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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Less than a minute

Take a look at this. It'll take less than a minute. I promise.

437 CIA flights through Germany alone

BERLIN (AFP) - The German government reportedly has a list of at least 437 flights operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency in German airspace.

The number includes both movements by planes of the CIA spy agency in German airspace and landings at German airports, it says.

Plame gossip - may be important for Rove

WaPo has a big story outlining the whole Luskin argument clearing Rove. Little problem with that.
One person familiar with the case said the Novak-Luskin conversation is not what prompted Rove to change his testimony in the case. In fact, this person said, Novak told Luskin about the Rove-Cooper connection before Rove's first appearance before the grand jury in February 2004. In that appearance, Rove testified that he did not recall talking to Cooper about Plame. It was not until October 2004 that Rove told the grand jury he recalled the Cooper chat.

So, Luskin/Rove can't claim that V Novak reminded Luskin and this led to a civic minded remembering between Rove's grand jury appearances. Ooops. Or is this somebody warning V. Novak that Fitzgerald knows the truth and not to risk perjury telling the Luskin version of events? Couple days before she is to testify and you could expect that she would see this article.

I would love to know who this source is. Vandehei obviously takes leaks from the Rove and Libby camps, but there's someone else "familiar with the case" who keeps shooting down their exculpatory spin. Is somebody in Fitzgerald's office on "double super secret background?" I would love to know.

And as an amateur Plameologist, I can say one thing with certainty, the investigation is not over, and Rove is certainly still in the crosshairs. Probably going to be a flurry here as Fitzgerald gets more testimony into evidence and all the defense lawyers try to spin their stories, then it will go quiet again for awhile. Then there will be sudden rumors, and Rove will be indicted or not.

Picture of the day - 2

In this undated photo provided by the Modeen family, Marine Scott Modeen is shown. Modeen, 24, a 2000 graduate of Cooper High School in New Hope, Minn., was among 10 Marines killed by a roadside bomb near the Iraqi town of Fallujah, family members and friends confirmed Friday, Dec. 2, 2005. (AP Photo/The Modeen family)

Not really surprising - EPA study skewed

It's barely news anymore when the Bush admin is caught fiddling with the evidence.

The Bush administration skewed its analysis of pending legislation on air pollution to favor its bill over two competing proposals, according to a new report by the Congressional Research Service.

"Restore honesty and integrity to the White House," my ass.

Plame Gossip - Fitz says the investigation continuing

This inference is drawn from a statement in the Dow Jones/WSJ filings from yesterday.

Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's comments contained in court papers filed Friday will fuel more speculation he may still be mulling new charges in the case.....

Fitzgerald called for continued secrecy to ensure that prospective witnesses "come forward voluntarily and will testify fully and frankly, and to prevent any efforts to obstruct the investigation," he wrote.

Interesting language, "voluntarily, fully, frankly, prevent obstruction", all in one sentence. Is that a threat?

TalkLeft has a good post on this filing. And Jane Hamsher does a little tea leaf reading on the same filing.

Worst President ever?

The History News Network at George Mason University has just polled historians informally on the Bush record. Four hundred and fifteen, about a third of those contacted, answered -- maybe they were all crazed liberals -- making the project as unofficial as it was interesting. These were the results: 338 said they believed Bush was failing, while 77 said he was succeeding. Fifty said they thought he was the worst president ever.

It's got some details on their reasoning.

Picture of the day - Cheney at the AEI

Okay, I've gotta admit that it's a little rough finding out that people like the pic of the day more than my writing (I've seen some comments on other blogs). But hey, at least you're coming by to visit. So, shorter entries and probably a couple pictures spread throughout the day til the pending folder thins out.

This is one of my personal favorites, Cheney casting a shadow on the walls of the AEI.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Another realist steps up.

Another realist Repub from a previous administration (Reagan) steps up to criticize Iraq policy. Read Gen. William Odom former head of Reagan's NSA, call for withdrawal.

If all the people espousing our current plan are coming from think tanks, and all the people who know something about the military are calling for the US to get out, why are we still there?

Plame Gossip

Eschaton has a clip up from CNN which seems to tell a story very friendly to Rove. Not to fear those of you who want to see Rove go down, Jane Hamsher says it's crap. And quite frankly, she's been far more accurate and usually days ahead of CNN on this story for the last two months.

I am hearing through sources that the Franken story is crap, 100% spin. Fitzgerald is supposedly busy right now dealing with Bob Woodward, who may have earned himself a trip to the grand jury next week for his efforts, and with Woodward's source, whoever that may turn out to be. Only then will he start dealing with Viveca Novak, and the "Fitzgerald made a mistake" rumor is pure bullshit. And nobody at this point is buying the story that Luskin himself is going in to testify.

And an interesting post on Kos regarding the Dow Jones effort to unseal the judgement that led to Miller and Cooper being jailed. As he says, obviously these sections deal with people other than Libby, otherwise they wouldn't have been sealed.

When the Israelis are saying slow down.

Israel told the United States it fears the outcome of regime change in Syria.

At a strategic-dialogue meeting this week among senior officials, Israel laid out for the United States three scenarios if Bashar Assad is toppled: chaos, an Islamist regime or another strongman from Assad’s minority Alawite sect. Israel fears all those options, saying Assad provides a measure of stability.

U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts that toppling Assad could be “transformative” and dismissed concerns about an Islamist regime taking his place.

What does it mean when the Israelis are telling US neocons to slow down?

Picture of the Day - 2

Remember what's really going on.

Norma Mendez, the mother of U.S. Army soldier Antonio Mendez, who was killed recently in Iraq, embraces an American flag which was ceremonially folded and given to her, at her son's burial, in Rincon, western Puerto Rico, Friday, Dec. 2, 2005. Antonio Mendez, age 22, was killed in Kirkuk, Iraq, on Nov. 11, according to Army authorities.

More Bush Dynastic Politics

This is from Insight Mag, so consider the Moonie source.

The sources said Mr. Bush has privately blamed Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. They said the president has told his senior aides that the vice president and defense secretary provided misleading assessments on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, as well as the capabilities of the regime of Saddam Hussein.

Do you believe this?

Also, be sure to read this from the LeftCoaster which theorizes these leaks may, in fact, be a coordinated effort to shape perception. In other words, the leaks are designed to pin the blame for everything on Rumsfeld and Cheney and leave Bush clean. Don't know if I believe this, but when reading stuff like this, it does deserve to be factored in.

Question of the day.

Not really a direct question, but......

Look, it is the President who insists on labeling Iraq as "the central front in the global war on terror," as "an essential element in the long war against the ideology that breeds international terrorism." He says that "the fate of the greater Middle East -- which will have a profound and lasting impact on American security -- hangs in the balance." I don't buy either of these assumptions, but if the administration is serious in its rhetoric, isn't it strange that they are now saying that they are willing to leave Iraq before the insurgency is "defeated," that they are willing to entrust the security of THE UNITED STATES to a brand new, unknown, unproven, untested Iraqi military and police force?

News on Texas redistricting

This is mainly of interest to those of us down here in Texas, but this crooked redistricting plan forced five new Republican congressmen on the rest of the nation. Down here, we're waiting to see what happens when it gets to the Supreme Court.

Justice Department lawyers concluded that the landmark Texas congressional redistricting plan spearheaded by Rep. Tom DeLay (R) violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a previously undisclosed memo obtained by The Washington Post. But senior officials overruled them and approved the plan.

The memo, unanimously endorsed by six lawyers and two analysts in the department's voting section, said the redistricting plan illegally diluted black and Hispanic voting power in two congressional districts. ....

Such recommendation memos, while not binding, historically carry great weight within the Justice Department.

US and Russia, friends for a year.

After Sept 11., Putin tried very hard to pull closer to the Bush administration, but since then, a number of policy moves on both sides have been creating more and more distance in the relationship. Remember this: "I looked the man in the eye,'' Bush said of Putin in June 2001. ``I was able to get a sense of his soul.''

So, now, I'm wondering just what he saw,

WARSAW (Reuters) - Russia is annoyed at Poland's plans to host a U.S. anti-missile system, a top Moscow general told a Polish newspaper, adding that such a space umbrella in central Europe would only make sense in a conflict with Russia.

Oh, and can I add this?

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Iran has signed a deal to buy Russian tactical surface-to-air missile systems, a Russian newspaper reported on Friday.

Bush Dynastic Politics. Gossipy, Gossipy

For months I've been writing about the apparent effort of some of the "realists" from the Bush Sr. presidency to go after, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, but never Bush Jr. At first I thought it was just Colin Powell, but, more and more, it's appearing to me that he's not the only one. From Steve Clemons, (I know gossipy, gossipy, no real facts.)

Barbara Bush is allegedly TICKED off at Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Andy Card, nearly all of them -- except Karen Hughes -- for how her boy is faring in the hearts and minds of Americans. ....

My source told me that Barbara was about to "pull a Nancy Reagan" on these attendants. ....

Watch for a lot to change right after the State of the Union address, I've been told.

NOTE: the LeftCoaster paints many leaks like this one as possibly intentional. The case is about as strong as the above, so, if you're going to believe this, read it. It's on different topics, but in this case, the implication would be that this story is crap, and the leak is intentional, intended to remove Bush from all blame and attach it to his underlings. Not an unreasonable argument.

Plame gossip - V. Novak- Luskin confirmed (reposted)

The NYTimes has a story up tonight that confirms the speculation as to why Luskin thinks Viveca Novak's testimony will free Rove from perjury charges.

Mr. Rove's lawyer, Robert D. Luskin, spoke in the summer or early fall of 2004
with Viveca Novak, a reporter for Time magazine. In that conversation, Mr. Luskin heard from Ms. Novak that a colleague at Time, Matthew Cooper, might have interviewed Mr. Rove about the undercover C.I.A. officer at the heart of the case, the people said.

The theory that Luskin will push is that after his conversation with V. Novak's he asked Rove to look again to see if he could find any evidence that he had talked to Cooper, and from that a new search turned up the email to Hadley that confirmed Rove did speak to Cooper. Maybe enough to confuse a jury, but there's a problem with this little theory. Check the date on the Luskin-Novak conversation above(earlier reported as "from May 04"), then ask yourself, why did Rove wait until after(Oct. 14) Cooper was held in contempt for not revealing Rove as a source(Oct. 13.)

But Mr. Fitzgerald appears to be evaluating whether Mr. Rove came forward with the e-mail and his new testimony only after it became apparent that Mr. Cooper might be compelled to testify about it. It is not clear precisely what Ms. Novak told Mr. Luskin, or what the context for their conversation had been.

That's the million dollar question as to whether Rove gets indicted or not. This Huffington Post piece by Jane Hamsher also explains the exact same thing (maybe more clearly.) None of the btop Plame blogs has written this up yet. I will update if they come up with anything elase/new.

UPDATE: Jeralyn at TalkLeft has a more thorough exploration of this. Also an interesting post on this by Armando over at dKos.

Picture of the Day

HER:They say we're young and we don't know
We won't find out until we grow

HIM: Well I don't know if all that's true
'Cause you got me, and baby I got you

HIM: Babe
BOTH: I got you babe
I got you babe

I Gooooooot Yooooouuuu Baaaabe.

Picture courtesy of Sini.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Mike's Plan for Iraq

After reading that godawful "strategy" document again, I have come to the conclusion that the Bush administration is more concerned with the political implications of Iraq than with the actual results. And frustrated by the complete lack of a substantive discussion on how to actually resolve the Iraq situation from politicians, media people, and bloggers both left and right, I have decided to do something rash. I'm actually going to propose a plan to get us out of Iraq.

I think, as is often the case, that to solve Iraq we need to invert George Bush's language. Number one, we need to set a very strict timetable and Number two, we need to stand down so the Iraqis will stand up.

If we're not going to withdraw immediately, Mike's plan is this, in four parts:

Part one: Stop the daily patrols immediately. They are the main source of irritation which is turning moderate Iraqis against us and giving the guerillas local cover. Maintain the effort to go after the small number of foreign fighters, but stop attacking Iraqis unless they attack us. We have no place attacking the Sunnis unless we openly declare a side in the civil war.

Part two: After the election, the US contacts the ruling group and says very sternly that in 60 or 90 days, we will turn x number of cities and regions over to your forces. We will pick the most pacified to start. That's enough time to run two or three sets of people through basic training, and by giving them control of already pacified areas, we help to create the impression that they are capable. That is very important. Plus, this would allow US troops to concentrate a bit to make up for undermanned situation we are in. Repeat every 60-90 days.

Part three: Set up several bases out in the countryside which would allow reaction forces for the duration of the handover. As there may be situations where the Iraqis may lose control of an area, US troops would then be able to step in and assist. This would also move our soldiers out of areas where they are frequently subject to mortar fire, and greatly reduce the violence at gates and checkpoints, yet still maintain an operational ability in the area.

Part four: Immediately relinquish all roles in the rebuilding of Iraq. Let the UN come in as political advisors, anyone working with a US advisor is now seen as suspect and a target, and turn over all the rebuilding moneys to the Iraqis themselves. Their corruption will not be significantly worse that what we've already seen out of the CPA. Lastly, allow the Iraqis open international bidding on all contracts with a "hire locally" clause for a certain percentage of workers on each contract. This would lower the unemployment engine of the violence, as well as allowing the Iraqis to access lower cost construction firms in from Russia, China and elsewhere. UN supervision of this as well would not be a bad idea.

This plan would at least give the Iraqis a chance at success under the current model we're working in. It would force them to take control of their country and, by transferring advisory roles to the UN, would depoliticize the government and rebuilding taking some anti american steam out of the insurgency.

I'm not saying that this is the dead on right solution, but this is a plan. A specific plan.

I just think it's time that somebody out there takes some responsibility and gives a starting point for this discussion. It's obvious the Bush administration has no plan, the Republicans in Congress have pretty much deferred to the Whitehouse. The Democrats have offered no plan. How in the hell are we supposed to end this thing when our leaders don't lead?

So, please, start the debate. Comments, criticisms, right, left, or center. Create your own plan, discuss it on your blog. I don't care.

No matter how we got into this mess we're all in it now, and it is killing and maiming our children just like it is killing and maiming the Iraqi's children.

Nobody's winning right now, and we've got to do something to change that.


The 'Bush to bomb Al Jazeera' memo is not going away.

I was cruising around over at Reidblog, and he had a link to this Newsweek story.

Bush administration officials initially dismissed the memo’s allegations about Bush’s threat against Al-Jazeera as “outlandish.” U.S. officials later suggested that if Bush did talk with Blair about bombing Al-Jazeera, the president was only joking. Asked directly today about Bush's purported threat to bomb Al-Jazeera, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said: "Any such notion that we would engage in that kind of activity is just absurd." McLellan did not respond to follow-up questions as to whether Bush actually said what the memo says he did.

But a senior official at 10 Downing Street, Blair’s official residence, who insisted on anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject, recently seemed to give credence to the Al-Jazeera threat. The official told NEWSWEEK London Bureau chief Stryker McGuire: "I don't think Tony Blair thought it was a joke."

That last line would be a second source and second leak that said Blair thought it was real. Release the memo, it's not going to go away.

NYTimes editorial on Bush's new plan

I normally don't like to link to editorials, but thie is the NYTimes lead editorial, and the tone it sets IS NEWS. The whole thing is like this, but I'll just put up the last paragraph.

That may be the most grandiose set of ambitions for the region since the vision of Nebuchadnezzar's son Belshazzar, who saw the hand writing on the wall. Mr. Bush hates comparisons between Vietnam and Iraq. But after watching the president, we couldn't resist reading Richard Nixon's 1969 Vietnamization speech. Substitute the Iraqi constitutional process for the Paris peace talks, and Mr. Bush's ideas about the Iraqi Army are not much different from Nixon's plans - except Nixon admitted the war was going very badly (which was easier for him to do because he didn't start it), and he was very clear about the risks and huge sacrifices ahead.

A president who seems less in touch with reality than Richard Nixon needs to get out more.

Oh, and here's how the Wapo's Howard Kurtz begins his analysis: "I had no idea things were going so well in Iraq."

Ann Coulter Talking Doll - Picture of the day

Yes, it's real. I was flipping around the channels today looking for reaction to the president's speech, and I found myself on Fox News. (Yeah, I know, I should know better) While I was there I caught the back half of a commercial for this thing. And in appropriate Fox News fashion, it ended with Santa making a suggestive remark about Ann Coulter. So I had to check it out and yep, it's real. (Click through the link to hear what the doll says.)

The company is something called Talking Presidents and they have other models including a Rumsfeld and a Clinton that says unflattering things. You can also get a non-talking Turkey Dinner George Bush with a plastic turkey just like in real life.

And we're losing to these guys?

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Too busy in Iraq.

Somebody from the blog roll to the right(I'm sorry, I can't remember who) was talking about the opportunity costs of the Iraq war. In other words what we have given up by choosing to invade Iraq. Two examples. WaPo.

Faced with a tighter budget and morale problems among its workforce, the TSA says its new policy changes are aimed at making the best use of limited resources.

$200 billion spent in Iraq and the TSA which might actually protect me from a terrorist is facing a budget tightening? Also, NYTimes.

WASHINGTON, Nov. 28 - The government's efforts to help foreign nations cut off the supply of money to terrorists, a critical goal for the Bush administration, have been stymied by infighting among American agencies, leadership problems and insufficient financing, a new Congressional report says.

I thought the war on terror was a multifront war, including cutting off the terrorists funding.

A little Plame Gossip.

Just a second hand sourcing from Jane Hamsher that supports my speculation from Monday(in the update - bottom) about why Luskin is crowing about Viveca Novak's testimony. But all that goes down the tubes if you believe the rumors that Rove asked Susan Ralston to remove the Cooper call from his call records. (I'm not too sure on that one yet.)

(quick personal update: Jezebel(my 16 1/2 yr old dog) came through surgery fine. She's not happy, and having a little trouble getting around because of the painkillers, but it looks like she's gonna come through it fine. Thank you for your concern in the emails and the comment. It's always nice to hear. - Mike)

On Global Warming, it may already be too late

When looking at the Bush administration's complete disdain for all things climate change, I often wonder why this is. Are they just that corrupt? Do they have some Defense Dept. report somewhere that shows the US comes out far better than our rivals? Or do they think, why worry about the environment when Jesus is coming soon anyway? Or is it that they think it's just too late to stop the natural feedback loops and the effects are already inevitable?

The ocean current that gives western Europe its relatively balmy climate is stuttering, raising fears that it might fail entirely and plunge the continent into a mini ice age.

I haven't really looked too far into the science of this report, so it might be hyped, but because the implications are so serious, I thought I ought to put it up.

I'm posting this for my friend, Grandmaster H, who enjoys all things weather and disaster related. (go ahead and leave a comment H, you can do it anonymously.)

UPDATE: The Guardian has a longer article on the same study. And a BBC piece. And a NYTimes piece. Okay, without doing the homework, I'm guessing this is a pretty sound study, but I still haven't read the original. If I read anything weird in it, I'll update.

Great Point about Bush and Timetables in Iraq.

Blake at The Next Left had a great observation about President Bush and timetables:

Bush has consistently set timetables for events in Iraq that bring him good publicity (i.e. Iraqi elections, constitution, handover, etc.) But he refuses to set timetables for events that would be meaningful to the Iraqi people (access to potable water, sanitation projects, electricity, improved infrastructure, increased autonomy, etc.)

The one that jumped to my mind was the the constitution deadline(which wasn't met) but which they tried to force on the Iraqis even though all the factions involved and the UN said it was a horrible idea.

I love it when people give me new vantage points.

US paying to plant stories in the Iraqi press


WASHINGTON — As part of an information offensive in Iraq, the U.S. military is secretly paying Iraqi newspapers to publish stories written by American troops in an effort to burnish the image of the U.S. mission in Iraq.

The articles, written by U.S. military "information operations" troops, are translated into Arabic and placed in Baghdad newspapers with the help of a defense contractor, according to U.S. military officials and documents obtained by the Los Angeles Times.

Many of the articles are presented in the Iraqi press as unbiased news accounts written and reported by independent journalists. The stories trumpet the work of U.S. and Iraqi troops, denounce insurgents and tout U.S.-led efforts to rebuild the country.

Transcribing the Whitehouse.

Just quick here. The first quote from the "strategy" in these articles from four different sources is exactly the same. Maybe these guys should actually read this thing instead of just reprinting what was on the White House's talking points sheet.

AP: (2nd para) "No war has ever been won on a timetable," according to a new White House strategy document.

Reuters: (4th para) "No war has ever been won on a timetable -- and neither will this one," the document said.

NYTimes: (4th para) "No war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one," the plan says.

Wapo: (5th para) "No war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one," said the document. "But lack of a timetable does not mean our posture in Iraq (both military and civilian) will remain static over time."

That disgusts me.

(I gotta run to pick up the dog from her surgery. more later.)

National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.

Haven't read it yet, but here's the WaPo link to the PDF version of the National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.

Okay, I couldn't not read it, so here's a few.

(p. 6)As the central front in the global war on terror, success in Iraq is an essential element
in the long war against the ideology that breeds international terrorism. Unlike past
wars, however, victory in Iraq will not come in the form of an enemy’s surrender, or
be signaled by a single particular event – there will be no Battleship Missouri, no

No Mission Accomplished? So that never happened?

(p. 7)Ceding ground to terrorists in one of the world’s most strategic regions will threaten the
world’s economy and America’s security, growth, and prosperity, for decades to come.

Read Oil here.

(p. 8)- by depriving terrorists of a safe haven from which they could plan and launch attacks
against the United States and American interests;
- by delivering a strategic setback to the terrorists and keeping them on the run;

But there we're no terrorists there before we invaded.

(p. 8-9)If we fail, the "terraists" will have

• Won a decisive victory over the United States, vindicating their tactics of beheadings, suicide
bombings, and ruthless intimidation of civilians, inviting more deadly attacks against
Americans and other free people across the globe.

• Called into question American credibility and commitment in the region and the world. Our
friends and foes alike would doubt our staying power, and this would damage our efforts to
counter other security threats and to advance other economic and political interests worldwide.

You see it's not that Bush would've lost these things by his poorly planned war, it is that the terrorists have won them. The terrorists that weren't in Iraq before Bush decided to invade.

Enough, the supposed "detail" of the plan starts at page 17, but I'm not really seeing much detail there. There are a few selective statistics sprinkled in to show "success", but there is no detailed plan here. No who does what. There is no real attachment of responsibility to anyone. I mean, who or what agency is the lead on rebuilding the infrastructure, guarding the borders, etc. No Accountability

The only real "detail" in this document is in the appendix(p.31-38) "The Eight Pillars," and that is nonspecific other than goals.

If you've got any others that jump out at you, throw them into comments. This is a first read, and I'm sure as I read what other bloggers have observed, there'll be more.

Later: Think Progress echoes this with a little more clarity.

I'm on the Gulf Coast, so you'll forgive me

I'm on the Gulf Coast so I hope you'll forgive me for saying, "Oh, my God."

"You bet I'm worried about next year, and several years after that," Max Mayfield, director of the U.S. National Hurricane Center, told a news conference.

"We have six months to prepare for the 2006 hurricane season. It's reality. We've got to deal with that."

This might be useful

If you're prone to bouts of paranoia, this might be quite useful. NYTimes.

The technology used for decades by law enforcement agents to wiretap telephones has a security flaw that allows the person being wiretapped to stop the recorder remotely, according to research by computer security experts who studied the system. It is also possible to falsify the numbers dialed, they said.

Duke Cunningham's small world

Big Duke Cunningham news from Laura Rozen.

Duke Cunningham and shady CIA contracts? Check out my reported post at Tapped on what I was told recently from intelligence sources about not just Pentagon contracts Cunningham steered to those contractors who enriched him, but CIA contracts as well. It's interesting that "coconspirator 1" from the Cunningham indictment, Brent Wilkes of ADCS Inc., was, according to sources, the college roommate at San Diego State University and long-time friend of a top CIA official promoted by Porter Goss (Cunningham's former colleague from the House Intelligence committee). One CIA contract described to me that Wilkes' company received was to ferry water into Iraq for CIA personnel.

(Allegation at this point, no real backing, but that could be big. - Mike)

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More on Bill O'Reilly's hit list.

Why is the St. Petersburg Times on O'Reilly's "enemies list?" I got curious, so I went to their site and did a little looking around. It's pretty funny how petty O'Reilly is.

I would guess it's related to this story.

The fact that a Muslim group's request for a holiday sparked the calendar change made the issue particularly contentious. The Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly has focused on the involvement of Muslims, many of whom objected to the removal of all religious holidays and fought to keep Jewish and Christian observances on the calendar.

"To the average person, the misinformed person, they're thinking the Muslims somehow are responsible for Christians and Jews losing their holidays," said Ahmed Bedier, Florida director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

"They're thinking, how dare the School Board get rid of holidays for the Muslims. If this was a Baptist group coming forward, we would not be having this conversation."

Some action of a local school board in Florida garners his attention, and the local paper gets on the enemies list. It's not like there's anything bigger going on in the world. I'm assuming there is some great statement in one of these stories about this that has "regularly helped distribute defamation and false information supplied by far left websites," according to O'Reilly.

I've already spent too much time on this, but if you want to dig deeper, here's their website, and a search of their site for all references "Bill O'Reilly."

John McCain: Torture worked on me

I don't normally like to cite the excesses of the Crazy Right, but check out this Newsmax staff editorial. John McCain: Torture Worked on Me. (Not written by John McCain, mind you.)

I don't think major combat operations are over

The Iraqis, that Sy Hersh said would be calling in airstrikes after we pull out ground troops, might be a little surprised by this.

BAGHDAD, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- The increased use of Joint Direct Attack Munitions against the Iraqi insurgency is creating a shortage of such precision-guided weaponry for the U.S. military.

You gotta see this!

Bill O'Reilly has published an enemies list on his website that is only three names long. (NYDaily News, The St. Petersburg Times, and MSNBC) That's right MSNBC. Is that because Olberman tears into him over and over?

Hysterically, I predict that bloggers will now blast him all the more to try and get on that list. If I thought I was big enough to merit mention, I'd be going after him right now.

I can't wait to see what Colbert does with this.


Very brief, limited(read controlled) press pool, held on board Air Force One, but at least the press secretary is holding press conferences again, yesterday and today. After that horrific one where he was torn apart and it was broadcast everywhere, he probably chose to do them on Air Force One because the news shows never broadcast those, bad camera set up.

Monday: Only one questioner on Iraq, but it looks like there were maybe five questioners in all.(Air Force One, limited press pool.)

Tuesday: Again very brief, just a few non confrotational questioners. A little more Iraq, and a question on the Iraq strategy paper that they're gonna release, two and a half years into the war.

I guess McClellan is afraid to get back on the big horse that threw him. You're gonna have to do it, Scotty, or get off the ranch.

What happened to these two stories?

A week ago(the Sunday of Thanksgiving week), the LATimes produced a major story on 'Curveball', the INC provided intel source who was the source for significant amounts of the bad intel cited by the Bush administration in the runup to the Iraq war, like the mobile bioweapons labs. That article showed fairly clearly that the Bush administration actively ignored evidence regarding Curveball that was counter to their effort to sell the war.

The Friday before that, ABCNews published a major piece, sourced from the CIA, that outlined exactly how they wanted "harsh interrogation tactics" described. But a key element in that story was the fact that al Libbi, the source for the claim of cooperation of Iraq and Al Qaeda, only gave that false information after he was waterboarded and left to stand naked in a cold cell and doused with ice water.

I think these were major stories, with big revelations, which have should have a major impact on the way we view the Bush administration's selling of the Iraq war. But I have not seen anything else published reporting on either one of these stories.

Does releasing a story Thanksgiving week mean that there is to be no further reporting on it? Did I miss that statement of policy?

(By the way, the statement that Feith was going to be investigated by the IG was also released that Friday. Heard about that again?)

The "Salvador Option" - Death Squads in Iraq

Regular readers know that I have been writing for months about the death squads in the dirty war of Iraq. The allegations of death squads have finally punched through to the top story at the NYTimes site, but this story is very sketchy on possible US involvement in training and advising these troops.

Remember, the idea of forming, funding, training, and, advising death squads in Iraq was debated as policy in the DoD. From Newsweek (Jan 14, 2005)

The Pentagon’s latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"—and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. ......

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation.

So, today, the NYTimes publishes this:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 28 - As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods. ....

An investigator for the human rights organization said it had not been able to determine the number of executions carried out by the Iraqi security forces. So far, the investigator said, the evidence was anecdotal, but substantial.

"There is no question that bodies are turning up," said the investigator, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns. "Quite a few have been handcuffed and shot in the back of the head."

As I have said before, one of the particular traits of this seems to be that the dead are always found with their hands bound behind their back. And these are not small groups, fifty men show up in Interior Ministry uniforms in ten to fifteen Interior Ministry trucks.

And you have to wonder about this in relation to new evidence that Moqtada al Sadr is being brought into the mainstream political process.

The chief suspects, according to Sunni leaders, human rights workers and a well-connected American official here, are current and former members of the Badr Brigade, the Iranian-backed militia controlled by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a principal part of the current government. ....

With Badr gunmen operating inside and outside the government, the militia can act with what appears to be official backing. It is not clear who is directing the security services, the government officials or the heads of the militias.

If this interests you, whether you agree with me or not, take a look at this previous post, it has a ton of links looking at previous posts littered with media links on the topic.

AND REMEMBER: If this is going on, there is no evidence that the rank and file soldier in Iraq is involved. Although there may be some special ops soldiers, or CIA personnel, involved in training, advising, or funding these groups, there is no reason to suspect that the regular military is involved in this in any way. In fact, the regular military is probably working against these groups.

UPDATE: The LATimes also has a piece on the topic today which pretty much confirms that there are "death squads" operating out of the Interior Ministry.

BAGHDAD — Shiite Muslim militia members have infiltrated Iraq's police force and are carrying out sectarian killings under the color of law, according to documents and scores of interviews.....

But increasingly, the Shiite militias operating within the national police force are also suspected of committing atrocities.

The Baghdad morgue reports that dozens of bodies arrive at the same time on a weekly basis, including scores of corpses with wrists bound by police handcuffs.....

U.S. officials have long been concerned about extrajudicial killings in Iraq, but until recently they have refrained from calling violent elements within the police force "death squads" — a loaded term that conjures up the U.S.-backed paramilitaries that killed thousands of civilians during the Latin American civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s.

But U.S. military advisors in Iraq say the term is apt, and the Interior Ministry's inspector general concurs that extrajudicial killings are being carried out by ministry forces.

"There are such groups operating — yes, this is correct," said Interior Ministry Inspector General Nori Nori ......

The U.S. military is investigating whether police officers who worked at the secret prison were trained by American interrogation experts..

(Oh, and I did finally get the Newsweek article up somewhere bigger than here(I'm MV). Oh, and now it's linked up on eschaton. I actually did it. After three months of trying, I actually did get the newsweek story on the Salvador Option some attention. Let's hope that somehow that can make a difference, and stop this policy.)

Picture of the day

Monday, November 28, 2005

Plame Gossip - V Novak was the 11th hour information?

Big news! According to Jim Vandehei(WaPo) - Luskin claims it was some conversation with his "friend" Viveca Novak in May 2004 that was the 11th hour information that led Fitzgerald to hold off on indicting Rove.

It's not clear why Luskin believes Novak's deposition could help Rove, President Bush's deputy chief of staff, who remains under investigation into whether he provided false statements in the case. But a person familiar with the matter said Luskin cited his conversations with Novak in persuading Fitzgerald not to indict Rove in late October, when the prosecutor brought perjury and obstruction-of-justice charges against Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

"This is what caused [Fitzgerald] to hold off on charging" Rove, the source said. But another person familiar with the conversations said they did not appear to significantly alter the case.

Luskin presented evidence, including details of his own conversations with Novak, to Fitzgerald at a secret meeting at a downtown law office shortly before Libby was indicted on Oct. 28, according to a source familiar with the case.

It could not be learned what Luskin and Novak, who are friends, discussed that could help prove Rove did nothing illegal in the leaking of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity to reporters and the subsequent investigation of it.

Question, if Luskin told V. Novak something that showed Rove didn't remember talking to Cooper, is that significant evidence? A defense lawyer just happeneing to leak evidence to a friend that helps exonerate his client?

Also in the same article:

Woodward's source could face legal troubles because the source testified earlier in the case and apparently did not mention a conversation with Woodward about Plame, according to lawyers in the case. If the source provided inaccurate or incomplete information, Fitzgerald could seek to bring charges, they said.

Certainly, if Woodward's source previously testified, he intentionally perjured himself, but whether it is going to be prosecuted is all a question of whether that person then came forward or was brought forward by the investigation. Or whether he pissed Fitzgerald off.

(and by the way, if I'm guessing, it sounds like one of Vandehei's sources is a Rove lawyer, the other unknown, but sounding like someone getting info close second hand, maybe a third party's lawyer(or a Libby lawyer.) So, I gotta view the exculpatory claim a little suspiciously.)

More tomorrow.

UPDATE: After thinking about this overnight, I would SPECULATE, that Luskin thinks that V.Novak's testimony will say that she reminded him, and in turn Rove, about Rove's allegedly forgotten conversation with Cooper. Thus, Rove can claim that he didn't really remember the talk with Cooper which would free him of perjury charges related to his sudden remembering when it became evident that Cooper was going to testify about it.

Duke Cunningham's plea deal.

Josh Marshall says that Duke Cunningham's (R - Ca) statement indicates that he has agred to cooperate with prosecutors which could also implicate Virgil Goode (R - Va.) and our old favorite Katherine Harris (R - Fla). As always, I recommend Marshall for this story, he has been all over it since it originally broke.

And while we're at it, let's do a quick tally. 3 possible indictments here, Tom Delay, maybe 10 possible indictments in the Abramoff case, and then 6 currently announced Republican congressional retirements with more coming I would suspect, as incumbents look at their decreasing reelect numbers.

So, that's 20 Republican congressmen already that may already be out of the running in 2006. I know an indictment is not a conviction, but in an election it is.

More Plame Gossip

This is from Raw Story who has batted a little over .500 on the Plame story, so takes this as interesting but suspect. It alleges that Fitzgerald "received additional testimony" from Susan Ralston( as reported on Nov. 10) "that Rove instructed her not to log a phone call Rove had with Cooper about Plame in July 2003." IF true, that's pretty damning for Rove.

I would consider this pretty solid:

Those close to the investigation say Fitzgerald will present evidence to the grand jury later this week obtained from other witnesses who were interviewed by the Special Prosecutor or testified, showing that Rove made misleading statements to Justice Department and FBI investigators in an attempt to cover-up his role in the leak when he was first interviewed about it in October 2003.

The most serious charges Rove appears to face are making false statements to investigators and obstruction of justice, the sources said.

But this? .....

Two things are clear, the sources said: either Rove will agree to enter into a plea deal with Fitzgerald or he will be charged with a crime, but he will not be exonerated for the role he played in the leak.

If Rove does agree to a plea, Fitzgerald is not expected to discuss any aspect of his probe into the President’s senior adviser because Rove may be called to testify as a prosecution witness against I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney.

So, big grains of salt, maybe, maybe. But the investigation is obviously moving along. No new evidence here or in the other recent news stories that anybody besides Rove is under immediate investigation. And it seems to appear that we may have more public action before Christmas.

UPDATE: On the Viveca Novak deposition, Jeralyn is hypothesizing that V. Novak might have, knowingly or unknowingly, acted as a conduit between Rove/Luskin and Cooper regarding who said what to the Grand Jury. If true, that's bad.

Two memos about Bush bombing Al Jazeera?

Okay, first off, I know nothing about the source of this, Blair Watch, so I cannot verify their sources. But working from open sources, Times, Mirror, and BBC, they have created a time lime which makes me think they might be right. Two pieces to this, first their speculation piece laying out the groundwork for their belief that there were two different memos cited by the Times and Mirror, then today's confirmation(?). Just interesting if you're deep in this story. I must say again that I don't vouch for the veracity of this, but I do find it very intriguiging.

BIG PLUG to Politics in the Zeros for this find.

A little more on Iraq, a little more Bush Gone Crazy

And Sy Hersh has showed up again in the New Yorker.

(these clips are a little out of order so I could topic them. If you read the article, you'll see why I did it this way.)

The unreported perils of the Bush withdrawal.

A key element of the drawdown plans, not mentioned in the President’s public statements, is that the departing American troops will be replaced by American airpower. .....

Within the military, the prospect of using airpower as a substitute for American troops on the ground has caused great unease. For one thing, Air Force commanders, in particular, have deep-seated objections to the possibility that Iraqis eventually will be responsible for target selection. “Will the Iraqis call in air strikes in order to snuff rivals, or other warlords, or to snuff members of your own sect and blame someone else?” another senior military planner now on assignment in the Pentagon asked. “Will some Iraqis be targeting on behalf of Al Qaeda, or the insurgency, or the Iranians?” .....

The Air Force’s worries have been subordinated, so far, to the political needs of the White House. The Administration’s immediate political goal after the December elections is to show that the day-to-day conduct of the war can be turned over to the newly trained and equipped Iraqi military. It has already planned heavily scripted change-of-command ceremonies, complete with the lowering of American flags at bases and the raising of Iraqi ones.

A King in his castle.

The Administration has “so terrified the generals that they know they won’t go public,” a former defense official said. A retired senior C.I.A. officer with knowledge of Iraq told me that one of his colleagues recently participated in a congressional tour there. The legislators were repeatedly told, in meetings with enlisted men, junior officers, and generals that “things were fucked up.” But in a subsequent teleconference with Rumsfeld, he said, the generals kept those criticisms to themselves. .....

One person with whom the Pentagon’s top commanders have shared their private views for decades is Representative John Murtha, of Pennsylvania, the senior Democrat on the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

More confirmation that Bush believes he's a tool of god. (oh, he's a tool alright.)

Current and former military and intelligence officials have told me that the President remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq, and that he is impervious to political pressure, even from fellow Republicans. They also say that he disparages any information that conflicts with his view of how the war is proceeding.

Bush’s closest advisers have long been aware of the religious nature of his policy commitments. In recent interviews, one former senior official, who served in Bush’s first term, spoke extensively about the connection between the President’s religious faith and his view of the war in Iraq. After the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the former official said, he was told that Bush felt that “God put me here” to deal with the war on terror. The President’s belief was fortified by the Republican sweep in the 2002 congressional elections; Bush saw the victory as a purposeful message from God that “he’s the man,” the former official said. Publicly, Bush depicted his reelection as a referendum on the war; privately, he spoke of it as another manifestation of divine purpose.

And the politics of Iraq's first "free" election

Some officials in the State Department, the C.I.A., and British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government have settled on their candidate of choice for the December elections—Iyad Allawi, ....

Blair has assigned a small team of operatives to provide political help to Allawi, the former adviser told me. He also said that there was talk late this fall, with American concurrence, of urging Ahmad Chalabi, a secular Shiite, to join forces in a coalition with Allawi during the post-election negotiations to form a government.

Hersh also offers some support that because of his divine mission, Bush will not allow the US to leave Iraq:

One Pentagon adviser told me, “There are always contingency plans, but why withdraw and take a chance? I don’t think the President will go for it”—until the insurgency is broken. “He’s not going to back off. This is bigger than domestic politics.”

(sorry for such a long and awkward post, but there's alot there. I guess I could have chopped this up into four separate topicked posts. That's pretty much what I did here.)

Iraq as midterm election politics

The LATimes has a piece by Ron Brownstein and Emma Vaughn looking at the timing of the Senate vote to authorize the President to do whatever he wanted in relation to Iraq. Not too much new here, but this clip jumped out at me.

The time was September 2002. The place was the White House, at a meeting in which President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney pressed congressional leaders for a quick vote on a resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

But Daschle, who as Senate majority leader controlled the chamber's schedule, recalled recently that he asked Bush to delay the vote until after the impending midterm election.

"I asked directly if we could delay this so we could depoliticize it. I said: 'Mr. President, I know this is urgent, but why the rush? Why do we have to do this now?' He looked at Cheney and he looked at me, and there was a half-smile on his face. And he said: 'We just have to do this now.' "

(The vote was Oct. 11) Two points. Did the political timing of the vote limit proper analysis of the intel that was made available to Congress? Yes. Is Bush going to call for the reduction in troops in Iraq to help his party in the midterm elections again? Yes.

Just who here is playing politics with the lives of US soldiers?

Bush Gone Crazy - Part III

NYDailynews:(Not unbiased, but DeFrank has been getting pretty good insider info for awhile.)

Two sources said Bush has not only lost some confidence in his top aides, as the Daily News has previously reported, but is furious with a stream of leaks about the mood within the West Wing.

"He's asking [friends] for opinions on who he can trust and who he can't," one knowledgeable source said.

Is it strange to you that a President be running around asking who, among his aides, he can trust? If I am kind, I see a dramatic Shakespearean portrayal of a leader under siege. If I'm not, I see a paranoid Nixon looking for traitors.

See the other Bush gone Crazy posts for context. 1 2

Also, I'm still waiting on the Bush Sr./Bush Jr. picture to assure me that there has been no rift. They were both at the Crawford image ranch for the holiday. Wouldn't you think the WhiteHouse would release some sort of Bush with his family pictures to restore that image of god fearing family man/regular guy?

Picture of the Day

Peace activist Cindy Sheehan, left, comforts Nina Nahvi, 18, of Arlington, Texas, during a war protest at their camp near President Bush's ranch, Saturday, Nov. 26, 2005, in Crawford, Texas. Nahvi's brother, Army Spc. Russell Nahvi was killed in October in Iraq.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Plame Gossip - testimony from conversations in 2004?

Look at the dates of the discussions on which she was asked to testify.

A second Time magazine reporter has been asked to testify in the CIA leak case, this time about her discussions with Karl Rove's attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide.

Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time's Washington bureau, is cooperating with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003, the magazine reported in its Dec. 5 issue.

Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine reported.

So, is the fact that Fitzgerald is looking into conversations held almost a year after the Plame leak significant? I think so. The questions could center around information she was given that was not previously in evidence, or it could represent further investigation into obstruction of justice charges. This is just a quick first take, I'll update this post as other information comes in.

And, yes, although I jumped to the same logical conclusion, I can find no credible evidence of a family relationship between Robert and Viveca. It may be true, but in fifteen minutes of quick searching, I found no reliably sourced connection.

But I did find this. Under Novak's Wikipedia entry, after the bio and all the associations etc, there is the inclusion of this phrase, "See Also : Douchebag of Liberty." How funny is that? The Daily Show's epithet for Novak found it's way onto Novak's bio page. Hah!

UPDATE: Let's go to the Plame experts. Firedoglake offers the obstruction interpretation of this story after many qualifications that it is purely speculative, and includes Luskin in the theory. Also, an interesting secondary theory that Fitzgerald is looking at Luskin's statements to break his atty/client privilege, and a brief look at what was going on during the period.

Talkleft only has some quotes from Viveca Novak reporting what she heard from Luskin.

The Next Hurrah points out that Luskin, Rove's lawyer, may have been leaking details of events before Rove officially remembered them in his last grand jury appearance.

Needlenose dissects the AP version to say that there have probably been more people talking with the investigation than just Woodward and Viveca Fox. No real detail here.

NYTimes says that she will give a deposition rather than testify. Not significant, really. They also draw attention to the sudden remembering of Karl Rove.

WaPo article says nothing.

Lastly, here is the Douchebag of Liberty clip from the Daily Show. Funny.

Hardly marching into Paris.

For some reason when I read this, it counterposed in my head with the pictures of American troops marching into Paris in WWII.

NEW YORK The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph was apparently the first newspaper to carry news today that a military vehicle carrying U.S. politicians overturned on the way to the Baghdad airport on Saturday and injured two members of Congress.

The source was a Georgia congressman unhurt in the accident, Rep. Jim Marshall.

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) was airlifted to a military hospital in Germany for an MRI on his neck, said Marshall, who was also in the vehicle. Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) was sent to a Baghdad hospital, Marshall told the Macon Telegraph.

Marshall, a Georgia Democrat, said he was not hurt.

A story from Iraq.

No great observation here, just another sad story from Iraq. From the LATimes.

WASHINGTON — One hot, dusty day in June, Col. Ted Westhusing was found dead in a trailer at a military base near the Baghdad airport, a single gunshot wound to the head.

The Army would conclude that he committed suicide with his service pistol. At the time, he was the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq. ....

Westhusing, 44, was no ordinary officer. He was one of the Army's leading scholars of military ethics, a full professor at West Point who volunteered to serve in Iraq to be able to better teach his students. He had a doctorate in philosophy; his dissertation was an extended meditation on the meaning of honor. ....

In e-mails to his family, Westhusing seemed especially upset by one conclusion he had reached: that traditional military values such as duty, honor and country had been replaced by profit motives in Iraq, where the U.S. had come to rely heavily on contractors for jobs once done by the military. ....

A note found in his trailer seemed to offer clues. Written in what the Army determined was his handwriting, the colonel appeared to be struggling with a final question.

How is honor possible in a war like the one in Iraq?

White House accuses Dems of stealing their Iraq Plan

Oh, this is just beautiful. Scott McClellan issued a statement thanking Joe Biden for stealing the White House's Iraq Plan. Biden had an oped in yesterday's WaPo outlining what seems to be the the majority opinion of Washington what to do and how to get out of Iraq.

Now, today, McClellan issues a "Setting the Record Straight" press release accusing Biden of stealing the White House plan for exiting Iraq. I think I speak for most Americans when I ask you, Mr. McClellan, what White House Plan are you talking about?

Show me a document were the White House outlines a plan.

After watching all the "major" speeches on Iraq and terrorism(yes, they're still trying to link them together) by Bush, I can say that the most detailed statements Bush has uttered on the topic are, "as the Iraqis stand up, we sill stand down," "we must stay the course, and trust in the democratic process," and "there will be no timetable for withdrawal."

This is not a plan. This is a collection of palliative statements designed to take the political heat off. Biden's editorial has the specific elements of a plan, some of which, overhauling the reconstruction programs, involving other nations both regionally and worldwide, a greater diplomatic presence, letting other countries assist in training troops, you left out of your record setting straight press brief because they indicate the level of ineptitude with which the Iraq policy has been run over the last two and a half years.

Maybe the White House should be actually focusing on Iraq rather than worrying about who is going to get credit.

And by the way, Mr. McClellan, when are you going to hold another press conference? The last one was almost three weeks ago on Nov. 9. Maybe if somebody at the White House had the job of making statements, explaining details, and answering questions we would know what the White House was proposing. Oh, that's right. That's your job.

(interestingly, a search of the whitehouse.gov site for "setting the record straight" press releases shows that McClellan started issuing these(Nov. 11), at least the one's recent enough to show up in a search, after he apparently decided to stop holding press conferences. This won't do. America deserves answers.)

UPDATE: Apparently Sen. John Warner (R - Va.), the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee hasn't seen a plan either.

Iraq abuse 'as bad as under Saddam'

Although this statement is being made two weeks before the election and Allawi is running on a secular slate, I still think this is a pretty big statement.

From The Scotsman

Human rights abuses in Iraq are now as bad as they were under Saddam Hussein and could become even worse, the country's former interim prime minister has said.

"People are doing the same as Saddam's time and worse," Ayad Allawi told the Observer newspaper. "It is an appropriate comparison."

Allawi accused fellow Shiites in the government of being responsible for death squads and secret torture centres and said the brutality of elements in the new security forces rivals that of Saddam's secret police.

Picture of the day - Iraq