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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Terror from Iran

I'm not too sure what to make of this, whether it is just fear-mongering, further setting up Iran as the villian of the piece, or whether it represents a real concern about contingency planning indicating serious consideration of military action against Iran.

As tensions increase between the United States and Iran, U.S. intelligence and terrorism experts say they believe Iran would respond to U.S. military strikes on its nuclear sites by deploying its intelligence operatives and Hezbollah teams to carry out terrorist attacks worldwide.

Iran would mount attacks against U.S. targets inside Iraq, where Iranian intelligence agents are already plentiful, predicted these experts. There is also a growing consensus that Iran's agents would target civilians in the United States, Europe and elsewhere, they said.

Later: This next little bit of reporting from the other side of the pond makes me think more about politics than contingency planning.

The Government is to hold secret talks with defence chiefs tomorrow to discuss possible military strikes against Iran.

A high-level meeting will take place in the Ministry of Defence at which senior defence chiefs and government officials will consider the consequences of an attack on Iran.

It is believed that an American-led attack, designed to destroy Iran's ability to develop a nuclear bomb, is "inevitable" if Teheran's leaders fail to comply with United Nations demands to freeze their uranium enrichment programme.

It is certainly reasonable to assume that these meetings and concerns do involve serious study and planning, it would be irresponsible of the respective governments not to undertake these considerations, but the fact that both sets of normally very quiet "concerns" were simultaneously leaked, tells me that these stories are more about affecting the Iranians.

I do not by any means frame the possibility of strikes on Iran as out of the question, but making these concerns this public tells me that they are designed to increase pressure both on the Iranian negotiators and on the Iranian intel network to maybe force contacts or movement.

(either that, or Condi Rice is over in Blackburn right now "pencilling in the date.")

Ethnic Cleansing in Iraq

If the NYTimes is indeed "the paper of record," then this is a pretty big deal. There had been previous sporadic reports of refugees and ethnic cleansing in Iraq, but this is the first major media to report it as a headline story.
The new pattern, detailed in casualty and migration statistics and in interviews with American commanders and Iraqi officials, has led to further separation of Shiite and Sunni Arabs, moving the country toward a de facto partitioning along sectarian and ethnic lines — an outcome that the Bush administration has doggedly worked to avoid over the past three years.

The NYTimes cites a number of 30,000 Iraqis fleeing from their homes to further ethnic divisions and boundaries. It must be said that that is not a huge number when compared to the population, but unless something changes pretty drastically in the security situation, it is just the lead wave.

My fear is that once the the separate ethnic groups have achieved division, they will begin to fight with each other over their boundaries in the significant force actions which we have been told are the definition of a civil war.

I liked having nothing to write about better.

My State's Shame - Sen. John Cornyn

Although my representative John Culberson's fairly racist remarks about the Katrina evacuees in Houston made me reconsider the bestowal of the title "my state's shame" to Senator Cornyn, tonight, I remember just one of the actions he's taken to warrant it. (Via Firedoglake)

In the Nov. 30, 2001, e-mail, Reed told Abramoff that 50 pastors led by Ed Young of Second Baptist Church in Houston would meet with Cornyn to urge him to shut down the Alabama-Coushatta tribe’s casino near Livingston. He said Young would back up the request in writing.

"We have also choreographed Cornyn’s response. The AG will state that the law is clear, talk about how much he wants to avoid repetition of El Paso and pledge to take swift action to enforce the law," Reed wrote. "He will also personally hand Ed Young a letter that commits him to take action in Livingston."

I keep hoping that Abramoff will lead to Reed and Cornyn, but so far there seems to have been little investigation into the Abramoff/Reed/Cornyn axis working in Texas. Cornyn has also run point on the Senate defense of every illegal action undertaken by the Bush administration, torture, NSA spying, Guantanamo, the secret CIA prisons in Europe.....

I just have to remember that he earned his title.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Nothing's inspiring me to write this afternoon, so for now, another picture.)

Picture of the Day

April Fools.

This picture is not Karen Hughes, after all. Huge props to -epm for the sleuth work. The key, that's a 2004 Vanity Fair.

That's why I posted this originally with all the disclaimers on it and on April Fool's Day, because I wasn't sure on the source. It wasn't intended to be a joke, but I figured that would offer me some cover if I was wrong. But now we know that is not Karen Hughes.

Again, thanks to -epm. Great work. You win whatever prize we can think of that doesn't cost me any money.

Friday, March 31, 2006

Now is it a civil war?

If the Iraqis are no longer attacking US troops at the same level, but are now attacking each other, can we call it a civil war?
BAGHDAD, March 31 -- March was the least deadly month in more than two years for U.S. troops in Iraq, but a surge in killings of Iraqi troops and civilians suggests that the overall death rate in the conflict is growing, according to military data.....

But recent weeks have also been among the most lethal of the war for Iraqi civilians, police officers and soldiers, who were killed and wounded at a rate of about 75 a day, a rate three times as high as at the start of 2004.

Another talk radio cause?

If you read the first paragraph of this story, you just know that the talk radio right is going to run with this.
LONGMONT, Colo. - Dozens of high school students protested a temporary school policy forbidding students from displaying the U.S. flag — as well as flags from other countries — amid racial tensions following immigration rallies.

You can hear them now, can't you? "...high school that is banning the American flag..." but they don't tend to read the second paragraph in their ratings spinning outrage.

Skyline High School Principal Tom Stumpf said American flags were brazenly waved in the faces of Hispanic students and in one case a Mexican flag was thrown into the face of another student.

"When it involves the American flag and its abuse in vilifying other people, we simply will not tolerate it," Stumpf said. "They were using the symbol derisively as misguided patriotism."

This is not a pretty image, is it? White high school kids using the American flag as a symbol of rage against minorities. Makes you proud to be 'mericun, doesn't it?

This is not Tancredo's district, I looked it up, it's Marilyn Musgrave.

(let me say, first amendment, first amendment, but I do find this use of America's symbol disgusting.)

Picture of the Day - 2

This is old, Boston Convention 2004, but I liked the picture.

Politics Quickies.

This is the second one of these aides off the record, "Frist is screwing up the Senate because he is running for president" stories in the last couple of days. I guess the other Republican Senators, McCain, Brownback, etc, are trying to get to the press before he retires from the Senate.

Survey USA poll - Bush approval state by state. Bush has a net positive approval in only seven states. 41 states have a disapproval number over 50%. Texas is 41% apprrove/55% disapprove, net -14%. Ohio is the lowest state that went for Bush in 2004, 34%/64%, -30%.

Sample size on these is pretty small, and SUSA trends a little Demoratic, but it's a number fest which is kinda fun. And the numbers are pretty shocking.

And, Gingrich told Knight-Ridder he thinks it likely that the Republicans will lose congress. I include this because it falls into my belief that Gingrich is playing the outsider's game and setting himself up as the Republican's ideological savior in 2008. Also because I just loved this paragraph.
Gingrich said Republicans might retain control of Congress this fall if they and President Bush produce a burst of accomplishments and popular reforms in the next few months - a prospect few analysts consider likely.


This is a test of the Republican Indictment System. This is only a test. In the event of a real indictment, you would be directed where to tune for more information(and some bitchin' music to dance around the room to.) This is only a test.

Former Delay aide Tony Rudy plead guilty today to conspiracy, but more importantly, "promised to cooperate with a federal investigation of bribery and lobbying fraud."

Also, my friend Don fowarded me this WSJ story which confirms that it was Michael Scanlon's jilted fiancee who served him up to investigators starting this whole thing rolling.

This ain't good.

The most influential man in Iraq is no longer taking Bush's calls?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - A letter from President Bush to Iraq's supreme Shiite spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, was hand-delivered earlier this week but sits unread and untranslated in the top religious figure's office, a key al-Sistani aide told The Associated Press on Thursday.

The aide - who has never allowed use of his name in news reports, citing al-Sistani's refusal to make any public statements himself - said the ayatollah had laid the letter aside and did not ask for a translation because of increasing ``unhappiness'' over what senior Shiite leaders see as American meddling in Iraqi attempts to form their first, permanent post-invasion government.

Picture of the Day

"Freedom makes my head hurt."
(Reuters - Jim Young.)

(I don't know why this picture creeped me out. Something about the Freedom logo shouting over Dear Leader's head.)

KSM testimony in the Moussaoui trial

This has to be the torture understatement of the year. In the Moussaoui trial, testimony from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was submitted in a written brief. (PDF warning) This is part of the judge's jury instructions.
You should assume that if Sheikh Mohammed were available to testify under oath and subject to perjury he would have said what is contained in these statements.

Although you do not have the ability to see the witnesses demeanor as he testifies, you must approach these statements with the understanding that they were made under circumstances designed to elicit truthful statements from the witness.

Circumstances like waterboarding? Like slapping him repeatedly in the face? Like stress positions? Like dousing him naked with ice water while he stands naked in a 50 degree room? Is that the witness demeanor the jury does not have the ability to see?

And these are just the "harsh interrogation tactics" that have been admitted to having been used on KSM by the CIA. God knows what other "circumstances designed to elicit truthful statements" have been used for this testimony. And the court finds it admissible.

(The body of the testimony is kindof interesting as well, going into some detail on the 9-11 plot and the planned second wave of attacks. Talkleft where I got the document link makes the reasonable assumption that the next wave of attacks appear to be not more hijackings, but instead, based on the release of toxic substances or biological agents. Show me one security measure that has been taken that would stop small amounts of these materials entering the country.)

Rumsfeld to go? - Nelson Report

Chris Nelson of the Nelson Report says John Snow is safe, but Rumsfeld is set to be fired. (From Laura Rozen's site.)
Sources also confirm that the President has absorbed the fact that the professional military has completely given up on Rumsfeld...admittedly a process which began for some “uniforms” even before 9/11, but which has continued to affect...or infect...virtually the whole military establishment today.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Hillary getting money from Texas Republican Women.

Tapped has a blog post on Hillary Clinton raising money down in Texas. That's not too big of a surprise really, big state, alot of money and Bush approval below 50%, although notice she didn't come to my hometown Houston where all the money is in the "red" suburbs."

But in this story, this tidbit.
Here's something interesting. A source familiar with the Austin event tells me that at least one attendee was surprised by the fact that many who showed up were Republican women, lots of them first-time donors. I mention this not to argue that Hillary has crossover appeal, but to show how aggressively her fundraisers are working to tap diverse constituencies around the country.

Bullcrap. Right now, even in Texas, every Democrat has crossover appeal. Even my Red/Red Republican mother, the same one who told me Saddam was behind the 9-11 attacks over the holidays, was lambasting the Republicans today over their immigration policy.

There's a shift going on, a real shift. Perhaps it's starker here because I live in the most Republican big city so the changes are more noticeable, and I don't know how long it's going to last, but right now, our part of the world is sliding out of the Bush camp. And outside of the fundies, that's a really big deal.

Picture of the Day - 2

A young Don Rumsfeld with Kissinger and Nixon.

Backing the wrong horse in the Middle East

I found this thought provoking. (Beware though, because it's huge.)

The US and its allies overestimated Ayad Allawi's strength, were "stunned" by Hamas' win, and were surprised by the Aoun-Nasrallah agreement because they don't have a clue about what's really going on in the region.

But why?

With the exception of Israel (where a US and European appreciation of realities is critical to the formulation of policy), there are, inter alia, five political movements and governments in the Middle East of undeniable importance: Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The governments of the West don't talk to any of them.

They do talk to the leaders of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the Persian Gulf region; but the net result of most of these contacts is that Western governments are dependent for information about the region on a set of clients who, as often as not, are mere reflections of what Westerners want the Middle East to be, rather than what it actually is.

More Rove/Hadley - Wilson/Plame

This Murray Waas article in the National Journal is significant in that it paints a different picture on pre-war intelligence than the administration wants out there. Short Version: Hadley and Rove worked their crooked little butts off to keep the fact that Bush knew that the intel he was presenting to the American people was questionable at best.

The article is worth a read in itself, but what caught my eye was once again the confluence of the names Rove and Hadley in an effort to shield(coverup?) presidential knowledge that the pre-war intel was deceptively presented.

So, once again we have Rove and Hadley working together to target the truth as was told by Joe Wilson. See next.

Wouldn't it be nice to have had a Senate investigation into this as Pat Roberts has promised for so long?

Plame Gossip - Questions

Something's been bugging me for the last couple days about the Plame reporting. First, we had the Rawstory report that Rove was the source through which Fitzgerald discovered the "250 missing emails" that appear to have been deleted off administration computers, at least in the VP's office.

Next, there was Jason's story about possible upcoming indictments of Rove and Hadley that I interpreted as a final "talk or face jailtime" tactic by Fitzgerald.

So my question is this: How did Rove know about the purge of those emails?

I see a couple of possibilities. First, and less likely I think, Rove could've heard about it through some sort of grapevine in which case these deliberate actions of obstruction of justice must be known by more people than Rove.

Second, this could be de facto evidence of conspiracy if someone told Rove about the purging efforts.

Also, notice that it's Rove/Hadley who are under Fitzgerald's thumb right now. It was Rove's email to Hadley, about the Plame conversation with Cooper, that magically reappeared between Rove's grand jury testimonies. It is the main point of contention in the perjury and obstruction charges against Rove.

So, is it a coincidence that the sender and receiver of one temporarily missing email just happen to be facing "tell the truth or go to jail" indictment threats, and at least one of those parties, Rove, reportedly pointed Fitzgerald to 250 more missing emails?

I see conspiracy to obstruct justice here with Rove as the indictable weak link in the chain. The real question is, who else were members of this conspiracy? The conveniently resigned "former White House official" Andy Card?

Just speculation, but as news of Fitzgerald's indictment threat came out, Andy Card resigns.

Remember that it was Andy Card and Al Gonzales who sat on the original document request by Fitzgerald for twelve hours before notifying White House staff to preserve any relevant documents.


Picture of the Day

Bush's Iraq policy.

"I wonder what happens when I pull on this?"

The Lincoln Group's planted stories

We paid a hundred million plus to the Lincoln Group to plant totally unbelievable stories like this in the Iraqi press? I think we need to get our money back.

Three quick politics stories

First, the WaPo has an interesting piece on how Frist's presidential ambitions and his role as Senate Majority Leader are coming into conflict. Apparently, his pushing of his agenda in preparation for a presidential run is pissing off other Senate Republicans. (Think he'll tank McCain somehow?)

Second, Eleanor Clift mentions that James Baker, Bush Sr. advisor and 2000 election figure, has been tapped by the current Bush administration to lead a key outside advisory group on Iraq policy.

Third, Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. of Missouri, actually asked the question that nobody else in politics has dared to ask,
"I have a question for President Bush," said Clay, who voted against the resolution authorizing Bush to go to war in Iraq. "If you really believe that the war that you started in Iraq is a fight to defeat terrorism and to defend our freedoms, why haven't your girls enlisted?"

It's a bit of demagoguery, but boy, is that fun. In the Post-Dispatch article this links to, he also calls Bush an "incompetent chickenhawk."

(Also: Today's Doonesbury is wickedly on topic.)

UPDATE: Scalia has been denying that he made an obscene gesture and said "F*** You" in Italian while in a church. Doofus, you don't pick a fight with the reporter when there's a picture.

Hispanics as a key to Democratic success

(click the graphic and it gets bigger)
I'm not going to write about how the immigration debate has turned hispanics against the Republicans, because that is so common sense at this point.

But what I thought I would do, was to look to this NYTimes chart and point out the four swing states in the middle, Arizona Colorado, Nevada, and Florida.

If the Dems could register and turnout a small percent of that vote, those four states, and the voting majority, would swing Dem.

(Quite frankly, in Texas, it would be difficult at this point to overturn the Republican machine, but it would certainly result in a shift of a few congressional seats.)

This doesn't show the percentage eligible to register, but those are big numbers when you're talking about 20% of a state's population with 5% or less registered to vote.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

From Riverbend

From Riverbend, the Iraqi blogger, via ThinkProgress, via Kevin Drum.
(While watching the scrolling headlines at the bottom of a news program) Suddenly, one of them caught my attention and I sat up straight on the sofa, wondering if I had read it correctly.... The line said:

“The Ministry of Defense requests that civilians do not comply with the orders of the army or police on nightly patrols unless they are accompanied by coalition forces working in that area.”

That’s how messed up the country is at this point....The situation is so bad on the security front that the top two ministries in charge of protecting Iraqi civilians cannot trust each other. The Ministry of Defense can’t even trust its own personnel, unless they are “accompanied by American coalition forces”.

Picture of the Day - 3

Democratic actor and activist Sean Penn kicking ass and taking names in the immediate aftermath of Katrina.

If you're looking for an iconic Democratic image, might I recommend these.

For those in need, we will fight.

Iraq below the radar

What constitutes news in Iraq? What makes a headline?
Around 30-40 bodies, many shot in the head and showing signs of torture, are being found on the streets of the capital every day, morgue officials say.

The inexact poll

Allright, this is a Hotline poll and I don't know the methodology, so don't take it to the bank, but there's some interesting little tidbits in it, nonetheless.

Their basic idea was to compare those with strong approval for Bush with Republicans in general. ("Is Bush a great president or the greatest president.") It is Hotline after all. (Small sample size.)
This is Bush's base (approx. 45% of the entire GOP). According to the latest Diageo/Hotline poll, they're older (more than half are over 55 which translates into being "very likely" midterm voters), go to church weekly, and almost all of them are white. They oppose abortion rights, and, like VP Cheney himself, they listen to Rush and O'Reilly.

ALSO, I forgot to mention this bit in the poll. Of those who "strongly approve" of Bush, the "reelect Representative" number was only 42%. Even if the Bush base is seperate from the congressional base, a 42% commitment can't make House members facing reelection in 8 months feel very good. Certainly, part of that is "reds" living in blue districts, but I would guess that number is well less than half.

The Saudi Nuclear Program

Now, take into account that this is from an Indian paper which might be negative to the Pakistanis, and I don't speak the German to check it out, but....
BERLIN, MARCH 29 : Saudi Arabia is working secretly on a nuclear programme, with help from Pakistani experts, the German magazine Cicero reports in its latest edition, citing western security sources. ....

The magazine also said satellite images prove that Saudi Arabia has set up in al-Sulaiyil, South of Riyadh, a secret underground city and dozens of underground silos for missiles.

Picture of the Day - 2

"Iraq is Bleeding." - Zalmay Khalilzad

How is this admissible?

The LATimes has a big story on the Zacarias Moussaoui trial and on the testimony supplied in writing by Khalid Shaikh Mohammed that he "told interrogators."

But, how in the hell is this admissible in court? I'm not a legal expert, but I would think there would be a very viable challenge to the testimony from a "witness"(?) whom the CIA has admitted to subjecting to waterboarding.

Also: In other court news, the Supreme Court seems likely to overturn the Bush administration's contention that Guantanamo detainees should be tried in the constitutionally dubious military tribunals and be denied access to the US Court system.

And, as I'm doing court news, government lawyers(notice the passive description in the article, it's not "the Bush adminsitration") have finally agreed to abide by the judges ruling release all the Abu Ghraib materials to the ACLU. Apparently there are still materials that weren't previously released by Salon last month.

Rumsfeld's history

Just ran across this from Rumsfeld's speech yesterday at the Army War College.
"From time to time, one hears the claim that terrorist acts are reactions to particular American policies. That's not so," he said. "Their violence preceded by many years' operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and their violence will not stop until their ideology is confronted."

One little change, Don. "Their violence preceded by many years THE CURRENT operations in Afghanistan and Iraq." Cause, you know, I think I read somewhere that the US might've been involved in Iraq and Afghanistan before....

He also obliquely accuses critics of his Iraq war of aiding terrorists. And of course tries to blame the whole thing on the Clinton administration.

If this really represents his understanding of terrorism, is he really capable of leading this broad war? If he views both the Iraq insurgency and Al Qaeda as an isolated element stripped of it's historical context, is it any surprise that his policy of "kill them all" is being outstripped by terrorist recruiting which is fueled by his policy of kill them all? He just doesn't get it. And people are dying.

I'm beginning to see more and more McNamara in Rumsfeld.

Picture of the Day

Right back at ya, Big Guy.

See next.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Plame Gossip - more indictments coming!

My friend Plame gossip friend, Jason, had been quiet for almost a week, so I was beginning to wonder, but today he comes out with a biggie. (thanks to Greyhair for the pointer.) Remember when I said that for Fitzgerald "methodical means slow?"
It may seem as though it's been moving along at a snail's pace, but the second part of the federal investigation into the leak of covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson is nearly complete, with attorneys and government officials who have remained close to the probe saying that a grand jury will likely return an indictment against one or two senior Bush administration officials.....

In lengthy interviews over the weekend and on Monday, they said that Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has started to prepare the paperwork to present to the grand jury seeking an indictment against White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove or National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley.

But don't cancel your appointments tomorrow because the article also says that indictments probably will not be presented for another month.

I've gotta say that this is a little odd coming off the reports yesterday of cooperation by Rove. What I think I'm getting here is that Rove has not been fully cooperative. Jason notes that Fitzgerald did not believe the whole Viveca Novak debacle that Luskin tried to sell as an explanation for Rove's shifting grand jury testimony.

If history is a guide, I would guess Rove will let Fitzgerald go right to the brink of indictment, and then offer to cooperate some more.

Also, the vague indications in this article of Hadley, or Rove, or both, tells me that Fitzgerald is trying to pit them against each other. You know, the standard cop show tactic of seperating the suspects offering them seperate deals to rat each other out. And, then the addition of the ticking clock leaked through this story. That's big pressure.

Now for the fun part, the speculation.
Just speculation, but I would think that if there were equal culpability between them and that if Rove/Hadley were the endpoint of this investigation, there would be far more certainty whether either, none, or both would be charged. If the investigation is completed, wouldn't there be a better sense of where the case stood against both of them?

Now, as a counter argument, Jason does report that the chief FBI investigator Eckenrode has retired, but I don't think that means necessarily that Rove/Hadley is the end. The arrangement of evidence and the collection of testimony could well continue.

I have no real basis beyond a hunch, but sitting here now, this just smells to me like working up the chain. You offer Hadley and Rove deals for full cooperation. Either they both keep their mouths shut and face jailtime, one cracks and rats out the other making the pressure even greater on the second, or they both start singing. In any case, this sounds like leverage.

It's quite clear from the "missing" 250 emails that somebody besides Libby in the VP's office was very directly involved in obstruction of justice, running around from computer to computer, from office to office intentionally deleting emails and other communications. Also consider that this person or persons had to have enough pull(Cheney's backing) and security clearance to travel office to secure office on all the computers or to order/coordinate it among possible participants. This person, I think, is now the endpoint of the investigation.

So, Fitzgerald has issued his final warnings to Rove and Hadley.

Karl, stop cooperating halfway, your game is over. Hadley, you've known you were in the sights for nine months so fess up or go to jail. Tell me everything about the obstruction and conspiracy(Cheney?) or go to jail. And, if I've learned anything watching Karl Rove through all this, he won't go to jail.

The threats have become more direct, the targets far more substantial. It appears we are finally nearing the endgame.

As a funny side note, how does Josh Bolten's future look right now? Just this morning everyone was asking how effective could he be with Rove and Cheney still around? Sure, all of this might leave a mess for him, but he may be about to be the top advisor. How good of a Washington operator is he?

And, let's talk about the midterms again.... (heh, heh, heh...)

Picture of the Day - 3

"Okay, now all together...
Iraq is going well, Iraq is going well....
Now, just the ladies..."


"I hear some people talking about (airquotes) an incompetent president."

5 minutes on CNN

Okay, so I sit down with my lunch to watch CNN and the first thing I hear is this quote from a CNN reporter on his thoughts about the LA immigration protests. (Tony somebody - my transcript)
"(I thought to myself) My goodness, what an economic statement all these people are making. You know they're not taking care of the fairways at your favorite golf course, they're not at home with your kids...."

How could Tony leave out the place kickers? Or the Mariachi band members? Some more responsible blogger will probably cut it out of the transcripts tomorrow, but my jaw just dropped.

Then, CNN cuts to a Rumsfeld press conference where he criticizes the media for not covering the bombs that don't go off in Iraq. He made a big point of how the recent pilgrimage reflected less deaths than last year, but he left out the massive presence of the Medhi militia this time around. They were in every picture.

Contracting Internet Surveillance

I picked this up over at Genius of Insanity, a company called Cyveillance that "examines the public domain areas of the Internet for information of pivotal interest to Federal, State, and Local governments," including:

  • Awareness of online discussion by hostile groups associated with planned demonstrations or attacks
  • Controlling classified information that has leaked into the public domain

Picture of the Day - 2

No matter what else happens, this will always be Andy Card's place in history.

Andy Card Resigns!!!!!

I would assume you've already seen this by the time you get here, but the WaPo is reporting that Andy Card will resign to be replaced by Joshua Bolten.

Will this shakeup make any real difference? Is the problem in this White House really just a lack of coordination at the Chief of Staff level, or is it a failure at the Rove/Cheney policy making level? And notice that they didn't bring in the "old greybeard" that many outside the administration were calling for. This tells me that the Rove/Cheney axis will not be challenged.

(and, by the way, Mr. Bush, you accept Andy Card's resignation on the first go, but not Rumsfeld's repeated offers to step aside?)

Shifting deckchairs on the Titanic.

I'll also be curious to see what stories are buried beneath this today. The Iraqis telling the US to get out of Baghdad? The Shia politicians pulling out of negotiations on a new government? Or maybe it's the next round of NSA hearings taking place today. There's a reason that the Card announcement is taking place today.

Later: I watched a little of the Card press conference, and as he began to tear up, I wondered, was he pushed?

ALSO: Bush is quietly meeting with media figures off the record. I'm not sure on the ethics of this. On the one hand, it does allow a greater understanding by the media figures of Bush's thinking. On the other hand, the efforts at influencing their reporting are quite obvious. I wonder if they got nice parting gifts?

Are Republican trying to "Dan Rather" the Saddam Al Qaeda link?

As the administration has faced increased criticism for the Iraq war and has been forced to backtrack on all the loose associations they claim they never made about Saddam and Al Qaeda, is this an effort by the administration to get right wing bloggers to do their heavy lifting for them?

But now, an unusual experiment in public access is giving anyone with a computer a chance to play intelligence analyst and second-guess the government.

Under pressure from Congressional Republicans, the director of national intelligence has begun a yearlong process of posting on the Web 48,000 boxes of Arabic-language Iraqi documents captured by American troops.

Less than two weeks into the project, and with only 600 out of possibly a million documents and video and audio files posted, some conservative bloggers are already asserting that the material undermines the official view.

I guess when you've been called on the lie enough, it's time to call in the "unaffiliated" swiftboaters to do the lying for you.

I don't know why this bothers me so much. Perhaps it's the transparency of it, especially considering the the fact that every real attempt at an investigation into prewar intel has been blocked by these same Republicans. I'm looking at you Pat Roberts.

ALSO: Take note of this interesting little inclusion near the bottom.
In addition, the intelligence official said, known forgeries are not posted. He said the database included "a fair amount of forgeries," sold by Iraqi hustlers or concocted by Iraqis opposed to Mr. Hussein.


Don Rumsfeld places the defense secretary's medallion on the Flight 93 memorial, the same medallion he awards to soldiers in Iraq. Who ever said there was any effort to link 9-11 and Iraq?

This the first time I've seen Bush referred to in a wire story as "the struggling president" with no context given as to why he's struggling. So, has the overall narrative of Bush's difficulty progressed this far?

Did the Iraqi forces set the US up in the attack on the Mustafa mosque on Monday where a number of unarmed civilians were killed? The US military's defense today is that the Iraqis involved in the operation assured the US it wasn't a mosque. With the mayor of Baghdad and other local officials no longer cooperating with the US, and the Shiite politicians walking away negotiations on the new government, I just wonder if this "mistake" was an Iraqi set up.

Is it any surprise that the "heartland" Republicans designated Graceland as a National Historic Landmark? Also, how much money did Gale Norton take to make this happen? Didn't she resign?

In twenty years, is the US going to face lawsuits over depleted uranium like the cases that are still ongoing regarding Agent Orange?

I'm just feeling kinda weird on this grey morning waiting for the rain. All I'm seeing is questions.

Picture of the Day

George, you've got to get that Guest Worker thing passed.

I just don't know what I'd do without Marta.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Did George Bush provoke the Tal Afar attack?

At and surrounding Bush's press conference, he made the point that the insurgents in Iraq are media saavy, and they know that killing large numbers of people will get them press coverage, thus affecting US opinion, thus impacting the war effort. So, although he said he admittedly understood why the media did this, he rather carefully tried to draw a connection between their reporting and deaths in Iraq. It was their fault.

Okay, you want to play that game of loose affiliation causal blame?

At and surrounding that same press conference, Bush touted the great success that was taking place in Tal Afar. There have been several reports from several media sources disputing this rosy scenario, but for the sake of our "which American is impeding US efforts" game, let's just say it's true.

Okay, so Bush points to Tal Afar as a success story, the media saavy insurgents see this, and within a couple days send a suicide bomber into an army recruitment center outside Tal Afar "killing at least 40 people and wounding at least 30 others, an official at the Interior Ministry said." Connection?

Probably not, quite frankly. I think this type of causal argument is weak, and I thought I'd use this illustration to point that out.

Plame Gossip ---- BOOM!

Take a look at this. (Rawstory.)
Karl Rove, Deputy White House Chief of Staff and special adviser to President George W. Bush, has recently been providing information to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald in the ongoing CIA leak investigation, sources close to the investigation say.

According to several Pentagon sources close to Rove and others familiar with the inquiry, Bush's senior adviser tipped off Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to information that led to the recent "discovery" of 250 pages of missing email from the office of Vice President Dick Cheney.....

According to one source close to the case, Rove is providing information on deleted emails, erased hard drives and other types of obstruction by staff and other officials in the Vice President's office. Pentagon sources close to Rove confirmed this account.

Now it's gotta be said, Rove's attorney is vehemently denying this, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not true. It does match the circumstance that the pressure on Rove seems to have abated somewhat, but I would still treat this as rumor.

Wonderful, gossipy, juicy rumor.

UPDATE: Upgrade this from rumor to probable. Steve Clemons has confirmed it through a different source. So, Rove took a deal which involved him giving out pointers on how the VP's office was hiding information and obstructing justice. It's curious that everytime Rove appears on the cusp of indictment, he turns over just a little more information. I wonder if/when Fitzgerald will have squeezed the lemon dry.

The needle has just turned towards the heart of the conspiracy. This means Rove probably walks in some form or another, probation, no jail time, something like that, but somebody, or somebodies, in the VP's office will certainly go down now.

I wonder if Rove discussed the plea deal with Bush.....

The Downing Street Memos Finally Hit the US Press

There's nothing new in this NYTimes article on this set of Downing Street Memos which show Bush and Blair were committed to war in Iraq no matter what the Security Council or weapons inspectors found.

These hit the British Press some months ago, but I do think their appearance on the front page of the NYTimes is significant.

Also, the LATimes has a big front page piece about the FBI spying on antiwar groups. Like the above, kind of a summary and nothing really new, but significant in that this is making the front page.

Picture of the Day

Republican Congressman Mike Sodrel of Indiana offers his five week old granddaughter as a suitable future vessel for Dick Cheney's soul.


I thought the Republicans were against gay adoption.

Iraq's Inertia - Truth no longer matters

Will a new Iraqi "unity government" put an end to the civil war? I don't think so.

Much like a gang war we've reached a situation where the foot soldiers, the on-the-ground militias and partisans in this case, are all calling for revenge, for blood, for war. Their nominal political leaders now find themselves in the position that if were to disavow the revenge killings and other violence, they would no longer be recognized as leaders. The foot soldiers now want war, and it would be a follish leader who would stand in their way.

This is one thing that Sadr has done very well. By straddling the fence between militia violence and political settlement, he has positioned himself to gain influence whether Iraq chooses violence or peace.

The leadership figures, both religious and political, have all had to build their organizations in a relatively short period of time. Certainly in the case of the Shia and the Kurds, there were existing political/religious structures and allegiances before the war, but that is a very different thing from the current working political/military organizations. The people put in various positions down the organizational tree are new to the organization and their roles, and their loyalties and operational command are far from cemented.

So, within these relatively weak structures, when "the street" calls for war, it would be a foolish leader to attempt to stand against it. In order to maintain power over their faction, the leaders of Iraq may have to accept the will of their soldiers and go to war no matter the lip service they may pay to a unity government. This seems to be the current inertia of Iraq.

Also, after the clash at the mosque last night where Iraqis claim US soldiers entered the mosque and killed civilians, a charge the US denies, saying it was Iraqi forces, I have come to the conclusion that the truth no longer matters in Iraq. The line has been crossed.

Iraqis no longer care who is killing their brothers and sons; they no longer care whether US or Iraqi forces conducted the raid. In their defense and desire for vengeance, the various groups have now turned inward, setting up their own checkpoints, managing their own security, conducting their own raids, executing those they see as enemies. In short, carrying out a civil war.

The opinions of the factions appear to have been further hardened by the recent violence. For years, the Sunnis have been conducting operations against the US and Iraqi government forces, but with the bombing of the Askariyah Shrine a month ago, the Shia seem to have fully entered the fray.

The truth of who conducted the raid last night no longer matters. That violence will be met with violence, and no matter what the news is, that is civil war.

(Sorry that I've been doing more editorializing and less article links than usual in the last few days, but that's because I don't think the stories are really capturing the true state of play in Iraq.)

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Had Enough?

Reality-Based Educator pointed something out in the article in the previous post that I had just glossed over.(thanks, by the way.)
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, who masterminded the 1994 elections that brought Republicans to power on promises of revolutionizing the way Washington is run, told TIME that his party has so bungled the job of governing that the best campaign slogan for Democrats today could be boiled down to just two words: "Had enough?"

I think it works. I think it sums up all the questions and cronyism and mistakes and incompetence of the Bush administration in one tidy memorable phrase. It attacks through assumption, offering no position or argument for counterattack.

See, this is the kind of thing the Dems don't do well. Being so used to being attacked, they just assume that they have to explain all their positions in excruciating detail, and, by not using this kind of "assumptive speech," their explanations reinforce the feeling that their position is not the majority view.

My only concern is why. Why is Gingrich offering this little gem to the Democrats?

If this were to catch on, he'd be making alot of enemies on the national Republican circuit. Is it a move to break the Republicans in 2006 so he can return as the "back to basics" ideological savior in 2008?

Has he given up on being a politician and using this as a free advertisement to very publicly start a political consultancy? (I disagree with his politics, but he's good. I'd hire him.) Is he using this as some sort of a set up so the Republicans can come in behind and whack it down? Just said as a casual aside? Trying to take credit for something that's yet to be released by the Dems?

Despite the motivation, I have to marvel at the political genius of it. The campaign speech almost writes itself. Take a look at this post by Reality-Based Educator to see what I mean. Just freakin' brilliant. Print those posters tonight, Dammit!

The building anti-Republican wave

We're so far from the midterm elections, with so many events yet to intervene, that I think trying to forecast them is pretty foolish. BUT, those perceptions and forecasts, regardless of their accuracy, do have very real impacts on current politics and policy. So, when I see something like this Time magazine article, it does catch my eye.
If the midterm elections were held today, top strategists of both parties say privately, the Republicans would probably lose the 15 seats they need to keep control of the House of Representatives....

Iraq is driving nearly all the big indicators the wrong way for Republicans. In a Time poll conducted last week, Bush's job approval rating was mired at 39%; 3 in 5 Americans said the country is headed in the wrong direction, and when those surveyed were given the choice between a generic Republican and a generic Democrat for Congress, the nameless Democrat won, 50% to 41%. The signs suggest an anti-Republican wave is building, says nonpartisan electoral handicapper Stuart Rothenberg, whose Rothenberg Political Report is closely followed in Washington. "The only question is how high, how big, how much force it will have. I think it will be considerable." The danger signs for Republicans show up across the electoral map....

That's one reason Republican strategists say they plan to battle the national tide by localizing individual races. Localizing suggests drawing voters' attention to the issues that most affect them at home. But in practice, to political operatives it means putting an opponent through the shredder. Republicans plan to go after Democratic challengers with every bit of ammunition they can find, from old tax liens to long-ago votes to raise local taxes.....

If that's the conventional wisdom, tell me that isn't going to shape US politics and policies for the next six months.

Picture of the Day - 2

Iraq is worse than reported

If Bush is looking for someone to fire in his administration, I would suggest whoever it was that came up with the idea attacking the press for not covering "the good news" in Iraq. Man, oh man, was that a poorly conceived strategy.

What's flowed from that is a series of reports, a couple of which I cited yesterday, about the true state of Iraq, and the unanimous answer from the reporters in the field seems to be coming back that it is far worse than is currently being reported. I've seen so many of these over the past few days, NYTimes, CNN, WaPo, Time.

This video clip of Laura Logan of CBS news sums up the tone pretty well. (5 minutes.)

(Show me the good news when 30 decapitated bodies are found outside Baghdad.)

Tancredo's back

Racist, crazy Tom Tancredo is back in the limelight with the immigration debate coming this week. He'll always be known to me as the politician who field tested the phrase "Preserving our National Identity" (our white racist national identity.)

(And, just a warning, I'm probably going to be writing alot about the immigration debate this week because racism drives me apeshit crazy, and the Republicans pushing immigration as a campaign issue litter their appeal with racist language.)

UPDATE: Just since writing this an hour ago, I found another one. Tancredo on illegals. (Newsweek)
They are "a scourge that threatens the very future of our nation," he says. He laments "the cult of multiculturalism," and worries about America's becoming a "Tower of Babel."

Did Nixon ruin the Republican Party?

I originally wrote this post back in early December relating to Nixon's "Southern Strategy" and it's implications towards the future including the immigration debate, and I still think it stands as one of the best posts I've ever written.

Short version, Nixon's "Southern Strategy," embracing the bigotry of the South bought significant political gains for a generation of Republicans by shifting their base away from the shrinking populations of the Northeast down to the growing populations of the bible belt. The longterm flaw in this strategy is that it added a constituency of the "nativist," read racist, as a necessary part of maintaining the Republican majority guaranteeing them a place at the table.

Although this "Southern Strategy" gave the Republicans a generation of political dominance rooted in the south, with shifting demographics and modernizing attitudes towards race, they now find themselves shackled to this racist constituency as a necessary part of their political coalition. The Republicans now need the racists to maintain their majority.

With the fault lines of the Republicans around the immigration debate currently revealing themselves, I thought it might be a good time to relink to this post.

Picture of the Day

Two Iraqis search for a missing family member among the dead.

(AFP - Ali al Saadi)