Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The President Then Made His Decision

Mullen cites 'rigorous' debate on Iraq - 31 Jul 2007 at 7:57am - WASHINGTON -- The White House decision in January to pour as many as 30,000 more U.S. forces into Iraq followed rigorous debate involving President Bush, according to his nominee to head the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In written answers to prepared questions, Mullen earlier said he and other Joint Chiefs met with the president and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to discuss the plan last January to pour as many as 30,000 more U.S. forces into Iraq. "We had rigorous and thorough discussions and debates" of the troop buildup plan, he said in the written response. "The president then made his decision, and I am in support of that decision and working to make it succeed."
Rigorous debate, with a foregone conclusion?

U.S. unable to win new pledges for Iraq - 31 Jul 2007 at 8:38am - The United States won no specific new promises of Arab help for struggling Iraq after a gathering Tuesday of several nations listed as recipients of an expanded aid and weapons package for friendly states in the region.

Rice, Gates in Egypt to persuade Arabs - 31 Jul 2007 at 8:34am - SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Robert Gates arrived in Egypt on Tuesday with promises of weapons for allies in the Middle East, saying it would help counter al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

GI slain in Iraq; U.S. July toll at 75 - 31 Jul 2007 at 10:54am - The U.S. military said Tuesday that a Marine was killed in fighting west of the capital, pushing the American death toll for July to at least 75, the lowest in eight months.

Bancroft family accepts News deal: DJ executive - 31 Jul 2007 at 10:44am - CHICAGO (Reuters) - Dow Jones & Co. Inc.'s controlling Bancroft family "has accepted" News Corp.'s $5 billion offer to buy the publisher of the Wall Street Journal, an executive of a Dow Jones unit said on Tuesday.
This development should have some impact on the Wall Street Journal's status as "most liberal newspaper".

Punishments coming in Tillman case - 31 Jul 2007 at 2:37pm - WASHINGTON -- Retired Army Lt. Gen. Philip Kensinger is expected to bear much of the service's blame for the chain of errors that followed the friendly fire death in 2004 of Army Ranger Pat Tillman.

Thought for the day:
"The time not to become a father is eighteen years before a war."- E. B. White (1899 - 1985)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Fear and Divisions

Iran attacks U.S. plans for Saudi arms deal - 30 Jul 2007 at 9:41am - TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's Foreign Ministry accused the United States on Monday of seeking to create fear and divisions in the Middle East after reports Washington was readying major arms sales to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.

Big U.S. presence in Iraq until mid-2009: commander - 30 Jul 2007 at 9:43am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. generals expect to need a large contingent of troops in Iraq until the middle of 2009, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq said on Monday.

Iraqi parliament adjourns in blow to Bush - 30 Jul 2007 at 11:56am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's parliament went into summer recess for a month on Monday despite failing to enact a series of laws that Washington sees as crucial to stabilizing the country and reconciling warring Iraqis.

Thought for the day:
"Get all the fools on your side and you can be elected to anything." -Frank Dane

Friday, July 27, 2007

Empire Of the Son

Gorbachev: U.S. sowing world 'disorder' - 27 Jul 2007 at 10:13am - Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev criticized the United States, and President Bush in particular, on Friday for sowing disorder across the world by seeking to build an empire.

UK's Brown to reject talk of rift in Bush talks - 27 Jul 2007 at 10:35am - LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's new Prime Minister Gordon Brown will play down talk of a cooling of U.S.-British relations in his first talks with President George W. Bush next week -- but he will not want to be seen as "America's poodle."

U.S. says kills 17 militiamen in Iraq clashes - 27 Jul 2007 at 11:59am - KERBALA, Iraq (Reuters) - The U.S. military said on Friday it had killed around 17 militia fighters in clashes in Iraq's holy Shi'ite city of Kerbala, but hospital and police sources said some civilians were among the dead.

White House Backs Gonzales on Testimony 27 Jul 2007 at 2:57pm The attorney general did not mislead Congress, but national security factors prevented further clarification, the chief White House spokesman said today.... Mr. Mueller’s account appeared to conflict starkly with Mr. Gonzales’s version of events, in which he told the Senate Judiciary Committee that there was no disagreement about the program. In insisting that there was no real contradiction between the officials’ accounts, Mr. Snow said Mr. Gonzales was just not able to explain further “because to do so would compromise American security.”
When is a Terrorist Surveillance Program not a terrorist surveillance program? I guess when Alberto Gonzales wants to answer "no" when asked whether there were ever controversy regarding the Terrorist Surveillance Program.

Thought for the day:
"I'm sick of following my dreams. I'm just going to ask them where they're going and hook up with them later." -Mitch Hedberg (1968 - 2005), Mitch All Together

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Those Who Refuse To Cooperate Will Not Receive Fruit Cup

U.S. may stay in Iraq to '09 - 24 Jul 2007 at 8:43am - A revised U.S. military plan envisions establishing security at the local level in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq by summer 2008, leading one year later to security conditions nationwide that Iraqi forces are capable of sustaining, U.S. officials said Tuesday.
Is the release of this informtion not somehow aiding "the enemy"?

Specter suggests special prosecutor - 24 Jul 2007 at 10:27am - WASHINGTON -- A powerful Senate Republican on Tuesday told Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to consider appointing a special prosecutor to investigate the firings of federal prosecutors.

Planners set 2008 goal for Iraq security - 24 Jul 2007 at 11:24am - BAGHDAD -- A revised U.S. military plan envisions establishing security at the local level in Baghdad and elsewhere by next summer, it likely would take another year to get Iraqi forces ready to enforce any newfound stability, U.S. officials said Tuesday.... Stephen Biddle, who was a member of a group that advised Petraeus last spring on development of the strategy, said in a recent interview that he saw little chance of success if the U.S. military continued to try to establish security, unconditionally, across all of Baghdad. A better approach, Biddle said, is to use U.S. military power more selectively in a "carrot-and-stick" approach that rewards insurgent groups that choose to accept offers of a cease-fire. They would not be forcibly disarmed; they would choose to stop fighting. Those who refuse to cooperate would be dealt with militarily. Even that more nuanced approach, in Biddle's estimation, stands only about a 10-in-1[sic] chance of succeeding.
"Those who refuse to cooperate"? How about doing whatever it takes to encourage cooperation? But in any case, will Petraeus take Biddle's advice into consideration?

Bush warns anew of terror threat - 24 Jul 2007 at 12:48pm - CHARLESTON, S.C. -- President Bush sought Tuesday to strengthen the connection between the terrorist network al-Qaida and the unceasing Iraq war, prodding people to remember the threat of attack at home. By stressing al-Qaida's burgeoning operation in Iraq, Bush again aimed to frame the war in the public's mind as a matter of protecting the United States. Yet the war itself has turned into a valuable recruiting tool for al-Qaida, senior intelligence officials concede.

US and Iran still at loggerheads on Iraq - 24 Jul 2007 at 1:08pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - The United States on Tuesday accused Iran of stepping up its alleged support of armed groups in Iraq in the two months since the arch foes' began talks aimed at finding a way to quell the fighting.
Again, as if the U.S. weren't responsible for any violence in Iraq.

Senators challenge White House briefings - 24 Jul 2007 at 2:38pm - WASHINGTON -- Political briefings given by Bush White House aides to high-ranking diplomats "were probably inappropriate," the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said Tuesday. The comments by Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., were in contrast to White House assertions that the private briefings were not unusual or improper. Starting in 2001, White House political aides gave at least a half-dozen briefings to top diplomats about key congressional and gubernatorial races and Bush's re-election goals, according to documents obtained by the Senate committee. In a January 2007 session, senior Bush adviser Karl Rove briefed six ambassadors about Democratic incumbents targeted for defeat in 2008. Another political briefing occurred after the 2002 elections at the Peace Corps headquarters, the documents said. The diplomats were Bush appointees, several of whom had contributed heavily to the campaigns of Bush and other Republicans. Administration officials said Tuesday there was nothing surprising or inappropriate about the briefings.

Thought for the day:
"Laws alone can not secure freedom of expression; in order that every man present his views without penalty there must be spirit of tolerance in the entire population." -Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955)

Monday, July 23, 2007

These Allegations Have Been Troubling To Hear

Gonzales to Senate: I'm staying - 23 Jul 2007 at 11:04am - WASHINGTON -- Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says he's staying at the Justice Department to try to repair its broken image, telling Congress in a statement released Monday he's troubled that politics may have played a part in hiring career federal prosecutors. Senators already skeptical of Gonzales' ability to lead the department were preparing to hammer him about the firings of eight U.S. attorneys and conflicts between his earlier statements and the testimony of a former aide. The attorney general's comments were included in 26 pages of prepared testimony released on the eve of his scheduled appearance before the Senate Judiciary Committee.... "I believe very strongly that there is no place for political considerations in the hiring of our career employees or in the administration of justice," he said. "As such, these allegations have been troubling to hear. From my perspective, there are two options available in light of these allegations. I would walk away or I could devote my time, effort and energy to fix the problems. Since I have never been one to quit, I decided that the best course of action was to remain here and fix the problems."
I'm sure he was shocked, shocked, to learn that politics may have played a such part.

Injured Iraq war veterans to sue VA head - 23 Jul 2007 at 12:33pm - WASHINGTON -- Frustrated by delays in health care, a coalition of injured Iraq war veterans is accusing VA Secretary Jim Nicholson of breaking the law by denying them disability pay and mental health treatment.

Thought for the day:
"Money doesn't always bring happiness. People with ten million dollars are no happier than people with nine million dollars." -Hobart Brown

Friday, July 20, 2007

It's Going To Take Me Into Next Spring And Summer To Generate This Sustained Security Presence

General pleads for time to secure Iraq - 20 Jul 2007 at 11:11am - If the U.S. troop buildup in Iraq is reversed before the summer of 2008, the military will risk giving up the security gains it has achieved at a cost of hundreds of American lives over the past six months, the commander of U.S. forces south of Baghdad said Friday. Maj. Gen. Richard Lynch, commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, mentioned none of the proposals in Congress for beginning to withdraw U.S. troops as soon as this fall. But he made clear in an interview that in his area of responsibility south of Baghdad, it will take many more months to consolidate recent gains. "It's going to take through (this) summer, into the fall, to defeat the extremists in my battle space, and it's going to take me into next spring and summer to generate this sustained security presence," he said, referring to an Iraqi capability to hold gains made by U.S. forces. Lynch said he had projected in March, when he arrived as part of the troop buildup, that it would take him about 15 months to accomplish his mission, which would be summer 2008. He expressed concern at the growing pressure in Washington to decide by September whether the troop buildup is working and to plan for an early start to withdrawing all combat troops.
Early??? "Early" may have come and gone several years ago.

Court: Judges need all detainee evidence - 20 Jul 2007 at 11:40am - WASHINGTON -- When Guantanamo Bay detainees challenge their status as "enemy combatants," judges must review all the evidence, not just what the military chooses, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

Marine spared jail time in Iraqi death - 20 Jul 2007 at 1:05pm - A military jury on Friday spared a Marine prison time for kidnapping and conspiring to murder an Iraqi man who was killed as troops hunted for a suspected insurgent.

Bush order ensures CIA complies with Geneva conventions - 20 Jul 2007 at 2:26pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush has issued new rules to ensure that the CIA detention and interrogation program is in full compliance with the Geneva Conventions' ban on torture, the U.S. spy agency said on Friday.

Lawmaker seeks probe of CIA agents - 20 Jul 2007 at 2:57pm - WASHINGTON -- The government should investigate whether CIA agents divulged information to a European investigator about secret prisons for terrorism suspects, a high-ranking Republican said Friday.

Thought for the day:
"I repeat...that all power is a trust; that we are accountable for its exercise; that from the people, and for the people all springs, and all must exist." -Benjamin Disraeli (1804 - 1881)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Slowly and Deliberately

Sunnis end parliament boycott; 2 U.S. GIs charged with murder - 19 Jul 2007 at 9:25am - Sunni lawmakers ended their five-week boycott of parliament Thursday, raising hopes the factious assembly can make progress on benchmark legislation demanded by Washington. The U.S. said two American soldiers have been charged with killing an Iraqi. Also Thursday, the U.S. command announced the deaths of five American soldiers. Four soldiers and their Iraqi interpreter were killed Wednesday in a roadside bombing in east Baghdad and one soldier was killed Friday by small arms fire near Rusdi Mulla, just to the southwest of the city.

U.S. diplomat sees some progress in Iraq - 19 Jul 2007 at 12:23pm - WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. diplomat in Iraq said Thursday that Baghdad is making some political progress but faces considerable difficulty in the months to come to try to heal a nation long gripped by violence.

Odierno: Quick change unwise for Iraq - 19 Jul 2007 at 12:16pm - WASHINGTON -- Any change of military strategy in Iraq should be done slowly and deliberately or U.S. troops and the Iraqi population will be put in danger, a top U.S. commander said Thursday.
Agreed, but again, how slow is "slow"? How deliberate is "deliberate"?

Petraeus to address lawmakers - 19 Jul 2007 at 12:38pm - The top U.S. diplomat in Iraq said Thursday that Baghdad is making some political progress but faces considerable difficulty in the months to come to try to heal a nation long gripped by violence.

Valerie Plame's lawsuit dismissed - 19 Jul 2007 at 3:19pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge on Thursday dismissed former CIA operative Valerie Plame's lawsuit against members of the Bush administration in the CIA leak scandal.

Bush chief of staff faces possible contempt charges - 19 Jul 2007 at 3:09pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House chief of staff faced possible contempt charges after a congressional panel on Thursday rejected President George W. Bush's attempt to limit the probe of the firing of federal prosecutors.

Thought for the day:
"The glory of great men should always be measured by the means they have used to acquire it."- Francois de La Rochefoucauld (1613 - 1680)

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

In the News - July 18

Senior Qaeda figure in Iraq a myth: U.S. military - 18 Jul 2007 at 9:44am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A senior operative for al Qaeda in Iraq who was caught this month has told his U.S. military interrogators a prominent al Qaeda-led group is just a front and its leader fictitious, a military spokesman said on Wednesday.

US captures Qaeda in Iraq's link to bin Laden - 18 Jul 2007 at 9:37am - BAGHDAD (AFP) - US forces have arrested a top Iraqi militant who acted as a link between Al-Qaeda's Iraqi offshoot and Osama bin Laden, the global jihadist network's Saudi founder, the US military said Wednesday.

Republicans block Senate Iraq withdrawal plan - 18 Jul 2007 at 11:43am - WASHINGTON (AFP) - Republicans in the US Senate on Wednesday blocked a Democratic measure which would have required President George W. Bush to pull most combat troops out of Iraq by the end of April 2008.

Dem asks Gonzales to clarify testimony - 18 Jul 2007 at 1:44pm - WASHINGTON -- A leading Senate Democrat asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales Wednesday to clear up apparent conflicts in testimony from Gonzales and former top Justice Department officials about the firing of federal prosecutors and other matters.

Thought for the day:
"Write down the advice of him who loves you, though you like it not at present." -English Proverb

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Continued Behavior That Is Leading To Further Instability

Israel rebuffs call for talks on core issues - 17 Jul 2007 at 3:04pm - JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israel on Tuesday ruled out negotiations "at this stage" on the borders of a future Palestinian state, rebuffing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and casting doubt on a U.S. push to tackle the issue.
Oops. Someone forgot to ask one of the involved parties whether they wished to be involved?

New Intel Warns Terrorists 'Evolving' - WMUR - 17 Jul 2007 at 8:21am - The National Intelligence Estimate is the consensus view of all 16 US spy agencies. It says the US will face a "persistent and evolving" terrorist threat in the next three years.
Evolving? Yes, that's definitely evil.

U.N. Chief Urges U.S. To Stick By Iraqis - 17 Jul 2007 at 7:30am - The U.N. chief is warning that a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq could result in a further deterioration of life for Iraqis. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's comments came as he prepared for a meeting today with President Bush.
Again, how quick is "quick"?

Report says al-Qaida seeks to attack U.S. - 17 Jul 2007 at 8:57am - WASHINGTON -- The terrorist network Al-Qaida will likely leverage its contacts and capabilities in Iraq to mount an attack on U.S. soil, according to a new National Intelligence Estimate on threats to the American homeland.
How can this possibly be, when the U.S. has terrorism on the run in Iraq?

U.S. ready for direct talks with Iran - 17 Jul 2007 at 10:48am - WASHINGTON -- The United States is ready to hold new direct talks with Iran on the deteriorating security situation in Iraq, where the Bush administration accused Tehran of supporting Shia insurgents, the State Department said Tuesday. "We think that given the situation in Iraq and given Iran's continued behavior that is leading to further instability in Iraq, that it would be appropriate to have another face-to-face meeting," spokesman Sean McCormack told reporters.
The United States' continued behavior isn't leading to further instability in Iraq? Or is it a case of good instability vs. bad instability?

Report: Al-Qaeda may use Iraqi network to attack U.S. - 17 Jul 2007 at 11:37am - The terrorist network al-Qaeda will likely leverage its contacts and capabilities in Iraq to mount an attack on U.S. soil, according to a new National Intelligence Estimate on threats to the United States....The report makes clear that al-Qaeda in Iraq, which has not yet posed a direct threat to U.S. soil, could become a problem here. "Of note," the analysts said, "we assess that al-Qaeda will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the homeland." The analysts also found that al-Qaeda's association with its Iraqi affiliate helps the group to energize the broader Sunni Muslim extremist community, raise resources and recruit and indoctrinate operatives — "including for homeland attacks."
So, according to this, critics of the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq were correct in saying that the war, far from making the United States safer, has turned Iraq into a terrorist training ground and provoked a surge in terror-group enlistment. Heck of a job.

Thought for the day:
"The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth." -Niels Bohr (1885 - 1962)

Monday, July 16, 2007

Pretty Good Rhetoric

Pace: U.S. troops in Iraq could rise - 16 Jul 2007 at 3:24pm - BAGHDAD -- The U.S. military is weighing new directions in Iraq, including an even bigger troop buildup if President Bush thinks his "surge" strategy needs a further boost, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said Monday.
"One last push" = unlimited time & troop strength?

Pentagon balked at pleas from officers in field for safer vehicles - 16 Jul 2007 at 8:30am - Pfc. Aaron Kincaid, 25, had been joking with buddies just before their Humvee rolled over the bomb. His wife, Rachel, later learned that the blast blew Kincaid, a father of two from outside Atlanta, through the Humvee's metal roof. Army investigators who reviewed the Sept. 23 attack near Riyadh, Iraq, wrote in their report that only providence could have saved Kincaid from dying that day: "There was no way short of not going on that route at that time (that) this tragedy could have been diverted." A USA TODAY investigation of the Pentagon's efforts to protect troops in Iraq suggests otherwise.

Hamilton worries about prospects in Iraq - 16 Jul 2007 at 11:45am - WASHINGTON -- Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, said Monday he's "extremely doubtful" that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki will be able to secure the country and allow American forces to leave any time soon. "There is no chance that the Iraqi forces could take over at any time, or certainly by the first of the year," Hamilton said in a nationally broadcast interview. "All of the support efforts, logistical and medical and so forth, they are not close to being able to meet," Hamilton said. Hamilton said al-Maliki's government also has made little progress on needed legislation and other efforts at reconciliation. "He's had quite a bit of time now," Hamilton said. "He's known exactly what he's had to do. He hasn't done it. His rhetoric is pretty good. His performance is pretty bad."

Thought for the day:
"Say little, and love much; give all; judge no man; aspire to all that is pure and good." -White Eagle

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Any Time They Want

Iraqi PM: Peace is possible without U.S. - 14 Jul 2007 at 9:40am - Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Saturday that the Iraqi army and police are capable of keeping security in the country when American troops leave "any time they want," though he acknowledged the forces need further weapons and training.
Is there any excuse for the United States thus far having failed to provide the Iraqi army and police with the weapons and training they require to keep their own country secure? Why is this not the United States' top priority concerning Iraq?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

An Abomination

Hindu prayer in Senate disrupted - July 12, 2007 8:55 a.m. PT - WASHINGTON -- A Hindu clergyman made history Thursday by offering the Senate's morning prayer, but only after police officers removed three shouting protesters from the visitors' gallery. Rajan Zed, director of interfaith relations at a Hindu temple in Reno, Nev., gave the brief prayer that opens each day's Senate session. As he stood at the chamber's podium in a bright orange and burgundy robe, two women and a man began shouting "this is an abomination" and other complaints from the gallery.
"Other complaints"? -- come on, let's get specific. Actually, I suspect they may have meant to shout "this is a bombin' nation!", which, though no less disruptive, would at least have been more accurate.

Bush admits staff role in CIA leak - 12 Jul 2007 at 11:46am - President Bush on Thursday acknowledged publicly for the first time that someone in his administration leaked the name of a CIA operative, although he also said he hopes the controversy over his decision to spare prison for a former White House aide has "run its course."

You can forget the unhappy past: study - 12 Jul 2007 at 2:43pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Researchers have confirmed what common wisdom has long held -- that people can suppress emotionally troubling memories -- and said on Thursday they have sketched out how the brain accomplishes this.
That's good to know. Purely coincidentally, I'm sure, this item appeared at around the same time:

Bush: "Cause for optimism" in Iraq - 12 Jul 2007 at 2:45pm - The Iraqi government has made only mixed progress toward fulfilling goals for political, military and economic reform, but President Bush on Thursday said he sees "cause for optimism" in its efforts....At a news conference that coincided with the report's release, President Bush said, "I believe we can succeed in Iraq and I know we must."
After a while, enough success is enough, wouldn't you say? Seriously, when was the last time Bush explicitly stated the objective?

Thought for the day:
"The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little." -Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882 - 1945)

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

I Will Once Again Explain the Consequences Of Failure

U.S. opposition to Iraq war hits new high: poll - 10 Jul 2007 at 8:38am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Opposition to the Iraq war has climbed to a record high and President George W. Bush's approval rating dropped to a new low amid growing dissent from members of his own Republican party over his war strategy, according to a new USAToday/Gallup poll.

Snow says more time needed for Iraq - 10 Jul 2007 at 8:56am - A report citing a lack of progress by the Baghdad government is only "a look at the starting line" of the U.S. troop surge and shouldn't be used by critics to demand withdrawal, President Bush's spokesman said Tuesday.
Moving targets we're used to, but this moveable starting line is kind of a new twist.

Report: Gonzales Knew Of FBI Abuses - 10 Jul 2007 at 9:30am - U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales received reports detailing legal or procedural violations of the USA Patriot Act by FBI agents in the months before he told senators that no such abuses had occurred, The Washington post reported.
It all depends on what the definition of "abuses" is?

Dems call for combat to end by 2008 - 10 Jul 2007 at 11:45am - WASHINGTON -- A senior Democrat said Tuesday it was obvious the Iraqi government has made no progress and the only way to propel it was to begin pulling out U.S. troops....President Bush said he won't succumb to political pressure. During a visit to Parma, Ohio on Tuesday, he reiterated that troop levels in Iraq "will be decided by our commanders on the ground, not by political figures in Washington, D.C." "I fully understand that this is a difficult war. It's hard on the American people but I will once again explain the consequences of failure," he said.
He cannot admit that persisting in combat is itself failure. Are we not already seeing its consequences?

Bush prods Congress on domestic agenda - 10 Jul 2007 at 11:42am - PARMA, Ohio -- President Bush, clashing with Congress on several fronts, tried to pressure lawmakers Tuesday into taking up what's left of his shrinking domestic agenda.
Should his domestic agenda, whatever it may be, have a higher priority than changing course in Iraq?

Former Bush surgeon general says he was muzzled - 10 Jul 2007 at 1:18pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first U.S. surgeon general appointed by President George W. Bush accused the administration on Tuesday of political interference and muzzling him on key issues like embryonic stem cell research. "Anything that doesn't fit into the political appointees' ideological, theological or political agenda is ignored, marginalized or simply buried," Dr. Richard Carmona, who served as the nation's top doctor from 2002 until 2006, told a House of Representatives committee.
If only we could say this were shocking news.

Now is not time for withdrawal: Downer - 10 Jul 2007 at 3:00pm - The Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer, says now is not the time for a sudden withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
The war apologists seem always to characterise withdrawal as "sudden". Is now the time for gradual withdrawal?

Thought for the day:
"Love your enemies just in case your friends turn out to be a bunch of bastards." -R. A. Dickson

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Drop-Dead Date

Iraqis warn of civil war if U.S. troops withdraw - 9 Jul 2007 at 8:40am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi leaders warned on Monday that an early U.S. troop withdrawal could tip Iraq into all-out civil war after the New York Times said debate was growing in the White House over a gradual scaling-down of forces....Iraqi officials said the country's own security forces were not ready and warned that premature withdrawal of some of the 157,000 American troops could produce a security vacuum.
Again, how about a progress report on U.S. efforts to train and equip Iraqi security forces?

No troop pullout imminent - 9 Jul 2007 at 11:01am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush is not contemplating withdrawing forces from Iraq now despite an erosion of support among Republicans for his war policy, the White House said Monday. The administration also tried to lower expectations about a report due Sunday on whether the Iraqi government is meeting political, economic and security benchmarks that Bush set in January when he announced a buildup of 21,500 U.S. combat forces. White House press secretary Tony Snow said that all of the additional troops had just gotten in place and it would be unrealistic to expect major progress now. "You are not going to expect all the benchmarks to be met at the beginning of something," Snow said. "You are hoping that you are going to be able to see progress in terms of meeting benchmarks from that beginning stage to what you see in two months." But at the same time, he said that Sept. 15 is not "the drop dead date" by which everything should be completed.
The "drop-dead" date is pretty much every day for American troops, no?

Blair defied ministers on Iraq: diaries - 9 Jul 2007 at 8:04am - Tony Blair's closest aide has revealed the former British prime minister overrode Cabinet colleagues who had doubts about going to war against Iraq, in diaries published today.
"Facts fixed around the policy", anyone?

Report: Wars costing $12 billion a month - 9 Jul 2007 at 2:33pm - WASHINGTON -- The boost in troop levels in Iraq has increased the cost of war there and in Afghanistan to $12 billion a month, and the total for Iraq alone is nearing a half-trillion dollars, congressional analysts say.
And worth it?

Initial Wave of Iraqi Refugees Land in U.S. - 9 Jul 2007 at 9:19am - The first wave of Iraqi refugees has arrived in the United States: 63 resettlement cases in June and more are expected to come in September. U.S. officials have pledged to resettle 7,000 Iraqis by the end of this year. Some 2 million Iraqis have fled the country.
The first wave, only now?

Al Qaeda threatens to 'annihilate' Iran - 9 Jul 2007 at 9:14am - The self-proclaimed Islamic State of Iraq has given Iran a two-month ultimatum to stop meddling in Iraqi affairs or face all-out war, according to an audio tape posted on the Internet.
The enemy of my enemy is _____?

  1. My friend

  2. My enemy

  3. Making my brain hurt

Bush denies Congress access to key aides - 9 Jul 2007 at 10:16am - President Bush invoked executive privilege Monday to deny requests by Congress for testimony from former White House aides Sara Taylor and Harriet Miers.

Thought for the day:
"Let a good man do good deeds with the same zeal that the evil man does bad ones." -The Belzer Rabbi

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Friday, July 06, 2007

It'd Be a Mess

Court nixes suit against spy program - 6 Jul 2007 at 11:20am - CINCINNATI (AP) — A federal appeals court Friday ordered the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging President Bush's domestic spying program, saying the plaintiffs had no standing to sue. The 2-1 ruling by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel vacated a 2006 order by a lower court in Detroit, which had found the post-Sept. 11 warrantless surveillance aimed at uncovering terrorist activity to be unconstitutional, violating rights to privacy and free speech and the separation of powers.
So, in the eyes of the court, as long as it's not known precisely who has been subject to the illegal wiretapping, it may as well be legal?

US general warns against Iraq withdrawal - 6 Jul 2007 at 11:55am - WASHINGTON -- As pressure builds for a change in Iraq policy, a top U.S. commander there warned Friday that drawing down troops too soon would leave the country "a mess." "You'd find the enemy regaining ground, re-establishing sanctuary, building more" roadside bombs, Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch told a Pentagon news conference. "The violence would escalate. It'd be a mess."
But he doesn't seem to address how much more of a mess it would be than if U.S. troops were to remain at current levels; nor whether the benefit of keeping troops there (whatever he thinks it is) is worth the cost.

Thought for the day:
"Television is the first truly democratic culture -- the first culture available to everybody and entirely governed by what the people want. The most terrifying thing is what people do want." -Clive Barnes

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Monday, July 02, 2007

An Important Investigation

Bush Commutes Libby Prison Sentence - 2 Jul 2007 at 6:19pm - President Bush commuted the sentence of former White House aide I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby on Monday, sparing him from a 2 1/2-year prison term that Bush said was excessive.
"It's a criminal investigation. It is an important investigation. I'd like to know if somebody in my White House did leak sensitive information. As you know, I've been outspoken on leaks. And whether they happened in the White House, or happened in the administration, or happened on Capitol Hill, it is a -- they can be very damaging. And so this investigation is ongoing and -- by professionals who do this for a living, and I hope they -- I'd like to know. -President Bush, when pressed in a 2003-Oct-10 press conference to say if he remained eager to find out whether somebody in the White House leaked the identity of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame.

It seems time to ask Mr. Bush again how important he considers the leak investigation to have been.

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NOW they approve them?

Army gets big boost in safer vehicles - 2 Jul 2007 at 11:00am - The Pentagon has approved an Army recommendation for a 600% increase in production of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles.

U.S.: Iran using Hezbollah in Iraq - 2 Jul 2007 at 8:47am - Iran is using the Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah as a "proxy" to arm Shiite militants in Iraq and Tehran?s Quds force had prior knowledge of a January attack in Karbala in which five Americans died, a U.S. general said Monday.

Judges Refuse to Delay Libby's Prison Sentence -- 2 Jul 2007 at 2:11pm -- An appeals court unanimously rejected a request to delay I. Lewis Libby Jr.?s prison sentence in the C.I.A. leak case.

Thought for the day:
"The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools." -Herbert Spencer (1820 - 1903)

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