.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Picture of the Day - 4

U.S. soldiers inspect one of their damaged and burnt armored vehicle after a car bomb attack, in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday Sept. 9, 2006. A car bomb explosion struck a U.S. military convoy, killing at least two passers-by and wounding five, police said. The U.S. military command did not immediately release any information on whether there were any U.S. casualties.(AP Photo/Karim Kadim)

Picture of the Day - 3

An Iraqi father comforts his injured son after car bomb attack on a U.S. convoy, in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday Sept. 9, 2006. A car bomb explosion struck a U.S. military convoy, killing at least two passers-by and wounding five, police said. The U.S. military command did not immediately release any information on whether there were any U.S. casualties.(AP Photo/Samir Mizban)

Chafee, Laffey, Bolton, and Rhode Island

The vote on the Bolton nomination was "delayed" this week. Lincoln Chafee was the primary block. The situation was so dire that there were rumors that Bolton's confirmation was all but dead.

So, when I read this today, I thought there might be a connection between the Bolton delay and the sudden flood of pro-Chafee politics in Rhode Island.
With a barrage of television advertisements and the mobilization of its get-out-the-vote machine, the national Republican Party has lined up to beat back a conservative primary challenge to the most liberal Republican in the Senate, Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island. The outcome on Tuesday could help determine whether Democrats have a shot at taking back the Senate.

In an extraordinary pre-emptive announcement, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has said it will concede Rhode Island to the Democrats should Stephen Laffey, the mayor of Cranston, defeat Mr. Chafee in the primary.

How much you want to bet Chafee's objections against Bolton disappear? Conveniently, the holdup to the Bolton nomination is expected to last into early this week (through the Sept 12. primary.)

(Remember that Chafee needed something desperate. In the last independent polling I saw, (Aug 1) Chafee 34%, Laffey 51%. This was followed the same day by an "internal" NSRC poll showing Chafee up 51%- 34%.)

Now, there's a pushpoll "against" Chafee with graphic descriptions of partial birth abortions. Funny thing though, the Laffey camp claims it's not theirs and is being put out to make them look bad.

The dirt and dirty tricks are flying in Rhode Island, and that means that the National Republican Party can't be far away. So, did Chafee hold up the Republican party over Bolton? I don't know, but there's alot of smoke for a small state primary.

Path to 9/11 problems more than just Clinton

I cannot find the story link for the life of me, but in yesterday's Washington Post online, one of the commentators noted that one of the scenes altered included a line blaming the WaPo for printing a story on electronic intelligence. Something along the lines of "Bin Laden stopped using his phone after the Washington Post printed...."

The objections should not just be about blaming Clinton. There seem to be Bush supporting bits peppered throughout. This entire thing is an admitted propaganda piece. Reediting won't fix that.

I will miss ESPN, though.

AND, I've been wondering about this comment in the Howard Dean letter all night. "The American people deserve to know who funded this $40 million dollar slanderous propaganda."

Does he know or suspect something there, or is this just an empty phrase designed to get people like me making an association? I would really like to know.

Picture of the Day - 2 - Chalabi with Bush et al.

Chalabi with Bush, Rumsfeld, Powell, Bremer, Lott, Wolfowitz, Santorum, and Khatami.

(Note: None of the people who were key in propagating the bad INC intel, Cheney, Feith, Wurmser, Hannah, Perle, etc. were stupid enough to have their picture taken with him.)

Chalabi, the INC, Phase II, Cheney, and the Big Lie

With the parts of the Phase II report coming out I think it's time to revisit the question, "whose side was Chalabi really on?"
The report also said exiles from the Iraqi National Congress (INC) tried to influence U.S. policy by providing, through defectors, false information on Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons capabilities. After skeptical analysts warned that the group had been penetrated by hostile intelligence services, including Iran's, a 2002 White House directive ordered that U.S. funding for the INC be continued.

But the thing to note is that this also worked with the war party's interests.
Although the Senate report raises questions about the reliability of the information provided by Iraqi exiles, it notes that the information had little direct impact on the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq produced in October 2002. Many of the Iraqi National Congress claims, however, were passed on to the White House and the office of Vice President Cheney through reports by a separate intelligence analysis group established by then-Undersecretary of Defense Douglas J. Feith.

And, while we're at it, let's take a little trip back to Nov. 9, 2005, well after all of Chalabi's lies have been revealed to Cheney/Feith/Hadley/etc. (Link is dead, sorry.)
U.S. officials said Chalabi came to Washington at this time because he was invited by Treasury Secretary John Snow. But Snow is traveling in India all week.

Also in this article,

Chalabi is also due to meet Vice President Dick Cheney and National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley while in Washington.

Speaking to reporters after the half-hour session with Rice, Chalabi denied giving U.S. officials false intelligence about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and said the focus should be on the future.

Or maybe a little trip further back, (June 3, 2004) (In all Rice's appearances on TV, has anyone ever asked her about this?)
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice yesterday promised Congress a full investigation into allegations that an Iraqi politician supported by the Pentagon told Iran the United States had broken the code it used for secret communications, and U.S. officials said the revelation destroyed an important source of intelligence. ......

In a closed-door damage assessment on Capitol Hill, National Security Agency officials said the disclosure cut off a significant stream of information about Iran at a time when the United States is worried about the country's nuclear ambitions, its support for terrorist groups and its efforts to exert greater influence over Iraq.

So, the answer seems to be that the pro-war Bush folks were warned that Chalabi's INC had been penetrated by foreign intelligence services, that the information coming from the INC was bad, and yet they still rested a war upon it.

There's evidence Chalabi has worked directly for Iran, and yet even up to 10 months ago, he was still garnering meetings with Cheney and and his carefully placed cadre of followers.

I have no snappy closing line. I just wish someone would ask the questions.

(Maybe I should add two more data points. The INC's bad data went straight into the VP's office from where it was distributed. (That gives confirmation 1 from Feith's DoD outfit, and 1 from Hannah/VP's office.)
On June 26, 2002, the INC wrote a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee staff identifying Hannah as the White House recipient of information gathered by the group through a U.S.-funded effort called the Information Collection Program. Knight Ridder obtained a copy of the letter and previously reported on it.

And a little less concrete, but perhaps the weirdest of all, after Iraq blew up, after he had proven ties to the Iranians, after all the intel had been proven false, this man convicted in absentia for bank fraud in Jordan, Chalabi shows up as an invited guest at Bilderberg in 2005.)

Last: And most disgusting of all. During that Nov. 2005 visit, Chalabi went to Walter Reed to visit soldiers wounded in Iraq.

Cheney is on Meet the Press tomorrow

That's right, the dark prince himself will be the only guest sitting across from Russert tomorrow.

I think this will be Russert's journalist's moment when he has to decide whether he wants to be a journalist or a kingmaker/ Washington player. Unfortunately, my money's on the latter.

Car Bombs are not sectarian violence

There have been some whoppers told lately in Iraq, but this one......
U.S. officials, seeking a way to measure the results of a program aimed at decreasing violence in Baghdad, aren't counting scores of dead killed in car bombings and mortar attacks as victims of the country's sectarian violence.

In a distinction previously undisclosed, U.S. military spokesman Lt. Col. Barry Johnson said Friday that the United States is including in its tabulations of sectarian violence only deaths of individuals killed in drive-by shootings or by torture and execution.

That has allowed U.S. officials to boast that the number of deaths from sectarian violence in Baghdad declined by more than 52 percent in August over July.

Picture of the Day - Galveston, 1900

On Sunday September 9, 1900, a major hurricane struck Galveston, Texas. The storm surge completely inundated the island killing 6,000 of the 37,000 residents. It was the deadliest natural disaster in American history.

Just a little regional remembrance.

Friday, September 08, 2006

This time, Disney is the swiftboater.

Now let me get this straight, on the day a when a Republican controlled Senate Committee produces a report saying there were no Saddam-Al Qaeda ties, in effect saying the entire justification for the Iraq war was manufactured,

Now, I'm watching Clinton officials on CNN having to defend their handling of Bin Laden against a documentary which is incontrovertibly false.

Are you kidding me? This time Disney is the swiftboater.

Karl Rove must be dancing right now.

Picture of the Day - 5

An Iraqi girl Marwa Faris, 15, cries, after she was injured and her father killed in a roadside bomb explosion, in Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday Sept. 7, 2006. Faris was on her way with her father to appear for an academic exam in their car, when a roadside bomb exploded killing her father, injuring her and another civilian. (AP Photo/Assad Mouhsin)

Quickhits & Path to 9-11.

The DNC has issued a vicious video attacking Bush's sudden reinterest in Bin Laden. It ends, "So is it really a Bush Administration priority, or just another way to scare voters before a tough election?" (Direct Video Link.)

In all the reporting on the Pakistani concessions to the tribes of N. Waziristan, I hadn't seen this, "Their allies will be freed from jail, confiscated weapons will be returned..." How long til both turn up in Afghanistan?

Last, let me praise the big lefty blogs. Alot of the time I think they go after piddly crap, but their work on the Path to 9/11 has been outstanding.

The latest, the director has ties to an evangelical film school trying to "transform Hollywood." Star Keitel says it should be "corrected". The Dem leadership, Clinton, Allbright and Berger, historians, right wing folks, and more have all called for cancellation or changes.

(Oh, and to my joy, Ford is closing on Corker in Tennessee.)

Picture of the Day - 4

One of the TALON robots used by the 184th EOD unit in Baghdad.

A different Bush 9-11 speech

There was an announcement that Bush will make a prime time speech on Sept. 11 that the administration claims will not be a political speech. Right. Let me offer a different picture.

President Bush at center at the podium, behind him House and Senate leaders of both parties, his national security team and a few token Dem centrist foreign policy folks, Madeline Albright, William Cohen, etc. The speech would be :
"The people on this rostrum have many disagreements, some significant, on tactics and policy, but on this day, on this hallowed day, we come together united as Americans. We come together unified in our belief that this should never happen again.

In the midst of this heated election sometimes the greater battle gets lost among the politics. I am here today with representatives from both parties to reiterate that no matter the internal dispute, we stand together on this day of remembrance united against a greater enemy. First and foremost, we are Americans....

Now, I'll step aside and let Senator Reid make a few comments....."

Now, that would be leadership.

Picture of the Day - 3


"We've secretly replaced this President's foreign policy team with a group of 6 interns and a 10 year old scot terrier named Mr. Piffles.

Let's see how long it takes for someone to notice."

Rumsfeld "forbade" post war planning.

I don't know the sourcing, but this is explosive, an insider talking about Rumsfeld's plans for Iraq.
Months before the United States invaded Iraq in 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld forbade military strategists from developing plans for securing a post-war Iraq, the retiring commander of the Army Transportation Corps said Thursday.

In fact, said Brig. Gen. Mark Scheid, Rumsfeld said "he would fire the next person" who talked about the need for a post-war plan.

According to this, Rumsfeld's plan was to get in and get out quickly "because the American public will not back us if they think we are going over there for a long war." That's why there was no postwar planning.

The guy's not particularly anti-Rumsfeld or anti-war. Worth a read.


(AP) - "The number of U.S. troops in Iraq rose to 145,000 this week, the highest since December and 15,000 more than a month ago."

(AFP) - "The White House revealed what may be a US diplomatic first: the US embassy in Baghdad houses a formal "Office of Hostage Affairs" to handle abductions of American citizens and other nationals."

(WaPo) - The number of IED's is rising, but more troublingly, "The number of tips from Iraqis that the military can act upon, known as "actionable intelligence," rose earlier this year from 4,000 in January to a peak of 5,900 in April, but then declined significantly, to 3,700, in July."

The LATimes repeats the possibility that Iraqi Interior Minister Bolani may be replaced, although looking back at two months it took to choose Bolani, I don't think finding a replacement is going to be a small thing.

The AP reports that Arabic news network Al Arabiya had its Baghdad office closed by police, and that it has been banned for Iraq for a month. "A statement by al-Maliki's office cited news reports that "capitalize on the footage of victims of terrorist attacks." So, they reported the news?


It was a long dry blogging August, but now everything's happening.

The Democrats got an amendment unanimously added to the Defense bill reinstating the CIA unit dedicated to hunting Osama Bin Laden.

Steve Clemmons says the Bolton nomination is dead. I wouldn't count it out yet, but it's certainly on life support. Later: WaPo says it was Chafee.

(Reuters) The Secret Prisons story was brought into the light after "an appeal from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Bush to consider the administration's legacy, the Post said citing unnamed officials." (WaPo original story.)

Part of the Phase II Senate Intelligence report is due out today. Revised: It's out. Conclusion, there was no connection at all between Saddam and Al Qaeda. (That means the White House lied!) WaPo, NYTimes, the two reports in .pdf - INC intel, postwar truth vs pre war statements.

Picture of the Day - 2

A U.S. soldier checks the body of a soldier killed in a suicide car bomb blast outside Friday the U.S. embassy in Kabul.
Farzana Wahid, AFP/Getty)

From the horrible story on the Kabul bombing that killed "at least 16 people, including two American soldiers."

(Notably, this is the first picture I've ever seen in a US major of a US soldier who was killed in Iraq or Afghanistan.)

Internet was down this morning

Catching up.

Picture of the Day

A man carries his son in a hospital to receive treatment for wounds sustained in a mortar attack in Baghdad September 6, 2006.
(REUTERS /Mohammed Ameen)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Stray thought between pictures

George Soros did an interview on my local Pacifica station, he has a speech here tomorrow, and in it, he said something I can't get out of my head.

Soros theorized that one of the reasons for the deep personal effectiveness of the fear reaction even now around 9-11 is that it exploits a flaw in American culture by tapping into the "inability to properly face death," and that the concept of a suicide bomber is so alien that it cedes the mental ground to the enemy in a way.

That is why Americans turned unquestioningly to Bush, because he promised to be tougher than the terrorists when we thought that we weren't.

I don't know if I agree, but I found it interesting.

Picture of the Day - 4

A blaze rages at a gas station in Najaf, 160 kilometers (100 miles) south of Baghdad. Insurgents killed at least 44 Iraqis (in Baghdad) as a wave of car bombings in the capital marked the day when the embattled Baghdad government began to take command of its own armed forces.(AFP/Qassem Zein)

Blumenthal's hit piece on Rice

And you wonder how we got into this mess....
This May, as the situation in Iraq drastically worsened, Rice directed the senior staff that she wants no more reporting from U.S. embassies. She announced in the meeting, according to one participant, that people write memos only for each other and that no one else reads them. She said she didn't and wouldn't read them. Instead of writing reports, the diplomats should "sell America," she insisted. "We are salesmen for America!" ......

Short but scathing. (It's Salon so you gotta watch the ad.)

Picture of the Day - 3

This is who we're fighting for in Iraq.
(see next.)

The Iraq connection to the war on terror

In an interview with Katie Couric, Bush makes what I think is his most explicit explanation of why he thinks that Iraq is a part of the "war on terror."
"You know, one of the hardest parts of my job is to connect Iraq to the war on terror. I believe it. As I told you, Osama bin Laden believes it. But the American people — have gotta understand that a defeat in Iraq — in other words, if this government there fails, the terrorists will be emboldened, the radicals will topple moderate governments. I truly believe this is the ideological struggle of the 21st century. And the consequences for not achieving success are — are dire."

Looking past the obvious convolution of "terrorists" with indigineous anti-government forces in Arab countries, what is Bush telling us here?

Bush is saying we are still in Iraq because we are fighting to maintain the Saudi monarchy. US soldiers are dying in Iraq because we are trying to maintain the anti-democratic regimes in Kuwait and Pakistan. This is what Bush sees as the ideological struggle of the 21st century.

I'm willing to debate the relative value of stability in Saudi or Pakistan, but that's a long reach from 9-11. Staying in Iraq to prop up repressive monarchs and dictators is a long way from a "Freedom Agenda."

Bolton nomination vote delayed

Apparrently, Lincoln Chafee was the block. Let's take a minute to praise the soon to be ex-Senator from Rhode Island.

And Hagel chimes in with the best political quote I've seen this week.
When asked whether he thinks Bolton is the right man for the job, Hagel would only say: "I'm going to vote for him."

Picture of the Day - 2


We have mainstream confirmation that the Baghdad death toll last month was underreported by 300%. "The figure is a sharp contradiction of U.S. and Iraqi claims that a security crackdown led to a steep drop in deaths in the capital." (Also, note my favorite US stooge National Security advisor al-Rubaie was actively promulgating the false number.)

The US completed the official military handover to the Iraqis, although it's only token forces involved. "The prime minister will take control of Iraq's small naval and air forces and the 8th Iraqi Army Division."

(Interestingly, the 8th Division is the (allegedly SCIRI) unit that lost the recent major fight against Sadr's militias in Diwaniyah.)

The Telegraph has a map of what Iraq could look like if the Shia (SCIRI/Hakim) proposed "federalist" proposal passes. It would allow the establishment armed borders. It is to be voted on in 15 days.

A call for help in Afghanistan

This is Al Qaeda's front porch and we're pouring all our resources into Iraq.
CASTEAU, Belgium - NATO's top commander, Gen. James L. Jones, on Thursday called for allied nations to send reinforcements to southern Afghanistan, saying the coming weeks could be decisive in the fight against the Taliban.

And, CNN poll, 58% think neither side is winning in Afghanistan.

More brief thoughts on the Secret Prisons revelation

First, Obviously, this is all being done pre-election so that a vote will be rushed, but I would argue that only part of that has to do with affecting the elections themselves. Another part has to do with getting it done while the Bush admin still has some leverage.

Would a lame duck Congress without the election hype be as accomodating? Or a Democratic House after January? (Again, see the immunity post yesterday.)

Second, Is this the October Surprise? Is this all they've got? The Bush administration, unable to round up any significant terror figures, brings out a few that they've been keeping on ice for years.

Shouldn't the question be, "you haven't captured a major Al Qaeda figure since Khalid Sheikh Muhammed in March 2003?"

Third, On the immunity issue, "the draft Administration bill would (i) retroactively legalize all the unlawful acts that were approved and performed from 2001 to the present day (see section 9, page 86); (ii) would cut off all judicial review of U.S. compliance with the Geneva Conventions (section 6(b), page 79)"

Last, All of this acted as convenient cover as the Senate Republicans killed the Rumsfeld "no confidence" vote which would've been the headline today. Articles asking the question about Rumsfeld. Articles revisiting all the mistakes of the war. CNN/MSNBC would've carried polls. It would've been the topic of debate. But not now.

Picture of the Day

Unauthorized soldier's photo of a detainee transfer.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The White House's "dealbreaker" on detainee treatment

Amidst all the flutter of coverage yesterday around detainee policies, one little but significant bit seems to have fallen by the wayside: Immunity for US personnel for past acts.
Third, I'm asking that Congress make it clear that captured terrorists cannot use the Geneva Conventions as a basis to sue our personnel in courts -- in U.S. courts. The men and women who protect us should not have to fear lawsuits filed by terrorists because they're doing their jobs.

Inside the White House's previous proposed legislation, (and also inside the Specter version) is a provision which would retroactively immunize US personnel not just from civil claims, but also from criminal claims.

This is significant not only for the frontline US personnel who may have crossed the legal line, but also for those who issued the policy under which it was done. I do not have a copy of the current proposed legislation, but I would wager that, like the previous version, it is written in such a way as to immunize administration officials who signed off on the secret prisons and some of the more extreme, Geneva violating "harsh interrogation tactics."

The Supreme Court's Hamdan decision, in effect, said that the Bush administration had broken the law by violating the Geneva Conventions. In that case, it was specific only to the military tribunal process, but the precedent and implication is that the administration's Article II claims were invalid and that Geneva applied.

This means that in the secret prisons program, interrogation policies, and probably renditions, individuals in the Bush administration broke the law, the criminal law under the War Crimes Act of 1996.

This immunity issue will be the one immovable item in the entire debate.

(Here's a WaPo piece discussing this conflict in relation to the administration's previous attempt at detainee legislation. And the relevant provison of the War Crimes Act itself Provisions 1 & 3 in the US criminal code.)
As used in this section the term “war crime” means any conduct—
After the Hamdan decision held that detainees are covered under article III, that would seem to fairly clearly indicate criminal violations.

Picture of the Day - 3

This is the way of Iraq.

Another Iraq lie. And another.

I have been talking about the inevitable failure of Together Forward (trying to pacify a city of 6 million with 8,000 +/- US troops,) but I had believed the early statements that it had been working. It turns out that optimism may have been misplaced.
It turns out the official toll of violent deaths in August was just revised upwards to 1535 from 550, tripling the total....... But this means that a much-publicized drop-off in violence in August – heralded by both the Iraqi government and the US military as a sign that a new security effort in Baghdad was working -- apparently didn’t exist......

Officials at the Baghdad morgue have no good explanation for the dramatically revised number. We’ll see what the U.S. military has to say.

I think we'll have to wait for confirmation on this. The news reports in early/mid August did not feature large numbers of mass attacks so that number would have to consist primarily of the small scale sectarian executions which would mark a significant increase. Certainly possible, but I want confirmation.

And, another lie. Remember that long post about how al-Rubaie could not be trusted in the timing of his announcement of the capture of Iraq's Al Qaeda number 2? Well......
The U.S. military said Wednesday the arrest of al-Qaida in Iraq's second in command took place in June and was the most significant blow to the terror network since the death of al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

But Rubaie did his job. His spectacle around that "hastily arranged" news conference completely obscured the failed Iraqi military handover talks. (The handover is back on for tomorrow.)

Picture of the Day - 2

Hiding the truth about Iraq from oversight.

Bill Frist is going to hold back the Intelligence bill for the second year in a row for political considerations.
If the bill does not come to the floor before the end of the year — a possibility that looks increasingly likely — it would mark the second year in a row that the Republicans have shied away from completing the legislation after an unbroken skein that began in 1978.

Like last year, Senate Democrats are prepared to push amendments that would demand that President Bush give Congress closely held information on the Iraq War and his terror suspect detention practices. But Frist does not want to give them the platform to do so, because he considers a rehash of the war to be a waste of the Senate’s time, according to the Tennessee Republican’s chief of staff.

The failure to pass an authorization bill for two consecutive years would further neuter the Intelligence panels.Without it, the House and Senate committees would have no say in providing the intelligence community with strategic and financial guidance.

In other words, we're not going to allow anyone to prevent present mistakes because they may want to talk about past mistakes.

Also: Negroponte is issuing guidelines to allow agency directors to withhold reporting to Congress "at their discretion."


(AFP) "Iraq's parliament has reopened after a month-long recess marred by mounting sectarian violence, with deputies expected to discuss breaking up the country into semi-independent regions." (This would be federalism, not a full break up.)

A "high level delegation" of Iraq's ministers went to Iran. (No post meeting reporting yet, they're there til Friday.)

Dahr Jamail is reporting that the US is losing control of the Anbar province.

They're still finding bodies in Baghdad.

Mark Brunswick discusses one soldier's death in Anbar.

Two marines and one sailor were killed in Anbar yesterday.

Still it goes on. No change in strategy, no change in tactics.

Bush, not security, may be the legislative center

It must be said that this is before the party whips go to work, but the GOP's plan to push "security" in Congress may flounder. Two stories:

The politics of legislating continued warrantless wiretapping seem to be growing increasingly muddled as six separate bills are now in committee, and now heavyweights McCain, Warner, and Graham have offered an alternative on military tribunals/Guantanamo trials.

Rove's midterm election plan was to push late for a focus on national security, (he said as much in that February speech,) but the assumption in that strategy was that the long vaunted Republican discipline could be maintained. That assumption appears to be failing as individual candidates look at their own '06 reelection and the '08 presidential race.

Does this effort turn into Republican on Republican violence?

Political bits

It looks like we will have Katherine Harris to kick around anymore. She won her primary handily - +19% on her nearest rival. (I'm so glad that Florida has supplanted Texas as the crackpot state.)

Insight Magazine (Moonie) "The White House funneled millions of dollars through major Republican Party contributors to Sen. Joseph Lieberman’s primary campaign in a failed effort to ensure the support of the former Democrat for the Bush administration." (This might be a right wing plant proving Joe's "independence.")

The White House is stinking of desperation. Nazi appeaser claims, Lenin appeaser claims, even in the President's speech. But the winner has to be Condi Rice's saying Iraq war critics would've supported the continuation of Slavery.

(Funny how the only major black administration official made these statements to the black targeted Essence magazine. They're pulling out the race card already. Smell the desperation.)

And, don't forget that among other things, there is a John Bolton confirmation vote this week. To make it interesting, Chafee is wobbling. In the Sept. 12 primary he is fully expected to get creamed from the right, so does he vote for the primary or for his conscience. (This guy says he can't make the full Senate vote.)

Picture of the Day

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Pakistan, our ally

Bin Laden seems to have found a safe haven. (Updated/corrected by ABC, see bottom.)
Osama bin Laden, America's most wanted man, will not face capture in Pakistan if he agrees to lead a "peaceful life," Pakistani officials tell ABC News.

The surprising announcement comes as Pakistani army officials announced they were pulling their troops out of the North Waziristan region as part of a "peace deal" with the Taliban.

If he is in Pakistan, bin Laden "would not be taken into custody," Major General Shaukat Sultan Khan told ABC News in a telephone interview, "as long as one is being like a peaceful citizen."

So, maybe it's time to run through the list on Pakistan again.
1. A long history of supporting terrorism in the Taleban, Al Qaeda, and the Kashmiri independence groups.

2. Elements of the Pakistani military still actively supply money and support to those groups today.

3. 40+ nuclear weapons (with a history of supplying weapons to terror groups.)

4. Confirmed nuclear proliferation with the individual and organization responsible protected from international questioning.

5. Harboring the top terrorists in the world.

(Apparently this offer is part of the "peace offer" with the western militants first reported by Knight Ridder on Saturday.)

: Unsurprisingly, there's been a denial from the Pakistani government. ABC has republished that section of the interview. (Huge thanks to anonymous.) I do see the possible confusion in the discussion between Bin Laden and "one." I assume the interview was done in English.

But the list above still stands. (Bad on ABC for deleting the original link by the way. At the very least, put a retraction or redirect to the current article in its place.)

Also, Interesting that these statements came the day before Musharraf went to Afghanistan to discuss cross border issues. And, I would guess we can rule out a Bin Laden arrest as the October surprise.

Picture of the Day - 2

A Medevac nurse in Iraq.

The fruits of 'Forward Together'

Check the stats in the last paragraph. One month into the Baghdad security operation, 45,800 buildings searched, 75 "suspects," and 1,000 weapons. That's it.

How long until those numbers add up to have any real impact?

It's a presence operation, and with 8,000 US troops, that presence is small and shifting and thus ultimately fruitless. (Originally LATimes, but linking elsewhere for no subscription.)
In Adhamiya, a northeastern Baghdad neighborhood, American troops recently watched the ebb and flow firsthand. Killers had been dumping bodies by the dozens each week in the Sunni neighborhood. So many corpses were found on one particular street, residents nicknamed it the Street of Death. When American soldiers arrived in Stryker vehicles as part of the security crackdown, the bodies stopped appearing.

The Strykers left three days ago. Yesterday, soldiers found their first body since then on the Street of Death, a teenager who had been shot in the head......

As part of the security sweeps in Baghdad, American and Iraqi troops have searched 45,800 buildings, including 49 mosques, according to a U.S. military statement. They have detained 75 terrorist suspects and confiscated at least 1,000 weapons and found 26 weapons caches, the military said.

Also, "Iraqi parliament voted on Tuesday to extend the country's state of emergency for 30 more days. The measure has been in place for almost two years...."

Political Bits

The Republicans of Florida appear likely to give Katherine Harris a victory in the Senate primary today. Freakin' unbelievable.

The write-in candidacy for Sekula-Gibbs in Tom Delay's old district (TX-22) is going to be made far more difficult by the electronic voting machines, "The vast majority of voters in the district for the first time will use eSlate voting machines that will require voters, for a write-in, to dial up one letter at a time and press ''enter'' after each letter."

(Let me add that the way these machines work, you won't be able to look at the "special election" section for spelling help.)

And, Trust me, Josh. We're all counting the days.,
"With President Bush's sagging poll numbers and the possibility that Democrats might take back the House in November, White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten has developed a special motivational technique to keep West Wing staffers focused on getting things done in the next 2 1/2 years. Bolten has distributed to key aides a "countdown clock"-a cellphone-size timepiece that gives a digital readout of the time remaining in the Bush presidency."

Picture of the Day

US President George W. Bush waves after speaking to the 88th annual American Legion National Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. (AFP/Tim Sloan)


I haven't written much on Darfur as my knowledge of the conflict is limited, but I know that this effort by the Sudanese government to force UN and AU troops out of the region does not presage anything good.

The head of the African Union mission monitoring a shaky truce in the troubled Darfur region reaffirmed that the AU presence would end on September 30.

Sudan raised fears its turbulent west could descend into full-blown war by saying on Sunday AU troops must leave when their mandate expired at the end of the month.

The NYTimes has this quote,
Eric Reeves, a Smith College professor who closely monitors Darfur, said the Sudanese government is working to drain the region of witnesses as it moves into a final battle against the rebels and their civilian supporters.

"No A.U., no humanitarian groups, this is a genocidal black box," said Reeves, speaking from Northampton, Mass. "We're not going to get any observers."

It's not the tax cuts

Dear Mr. Bush,

It's not the tax cuts that are propping up the economic numbers. It's deficit spending. The tax cuts are simply serving to channel those benefits to the wealthy.

(Maybe we should force Bush to do his own version of "The Simple Life," or a "30 days" episode. A couple of weeks cutting chicken for near minimum might change his perspective a little.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Picture of the Day - 3

8 US soldiers died in Iraq yesterday

8 soldiers not coming home. If the reality matches history, another 65 or so wounded.

Didja see that on your TV today?

Must be a full news day today, what with 15 minutes each hour going to team coverage of the death of cable TV personality.

When did the death of American soldiers stop being newsworthy?

How many have to die to make a headline?

When politics kill.

People are dying in Iraq, both US and Iraqi, because of George Bush's domestic politics. Since the 2004 campaign, he has created a political situation where any real change in overall tactics is nearly impossible.

After blasting the Dems for years, he cannot reduce troop levels amidst the current violence without conceding the political point. At the same time, to increase troop numbers to the level required to meet his goals would be to admit that the original invasion force was too small.

That leaves the generals in Iraq with an impossible mission.

In Baghdad, US generals are expected to pacify Baghdad, a city of 6 million, the most dangerous city in the world, with 8,000 US troops. (+ 30,000 Iraqi forces for whatever they're worth.) (Another source 7,200 US forces, 42,500 Iraqis.)

As a parallel, my city is Houston. Houston is somewhere between 3 million and 4.5 million people and has about 5,000+ police officers. (and they're desperately trying to recruit more.)

(As another perspective, after Katrina, New Orleans (probably less than 40,000 people?) got a deployment of 4,700 guardsmen to restore order.) Think about those numbers for a minute.

George Bush will not send more troops because politically, he can't. He won't withdraw troops because politically, he can't. So, the situation is "stay the course" asking the generals to win a war without the tools to do so.

The current Operation Forward Together is a perfect example. US troops are not concentrated in four neighborhoods because that's the best plan, it's because it's the best plan with the forces available.

One of the many reasons we're losing Iraq is because George Bush will not admit he was wrong.

Picture of the Day - 2

From this BBC article, The End of the American Dream?

Happy Labor Day.

(probably light posting today.)

Americans know the Iraq war causes terrorism

This polling trend is probably why the White House has launched its desparate bid to tie Iraq/Iran/Al Qaeda together into the mushy, impossible construct of Islamic Fascism.

Angus Reid: In the long term, do you think there will be more or less terrorism in the United States because the U.S. went to war in Iraq?

More - 60%, Less 31%.

You know they must be looking at similar internal polling (and crapping themselves.) That's why the Republicans on the Hill are going to be focusing solely on "security" issues over the next month.

Nothing like rushed, politically motivated legislation to make the country safer, eh?

Politicians pick their voters

It's been said many times that in the computer precise gerrymandering era, voters don't pick their politicians, politicians pick their voters. Oh, so true.

As exhibit A let me offer two bits from this NYTimes article on the upcoming midterms.

"In the latest New York Times/CBS News Poll, just 29 percent said the country was headed in the right direction...." and

"only about 40 House races are seriously competitive"

70% feel that America is on the wrong track, and less than 10% of Congress is even at risk of being voted out. The system is broken.

Picture of the Day

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A little detail on the arrest of the Al Qaeda no. 2

We must show progress.
The announcement came as talks between the United States and Iraq on transferring operational command of Iraq's forces to the Defense Ministry were deadlocked. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki was demanding more independence for the U.S.-trained army that Washington hopes can take over and let Americans go home.....

Hours after an "embarrassed" U.S. military again postponed a ceremony to hand command of Iraqi troops to the government, the National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie summoned reporters to a hastily arranged news conference to announce that al Qaeda leader Hamid Juma Faris al-Suaidi had been seized some days ago.

So, the handover flounders on the fact that the Iraqis really want it to be a handover, then Rubaie calls a "hastily arranged news conference" for something that happened days ago.

(Rubaie, you may remember, was one of the Dawa Shia exiles who lived in London from the 80's who "agitated" for the overthrow of Saddam, returned to Iraq, was placed on the Iraqi Governing Council by Bremer. He has held a military/intelligence post important to the Americans in every iteration of the Iraqi government. He is a neurologist with no military or intelligence background.

Now he's the National Security Advisor.

I'm just saying....)

Oh, let me add that just days before the 2004 election, Mr. Rubaie, in his official capacity, gave a series of comments attacking John Kerry.

Just to put the "hastily arranged" Number 2 announcement in some context.

More US dead in Iraq/Afghanistan than 9/11

Not much of a peep about this in "the news."
The 9/11 attacks killed 2,973 people, not including the 19 hijackers who crashed four commercial airliners into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a field in Pennsylvania. The number of troops and military contractors who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan has now reached 2,974.

Have the deaths of these soldiers made us safer?

The Good War

(Backarchived from 9/10/06.)

Alot of news out of Afghanistan and most of it is bad. The violence is stretching from the extreme south of the country through the eastern Pakistan border up into the north. The conflict is pushing towards Kabul from three sides.

Over the last week in Operation Medusa, 450 Taleban personnel have been killed. Either "the coalition" is dealing a serious blow, or the Taleban side is flowing with personnel because they continue to fight stand up battles for territory despite casualties. (The fighting is just 19 miles from Kandahar.)

AFP - "The force also inflicted "severe losses" in separate artillery and air strikes on rebels who were spotted gathering for a counterattack." They lost a hundred men and were gathering for a counterattack.

A high ranking British officer has resigned, stating the tactics used in Helmand province are clumsy and leading Afghanis to take up arms.

The governor of the eastern Paktia province was killed by a suicide bomber strapped with explosives.

US military spokesman Col Tom Collins, "Through our intelligence sources we know there's a cell here in Kabul, at least one, whose primary mission is to seek coalition or international troops and hit them with suicide bombs." - Karzai admits that there will be more bombing attacks in the capitol.

John Kerry has staked out the position that we should withdraw forces from Iraq and pour them into Afghanistan. My comment would be that as long as Pakistan is allowing safe haven, the best those troops could do is offer temporary stability which is something.

The headwaters of the Afghanistan, Taleban, Al Qaeda problem is in Pakistan.

Picture of the Day - 2

Is this true?

Heck of a rumor in the Independent,
Tony Blair will be served notice to quit Downing Street at a meeting of the Cabinet next week when senior ministers plan to confront him over his refusal to commit to a departure timetable.

The staunchest supporter of the Bush foreign policy being effectively overthrown by his own party. How do you think that will play against the US election?

Missouri, Ohio, and Tennessee will decide control of the Senate.

The rumor/gossip that I've seen says that the GOP efforts to maintain control over the Senate will be focused mainly on Ohio, Missouri, and Tennessee. The way the landscape looks, without surprises, whichever party wins two of those three will probably have control of the Senate come 2007.

The rumor is that they are preparing to pour big money into these races. So, if you're counting Senate seats, watch these three. All three are polling tight right now.

Missouri - Republican incumbent Talent trails McCaskill inside the margin of error. (Talent +6 in likely voters (?) Gallup)

Ohio - Repub incumbent Mike Dewine trails Sherrod Brown.

Tennessee - (Frist's open seat) Ford/Corker effectively tied.

Both Missouri and Ohio have seen recent movement towards the Republicans while Harold Ford in Tennessee has been closing a huge gap over the last few months.

Montana is a fourth Dem pickup possibility, Repub incumbent Conrad Burns trails Tester by a few points, and another possibility is Webb polling ahead of Allen in Virginia.

(Forgive the lack of organization. As I do more of these polling posts, I'm sure they will tighten up.)

AND, I don't know what to make of the "Hillary giving up her presidential run for Senate Majority Leader" rumor. It's been floating around for awhile although it has been roundly denied by all involved. My hunch is it's politics, nothing more.

Picture of the Day