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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I wonder why.....

Useless news, but absolutely priceless.

In a year filled with political wrangling, natural disasters and pop culture curiosities, Americans turned to Merriam-Webster to help define it all.

Filibuster. Refugee. Tsunami. Each was among the dictionary publisher's 10 most frequently looked-up words among some 7 million users of its online site.

But topping the list is a word that some say gives insight into the country's collective concern about its values: Integrity.

The noun, formally defined as a "firm adherence to a code" and "incorruptibility," has always been a popular one on the Springfield-based company's Web site, said Merriam-Webster president John Morse. But this year, the true meaning of integrity seemed to be of extraordinary concern.

Picture of the Day - 2

A sailor returns home.

Far more US casualties in Iraq

Pentagon casualty reports show 2,390 service members dead from Iraq and Afghanistan and over 16,000 wounded. By far the vast majority of the wounded and dead are from Iraq.

But by Dec. 8, 2005, the military had evacuated another 25,289 service members from Iraq and Afghanistan for injuries or illnesses not caused directly by enemy bullets or bombs, according to the U.S. Transportation Command. That statistic includes everything from serious injuries in Humvee wrecks or other accidents to more routine illnesses that could be unrelated to field battles. ....

The Department of Veterans Affairs provides soldiers with medical care after leaving the military. An October V.A. report shows that 119,247 service members who fought in Iraq or Afghanistan -- and are now off duty -- are receiving health care from the V.A. Presumably, some of those health problems are unrelated to the war.

Now, certainly, a fair number of those Iraq and Afghanistan vets are seeking treatment for other things, but remember these guys are in the prime of their lives. Also, I don't have the number handy, but you have to figure that that 119,247 comes out of a total pool of 500,000(?) that have rotated through those theaters. I'm not sure of that number, but even if you double it, you're looking at 10%.

(This link is from Salon, so you have to watch the ad, but after that it's free.)

Honest statement

This is from an article on Padilla. For some reason it jumped out at me as more truthful than alot of the detainee coverage. (AFP)

President George W. Bush has placed suspects in his "war on terror" under arrest as "enemy combatants" in hopes of denying them access to lawyers and judges.

That's the President of the United States who is trying to circumvent the Constitution.

(And, light blogging day today, I got stuff to do.)

Picture of the Day

Friday, December 09, 2005

Are you ready for a shitstorm?

RawStory so grain of salt, but I just wanted everybody to remember that this was out there.
A judge could rule on whether to order the release of new photographs from the U.S.-run Abu Ghraib prison anytime after Dec. 15, an ACLU spokesperson told RAW STORY.

Ironic that it might be the day of the Iraqi election, eh?

(and Sorry about the cussing tonight. I watched Bad Santa and I think it rubbed off.)

He knows if you've been bad or good.

So be good for goodness sake.

Just put the chip in behind my ear and be done with it.
Most Americans carry cellphones, but many may not know that government agencies can track their movements through the signals emanating from the handset.

Serious about the environment.

Bush-administration officials privately threatened organizers of the U.N. Climate Change Conference, telling them that any chance there might’ve been for the United States to sign on to the Kyoto global-warming protocol would be scuttled if they allowed Bill Clinton to speak at the gathering today in Montreal, according to a source involved with the negotiations who spoke to New York Magazine on condition of anonymity.

Bush officials informed organizers of their intention to pull out of the new Kyoto deal late Thursday afternoon, soon after news leaked that Clinton was scheduled to speak, the source said.

Here's a story on what Clinton said. Bottom line, he said Bush was "flat wrong."

And NYTimes confirms the walkout, not the reason.

Picture of the Day - 3

David Duke from many years ago.

Read the next post.

Tancredo's "Preserving our National Identity"

It looks like the Repubs are going to make immigration the soft bigotry issue of the 2006 elections.

Washington - It's been a cornerstone of American law since shortly after the Civil War: Children born in the United States become citizens, even if their parents are here illegally.

Now some conservatives - including U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado - are taking aim at that birthright.

They call the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants "anchor babies" because at age 18 the children can apply to bring other family members here from abroad.....

"It cheapens the whole concept of citizenship," said Tancredo, R-Littleton. "People are coming here simply for the purpose of having a child here and then, because they're the anchor, they can have all the family come in on that child's ticket. ... There are thousands upon thousands of people who are doing it," he said.

He cited "surprising" momentum behind the plan. A House bill to make the policy change has 77 co-sponsors....(all republican?)

...the measure is unlikely to become law, and would face a constitutional challenge in court if it did.

But it promises to make the debate over illegal immigration even more divisive and could reverberate in next year's midterm elections.

Overturning the 14th amendment seems to be no big deal to Tancredo.
Again, to see how far out Tancredo is on this, don't miss Kevin Drum's entry on "Preserving our National Identity."

British subway shooting update

Remember the completely innocent man who, in the wake of the tube bombings, was pinned down and shot in the head several times? Well, his family might get a day in court.

Officers involved in the fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes on the Tube could face charges, it has emerged.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it was "likely" to send its report to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider.

Don't bomb me!

I'm sure this is gonna get me on some kinda list, but I was looking at the Al Jazeera site and I came across a section of short(5 to 15 seconds) political video/cartoons. Here are a few of them.

I just found them interesting.

Oh, and Michael put this good link in the comments this morning. Obviously anti-administration, but if you're looking for a reference site for quotes on WMD, this is probably a great place to start.

Also related, I think it got lost yesterday in the long posts, but here is the whitehouse link to the Oct. 7, 2002 Bush speech in Cincinnati. This was the speech where he went the farthest pressing the bad intel besides the 16 words. It's worth a read/listen/watch to see just how brazenly they were pressing for war.

Picture of the Day - 2

A photo op from the 2004 campaign.

Hearts and Minds

They have opinions, too......
"In Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the two countries where the U.S. has focused its democracy message, the effort appeared to backfire," according to Zogby. "Of the four percent in Egypt and nine percent in Saudi Arabia who said that 'President Bush's promotion of democracy and reform' was the most important factor determining their attitudes toward the U.S., over 80 percent said this effort worsened their view of the U.S." .....

Two out of every three respondents in Jordan, Lebanon and Morocco said their overall opinion of the U.S. was unfavourable. In the UAE, the ratio was three out of every four, while in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, 85 percent and 89 percent of respondents, respectively, expressed negative views.....

Views of China were far more favourable, particularly in Egypt, Jordan and Morocco, where majorities expressed positive views of Beijing. India was also viewed significantly more favourably than the United States. Even Russia received more favourable ratings, except in Morocco and the UAE.

Asked what were the most important factors in determining their attitudes towards the U.S., the most common answer given by respondents in every country except UAE was the war in Iraq, followed by "American treatment of Arabs and Muslims".

Plame Gossip.

A bit of a revelation in the Luskin/V. Novak story.

Sources familiar with their conversations say Novak's and Luskin's accounts to Fitzgerald appear to conflict on when they spoke. ....

A source familiar with Novak's account said she believes the conversation took place in March or May, and definitely took place after February 2004, when Rove first testified before the grand jury.

But one person close to the case said the conversation took place before Rove's first grand jury appearance in February. This person said the conversation was not the event that led Rove to change his testimony.

This is huge. Luskin's whole last gasp effort to keep Rove out of jail is based on this conversation, that Rove's "remembering" midway through his four Grand Jury appearances was based on that conversation.

So, what's the truth? That "one person close to the case" source has been damning this Luskin defense all along. I keep thinking that somebody on Fitzgerald's team is talking to Vandehei, but there's no proof.

Nobody will buy this now.

One of the greatest unspoken losses in the Iraq war is the destruction of the belief of the all powerful American military. Do you really think any of our potential enemies believes this now?

The Pentagon, in a major four-year decision, has decided to stick with having the capability of being able to fight two major conflicts at once, The Washington Times has learned.

Two officials said that when the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is completed next month, it will retain the requirement that the Pentagon maintain active forces and reserves able to repel and occupy an enemy in one war and defeat a second enemy but not necessarily occupy the capital.

Rice wins reprieve on torture

I wonder what she said to them behind closed doors? The Europeans are gonna get blasted for this.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice won a reprieve from European governments over the U.S. treatment of detainees this week but public pressure is unlikely to ease over allegations of secret CIA jails. ....

Allies, who had responded to public pressure by seeking answers from Washington before Rice's trip, quickly retreated in the face of her defense that the United States respected their sovereignty and acted within the law in its war on terrorism.

US official admits ICRC not allowed access to all prisoners.

I know this isn't much of a surprise at this point, but it's a substantial admission. I think I remember around the time of Abu Ghraib there was a discussion as to whether "ghost detainees" were a war crime. It all hinged on the "special status designation" that the detainees weren't prisoners of war.

The US has admitted for the first time that it has not given the Red Cross access to all detainees in its custody.

Oh, and while looking for another version of this story, I noticed it was already up on Al Jazeera.

Picture of the Day

Now, I'm just a simple caveman. I don't understand all your legal terms like perjury, obstruction, and intent.

Your modern society with all the lights and noises confuses me and this $3,000 Armani suit I'm wearing feels strange on my skin.

But, even being a caveman, there's one thing I do know, and that one thing is that Karl Rove will be indicted.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Update on the Cheney effort to shield himself from torture prosecution

Probably best to read this post first for context, but here's the short version:

McCain is now offering to allow CIA officers immunity from torture prosecution if they provide a defense that a reasonable person would have believed they were following a lawful order. The White House on the other hand is seeking a blanket immunity for those CIA officers. The difference?

Under McCain's provision, in their defense they would have to supply information as to who issued the order they thought was lawful. And once that ball starts rolling, a direct chain to who signed off on the unlawful orders to torture would be established. (And yes, I do see this argument over immunity as a tacit admission of torture.) So, now we know why Cheney might be fighting McCain so hard on the torture issue.

So, I'm keeping up with this, and today's tidbit.

On the issue of detainee treatment, Rumsfeld said negotiations between the White House and McCain were continuing. The White House hopes to reach a compromise that would satisfy administration concerns. ....

In recent days, Bush's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley, has been seeking some protection from prosecution for agents, in some cases, who are accused of violating the McCain provisions.....

But the White House isn't satisfied with that(McCain's position), and McCain, congressional aides say, has enough support in the House to stand his ground and insist on his provisions.

So, will they subject Dick Cheney to the methods he claims aren't torture to find out what he knows? They're not torture after all.

And, all this was buried way down at the bottom of an article titled, Troop Levels in Iraq may Drop, Rumsfeld says.

Rumor post - Wilkes edition

Nothing to really corroborate either of these, but this Brent Wilkes(co-conspirator in the Duke Cunningham mess) seems to be quite a piece of work. Beyond the simple bribing of government officials, we've got these two juicy rumors. (San Diego Union-Tribune)
Wilkes befriended other legislators, too. He ran a hospitality suite, with several bedrooms, in Washington – first in the Watergate Hotel and then in the Westin Grand near Capitol Hill.

To this Josh Marshall says:
I probably should have been a bit more explicit about this last evening but the wording the reporters for the Union-Tribune used was almost certainly code for some sort of legislative love shack Wilkes used to lubricate the pay-for-play operation that made him and his pals so much cash before Duke brought the whole movable feast down on their heads. It may match up with reports about fast times down at the marina on the various Dukeboats.

Also, Laura Rozen who has been digging into the companies associated with Wilkes and some of their questionable contracts, comes out with this.

1rst post: Latest gossip I am hearing from San Diego is that Brent Wilkes is liquidating his considerable assets and -- get this -- thinking of heading towards Belize. Which apparently according to this same gossip does not have an extradition agreement with the US and citizenship can be bought for $30,000. Urban legend? Who knows.

2nd post: And by the way. That gossip about Wilkes liquidating some assets and exploring options for Belize? Not as outlandish as it originally sounded to me. In fact, a certain congressman may have gone with Wilkes on a recent trip there for fun -- and to open a bank account. And it wasn't the Duke.

Sorry for all the rumor, but this guy's just bigger than life. I keep imagining the "Duke" character from Doonesbury. I mean there's crooked, then there's "running to Belize before the FBI finds out you were running hookers for congressman" crooked. Ya know?

Al Libi testimony coerced, but where?

This is really interesting when compared to previous reporting.

WASHINGTON, Dec. 8 - The Bush administration based a crucial prewar assertion about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda on detailed statements made by a prisoner while in Egyptian custody who later said he had fabricated them to escape harsh treatment, according to current and former government officials.

The officials said the captive, Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, provided his most specific and elaborate accounts about ties between Iraq and Al Qaeda only after he was secretly handed over to Egypt by the United States in January 2002, in a process known as rendition.....

There's a previous report by Jehl on al Libi(Nov. 6 - NYTimes) which refers to a declassified DIA document that Sen. Carl Levin released. It refers to al Libi as a "likely fabbricator." It makes the point that Bush, Cheney, and Powell, as well as other administration officials repeatedly cited Libi's information, that Iraq trained Al Qaeda in chemical weapons, as "credible." This was the source Bush cited as truth in his infamous Oct. 7, 2002 Cincinnati speech. Here's the pertinent paragraph. (If you want to take a trip in the wayback machine to see just how forcefully they were making these bad claims, read, listen to, or watch this speech. I counted the word "nuclear" twenty times in this speech.)
We know that Iraq and the al Qaeda terrorist network share a common enemy -- the United States of America. We know that Iraq and al Qaeda have had high-level contacts that go back a decade. Some al Qaeda leaders who fled Afghanistan went to Iraq. These include one very senior al Qaeda leader who received medical treatment in Baghdad this year, and who has been associated with planning for chemical and biological attacks. We've learned that Iraq has trained al Qaeda members in bomb-making and poisons and deadly gases. And we know that after September the 11th, Saddam Hussein's regime gleefully celebrated the terrorist attacks on America.

Now, let's take a look at the claims regarding al-Libi provided by the CIA to ABCNews on Nov. 18th of this year.

According to CIA sources, Ibn al Shaykh al Libbi, after two weeks of enhanced interrogation, made statements that were designed to tell the interrogators what they wanted to hear. Sources say Al Libbi had been subjected to each of the progressively harsher techniques in turn and finally broke after being water boarded and then left to stand naked in his cold cell overnight where he was doused with cold water at regular intervals.

His statements became part of the basis for the Bush administration claims that Iraq trained al Qaeda members to use biochemical weapons. Sources tell ABC that it was later established that al Libbi had no knowledge of such training or weapons and fabricated the statements because he was terrified of further harsh treatment.

All three of these reports show the same thing, that al Libi was a known fabricator that the Bush Whitehouse cited as "credible", but the interesting thing to me is that the CIA version(last excerpt) leaves out the untidy fact that al Libi was shipped to Egypt. So, did he crack after two weeks of "harsh interrogation" tactics in US custody as the CIA claims, or was that a cover and he was really broken by the Egyptians? Or did they just ship this guy around shopping torture regimens until he finally broke and started spouting nonsense?

And if that's the case, should we have gone to war based on that?

(So, I went ahead and listened to that Cincinnati speech again while I was folding laundry and such, and it contains every bad bit of intelligence there was besides the famous 16 words which were stricken from this speech by the CIA. All the greatest hits are there. Atta in Prague, aluminum tubes, UAV's, mobile Bio labs, connections between Iraq and Al Qaeda, smoking gun as a mushroom cloud, that inspectors were thrown out, not pulled out, all of them. I really recommend you take a read, listen, watch of this speech to really remember the brazenness of the lies. It's 29 minutes and unfortunately not MP3, so no ipod.)

9-11 and Pearl Harbor - a few questions

Just a couple of thoughts that have been bouncing around in my head since yesterday, Pearl Harbor Day.

Did FDR mention Pearl Harbor frequently in his speeches up into 1945? Reading Bush's speech yesterday got me wondering about that.

Does Pearl Harbor Day have any emotional content for you? I'm not trying to minimize the sacrifice of that day, I actually thought about the Japanese attack alot yesterday. I'm just curious how and on what level it's perceived.

I read a very interesting article a couple of months ago around this year's 9-11 remembrance that postulated how the future would view that day. This article used a Civil War event I don't remember, a WWI event, Pearl Harbor, the shooting of JFK and 9-11 and attempted to show how observance of these dates and events shifted through time as those who observed them passed on. The events seemed to lose their emotionality and immediacy and faded more into their historical role. Pearl Harbor, for instance, became more important for it's political role in getting the US into the war rather than for the emotional impact it had on the people.

Just curious for thoughts.

ALSO, while I'm asking open ended questions, let me ask this one. I don't know very much detail about the heyday of the British Empire, but how similar is the rhetoric of "spreading democracy and freedom" to the language the British used of "christianizing" the world?

Picture of the Day - 2

Hello, hello, .... aren't you cute?...

You know, we're gonna bomb you some day. Yes, we are. Yes, we are.

And then we're going to put in a corrupt puppet dictator, who will keep your people poor, uneducated, and oppressed.

Now, who's the cutest little phot op, ever? Yes, you are. Yes, you are.

Gott Mit Uns and the Christmas debate.

I don't freakin' believe this. This is on townhall, a big site, spun off from the Heritage Foundation, so this isn't just some looney.

I guess those comparisons to Henry Ford weren't so overblown.

Let's take a minute here.

The American Right is challenging everyone's patriotism but the most pro-war. Ideologues are attacking Immigrants, Gays, and Jews saying they are undermining our "national character." They're eroding civil liberties, and all along claiming, "Gott Mit Uns." (God is with us.)

Just how far away are we?

Plame Gossip - V. Novak get big money lawyer

Viveca Novak may just be overly cautious, but that's a whole lotta legal protection if the story we've gotten in the press is true.

I'd be really curious to know who is paying her fees. No evidence that she's not, but that's pretty big money, and if someone else is bankrolling her lawyer, that would be big news.

UPDATE: USAToday is reporting that Fitzgerald spent "more than an hour," which I would guess is less than an hour and a half, meeting with and deposing Viveca Novak and her new lawyer. That' doesn't seem to me to be very long, so the deposition could be just a quick "checking the facts" of the indictment.

It's beginning to look a lot like Fitzmas.

UPDATE 2: It's all starting to come together now.

Fitzgerald deposed Luskin last Friday. Time and Luskin refused to answer CNN's questions about Luskin's conversation with Novak.

Rove's attorney has said Fitzgerald is still investigating his client.

So, Fitzgerald deposes Luskin last Friday, reads part or all of the deposition into the record for three hours yesterday, then deposes V. Fox for less than an hour today just to check Luskin's story. Whose story do you think he believed?

I included that last line because it can be read two ways, that Rove is still under investigation, or that Luskin was saying that he's not under investigation for his V. Fox conduct/testimony. No basis, but as some of his conduct has been suspect, I'm just throwing that out there.

Firedoglake has a pretty good, "it's coming soon" post. If you want to believe that it's coming, take a look.

Picture of the day

Violence at a polling station in the Egyptian elections.


Bush poll numbers ticking up

Can't say whether it's a significant trend, or just a little bounce after Bush's PR offensive on Iraq, but Bush's poll numbers are ticking up slightly across all the polls. In the short term going forward, the two biggest probable impacts on his numbers are the Iraq election (Dec. 15) and the possible/probable Rove indictment (before Dec. 31?)

US "misleads" families about how those 10 marines died last week

In that horrible IED incident that killed 10 marines, they weren't on a patrol, but instead at a "promotion ceremony" held outside the base at a "disused flour mill."

USA today says get yer guns the flu is coming

The bird flu may represent a very real threat, but this is over the top. I'd be really curious what these guys did for the predicted year 2000 computer apocalypse. Remember that?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Plame Gossip

And I emphasize gossip. Making the rounds tonight from the Nelson report:

[T]he line between gossip and intelligence is too-often thin, as we've seen the past few years. With that caution in mind, Washington buzz today focused on reports of a three-hour grand jury meeting (presentation?) by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, with no witnesses called. Our legal advisors confess no inside information, but say this sort of an event usually precedes an indictment being handed down.

Not too sure about this, see my Fitzgerald/Jaws theory below, but I would think that this would be very quick with Viveca Novak's deposition scheduled tomorrow(?) unless Fitzgerald only asks her a few questions with very definitive answers he expects her to give. (When did you talk to Luskin? Feb 2004.)

If that's her tesimony, it offers Rove very little cover, mainly because the meeting occurred before Rove first came before the grand jury and lied, and nine months before he finally recanted in his fourth grand jury appearance. If that's the case, a quick indictment is a possibility. (next week? before Christmas?)

The bottom line is the shark is circling Rove and everybody knows it. If there isn't some life raft we haven't heard about, I think it's only a matter of time at this point.

Picture of the Day - 3

Shhhhh. We don't talk about where the family money came from.

White House seeking immunity for previous detainee treatment?

Is Cheney trying to negotiate his own legal cover by pretending to be tough in the war on terror?

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 - The White House has all but abandoned its effort to persuade Senator John McCain to exempt Central Intelligence Agency employees from legislation barring inhumane or degrading treatment of prisoners in American custody. But a top presidential aide continued to negotiate a deal on Tuesday that would offer covert officers some protection from prosecution, administration and Senate officials said.....

Mr. McCain is balking at agreeing to any kind of exemption for intelligence officials, members of his staff say. Instead, he has offered to include some language, modeled after military standards, under which soldiers can provide a defense if a "reasonable" person could have concluded that he or she was following a lawful order about how to treat prisoners. The senator's offer was first reported Saturday by The Wall Street Journal.

Is Cheney trying to negotiate immunity for acts already committed? Is this why the Bush administration is so willing to advocate for torture, to offer protection to the lower downs who might later implicate them?

Is the point of these negotiations to obtain immunity for CIA personnel, and, in turn, legal protection for the administration officials who signed off on the detainee practices?

McCain is pushing to allow a nearly Nuremburg defense. The CIA agents in jeopardy could be cleared if they offer a defense that they were following what they believed to be lawful orders. By the nature of that defense, they would have to reveal the source of the "lawful orders" that could lead right up the chain.

Watch these negotiations closely.

(LATER) I think one thing we can gather from this is that both sides of this negotiation have a tacit understanding that some CIA officers, perhaps unknowingly, broke the law on orders from above.

Quick hits

Murtha gave a great response to the President's speech that actually had (gasp) facts in it. If I find the audio, I'll post it because he just oozes reason and credibility.

Here's the Whitehouse's text of the President's speech this morning. Did anybody actually watch it? And the press briefing is up but there's nothing in it.

Josh Marshall has two good ones. 1) Susan Ralston, the Rove aid who was rumored to have taken the Matt Cooper call out of the call log, left Rove's office for the Commerce dept. Guess that's what happens when you tell the truth about your boss. 2) Hastert and Blunt plan to keep the house closed two more weeks after the "holiday" break til Jan.31, which would give Delay two more weeks to try to wriggle off the hook. Thinkprogress has a better excerpt.

Firedoglake has piece of how Haley "I think the president is doing a fine job on hurricane relief" Barbour's family is benefitting from Katrina related no bid contracts.

Libby found a pretty good Juan Cole piece How Bush Created a Theocracy.

And Fitzgerald's grand jury visit was three hours.

Plame gossip - Fitzgerald back at grand jury

No real news here except that the investigation is still going on.

Six weeks after White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby was indicted in the CIA leak case, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald was back at work Wednesday before another grand jury in the drawn-out federal probe.

Fitzgerald, accompanied by several deputies seen carrying files as they walked into the grand jury area of the courthouse, made no comment to reporters about the nature of his visit.

Probably reading the V. Novak and related testimonies into the Grand Jury record. But, I don't think you do that if you're not going towards indictment.

Also, last night I was struck by how similar the Fitzgerald appearances are to the monster in a monster movie. Take Jaws for example. It starts out as unsubstantiated reports, then maybe you get a shot of a fin or a flipper or an eye, a little testimony or a leak, a little creepy music and a shot of the worried soon to be victim who begins paddling slowly, then frantically to get away. Then you get the harder music and everybody sees the shadowy shape beneath the water suddenly speeding towards the hapless victim. He makes a mistake, or maybe the boat is bumped, and the victim falls in the water. Only then do you get the full creature shot of Jaws as he tears the subject apart at the indictment.

Then you get the calm recovering music as Jaws disappears from view, but everybody knows that the shark is still out there, still hunting, and there are still more people on the beach.

Da-dum. Da-dum. Rove is hearing the music right about now, and he's about to start paddling frantically. The only question left is will he push someone elase over the side so he can get away.

Huge post on prewar intel lies as policy

Eriposte has a significant post over at the Leftcoaster saying that hiding contradictory evidence about Iraq's WMD's was policy. I had to read the front section of the post five times to get what he was after, but it may be a really big deal if somebody else can clean it up into a more readily understandible form.

Picture of the day - 2

This picture is from the Egyptian elections. The riot Police had blocked access to a number of polling stations where the Muslim Brotherhood was expected to do very well. So, these people got ladders to try to get in.

The US talks about the "flowering of democracy", and yet this has made barely a ripple in the American press. No ink stained fingers, no "Orange revolution," no hyped coverage of anti-Syrian protests.

Hats off to them. I don't agree with their politics at all, or the Brotherhood's secondary connection with numerous terror acts, but these people are trying to vote. They're trying to do it the right way.

Bush officials throwing the women overboard

Does anybody else find it strange that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and even the Hadley's of this administration make their speeches and public appearances before friendly military or think tank crowds, while they send Karen Hughes and Condi Rice out to take all the international crap?

Not being sexist here, quite frankly I think Hughes and Rice are probably the toughest people on this list, but isn't it odd that this administration of manly men sends it's women out almost exclusively for this duty?

Picture of the Day

It's old, but I told Cookie Christine I'd put this up.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

CongressVotes Database.

Oh, this is a great, incredibly useful feature the WaPo has a database tracking congressional actions, votes, misses, late night votes, etc. The way the one's at the official sites work, www.house.gov, and www.senate.gov, render them fairly useless.

So, this is a great find by Duke Skorich. Put it in your reference bookmarks today, cause sooner or later, you're gonna want it.

Pro-Bush poem in Pakistani textbook.

Michael posted this link in the comments, and what with the slow news day and complete oddity of it, I thought I'd put it up. Basically, a poem which described an ideal leader, strong and forceful, etc, found it's way into an English textbook for 16 year olds in Pakistan. The creepy thing is the first letters of each line spell out "President George W Bush". They claim it's an accident, but that's a pretty weird accident. They've got the story and the poem through this link at the BBC.

Thanks, Michael.

Picture of the Day - 3

This is not a movie clip or TV show.

This is a real picture from Yahoo of a soldier in Basic Training. They don't show this part in the brochures, do they?

Delay fundraiser update

Here is the Houston Chronicle article on the Delay fundraiser. Nothing really surprising. A Code Pink protester bought a $500 dollar ticket scalped for $50. "I guess they needed people inside," she said. "You can get in pretty cheap. I didn't want to give too much."

Two attendees went on record with quotes praising Delay, Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs and Harris County Tax Assessor-Collector Paul Bettencourt. (I would encourage my fellow Houstonians to never support them again.)

And lastly, Nick Lampson(his site) will probably be the Dem candidate in that district.(Still waiting to see if the Repubs will challenge Delay in the primary) He's actually pretty good. To give you an idea how good, the republicans decided to redraw his district away from him in the contentious Texas redistricting boondoggle.

As another sign of just how good he is, look at the level of this anti-Lampson site from the last election. Can you imagine if the Dems did stuff like this?

(I'm in Tx. 07. Jim Henley(the DCCC's choice) will probably be challenging John Culberson. Unless something happens, I don't think you can look for Tx. 07 to help turn the house.)

Here's the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee) site for their choices in congressional races(most probables to win primaries). If you don't know your district, go to http://www.house.gov/ and type in your zip code under find your representative.

For God's Sake, answer just one question, Scott McClellan

If you want to go all nerdy and read today's Press Briefing, there's a good long section on renditions. If you don't want to read the whole thing, here is the killer question that set off the exchange. (And as per Mike's convention, I only print the questions because McClellan no longer actually answers them.)

Q What is the purpose of rendition, other than, if it is not, in fact, to subject detainees to a degree of interrogation somewhat more difficult than that which they would be subjected to in the United States? And that being the case, what definition of torture does the United States understand and accept?

MR. McCLELLAN: The ones that are defined in our law and our international treaty obligations. We have laws --

Q If that's the case, then why bother to render anybody?

Q Then what's the purpose of rendition?

Q But if we are committed to international conventions against torture, what, then, is the purpose of rendition?

Q But you seem to be suggesting that --

Q -- there's more to be gained by interrogating these people outside the United States than there is inside.

Q But how do we know they weren't tortured? They claim they were.

Q How do we know they weren't tortured?

Then the questions veer into monitoring whether or not torture is taking place to individuals we've rendered.

Picture of the Day - 2 - (Slow news day)

No Picture of the Day - Cheney and Delay edition

So, Cheney went to a fundraiser for Tom Delay, and, funny thing, I can't find any pictures from it.

The only images I can find are protesters and this great shot of Delay's family rushing away from photographers outside the hall.

Why do you think that is?

Also, living here in Houston, if anybody comes across a guest list or some of the attendees, I would love to see it.

US "Secret Prisons" moved out of Europe after exposure

How bad are the CIA's "secret prisons" that they decided to move them as soon as they were revealed? (The WaPo story broke on Nov. 2) Were they moved for politcal reasons, to protect the complicit host countries' governments? Were they moved to deter further EU investigation?

Dec. 5, 2005 — Two CIA secret prisons were operating in Eastern Europe until last month when they were shut down following Human Rights Watch reports of their existence in Poland and Romania.

Current and former CIA officers speaking to ABC News on the condition of confidentiality say the United States scrambled to get all the suspects off European soil before Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived there today. The officers say 11 top al Qaeda suspects have now been moved to a new CIA facility in the North African desert......

All but one of these 11 high-value al Qaeda prisoners were subjected to the harshest interrogation techniques in the CIA's secret arsenal, the so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" authorized for use by about 14 CIA officers and first reported by ABC News on Nov. 18.

Be sure to check here for the ABCNews story where the CIA offers it's version of "enhanced interrogation techniques." And how broken down are these people after months of "interrogation"?

In exchange for cooperation, prisoners were sometimes given hard candies, desserts and chocolates. Abu Zubaydah was partial to Kit Kats, the same treat Saddam Hussein fancied in his captivity.

Or is this just CIA propaganda telling other Al Qaeda members that Abu Zubaydah is selling them out for Kit Kats? ABCNews now has a CIA source, but judging from the explanatory nature of the two stories it has broken, I wonder just how much of this is planted rather than reported.

It also appears that Romania's payoff was, in part, new US military bases with assets moved from Germany.(AFP)

Also, the WaPo has a big A01 story on how the CIA lied to the Italians about the Nasr rendition. Nothing really big or new as far as I can tell, but the first time the story has made a major front page.

BUT: The LATimes has some news on the Nasr rendition with this: The former CIA station Chief is outlining his defense to the Italian charges and seeking to extend immunity into his retirement.

Quote of the Day -

Boy, Rumsfeld just went off the rails yesterday blaming the media and "elites." Haven't seen it yet, but here's a gem:

"To be responsible, one needs to stop defining success in Iraq as the absence of terrorist attacks," he said.

In other words, don't judge my boxer's success by how many times he's knocked down....

I know it's out of character for this blog.

But I am pissed that the US was seeded in pot 4 in the world cup draw. And MEXICO, who we've beaten or drawn with in nine of the last ten games is a top seed?

We got out of the group stages in the last two world cups, and although it's highly flawed, we rank usually around 10 in the FIFA world rankings.

That's bull.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Picture of the Day - 3

Dick, can't we get somebody else to attach the electrodes?

I really don't like touching them down there.

(Alternate caption: Sometimes I have them round up a few Arabs so I can do the cavity searches myself.)

The Tinkerbell theory on Iraq.

Someone needs to tell George Bush that wishing doesn't make it so.

DUBAI The training of Iraqi security forces has suffered a big "setback" in the last six months, with the army and other forces being increasingly used to settle scores and make other political gains, Iraqi Vice President Ghazi al-Yawer said Monday.

You can clap as much as you want Mr. Bush, Tinkerbell is dying.

(Later) Question: With the current Iraqi government facing an election in ten days, do they have an incentive to try to pin all the failures in Iraq on the US? If so, I would expect to see more of this.

Picture of the Day - 2

This is old, but it made me laugh.

(And briefly, again, I've come to the conclusion that more pictures and less Mike may be more popular. So expect 2 or 3 pictures a day until the file runs empty. - Mike)

FBI reopening Niger forgeries case (Repost)

On Saturday, the LATimes reported that the FBI has suddenly reopened the Niger forgeries case with no explanation as to why, with a source saying that they're looking at "US citizens who advocated an invasion of Iraq." (Note the use of the PLURAL "citizens")

What new evidence prompted the reopening and pointed at US citizens? And from where did the impetus from the reopening come, Franklin/AIPAC, Plame? Remember, Larry Franklin was involved in the meeting between Ledeen, Rhode, Sismi, Iranian exiles, and Chalabi who was "in possession" of the Niger forgeries in late 2001.

No answers, just questions at this point.

WASHINGTON — The FBI has reopened an inquiry into one of the most intriguing aspects of the pre-Iraq war intelligence fiasco: how the Bush administration came to rely on forged documents linking Iraq to nuclear weapons materials as part of its justification for the invasion......

Federal officials familiar with the case say investigators might examine whether the forgeries were instigated by U.S. citizens who advocated an invasion of Iraq or by members of the Iraqi National Congress — the group led by Ahmad Chalabi that worked closely with Bush administration officials in the buildup to the war......

Until now, the FBI's inquiry had been limited to probing whether foreign governments were involved in the forgeries,

(I'm reposting this, because it could be huge, and I'm afraid that it may have gotten lost in the Friday night/ Saturday morning "document dump" to miss the news cycles. )

If you're interested in the Niger forgeries story, eriposte at the LeftCoaster has been doing, by far, the best work on it. This is his most recent post, follow the links to part1, part2, etc. if you want to see some incredible work by a blogger.

Dear British readers, British gov't breaking law?

I know the Guardian's politics, so I take this with a grain of salt, but is this true?

The British government is guilty of breaking international law if it allowed secret CIA "rendition" flights of terror suspects to land at UK airports, according to a report by American legal scholars.

Merely giving permission for the flights to refuel while en route to the Middle East to collect a prisoner would constitute a breach of the law, according to the opinion commissioned by an all-party group of MPs, which meets in parliament for the first time today.

(By the way, I also find it funny that this story got listed below the Benitez to Real Madrid piece. And what's it gonna take for Souness to lose his job?)


If you listen very closely, you can actually hear the agenda dying.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House may delay unveiling a broad proposal to overhaul the tax code until 2007 or later, despite earlier discussions of making it a major theme for next year, people close to the White House said.

Picture of the Day

Washington - A man from Arkansas scaled the fence surrounding the White House Sunday while President Bush was inside and was immediately captured by Secret Service officers. Secret Service spokesman Jonathan Cherry identified the jumper as Shawn A. Cox....

Cox has previously come to the attention of the Secret Service, Cherry said, but he would not provide details.

I'm not editorializing, I just thought this was a powerful picture. Feel it.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Hey, Bush Supporter

How much more clearly can this be said?

WASHINGTON - The U.S. is at great risk for more terrorist attacks because Congress and the White House have failed to enact several strong security measures, members of the former Sept. 11 commission said Sunday.

"It's not a priority for the government right now," said the former chairman, Thomas Kean, ahead of the group's release of a report Monday assessing how well its recommendations have been followed.

Oh, and let's remember that this guy isn't some "wild eyed Michael Moore worshipper" as apparently all Bush critics appear from the far right wing.

(Kean)He proved so popular in office that in 1985, he won reelection with the largest margin of victory in the history of the office.
Kean delivered the keynote speech at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans.
Kean was known for attracting a number of bright, rising stars with deep public policy expertise.

Source Wikipedia.

The Strategy for Victory in Iraq was written by a Poly Sci professor?

Dear Whitehouse,

If you want us to seriously accept that you have a plan for victory in Iraq, maybe you should let somebody who knows something about war, not a professor of Political Science from Duke who "has closely studied public opinion on the war," write the plan to get us out.

Put this letter in the FBI file as always,


PS. And while we're at it, can you explain this to me?

Picture of the Day - 2

Female members of Iran's Basij Militia.

Is Focus on the Family a hate group?

I'm just posing this as a question. I guess your answer depends on whether, and to what degree, you consider homosexuality a protected class under nondiscrimination laws. But when I read this I was shocked.

DENVER (AP) - The conservative Christian group Focus on the Family says it's withdrawing its funds from Wells Fargo because of the bank's support of gay organizations.

The group says the move is due to what it says are the bank's "ongoing efforts to advance the radical homosexual agenda."

Replace the words gay/homosexual with black, or Vietnamese, or Jewish and tell me there wouldn't be an outcry. Is it okay to be a hate group, so long as you claim a religious backing?

(On their creepily named website, www.family.org (anybody else get a cult flash from that) they've also called on boycotts of Ford, Procter & Gamble in their anti-gay campaign, and Target for using "Holidays" instead of "Christmas". And let's not forget their the same loonies who were going after the doll maker "American Girl" because the donated to a charity called Girls, inc.)

"Erroneous Renditions" - CIA Inspector General

WaPo A01-

The CIA inspector general is investigating a growing number of what it calls "erroneous renditions," according to several former and current intelligence officials.

One official said about three dozen names fall in that category; others believe it is fewer. The list includes several people whose identities were offered by al Qaeda figures during CIA interrogations, officials said. One turned out to be an innocent college professor who had given the al Qaeda member a bad grade, one official said.

"They picked up the wrong people, who had no information. In many, many cases there was only some vague association" with terrorism, one CIA officer said. .....

And there's a very interesting bit about the German/Masri rendition, including CIA/administration debates on what to do once they realized he was innocent(p.4). Named officials in this discussion, Tenet, Rice, and Armitage.

If you have concerns about the rendition and detention policies put in place by the Bush administration, this is a must read.

(If you don't have a WaPo account, try www.bugmenot.com linked on the right. It's a newsjunkie's dream offering username and passwords for sites that require them. Crap, it's gone. Anybody know of a similar site.)

Picture of the Day

God, it's me Joe.

Please God, make him tell the truth. Just once. Just one time.