Friday, September 28, 2007

Ask a Republican

GOP senators offer new timeline for Iraq - 28 Sep 2007 at 2:37pm - WASHINGTON -- A small group of Republicans facing election fights next year have rallied around war legislation they think could unite the GOP: Call for an end to U.S. combat in Iraq, but wait until President Bush is out of office.
What's the particular appeal in that timeline?

Blackwater guard in Iraq said "stop shooting": media - 28 Sep 2007 at 10:06am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A Blackwater security guard screamed at colleagues to "stop shooting" in an incident that left 11 Iraqi civilians dead, enraged the government and sparked reviews of security firms in Iraq, U.S. media said on Friday.

US-led forces kill top al-Qaida leader - 28 Sep 2007 at 11:32am - WASHINGTON -- U.S.-led forces have killed one of the most important leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq, and recent similar operations have left the organization fractured, a top American commander said Friday.

Thought for the day:
I just need enough to tide me over until I need more. -Bill Hoest

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Winning Hearts and Minds

IRAQ: Khitam Bahir, Iraq, “I no longer recognise my insurgent son” - Thursday, September 27, 2007 06:27:00 PM - BAGHDAD, 27 September 2007 (IRIN) - I no longer recognise my son since he turned into an insurgent. He used to be a very popular, easy-going and modern person but now he has changed completely. He has decided to fight US-troops, even if he is killed.
Mission accomplished?

White House May Alter Intel Oversight Procedure - 27 Sep 2007 at 12:36pm - The Intelligence Oversight Board is the principal civilian watchdog of the CIA, FBI and other intelligence agencies. President Bush is likely to sign an executive order by the end of 2007 that will fundamentally change the way the group does its job, leading it to farm out the bulk of its responsibilities.

Roots of Iraq weapon probes date to 2004 - 27 Sep 2007 at 2:02pm - WASHINGTON -- As President Bush and Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry clashed in late 2004 over the direction of the Iraq war, a rising Army star joined the debate. Then-Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, head of a new command overseeing the training and equipping of Iraq's security forces, said headway was being made. Tens of thousands of rifles, pistols, body armor, vehicles, and radios, along with millions of ammunition rounds, had been delivered to Iraqis over a three-month period, he wrote in a commentary for The Washington Post six weeks before the presidential election. The weapons and countless pieces of other gear, paid for with tens of millions of U.S. tax dollars, were indeed flowing - but as it turns out, not always to the right places or into the right hands.

Blackwater blamed for guard deaths - 27 Sep 2007 at 2:21pm - WASHINGTON -- Blackwater USA triggered a major battle in the Iraq war by sending an unprepared team of security guards into an insurgent stronghold, a move that led to their horrific deaths and a violent response by U.S. forces, according to a congressional investigation released Thursday.

Troop: I Was Ordered To Kill Unarmed Iraqi - 27 Sep 2007 at 2:40pm - In damning testimony, a U.S. soldier told a court-martial he was ordered by his staff sergeant to shoot an unarmed Iraqi man and that the sergeant then laughed and told the trooper to finish the job as the dying man convulsed on the ground.

Thought for the day:
In politics, absurdity is not a handicap. -Napoleon Bonaparte (1769 - 1821)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Parts of Patriot Act thrown out — Pace repeats view that gay sex immoral

Parts of Patriot Act thrown out - 26 Sep 2007 at 8:22pm - Two provisions of the USA Patriot Act are unconstitutional because they allow search warrants to be issued without a showing of probable cause, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. U.S. District Judge Ann Aiken ruled that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, as amended by the Patriot Act, "now permits the executive branch of government to conduct surveillance and searches of American citizens without satisfying the probable cause requirements of the Fourth Amendment." Portland attorney Brandon Mayfield sought the ruling in a lawsuit against the federal government after he was mistakenly linked by the FBI to the Madrid train bombings that killed 191 people in 2004.

Pace repeats view that gay sex immoral - 26 Sep 2007 at 7:27pm - WASHINGTON -- Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, caused a stir at a Senate hearing Wednesday when he repeated his view that gay sex is immoral and should not be condoned by the military.

Because Shifting Money Around Is So Counterproductive

Gates seeks $190 billion for wars - 26 Sep 2007 at 10:56am - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates will ask Congress Wednesday to approve nearly $190 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2008, increasing initial projections by more than a third.... Congress should approve the request as quickly as possible "and without excessive and counterproductive restrictions," Gates will tell the Senate, according to his testimony. Doing so, he added, helps the Pentagon to better manage its resources and avoid shifting money around, which often requires additional cash.
Only $190B for another year's worth of destabilisation of the middle east -- what a deal.

Iraq leader says flow of arms must stop - 26 Sep 2007 at 1:44pm - UNITED NATIONS -- Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki warned the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday that the continued flow of weapons, suicide bombers and terrorism funding into his country would result in "disastrous consequences" for the region and the world.
Including the flow of weapons into his country from the United States?

Bush thought Saddam was prepared to flee: report - 26 Sep 2007 at 1:12pm - MADRID (Reuters) - Saddam Hussein was prepared to take $1 billion and go into exile before the Iraq war, according to a transcript of talks between U.S. President George W. Bush and an ally, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported on Wednesday. During a meeting at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, on February 22, 2003, Bush told former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar that Saddam could also be assassinated, according to the transcript published in El Pais in Spanish.
Just take out Saddam -- plus a few dead-enders -- and, voilà: instant Mayberry RFD!

Gates to investigate contractors in Iraq - 26 Sep 2007 at 1:39pm - WASHINGTON -- Unhappy with the Pentagon's oversight of its private contractors in Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has dispatched a fact-finding team to probe further into the problem.

Report: Army short-staffed at hospitals - 26 Sep 2007 at 1:49pm - WASHINGTON -- The Army has yet to fully staff the new "warrior transition units" being put together because of poor conditions at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, according to a congressional report made public Wednesday.

Senate urges Iraq power-sharing - 26 Sep 2007 at 1:57pm - WASHINGTON -- The Senate passed a resolution Wednesday suggesting Baghdad limit the power of its federal government and give more control to Iraq's ethnically divided regions.

Thought for the day:
It is a far, far better thing to have a firm anchor in nonsense than to put out on the troubled sea of thought. -John Kenneth Galbraith (1908 - 2006)

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


White House drops choice for CIA lawyer - 25 Sep 2007 at 3:14pm - WASHINGTON -- The White House withdrew its nominee to become the CIA's top lawyer on Tuesday after Democrats raised concerns that the agency's interrogation techniques may be illegal. The president sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee informing it of the decision to withdraw the nomination of John Rizzo to be the CIA's general counsel. The panel had been expected to consider Rizzo's nomination at a hearing Tuesday afternoon.... A CIA spokesman said last month that Director Michael Hayden strongly supported Rizzo's nomination, noting that Rizzo would be the first general counsel to come up through the agency's ranks.

'Cowboy' aggression works for Blackwater - 24 Sep 2007 at 4:31pm - RALEIGH, N.C. -- For all its high-profile failings and its reputation for "cowboy" aggression, the secretive security company Blackwater USA has never failed at its primary mission in Iraq: Protecting State Department diplomats.

Iraq ministry finishes draft law on contractors - 25 Sep 2007 at 8:44am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Interior Ministry has finished draft legislation that would end the legal immunity enjoyed by private security contractors after a deadly shooting involving U.S. firm Blackwater, an official said on Tuesday.

U.S. snipers accused of 'baiting' Iraqis - 25 Sep 2007 at 8:52am - WASHINGTON -- Army snipers hunting insurgents in Iraq were under orders to "bait" their targets with suspicious materials, such as detonation cords, and then kill whoever picked up the items, according to the defense attorney for a soldier accused of planting evidence on an Iraqi he killed. Gary Myers, an attorney for Sgt. Evan Vela, said his client had acted "pursuant to orders."

Mukasey security detail filed complaint - 25 Sep 2007 at 2:56pm - WASHINGTON -- Emptying the trash, carrying groceries and toting golf clubs were among duties allegedly assigned to U.S. marshals protecting two federal judges in New York over the last decade - one of whom has been nominated to be the next U.S. attorney general.

Supreme Court to decide photo ID voting law - 25 Sep 2007 at 2:48pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court said on Tuesday it would decide whether voters can be required to show photo identification, a move that can limit participation of the elderly and poor in elections.

Thought for the day:
We don't know what we want, but we are ready to bite somebody to get it. -Will Rogers (1879 - 1935)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Trying to Sneak In

Bush criticizes Democrats on spending - 24 Sep 2007 at 3:11pm - WASHINGTON -- President Bush on Monday criticized the Democratic-led Congress for failing to pass spending bills on time, saying they might be trying to "sneak in all kinds of special projects."
Because the Bush administration would never think of sneaking provisions into any kind of legislation... would it?

Giuliani's Rhetoric Vs. Record On Terror - 24 Sep 2007 at 8:24am - Rudy Giuliani's message on terrorism is powerful coming from the man who won acclaim for his calm and resolve after the 9/11 attacks. But it is undercut by his record as mayor and by his statements since the 1990s, the Washington Post reports.

Iraq says no Blackwater move until after inquiry - 24 Sep 2007 at 8:22am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq said on Monday no action would be taken against U.S. private security firm Blackwater over a shooting in which 11 people were killed until after a joint investigation with U.S. officials.

Homeland deputy resigns - 24 Sep 2007 at 2:27pm - WASHINGTON -- The Homeland Security Department's second-in-command resigned Monday, citing personal financial reasons. Michael P. Jackson, the department's deputy secretary, has had a major hand in running the large department, particularly in putting the current management team in place.

Administration Revisits Social Security - 24 Sep 2007 at 3:00pm - The Bush administration says the only way to permanently fix Social Security is through some combination of benefit cuts and tax hikes, according to a new Treasury Department report on the politically explosive issue.

Lawmaker questions emissions lobbying - 24 Sep 2007 at 2:52pm - WASHINGTON -- A senior California lawmaker on Monday said the administration was trying to "stack the deck" against his state's proposal to impose tough standards on motor vehicle emissions, and urged the White House to repudiate what he called a questionable lobbying effort.

Bomber kills 20 including police chief in Iraq city - 24 Sep 2007 at 2:32pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed 20 people including the police chief of the Iraqi city of Baquba on Monday in a mosque compound where local Shi'ite and Sunni Arab factions were holding reconciliation talks.

Thought for the day:
The most erroneous stories are those we think we know best - and therefore never scrutinize or question. -Stephen Jay Gould (1941 - 2002)

Saturday, September 22, 2007


U.S. to urge greater U.N. role in Iraq - 22 Sep 2007 at 3:14pm - UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United States will press Iraq's neighbors and world powers on Saturday to implement U.N. pledges to do more in Iraq at a high-level meeting called by U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.
The U.S. wants help. The United "we-don't-need-your-permission-and-we-don't-want-your-help" States.

Blackwater denies smuggling allegations - 22 Sep 2007 at 3:31pm - Blackwater USA denied Saturday any involvement in illegal weapons smuggling, responding to reports the private security contractor is a target of federal prosecutors.

Iraq to probe Blackwater incidents - 22 Sep 2007 at 3:16pm - Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in an ...

Iraqis: Video shows Blackwater fired 1st - 22 Sep 2007 at 3:12pm - Iraqi investigators have a videotape that shows Blackwater USA guards opened fire against civilians without provocation in an incident last week in which 11 people died, a senior Iraqi official said Saturday. He said the case had been referred to the Iraqi judiciary.

Rising tensions as Rice, al-Maliki meet - 22 Sep 2007 at 3:12pm - UNITED NATIONS -- Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's planned meeting Saturday with Iraq's prime minister was their first since a Baghdad shootout involving guards from a U.S. company protecting American diplomats.

Friday, September 21, 2007

In Control

Baghdad mostly under U.S. control - 21 Sep 2007 at 2:36pm - WASHINGTON -- The portion of Baghdad in which Iraqi security forces are in control with minimal help from the American military has grown only slightly in recent months, to just over 8 percent.
After four years, only 8% has been transferred back to Iraqi forces (sort of) -- what does that say about the United States' priorities where Iraq is concerned?

So can 8% of the U.S. troops that had been controlling Baghdad safely be redeployed? If not, what's the significance?

US, Iraqi forces control half of Baghdad: general - 21 Sep 2007 at 4:26pm - US or Iraqi forces control more than half of Baghdad's neighbourhoods while the rest still experience fighting and sectarian violence, the US commander in Baghdad revealed.
OK, so make that 8% of 50%, or something like that.

Weighing the History of 'Violent Politics' - September 20, 2007 - In his book Violent Politics, William Polks uses 11 tales of national turmoil for insight into counter-insurgency efforts. Polk finds echoes of Vietnam and the Soviet debacle in Afghanistan as he weighs U.S. policy in Iraq.
In his NPR interview yesterday, the author discussed, among other things, his view that military counter-insurgency strategies have never worked and they're not about to any time soon.

Iraq aims to end immunity of security firms - 21 Sep 2007 at 8:35am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq wants to tighten control over security contractors after a deadly shooting incident involving the U.S. firm Blackwater, ending their long immunity from Iraqi prosecution, the Interior Ministry said on Friday.

Mandela still alive after embarrassing Bush remark - 21 Sep 2007 at 10:29am - Nelson Mandela is still very much alive despite an embarrassing gaffe by US President George W Bush, who alluded to the former South African leader's death in an attempt to explain sectarian violence in Iraq.

Guards' Shots Not Provoked, Iraq Concludes - 21 Sep 2007 at 12:15pm - Iraq's Ministry of Interior is proposing a reshaping of how American diplomats in Iraq are protected. The U.S. Embassy said today that some convoys had resumed.

Rumsfeld as Fellow Draws a Protest at Stanford - 21 Sep 2007 at 10:06am - The appointment of the former defense secretary at the Hoover Institution is drawing fierce protests.

Number of Iraqi asylum seekers up sharply from last year: UN - 21 Sep 2007 at 2:43pm - Close to 20,000 Iraqis applied for asylum to Western countries during the first half of this year, up 45 per cent from the previous six-month-period, according to the UN's refugee agency.

Thought for the day:
Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler. -Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), (attributed)

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Bush says hopes to solve Iran issue diplomatically - 20 Sep 2007 at 12:47pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush said on Thursday he remained hopeful of convincing Iran through diplomatic means to give up its nuclear ambitions.
Hopeful that threats of shock-'n'-awe airstrikes will obviate the need for actual shock-'n'-awe airstrikes. Does all-stick-and-no-carrot really constitute "diplomacy"?

IRAQ: Sharp drop in number of violence-related deaths, government says - September 20, 2007 03:27:00 PM - BAGHDAD, 20 September 2007 (IRIN) - The number of victims of violence in Iraq has dropped by over 50 percent since February 2007, security officials said on 19 September. Since Operation Imposing Law was launched by US and Iraqi forces on 14 February, the number of those thought to be victims of Shia death squads has dropped dramatically in Baghdad, and there has also been a lull in attacks by Sunni insurgents.
Should law really be such an imposition that it requires a months-long military operation?

US says Iran officer seized in Iraq - 20 Sep 2007 at 12:54pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - The US military said it seized an Iranian officer accused of smuggling bombs in northern Iraq on Thursday, as an American commander said Iraq is emerging from the most violent phase of the war.

Thought for the day:
Football is a mistake. It combines the two worst elements of American life. Violence and committee meetings. -George F. Will (1941 - )

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Where the Threat Operations Are Centered

Why does the Threat Operations Center look like just a corridor that doesn't really lead anywhere, but with a sign saying "Threat Operations Center" and a lot of crap hanging on the walls? Seriously, the TOC could use some furniture -- those people behind him look like they've been standing for way too long.


Cheney says Greenspan criticism is "off the mark" - 19 Sep 2007 at 10:19am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney on Wednesday disputed former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan's portrayal of the Bush administration's economic policies as fiscally reckless....Cheney, a longtime friend of Greenspan from their service during Gerald Ford's presidency, blamed the 2001 recession and the aftermath of the September 11 attacks for the growth in red ink and noted that over the past couple of years, the deficits have decreased. Cheney said Bush had "pressed hard" to limit the growth in spending outside of the military and homeland security.
That's Dick "We'll-Be-Greeted-as-Liberators" Cheney. Note the qualifying emphasis on "outside of the military". I'm sure Cheney considers the totally elective Iraq war to be part of "the aftermath of the September 11 attacks."

Poll: Public not swayed by Petraeus - 19 Sep 2007 at 8:05am - A plurality of Americans say Gen. David Petraeus' proposal to begin withdrawing some U.S. forces from Iraq is on the right track, ...
Does a proposal to end the surge when it was scheduled to end anyway constitute any kind of a "track"? It's pretty safe to say that those who think it does have indeed been swayed by Petraeus's rhetoric.

U.S. curbs road travel for its officials in Iraq - 19 Sep 2007 at 8:23am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. civilian officials have been barred from road travel in Iraq outside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone because of possible attacks after a deadly shooting involving American security firm Blackwater.

Iraq wants Blackwater replaced after shootout - 19 Sep 2007 at 2:16pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki on Wednesday called on the US authorities to replace private security operator Blackwater after a deadly shootout involving the firm's guards in Baghdad.

Iraqi PM disputes U.S. firm's version of shooting - 19 Sep 2007 at 8:03am - Iraq's prime minister Wednesday disputed Blackwater USA's version of a weekend shooting that left at least 11 people dead and ...

Israel Declares Gaza Strip "Enemy Entity" - 19 Sep 2007 at 7:55am - Israel has declared the Gaza Strip an "enemy entity," a decision that could prompt the cut off of vital supplies to the Palestinian territory. The Security Cabinet's move could complicate Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's mission to the Mideast.

Bush, Congress at record low ratings: Reuters poll - 19 Sep 2007 at 8:41am - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress registered record-low approval ratings in a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday, and a new monthly index measuring the mood of Americans dipped slightly on deepening worries about the economy.

Senate refuses to expand detainee rights - 19 Sep 2007 at 11:24am - WASHINGTON -- The Senate narrowly rejected legislation on Wednesday that would have given military detainees the right to protest their detention in federal court.

Government drops risk assessment plan - 19 Sep 2007 at 11:35am - WASHINGTON -- The Bush Administration is dropping its effort to standardize how government agencies develop risk assessments intended to protect the public or the environment.

Bush calls for expansion of spy law - 19 Sep 2007 at 1:01pm - President Bush said Wednesday that a law hastily passed in August to temporarily give the government more power to eavesdrop without warrants on foreign terror suspects must be made permanent and expanded.

Thought for the day:
Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead. -Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Billions of Transactions Every Day

Spy chief seeks more eavesdropping power - 18 Sep 2007 at 11:20am - WASHINGTON -- The top U.S. intelligence official is telling Congress it shouldn't succumb to pressure to roll back a new law that enhances the government's eavesdropping capability on terrorists as well as more traditional potential adversaries. But National Intelligence Director Mike McConnell could not say how many Americans' phone conversations have been overheard because of U.S. wiretaps on foreign phone lines. "I don't have the exact number ... considering there are billions of transactions every day," McConnell told the House Judiciary Committee at a hearing on the law governing federal surveillance of phone calls and e-mails.
So we're back to datamining.

Landmine ban a success 10 years on, campaigners say - 18 Sep 2007 at 9:37am - OSLO (Reuters) - The 1997 ban on landmines has succeeded beyond hopes, but states must follow through with their obligations to clear landmines and assist victims, campaigners said on the treaty's 10th anniversary on Tuesday.

Russia, China worried by Iran attack talk - 18 Sep 2007 at 9:28am - MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia and China expressed alarm on Tuesday over comments by France's foreign minister that Paris should prepare for the prospect of war with Iran, which the West accuses of secretly developing nuclear weapons.

Iraq softens stance on Blackwater, plans review - 18 Sep 2007 at 9:19am - The Iraqi government said Tuesday it would review the status of private security companies as anger over the alleged involvement ...

13 lawmakers subpoenaed in bribery trial - 18 Sep 2007 at 9:57am - WASHINGTON -- Former House Speaker Dennis Hastert and 12 other members of Congress have been subpoenaed to testify in the trial of a defense contractor charged with bribing jailed former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham.

Bush to lawmakers: Support troop levels - 18 Sep 2007 at 10:06am - WASHINGTON -- President Bush, cheered on by Iraq war veterans and their families on the White House's South Lawn, urged lawmakers Tuesday to back his plan to withdraw some troops from Iraq but keep at least 130,000 through next summer or longer.

State Department under Hill scrutiny - 18 Sep 2007 at 12:04pm - WASHINGTON -- A congressional committee has launched an investigation into the State Department's Inspector General, alleging that he blocked fraud investigations, including potential security lapses at the newly built U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

Thought for the day:
If you can find something everyone agrees on, it's wrong. -Mo Udall

Monday, September 17, 2007

It’s About Aggressive Dictators

Greenspan on Iraq war, oil link - 17 Sep 2007 at 8:27am - Clarifying a controversial comment in his new memoir, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said he told the White House before the Iraq war that removing Saddam Hussein was ?essential? to secure world oil supplies, according to an interview published on Monday....U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday rejected the comment, which echoed long-held complaints of many critics that a key motivating force in the war was to maintain U.S. access to the rich oil supplies in Iraq.....“I think that it’s really about stability in the Gulf. It’s about rogue regimes trying to develop weapons of mass destruction. It’s about aggressive dictators,” Gates said.
Securing global oil supplies is not a legal or moral justification for war. Trying to promote stability in the Gulf is not a legal or moral justification for war. Punishing rogue regimes for trying to develop weapons of mass destruction that you cannot demonstrate they're trying to develop is not a legal or moral justification for war. Desiring to remove aggressive dictators from power is not a legal or moral justification for war.

Iraq pulls U.S. firm's license after fatal shooting - 17 Sep 2007 at 8:35am - The Iraqi government said Monday that it was pulling the license of an American security firm allegedly involved in the fatal shooting of eight Iraqi civilians following a car bomb attack against a State Department convoy.

Bush to name retired judge Mukasey attorney general - 17 Sep 2007 at 8:59am - WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush Monday will name retired federal judge Michael Mukasey as his new attorney general, a senior administration official said.

Crocker blasts Iraqi refugee process
17 Sep 2007 at 1:00am
The U.S. ambassador to Iraq warned that it may take the U.S. government as long as two years to process and admit nearly 10,000 Iraqi refugees referred by the United Nations for resettlement to the United States, because of bureaucratic bottlenecks.

Empty wards in Baghdad hospital offer hope - 17 Sep 2007 at 9:09am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A row of beds lies empty in the emergency ward of Baghdad's Yarmouk Hospital. The morgue, which once overflowed with corpses, is barely a quarter full.

Thought for the day:
You get fifteen democrats in a room, and you get twenty opinions. -Senator Patrick Leahy (1940 - ), May 1990

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Dead Duck

Sadr group to pull out of Iraq's ruling Shiite bloc - 15 Sep 2007 at 9:52am - NAJAF, Iraq (AFP) - The movement of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Saturday it would withdraw from the Shiite bloc that leads the Iraqi government, in a new blow to the faltering political process.

Greenspan faults Bush over spending - 15 Sep 2007 at 2:31pm - WASHINGTON -- Former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, in his upcoming book, bashes President Bush for not responsibly handling the nation's spending and racking up big budget deficits.

War protesters, supporters rally in D.C. - 15 Sep 2007 at 2:11pm - Thousands of anti-war protesters, including a sizable contingent of military veterans, rallied Saturday outside the White House to demand an end to the Iraq war....Political analyst Said Abu Rish, author of a number of books on Iraq, believes Maliki's days as prime minister are numbered. "Maliki is a dead duck," Abu Rish told AFP. "The Shiites won't accept him. He has nothing."

Thought for the day:
Democracy is a process by which the people are free to choose the man who will get the blame. -Laurence J. Peter (1919 - 1988)

Friday, September 14, 2007


Gates says US defeat would be a disaster - 14 Sep 2007 at 4:29pm - WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday that a U.S. defeat in Iraq would be "disastrous" and President Bush's strategy deserves bipartisan support in Congress.
Has the U.S. not already declared "victory"? Several times? Does Gates think Bush's current strategy is any less disastrous than training and equipping Iraqi security forces and leaving would be?

Report: Iraqis losing religious freedom - 14 Sep 2007 at 11:45am - WASHINGTON -- Religious freedom has sharply deteriorated in Iraq over the past year because of both the insurgency and violence targeting people of specific faiths, despite the U.S. military buildup intended to improve security, says a State Department report to be released Friday.

Iraqis vow to fight al Qaeda after sheikh's death - 14 Sep 2007 at 11:09am - RAMADI, Iraq (Reuters) - Sunni Arab Iraqis and U.S. forces in Anbar province vowed on Friday to keep fighting al Qaeda after the assassination of a tribal leader who worked with Americans to create one of Iraq's few security success stories.

Iraqi: Gov't knows it must move faster - 14 Sep 2007 at 12:19pm - The Iraqi government understands that it needs to move faster to reach its goals or its allies could lose patience, Iraqi Foreign ...

Russian warplanes breach NATO-patrolled airspace - 14 Sep 2007 at 12:43pm - British and Norwegian jets intercepted Russian military aircraft Friday after they breached NATO airspace close to the U.K. and ...

4 U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq Bombing - 14 Sep 2007 at 3:44pm - Mourners vowed revenge and perseverance Friday at the funeral of the leader of the Sunni Arab revolt against al-Qaida militants, who was assassinated just 10 days after meeting with President Bush. In eastern Diyala province, meanwhile, a bomb exploded...

Ex-Guantanamo prisoners want U.S. lawsuit to proceed - 14 Sep 2007 at 3:21pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Four former Guantanamo prisoners should be allowed to proceed with their lawsuit claiming torture and violations of their religious rights, their lawyer argued on Friday.

Thought for the day:
The older I grow the more I distrust the familiar doctrine that age brings wisdom. -H. L. Mencken (1880 - 1956)

Thursday, September 13, 2007

An Enduring Relationship

Bush approves gradual troop cuts in Iraq - 13 Sep 2007 at 8:04pm - WASHINGTON -- Rejecting calls to leave Iraq, President Bush on Thursday ordered gradual U.S. troop reductions from their highest level of the war and said more forces can come home as progress is made. At the same time, he said Iraq needs "an enduring relationship with America."
Well, yeah, but must it be an abusive one?

Bush said his strategy - leaving about 130,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq to continue fighting - bridges the desires of people who want to bring troops home and those who believe that success in Iraq is essential to U.S. security.
How about those who believe that such success as is possible in Iraq has already been achieved?

"Whatever political party you belong to, whatever your position on Iraq, we should be able to agree that America has a vital interest in preventing chaos and providing hope in the Middle East," the president said.
So why is the U.S. feeding chaos by persisting in military action where only conciliation can be of any use?

Ask your elected representatives in the House and Senate to support legislation that would require the redeployment of 10,000 U.S. troops per month out of Iraq, starting this month.

As John Edwards says, "No timeline. No funding. No excuses."

There's a Swirl

Key US ally in fight against Qaeda in Iraq assassinated - 13 Sep 2007 at 2:47pm - BAGHDAD (AFP) - Top Sunni sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Reesha, who spearheaded a fight against Al-Qaeda, was killed by a bomb on Thursday, just 10 days after US President George W. Bush shook his hand when he visited Iraq.

The handshake of death.

U.S. military starts freeing Iraqis for Ramadan - 13 Sep 2007 at 8:17am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military began releasing Iraqi detainees on Thursday to mark the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.

Iraq Qaeda says has video on "missing" U.S. airman - 13 Sep 2007 at 3:11pm - DUBAI (Reuters) - A group led by al Qaeda in Iraq said it would soon post a video about a "missing" U.S. military man, according to a statement posted on the Internet on Thursday.

Bush agrees to reduce U.S. troops in Iraq: official - 13 Sep 2007 at 3:02pm - WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush will announce plans on Thursday to pull 5,700 troops out of Iraq by December, accepting recommendations by the top U.S. commander and diplomat in Iraq, a senior administration official said.

Bush prepares to ask Americans for patience in Iraq - 13 Sep 2007 at 3:18pm - In a prime-time speech to the nation, Bush was expected to cast his plan for a gradual, limited troop withdrawal as a way to bring a divided America together - even as he resists demands from Democrats and a few Republicans who want him to move much faster.... "This forward strategy is going to be watched everywhere," said Senator John Warner of Virginia, who first warned last year that progress in Iraq seemed to have stalled. "It is then going into the jaws of the presidential elections, a drumbeat of people in the United States who are saying to themselves, 'We're sacrificing all of these things, our sons, our daughters, our money, and the Iraqis aren't performing as the president said on Jan. 10.' I mean, there's a swirl into which this new strategy goes."
New strategy? There's a new strategy?

Thought for the day:
After I'm dead I'd rather have people ask why I have no monument than why I have one. -Cato the Elder (234 BC - 149 BC)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Schwarzenegger vetoes Iraq pullout vote - 12 Sep 2007 at 8:12am - SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation that would have allowed Californians to vote on an advisory measure calling for President Bush to immediately withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq.

Bush to announce troop cut in Iraq - 12 Sep 2007 at 7:19am - WASHINGTON (AFP) - US President George W. Bush is to announce Thursday a cut of 30,000 soldiers from Iraq by next July and a top Iraqi official said another 30,000 may have gone by the end of 2008.
In other words, he expects to discontinue the "surge" as of July 2008. Is there any reason for it to continue beyond today?

Global warming impact like "nuclear war": report - 12 Sep 2007 at 10:01am - LONDON (Reuters) - Climate change could have global security implications on a par with nuclear war unless urgent action is taken, a report said on Wednesday.

Iraq eyes big drop in foreign forces by end-2008 - 12 Sep 2007 at 12:14pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Foreign troop levels in Iraq could drop to less than 100,000 by the end of 2008 if Iraq's own forces were ready and security threats had diminished, Iraq's national security adviser said on Wednesday.
So five and a half years after Saddam was deposed, Iraqi security forces will have been sufficiently regenerated to replace 30,000 U.S. troops? I hope no one is trying to characterize this as substantial progress. As of today -- four years in -- exactly zero U.S. troops have been displaced by their Iraqi counterparts. Does that suggest that the status quo should be maintained?

Petraeus draws strength from Kipling - 12 Sep 2007 at 1:18pm - WASHINGTON -- It's been a long slog through unfriendly terrain, but the top U.S. commander in Iraq had a poem from Rudyard Kipling to give him strength as he faced pointed questions from Congress and sharp attacks from opponents of the war this week.

Analyst sees little chance of success - 12 Sep 2007 at 12:58pm - WASHINGTON -- The odds of success in Iraq are less than even - maybe as slight as one in four - but the United States should continue to play a fighting role although a diminished one, for at least two or three years, a prominent analyst says in a new book.

Senate panel reduces missile funding - 12 Sep 2007 at 2:33pm - WASHINGTON -- A Senate panel voted Wednesday to reduce the funding the Bush administration requested for a planned U.S. missile defense system in Europe, making it more likely that construction on the project will be delayed.

Democrat Reid: Iraq plan unacceptable - 12 Sep 2007 at 2:25pm - WASHINGTON -- Senate Democratic leaders on Wednesday rejected the call by the top U.S. general in Iraq for a reduction of up to 30,000 U.S. troops in Iraq by next summer, saying it does not go far enough.
Was there any evidence in Petraeus's testimony before Congress that the surge -- or, indeed, the continuation of combat operations in any form -- is doing anything to hasten the day when Iraqi security forces will be able to take the ball from U.S. forces?

Senate Republicans wary of Olson choice - 12 Sep 2007 at 3:03pm - WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans warned the White House Wednesday that it's not a good time for a fight with Democrats over a new attorney general and predicted there would be one [if] President Bush nominates former Solicitor General Ted Olson.

Thought for the day:
It is better to understand little than to misunderstand a lot. -Anatole France (1844 - 1924)

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Some Type of Success

Key Republican questions Iraq strategy - 11 Sep 2007 at 11:16am - WASHINGTON -- A prominent Republican on Tuesday said he remains deeply skeptical of the U.S. war strategy in Iraq, comparing the long and bloody military campaign to a farmer risking his savings to plant on a flood plain.... "In my judgment, some type of success in Iraq is possible, but as policymakers, we should acknowledge that we are facing extraordinarily narrow margins for achieving our goals," said Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the committee.
Have we not already seen whatever success we're going to see? Saddam is no longer in power -- if that was not the success set out for, what possibly can have been? And the fallout from that "success" -- the sectarian strife -- was all in the bargain; no further amount of bloodshed can repair that.

AP Poll: Most see Iraq war as failure - 11 Sep 2007 at 12:27pm - WASHINGTON -- The public sees the Iraq war as a failure and thinks the U.S. troop buildup there has not worked, according to an Associated Press-Ipsos poll suggesting the tough sell President Bush faces in asking Congress and voters for more time.

Ore. lawyer in court over Patriot Act - 11 Sep 2007 at 8:36am - PORTLAND, Ore. -- A lawyer who was wrongly arrested in connection with the 2004 Madrid train bombings because of a misidentified fingerprint was back in court, this time asking a judge to strike down provisions of the USA Patriot Act.

Iraqi govt welcomes Petraeus report - 11 Sep 2007 at 8:48am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's government on Tuesday welcomed long-awaited testimony to Congress by the U.S. commander in Iraq and said it would have less need for foreign forces to carry out combat operations in the "near future".

Senate panel embraces military pay hike - 11 Sep 2007 at 11:41am - WASHINGTON -- A Senate panel Tuesday endorsed a larger pay raise for military personnel than President Bush had recommended and made cuts in the president's request for several weapons programs.

Thought for the day:
I bought some batteries, but they weren't included. -Steven Wright (1955 - )

Monday, September 10, 2007

Scary Poll Result of the Day

CBS News/New York Times Poll. Sept. 4-8, 2007 - Monday, September 10, 2007 11:35:15 AM
"Do you think Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11th, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon?"
Yes No Unsure
% % %
ALL adults 33 58 9
Republicans 40 51 9
Democrats 27 63 10
Independents 32 60 8

OK, it's the minority, but in what way do 33% of Americans believe Saddam was personally involved in the Sep-11 attacks?

9 American Soldiers Killed in Iraq - 10 Sep 2007 at 1:58pm - Nine American soldiers died in Iraq on Monday _ all but one killed in vehicle accidents in and around Baghdad, the military said. The deadliest of the vehicle accidents, in western Baghdad, killed seven Multi-National Division _ Baghdad soldiers and...

White House Calls Bin Laden "Impotent" - 10 Sep 2007 at 8:29am - A Bush advisor taunted the fugitive al Qaeda leader, saying he is "virtually impotent" beyond the ability to release propaganda tapes. However, experts said the fact bin Laden is still alive and free is proof of the administration's failure.

Al-Qaida: Bin Laden in new 9/11 video - 10 Sep 2007 at 9:28am - Al-Qaida said Monday that it will release a new video of Osama bin Laden presenting the last testament of one of the Sept. 11 suicide hijackers, marking the sixth anniversary of the attacks.

Poll: Most want Iraq pullout deadline - 10 Sep 2007 at 8:01am - A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken Friday and Saturday finds that a White House push to spotlight progress in Iraq, including President ...

Iraq PM: We Still Need U.S. Military - 10 Sep 2007 at 7:39am - Iraq's prime minister has told lawmakers that U.S. military might is still necessary to try and achieve some semblance of security across the war-torn country. His assessment came hours ahead of a major report by the top U.S. commander in Washington.

Rumsfeld: Afghanistan a 'big success' - 10 Sep 2007 at 8:57am - NEW YORK -- In an interview billed as his first since leaving the top Pentagon post, Donald Rumsfeld calls Afghanistan "a big success," but says U.S. efforts in Iraq are hampered by the failure of Iraq's government to establish a foundation for democracy.

Suicide attack in Afghanistan kills 27 - 10 Sep 2007 at 11:21am - KABUL (AFP) - A suicide attack in southern Afghanistan killed at least 27 people, including police and civilians, and wounded scores more, a district chief said Monday.

Iran must go beyond cooperation plan for trust: IAEA - 10 Sep 2007 at 8:52am - VIENNA (Reuters) - The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief said on Monday Tehran must take measures well beyond a limited plan for atomic transparency in order to remove distrust in its nuclear intentions.

After Iraq: Coping With Brain-Damaged GIs - 10 Sep 2007 at 11:00am - These blast-caused head injuries are so different from the ones doctors are used to seeing from falls and car crashes that treating them is as much faith as it is science. "We're seeing things we've never seen before," say doctors.

Spy chief: FISA needed to fight terror - 10 Sep 2007 at 12:47pm - WASHINGTON -- Losing the country's ability to monitor Americans' conversations with people overseas would take away half of the tools the U.S. uses to fight terrorism, Director of National Intelligence J. Michael McConnell told senators Monday.

Pentagon plans base near Iraq-Iran border: report - 10 Sep 2007 at 1:04pm - NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Pentagon is preparing to build a military base near the Iraq-Iran border to try to curtail the flow of advanced Iranian weaponry to Shiite militants across Iraq, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday in its online edition.

Thought for the day:
If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking. -Lyndon B. Johnson (1908 - 1973)

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Lawfully, Responsibly, and With a Clear and Simple Purpose

Hayden: CIA had fewer than 100 prisoners - 7 Sep 2007 at 1:38pm - WASHINGTON -- Most of the information in a July intelligence report on the terrorist threat to America came from the U.S. government's much-criticized program of detaining and interrogating prisoners, CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden said Friday in defending the policy....The renditions have been "conducted lawfully, responsibly, and with a clear and simple purpose: to get terrorists off the streets and gain intelligence on those still at large," Hayden said. He said Friday that such leaks to news organizations harm national security. Hayden said that in one case, news leaks gave a foreign government information that allowed it to prosecute and jail one of the CIA's sources.
So, what was that part about them being conducted "lawfully", again?

Most of world wants U.S. out of Iraq in a year: poll - 6 Sep 2007 at 9:16pm - The majority of Canadians, like citizens from most other nations, favour a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq within one year, according to a new BBC world poll released Thursday.

US commander in Iraq backs gradual troop cut - 7 Sep 2007 at 7:49am - WASHINGTON (AFP) - General David Petraeus, the US commander in Iraq, will recommend a gradual reduction of US forces beginning next spring in his eagerly anticipated testimony to Congress next week, the Boston Globe reported Friday.

U.S. reports 7 troops killed in Iraq - 7 Sep 2007 at 7:17am - Four U.S. Marines were killed in fighting in Anbar province, and three soldiers were killed by a roadside bomb in northern Iraq, the military said Friday.

No overt threats in new bin Laden video - 7 Sep 2007 at 2:17pm - WASHINGTON -- A new video of Osama bin Laden makes no overt threats against the United States and appears to have been made as recently as this summer, a government official said Friday.

Thought for the day:
Never trust anything that can think for itself if you can't see where it keeps its brain. -J. K. Rowling

Why We're Still There -- The More Likely Explanation

Bolten: Iraq won't end with Bush term - 6 Sep 2007 at 7:59am - President Bush will address the nation next week about Iraq and U.S. efforts to get that country "well on the path" to stability by the end of his term, White House chief of staff Joshua Bolten said Wednesday....Bush wants to make "it possible for his successor — whichever party that successor is from — to have a sustained presence in the Middle East," Bolten said. "And have America continue to be a respected and influential power in the Middle East."
Feared, probably -- resented, almost certainly -- but "respected"? So, anyway, this makes it look like the U.S. is aiming less for "Iraqi troops to stand up", and more for establishing a permanent muscular presence in the middle east.

Panel: U.S. could lower its profile in Iraq - 6 Sep 2007 at 11:14am - WASHINGTON — A panel of retired senior military and police officers told Congress on Thursday that significantly reducing the number of U.S. troops and allowing Iraqi forces to take over more daily combat missions by early next year would be "possible and prudent." "The force footprint should be adjusted in our view to represent an expeditionary capability and to combat a permanent-force image of today's presence," said retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, who led the 20-member commission.
Hmmm, so the U.S. wants to keep the permanent-force option open, but minimize the "image" that it's doing so. Very nice.

U.S. air strike in Baghdad kills 14: police - 6 Sep 2007 at 7:35am - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - U.S. airstrikes on a Shi'ite neighborhood in Baghdad overnight killed at least 14 people and destroyed 11 houses, Iraqi police and residents said on Thursday.

Iraq says won't disband police despite U.S. report - 6 Sep 2007 at 12:32pm - BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq's Interior Ministry said on Thursday it would not disband the national police despite a report by an independent U.S. panel that will recommend scrapping and reorganizing the force.

Judge strikes down part of Patriot Act - 6 Sep 2007 at 10:54am - NEW YORK -- A federal judge struck down parts of the revised USA Patriot Act on Thursday, saying investigators must have a court's approval before they can order Internet providers to turn over records without telling customers.

UN: Substance found at office is solvent - 6 Sep 2007 at 11:21am - UNITED NATIONS -- A substance found at a U.N. weapons inspectors' office last month and suspected of being a chemical warfare agent appears to be a nontoxic solvent, a U.N. official said Thursday.

Rift on Iraq as Bush meets man tipped as next Australian PM - 6 Sep 2007 at 1:20pm - SYDNEY (AFP) - US President George W. Bush met Thursday with the man tipped to be Australia's next prime minister, Kevin Rudd, who has pledged to pull the country's troops out of Iraq.

Thought for the day:
If two men agree on everything, you may be sure that one of them is doing the thinking. -Lyndon B. Johnson (1908 - 1973)

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Uneven Progress

Study: Iraqi security forces not ready - 5 Sep 2007 at 1:08pm - WASHINGTON -- Iraq's security forces have made "uneven progress" and will be unable to take over security on their own in the next 12 to 18 months, according to an independent assessment.
Once again, why is development of Iraqi security forces not the United States' top priority?

4 GIs among 15 killed in Iraq attacks - 5 Sep 2007 at 8:51am - A roadside bomb rocked an eastern Baghdad Shiite neighborhood early Wednesday, killing at least 11 people and injuring 19 others when it exploded next to buses used by morning commuters, police and hospital officials said.

DHS ends criticized data-mining program - 5 Sep 2007 at 10:43am - WASHINGTON -- The Homeland Security Department has given up on one of its broadest anti-terrorism data-mining tools after investigators found it was tested with information about real people without the required privacy safeguards.

Judge scolds U.S. on wiretapping records - 5 Sep 2007 at 2:15pm - WASHINGTON -- A federal judge scolded the Bush administration Wednesday for responding with sometimes blanket secrecy to a request for documents on its warrantless wiretapping program.

Thought for the day:
A censor is a man who knows more than he thinks you ought to. -Granville Hicks (1901 - 1982)

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Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Bush Travels as Congress Convenes

Pentagon says it acts as quickly as it can to meet needs - 4 Sep 2007 at 6:49am - Since the war began, members of Congress — Democrats and Republicans — repeatedly have forced the Defense Department to invest in body armor, order devices to jam signals from detonators used by insurgent bombers, and buy vehicles that top military officials initially deemed unnecessary.

Protests mark Bush arrival in Australia - 4 Sep 2007 at 8:06am - SYDNEY (AFP) - After a surprise visit to Iraq, US President George W. Bush headed Tuesday toward a regional summit in Sydney where authorities have locked down the city in the biggest security operation in Australian history.
George Bush, security threat.

Shias, Sunnis work out peace plan at secret meeting - 4 Sep 2007 at 8:13am - Rival Sunni and Shia politicians agreed to a peace plan for Iraq during a secret four-day meeting that ended Sunday in Finland, participants have confirmed.

Envoy: Bush OK'd Plan To Disband Iraq Army - 4 Sep 2007 at 10:01am - Just whose brilliant idea was it to disband the Iraqi army? The former U.S. boss in Iraq says the president approved the plan.

No proof Iran running 3,000 centrifuges: diplomats - 4 Sep 2007 at 9:58am - VIENNA (Reuters) - There is no evidence for the Iranian president's announcement that Iran has 3,000 centrifuges running, which would allow it to produce significant amounts of nuclear fuel, diplomats familiar with U.N. inspections said.

GAO: Iraq hasn't met 11 of 18 benchmarks - 4 Sep 2007 at 1:17pm - WASHINGTON -- Baghdad has not met 11 of its 18 political and security goals, according to a new independent report on Iraq that challenges President Bush's assessment on the war, The Associated Press has learned.

Thought for the day:
A diplomat must always think twice before he says nothing. -Irish Proverb