Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Bush Defends Iraq War Policy

Bush Defends Iraq War Policy
 Some lawmakers from both parties are urging Bush to set a timetable for withdrawal, or at least lay out a strategy for leaving.
 Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, a fellow Republican, has said the stay-the-course strategy isn't working.
 Asked about this Tuesday, presidential counselor Dan Bartlett said, "We respect Sen. Hagel. He's a decorated Vietnam war veteran. But we couldn't disagree more."
 "There has been significant progress in Iraq," Bartlett told NBC"s "Today" show. "But make no mistake, we're up against a very difficult enemy and it's very critical that we do win this war."

Didn't we already win it once? When Baghdad fell? Or was it when Saddam was captured? Or maybe it was the purple-fingered first-election thing.

Part of the problem is that the stated objective of the war was something that was impossible to do: rid Iraq of WMDs. Because of the lies about the necessity of urgent action, the war was doomed to failure.

Yet Bush still seems to cling to the hope that there may come some definable, observable "victory" moment; perhaps something filmworthy, ideally involving trumpet fanfares, collapsing fortresses, cheering multitudes. Ain't gonna happen, man.

The best we can hope for is a decrease in the rate at which those resentful of the U.S./coalition occupation join the ranks of the resistance. Even that appears less and less likely, as time progresses.

"When Iraqis stand up, we will stand down," Bush has repeatedly promised, tying his willingness to withdraw troops to the ability of Iraqi security forces to deal with those who oppose the new order. Will that be the measure of victory? Is it achievable? Maybe it all depends on what the definition of "stand up" is.

The White House claims some progress in the area of security training, but when pressed, concedes that it considers few, if any, Iraqi security forces capable of acting without coalition backup.

One might expect that as Iraqi forces are gradually trained, U.S. forces could be gradually withdrawn; yet there is no announced target date for an initial draw-down amounting to even one squadron. Instead, U.S. troop strength in Iraq is expected to increase, rather than decrease, over the short term.

By that measure, victory appears ever more distant, and the term "quagmire", however resented by defenders of "staying the course", ever more appropriate.

It's easy to sympathize with the likes of Cindy Sheehan, who demands of Bush, in essence, "start giving us the straight story, or get us out of Iraq". Should we expect less than the straight story from those who would have us trust them as our leaders?

Saturday, August 20, 2005


War Backers Start Camp Near Bush Ranch
  A patriotic camp with a banner reading "God Bless Our President!" sprang up downtown Saturday, countering the anti-war demonstration started by a fallen soldier's mother near President Bush's ranch.
  The camp is named "Fort Qualls" in memory of Marine Lance Cpl. Louis Wayne Qualls, 20, killed in Fallujah, Iraq, last fall. His father, Gary Qualls of Temple, said his 16-year-old son also wants to enlist, and he supports that decision.
  "If I have to sacrifice my whole family for the sake of our country and world, other countries that want freedom, I'll do that," said Qualls, a friend of the local business owner who started the pro-Bush camp, Bill Johnson.

I'm sure his whole family appreciate the warmth of his feelings toward them.

  Johnson and others at "Fort Qualls" have asked for a debate with those at the Crawford Peace House, which is helping Sheehan.
  It's unclear if that will happen. But a member of Gold Star Families for Peace, co-founded by Sheehan and comprised of relatives of fallen soldiers, said her group would not participate.
  "We're asking for a meeting with the president, period," said Michelle DeFord, whose 37-year-old son, Sgt. David W. Johnson, was in the Army National Guard from Oregon when he was killed in Iraq last fall. "We don't want to debate with people who don't understand our point of view."

Wouldn't that include George Bush?

Get It?

If the Senators Laugh, It Was a Joke

Stand down, everybody: It was just a lawyer joke.

That's the judgment of Michigan lawyer Aaron Larson, editor of a lawyer-joke Web site, on a controversial aside made 20 years ago by Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts Jr.

Roberts, then a White House lawyer, wrote in a 1985 memo that it was legally acceptable for an administration official to be nominated for an award recognizing her shift from homemaker to lawyer. But, he added, "Some might question whether encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good, but I suppose that is for the judges to decide."

Liberal groups interpreted it as misogynistic. Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, called it "Neanderthal." Even conservative Phyllis Schlafly tried to excuse Roberts by saying he "hadn't seen a whole lot of life at that point" and has since "learned a lot."

But the White House, and many disinterested observers, said it sounded as if the targets of Roberts's barb were lawyers, not homemakers. Larson, a Michigan lawyer who runs http://www.lawlaughs.com , said this was a quip straight from the too-many-lawyers category of jokes. "That sounds like the type of dark humor a lawyer might make about the profession," he said. "If I got that from nine of 10 lawyers, I'd assume he was making a joke about the profession."

OK, I'll admit I didn't get the joke. (Ahhhhhhh, humour.)

So he wasn't saying that homemakers becoming lawyers wouldn't contribute to the common good. He was, instead, amusing us with the absurd notion that lawyers might contribute even less to the common good than do homemakers. ("As if. Ha")

Oh yeah, that's much less offensive. Thanks for clearing that up, Aaron.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What A Pig

Roberts Disparaged States' Sex-Bias Fight
WASHINGTON Aug 18, 2005 — Supreme Court nominee John Roberts disparaged state efforts to combat discrimination against women in Reagan-era documents made public Thursday and wondered whether "encouraging homemakers to become lawyers contributes to the common good."

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

More Than Able Danger To Privacy

Colonel: 9/11 warning ignored / Military team IDd hijack leader, but info refused, he says
Washington -- A military intelligence team repeatedly contacted the FBI in 2000 to warn about the existence of a U.S.-based terrorist cell that included the ringleader of the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a veteran Army intelligence officer who said he has decided to risk his career by discussing the information publicly.

The officer, Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, said military lawyers later blocked the team from sharing any of its information with the FBI.

Shaffer said the small, highly classified intelligence program known as Able Danger had identified the terrorist ringleader, Mohammed Atta, as well three of the other future hijackers by name by mid-2000, and had tried to arrange a meeting that summer with agents of the FBI's Washington field office to share its information.

But he said military lawyers forced members of the intelligence program to cancel three scheduled meetings with the FBI at the last minute, which left the bureau without information that Shaffer said might have led to Atta and the other terrorists while the Sept. 11 plot was still being planned.

'I was at the point of near insubordination over the fact that this was something important, that this was something that should have been pursued,' Shaffer said of his efforts to get the evidence from the intelligence program to the FBI in 2000 and early 2001.

He said he learned later that lawyers associated with the Defense Department's Special Operations Command had canceled the FBI meetings because they feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States.

"Feared controversy if Able Danger was portrayed as a military operation that had violated the privacy of civilians who were legally in the United States."

To say nothing of the privacy of civilians who are not only legally in the United States, but U.S. citizens.

What was "Able Danger"? Were its activities legal? Are they ongoing? Are American citizens comfortable with the idea of the U.S. Army and Navy analyzing their phone records, bank records, emails, bookstore purchases, and the like?

What would have been the utility in "Able Danger" participants meeting with the FBI? Didn't the CIA report immediately after 9/11 that it had been following Atta and other hijackers for months?

Shaffer said that his role in Able Danger was as the program's liaison with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, and that he was not an intelligence analyst.

Why was a non-intelligence-analyst serving as a "liason" between an intelligence-gathering program and the Defense Intelligence Agency?

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Pentagon plans to observe Sept. 11 anniversary with march, concert

Pentagon plans to observe Sept. 11 anniversary with march, concert
  WASHINGTON - (KRT) - The Pentagon will hold a massive march and country music concert to mark the fourth anniversary of Sept. 11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in an announcement tucked into an Iraq war briefing Tuesday.
  'This year the Department of Defense will initiate an America Supports Your Freedom Walk,' Rumsfeld said, adding that the march would remind people of 'the sacrifices of this generation and of each previous generation.'


Freedom Walk, Register
The Freedom Walk is free and open to anyone who registers. Registration closes at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, 2005. There will be no on-site registrations the day of the event.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Soldier's mom digs in near Bush ranch

Soldier's mom digs in near Bush ranch - Aug 7, 2005
CRAWFORD, Texas (CNN) -- A mother whose son was killed in Iraq says she is prepared to continue her protest outside President Bush's ranch through August until she is granted an opportunity to speak with him.

CIA Commander: We Let bin Laden Slip Away

CIA Commander: We Let bin Laden Slip Away
  During the 2004 presidential campaign, George W. Bush and John Kerry battled about whether Osama bin Laden had escaped from Tora Bora in the final days of the war in Afghanistan. Bush, Kerry charged, 'didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down and kill' the leader of Al Qaeda. The president called his opponent's allegation 'the worst kind of Monday-morning quarterbacking.' Bush asserted that U.S. commanders on the ground did not know if bin Laden was at the mountain hideaway along the Afghan border."
  But in a forthcoming book, the CIA field commander for the agency's Jawbreaker team at Tora Bora, Gary Berntsen, says he and other U.S. commanders did know that bin Laden was among the hundreds of fleeing Qaeda and Taliban members. Berntsen says he had definitive intelligence that bin Laden was holed up at Tora Bora—intelligence operatives had tracked him—and could have been caught.

Army Whistleblower Draws Fire

Army Whistleblower Draws Fire
WASHINGTON - In the world as Bunnatine Greenhouse sees it, people do the right thing. They stand up for the greater good and they speak up when things go wrong. She believes God has a purpose for each life and she prays every day for that purpose to be made evident. These days she is praying her heart out, because she is in a great deal of trouble.

Friday, August 05, 2005

It All Depends On What the Definition Of 'Ideology' Is

Blair in anti-hatred crackdown
LONDON, England (CNN) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced new measures to deport and exclude from UK for those advocating hatred and violence.

Don't you think Blair himself should be the first to be deported under the new we-will-not-tolerate-those-who-advocate-violence-for-ideological-gain guidelines?

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Of Course the Legacy Is More Important Than the Lost Lives — What Was I Thinking?

Bush: U.S. to Stay in Iraq Despite Deaths
"Tragic as the recent U.S. deaths are, 'they don't establish a pattern that says U.S. casualties are getting consistently worse,' said Anthony H. Cordesman, an Iraq expert and former Pentagon intelligence official. Still, Bush faces a dilemma in deciding when and how many troops to withdraw. Cordesman, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said, 'The president's legacy, if he fails in Iraq, historically is an absolute disaster. President Bush and the Bush administration can scarcely ignore that problem.'"

"If" he fails in Iraq. The president failed even from the first moments in Iraq, if his purpose in invading was, as he loudly and repeatedly insisted, to rid Iraq of WMDs - evidence of Iraq's possession of which, according to the best intelligence we now know to have been available to Bush at the time, was scant to nonexistent.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Don't Worry, We Thoroughly Checked Out These Allegations, and There's Not a Grain of Truth to Them

Ex-Military Prosecutors Fault Gitmo Trials

(08-01) 14:29 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) -- The Pentagon acknowledged on Monday that two former members of the military team handling prosecutions of terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, alleged last year that the trial system was rigged in favor of the government.

Officials said the prosecutors' claims of ethical lapses and potential criminal acts had been reviewed and dismissed as unfounded. Pentagon spokesman Lawrence Di Rita said an investigation determined they were 'much ado about nothing.'

Of course, we trust the Department of Defense's ability objectively and effectively to investigate itself. Right. Mm-hmm.