Monday, October 31, 2005

War, Power, and the Rule of Whim

Have you heard this one yet?

The press made too big a deal out of the 2000th war fatality in Iraq. 2000 casualties are light for a war of this length. Heck, in World War II, 6,000 Marines died in the battle for Iwo Jima alone!


There's one thing right about this argument. The number of Americans killed in the Iraq war have been few compared to those suffered in past conflicts.

But that doesn't justify any of the deaths in Iraq, nor does it justify the Iraq war. More importantly, a low casualty count does not signify that the war has been "successful."

And given the false manner in which America was pushed into the invasion and occupation of Iraq, one service member killed or wounded as a result of it is one too many.


One of the most visible lessons learned from the Iraq experience is that we have allowed too much power to gravitate to the office of the President of the United States. Article II, section 2 of the Constitution states that:
The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States…

And that's it, folks. It doesn't give him "special powers" to do whatever he wants in time of "national crisis." No power to commit troops to combat, no "Patriot Act" permission to suspend the bill of rights, no clause that lets him disregard international treaties based on a memo from his lawyer.

If you didn't already know it, Article I, section 8 specifically authorizes Congress…
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;

To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

To provide and maintain a navy;

To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions.

How have those powers migrated to the White House?


In 1950, Harry Truman committed U.S. troops to war in Korea without a formal declaration from Congress, opting instead to gain approval from the United Nations.

Lyndon Johnson launched major hostilities in Vietnam Vietnam on the basis of the Senate approved "Gulf of Tonkin Resolution" that gave him broad authority to escalate U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia "as the President shall determine."

Post Vietnam, with the country weary of war, Congress passed the War Powers Act of 1973 that prohibits a president from conducting war for more than 60 days without permission of Congress.

In retrospect, while this appeared to put "war declaration" powers back in the Congress, it was really little more than a road bump to any president's ambition to freely use military force as a tool on foreign policy. One can hardly imagine a scenario in which a president would commit large numbers of troops to a conflict that the Congress would put to an abrupt halt after two months.


A combination of "hidden policy," false information regarding Iraq, partisan political maneuvering, and the 9/11 attacks prompted Congress to pass Public Law 107-243, "A Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq," the blank check waived the restrictions of the '73 War Powers Act on Mister Bush's plan to remove Saddam Hussein from power by means of a military invasion.


Congress later passed The Patriot Act, which allowed the executive department to bypass key amendments in the Bill of Rights. I can find no record of anyone in Congress protesting that such an action should have required an amendment to the Constitution.

And when Mister Bush's attorney Alberto Gonzalez wrote a memo "allowing" executive privilege to ignore U.S. and treaty law in the treatment of "enemy combatants," hardly anyone batted an eye.

As he was being considered for nomination to the Supreme Court, a U. S. Court of Appeals judge ruled in favor of allowing Mister Bush to conduct military tribunals of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Today, that judge--John G. Roberts--is Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.


It's hardly alarmist to say that our Federal Republic is in danger. In fact, it's more accurate to say that our Republic has already collapsed. Recent poll results notwithstanding, we have a man in the Oval Office who is free do virtually anything he wants in the name of "national security," and a legislative and judicial branch that are perfectly willing to let him get away with it.

Whatever your long term political party affiliation, whatever you think about Mister Bush and his associates, whatever you think about the war in Iraq, you should be alarmed and dismayed that America no longer exists under the rule of law, but under the rule of the whim of the head of state.

We the people are the only political entity left that can restore balance of power to our Federal government, but our opportunity to do so is still over a year away.

So you might want to get busy and express your dissatisfaction with the State of the Union to your elected representatives now.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Fitzweekend Driveby...

Whatever falls out legally from the Fitzgerald investigation, it appears to have spurred at least one Democrat to renew demands for a congressional investigation. In a letter to Tom Davis, chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, ranking minority member Henry Waxman demands that a hearing be initiated to determine:
…(1) who should be held accountable for the leak of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson, (2) why the White House failed to meet its obligations to revoke the security clearances of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby and Karl Rove, and (3) how the leak relates to the broader issue of whether the President and his top advisors used misleading intelligence to launch an unnecessary war in Iraq.

I'm glad to see Waxman taking this action. The "trial of the Iraq war" belongs in Congress, not in the courts.

The problem is that the GOP majority may prevent a Congressional investigation from taking place, as it has since Waxman first proposed one in October of 2003.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Support the Troops Who Support the President

Mister Bush is in my neck of the woods today, talking to his favorite audience--a hand picked group of active duty service members. And of course, he's getting them to cheer for the war in Iraq.

I have to turn it off.

I'm just so sick of this sinister bastard using men and women in uniform to promote his political agenda.

And I'm really appalled that once again, he's timed his best stunt to deflect damage to his administration.

I remember as a kid hearing about a George W. who could not tell a lie.

This George W. can't tell one often enough.

High Noon

It seems "papers" won't be released from the Fitzgerald investigation until noon eastern time, and Fitz himself won't speak to the cameras until two this afternoon.

So while there's a break in the feeding frenzy, you may want to look at an article from yesterday by Murray Waas that describes how Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby stonewalled the Senate Intelligence Committee back in '04.
Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, overruling advice from some White House political staffers and lawyers, decided to withhold crucial documents from the Senate Intelligence Committee in 2004 when the panel was investigating the use of pre-war intelligence that erroneously concluded Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, according to Bush administration and congressional sources…

…The Intelligence Committee at the time was trying to determine whether the CIA and other intelligence agencies provided faulty or erroneous intelligence on Iraq to President Bush and other government officials. But the committee deferred the much more politically sensitive issue as to whether the president and the vice president themselves, or other administration officials, misrepresented intelligence information to bolster the case to go to war. An Intelligence Committee spokesperson says the panel is still working on this second phase of the investigation.

I can't help but think this plays into the last minute maneuvering in Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury investigation, but I sure don't want to speculate just how it will.

What we're hearing in the mainstream echo chamber now is that the Fitz case could turn into a trial of the Iraq war. I for one would like to see that--it's what I though the investigation was (or should have been) about all along.

Ultimately, though, the Iraq war has gone on trial in the court of public opinion whether Fitz pursues the issue through legal channels or not.

And that's a good thing.

Everybody's "Confirming"

...that Karl Rove will not be indicted today, but will remain under investigation.

Funny stuff. We'll see. When I went to bed one night last November, everybody was "confirming" that John Kerry had won the election.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

It's Fitz!

My retired Army buddy who's a yellow dog Republican just gave me the inside scoop on what's really going to happen with the Miers and Plamegate situations.

Nothing will come from the Fitzgerald investigation on Friday. Over the weekend, mainstream pundits will wax themselves hairless about what's really going on.

Monday morning, Mister Bush will announce his new nominee for the Supreme Court:

Patrick Fitzgerald!

You can take it to the bank, my retired Army buddy says.


If Fitzgerald doesn't announce anything tomorrow, I'll be interested to see if this rumor makes its way into the MSM over the weekend.

It's not My Fault...

Pat Buchanan just trotted out the latest Rovewellian talking point about who's to blame for the war on Iraq. It's not the Bush Gang's fault. It's Congress's fault for not standing up to the Bush Gang.

This gets close to the lunatic logic that says the Jews were responsible for the Holocaust because they let Hitler get away with it.

And on a different scale, it's exactly like your twelve-year old saying it's store security's fault they arrested him for shop lifting the catcher's mitt because store security didn't stop him from shoplifting the catcher's mitt before they arrested him for it.

It's pathetic that some Americans will accept excuses from their elected national leaders that they wouldn't tolerate from their kids.

The Emperor's Old Clothes

Harry's out and Fitzgeralds' indictments should be in shortly. The American political scene is on the cusp of a profound shift. As Fallen Monk and I discussed in an earlier post, there is reason to be apprehensive about Mister Bush at the helm of state without his chief handlers around to tell him which way to steer.

But I think there's a major upside to Bush being stripped of his sidemen. It will give Congress the opportunity to reclaim its constitutional authority and restore the balance of power in the Federal government.


As I'm overly fond of saying, the neocons didn't invent anything new; they just expanded old things to neo-proportions. So while they managed to consolidate more power in the office of the president than I've seen in my lifetime, the expansion of executive authority didn't start with them.

We can pin the post-modern presidential power phenomenon to some time around the beginning of the nuclear arms race, when for the sake of national security the president was authorized to respond in mass to a nuclear strike without the requirement of asking Congress for a formal declaration of war. Then we engaged in an undeclared conventional war in Korea under Truman, and a second one in Vietnam under Johnson.

Post-Vietnam, Congress put limits on a president's ability to conduct a prolonged undeclared war, largely by restructuring the military in a way that put sustained logistic support in the hands of the guard and reserves and limiting the amount of time a president could deploy them overseas without Congressional approval.


I first sniffed a bad odor about the Bush administration when Dick Cheney started talking about "restoring the office of the president." (I can't remember off hand if he said that during the 2000 campaign or shortly after the election, but it was early on.)

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up when Mister Bush said he would not approve funding for stem cell research. Does he not understand that funding appropriations have to come from Congress? I wondered. Did he mean to say he'd veto a funding bill for stem cell research? Does he understand the difference between passing an appropriation and vetoing one? Today, I conclude that no, he didn't understand the difference. I'm not real confident he understands it now.


I got worried about the time Mister Bush rolled out his Orwellian "Axis of Evil" mantra, and started looking into just what the Project for the New American Century had been up to while the Democrats held the White House.

A quick look at the signatories of PNAC's key documents told me we were headed for trouble: Cheney, Perle, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Bolton, and a host of other latter day imperialists who now held key positions in the Bush administration.

But Congress still seemed to have things under control, and in its early months, Mister Bush and his administration were looking like they were a fright wig away from being total Bozos.


Then 9-11 happened. And the bullhorn moment. Okay, I thought, the guy's growing into his job.

Afghanistan was an appropriate response, and the war went miraculously well.

Until the Iraq yak started.

As the debate over Iraq grew, some GOP Congressional Bozo went on TV and said, "Mister Bush has declared war on terrorism."

Huh? Mister Bush didn't have the constitutional authority to "declare war." Was anybody going to wave the b.s. flag on that one?

Well, Congress did, eventually. But in doing so, they fell into the neocons' trap.

Okay, the administration said, we'll let Congress vote on whether or not to let us invade Iraq. They presented Congress with a bill that would allow Mister Bush to commit active duty, guard, and reserve forces wherever and whenever he wanted to for as long as he wanted to do it.

And what was anyone in Congress to do in a time of national crisis? Say, "No, the president is not authorized to defend our country?"

So they wrote him a blank check to wage undeclared war.

Then Mister Bush confronted them with the Patriot Act, and Congress passed it for him, suspending major portions of the bill of rights without anyone asking, "Hey, doesn't this require a constitutional amendment?"

And when Mister Bush had his lawyer 'Berto write him a note that said he could ignore constitutional and treaty law on treatment of prisoners without having to ask anyone for permission, nobody batted an eye.


Hopefully for America, it's days of having an Emperor in the oval office are about to end.

And hopefully, America will remember that it needs to keep the executive branch of government in its box for as long as…

Let's see. How long was it between the end of Vietnam and the invasion of Iraq?

Intelligent Resign

If you haven't heard yet, Harry just withdrew her name from nomination for SCOTUS.

What next?

Will her replacement be named before or after Saint Patrick's Day?

Don't touch that dial!

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

Fallen Monk laments:
One thing that is really bothering me is the question of aftermath. If all of the most pregnant wishes of the left come through (Fitzmas?) to reality, we are going to be left with nothing but a President who probably peaked intellectually in the third or fourth grade. If Cheney, Rove, Libby, and all the rest are toast then we have GWB sailing our ship of state without any oversight and this is a guy that was an alcohol soaked coke head until he was forty years old. This is very frightening.

I disagree, Monk. This will put things back the way they should be. Congress--on both sides of the aisle--will take back the power Cheney, Rove, Libby, Rumsfeld, and the rest stole from them. And our ship of state will have the right hands on the tiller.

And those hands will be responsive to the will of the people, because they're up for election in a year.

This is a good thing.

White Sox Win!

Now, time for Fitzmas...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Let Them Eat Yellowcake

Over at ePluribus, txj sheds light on the true fallacy behind the Niger yellowcake issue:
What has been utterly misunderstood, misrepresented, and lost amid the babble of speculation and intrigue, is that Iraq didn't need yellowcake. They'd had a million pounds of it sitting around "in country" for over a decade, but with no viable means whatsoever of making it into nuclear weapons.

It is all about the cover-up.


Q: How could so many supposedly smart people have made that many "honest mistakes" about the Iraq WMD intelligence?

A: They couldn't have. Not in a million years.

Pavlov's Scholars of War

Fredrick W. Kagan is the latest military scholar to pitch in with his "solution" to the Iraq problem. In a meandering piece modestly titled "Blueprint for Victory" the West Point professor argues that an "Iraqification" strategy will not defeat the insurgency, and that…
The obvious solution is therefore what it has been for several years: to begin to increase the size of the U.S. Army. Any such increase would not produce usable units for a year or perhaps two, and so this suggestion has been repeatedly rejected, since the premise of the CENTCOM strategy has always been that victory is just around the corner. If the Army had been increased in 2001, 2002, 2003, or even 2004, as was suggested each year, there would already be additional forces available. If the Army begins to increase now, new troops will still come on line before the end of Bush's term. We may well need them, for the challenges we face are unlikely to be resolved quickly. Weighing the costs of adding new soldiers against the costs of protracting--or, worse still--losing the war reveals the folly of depending on optimistic prognostications.

In other words, Kagan urges that we increase the U.S. footprint in Iraq through at least 2008.

I've always had mixed opinions about Kagan. I agree with much of what Professor Kagan has written, especially his criticism of Donald Rumsfeld's network-centric warfare concepts.

But at the end of the day, Kagan always says something to remind me that he's one of them.


If you didn't know it already, the appearance of his article in Bill Kristol's The Weekly Standard should tip you off that Fred Kagan is a dyed-in-the-wool neoconservative. In fact, you'd be right to say that neo-conning is the Kagan family business.

Fred's father Donald Kagan is a Yale historian who became a "staunch neoconservative" in the 1970s. Just prior to the 2000 election, Donald and Fred co-authored While America Sleeps , a "frightening story" of post Soviet era threats that called on America to increase arms spending.

Brother Robert Kagan , also a scholar, was a founding member of the Project for the New American Century. With fellow PNAC founder Bill Kristol, Robert wrote the 1998 New York Times article " Bombing Iraq isn't Enough " that asserted:
If Mr. Clinton is serious about protecting us and our allies from Iraqi biological and chemical weapons, he will order ground forces to the gulf. Four heavy divisions and two airborne divisions are available for deployment. The President should act, and Congress should support him in the only policy that can succeed.

Fred Kagan is himself a resident scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, a prominent conservative think tank.


When the insurgency in Iraq clearly became unmanageable, neocons like Kristol and the Kagans who pushed for the invasion began distancing themselves from Donald Rumsfeld, who was also a member of the PNAC cabal. That things have gone so badly, their argument goes, is because of Rumsfeld's mishandling of the war. At no time will they suggest that maybe the invasion itself was a bad idea, or that unnecessary wars of occupation are the worst possible way of conducting foreign policy.

So we'll continue to hear talk from right wing intellectual elites about "we should do this or that" to solve the Iraq situation that will amount to nothing more than the "stay the course" mantra.

It's a sad fact that military academia is almost exclusively populated by people who make a living promoting war as a superior tool of national power. You'll find very few professors at our service academies and war colleges who will argue that a half trillion dollars a year in defense spending is, perhaps, a trifle excessive. That sort of thing doesn't put one on the fast track to a department chair or a cushy fellowship with a conservative think tank.

The Frederick Kagans of this country not only want to deny the possibility that they were wrong about Iraq. They have a vested interest in ensuring that America maintains a foreign policy of aggressive military intervention, and perpetuates itself as an imperialistic oligarchy.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Another Angle on Dubya Talk

Admirers of Mister Bush's oratory skills will enjoy this video by comedian Andy Dick (hand salute to an old Navy buddy).

Cabals and Quagmires

The latest from Lawrence B. Wilkerson in the LA Times
Given the choice, I'd choose a frustrating bureaucracy over an efficient cabal every time.

Hear, hear, Colonel.

Oil, Guns, and Money

While We're Waiting for Saint Patrick's Day…

Andrew Brenner has a story up at ePluribus titled "War Profiteers Plead Guilty to Grand Larceny." (Fair disclosure: I had a small hand in the editorial process.)
The owner of a Virginia business indicted for paying kickbacks in the U.N. Oil-for-Food program in Iraq has a reputed history of dealing with the CIA in foreign arms sales.

On October 20, 2005, Midway Trading of Reston, Va., pleaded guilty in New York State Supreme Court to grand larceny charges of paying $440,000 in kickbacks to Iraqi officials. The kickbacks had been funneled through the Romanian company Bulf Oil. Midway Trading agreed to pay a $250,000 fine.

This story has a number of odd angles and raises interesting questions.

First, it's significant in that a U.S. company has been indicted and punished for involvement with Oil-for-Food program abuses. Next, we have a punishment--the $250,000 fine--that seems light in view of the nature of the crime. What's more, the charge and the fine were levied at a company, not an individual. Nothing goes on anyone's criminal record, and if the company folds, the fine never gets paid.

So what's really going on here?

Part of the answer may lie in the background of Midway Trading's owner, Stephen "Satch" Baumgart (this info came from Ken Silverstein of In These Times).
A former Naval officer, Baumgart has been involved in the murkier fringes of the weapons trade since the ’70s, when he brokered sales to American allies such as Mobutu and Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines — all apparently with a wink and a nod from U.S. intelligence. “A CIA agent would drop by our office and Baumgart would brief him about his overseas travels, particularly about his contacts in the Arab world,” recalls Gerhard Bauch, a one-time German intelligence officer who worked for Baumgart. “They knew about everything we did.”
During the mid-’80s, Baumgart — who did not return phone calls seeking comment — helped supply Saddam Hussein, who was then seen by the Reagan administration as a bulwark against the Ayatollah Khomeini in Iran.

A pal in my "retired military bubbas" network tells me it's standard procedure for arms dealers to keep the CIA in the loop. As long as the CIA knows what the dealers are doing, it generally leaves them alone.

Silverstein also reports that one of Baumgart's "closest contacts in the arms business" is Pierre Falcone, a key figure in the Angolagate arms-for-oil scandal in which over $600 million in weaponry were sold to the government of Angola president Eduardo dos Santos.

Falcone and his wife Sonia travel in the elite social circles of Paradise Valley, Arizona. They're also big political donors. Sonia made a $100,000 donation to the Republican Party during the 2000 presidential election campaign. In the summer of that year, the couple threw a fundraiser at their home for Scott Bundgaard. Bundgaard is a GOP Arizona state senator and a "close ally of President Bush."


Spinning scenarios based on incomplete information can lead one down a blind alley, but as long as everyone in the information world is speculating on what Fitzgerald is up to, we might as well apply our imaginations to the Midway Trading case.

Is it possible that Baumgart got a tap on the wrist over his Oil-for-Food shenanigans because of his CIA connections and his relationship with the Bush friendly Falcones?


I just heard Mister Bush talking about our service members deployed around the world in "the first war of the twenty first century."

Sounds like we have lots of good times ahead. At least, if this character has his way.

He's speaking at a Joint Armed Forces Officers' Wives' Club luncheon. Another "town hall meeting" moment.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Give Them Heck, Harry...

All this speculation about Mister Bush's motivation beind the Meirs nominitation leads me to this tentative conclusion.

In light of the postponed Saddam trial and the anticipated indictments from the Plamegate and AIPAC investigations, Mister Bush wants loyalists on the SCOTUS who will protect him from international tribunals for decades to come.

He'll need that kind of high cover for the rest of his life. Or until he comes down with Alzheimer's disease like Reagan and Pinochet did.

The Next Blast from the Noise Machine

Administration supporters are mounting a smear campaign on special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, accusing him of being an " overzealous prosecutor" who is trying to bring down the administration on "legal technicalities." It's their hope that any indictments Fitz hands out will be on charges that stemmed from the course of the investigation--perjury, obstruction of justice, and so on--rather than charges derived from misdeeds committed outside of the investigation itself.

If this turns out not to be the case--if Fitz levys charges of treason or other high crimes--expect the right wing noise machine to switch frequencies.

The argument will go that having so many senior officials under indictment on felony charges will weaken the country, and that the charges should be dismissed for the sake of "national security." But the reality is that nothing could do more harm to our national power than this administration has already inflicted on it.


Some years back, the noted political scientist Samuel Huntington constructed the DIME model that identified the tools of national power as diplomacy, information, military, and economy. Under the Bush administration, America has lost ground in all of these areas.

Despite efforts by Condi Rice and Karen Hughes to repair America's image abroad, it's clear that we literally don't have a friend in the world except England. And given the divided opinion of U.S. policy in that country, it might be more accurate to say we don't have a friend except Tony Blair.

Our information environment is in shambles. The national intelligence is a joke, and our news media has become an echo chamber of political propaganda. As the New York Times/Judith Miller controversy illustrates, there is really no one we can trust anymore. The truth is in the talking point. Crime is "politics" opinion is "fact," spin is "analysis," and grade school insult humor is "wit."

Our "best-trained, best-equipped" military is bogged down in Iraq by a numerically and technologically inferior insurgent force. It is not only stretched to its limits by this rag tag opponent, it has decisively demonstrated the limits of military power to achieve policy aims.

Economically, we continue to accumulate national debt and trade deficits. Companies like Ford and General Motors--once the backbone of U.S. industry, are in the tank. More and more working Americans live below the poverty line. Middle class workers watch their retirement nest eggs disappear as government continues to bail out big business with tax breaks and no-bid contract awards.


The Bush administration came into office under false pretexts. The happy talk about "compassionate conservativism" and "uniters not dividers" was a smoke screen for a secret agenda: control of the world's oil reserves through military force, deconstruction of the "new deal," and dismantling of the middle class as an effective political body. If the neocon reign collapses on itself because of its own criminal actions, American can only be strengthened.

When all is said and done, America's greatest challenge may be to make sure it doesn't get bamboozled by another set of wolves in sheep's clothing.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Sunday in Virginia

Over at Kos and ePluribus, Todd Johnston builds a thought piece around one of my favorite Thomas Jefferson quotes:
"I never submitted the whole system of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatever, in religion, in philosophy, in politics or in anything else, where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the last degradation of a free and moral agent. If I could not go to Heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all."

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Slow Pitch Hardball in Quicktime

Here's the Quicktime video of Chris Matthews and his crew catching up with the rest of the world.

Where were these fourth column watchdogs when we needed them?

Don't Forget About the "Othergate"

In the bow wave of the Fitzgerald Plame/Rove/Niger/Traitorgate investigation, the FBI's investigation of the pro Israel lobbying group AIPAC has fallen off the radarscope. An article from last summer at The Nation reminds me that Judith Miller and other key Fitz case luminaries are also likely involved in that controversy too.

The AIPAC affair involved classified Middle East policy information leaked to someone in AIPAC that eventually wound up with Israeli intelligence. The grand jury investigation led to the indictment last June of Larry Franklin, a Pentagon Iraq desk officer on charges of conspiracy to disclose classified national defense information to unauthorized recipients.

More charges are expected from the AIPAC investigation. Justin Raimando wrote a pretty good piece last Thursday describing how the AIPAC and Fitzgerald investigations intersect.
Amid all the speculation about who outed Plame, and who was in a position to know what she was up to, it is odd that no one has mentioned the possibility of a foreign intelligence agency being involved. Yet this would explain the nature of the conspiracy that Fitzgerald is said to be pursuing, going far beyond a possible violation of the Intelligence Identities Protection Act – and crossing the line into espionage.

In another article, Justin suggests that Fitz is sharing evidence on the Niger yellowcake forgeries with AIPAC prosecutor Paul McNulty.


I have no way of knowing how reliable Justin's sources are, but my instincts tell me Justin's conclusions are on target.

So keep in mind that whatever Fitz comes out with next week, there's more to come from a different direction.


Have a great weekend.

The War We'll Never Stop Paying For

The NYT ran a story Thursday about equipment that the Army National Guard has left in behind in Iraq.
As of June, Army National Guard units had left overseas more than 64,000 pieces of equipment worth more than $1.2 billion, and the Army cannot account for more than half, said the report Thursday by the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress.

One can understand how the Guard would leave equipment in theater for the use of replacement troops. There's no sense shuttling the same kind of stuff back and forth from stateside. But the fact that more than half of that equipment is unaccounted for should be setting off alarm bells in the Pentagon.

But more disconcerting is the larger story behind the gear we've sent to Iraq. Of all the equipment the Guard, Reserves, and regular Army and Marines have taken in to that country, very little of it will ever return. Some of it, obviously, has been destroyed. Some has broken down due to age and/or lack of adequate maintenance. A lot of it, however, will be left behind because it simply isn't worth the expense or trouble of shipping back home.

And American taxpayers will foot yet another bill, lining the pockets of the military industrial complex to replace equipment abandoned in a war we shouldn't have fought in the first place.

How much will the tab be? Offhand, I'd guess tens of billions, but there's no way of really knowing unless you control the purse strings in the Pentagon. And don't hold your breath waiting for the Pentagon to tell us.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has put up a web site. You gotta like this. Fitz, no lover of the mainstream press, must want to make sure none of them get the "scoop." He probably also wants to make sure everybody gets the word straight from his office, as unspun as it can possibly be in these times.

Go there and click on the links from top to bottom. If you've ever in your life witnessed a formation of ducks line up, this procession of documents should resonate with you.

Saint Patrick and the Snakes

Let me see if I have this straight.

The Associated Press (via the NYT) reports today that:
Even if White House aides leaked a covert CIA officer's identity, they were simply passing along information they'd already heard from the news media, the administration's supporters maintain in a defense that looks increasing shaky as new evidence accumulates…

…Until this week, ''the news media did it'' was a standard defense among Republicans trying to protect the Bush administration from the political fallout of Fitzgerald's criminal investigation. Loyalists said that even if White House aides had passed on information, they didn't get it from classified sources and were simply repeating what they heard from journalists.

So the news media leaked Valerie Plame's identity to White House aides who leaked it back to the news media?

Possible, I suppose. But for the news media to have leaked it to the White House, didn't someone somewhere have to leak it to the news media first? I mean, come on, there has to be an Adam or Eve somewhere in this story.

If the original leak came from a reporter, it had to be a reporter with a security clearance, and the only person like that we know of to date is one Judith Miller of the New York Times. Of course, we only know she had a clearance because she says she did, and just how credible is anything she says these days?

Oh, wait. One other shadowy media figure had a security clearance too. Jeff Gannon.


"Mind boggling" is a tired modifier, but it sure applies when one attempts to track the media and information manipulation that's gone on in the Bush administration. You start with the Office of Strategic Influence, segue to the White House Iraq Group, then try to trace through all the players: Rove, Rice, Cheney, Card, Libby, Matalin. And who did they talk to? Novak, Russert, Miller, Cooper, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.

I sit back and think how organized was all this really? Did whoever actually hatched all this really think they could keep it under control forever?

Perhaps it's a good thing for my immortal soul that I can't understand how people like this think.


I'm off to celebrate what I think of as my "Dick Butkus" birthday. Maybe something good will happen while I'm away from the constant news feed (watched pots, boiling water, and all that).

Thursday, October 20, 2005

More on Wilkerson's Speech

Steve Clemons of The Washington Note was at the Lawrence Wilkerson Meeting. Go to his site and follow the links to the video.

And from the "Irony is Dead" Files...

Is this anything like placing a guard outside a bank right after it's been robbed?

Another Troubled Conscience Heard From

They're coming out of the woodwork. The latest administration official to speak up is Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Colin Powell. From the Financial Times:
(Wilkerson) said: said: “What I saw was a cabal between the vice-president of the United States, Richard Cheney, and the secretary of defense, Donald Rumsfeld, on critical issues that made decisions that the bureaucracy did not know were being made.

“Now it is paying the consequences of making those decisions in secret, but far more telling to me is America is paying the consequences…”

Mr Wilkerson said such secret decision-making was responsible for mistakes such as the long refusal to engage with North Korea or to back European efforts on Iran…

Among his other charges:

-- The detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere was “a concrete example” of the decision-making problem, with the president and other top officials in effect giving the green light to soldiers to abuse detainees. “You don't have this kind of pervasive attitude out there unless you've condoned it.”

-- Condoleezza Rice, the former national security adviser and now secretary of state, was “part of the problem”. Instead of ensuring that Mr. Bush received the best possible advice, “she would side with the president to build her intimacy with the president”.

-- The military, particularly the army and marine corps, is overstretched and demoralised. Officers, Mr. Wilkerson claimed, “start voting with their feet, as they did in Vietnam. . . and all of a sudden your military begins to unravel."

These sorts of revelations from former administration insiders is both encouraging and lamentable. Wilkerson's statements confirm what so many of us knew--or at least suspected--all along. And while it's nice to say, "Ah! I was right," it's tragic that Cheney and Rumsfeld were able to get away with their abuses of power for so long.

I'd say the cabal was larger than just Cheney and Rumsfeld, though. Neocon luminaries Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and John Bolton were certainly players.

Like so many, I'm hoping the Fitzgerald investigation brings this gang of thugs down--at least enough of them to put the organization out of business. But as citizens, we need to stay vigilant. The neocons are not the only power hungry cabal out there. And the power hungry thugs aren't all Republicans!

Afghan Psyop: Something's not Right Here

This doesn't add up.

From the NYT:
WASHINGTON, Oct. 19 - The Pentagon announced Wednesday night that the Army had started a criminal investigation into allegations that American soldiers in Afghanistan had burned the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters and then used the charred and smoking corpses in a propaganda campaign against the insurgents.

The events were shown on an Australian television program, broadcast there on Wednesday night, depicting what is described as an American psychological operations team broadcasting taunts over a loudspeaker toward a village thought to be harboring Taliban fighters and sympathizers, according to a transcript of the program…

…a soldier identified as Sgt. Jim Baker, said: "You allowed your fighters to be laid down facing west and burned. You are too scared to come down and retrieve the bodies. This just proves you are the lady boys we always believed you to be."

After news agencies reported the broadcast, the Pentagon said such acts were forbidden and began the criminal investigation.

Several senior officials said preliminary indications suggested that the video and the program's translation were accurate, and that the incident posed the potential to do further harm in the Islamic world to the image of the United States, already badly tarnished by the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal…

… A statement issued by the Central Command said "desecration, abuse or inappropriate treatment of enemy combatants" were never condoned and that they would violate United States policy "as well as the Geneva Convention."

"This command takes all allegations of misconduct or inappropriate behavior seriously," Maj. Gen. Jason K. Kamiya, the American commander of daily tactical operations in Afghanistan, said in a separate statement issued by the Central Command. "If the allegation is substantiated, the appropriate course of action under the Uniform Code of Military Justice and corrective action will be taken."

Did we really have a psy-op team running around Afghanistan doing this sort of thing--and doing it in front of Australian TV cameras--without the knowledge and/or permission of Central Command or General Kamiya's staff? If so, this incident signals a serious breakdown of command and control. If not--if someone higher up was in on the operation--the investigation carries the odor of a cover-up.

What's more, do we really have "professional" psyop people who thought the tactical impact of an action like this would justify the global negative blowback that would occur when the story got out? If we do, the entire psyop organization needs to be shut down NOW.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Out Go the Lights?

And from America Blog:
Bush knew Rove was the leaker in 2003. Lied in 2004 when he said he didn't know who leaked. Obstruction of Justice.

Boom, boom…

I Can Barely Stand It!'s Justin Raimando isn't my idea of the world's most reliable source, but if there's any truth at all to this, Annie bar the door!
I am told by a former CIA operations officer, the report has aroused some interest on this side of the Atlantic. According to a source in the Italian embassy, Patrick J. "Bulldog" Fitzgerald asked for and "has finally been given a full copy of the Italian parliamentary oversight report on the forged Niger uranium document," the former CIA officer tells me:

"Previous versions of the report were redacted and had all the names removed, though it was possible to guess who was involved. This version names Michael Ledeen as the conduit for the report and indicates that former CIA officers Duane Clarridge and Alan Wolf were the principal forgers. All three had business interests with Chalabi.

Justin connects a whole lot of dots that lead through Iran/Contra, the AIPAC investigation, and Dick Cheney's Office of Special Plans.

If he's anywhere close to right, this is going to be HUGE!


Even more fascinating:

Raw Story says the guy who's turned for Pat Fitzgerald is John Hannah, "a senior national security aide on loan to Vice President Dick Cheney from the offices of then-Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, John Bolton…"


A Tale of Two Governments on Trial

It's fascinating watching Saddam Hussein's trial begin as we await the results of Patrick Fitzgerald's grand jury.

You've probably heard that Hussein has pleaded innocent, and that he has been granted a 30 day delay in the proceedings. You may also know that Patrick Fitzgerald has told associates he doesn't plan to publish a report of his investigation, which makes many observers certain that indictments are imminent.

Almost everyone is aware that Fitzgerald's investigation appears to have "zeroed in" on Dick Cheney's office. Many suspect that charges may be levied against Mister Bush himself.

And it seems everybody agrees now that Plame/Rove/Niger/Traitorgate is about a whole lot more than who outed Valerie Plame. It's about whether anyone purposely exaggerated, cooked, or out and out lied about the WMD intelligence that propelled America into invading Iraq.


Hussein continues to insist that he is still president of Iraq, and as such the tribunal has no authority to try him. One TV mouth breather said that Hussein is trying to shift the trial from the criminal to the political arena.

Bill Kristol, one of the chief architects of the Iraq policy, bemoans the Fitzgerald investigation as the criminalization of politics. Why does my sniffer tell me Kristol is trying to cover his own backside, both criminally and politically?


Part of Hussein's defense will be that his genocides were legitimate actions taken in his function as head of the Iraqi state to suppress rebellion. Hussein is also scheduled to be charged with the invasion of Kuwait, and will be held responsible for Iraqi soldiers torturing Kuwaiti prisoners. Hussein's lawyers will argue that the invasion of Kuwait was justified by ancient territorial claims (Kuwait was part of Mesopotamia). They'll also argue that Hussein can't be held to account for the "handful of bad apples" who tortured Kuwaitis.

If by some chance Mister Bush faces charges that he exceeded his constitutional authority in the name of "national security," and that he purposely lied about the Iraq intelligence in order to justify the invasion, and that his policies were directly responsible for the prisoner abuses in Cuba, Iraq, and Afghanistan, what will his defense be?


But let's not get too far ahead of ourselves. For all we know, Fitz will turn around after two years of investigation and say, "Sorry, I got nothing on these people."

And there's an outside chance that Saddam Hussein will walk.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Draft Beer, not Condi

You have to see this abomination. It's hokier than the teleconference, and just as spontaneous. I can't tell if they're trying to draft Rice or cook her.

The Troops Can't Handle the Truth!

Think Progress has the lowdown on Ed Shultz's progressive radio talk show getting shut off of Armed Forces Radio by Allison "Teleconference" Barber. Seems our pal "Curly Joe" DiRita was involved too. I guess they don't want the troops' constant Rush Limbaugh drip interrupted.

If you've ever been stationed with the U.S. military overseas, you know what blatant propaganda Armed Forces broadcasting is.

If the neo-powers that be have their way, it will be like that here too. If you haven't looked into the FCC lately, here's the "official" bio on the Kevin J. Martin.
Chairman Martin was nominated by President George W. Bush to a Republican seat on the Commission, and was sworn in on July 3, 2001. He was designated chairman by President Bush on March 18, 2005.

Before joining the FCC, Martin was a Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy. He served on the Bush-Cheney Transition Team and was Deputy General Counsel for the Bush campaign.

No neo-connections there, huh?

Hooray (Again) for Frank Rich

See his Sunday column at Truthout.
Now, as always, what matters most in this case is not whether Mr. Rove and Lewis Libby engaged in a petty conspiracy to seek revenge on a whistle-blower, Joseph Wilson, by unmasking his wife, Valerie, a covert C.I.A. officer. What makes Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation compelling, whatever its outcome, is its illumination of a conspiracy that was not at all petty: the one that took us on false premises into a reckless and wasteful war in Iraq. That conspiracy was instigated by Mr. Rove's boss, George W. Bush, and Mr. Libby's boss, Dick Cheney.

Buy Our War or We'll Shoot This Dog

The story on Iraq is shifting again. From NYT's David E. Sanger:

Administration's Tone Signals a Longer, Broader Iraq Conflict

For most of the 30 months since American-led forces ousted Saddam Hussein, the Bush administration has argued that as democracy took hold in Iraq, the insurgency would lose steam because Al Qaeda and the opponents of the country's interim government had nothing to offer Iraqis or the people of the Middle East…

…But inside the administration, that belief provides less solace than it once did. Senior officials say the intelligence reports flowing over their desks in recent months argue that even if democratic institutions take hold, the insurgency may strengthen…

…Mr. Bush's own way of talking about the future, in Iraq and beyond, has undergone a subtle but significant change in recent weeks. In several speeches, he has begun warning that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to "establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia." While he still predicts victory, he appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of cold war proportions.

So now we're fighting them over there so we can keep fighting them over there forever. Stand by for more "stay the course" talk.


Marine Lieutenant General James T. Conway gives us an earful of it in this month's issue of Proceedings magazine. "Tell it to the Troops" is a standard compendium of familiar talking points, mantras, and blame shifting:
…Our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines realize that the biggest threat to mission accomplishment does not depend on what the Iraqis do—rather it's what their fellow Americans do. As in any democracy, the support of the population is the center of gravity for continuation of war. Our forces in Iraq know this and so does the enemy. The insurgents realize full well the only chance they have of defeating the U.S. military is to weaken the will of the American population—and every facet of their strategic communications effort is focused on that aim. The insurgents maim and kill the less protected Iraqis—but their real target is that portion of American public opinion that is shaped by the news media. They openly cite our premature withdrawals from Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia as a national tendency to cut and run if the cost is too severe—and hope to force a repetition in Iraq.

In other words, "Buy our war or we'll shoot this dog."


As in Vietnam, the failures of Iraq are the direct result of the dishonest, incompetent policies and strategies of America's political and military leadership. For our politicians and generals to shift blame to the media and lack of "public support" is disingenuous at best, and "real" American's shouldn't put up with it.

In a free society like ours, public "allegiance" to government is something earned, not owed. In its conduct of the war in Iraq, our government has done nothing whatsoever to earn our respect, trust, or support, and it has shamefully abused its stewardship of the men and women in our military.

And it sure as heck hasn't made us any safer.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday Drive By

It's not my goal to be an Arianna Huffington echo chamberlain, but she's sure got it right about Tim Russert. His interview with Condi Rice, sounds like it's been completely scripted to let Rice snap off her prepared talking points.

-- Whether the constitution passes in Iraq or not, the democratic process has been served.

-- Democracy is spreading throughout the Middle East.

-- 9/11... 9/11... 9/11...

-- She doesn't agree with the 80 plus percent of African Americans who don't think Mister Bush is serving them. Both she and her predecessor are African Americans. Did you know that?

-- She can't even say "no" to the movement to put her on the Republican ticket in '08. Ah, she finally did, after evading the question five or six times. I guess that was Tim's idea of "grilling" her.


Now he's got Senator Carl Levin on.

Tim asks how many Americans we will have in Iraq come the 2006 U.S. elections.

How in the hell is Levin supposed to know?

Tim says, "Give me a number."

Levin offers "a third" will be out.

Again, how does he know?


Interesting piece at Orcinus (hand salute Barndog) on the recent Oklahama bombing.
Much of the factual grounding for the hysteria about Islamist suicide bombers in Oklahoma is looking, well, questionable at best. It turns out that (the bomber) did not attend a local mosque, had never visited there, and he was not Muslim; it appears doubtful that he attempted to enter the stadium.


NYT's take on yesterday's vote in Iraq:
Millions of Iraqis streamed to the polls Saturday to vote on a new constitution, joined by what appeared to be strong turnouts of Sunni voters in some parts of the country.

But the Sunni turnout - high in some cities like Mosul, low in others like Ramadi - appeared to be insufficient to defeat the new charter, and Iraqi officials predicted that it would pass.


Back to Tim:

Talking to Louis Freeh.

Freeh asks why didn't Clinton fire him? I'm wondering why Freeh didn't resign. (Don't misread me, I was never a fan of Clinton or Freeh.)

WaPo's take on Freeh's new book:
During his tenure as director of the FBI, Louis Freeh presided over a series of blunders and failures that brought the bureau to a low point in its history. From the embarrassment of the Russian mole Robert Hanssen to the bungling of the Wen Ho Lee investigation to the wasting of hundreds of millions of dollars in a failed attempt to build a modern, computerized case management system, the bureau under Freeh's leadership stumbled from one blunder to the next, with little or no accountability. The nadir, as the nation knows too well, was reached in the astonishing string of failures that helped leave America vulnerable to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In the face of this record, Freeh has now published "My FBI," a book distinguished by its shameless buck-passing. Nothing, it seems, was ever Louis Freeh's fault.

Interesting timing, Freeh's book coming out now, as the Pat Fitzgerald grand jury investigation wraps up.


WaPo also gives us some more interesting info on lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his religious right cronies:
Abramoff quietly arranged for eLottery to pay conservative, anti-gambling activists to help in the firm's $2 million pro-gambling campaign, including Ralph Reed, former head of the Christian Coalition, and the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon of the Traditional Values Coalition. Both kept in close contact with Abramoff about the arrangement, e-mails show. Abramoff also turned to prominent anti-tax conservative Grover Norquist, arranging to route some of eLottery's money for Reed through Norquist's group, Americans for Tax Reform.


FTN's Bob Schieffer agrees the Fitzgerald investigation is about a lot more than who outed Valerie Plame.

Welcome to the club, Bob.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Strategy Talk

Raw Story has the transcript of Wesley Clark's Democratic Party radio address (given today).

While I agree wholeheartedly with Mister Clark's assessment of the administration's mishandling of the war, I don't see him offering anything we haven't already heard from Mister Bush. And though Clark criticizes the lack of a "real strategy," he doesn't offer one of his own.

And Clark's "There is no alternative to success in Iraq" sounds just as sloganistic to me as Bush's "stay the course."


I sincerely hope that Iraqi's overwhelmingly accept their constitution today. The solution lies with them, not with us.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Live by the Spin, Die by the Spin

Monica Crowley, the hardest working right wing talking point in show business, appeared on Imus this morning. Predictably, she snuck in the "Iraq is like the American Revolution is like World War II" analogies. The woman supposedly has two masters degrees and PhD in political science. Is she really stupid enough to believe half the Rovewellian nonsense she echoes all over MSNBC?

Oh, she also mentioned (again) how she used to work for Richard Nixon. She sounds proud of the fact. Maybe that tells us something about her.


I'm not so much offended that Mister Bush's teleconference with the troops in Iraq yesterday was staged and rehearsed as I'm angry that it took placed at all. It's bad enough when Bush stages phony town hall meetings with loyal Republican audiences. But when he pulls that rot with military members who serve under him, he's abusing a sacred trust by using our troops to bolster the neoconcervative aganda and his own political standing.

But then again, he's been doing that since he committed the troops to the invasion and occupation of Iraq.


I don't question that the majority of troops in Iraq feel they're accomplishing something in that country. But I don't happen to think what they're accomplishing comes anywhere near justifying the cost of this adventure in terms of American lives, national treasure, and prestige.

And plainly phony events like yesterday's teleconference sure don't do anything for our damaged credibility.


Speaking of damaged credibility, it appears I’m not the only one who suspects the recently publicized letter between al Qaeda leaders Zawahiri Letter and Zarqawi is a fake. Juan Cole and others question its authenticity in the context of the "original" Arab language version. Cole says:
My gut tells me that the letter is a forgery. Most likely it is a black psy-ops operation of the US.

My instincts agree with the black psy-ops theory, especially in light of this post at the Central Command web site. CENTCOM's conclusion:
The letter demonstrates that pulling US forces out of Iraq is the wrong approach – that terrorists will not simply lay down their arms when American forces depart Iraq . Al-Qaida and its terrorist brethren will not go away when the Coalition hands over security control to Iraqi forces; rather, they are committed to overthrowing the elected, democratic Iraqi government and ruling the country according to their interpretation of Islamic law.

Keep in mind that this analysis comes from the same people who brought you the Pat Tillman cover up.


As I mentioned yesterday, al Qaeda in Iraq has denied the letter's authenticity. I for one am dismayed at a state of affairs in which I can't decide whom to believe: The United States Government or a terrorist organization.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Surprise, Surprise...

Al Qaeda's wing in Iraq on Thursday rejected as a fake a letter by top group leader Ayman al-Zawahri which was issued by U.S. officials this week, according to an Internet posting.

"We in Al Qaeda Organization announce that there is no truth to these claims, which are only based on the imagination of the politicians of the Black (White) House and their slaves," the group said in a statement posted on an Islamist Web site about the letter.

Who you gonna believe, the Director of National Intelligence or al Qaeda in Iraq?

Tough choice, huh?

African Americans Lead the Way

Just caught Tim Russert on MSNBC talking about the two percent approval rating Mister Bush has among African Americans.

They must have polled 100 African Americans and two of them were Condi Rice and Thomas Sowell.


Sniff, sniff. What's that smell?

The office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) has released its assessment of the letter between al Qaeda leaders Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.
Al-Zawahiri's letter offers a strategic vision for al Qa'ida's direction for Iraq and beyond, and portrays al Qa'ida's senior leadership's isolation and dependence.
Among the letter's highlights are discussions indicating:

-- The centrality of the war in Iraq for the global jihad.

-- From al Qa'ida's point of view, the war does not end with an American departure.

-- An acknowledgment of the appeal of democracy to the Iraqis.

-- The strategic vision of inevitable conflict, with a tacit recognition of current political dynamics in Iraq; with a call by al-Zawahiri for political action equal to military action.

-- The need to maintain popular support at least until jihadist rule has been established.
Admission that more than half the struggle is taking place "in the battlefield of the media."

Please excuse me for noticing just how closely the DNI's assessment of al Qaeda's strategic vision bolsters the Bush administration's justifications for "staying the course" in Iraq. Iraq is the "central front" in the war on terrorism. American departure from Iraq will not end the war. Iraqis yearn for democracy. The al Qaeda leaders fear the political progress in Iraq. The media is responsible for the success or failure of the war.

A read of the entire text reveals more of the same--what the Bush administration has been telling us about the enemy's plans and the dire consequences of troop withdrawal from Iraq has been right all along.

Does it seem a bit too coincidental that this letter is surfacing as Mister Bush's poll ratings continue to plummet?

Apparently not, according to the DNI:
The United States Government has the highest confidence in the letter's authenticity.

Hey, that's all we need to know, right? Trust them. They'd never lie to us or resort to black propaganda against American citizens, would they?


Diana Farsetta of Center for Media and Democracy posted this on Tuesday:
On September 30, the nonpartisan, investigative arm of the U.S. Congress, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), announced that several aspects of work done for the Department of Education by the public relations firm Ketchum violated federal law. Taxpayer-funded projects carried out by Ketchum or its subcontractors -- including Armstrong Williams and Karen Ryan -- constituted "covert propaganda" or "purely partisan activities," according to the GAO.

Yet, what the GAO has condemned, administration officials seem to consider business as usual…

…The Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, the Office of Management and Budget and, more recently, the Department of Education's Inspector General have all rejected the "audience must know" standard. Instead, they argue, hidden government involvement in the news is fine, as long as government messages are "informational" and not "persuasional."


In other words, the executive branch of our government says covert propaganda aimed at U.S. citizens is just fine, as long as the propaganda is presenting us with the information the administration wants us to hear.

At first blush, the notion that this letter between Zawahari and Zarqawi is a manufactured hoax seems like utter conspiracy theory paranoia. But then again, so did the possibility that Cheney, Tenet, Bolton, and others would have cooked the intelligence to justify the invasion of Iraq.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Taking Back Our Country

The mainstream media seem to be catching on to the possibility that Patrick Fitzgerald is out to do more than fry small fish for leaking the name of a CIA agent. Heck, even the Wall Street Journal is getting in on the act.
Lawyers familiar with the investigation believe that at least part of the outcome likely hangs on the inner workings of what has been dubbed the White House Iraq Group. Formed in August 2002, the group, which included Messrs. Rove and Libby, worked on setting strategy for selling the war in Iraq to the public in the months leading up to the March 2003 invasion. The group likely would have played a significant role in responding to Mr. Wilson's claims.

The White House Iraq Group (WHIG) was, according to SOURCEWATCH, "the marketing arm of the White House whose purpose was to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the public." Established in August 2002, WHIG's members included Rove, Libby, Mary Matalin, Karen Hughes, Steven Hadley, Andrew Card, and Condoleeza Rice. To date, all seven of these individuals have been called to testify before Fitzgerald's grand jury.


I think it is vital to the future of our republic that the dirt on the selling of the Iraq war comes out, and that the key players face legal consequences. That may be the only thing that proves our system of government still works; that at the end of the day, the Karl Roves of this society can't spin their way out of commissions of felony crimes.

But as encompassing as Fitzgerald's net may turn out to be, he won't be able to put each and every person responsible for the Iraq debacle in the slammer. At the root of our problems is the underlying philosophy of the neoconservative agenda, and eradicating that will take more than making a handful of conspirators do the perp walk down the front steps of the White House.

Ultimately, we need to expose the true nature of the vision of modern conservatism, which is to turn America country into a militaristic, theocratic oligarchy.

And we have to explain why that is total anathema to the things this country is supposed to be.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Every Soldier Wants To Do the Horizontal Bop

Thanks to Susie at Suburban Guerilla for the vector to this piece about love and war.

Making babies to replace the ones you just killed.

Talk about "unit cohesion."

Uhm... We're boffing each other over there so they can't boff us over here?


1:12 PM Washington D.C. time, Tuesday, October 11, 2005.

Still no indictments.

Cheney's Cha-ching

From Fired Up! America:
An analysis released today by the Office of Senator Frank R. Lautenberg reveals that Vice President Cheney’s Halliburton stock options have increased in value 3,281 percent in one year. The stock options, which were worth $241,498 one year ago are now valued at $8,165, 489.07.

No wonder Big Dick was shopping around for a $2.9 million piece of property in Maryland when Katrina went down.

Can there be any doubt left in anybody's mind as to what's going on in this country?

If I Had a Hammer...

First he tells us to conserve energy, then he's back in the Gulf Coast swinging a hammer on a Habitat for Humanity house. No, he's not Jimmy Carter, he's George W. Bush. I guess if I really wanted to, I could come up with a compelling reason why the president of my country has nothing better to do at this point in history than play carpenter. But I don't want to think that hard just now.


Four days prior to the constitutional referendum in Iraq, bomb attacks killed almost 30 Iraqi civilians in Tal Afar and Baghdad. I'm afraid we'll see a lot more of this, leading up to and after the referendum.

According to a story in the LA Times, "analysts" now think democracy won't be the miracle cure for Iraq that the Bush administration has cracked it up to be.
Senior U.S. officials have begun to question a key presumption of American strategy in Iraq: that establishing democracy there can erode and ultimately eradicate the insurgency gripping the country.

The expectation that political progress would bring stability has been fundamental to the Bush administration's approach to rebuilding Iraq, as well as a central theme of White House rhetoric to convince the American public that its policy in Iraq remains on course.

But within the last two months, U.S. analysts with access to classified intelligence have started to challenge this precept, noting a "significant and disturbing disconnect" between apparent advances on the political front and efforts to reduce insurgent attacks.

Now, with Saturday's constitutional referendum appearing more likely to divide than unify the country, some within the administration have concluded that the quest for democracy in Iraq, at least in its current form, could actually strengthen the insurgency.

I don't know why it took "analysts with access to classified intelligence" to figure this one out. The most casual observers of the situation in Iraq have been aware of the increase in violent attacks as the country has marched toward establishing a constitutional government. That "Senior U.S. officials" have just now begun to question a presumption of the Iraq strategy that many of us questioned three years ago would be amusing if it weren't so deadly serious.


The Iraq adventure was a card house of faulty assumptions from the get-go. The Iraqis would greet us as liberators. Ahmed Chalabi and his Iraqi National Congress in exile would step in and form a U.S. friendly government. Iraqi oil would pay for the U.S. war costs.



I'm still hopeful that democracy will in fact take hold in the Middle East. But it will be an ugly form of democracy. Election victories in Palestine and Lebanon by Hamas and Hezbollah have transformed terrorist organizations into legitimate political parties. So it's likely that terrorism will be to Middle East democracy what Al Capone era organized crime in America is to the George W. Bush administration.


I just watched a replay of Matt Lauer's interview with Mister Bush. At the end of it, Matt tells Mister B. to "get back to work," and Mister B. leans over and picks up a hammer.

Off camera, I picture a foreman saying, "Uh, sir, you're supposed to hold the hammer by the wood part and hit the nail with the metal part."

Driving nails is hard work!


8:35 AM. No indictments. Yet.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Pentagon Above the Law

First, the Pentagon defied a federal judge's order to release images of prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Now, it's claiming to be above the rule of congress, voicing opposition to the John McCain sponsored amendment to the military appropriations bill that will curb the torture of war on terror detainees.

From The Weekly Standard (hand salute to Nitpicker):
In opposing the legislation, the Pentagon argues that it is not Congress's place to be arbiter of the rules for treatment of detainees, insisting that it alone should wield that power. It also warns, as spokesman Lawrence DiRita put it in a recent op-ed in USA Today, that by establishing a clear standard for interrogations, the amendment would "hamper the country's ability to readily adapt and update interrogation methods from Al Qaeda detainees who we know are trained to resist known interrogation techniques."

DiRita ("Curly Joe" to his friends) can always be relied on to reveal the internal fallacies of the Rumsfeld Pentagon group think.

Most critics of the Pentagon (including this one) agree that lack of "clear standards" was a key cause of the widespread prisoner abuse.

But more alarming is the Pentagon assertion that "it is not Congress's place to be arbiter of the rules" despite the fact that Clause 14 of Section 8 of Article I of the The United States Constitution states that Congress has the power…
…to make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces.


Every American should be shocked and angry that so many of our civilian and military officials who swore an oath to uphold the Constitution have so little trouble ignoring it when it suits their purposes. This latest position on torture taken by the Pentagon is yet another piece of compelling evidence that America is turning into a militaristic oligarchy with theocratic overtones.

And it's a sad, Rovewellian state of affairs that the greatest threat to our federal republic comes not from terrorist organizations like al Qaeda, but from the executive branch of our own government.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Shame Game!

Once again from Kerstin:

If you haven't seen this story and video on the scene in the House over the big oil bail out bill, please check it out here.
The House leadership held the five-minute vote open for almost 50 minutes until they could convince three lawmakers — Reps. Wayne Gilcrest (R-MD), C.W. Bill Young (R-FL) and Jim Gerlach (R-PA) — to change their minds. The bill passed 212-210. As the vote concluded, opponents of the bill chanted in unity: “Shame, Shame, Shame!”

And this discusses how the bill gives breaks to Dick and Dubya's pals at Exxon Mobil, Chevron Texaco, and Conoco Phillips whose 2004 profits "broke records across all industries."

Ho, Ho!

Amusing visual over at The Nation. (Hand salute to Kerstin at Knits End.)

They Call This "Intelligence?"

It looks like we're fighting them over there so we can argue about them over here. According to New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg :
"The F.B.I. attached more credibility to a lot of this information than other agencies. That's just a fact of life. You'll never get consensus in the intelligence community on any one thing."

That's comforting to know.

Russ Knocke, Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff's press secretary called the threat information "specific but noncredible" from intelligence "of doubtful credibilidy."

Joe Lieberman, ranking Democrat on the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said:
"This is a situation where different people in positions of leadership will reach different conclusions about how to respond to threat information. To me, it is not a question of right or wrong. They both look at the same information and acted differently."

You have to wonder what ex-CIA director George Tenet would have done if he'd looked at the information.


Will this count as the 11th "serious terrorist plot" we've "disrupted?"

Friday, October 07, 2005

How Big Will This Thing Get?

The Patrick Fitzgerald investigation is starting to remind me of one of my favorite old jokes:

The first time Adam sees Eve in the Garden of Eden, he says, "Stand back, I don't know how big this thing's going to get."

And so it goes with the Rove/Plame/Traitor-gate saga.

Since the story resurfaced a few months ago, I've been a proponent of the theory that Fitz was after bigger fish than Rove and Libby, and that the case was about a far larger issue than who outed Valerie Plame. I've always thought the investigation was about the machinations behind preserving the WMD intelligence hoax on the eve of the invasion of Iraq, and I now think it might also encompass the suppression of intelligence on the 9/11 attacks. If by some chance my wildest conspiracy theories are anywhere in the ballpark of reality, the number of indictments we'll see handed down will be staggering. I won't be surprised if darn near every member of the Bush administration gets tagged, including the top two guys, a handful of past and present cabinet secretaries, executive department agency chiefs, a number of congressional luminaries from both sides of the aisle, past and present Bush nominees to the Supreme Court, energy and defense industry executives, and a smattering of news media personalities.

But I could be wrong.

One of my Yellow Dog Republican buddies thinks that Fitzgerald's been going after Plame and her husband Joe Wilson all along. But I really, really, don't think that's the case. It doesn't seem to me that a sharp guy like Fitz would to through all this trouble to trash people who've already been trashed.

Another theory says that Fitz has been a tool of the administration all this time; that he's really been working to exonerate the administration by compiling evidence to trash their opponents throughout the government. He could do that simply by saying that after two years of intense investigation, he has no charges to press against anyone.

If that turns out to be the case, I say it will be time to break out the torches and pitchforks.


I was able to read through the transcript of Mister Bush's "major speech". It's quite a bit easier to absorb in text--you don't have to suffer through the smirks and twitches. But it's still pile of manure.

I'm not always in sync with Slate's Fred Kaplan, but I think his summary of the speech is spot-on:
Near the start of the speech, Bush declared, "We will never back down, never give in, and never accept anything less than complete victory." What he has to do now—because, after all this time, he still hasn't—is to explain what he means by "victory" and how he plans to get there.

Don't hold your breath, Fred. Mister Bush will never explain what he means.


The close timing between the big speech and the New York terror alert is hardly surprising. It's a shameful sign of the state of America when we have to take these coincidental terror scares seriously even though we're nearly certain that they are thinly veiled political ploys. In the Rovewellian era, we have no reason to trust anything our government tells us, and no conspiracy theory is too outrageous to dismiss out of hand.


Speaking of coincidence, we get more body count news from Iraq today.
U.S. soldiers killed at least 29 insurgents in a drive to root out militants in western Iraq, the military said on Friday, after U.S. President George W. Bush vowed not to waver in his campaign against Islamic extremists.


And this from Mister Bush's lap dog:
British Prime Minister Tony Blair said on Thursday London suspected Shi'ite Iran and Lebanon's Hizbollah group might be supplying technology and explosives to Shi'ite Muslim militants operating in Iraq, although he said he had no proof.

Hizbollah and Iran deny the accusations.

Tony Blair makes unsubstantiated accusations and Hizbollah and Iran deny them. I never thought I'd see a day when I found Hizbollah and Iran more credible than the Prime Minister of England.

But that day has come. Hell, Blair's track record shows that you can't believe him when he does have "proof."


Speaking of people you can't believe…

White House spokesman Scott McClellan denies Mister Bush said he was "driven with a mission from God" to invade Afghanistan and Iraq.

Which means it's a good bet that Mister Bush did say it.


I'll be tapping out query packages over the weekend. Have a good one!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

On a Mission from God

Before the link disappears, go check out this story from the BBC:
President George W. Bush told Palestinian ministers that God had told him to invade Afghanistan and Iraq - and create a Palestinian State, a new BBC series reveals.

Freaking YIKES!

Monica Crowley

Have I mentioned that MSNBC's Monica Crowley is a neocon worm? The talking points go in one end and come out the other.

Victory Through Platitudes

I tried to stay focused on Mister Bush's big speech. He lost me fairly early on, but grabbed my attention back with this:
"We've gained the peace that freedom brings…"

Huh? I thought we were at war.

I took some notes. Let's see here…

September 11th, three times.

Evil. Evil men.

I'm pretty sure I heard him say "Gulag." Don't imagine he was talking about Gitmo, though.

I definitely heard him say "endless ambition of imperialism." Surely he wasn't referring to himself. Was he?

He knocked somebody for "growing up in wealth and privilege. He must have been talking about bin Laden, huh?

He said something about "women's rights" four times or so, and "religious freedom" two or three times.

He used "tyrants and would be tyrants" to start three sentences in a row. Do you think his staff wrote the speech that way?

Sacrifice… Sacrifice… Sacrifice…

Freedom… Freedom… Freedom…

Oh, this was good. He made scary noises about states that sponsor freedom, and rattled his chain at Syria and Iran. No mention of Saudi Arabia, though.


I sensed that there was supposed to be an explanation of some sort of a "five part" strategy, but I didn't hear anything that seemed to explain any strategy at all.

From the sound of the post-game show, I guess I wasn't alone in that regard. MSNBC's Randy Something asked two pundits if we'd heard anything new about the strategy in Iraq.

Retired General Barry McCaffrey said:
"Yeah… You're right, this was not breaking new ground."

Dana Priest of the WaPo sighed:
"Not really anything."


Mister Bush continues promising to give us substance and leaving us with nothing but platitudes and slogans. I'm starting to think that he's been getting by on bunk for so long that he doesn't actually know what substance is.

Terrorism of the Absurd

Lurch at Main and Central steered me to this article by Bryan Bender:
The FBI's counterterrorism unit has launched a broad investigation of US-based theft rings after discovering some vehicles used in deadly car bombings in Iraq, including attacks that killed US troops and Iraqi civilians, were probably stolen in the United States, according to senior US Government officials…

…The inquiry began after coalition troops raided a Falluja bomb factory last November and found a Texas-registered four-wheel-drive being prepared for a bombing mission…

Investigators believed the cars were stolen by local car thieves in US cities, then smuggled to waiting ships at ports in Los Angeles, Seattle, and Houston, among other cities. Terrorism specialists said they believed Iraqi insurgents preferred American stolen cars because they tended to be larger, blended in more easily with US convoys, and were harder to identify as stolen.

I'm comforted to know the FBI is on top of this situation. But I have questions about a thing or two.

How is it that an Audi or Beamer is harder to identify as stolen than, say, a Lincoln Navigator? And how does anyone "blend in" with a U.S. convoy? You just show up and they let you in? You don't even need a note from your mom?

And why go through the trouble to import an American car to use as a bomb?

Maybe Mister Bush will explain all this in his big speech later today:
"We're building them over here so they can blow them up over there."


Mister Bush's "major speech on the war on terror" coming up in ten minutes. I can't wait.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

If You Ain't Cheating, You Ain't Trying

I had decided to avoid the subject of military readiness reporting until I saw this piece by Ann Scott Tyson in today's WaPo :
Critical U.S. military war stocks in South Korea -- including M1A1 tanks, howitzers and Bradley Fighting Vehicles -- fell into such significant disrepair in the past year that it could have slowed a U.S. ground response to North Korean hostilities or another Pacific conflict, unreleased classified and unclassified U.S. government reports show…

…Even after government inspectors found, starting in October 2004, that at least half and as much as 80 percent of the heavy weapons and other fighting gear were not "fully mission capable," inaccurate military reports led the Pentagon and Congress to believe that readiness was high.


Cooking reports to reflect higher levels of military readiness than actually exist is not a new phenomenon, nor is it an isolated one.

You may recall the 2001 scandal surrounding the readiness reporting of a Marine Corps Under pressure from above to bring the much maligned tilt-rotor platform to "operational" status, the squadron commanding officer, a lieutenant colonel, ordered his troops to "lie on records documenting the aircraft’s flight readiness."

The squadron commander was relieved of his duties. One "informed source" described him as…
"…a good officer caught up in a bad situation. Everyone knows he was under intense pressure from above. A huge amount of money is wrapped up in the success of the V-22. If it fails, there's going to be some very unhappy Marine brass and defense contractors."


I could tell you one horror story after the next about the "number fudging" I witnessed over the course of my career, but it would just be anecdotal evidence, and I'm not looking to get anyone punished or to ruin any reputations. Let me just say that many of the maintenance reporting practices of that Marine V-22 squadron weren't a whole lot different from maintenance reporting practices throughout Marine Corps and Navy aviation.

And I have no direct or indirect knowledge of readiness reporting monkey business going on today.

But my eyebrows go up whenever I read something like today's story on the gear in South Korea, or when I hear the ubiquitous tales of units deploying to Iraq with inadequate armor, or spare parts, or too few of this, that, or the other thing.


What would cause a unit commander to lie about the readiness of his troops and equipment? It's usually a combination of a number of things: pressure from above, careerism, competitiveness, an endemic embrace of the "can do" attitude…

And it might have something to do with moral and ethical training young cadets get in our service academies. They're given an artificial set of meaningless rules to follow and spend four years learning how to break them without getting caught. They're sworn to an honor code that does not tolerate cheating, and at the same time they learn the unofficial motto that says "if you ain't cheating, you ain't trying."

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Another Shameful Self Promotion...

Little old me over at ePluribus.

GWOT Situation Report

War on Terror news…

The WaPo reports that the FBI's criminal caseload has decreased by half since 2001 as a result of its shift in focusing to counterterrorism.

One has to wonder: does that mean twice as much federal crime is going uninvestigated now, or was the FBI previously wasting twice as much time investigating it? And when exactly was terrorism committed on American soil not a federal crime that the FBI should have been investigating?


Operation "Iron Fist" continued today with U.S. troops conducting offensives in the Iraqi towns of Sadah, Karabilah and Rumana. Officials claim at least 57 militants have been killed in the operation.

More body count. Again, one has to wonder: do the military staffers putting out this information not realize that body count is not an accurate measure of effectiveness in this kind of war? Do they not remember how much trouble their Vietnam era counterparts got into by pretending that it was? Who's making the decisions to release this kind of information?


I see from the local paper's rerun of Bob Herbert's NYT Select column that on his last day in office, off going Joint Chiefs chairman Richard Myers told the Armed Services Committee that:
"I don't think this committee or the American public has ever heard me say that things are going very well in Iraq."

We didn't, General?

This from the Armed Forces Press Service (not exactly an anti-war sector of the news media):
May 29, 2005
Myers: 'Trend Lines Up in Iraq'

Iraq is making real progress on the path toward democracy and self-rule, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Richard Myers said today…

Myers spoke about Iraq on two televised news broadcasts: "Fox News Sunday," with Chris Wallace, and CBS's "Face the Nation," with Bob Schieffer. "I think a lot of aspects in Iraq are getting better. ... I think the trend lines are up," Myers said…

The terrorists have tried to undermine Iraq's key centers of gravity, Myers said, and "nothing is working. I think that means our strategy is working."

"We've got about 100 Iraqi security force battalions that are equipped and trained," Myers said. "About 25 percent of them can do independent operations -- or operations with little help from coalition forces. But every week that number changes and goes up."

(Note: last weekend we found out that only one battalion is capable of independent operations.)

I find it fitting that Myers' last official act as chairman was to stand before congress and lie about lying.


Sunday, al Qaeda in Iraq claimed to have captured two U.S. Marines and issued a 24 hour ultimatum for U.S. forces to release female Sunni Muslim prisoners. From Australia's Sunday Times:
A spokesman for US forces in Iraq, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan, said: "I have not heard anything about any of our folks being taken. I would suspect that these are unfounded rumours, as that is what has happened in the past."

Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan; where have we heard that name before? Ah, yes…

Here he is blowing smoke up Amy Goodman's skirt about lethal assaults on media workers in Iraq. And here he tells the press that "coalition" forces have killed yet another "number two" man in the Iraq al Qaeda organization. Here he says the Iraqi city of Najaf is under control. Here he explains that a helicopter gunship attack on a crowd of civilians was meant "to deter looters."

Keep an eye on this Lieutenant Colonel Steve Boylan. Given his track record for playing footsy with the truth, he's going places in this man's military!