accountability will be assigned to the senior officers and officials who now hide behind their subordinates and inspector generals. Like the internment of ethnic Japanese during World War II or the CIA's involvement in Cold War-era coup plots and assassinations, government acts so at odds with fundamental American standards will eventually be exposed and disowned by our democracy. Yet it would be much better for the legacy of President Bush, and this Republican Congress, if that honest accounting were to begin now, rather than after they have left office.

Yes! No more torture. It doesn't work as an intelligence tool. And as many of the Guantanamo releases have shown, most horribly to me, without due process, the US government has tortured innocent people. Innocent People.

Fox News.

I don't watch Fox News much, but with my internet down this morning, I had to watch TV news(shiver) while I drank my coffee. So CNN went to some Sanjay Gupta health show which was unwatchable, MSNBC went to commercial, so I flipped to Fox (news?).

I caught about 20 seconds leading to a break. The closing segment was on the riots in Toledo when the Klan tried to march(it's all the rage in the right wing media today. Rioting blacks trying to stop a peaceful Klan march.....) But the interesting thing was that the Fox anchor blamed the violence on locals "inflamed by socialists and anarchists" which were at the WTO talks." Really, they went from Genoa, Italy to Toledo, Ohio to protest a local Klan chapter march?

Then the fade out/next up topics were.

1) Is Harriet Miers' religion a problem? And should it be?

Fox news viewer: Of course not, my religion is being persecuted by those damn liberal elites!!!!

As Jon Stewart once pointed out: "When will the persecution end? I dream that one day there may even be a Christian president, or 43 of them consecutively."

2) Will the Iraqi vote derail the progress being made by our troops?

Fox news viewer: Yeah, that's it. It's the Iraqis that aren't holding up their end of the deal.

Oh my, Oh my. Fox news when you want the world to appear to support your illinformed biases.

It's 8:30 tonight, and I'm still incredulous.

Update: I got a comment on this and I would like to echo it here. This post is referring to the national Fox News cable network, not my local Houston Fox affiliate, which is generally pretty good of late.