Wednesday, June 30, 2004


Top Ten George W. Bush Complaints About 'Fahrenheit 9/11' "Top Ten George W. Bush Complaints About 'Fahrenheit 9/11'

From the "Late Show With David Letterman" via the Associated Press:

"10. That actor who played the president was totally unconvincing.

"9. It oversimplified the way I stole the election.

"8. Too many of them fancy college-boy words

"7. If Michael Moore had waited a few months, he could have included the part where I get him deported.

"6. Didn't have one of them hilarious monkeys who smoke cigarettes and gives people the finger.

"5. Of all Michael Moore's accusations, only 97% are true.

"4. Not sure -- I passed out after a piece of popcorn lodged in my windpipe.

"3. Where the hell was Spiderman?

"2. Couldn't hear most of the movie over Cheney's foul mouth.

"1. I thought this was supposed to be about dodgeball!"

Monday, June 28, 2004


When we say 'repudiate' we mean 'agree with and wrote'

The hypocracy of this administration continues to become clearer and clearer:

"Although the White House repudiated the memo Tuesday as the work of a small group of lawyers at the Justice Department, administration officials now confirm it was vetted by a larger number of officials, including lawyers at the National Security Council, the White House counsel's office and Vice President Cheney's office. . . .

"In addition, Timothy E. Flanigan -- then deputy White House counsel -- discussed a draft of the document with lawyers at the [Justice Department's] Office of Legal Counsel before it was finalized, the officials said. David S. Addington, Cheney's counsel, also weighed in with remarks during at least one meeting he held with Justice lawyers involved with writing the opinion. He was particularly concerned, sources said, that the opinion include a clear-cut section on the president's authority.

"That section of the memo has become among the most controversial within the legal community that has analyzed the opinion since it was made public by The Washington Post."

This was Bush Administration policy. I do not give them any leeway in this. Their intentions were dishonerable and immoral. I would also point out that the Israeli Supreme Court outlawed all use of torture because of the slippery slope issue. I think it's safe to say that the Israeli's face a greater terror challenge than even the US.

The NYTimes points out an interesting tid-bit:

"In repudiating the memo in briefings this week, none of the senior Bush legal advisers whom the White House made available to reporters would discuss who had requested that the memo be prepared, why it had been prepared or how it was applied.


DO NOT QUESTION THE PRESIDENT (it makes him unhappy)

From about a page down in the article:

Thin Skinned

But someone in the White House is awfully thin skinned.

As I reported in Friday's column, Bush seemed quite irritated by Irish radio and television correspondent Carole Coleman's tough questions and attempts to move him off his stock answers on Thursday.

Here's Coleman herself describing the interview: "He was tough. He was very tough. And the policy of the White House is that you submit your questions in advance, and so they had my questions for about three days. They knew I was going to ask tough questions and I think he was prepared for that. . . .

"There were a few stages at which I had to move him along for reasons of timing and he's not used to being moved along by the American media. Perhaps they're a bit more deferential."

They had her questions for three days? I'll do some reporting today to figure out why Coleman had to to submit her questions.

And this is what happens when you're not deferential, I guess:

AFP reported on Saturday: "The US administration confirmed it had axed an interview that US First Lady Laura Bush had been due to grant to Irish public television RTE, only two days after the broadcaster's exclusive interview with the US president himself.

"No explanation was given for the schedule change, but journalists traveling with the Bush entourage in Europe noted that the cancellation had come a day after George W. Bush's less-than-sunny showing in his RTE exclusive."

Miriam Lord writes in the Irish Independent: "The White House has lodged a complaint with the Irish Embassy in Washington over RTE journalist Carole Coleman's interview with US President George Bush. . . .

"The Irish Independent learned last night that the White House told Ms Coleman that she interrupted the president unnecessarily and was disrespectful.

"She also received a call from the White House in which she was admonished for her tone.

"And it emerged last night that presidential staff suggested to Ms Coleman as she went into the interview that she ask him a question on the outfit that Taoiseach Bertie Ahern wore to the G8 summit."

Ahern, for those who missed it, wore a pair of canary-yellow trousers at the G8 summit that was so garish that the issue was raised in the Irish parliament.

Here's a transcript of Coleman's interview with Bush. Here's the video.

Angelique Chrisafis writes in the Guardian that "Mr Bush has been choking on . . . the gristle of the Irish media. Expecting nothing more than a gentle probing from a friendly state which America 'helped' to prosper, he gave the first White House interview to an Irish journalist for 20 years. But the state broadcaster RTE subjected him to a grilling which left him fuming and had media commentators and licence-payers debating the Irish style of journalism."

In fact, some bloggers are wondering why the American press corps can't be less deferential.

To be continued.

So set aside the whole having to submit questions 3 days in advance, and then refusing press coverage when the White House doesn't like the coverage. What really kills me is that we're talking about a democratically 'elected' leader who is pissy when he's forced to answer questions. Impeach him, vote him out, get rid of him!


This is offensive beyond belief

Hitler Reappears in '04 Campaign, This Time in Bush Ad

Published: June 26, 2004

WASHINGTON, June 25 - Suddenly, Adolf Hitler has become a bit player in the 2004 presidential campaign.

President Bush's campaign Web site is featuring an advertisement casting Senator John Kerry and his allies as a "coalition of the wild-eyed," blending clips of former Vice President Al Gore, former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont and the filmmaker Michael Moore shouting about Mr. Bush. Interspersed twice are images of a shouting Hitler, drawn from a Web spot that, the Internet advocacy group that runs anti-Bush advertisements, briefly posted months ago in a contest for advertisements about the president. quickly removed the advertisement from its site. But it resurfaces in the Bush-Cheney campaign's compendium of clips, and the result appears to liken Mr. Gore's and Mr. Dean's shouting to Hitler's.

And who started a war of aggression through taking advantage of the fear, sorrow and rage of our country after September 11th? I cannot think of words that are of great enough contempt for the current administration. To compare Kerry or the Democratic party to that of Hitler is just plain disgusting.


The impact of Farenheit 9/11

"We sold out in Fayetteville, home of Fort Bragg," in North Carolina, Mr. Moore said on Sunday. "We sold out in Army-base towns. We set house records in some of these places. We set single-day records in a number of theaters. We got standing ovations in Greensboro, N.C.

"The biggest news to me this morning is this is a red-state movie," he said, referring to the state whose residents voted for George W. Bush in the 2000 election. "Republican states are embracing the movie, and it's sold out in Republican strongholds all over the country.

From the Washington Post:

Tom Ortenberg, president of Lions Gate, joined Moore on the conference call. "The film played brilliantly this weekend in the 'red states' and the 'blue states,' and the big towns and the small towns," he said. "We played in Peoria. We literally sold out Peoria, Illinois."

Surveys showed the audience was split evenly between male and female, and was predominantly over 25. The biggest demographic consisted of moviegoers aged 25 to 34. In exit polls conducted in about 15 cites, 91 percent of the audience rated the film "excellent," and 93 percent would "definitely recommend" it.

"It's mind-blowing how well this film has been received," said Jonathan Sehring, president of IFC, noting that exit polling for "Fahrenheit" was even better than for the 2002 surprise hit "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."

I saw the movie last night - it's incredibly powerful. And for those who say "Michael Moore is an ass," go see it - make an informed decision, not whatever you've been fed.

I would also check out the Fox News Review. From the review:

But once "F9/11" gets to audiences beyond screenings, it won't be dependent on celebrities for approbation. It turns out to be a really brilliant piece of work, and a film that members of all political parties should see without fail.

Or, last but not least. From Newsday:

Michael Freed said people should see the film, regardless of their political leanings. "You have no right to have an opinion unless you see the movie," said Freed, 51, of Plainview, who caught the movie in Farmingdale yesterday. "It's the same way people want to have an opinion about this country, but they don't vote."

Wednesday, June 23, 2004


Why do I feel like these two things are related

From today's Whitehouse Briefing in the Washington Post. This is on the press briefing that Alberto Gonzales gave on the release of the torture memos yesterday:

"Q Judge, I wanted to follow on what Suzanne and Ed are asking you. I think people here are looking for more specifics about the President's actual involvement, other than signing his name, to this February document. Can you be more specific about how many meetings did he engage in with you to discuss this? Did you put together a memo yourself, because there isn't one here, that would have preceded his signature on his own? Was there a meeting that involved the Vice President? Can you just give us some more idea, because the President has said we should feel comforted, but I'm not sure there's a lot of specifics here about his interest, his personal interest.

"JUDGE GONZALES: I'm not going to get into a discussion about the internal deliberations of the White House. I can say that during this period of time there was a great deal of debate, over a period of days, maybe a period of a couple weeks, when the presidential determination was made, all the agencies had actually weighed-in very strongly.

"Q With the President, personally?

"JUDGE GONZALES: I believe so. But the equities of all the agencies were presented to the President, and they were before the President as he made his decision.

"Q And who did that, you?

"JUDGE GONZALES: Again, I'm not going to talk about --

"Q Well, wait, I'm not sure I understand, why is that a difficult thing to discuss?

"JUDGE GONZALES: It's not a difficult thing to discuss, it's just one that I don't choose to discuss.

"Q Why?

"JUDGE GONZALES: I just don't.

"Q Why wouldn't that be helpful?

"JUDGE GONZALES: We normally don't talk about the internal deliberations within the White House. I don't think that's appropriate."

Set aside the dodge by Mr. Gonzales...

And now from our friends in the British press:

Duncan Campbell and Suzanne Goldenberg uncork a special report for the British paper, the Guardian: "Inside America's Secret Afghan Gulag." The opening lines:

 'They said this is America . . . if a soldier orders you to take off your clothes, you must obey'

We know about Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib but until now Bagram and America's secret network of Afghan jails have come under little scrutiny. In a major investigation, Duncan Campbell and Suzanne Goldenberg discovered a familiar pattern of violent abuse and sexual humiliation


Fun for today: Dirty tricks with Senate rules

Sigh. Not sure there's much more to say about that:

Mr. Kerry, the Democratic presidential contender, scrapped a speech and a fund-raiser in Albuquerque on Tuesday to fly here from Denver overnight in order to support an amendment to a military spending bill on veterans health care. But procedural delays on the Senate floor, under control of Republicans, kept him from saying "aye" before flying back across the country Tuesday evening to San Francisco, where he plans to speak at a labor union convention on Wednesday.

Now that's just slimey. Well Senator Lestat... errr... Senator Frist?


Guess that wasn't going to fly after Abu Ghraib

From the NYTimes today:

UNITED NATIONS, June 23 — The United States bowed Wednesday to broad opposition on the Security Council and announced it was dropping its effort to gain immunity for its troops from prosecution by the International Criminal Court.

It's unbelievable to me that anyone could even begin to propose that US Troops should BE EXEMPT FROM WAR CRIMES after what's gone on in Iraq. The Administration's rationale is that there may be false prosecutions for political reasons. Or, maybe they'd prosecute us for setting loose attack dogs on handcuffed prisoners.

Maybe it was the response by some of our 'honorable' politicians (there's your chance to shine, Senator James Inhofe, R-OK) to the release of the photos:

"I'm probably not the only one up at this table that is more outraged by the outrage than we are by the treatment," Sen. James Inhofe, May 11th, 2004, Senate Armed Services Hearing. link to story

But those prosecutions would be politically motivated... Right... Once again, we see the morality of the Bush Administration and the Republican leadership. I can't decide if Machiavelli would be proud or scared by this crew.


Ashcroft plays more classification games

The above is a Real audio clip (get the player). Two years ago, a FBI translator reported suspicious activity between two FBI translators and a Turkish man who was the target of an active FBI investigation. She was offered a deal: She could go quietly and recieve a fulltime job at the FBI, or she would be fired (informing superiors would "open a can of worms," she was told).

She did her patriotic duty and reported the problem. She was fired. Later, she spoke in an open hearing to Senators Lehey (D-Vt.) and Glasser (R-Iowa). This was reported in the news media, and is available on many web sites.

Last week, Mr. Ashcroft retroactively classified these documents in an effort to stifle the investigation of the Justice Department. The Senate Judicary committee (Congress' oversight body of the FBI, the Justice Department, etc.) has yet again failed to block this activity along party lines (not unlike their vote along party lines to not subpoena the Torture Memos below

Now, the Project on Government Oversight has sued the Justice Department over the retro-classification. At least NGOs are still acting to defend the public's interests:
Press releases from The Memory Hole
Press release on retro classification
Project on Government Oversight Press Release

The war on terrorism deserves people that are competent. Ashcroft isn't. It's time for he and his crew to go.


Couple of quickies from today's Washington Briefing column

On the torture memo releases:

But today's coverage makes it clear that there are still a host of unresolved issues. Among them:

• Does President Bush still believe, as his 2002 memo said, that he has "the authority under the Constitution" to deny protections of the Geneva Conventions to some combatants?

• The memos describe Pentagon prohibitions against torture. But do the distinctions drawn between forceful interrogation tactics and torture meet the common-sense test? And what rules did the White House set for the CIA?

• Did the White House set a tone that led to the abuses at Abu Ghraib?

• What was the president's involvement in the deliberations on torture, beyond putting his name at the bottom of that one memo?

• And the debate within the administration, as illustrated most clearly by memos from the Justice Department, continued to rage long after Bush's memo. So how long did the issue of torture remain in play?

And some other things to keep in mind:

There's lots to read about the torture issue below. And keep scrolling to find out about these other White House headlines:

• A Washington Post reporter was questioned yesterday by the special prosecutor investigating the possibly illegal leak of a CIA employee's identity by Bush administration officials.

• The Associated Press yesterday sued for access to Bush's National Guard records.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004


Diplomats and Soldiers v. Bush

By Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation. Posted June 17, 2004.
Former diplomats and retired military commanders accuse George W. Bush of endangering the nation and call for his defeat in November.

On Wednesday a group of former senior diplomatic officials and retired military commanders -- several of whom are the kind who "have never spoken out before" on such matters -- issued a bracing statement arguing that George W. Bush has damaged the country's national security and calling on Americans to defeat him in November. It's too early to tell if the statement will have an impact on this fall's campaign. But Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, as the group is called, reveals (again) how dangerously isolated the Bush Administration is not just around the world but even from America's own bipartisan foreign policy and military establishments.

This latest missive, as both the LA Times and the Washington Post reported last Sunday, is being sent by Democratic and Republican officials who refuse to stay silent in the face of Bush's extremist and ideological foreign policy which, they say, is squandering America's moral standing. These signatories aren't exactly a Who's Who of the American left.

Jack Matlock, who served as Reagan and Bush 41's ambassador to the Soviet Union, has signed the statement, as has Ret. Adm. William Crowe, who served as Reagan's Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Phyllis Oakley, who served as a State Department spokesperson under Reagan, added her name as well. The vast majority of the signatories are, in fact, either conservative Republicans who served under Reagan and Bush 41 or they're bipartisan, consensus-driven ex-diplomats who served their country from Africa to Asia because they believed in America's leadership role around the world.

Now they feel so enraged by Bush's extremist foreign policies that they can no longer stand by as this Administration makes America less secure by upending alliances and alienating much of the world. Against the metastasizing scandal of Abu Ghraib; the botched postwar occupation of Iraq; and the Administration's lies about Iraq's WMDs in the run-up to the war, these old hands are now taking an uncompromising, intelligent stand against what they see as the most arrogant, unilateral and incompetent foreign policy in their adult lifetimes.

Today's signatories join a large and growing chorus of former senior officials who were so enraged by Bush's conduct of the Iraq war that sitting on the sidelines simply wasn't an option for them. John Brady Kiesling, now a retired diplomat, led the charge in February 2003 when he courageously quit his foreign-service job with the American Embassy in Athens, and wrote a stinging rebuke to Bush's headlong rush to wage a war in Iraq. He was followed by another career diplomat Gregory Thielmann who went public, telling Bill Moyers that Iraq didn't pose an "imminent security threat" to America. Thielmann attacked Bush for hyping intelligence reports and for misleading the American people about the need to go to war in the Middle East. The Administration, he said, "has had a faith-based intelligence attitude.We know the answers -- give us the intelligence to support those answers'."

Around the same time, retired military commanders were growing aghast at Bush's utter ineptitude in planning for the occupation of Iraq. That's why, for example, the former Centcom commander Gen. Anthony Zinni ultimately went on 60 Minutes last month and argued that if Bush stayed on the current course in Iraq, America was "headed over Niagara Falls." Retired Marine Gen. Joseph Hoar, who commanded U.S. forces in the Middle East under Bush 41, has publicly declared that the United States is "absolutely on the brink of failure" in Iraq.

Meanwhile, other former ambassadors and career foreign-service officers began speaking up, each in their own way and on their own timetables. GOP strategists with ties to the White House were quick and shameless in denigrating those who've spent their life serving the national interest.

Ronald Spiers, the former Ambassador to Turkey and Pakistan and well-versed in the politics of the Middle East, argued that George W. Bush's policies have unraveled our most important alliances around the globe. Spiers faulted the President for causing us to lose "a lot of our international partnerships. We've lost a lot of lives. We've lost a lot of money for something that wasn't justified."

George Harrop, a former ambassador to Kenya and Israel, spoke for many in the diplomatic corps, and I suspect even for some former Bush 41 officials like Brent Scowcroft, when he said: "I really am essentially a Republican. I voted for George Bush's father, and I voted for George Bush. But what we got was not the George Bush we voted for." And former ambassador Joseph Wilson has reminded Americans of just how many lies the Administration was willing to tell in its quest to convince people that Iraq posed a nuclear threat to the United States.

Then, of course, there are the high-level NSC officials who, after getting a ringside seat for Bush's bumbling national security strategies, decided that enough was enough, and that now was the season to speak up and take a stand. Rand Beers left Bush's White House after serving under Reagan and Bush Sr., and he is now running foreign policy operations for John Kerry's presidential campaign. Richard Clarke, is one of the most experienced counterterrorism officials America has produced in the last three decades; he, too, could no longer stand idly by as the Administration ran a fool's errand by starting a war against Iraq.

Just last month a separate group of fifty-three ex-diplomats and other high-level national security officials wrote a letter to Bush in which they excoriated the President for sacrificing America's credibility in the Arab world and squandering America's status as honest broker in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis.

This most recent statement marks the high-water point of dissent among diplomats and military commanders who cannot stomach Bush any longer, but there is still time, and a need, for more high-level officials to come forward and voice their opposition to policies that are undermining our security.

The anger towards Bush and his extremely dangerous policies has now, at long last, reached a critical mass. Wednesday's statement reveals just how extremist in approach and radical in ideology the Administration actually is.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is Editor of The Nation.

It's nice to see former diplomats and soldiers (Republicans and Democrats, I might add) put politics aside to address our catastrophic slide in world perception. We need more people like these.


One email forward I really liked...

One sunny day in 2005 an old man approached the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue, where he'd been sitting on a park bench. He spoke to the U. S. Marine standing guard and said, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine looked at the man and said, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here."

The old man said, "Okay" and walked away.

The following day, the same man approached the White House and said to the same Marine, "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush." The Marine again told the man, "Sir, Mr. Bush is no longer president and no longer resides here." The man thanked him and, again, just walked away.

The third day, the same man approached the White House and spoke to the very same U. S. Marine, saying "I would like to go in and meet with President Bush."

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looked at the man and said, "Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Bush. I've told you already that Mr. Bush is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don't you understand?"

The old man looked at the Marine and said, "Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it."

The Marine snapped to attention, saluted, and said, "See you tomorrow."



Winning the war on terror

U.S. Corrects Report to Show Rise in Terrorism

Published: June 22, 2004

State Department

United States International Relations

Filed at 12:54 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Correcting an inaccurate report, the State Department announced Tuesday that acts of terror worldwide increased slightly last year and the number of people wounded rose dramatically.

The department also reported a decline in the number of people killed -- to 625 from 725 during 2002. But in April, the department reported 307 people had been killed last year -- a much bigger decline.

Clearly this is still more proof of President Bush's bankrupt policies on terrorism. Facts aren't partisan, and these facts speak for themselves: President Bush's handling has been incompetent.


Pre-emptive truth about Mohammed Atta

Dubious Link Between Atta and Saddam
A document tying the Iraqi leader with the 9/11 terrorist is probably fake. PLUS, how terror financiers manage to stay in business
Updated: 11:31 a.m. ET Dec.19, 2003

Dec. 17 - A widely publicized Iraqi document that purports to show  that September 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta visited Baghdad in  the summer of  2001 is probably a fabrication that is contradicted by U.S. law-enforcement records showing Atta was staying at cheap motels and apartments in the United States when the trip presumably would have taken place, according to U.S. law enforcement officials and FBI documents.

The new document, supposedly written by the chief of the Iraqi intelligence service, was trumpeted by the Sunday Telegraph of London earlier this week in a front-page story that broke hours before the dramatic capture of Saddam Hussein. TERRORIST BEHIND SEPTEMBER 11 STRIKE WAS TRAINED BY SADDAM, ran the headline on the story written by Con Coughlin, a Telegraph correspondent and the author of the book "Saddam: The Secret Life." 

Coughlin's account was picked up by newspapers around the world and was cited the next day by New York Times columnist William Safire. But U.S. officials and a leading Iraqi document expert tell NEWSWEEK that the document is most likely a forgery—part of a thriving new trade in dubious Iraqi documents that has cropped up in the wake of the collapse of Saddam's regime.

 "It's a lucrative business," says Hassan Mneimneh, codirector of an Iraqi exile research group reviewing millions of captured Iraqi government documents. "There's an active document trade taking place … You have fraudulent documents that are being fabricated and sold" for hundreds of dollars a piece.


I can't blame the Administration for glossing over the details of the recovery

Bloomberg today bursts Bush's economy balloon a bit, reporting: "A 2.2 percent rise in wages in the 12 months through May has been more than offset by a 3.1 percent gain in consumer prices. . . .

"The disparity between pay and prices may keep President George W. Bush from fully capitalizing on the economy's addition of 1.2 million jobs this year, the best five months of job growth since 2000, as he runs for re-election, said political analysts including Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution in Washington."

Furthermore, Bloomberg writes: "Even with the recent surge in jobs, the economy has had a net loss of 1.5 million jobs during Bush's term, including 2.9 million manufacturing jobs, which typically pay more than the service jobs that account for most of the positions now being added."

Or, put a little more susinctly by Terry Webber of the Toronto Globe and Mail:

"The U.S. labour market -- while finally experiencing increases in job creation -- has also seen a dramatic drop in employment quality, with low-paying jobs elbowing aside higher-paying ones, CIBC World Markets [a major Canadian investment bank] said yesterday."


Still more Cheney lies

From roughly the middle of the article:

June 17, 2004. Vice President Cheney talking to CNBC's Gloria Borger:

Borger: "Well, let's go to MohamedAtta for a minute, because you mentioned him as well. You have said in the past that it was, quote, 'pretty well confirmed.' "

Cheney: "No, I never said that."

Borger: "Okay."

Cheney: "Never said that."

Borger: "I think that is . . . "

Cheney: "Absolutely not. What I said was the Czech intelligence service reported after 9/11 that Atta had been in Prague on April 9th of 2001, where he allegedly met with an Iraqi intelligence official. We have never been able to confirm that nor have we been able to knock it down."

And from Dec. 9, 2001. Cheney talking to NBC's Tim Russert on Meet the Press:

Cheney: "Well, what we now have that's developed since you and I last talked, Tim, of course, was that report that -- it's been pretty well confirmed that he did go to Prague and he did meet with a senior official of the Iraqi intelligence service in Czechoslovakia last April, several months before the attack. Now, what the purpose of that was, what transpired between them, we simply don't know at this point, but that's clearly an avenue that we want to pursue."

Perhaps our Vice President can explain how, from Czecholovakia, Atta was able to be photographed in Florida and used his cell phone? link

When the hell can we get rid of these liars?

Monday, June 21, 2004


What's not in the White House talking points on Iraq and Al Qaeda

From the write up of Meet the Press on Sunday, June 20th:

'''We believe . . . that there were a lot more active contacts, frankly, with Iran and with Pakistan than there were with Iraq,' said Kean, a former Republican governor of New Jersey. 'Al Qaeda didn't like to get involved with states, unless they were living there. They got involved with Sudan, they got involved . . . where they lived, but otherwise, no,' he told ABC's ''This Week."

Why does the Administration continue to emphasize the fact that Al Qaeda contacted Iraq? For the simple reason that it distracts us from the fact that they missed Iran and Pakistan's greater and collaborative involvement. I think this falls into the category of "make a lot of noise over here to keep people from looking over there." sums it up well:

Republicans are emphasizing statements from 9/11 commission leaders that the panel's staff report didn't contradict what the White House has said -- there was contact between Iraq and al-Qaida, they say, although the panel has also asked Dick Cheney to hand over his evidence on the matter. The panel's research has led members to conclude thus far that the contact between Iraq and al-Qaida resulted in no collaborative relationship.

What's important to understand here, as this Boston Globe [title link] story shows, is that commission members are saying other countries had much more active, productive contacts with al-Qaida than Iraq -- surely not one of the White House talking points.

Can we have elections now? How about impeachment proceedings? I'll settle for a little honesty like "Hey, we were focused on getting missile defense (our quid pro quo promise to our military industrial campaign contributors) through and busy ignoring N Korea - we just didn't notice Al Qaeda, despite the repeated warnings from the Clinton administration. After all, anything that Clinton said was wrong..."


Why isn't the Senate subpoenaing the Justice Department torture memos?

The debate grew heated last Monday night when California Rep. Duncan Hunter, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, led the defeat along party lines of a resolution requiring Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to turn over internal reports tied to investigations into Abu Ghraib and other prisons.

What ever happened to Legislative oversight? Oh, right, the Democrats on the committee addressed that:

"We can't turn away from critical oversight (responsibilities)," said Missouri Rep. Ike Skelton, the ranking Democrat on the committee. "Our duty to taxpayers, our duty to Americans, doesn't end just because we're at war."

Nuff said. Go Denver Post. Where is the outrage?


Put up or shut up

Why does the Administration insist that there's a connection between Iraq and Al Qaeda? The 9/11 Commission has asked for whatever additional evidence they have. The response: nothing but their continuing assertations of a relationship.

Perhaps this is another example of the "full and complete cooperation" between the administation and the 9/11 commission.

And Clinton got impeached over a blow job?!

Sunday, June 20, 2004


Numbers, numbers and more numbers

I'm watching NOW with Bill Moyers again. I really wish it was more widely distributed. Here's the current tally of combat injuries as of Friday, June 18th, 2004:

922 Killed in action
5,457 Wounded in action

But what about the overall number of soldiers injured? Mark Benjamin of UPI (United Press International) contends that the Pentagon is deliberately hiding the non-combat related injuries. They do this by refusing to aggregate the numbers of injured across the services. Instead, they've told the media to contact the Army, Air Force, Marines and Navy independently.

The total number of non-combat related injuries / deaths: 11,170

If this number is accurate, the total number of dead and wounded for the war to date is 17,549.

No wonder the administration won't allow the public release of images of the bodies returning to Dover AFB.

Watch NOW for yourselves - look at the numbers for yourselves. Draw your own conlcusions. Wasn't this President supposed to 'restore honor to the White House?'


What ever happened to noblesse oblige?

I was watching Lewis Black's Black on Broadway last night on HBO - it's very funny (except for the fact that what he's screaming about is true). Among other things, he talked about the various corporate scandals over the last several years - Enron, Adelphia Cable, Tyco, etc. So here's my question: When we're talking about the extreme wealth (gotten through either legitimate or illegitimate means), what ever happened to the idea that those who are blessed have an obligation to give back to their communities?


The News Hour: Shields & Kristol

The link above is a Real audio clip (get the player) to the discussion between Mark Shields and Bill Kristol this last Friday. I will say this: Bill Kristol is an articulate, intelligent man. (opinion)He's still evil, however, and fundamentally has a warped view of the world(/opinion). I think he also believes we, the American people, are stupid. Why do I say this? He keep returning to the fundamental conservative response to opposition to the war:

"he's [Kerry] now forcing a debate on this fundamental question and I do think it opens him up to the counterattack that if John Kerry had been president, Saddam Hussein would still be in power." - Bill Kristol (transcript)

This is a false dilemma: The question is not "Support the war or you like Saddam."

It's also a very telling statement. Let's dig into it a little bit. Kristol's point is that if President Bush had not gone to such extraordinary lengths to justify the war, we would not have done so, and Saddam would still be in power. Ok. So here's the issue, the extraordinary lengths were not true. The President lied (deliberately or not) to the American people to get us to go to war (WMD, Iraq-Al Qaeda, defending human rights). Mr. Kristol is confusing leadership with the ability to lie to and coerce the American electorate.

I believe that Mr Kristol recognizes that the American people would have said no to this question, had they not been mislead into thinking that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the United States.

Here's the real question: Would the American people have supported war if it was only to enforce UN Resolution 1441, forcefully disarming Iraq for non-disclosure and non-compliance? Important to this is also balancing the true cost of the war, and not Mr. Wolfowitz's outright lies that "Iraq will be able to largely finance its own reconstruction through oil revenues." Iraq sold 5 BILLION DOLLARS in the year since we've occupied the country. We have spent 200 BILLION DOLLARS. Mr Wolfowitz is only off by 195 BILLION DOLLARS. Given all this, if the answer is no, then the war is unjustifiable, no matter how bad Saddam was.

Here's how John Kerry should answer this question: "If I had been President, I would have honestly laid out the risks and costs and asked the American people if it was worth it to go to war to enforce UN resolution 1441. I would have presented both sides of the intelligence to congress and the UN with all the caveats. I would have worked with the UN inspectors to verify our intelligence assessment. If the American people believed that Saddam's crimes were sufficient (without the WMD and Al Qaeda lies), I would have taken the nation to war."

This is how a Democracy is supposed to function.

Opposing the war does not make you a Saddam or a Bin Laden supporter.


Rebuttal to "We never said Iraq plannned or caused 9/11"

The administration has made a lot over the last several days to say that they did not ever say that Iraq caused 9/11. I found this excellent article on KnightRidder's website on exactly this point. This really says it all:

"Statements by Bush and his top aides and U.S. documents, however, show that the administration systematically sought to justify an invasion of Iraq by connecting Saddam with the perpetrators of the bloodiest terrorist strikes in U.S. history."

Check it out for yourself.


I'd prefer it if policy makers didn't use tautologies to justify policy

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda: because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda" - President George W. Bush, June 17th, 2004

Oh, well that clears that up. Thank you Mr. President.


So what is a relationship anyway?

I heard a great way of calling into question the President's assertation of "a relationship" between Iraq and Al Qaeda on the (excellent) Brian Leher show on WNYC this last Thursday (perhaps Wednesday). A gentleman called in saying that he was once courting a woman - he called her and called her. This went on for some time, and he made many calls - she never responded. Does this mean he had a relationship with her?

Well Mr. President?

Saturday, June 19, 2004


Iraq and Al Qaeda

Boy, the 911 commission has put the Bush administration in something of a difficult position. He's faced with two somewhat unpaletable options:
1. Continue to deny the findings of the report and put his own (in my opinion) dwindling credibility on the line to deny the findings of a bi-partisan commission that has been living this subject for the last months.
2. Concede that their final justification for the war was another 'error' (I would contend fabrication - whether intentional or as a result of neo-con myopia)

Either way, I'm happy I'm not in the White House communications department.

Government of the people, by the people and for the people. Wouldn't it be nice if that was still the case with this administration.


The beginning is an interesting time

So I was always one of those people that believed that blogging was for those 'other' or 'special' people. What I've come to, however, is that I feel the need to try to start some form of public discourse around what's happening in this country. I feel that this is my duty as a citizen.

I also find myself thinking about my friends that are the 'beneficiaries' of my many emails of various different news articles. Rather that continuing to... err... 'inform' them of whatever latest news item I've seen without their asking (the less charitable might call it spam), I've decided that maybe the better option is to allow them to "opt in."

So to you the reader, I hope you find my posts interesting, provoking and thoughtful.

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