Sunday, July 31, 2005

True, Bolton May Be Best-Suited To Represent The Bush White House

Dodd: Bolton Lacks Support for U.N. Post

WASHINGTON - Anticipating President Bush soon will appoint John Bolton as U.N. ambassador, a leading Democrat said Sunday that Bolton would go without the confidence of Congress.

'He's damaged goods. This is a person who lacks credibility,' said Sen. Christopher Dodd, a senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He said Bush should think again before using a recess appointment to place Bolton at the
United Nations while the Senate is on its traditional August break.


"If the president recess appoints John Bolton, I can understand why because he's been waiting a long time to get the person that he believes is the best to represent his administration at the U.N," said Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.


The administration has promoted Bolton for a hard-nosed style that officials believe will help push reform in the United Nations.

Opponents say his criticism of the world organization and reports that he has abused underlings and sought to punish those who disagreed with him render him unfit for the position.

Bolton was also the administration's point man at the State Department leading efforts to distort and cover up the truth about what was known about WMDs, as well as efforts to remove Mohamed ElBaradei as head of the IAEA. These alone ought to disqualify him from U.N. ambassadorship, even had he treated his underlings as royalty, welcomed the contributions of those with whom he disagreed, and expressed admiration for the work of the U.N.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Then Maybe Their Motto Should Be "As prepared now as we're ever likely to be."

Experts: Scouts Unprepared for Jamboree
BOWLING GREEN, Va. - Their motto is: 'Be prepared.' But as the disaster-riddled National Boy Scout Jamboree carries on following five deaths and hundreds of heat-related illnesses, event planners from across the country are wondering just how prepared the Scouts were.

'That's the part that breaks my heart — there are things you can avoid and things you can't,' said Phyllis Cambria, an event planner from Boca Raton, Fla., who has written several books on the subject. 'This one sounds like it was an avoidable one.'

'I don't think it's wise to make judgment on things that could've, should've, would've been done,' Jamboree spokeswoman Renee Fairrer said."

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Let Cheney Deal With This One

Memo Gets Attention in Probe of CIA Leak

WASHINGTON - A State Department memo that has caught the attention of prosecutors describes a CIA officer's role in sending her husband to Africa and disputes administration claims that Iraq was shopping for uranium, a retired department official said Tuesday.

The classified memo was sent to Air Force One just after former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson went public with his assertions that the Bush administration overstated the evidence that Iraq was interested in obtaining uranium from Niger for nuclear weapons."

Won't Cheney simply deny that anyone on Air Force One ever saw the memo, implying it was never actually sent — just as he denied having seen the Wilson report itself, implying Wilson had never reported back from Niger at all, or possibly never even gone in the first place — and just as he claimed never to have seen John Edwards on the Senate floor, implying that Edwards was never present for Senate sessions, although Cheney himself had only been to the Senate a few times after Edwards became a Senator?

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Outing an Agent? Or Spinning a War?

Rove E-Mailed Security Official About Talk
After mentioning a CIA operative to a reporter, Bush confidant Karl Rove alerted the president's No. 2 security adviser about the interview and said he tried to steer the journalist away from allegations the operative's husband was making about faulty Iraq intelligence.

According to leaked testimony from Rove before the grand jury. And the right-wing talkies are selling this, along with Rove's contention that he only learned Velerie Plame's name from Bob Novak, as exonerating Rove of all wrongdoing in the case.

For Rove to discuss Valerie Plame's involvement in the Wilson Niger mission, whether he referred to her by name, or simply as "Wilson's wife", or even for him to confirm her status to a reporter who guessed at it, would be an impropriety at least, possibly a violation of applicable laws.

The bigger issue, in my opinion, although this isn't the subject of the grand jury proceedings, is that Rove was trying to use Valerie Plame's involvement in order to paint Joseph Wilson as a liar when he said he was sent to investigate the yellowcake story at Cheney's request. But, as the Senate Intelligence Commitee's 2004 review of prewar weapons intelligence on Iraq makes clear, it was at Cheney's request that the CIA was responding when it sent Wilson (on Plame's recommendation) to Niger. Rove may not have liked the fact that Cheney's request for additional information resulted in weakening the case for war, rather than strengthening it, but that's no reason to personally attack Wilson & Plame.

The rightwing pundits seem to have forgotten that this relates to the infamous "16 words" of Bush's 2003 state-of-the-union address alleging that Iraq had tried to obtain uranium "from Africa" — words which the White House was later forced to eat. If Rove knew enough about the story to be aware that Valerie Plame... errrr, I mean "Wilson's wife"... was involved, he ought to have known that the Niger uranium claim was without substance, and that in steering journalists away from the details of the story, he was depriving American citizens of vital information to which they should have had access, in order to come to reasoned conclusions about the necessity for war with Iraq.

What Rove's defenders are, in effect, saying is that he was driven not by the "evil" motivation of retaliating against Wilson by illegally divulging his undercover-agent wife's identity, but, rather, by the "good" motivation of trying to misrepresent, through the press, the case for war.

It's truly difficult for me to say which version, if true, I would find more disgusting.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Other Elements?

Feith Says Pentagon Overdid WMD Rationale
WASHINGTON - The top policy adviser to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld says the Bush administration erred by building its public case for war against
Saddam Hussein mainly on the claim that he possessed banned weapons.

The comment by Douglas J. Feith, in an interview with The Associated Press, is a rare admission of error about Iraq by a senior administration official. Feith, who is leaving after four years as the undersecretary of defense for policy, said he remains convinced that President Bush was correct in deciding that war against Iraq was necessary.

'I don't think there is any question that we as an administration, instead of giving proper emphasis to all major elements of the rationale for war, overemphasized the WMD aspect,' he said, using the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction."

Well, "overemphasized" the WMD claims, no kidding. We don't need Feith to tell us that now. (Although it would be refreshing to hear others who were involved in the lying admit it.)

As for whatever other "major elements of the rationale for war" Feith thinks there are, he's welcome to his opinion.

Problem is, the White House ran them all up the flagpole and got nary a war-approving salute until they started with the WMD lies, so I'm sure those who remain in the White House don't consider the WMD rationale overdone at all... they were willing to say anything that would allow them to put American boots on Iraqi (s)oil.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Yes, We Tortured Them, But Then We Sent Them Outside To Play Volleyball, So We're All Cool, Right?

Guantanamo Bay detainees play soccer, eat well: US senator
WASHINGTON (AFP) - Inmates from the US-led war on terror held at the prison camp at the US naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba are well treated, play outdoor sports, and have access to a broad Muslim-approved menu, a US senator who traveled to the site said.

US Senator Pat Roberts, a conservative Republican from Kansas, said on "Fox News Sunday" that he just returned from visiting the Guantanamo detention site.

"They have a Muslim menu down there of 113 dishes," said Roberts, chairman of the US Senate Intelligence Committee.

"I saw them playing soccer. I saw them playing ping-pong. I saw them playing ... I think it was volleyball," he said.

I would expect them to be treated very well, considering the scrutiny Guantanamo has recently come under.

What I hope Roberts and other Gitmo salesmen understand is that it's not the 113-dish menu, the choice of two vegetables, or — lucky, lucky inmates — the opportunity to bathe and exercise regularly to which critics of the detention facility object; it's the abuse.

When you imprison someone, whether the someone is a convicted murderer, a tax evader, an enemy combatant, a reporter who refuses to divulge the identity of a source, or whoever, you take upon yourself responsibility for that person's well-being. Why? Because you have deprived them of their freedom (Americans, theoretically at least, value freedom most highly, yes?); and without that freedom, they have limited (or no) means at their disposal to provide for their own well-being.

That is a fundamental tenet regarding prisoner treatment to which, I believe, all truly civilized, freedom-loving societies subscribe. And it is equally applicable no matter in what little regard the imprisoner holds the values of the imprisoned, or how much the imprisoned hates the imprisoner. It is equally applicable whether or not the imprisoner is tempted to coerce the imprisoned into divulging special knowledge.

Roberts: "And in regards to the health care, my word, they have better health care than many of my small communities in Kansas."

Strangely, the tone of the Guantanamo apologists often seems to border on resentment. Either they're proud of, and satisfied with, the humane treatment the detainees are receiving (which is all part of the price of waging war, isn't it?), or they're sanctioning the abusive treatment — why can't they decide?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Today's Attacks in London

Reflections from Kim on the London rush-hour bombings:

While drinking my first cup of coffee, turning on the morning television news, and browsing through the newspaper scanning the stories about a future Supreme Court nominee or the latest on the Matt Cooper/Judith Miller saga, I was shocked to learn of the terrorist attacks in London. All the horror and fear that I felt on September 11, 2001, came flooding back. How could this be happening again?

As I began to digest the news of this tragedy, another emotion slowly came over me: anger. I don’t know if this latest terrorist attack was preventable, but I do know that there could have, indeed should have, been more of an effort to capture and bring to justice the mastermind of both the attacks of September 11, 2001, and July 7, 2005.

After the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, this country along with most of the rest of the world united in a joint effort to find Osama bin Laden and his terrorist outfit, al qaeda. The invasion of Afghanistan (his verified base of operations) was supported not only by the majority of Americans (democrats and republicans alike), but most of the world. Our allies rushed to our side, providing troops and resources to find this horrible man and his band of killers. This was, after all, not only in America’s best interest, but the rest of the world’s best interest as well. And with all this power, those who perpetrated that horrific and despicable act of 9/11 would no doubt be captured and the retributions would be severe.

And then things changed. I remember watching with increasing alarm as Pres. Bush began linking 9/11 with Iraq. Osama bin Laden morphed into Saddam Hussein. Suddenly, the threat was no longer al qaeda; it was Hussein and Company. THEY were the enemy; THEY were the threat; THEY needed to be stopped. And this nation was buying it.

Accordingly, the effort in Afghanistan waned. Our resources, our military might, our money was funneled into overturning Saddam Hussein. To my amazement, many of my fellow citizens supported this effort. They seemed to forget that Iraq had neither threatened nor attacked the United States! They seemed to forget that Saddam Hussein had been contained for years! What was going on here? The man responsible for 9/11 had been relegated to the back burner!

But off to war we went, sending our men and women off to fight for reasons that were dubious at best, and as more and more information is uncovered, more than likely completely false. The right and the left will be arguing this forever, in my opinion, but as this partisan bickering continues, our brave soldiers are dying daily in Iraq. And the effort in Afghanistan and the search for an actual enemy, Osama bin Laden? Well, Bush doesn’t think about him too much anymore. He said so in the 2004 presidential campaign.

And now here we are, July 7, 2005. London, our friend, our ally, our supporter, has been attacked by the same terrorist group that attacked us on 9/11. And what does our president have to say? “The war on terror goes on.” Yep, it sure does, Mr. President. And because of your obsession with Saddam Hussein and your misguided invasion of Iraq, apparently the real war on terror will continue to go on. I know that hindsight is 20/20, but I have to wonder if you had continued to fight the legitimate war on terror by continuing in full force the effort in Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden, if this tragedy in London could have been prevented. I guess we’ll never know.

I also have learned that it’s politically incorrect to inject partisan views at a time like this. But after being accused of being unpatriotic and un-American when I protested the impending invasion of Iraq in 2003, I’m not going to remain silent. The blame for this attack apparently lies with al qaeda. But I can’t help thinking that there is a bit more blame to go around. Frankly, Mr. President, I think when you wipe the oil off your hands that you’ve obtained in Iraq, you’re going to find some blood on them too. You should be ashamed.

My deepest sympathies and condolences go to our friends in London. And I’d also like to extend my heartfelt apology to those same people for the misguided actions of my government that may have in some way led to this horrific tragedy.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

"Winning Hearts And Minds"?

AP News - from Tampa Bay Online: Afghanistan Condemns Air Strike Deaths
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) -- In a rare rebuff, Afghanistan's government sharply criticized the U.S. military Tuesday for killing up to 17 civilians in an air strike and ordered an immediate inquiry. The United States called it a 'very unfortunate situation' and said it also would investigate.

. . . .

U.S. forces described the house as "a known operating base for terrorist attacks ... as well as a base for a medium-level terrorist leader."

But Jawed Ludin, Karzai's chief of staff, said "there is no way ... the killing of civilians can be justified."

"The president is extremely saddened and disturbed," he said. "It's the terrorists we are fighting. It's not our people who should suffer."

  The U.S. military is investigating. Maybe the "investigation" will be as fruitful as that of Nicola Calipari's death in Iraq. (US soldiers cleared in Italian agent's death - Apr 30, 2005)