Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Stuck in Iraq

White House spokesman slams Kerry remark - 31 Oct 2006 at 12:59pm - WASHINGTON -- The White House accused Sen. John Kerry on Tuesday of troop-bashing, seizing on a comment the Democrat made to California students that those unable to navigate the country's education system "get stuck in Iraq."
Not sure where the "troop-bashing" is to be found there. It's not only those who are unable to navigate the education system who get stuck in Iraq, is it?

Rumsfeld weighs increase in Iraqi forces - 31 Oct 2006 at 12:25pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Tuesday that he may to approve proposals by the Iraqi government and the top U.S. commander in Baghdad to increase the size of the Iraqi security forces.
"May approve"? My golly, if there were any possible way to increase the size of Iraqi security forces, why in the heck wouldn't it be approved?

Thousands protest Pakistan airstrike as prince scraps trip - 31 Oct 2006 at 8:19am - KHAR, Pakistan (AFP) - Thousands of gun-wielding Pakistani tribesmen chanting "Death to Bush" have protested against a deadly air raid on an Al-Qaeda-linked religious school that killed 80 people.

Al-Zawahri past visitor to Pakistani madrasa - 31 Oct 2006 at 12:39pm - KHAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Al Qaeda Number Two Ayman al-Zawahri was a past visitor to a madrasa destroyed by a Pakistan Army helicopter attack, but he was not there when the missiles struck on Monday, senior Pakistani security officials said.
Time's running out for an October surprise.

Iraq PM orders U.S. to ease grip on Shi'ite bastion - 31 Oct 2006 at 8:08am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's prime minister, in a very public demonstration of his influence over the U.S. military, announced the lifting on Tuesday of a week-old cordon around the Baghdad militia stronghold of one of his key Shi'ite allies.

U.S. Obeys Order to Abandon Checkpoints - 31 Oct 2006 at 11:59am - U.S. troops on Tuesday abandoned checkpoints around the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City on orders from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the latest in a series of moves by the Iraqi leader to assert his authority with the U.S. administration.

Alleged al Qaeda agent Padilla claims torture - 31 Oct 2006 at 2:06pm - MIAMI (Reuters) - Lawyers for alleged al Qaeda operative Jose Padilla have asked a Florida judge to dismiss the terrorism case against him, saying he was tortured and force-fed psychedelic drugs while held at a U.S. military brig for more than 3-1/2 years.

Ruling May Effect S. Dakota Abortion Vote - 31 Oct 2006 at 7:30am - In a ruling that could influence voters on Nov. 7 " when they cast ballots over a state-wide ban of nearly all abortions " an appeals court has put the brakes on South Dakota's consent and notification law.

Blair defeats opposition call for Iraq probe - 31 Oct 2006 at 2:37pm - LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labour government defeated an opposition call in parliament for a fresh inquiry into the Iraq war on Tuesday, sparing Blair embarrassment.

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Monday, October 30, 2006

What a Lot of People Like Me Think

Bush national security adviser in Baghdad for talks - 30 Oct 2006 at 10:16am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - President George W. Bush's national security adviser Stephen Hadley took an unannounced trip to Baghdad for talks with leaders of the Iraqi government and U.S. military to assess the situation on the ground on Monday, as the American death toll climbed to 100 for October.
Because Hadley did such a great job assessing Saddam's WMD capability.

Really funny:
Bush accuses Democrats of lacking plan for Iraq - 30 Oct 2006 at 1:20pm - STATESBORO, Georgia (Reuters) - Weakened by the unpopular Iraq war, President George W. Bush accused Democrats of lacking a plan to win it on Monday as he opened a weeklong drive to try to keep Republicans in control of the U.S. Congress.
Report: 14,000 Weapons Missing In Iraq - 30 Oct 2006 at 10:46am - A report commissioned by Sen. John Warner, R-Va., found that 14,030 weapons given by the Pentagon to Iraqi security forces have gone missing. The Defense Department registered the serial numbers of only 10,000 of the 370,251 weapons it provided.

Britain calls for urgent climate change action - 30 Oct 2006 at 8:58am - LONDON (Reuters) - Britain issued a call for urgent action on climate change on Monday after a hard-hitting report painted an apocalyptic picture of the economic and environmental fallout from further global warming.

Red Cross faces post-Katrina overhaul - 30 Oct 2006 at 12:02pm - NEW YORK -- Sparked by criticism of its response to Hurricane Katrina, the American Red Cross released plans Monday for sweeping changes in the way it governs itself - measures that include slashing its 50-member board by more than half and reducing the influence of presidentially appointed overseers.

Bush Among Friends - October 26, 2006 - NEW YORK - If you've ever fantasized about what it would be like to eavesdrop on our president chatting with some of his strongest fans in the media, then your decidedly odd dream has come true. President Bush met with eight leading conservative columnists on Wednesday afternoon, and a transcript has just been released.

Another revealing moment comes when Bush flatly declares that only "25% or so" of Americans want the U.S. out of Iraq. In fact, a Gallup poll released this week shows that the number is actually 54% who want us out quickly -- within a year at most. Bush also mischaracterizes the war opponents, saying they "just don't believe in war," as if they are all pacifists.

Then he goes on: "I believe when you get attacked and somebody declares war on you, you fight back. And that's what we're doing." Of course, this ignores the fact that Iraq did not declare war on us -- but it's been so long now, maybe he's just forgotten.

But Bush calls the war "a struggle of good versus evil," adding, "Maybe it's not nuanced enough for some of the thinkers and all that stuff -- that's fine. But that's exactly what a lot of people like me think."

Sometimes the columnists offered Bush suggestions on how to sell the war on terror. This happened after the president described the enemy, bizarrely, in the broadest terms: "We will press and press and press to protect ourselves. And this stuff about how Iraq is causing the enemy -- whatever excuse they need, they have made up their mind to attack, and they grab on to things to kind of justify. But if it's not Iraq, it's Israel. If it's not Israel, it's the Crusades. If it's not the Crusades, it is the cartoon. I'm not kidding you. I'm not kidding you."

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Friday, October 27, 2006


Cheney Comments Stoke Torture Debate - 27 Oct 2006 at 10:06am - Vice President Dick Cheney said dunking terror suspects in water during interrogations was "a no brainer" - prompting an outcry from human rights groups that he was endorsing a technique known as "water boarding," which some consider torture.

White House denies Cheney OK'd torture - 27 Oct 2006 at 11:14am - WASHINGTON -- The White House said Friday that Vice President Dick Cheney was not talking about a torture technique known as "water boarding" when he said dunking terrorism suspects in water during questioning was a "no-brainer."
Well, that's a major weasel (attempt). When is the rest of the Bush administration going to figure out that Cheney himself is a not-inconsiderable threat to national security -- and a major threat to White House credibility?

IG: Halliburton subsidiary abused rules - 27 Oct 2006 at 12:41pm - WASHINGTON -- The Halliburton subsidiary that provides food, shelter and other logistics to U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan exploited federal regulations to hide details on its contract performance, according to a report released Friday.

Safavian's sentencing set for Friday - 27 Oct 2006 at 10:06am - WASHINGTON -- Sentencing for former Bush administration official David Safavian was set for Friday, another election-season reminder of the Jack Abramoff scandal.

Marine pleads guilty to assaulting Iraqi - 27 Oct 2006 at 7:27am - CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- A Marine pleaded guilty Thursday to charges of assault and conspiracy to obstruct justice in the death of an Iraqi civilian, telling a judge he knew his actions would fuel anti-war sentiment.

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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Addicted To War

US casualties surge as Bush vows victory - 26 Oct 2006 at 1:56pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - The number of US troops killed in Iraq hit its highest monthly toll in a year, as American soldiers scoured war-torn Baghdad for a kidnapped comrade.
Is GWB addicted to the war? Getting him to give up on the war thus far has been like trying to get someone to quit gambling: "Do you realize how much this has already cost?" "But if I quit now, I'll never win."

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Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I'm Not Happy, But We're Winning

Iraqi Leader Disavows Timetable Report - 25 Oct 2006 at 11:14am - U.S. and Iraqi forces raided the stronghold of a Shiite militia led by a radical anti-American cleric in search of a death squad leader in an operation disavowed by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. Al-Maliki, who relies on political support from the cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, said the strike against a figure in al-Sadr's Mahdi militia in Sadr City "will not be repeated." The defiant al-Maliki also slammed the top U.S. military and diplomatic representatives in Iraq for their Tuesday news conference at which they said his government needed to set a timetable to curb violence ravaging the country. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said al-Maliki had agreed. "I affirm that this government represents the will of the people and no one has the right to impose a timetable on it," al-Maliki said at a news conference. The prime minister dismissed U.S. talk of timelines as driven by the upcoming midterm elections in the United States. "I am positive that this is not the official policy of the American government but rather a result of the ongoing election campaign. And that does not concern us much," he said.

Bush: Timetable Means Defeat - 25 Oct 2006 at 11:14am - President Bush said mounting U.S. casualties in Iraq are a "serious concern," but again refused to set a timetable for pulling out American troops. "A fixed timetable for withdrawal in my judgment means defeat," he said.

U.S. troops on active duty call for Iraq withdrawal - 25 Oct 2006 at 1:57pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - More than 200 active duty U.S. armed service members, fed up with the war in Iraq, have joined an unusual protest calling for withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, organizers said on Wednesday.

CNN, NPR turn down ads for Death of a President - 25 Oct 2006 at 1:27pm - The American news networks CNN and National Public Radio have refused to accept ads for the controversial British film Death of a President, about the fictional assassination of U.S. President George W. Bush.

Frist to GOP hopefuls: Don't stress Iraq - 25 Oct 2006 at 10:10am - CONCORD, N.H. -- Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist says if Republican candidates want to succeed on Election Day, they should turn their focus away from the Iraq war.

Limbaugh: Michael J. Fox Exploited Disease - 25 Oct 2006 at 9:30am - Conservative radio commentator Rush Limbaugh claimed that actor Michael J. Fox, who was visibly wracked by tremors, was "off his medication" or "acting" in a political ad supporting embryonic stem cell research. Fox has Parkinson's disease.

Hannity: Michael J. Fox Can Be Criticized for Stem Cell Ad - ABC News - 25 Oct 2006 at 9:15am - ABC talk radio host Sean Hannity told "Good Morning America" that Fox deserved to be criticized. "Michael J. Fox admits now that he stopped taking his medication prior to testifying before Congress," Hannity said. "You have a right to speak up, but he also has a right to be criticized."
Is the fact that Michael J. Fox has been diagnosed with Parkinson's in dispute? Parkinson's begins as an annoyance, becomes debilitating, and eventually kills, whether medication is taken or not. There's no acting involved: either he suffers from Parkinson's, or he doesn't. If he does, is he not justified in having particular interest in research which may lead to a cure?

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Tuesday, October 24, 2006

"12 to 18 Months" or "The Check Is In the Mail"

Part of Anti-terrorism Act violates charter: judge - 24 Oct 2006 at 2:56pm - The first person charged under the federal Anti-terrorism Act in Canada won a legal victory on Tuesday when an Ontario judge struck down a provision because he says it violates charter rights.

US aims for Iraq security handover within 18 months: military commander - 24 Oct 2006 at 10:07am - The American military commander in Iraq, General George Casey, says the country's own armed forces should be able to take over security responsibility within the next 12 to 18 months.
Isn't it always "12 to 18 months"? How are the next 12 to 18 months going to differ from the last 12 to 18 months?

US says it must succeed, sets 18-month limit for Iraqi army - 24 Oct 2006 at 9:33am - BAGHDAD (AFP) - The US ambassador to Iraq has said his country "must succeed" while the the American military commander said Iraqi armed forces should be ready to take over security responsibility in 18 months.
"Must succeed", of course. But what is the definition du jour of "success"?

Iraq conflict now a struggle among Iraqis: U.S. commander - 24 Oct 2006 at 8:51am - The nature of the conflict in Iraq has fundamentally changed over the past year into a "complex and difficult" struggle for power among Iraqis, the top American commander in Iraq said Tuesday.
Funny, the whitehouse keeps referring to "the enemy we face", one enemy, making it sound not complex at all.

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Monday, October 23, 2006

If I campaigned for your cleavage, would you hold it against me?

Alabama Candidate Campaigns on Cleavage - 23 Oct 2006 at 3:04pm - MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP)— Loretta Nall, the Libertarian Party's write-in candidate for governor of Alabama, is campaigning on her cleavage and hoping that voters will eventually focus on her platform.

Head of IAEA urges U.S.-N. Korea talks - 23 Oct 2006 at 2:50pm - WASHINGTON -- The only real option for trying to curb North Korea's nuclear weapons program is to talk to the insular regime, the head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday.

Battle over tactics raged at Gitmo - 23 Oct 2006 at 10:49am - Speaking publicly for the first time, senior U.S. law enforcement investigators say they waged a long but futile battle inside the Pentagon to stop coercive and degrading treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Pat Tillman's brother calls war illegal - 23 Oct 2006 at 10:50am - PHOENIX -- The brother of NFL player-turned-Army Ranger Pat Tillman, who was killed in Afghanistan, has written a scathing indictment of the war in Iraq, calling it "an illegal invasion."
Does anyone question its illegality?

Official: Iraq Must 'Step Up' - 23 Oct 2006 at 10:54am - The fledgling Iraqi government must "step up and take more responsibility" for the country's security, senior White House counselor Dan Bartlett said. Bartlett denied the U.S. wants a "stay the course" commitment in Iraq.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006

In The News - Oct. 22

Iraqi youth want U.S. troops to withdraw - 22 Oct 2006 at 7:35am - WASHINGTON -- Majorities of Iraqi youth in Arab regions of the country believe security would improve and violence decrease if the U.S.-led forces left immediately, according to a State Department poll that provides a window into the grim warnings provided to policymakers.

US Envoy: 'Arrogance,' 'Stupidity' In Iraq - 22 Oct 2006 at 7:34am - A senior U.S. diplomat said the United States had shown "arrogance" and "stupidity" in Iraq but was now ready to talk with any group except Al Qaeda in Iraq to facilitate national reconciliation.

October Already Deadliest Month Of '06 - 22 Oct 2006 at 7:00am - Three U.S. Marines were killed in Iraq on Saturday, making October the deadliest month for American forces this year. Meanwhile, at least 44 Iraqis were killed or found dead, keeping the month on pace to be the deadliest for Iraqis since April 2005.

Columnist settles Education Dept. case - 22 Oct 2006 at 4:42pm - WASHINGTON -- Columnist Armstrong Williams has reached a settlement with prosecutors regarding payments he received by the Education Department to promote President Bush's agenda.

Friday, October 20, 2006


U.S.: Courts no longer open to detainees - 20 Oct 2006 at 2:53pm - WASHINGTON -- Hundreds of detainees received notice from the Justice Department this week that because of a new law signed by President Bush, the U.S. court system is no longer open to them. Now it will be up to a federal appeals court, and ultimately the Supreme Court, to decide the fate of prisoners who have spent years arguing the government is illegally holding them at overseas military bases.

Bush to consult on changing Iraq tactics - 20 Oct 2006 at 2:43pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush acknowledged Friday that "it's tough" in Iraq and said he would consult with American generals to see if a change in tactics is necessary to combat the escalating violence.
How about consulting to see if a change in strategy is necessary? What is the U.S. military objective in Iraq, again? If it's still to send just enough troops to overthrow Saddam, fine, our work there is done. If it's to maintain order in perpetuity, aren't General Shinseki's estimated 400,000 troops required? Would even 400,000 be sufficient, now? Or is the objective simply to ensure that it remains "tough" until Bush leaves office?

United States numb to Iraq troop deaths: experts - 20 Oct 2006 at 11:40am - NEW YORK (Reuters) - In a small box titled "Names of the Dead" on page 10, The New York Times recorded the passing of Cpt. Mark Paine this week, who died after a roadside bomb exploded near his vehicle in Iraq.

Shiite militia seizes Iraqi city - 20 Oct 2006 at 7:12am - The Shiite militia run by anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr seized total control of the southern Iraqi city of Amarah on Friday in one of the boldest acts of defiance yet by one of the country's powerful, unofficial armies, witnesses and police said.

WP: Major change expected in Iraq strategy - 20 Oct 2006 at 6:57am - The growing doubts among GOP lawmakers about the administration's Iraq strategy, coupled with the prospect of Democratic wins in next month's midterm elections, will soon force the Bush administration to abandon its open-ended commitment to the war, according to lawmakers in both parties, foreign policy experts and others involved in policymaking.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

If We Say It's Legal...

New US anti-terror law undermines international law: ICRC - 19 Oct 2006 at 2:46pm - GENEVA (AFP) - The International Committee of the Red Cross said that a controversial new anti-terror law approved by President George W. Bush this week undermined international humanitarian law.
Who could have guessed?

Review says propaganda in Iraq was legal - 19 Oct 2006 at 1:51pm - WASHINGTON -- A controversial U.S. military propaganda program used in the Iraq war was legal, a Pentagon investigation has found.
And who might guess that the U.S. military would determine that one of its own programs was legal?

White House nixes partitioning Iraq - 19 Oct 2006 at 1:18pm - WASHINGTON -- Awaiting the recommendations of a commission exploring U.S. options in Iraq, the White House on Wednesday emphatically ruled out some proposals to end the long and unpopular war.

Judge orders Cheney visitor logs opened - 19 Oct 2006 at 12:53pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge has ordered the Bush administration to release information about who visited Vice President Dick Cheney's office and personal residence, an order that could spark a late election season debate over lobbyists' White House access.

AG: Voter warning linked to GOP campaign - 19 Oct 2006 at 7:45am - SANTA ANA, Calif. -- State investigators have linked a Republican campaign to letters sent to thousands of Southern California Hispanics warning them they could go to jail or be deported if they vote next month, a spokesman for the attorney general said.

U.S. commander orders review of Baghdad crackdown - 19 Oct 2006 at 12:02pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The top American commander in Iraq has ordered a review of a U.S.-led crackdown in Baghdad, a spokesman said on Thursday, as reinforcements have failed to ease violence and the U.S. death toll has spiked this month.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2006

One Man's Propaganda

Via Whatever It Is, I’m Against It, this exchange from O'Reilly's GWB interview:

O’REILLY: Is one of the reasons they’ve turned against the war in Iraq is that the anti-Bush press pounds day in and day out in newspapers, on the network news, in books like Bob Woodward’s, that you don’t know what you’re doing there. You have no have a strategy. You don’t listen to dissent. You’ve got this thing in your mind and you’re stubborn and you just can’t win it.

BUSH: Well, I’m disappointed that people would propagandize to that effect because the stakes are too high for that kind of illogical behavior.

But he would encourage people to propagandize to other effects? Right-propaganda is somehow more logical?

Gay congressman?s spouse denied benefits - 18 Oct 2006 at 9:06am - The spouse of late gay congressman Gerry Studds has been denied his pension benefits under the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

Bush Asserts U.S. Rights In Space - 18 Oct 2006 at 12:54pm - In the first revision of U.S. space policy in nearly 10 years, President Bush signed an order asserting the U.S. right to "freedom of access" in space - and the right to deny adversaries use of space for hostile purposes.

Former top aide may offer Bush way out of Iraq - 18 Oct 2006 at 12:13pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Longtime Bush family friend James Baker plans to give President George W. Bush recommendations that may provide a way out of Iraq, but whether he will take up the offer is far from certain.

Rumsfeld OKs plan to recall battalions - 18 Oct 2006 at 2:29pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has approved an unannounced Marine Corps plan to recall to active duty and send back to Iraq at least some Marine Reserve combat battalions that have already served one tour there, officials said Wednesday.

Rumsfeld: Terror threat not exaggerated - 18 Oct 2006 at 2:24pm - WASHINGTON -- Americans must take a lesson from history and not believe that the terrorist threat has been exaggerated or will go away, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Wednesday.
It would be tempting to ask "which terrorist threat?", but I have this very bad feeling that he means just one big threat, one great big axis of evilness.

FBI head calls for data retention rules - Wed, 18 Oct 2006 11:29:00 -0400 - At an international conference of police chiefs, FBI boss Robert Mueller argued that the government needs ISPs to retain records for longer periods of time in order to catch terrorists.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2006

The Carrot Needed To Get The Stick

Bush signs law on terror suspects - 17 Oct 2006 at 10:03am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Tuesday signed legislation authorizing tough interrogation of terror suspects and smoothing the way for trials before military commissions, calling it a "vital tool" in a time of war.

Rice urging others to enforce U.N. curbs - 17 Oct 2006 at 9:13am - WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is launching an uncertain diplomatic drive to persuade Asian allies and Russia to intensify North Korea's isolation by enforcing U.N. curbs on trade in dangerous goods.
If you make provisions in a resolution whereby signators are exempt from enforcing the resolution, as an inducement for them to sign--don't be surprised if the parties you judged to require such inducement aren't especially eager to enforce.

N. Korea warns of war over sanctions - 17 Oct 2006 at 9:11am - The U.N. sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear test are a declaration of war, and the country will "deal merciless blows" if the nation's sovereignty is violated, the North's central government said Tuesday in its first response to the U.N. measures.

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What's The Matter With Kansas?

Via Majikthise, this, for one thing:

6-year-old girl obsessed with Dick Cheney TOPEKA, Kan., Oct. 12 — Grace Mosier lives with her mom and dad, goes to birthday parties, takes ballet classes and is just like a lot of other 6-year-old girls. Except that she happens to be obsessed with Dick Cheney.

“I really, really like him,” says Grace, who can tell you what state the vice president was born in (Nebraska), where he went to grade school (College View, in Lincoln) and the names of his dogs (Dave and Jackson). She gets her fix of Cheney fun-facts by visiting the White House Web site for children. It says there that his favorite teacher was Miss Duffield and that he used to run a company called Halliburton.

So when Mr. Cheney came to town Thursday, Grace was at Forbes Field, holding a little American flag and a sign that said, “Welcome, Mr. Vice President, pet Dave and Jackson for me.” She watched him get off Air Force Two, step into a car and speed off to a fund-raiser.

“Like a rock star coming to town,” says Dene Mosier, Grace’s mother. And while Mr. Cheney might be an unusual object for a 6-year-old’s fixation, it is probably less unusual here, in the heart of Cheney Country.

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Monday, October 16, 2006

Dead End

Sunnis Flee Fighting That Has Killed 91 - 16 Oct 2006 at 11:01am - Sunni Muslims were fleeing across the Tigris River on Monday, trying to escape a four-day rampage of sectarian fighting in their Shiite-dominated home city north of Baghdad. At least 91 people have died — all but 17 of them Sunnis.
In view of stories like this, I wonder whether War Secretary Donald Rumsfeld maintains his belief that the source of most violence in Iraq is a few Ba'athist "dead-enders".

Bush tells Iraq PM: Ignore deadline talk - 16 Oct 2006 at 9:52am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush personally assured Iraq's prime minister Monday that he has no plans to pull U.S. forces out and to ignore rumors that a deadline would be enforced against the fledgling Baghdad government.

High court won't review Boy Scout case - 16 Oct 2006 at 10:29am - WASHINGTON -- A Boy Scouts sailing group that lost free use of a public boat slip because of the Scouts' discriminatory policies failed to persuade the Supreme Court to take its case.

Blind sheik's lawyer gets 28 months - 16 Oct 2006 at 2:41pm - NEW YORK -- Civil rights lawyer Lynne Stewart was sentenced Monday to 28 months in prison on a terrorism charge for helping a client who plotted to blow up New York City landmarks communicate with his followers.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Rules Of (Pre-)Engagement

US troops unlawfully killed UK journalist, coroner finds - 13 Oct 2006 at 8:20am - A British inquest has ruled one of Britain's most experienced journalists was unlawfully killed by US soldiers in Iraq, prompting calls for the perpetrators to be tried for war crimes.

Pentagon rejects verdict on killing of British journalist - 13 Oct 2006 at 10:28am - The Pentagon says US troops who killed a British journalist in Iraq in 2003 followed their rules of engagement, rejecting a British coroner's verdict that the killing was unlawful.
Perhaps whoever authorized those rules of engagement should also be tried for war crimes.

Top Brit General Sets Off Iraq Firestorm - 13 Oct 2006 at 8:28am - The U.K. army chief said British troops should be withdrawn from Iraq "soon." A political outcry followed. Gen. Richard Dannatt later softened his comments by saying he meant "within a year or two or three."

Ney Pleads Guilty, Plans To Resign - 13 Oct 2006 at 1:00pm - Rep. Bob Ney pleaded guilty to bribery charges stemming from the Jack Abramoff lobbying investigation, becoming the first member of Congress convicted in the scandal. He said he will resign from Congress in the next few weeks.

AP: Air America Radio Files Chapter 11 - 13 Oct 2006 at 10:51am - Air America Radio, a liberal talk and news radio network, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, a network official told the AP. The network had denied rumors just a month ago that it would file for bankruptcy.

Pentagon inspector general orders Guantanamo probe - 13 Oct 2006 at 12:57pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Pentagon's Inspector General ordered an investigation into alleged abuse at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay that holds suspected Taliban and al Qaeda members, a spokesman said on Friday.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Preventing the Unpreventable

New York security under scrutiny after plane crash - 12 Oct 2006 at 3:02pm - NEW YORK (AFP) - The crash of a light plane into a New York highrise has raised new questions about security in the still-jittery city, five years after the September 11 terror attacks. Ever since the attacks, planes have faced restrictions around Manhattan, National Guard units have been on patrol in the city's stations and subway passengers have been subject to random bag searches. Further measures have seen traffic using the bridges and tunnels into the city being put under increased surveillance, while special security has been put in place around public landmarks, especially during public gatherings. But the ability of a small plane Wednesday to penetrate that shield and plough into a building has drawn attention to the city's vulnerability.
All of which underscores the futility of trying to prevent terrorism altogether. Which is not to say that no steps should be taken in attempting to eliminate vulnerabilities. But part of what makes terrorism "terroristic" is the extent to which it is unpreventable.

It's not as if the CIA had been tracking Lidle and Stanger for years, or as if there had been a PDB warning of an impending attack on the U.S. by Yankees pitchers.

Senate Report: Five NGOs Sold Clout to Abramoff - 12 Oct 2006 at 2:56pm - Five conservative nonprofit organizations, including one run by prominent Republican Grover Norquist, "perpetrated a fraud" on taxpayers by selling their clout to lobbyist Jack Abramoff, Senate investigators said in a report issued today.

Guantanamo unacceptable - Beckett - 12 October 2006, 13:54 GMT 14:54 UK - Guantanamo Bay should be closed down, Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett has said during a speech on human rights. The US detention camp did as much to radicalise new extremists as it did to promote security, Mrs Beckett said.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Three C's

Political Blame Game Over North Korea - 11 Oct 2006 at 10:19am - North Korea's reported nuclear test has quickly turned into a political issue, with Democrats accusing President Bush of pursuing a failed policy and Republicans blaming the Clinton administration for negotiating with North Korea in the 1990s.
The three C's of conservatism: Blame Communists; Blame Canada; Blame Clinton.

Of course, negotiation cannot guarantee the desired outcome. But failure to negotiate at all can only signify one thing: that one has chosen to leave the outcome up to the other side. And if the only "negotiation" consists of one party saying, in essence, "just do what we want, because--not that we're considering this at all--but we could bomb the crap out of you if we really wanted to", should anyone be surprised if the other party accelerates the development of deterrent weapons? Sorry to disappoint GWB, Bolton, and their drum-beating ilk, but effective diplomacy is almost all carrots, and very little sticks, unless all you hope to accomplish is gaining great proficiency in the use of sticks.

Army: Troops to stay in Iraq until 2010 - 11 Oct 2006 at 11:25am - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Army has plans that would keep the current level of troops in Iraq - about 15 brigades - through 2010, the top Army officer said Wednesday.

Bombs blitz Baghdad as UN warns of chaos - 11 Oct 2006 at 1:51pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - At least six bombs exploded around Baghdad as the death toll from a brutal civil conflict continued to rise steeply and a top UN official warned that Iraq is spiralling out of control.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bush Stays The Course On North Korea Nukular Crisis

White House rejects North Korea talks - 10 Oct 2006 at 12:39pm - WASHINGTON -- The Bush administration rejected anew Tuesday direct talks with North Korea and said it would not be intimidated by a reported threat from Pyongyang that it could fire a nuclear-tipped missile unless the U.S. acts to resolve the standoff.
I guess the whitehouse isn't quite ready to act on James Baker's advice that the U.S. talk to its enemies.

How Bush Created a Nuclear North Korea - Political Cortex - 10/10/2006 01:42:45 PM EST - Clearly, the Bush Administration is, by far, the causal factor in Kim Jong Il's entry into Earth's 'Nukular' Club. They can blame Clinton all they want. At least he did something about this rising calamity. In 1994, the Clinton Administration reached an agreement with the DPRK that successfully froze North Korea's nuclear production for the next eight years.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Baker Kicks Off the Cut-n-Run Spin

Ex-secretary Baker readies Iraq policy - 9 Oct 2006 at 2:50pm - WASHINGTON -- Former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, a longtime Republican strategist, is preparing recommendations that President George W. Bush reconsider his "stay-the-course" strategy in Iraq.

"I think it's fair to say our commission believes that there are alternatives between the stated alternatives, the ones that are out there in the political debate, of 'stay the course' and 'cut and run,' " Baker said in an interview on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos.
Baker is absolutely correct to say that there are other alternatives. But the only "debate" that features only those two alternatives is one fantasized in Karl Rove's playbook.

Lower standards help Army recruit more - 9 Oct 2006 at 2:49pm - WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Army recruited more than 2,600 soldiers under new lower aptitude standards this year, helping the service beat its goal of 80,000 recruits in the throes of an unpopular war and mounting casualties.
"Be All That You Can Be Just Show Up ... In The Army"

Bush Reveals New Space Policy - Monday, October 09, 2006 10:32:00 AM - Josh Fink writes "Space.com is reporting that President Bush has unveiled his new space policy. From the article: 'U.S. assets must be unhindered in carrying out their space duties,' the Bush space policy says, stressing that 'freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power.'... As a civil space guideline, the policy calls upon NASA to 'execute a sustained and affordable human and robotic program of space exploration and develop, acquire, and use civil space systems to advance fundamental scientific knowledge of our Earth system, solar system, and universe.' While this policy does seem to push for more civil involvement in space for exploration and research, the article does go on to say, 'The policy calls upon the Secretary of Defense to "develop capabilities, plans, and options to ensure freedom of action in space, and, if directed, deny such freedom of action to adversaries."' So it will push into the intelligence community, and will supercede a similar policy from 1996. You can read the entire policy."

Friday, October 06, 2006

Dead Men Flying?

Unlikely Terrorists On No-Fly List - 6 Oct 2006 at 11:00am - The no-fly list meant to keep terrorists off planes contains unlikely terrorists, such as Bolivia's president and people already dead - including 14 of the 19 Sept. 11 hijackers.
Which is probably a good thing, because: would you want a bunch of dead Sept. 11 hijackers flying on your plane? I don't think so.

AP learns Gitmo guards brag of beatings - 6 Oct 2006 at 12:40pm - CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Guards at Guantanamo Bay bragged about beating detainees and described it as common practice, a Marine sergeant said in a sworn statement obtained by The Associated Press.

Same-sex rite stalls judge nomination - 6 Oct 2006 at 12:28pm - WASHINGTON -- A Republican senator is holding up a Michigan judge's nomination to the federal bench because she reportedly helped lead a commitment ceremony for a lesbian couple four years ago. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas, an opponent of gay marriage who has presidential aspirations, said Friday he wants to know whether there was anything illegal or improper about the ceremony in Massachusetts.
What could possibly be illegal or improper about a "commitment" ceremony?

Prosecutor: Libby wants to load up trial - 6 Oct 2006 at 2:24pm - WASHINGTON -- Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff intends to load up his criminal trial with information about nine national security matters, the names of foreign leaders and details about various terrorist groups, say court filings in the Valerie Plame leak case.

Canada to formally protest U.S. actions on Arar - 6 Oct 2006 at 2:11pm - Canada will officially protest the U.S. treatment of Maher Arar, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Friday.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Ironist In Chief

Bush raises volume on campaign charge - 4 Oct 2006 at 1:20pm - SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- President Bush on Wednesday claimed Democrats can't be trusted to protect the nation from terrorist attacks. "Vote Republican for the safety of the United States," he said.
...Apparently forgetting, momentarily, to what extent his "no-fly-swatting" policy vis-à-vis terrorism contributed to the United States' vulnerability in the months preceding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Congress sets aside $20M for wars' ends - 4 Oct 2006 at 12:54pm - WASHINGTON -- The military's top generals have warned Iraq is on the cusp of a civil war and that U.S. troops must remain in large numbers until at least next spring. But if the winds suddenly blow a different direction, Congress is ready to celebrate with a $20 million victory party.
I guess the good news is that, since the Iraq war either is unwinnable, or was won long ago -- depending on how one defines its objectives -- that $20 million should never have to be spent.

Monday, October 02, 2006


Ex-Rep. Foley checks in to alcohol rehab - 2 Oct 2006 at 9:06am - WASHINGTON -- While GOP leaders scramble to contain the political fallout from the latest Washington sex scandal, the FBI is examining Republican Rep. Mark Foley's e-mail exchanges with teenage boys and Foley announced he has checked himself into an alcohol rehabilitation facility.

Rice: No memory of CIA warning of attack - 2 Oct 2006 at 8:39am - SHANNON, Ireland -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said she cannot recall then-CIA chief George Tenet warning her of an impending al-Qaida attack in the United States, as a new book claims he did two months before the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
Maybe Rice should try that rehab thing and see if it helps with her memory problem.