Friday, September 29, 2006

The Wartime President/Judge/Jury/Executioner

Gonzales cautions judges on interfering - 29 Sep 2006 at 11:46am - WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, who is defending President Bush's anti-terrorism tactics in multiple court battles, said Friday that federal judges should not substitute their personal views for the president's judgments in wartime.
Is Gonzales saying he thinks it would be acceptable for judges to substitute their personal views for the president's judgment outside of wartime? Even if judges agreed with that, how would they go about making such a substitution? Or is Gonzales suggesting that during time of war, there should be only one branch of government, the executive?

Bush: Dems have become obstructionists - 28 Sep 2006 at 3:56pm - BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- President Bush counterpunched at Democrats on Thursday, saying their criticism of the war in Iraq has turned their party into one of "cut-and-run" obstructionists.
At least he cannot say they're "cutting and running" from their duty of obstructionism.

Pakistan 'Selling' Innocents To U.S.? - 29 Sep 2006 at 9:30am - Amnesty International released a report saying Pakistani officials have turned over hundreds of people to the U.S. for detention as terror suspects, largely to reap reward money, and that the practice has led to the detentions of innocent people.

Commander: Iraq insurgents losing ground - 29 Sep 2006 at 3:10pm - WASHINGTON -- It is still possible to defeat the entrenched insurgency in Iraq's western Anbar province but probably not until U.S. troops leave, the American commander of forces in the provincial capital said Friday.
But, according to GWB, U.S. troops won't be leaving before the insurgency is defeated, as for them to do so would embolden the terrorists.

U.S. Congress restricts Bush on Iraq spending - 29 Sep 2006 15:17:22 GMT - WASHINGTON, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The U.S. Congress on Friday moved to block the Bush administration from building permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq or controlling the country's oil sector, as it approved $70 billion for funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Embattled Bush sticks to Iraq guns - 29 Sep 2006 at 1:40pm - WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush, under fire on many fronts over Iraq, has tied his Republicans' election-year fortunes to an unwavering defense of the unpopular war and sharp attacks on his critics.
I'm sure it must be done all the time, so why does this particular (over)use of the "war" metaphor in a story about war policy strike me as particularly surreal?

Zawahri calls Bush a failure - 29 Sep 2006 at 3:00pm - DUBAI (Reuters) - Al Qaeda deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri called President Bush a "lying failure" for saying progress had been made in the war on terrorism, according to a video posted on the Internet on Friday.
Al-Zawahri must have been checking out advance copy from Woodward's book.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sometimes It's Just Flat Wrong

Senate shies away from vote on Bolton - 28 Sep 2006 at 2:40pm - WASHINGTON -- John R. Bolton's quest for a longer lease on his temporary job as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations remained elusive Thursday as the Senate shied away from a vote to confirm him.
Perhaps being a first-rate AH is no longer the primary statesmanlike quality it was once considered.

Violence returns to 'secure' Baghdad neighborhoods - 28 Sep 2006 at 2:30pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Al-Qaeda's leader in Iraq threatened fiercer attacks as US military intelligence warned that militias are reoccupying previously cleared neighborhoods while local police turn a blind eye.
It can be so tuff to remember that middle part of "clear, hold, build".

Quarter million Iraqis flee sectarian violence - 28 Sep 2006 at 2:15pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A quarter of a million Iraqis have fled sectarian violence and registered as refugees in the past seven months, data released on Thursday showed, amid an upsurge in attacks that has accompanied the Ramadan holy month.
Heckuvajob, George. Though I'm sure he sees all that violence-fleeing as a sign of some sort of progress. They're probably not really refugees at all; just on vacation -- yeah, that's the ticket. How many of these people got to take vacations when Saddam was in power?

7-day stay granted in surveillance case - 28 Sep 2006 at 2:13pm - DETROIT -- The federal judge who struck down President Bush's warrantless surveillance program turned aside a government request for an indefinite stay Thursday but said the government could have a week to appeal.

Bob Woodward: Bush Misleads On Iraq - 28 Sep 2006 at 3:00pm - Bob Woodward tells Mike Wallace that the Bush administration has not been honest about the level of violence in Iraq. The veteran reporter also reveals to Wallace that Henry Kissinger advises the Bush White House.

Rumsfeld comments on intelligence report - 28 Sep 2006 at 2:13pm - PORTOROZ, Slovenia -- It is impossible to know with any precision whether the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have created more terrorists than they've killed, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday.
Precisely how much precision does he require?

In his first extensive remarks about a recent U.S. intelligence report saying the threat of terrorism has risen, Rumsfeld told reporters at a NATO meeting that, in general, the value of intelligence reports can be uneven, and "sometimes it's just flat wrong."
Funny how Rummy didn't mention all these intelligence caveats when he was discussing with what certainty he knew the locations of each of Saddams WMDs. I guess it just slipped his mind?

But he added that, "the implication that if you stop killing or capturing people who are trying to kill you, then therefore the world would be a better place, is obviously nonsensical."
See? More killing is always better and will make you safer. And if all that killing means there are more people who want to kill you, great: now you have a license to kill even more.

Senate Sides With Bush On Detainees - 28 Sep 2006 at 2:08pm - The Senate rejected a bid by a top Republican to allow terror detainees to challenge their imprisonment in court. The vote paves the way for final passage of President Bush's plan for interrogating and prosecuting terrorism suspects.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

What The Devil?

7-Eleven drops Citgo gasoline; cites Chavez - 27 Sep 2006 at 2:34pm - HOUSTON (Reuters) - 7-Eleven Inc. will drop Venezuelan-controlled Citgo Petroleum Corp. as its gasoline supplier, the convenience store operator said on Wednesday, a week after Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called President Bush "the devil."

Rumsfeld: unclear when Iraq troops can replace U.S. - 27 Sep 2006 at 8:44am - TIRANA (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Wednesday that American operations in Iraq would end when Iraqi security forces were able to take over the job, but he would not estimate when that might be.
Shouldn't some kind of rough timetable be part of the plan? Or is Rummy saying there isn't a plan?

Bush won't release full intel assessment - 27 Sep 2006 at 12:24pm - WASHINGTON -- The White House refused Wednesday to release in full a previously secret intelligence assessment that depicts a growing terrorist threat and has fueled the election-season fight over the Iraq war.

War protesters arrested at House office - 27 Sep 2006 at 2:26pm - WASHINGTON -- Several dozen demonstrators protesting the Iraq war marched Wednesday to the Capitol carrying mock coffins and lay down in front of doorways at a House office building, where some were arrested.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Isn't That Interesting

Rice challenges Clinton on terror record - 26 Sep 2006 at 8:11am - NEW YORK -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice challenged former President Clinton's claim that he did more than many of his conservative critics to pursue Osama bin Laden, and she accused President Bush's predecessor of leaving no comprehensive plan to fight al-Qaida.

Rice: Clinton Claims 'Flatly False' - 26 Sep 2006 at 8:45am - Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice disputed ex-President Clinton's claim that the Bush administration didn't actively pursue al Qaeda before Sept. 11, 2001. Rice said the Bush White House was "at least as aggressive" as the Clinton administration.

Isn't this the same Condoleezza Rice who, shortly after the Sep-11-2001 terrorist attacks, justified the Bush administration's inaction against terror by explaining that it disagreed with the Clinton administration's approach and had therefore put anti-terrorism efforts on hold while it was in the process of developing a superior plan?

Intel Chief: U.S. Not At Higher Risk - 26 Sep 2006 at 8:25am - National Intelligence Director John Negroponte acknowledged a new generation of terrorists was emerging from Iraq, but rejected claims stemming from a leaked government report that the U.S. is at a greater risk of attack than it was in 2001.

So, I guess, even though the IraqAttaq has resulted in there now being more terrorists than ever, we're safer than when there were fewer terrorists because... we now remove our shoes in airports?

Rumsfeld enlists Montenegro in war on terrorism - 26 Sep 2006 at 8:21am - PODGORICA, Montenegro (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Tuesday enlisted the support of Europe's newest state in the war on terrorism and promised to help train Montenegro's modest army of 2,500 to NATO standards.

But this will have no impact, right? Just as losing the support of Italy would have no impact? And just as losing the support of Poland would have no impact?

Bush to declassify part of NIE - 26 Sep 2006 at 11:57am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Tuesday said it is naive and a mistake to think that the war with Iraq has worsened terrorism, disputing a national intelligence assessment by his own administration. He said he was declassifying part of the report.
Only the good parts? Is it any less naïve to assume, as Bush, Rush, and their ilk seem to assume, that any U.S. use of military must necessarily make the U.S. more secure?

"Here we are coming down the stretch in an election campaign and it's on the front page of your newspapers," Bush said.
"Isn't that interesting? Somebody took it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes."
Perhaps if he hadn't spent the last five months trying to convince his constituents that what's reportedly in the April NIE isn't true, it wouldn't be quite so interesting now. What I find at least as interesting is how many of the same people who insisted on a straight yes-he-has-them-or-no-he-doesn't conclusion on the Saddam/WMD question are now insisting on a "nuanced" interpretation of the April Iraq war NIE.

Dems lose vote for closed House session - 26 Sep 2006 at 1:59pm - WASHINGTON -- Democrats failed Tuesday to push the House into an unusual secret session to discuss a classified intelligence analysis on global terrorism that says the Iraq war is nourishing a new generation of extremist operatives.

Congress unlikely to pass wiretapping - 26 Sep 2006 at 2:05pm - WASHINGTON -- Congress is unlikely to approve a bill giving President Bush's warrantless wiretapping program legal status and new restrictions before the November midterm elections, dealing a significant blow to one of the White House's top wartime priorities.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Good News: Gas Prices Down

Rumsfeld Under Fire - 25 Sep 2006 at 3:30pm - In exceptionally strong language, retired military officers criticized Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's handling of the war in Iraq, accusing him of incompetence and "extraordinarily bad decision-making."

U.S. Army extends Iraq duty for 4,000 - 25 Sep 2006 at 2:57pm - WASHINGTON -- The Army is stretched so thin by the war in Iraq that it is again extending the combat tours of thousands of soldiers beyond the promised 12 months - the second such move since August.

Mel Gibson in Texas, Criticizes Iraq War - 25 Sep 2006 at 2:56pm - Mel Gibson Criticizes Iraq War During `Apocalypto' Screening at Texas Film Festival

CIA paid Pakistan for catching al Qaeda: Musharraf - 25 Sep 2006 at 2:54pm - ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The CIA has paid Pakistan millions of dollars for catching al Qaeda fighters during the five years since the September 11 attacks on the United States, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf wrote in a memoir published on Monday.

U.S. pursues ties to oil-rich Kazakhstan - 25 Sep 2006 at 2:46pm - NEW YORK -- President Bush is pursuing closer ties to oil-rich Kazakhstan despite what human rights observers have said is a disturbing backslide toward autocracy in the former Soviet republic.

Oil Dips Below $60; Gas Now at $2.38 - 25 Sep 2006 at 2:35pm - Crude-Oil Futures Dip Below $60 a Barrel and Average Price of Gasoline Is Now $2.38 a Gallon

Iraq war fueled Islamic radicals: retired U.S. general - 25 Sep 2006 at 2:32pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The conduct of the Iraq war fueled Islamic fundamentalism across the globe and created more enemies for the United States, a retired U.S. Army general who served in the conflict said on Monday.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

We Don't Need Any Stinking National Intelligence Estimate

Leaked intelligence report rocks Bush election stance - 24/09/2006 16h33 - NEW YORK (AFP) - US spy agencies have dropped a political bombshell six weeks before national elections, with the leak of a classified report concluding that the war in Iraq has spawned a new wave of Islamic radicalism and increased the global threat of terrorism. The intelligence document on Sunday rocked a central pillar of the Republican Party's campaign platform ahead of November elections: that the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the ouster of Saddam Hussein made America safer, not weaker. With opinion polls showing President George W. Bush's party possibly losing control of both houses of Congress in the the mid-term polls, in large part due to unhappiness over the war in Iraq, the report stating categorically the opposite will make for painful reading at the White House.
Really? I doubt it. The Bush administration has always drawn its own conclusions; if necessary, it will (as it did with Saddam and WMDs) develop its own intelligence to support them.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Comic Strip Diplomacy – Everything's Swell In Iraq - Pakistan's "Incentive" To Cooperate

U.S. still lacks understanding of al Qaeda: report - 20 Sep 2006 at 3:56pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Five years after the September 11 attacks, the Bush administration still does not fully understand the threat from al Qaeda, a congressional report released on Wednesday said.

Chávez's brimstone and fire - September 21, 2006 - UNITED NATIONS -- Bringing his verbal war against the White House to the UN, Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez yesterday branded President George W. Bush "the devil" and the United States an "imperialist empire" on the verge of collapse.
Asked later about the swipes at Bush, UN Ambassador John Bolton said: "We're not going to address that sort of comic-strip approach to international affairs."
Of course Bolton will not attempt to relate to that sort of comic-strip approach to international affairs; he's steeped more in the professional-wrestling tradition of international affairs.

UN: Civilian Death Toll in Iraq Climbs - 21 Sep 2006 at 11:31am - UN: Civilian Death Toll in Iraq Climbs to a Record-High 6,599 in July and August

U.N. says Iraq deadlier than ever - 21 Sep 2006 at 11:31am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The United Nations, citing evidence of severe torture, said Iraq had become deadlier than ever, as local Iraqi forces took charge of a southern province from departing Italian soldiers on Thursday.

U.N. rights envoys condemn Bush plan on interrogation - 21 Sep 2006 at 11:30am - GENEVA (Reuters) - United Nations human rights investigators said on Thursday that legislation proposed by U.S. President George W. Bush for tough interrogations of foreign terrorism suspects would breach the Geneva Conventions.

Judge hands Libby defense initial win - 21 Sep 2006 at 11:34am - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge handed a victory to the defense Thursday in the Valerie Plame case, siding with Vice President Dick Cheney's indicted former chief of staff in a fight over release of classified information.

Feds ask court to drop wiretapping case - 21 Sep 2006 at 12:29pm - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration asked an appeals court Thursday to step in immediately and dismiss a lawsuit over the government's warrantless eavesdropping program, calling a lower judge's ruling dangerous and wrong.

U.N. expert says torture in Iraq is "out of hand" - 21 Sep 2006 at 12:29pm - GENEVA (Reuters) - Torture is rampant in Iraqi prisons and police detention centers, and may be worse than under Saddam Hussein's rule, a U.N. human rights investigator said on Thursday .

Sources: Report doubts prior 9/11 intel - 21 Sep 2006 at 1:52pm - WASHINGTON -- A new Pentagon report knocks down the idea that a secret military unit had garnered intelligence a year before the Sept. 11 attacks that might have stopped the hijackers, a senior defense official said Thursday.

Church fighting IRS over anti-war sermon won't give up documents - 21 Sep 2006 at 3:29pm - The leaders of a Pasadena church battling the IRS over an anti-war sermon delivered before the 2004 presidential election voted unanimously Thursday to resist an order to turn over documents related to the case, the congregation's senior warden told The...
Shouldn't any church worth its salt be having anti-war sermons every week?

U.S. threatened to bomb Pakistan after 9/11:Musharraf - 21 Sep 2006 at 3:13pm - NEW YORK (Reuters) - President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan said that after the September 11 attacks the United States threatened to bomb his country if it did not cooperate with America's war campaign against the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Sound familiar? "Carpet of gold / carpet of bombs", anyone?

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Running With the Devil

6 sick from suspicious package at Brock University - 20 Sep 2006 at 2:12pm - Several people have been overcome by fumes after opening a suspicious package containing white powder at Brock University in St. Catharines, Ont., reports say.
Whoever sent that package obviously hates freedom and the Canadian way of life. Wait... or are Canadians the ones who tolerate Muslims and keep sending terrorists across the border into the U.S.? This terrorism stuff is so confusing.

Venezuela's Chavez calls Bush "the devil" - 20 Sep 2006 at 3:02pm - UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called George W. Bush "the devil himself" and told the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday the U.S. president had left the smell of sulfur hanging in the chamber from his appearance the previous day.
This is truly shocking, as the idea of Bush as the devil is completely foreign to Americans, who are accustomed to thinking of Cheney as Lucifer incarnate.

Race a factor in kidnap case - September 19, 2006 - SALEM, N.H. -- A Maine couple are accused of abducting their daughter and attempting to force her to get an abortion in New York after learning the father is black, their hometown sheriff said yesterday.
Just can't help wondering whether Rush's brain would explode, were he asked to say if he thought liberals would more likely sympathize with the pro-abortion parents or with the pro-choice daughter in this case.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

We've Got More Nerve Than You

U.S. to maintain Iraq force levels - 19 Sep 2006 at 10:34am - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. military will likely maintain the current force levels of more than 140,000 troops in Iraq through next spring, the top US. commander in the Middle East said Tuesday in one of the gloomiest assessments yet of how quickly American forces can be brought home.

Who will be surprised next spring when the top U.S. commander then says it will take another year?

Powell explains terror law views - 19 Sep 2006 at 8:55am - Former secretary of state Colin L. Powell said Monday that he opposes the Bush administration's proposed rules for the treatment of terrorism suspects in part because the plan would add to growing doubts about whether the U.S. adheres to its own moral code.

I don't think Powell's confused about what the administration is asking for: they want Congress to pass a law saying Geneva applies to others, but not to us. That's despicable, but not confusing.

U.S. says AP photog linked to insurgents - 19 Sep 2006 at 10:22am - The Pentagon defended its months-long detention of an Associated Press photographer in Iraq, asserting that it has authority to imprison him indefinitely without charges because it believes he had improper ties to insurgents.

Does that make him an "enemy combatant"?

Sens. want more Iraq report declassified - 19 Sep 2006 at 12:01pm - WASHINGTON -- Senators on an intelligence panel are seeking to declassify more information from two Senate reports on prewar intelligence on Iraq, saying too much was kept secret.

Cheney says hopes of world rest on U.S. - 19 Sep 2006 at 11:29am - WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney cast the global war on terror on Tuesday as a "war of nerves," borrowing a phrase Harry Truman used to describe the Cold War. Cheney asserted that the hopes of the civilized world depend on a U.S. victory.

Is that comment on the so-called war on terror (SCWOT) meant to imply that only the U.S. is fighting terrorism? In any case, any time Cheney speaks, I do get nervous, so victory must be on the way.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The "Non-Political" 9/11 Speech

Bush cites 9/11 to win Iraq war support - 12 Sep 2006 at 9:38am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush is invoking the memory of Sept. 11 to defend the war in Iraq, drawing protests from Democrats who say he politicized a national day of mourning.

"I am often asked why we are in Iraq when Saddam Hussein was not responsible for the 9/11 attacks," Bush said. "The answer is that the regime of Saddam Hussein was a clear threat.
Funny, I don't recall Bush in 2003 making so clear a distinction between responsibility for 9/11 attacks and whatever he now thinks the "clear threat" was.

"America did not ask for this war, and every American wishes it were over. So do I," Bush said. "But the war is not over, and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious."
And when does he think one or the other party might emerge victorious? I'm guessing he thinks never, and also that he likes thinking that. When he says "extremists", is he referring to himself? When he says "this war", is he talking about Iraq, or about SCWOT (the So-Called-War-On-Terra)? If the former, the U.S. certainly did ask at least the U.N. — and members of the coalition-of-the-willing-and/or-easilly-bribed-or-blackmailed — for it. And didn't someone once say something like "bring it on"?

"My administration, the Congress and the United Nations saw the threat — and after 9/11, Saddam's regime posed a risk that the world could not afford to take."
Ummm... has he forgotten that Congress was asked to take his word (or MI5's word, or somebody's word) for the WMD thing? And that the United Nations wanted no part of his Iraq Attaq?

"Whatever mistakes have been made in Iraq, the worst mistake would be to think that if we pulled out, the terrorists would leave us alone," Bush said from the Oval Office, with a photo of his twin daughters and the American flag behind him. "They will not leave us alone. They will follow us. The safety of America depends on the outcome of the battle in the streets of Baghdad."
And, evidently, it would be just as big a mistake to think that remaining in Iraq will somehow prevent the terrorists from "following us":

Al Qaeda suspected in embassy attack - 12 Sep 2006 at 9:18am - Attackers armed with hand grenades and machine guns detonated a car bomb and tried to storm the U.S. Embassy in Damascus, Syria, today, according to the Syrian Information Ministry. Syrian security forces killed four attackers and took one into custody. An al Qaeda offshoot group is suspected in the attack, according to Imad Moustapha, Syrian ambassador to the United States.

Call for Bush to stop using 'Islamic fascists' - 12 Sep 2006 at 12:16pm - Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold called on President Bush to refrain from using the phrase "Islamic fascists," saying it was offensive to Muslims and has nothing to do with global terrorists fighting the United States.
Ya know, Feingold has a point; do Muslims go around calling Bush an "Imbecilic fascist"? Maybe someone can get GWB to stop saying "war on terra", too.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Darth Cheney

Cheney Defends Homeland Security Policy - 11 Sep 2006 at 1:43pm - Vice President Dick Cheney says the fact that there has not been another attack on U.S. soil shows "we've done a pretty good job" of protecting the country against terrorists. "I don't know how much better you can do than no, no attacks for the past...

But no one is really expecting the Bush administration to fail to protect the country against a terror attack, so I'm not quite sure what the meaning of the "no attacks" statistic is. The measure of performance shouldn't be whether there have been any attacks, but rather, whether we are more vulnerable to attacks than we ought to be.

Cheney defends hard-line role - 11 Sep 2006 - WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney yesterday defended his lightning-rod role as a leading advocate for invading Iraq, for a warrantless surveillance program, and for harsh treatment of suspected terrorists. ``Part of my job is to think about the unthinkable, to focus upon what in fact the terrorists may have in store for us," Cheney told NBC's "Meet the Press" when asked about his "dark side."

And part of GWB's job must be not-thinking the thinkable.

Hmmm... "dark side"? Does that question imply that Cheney has an un-dark side? Anyway, seems the larger part of Cheney's job must be defending the indefensible, justifying the unjustifiable, giving credence to the incredible.