Sunday, June 29, 2003

Light blogging the last couple days as I've been busy setting up an unofficial Howard Dean blog called Central Oregon for Dean. He's been gaining some momentum the last few weeks:

Dear Mr. Skeptic,

We have passed an incredible milestone in our campaign.

Thanks to you, our fundraising total for the second quarter has surged from 3.2 million dollars to 6 million dollars in just eight days.

How did this happen? You and over 21,000 people believed that your individual contribution could make a difference in our campaign. And your contributions have made a massive difference. I cannot thank you enough.

From Meet the Press, through my announcement speech, to our MoveOn victory--and now with over $2.8 million raised through thousands of donations--the last eight days have been amazing.

Thanks to your contribution, we are now, with 40 hours left in the second quarter, able to set a goal that nobody would have thought possible for our campaign even a week ago--raising $6.5 million in the second quarter. If you are able to contribute once more, your contribution, when added to the contributions of thousands of others who are responding to this email, will produce an incredible result:


If we raise $6.5 million in the second quarter, we will have placed our candidacy irrefutably in the top tier, and we will have produced a sea-change in the dynamic of this race.

Can we raise $500,000 in 40 hours? I know we can, because this past Friday we raised that amount in online contributions alone. We achieved this on Friday because over 7,700 people believed, as you do, that we are strongest when we act in common purpose. If you are able to give once more, thousands of others will be giving with you in the next 40 hours.

have shown the power of our numbers, and what we can achieve when each of us takes an individual action that is matched by the actions of thousands of others. You and over 21,000 people have contributed--over the telephone, through the mail, on the Internet, and in fundraising events and house parties across the country.

have already helped us exceed all expectations. We now have the opportunity to truly shock the press and the pundits with our show of strength. We have 40 hours to raise an additional half million dollars. Please give what you can, and forward this email on to your friends.

Thank you for all that you have done.

Howard Dean

Good news! And his numbers are up too.....


Friday, June 27, 2003

Howard Dean WINS the Primary in a LANDSLIDE!!!

The results:

In just a little over 48 hours, 317,647 members voted, making this vote larger than both the New Hampshire Democratic primary and Iowa caucuses combined. Here are the vote totals and percentages, when voters are asked to choose one candidate:

DEAN 139360 43.87%
KUCINICH 76000 23.93%
KERRY 49973 15.73%
EDWARDS 10146 3.19%
GEPHARDT 7755 2.44%
GRAHAM 7113 2.24%
BRAUN 7021 2.21%
LIEBERMAN 6095 1.92%
SHARPTON 1677 0.53%
OTHER 6121 1.93%
UNDECIDED 6378 2.01%

317647 100.00%

Oh there's more to be smiling about in the Dean camp:

In addition to the pure choice vote, in our second ballot question we asked members to indicate all candidates they would enthusiastically support.

28.47% of those who responded to this question said they would enthusiastically support ANY Democratic candidate. In addition to this base, here's what our members said about which candidates they would enthusiastically support:

BRAUN 155628 50.54%
DEAN 264866 86.02%
EDWARDS 172076 55.88%
GRAHAM 153045 49.70%
KERRY 231830 75.29%
KUCINICH 210164 68.25%
GEPHARDT 163110 52.97%
LIEBERMAN 132447 42.01%
SHARPTON 109249 35.48%

The Dean Machine looks poised to really take off now! This is a HUGE victory for us today.

You can't spell qwagmire without W:

BAGHDAD, June 26 -- Occupation forces in Iraq were struck today by a wave of ambushes that killed at least one American, as escalating attacks also appeared to be targeting Iraqis who have supported the U.S. presence.

One U.S. Special Operations soldier was killed and eight other troops were wounded in Baghdad in one of at least three attacks on U.S. forces in the city. A military spokeswoman here was unable to provide details on the attack that led to the death of the soldier.

At least 18 U.S. military personnel have been killed in attacks since President Bush declared the end of major hostilities in Iraq on May 1, and there have been dozens of other ambushes. U.S. and sympathetic Iraqi officials expressed concern today that an increasingly organized and well-armed resistance movement is beginning to coalesce around remnants of the former government's security apparatus.

"It's being planned and being planned well by small groups," a U.S. official said. "But we don't see a real command-and-control structure."

Nothing to see here:

BAGHDAD - Whoever was responsible at top levels in the Pentagon for postwar planning should be fired.

But then no one would be fired. Three weeks in Iraq makes very clear that no one in the Bush administration made serious postwar plans before the start of the Iraq war.

That lack of foresight is largely responsible for the huge occupation problems the Bush team now faces - as Iraqi anger mounts over lack of security, electricity, water, sewage and jobs. Unless the Bush administration invests many more resources into its Iraq venture, soon, it could lose the peace.

Why was the Pentagon so unprepared for the Day After? Because top officials convinced themselves that the aftermath would be easy - and cost-free.

Back in November, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told me he believed that the London-based Iraqi opposition (headed by Ahmad Chalabi) would return to Baghdad and assume the reins of power, just as Gen. Charles DeGaulle and the Free French returned triumphantly to postwar France.

Top White House and Pentagon officials refused to listen to warnings that Chalabi and other Iraqi exiles did not command sufficient support inside Iraq. Nor did they heed warnings that Saddam's highly centralized government structure would collapse once he was ousted.

"The expectations at the Pentagon were that [government] ministries would emerge unscathed" and take over the running of the country, one senior U.S. official told me when I was in Baghdad. No one foresaw the virtual collapse of many ministries, nor their physical destruction by looters.

"We failed in our duty on the looting," the official continued, a reference to the fact that the military failed to secure ministries, key infrastructure and suspected weapons sites. "I didn't think [the administration] would let it get so out of hand."

Oh, but there's more:

Worst of all, the Pentagon provided no communications system for the civilian occupation team - even though U.S. bombs had destroyed Baghdad's phone network. The civilians tasked with running the country couldn't even talk to each other until the end of May, let alone to the Iraqi ministries they were supposedly running. Only now are they getting a limited cell-phone network.

Why the delay? In part, due to political machinations back in Washington over the phone contract. Guess who got the $45 million no-bid deal? MCI/WorldCom, the company that bilked its shareholders out of $11 billion and has very little experience in building wireless networks.

What does this tell you about how serious the Pentagon is about rebuilding Iraq?

Thanks to Atrios for the link.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Democratic Veteran has moved offa Blogger and into his own domain.

Pay him a visit. He has lots of good stuff....
It's one thing for me to sit here at home and bitch and moan about how bad things seem to be going in Iraq and quite another to hear what our guys are having to put up with in that hellhole. To that end, go over and check out some of the letters from GIs in Iraq at David Hackworths webpage:

From: Pissed off Army Officer-

While the Army did a great in winning the war, what is not being covered is how broke the Army logistics system is and the damage it is doing to the long term readiness and moral of the Army. The Army seems to have this NTC rotation mentality, which consists of fuck it live in the dirt and filth you only have to be here for a month. That works at NTC, but it seems no one has thought of how to sustain an Army in the field for weeks and months at a time. The answer has always been, "after a month or so, we will contract with the locals for everything."

The problem is that outside of a few areas in Kurdistan and the north, Iraq is so poor that there is nothing to contract for. Moreover, we don't trust the locals enough to contract with them even if they did have something of value. Units all over the Army came to Iraq without basic things necessary for life support in the field. I a m talking about portable shitters with cans that you can burn. You can't live somewhere and have everyone shiting in cat holes for weeks at time. Units came here without tents. The 855th MP Company, a guard company from Arizona was allowed to mobilize without any tents. They lived on the ground in the most God aweful piece desert you have ever seen for over two weeks. Units came here without proper heaters for the water in their MKTs, so that when they started serving T rats, they didn't cook them enough and didn't clean the serving treys properly and everyone who ate from there got sick. If its not a life or limb issue, its nearly impossible to get medical care.

Soldiers get literally hundreds of flea or mosquito bites and they can't cream or benedril to keep the damn things from itching. The army issued mosquito netting, but didn't give anyone any poles for their cots, so the stuff is basically useless. I am not talking about bringing in the steak and lobster every week. I am talking about basic health and safety issues that continue to be neglected by the Army. Even beyond that. If we are going to be here for a year, we need to start thinking about MWR and R&R for people. You can't just lock people up in a compound and feed them T-rats and MREs for a year and exect them to be as effective at the end as they were at the begining. To my knowledge no one has given any thought to any kind of pass or MWR activities for soldiers. Division staff sits around in their air conditioned vans watching sattilite AFN goffing off on the internet and just don't give a shit about anyone else.

Meanwhile, soldiers are living in the dirt, with no mail, no phone, no contact with home, and no break from the daily monotony at all. I went to a division rear in May and practically got in a fist fight with this Captain up there over letting my private, who hadn't contacted home since we left the U.S., send an e-mail over his office's internet. This clown spends his days sending flowers to his wife and surfing the net and he won't let my private send an e-mail to her husband. Fucking discraceful and all too typical of today's army.

Then this:

I am a senior enlisted soldier in the Army, and I have a few points of view I would like to discuss in this forum with the intentions of confirming or alleviating some misnomers that I have seen communicated recently.

I would first like to both confirm and dispel some of the misunderstandings concerning logistics in Operation Iraqi Freedom. It is absolutely true that the logistical portion of the campaign was the biggest downfall both in planning and execution. The biggest travesty is, while there was an obvious miscalculation of what it would take to support us on the battlefield, there was little to no evident planning for sustaining the soldiers upon completion of the main war effort. Here are some prime examples that cannot be disputed by any twist of fact or camouflaging by the "spin doctors" in public relations: the [supply] system is turned on, but with the amount of soldiers in theatre and the subsequent amount of equipment that require repairs, not a single repair part has made to our vehicles to date. (This system applies to the units that have received follow on missions to places like Fallujah.)

....During operations, it seemed impossible to maintain our necessary supplies of water and food. We all carried five days of supply with us at LD with the intent of utilizing it only in an "emergency" situation. The problem being that because our logistics lines were so poor, we had to break into them during the trip rather than in an established emergency situation.

....The movement to the objectives was pure chaos. It was poorly orchestrated and executed. I was witness to several vehicle accidents, where soldiers lost their lives, that were a direct result of the "Go! Go! Go!" mentality.

....The supply lines have yet to come into fruition and simplicities such as bottled water have yet to make their appearance on a consistent basis. We have had no potable ice since our arrival. I have personally been forced to buy ice from the Iraqis so that my soldiers were not drinking hot water day in and day out. It is bad enough that they have been forced to drink water that tastes like it came straight from a swimming pool (because of the sanitization process). Don't get me wrong - bottled water is showing up, but not with anything that can be remotely considered consistent.

We are steadily providing bottled water to the citizens of Iraq though, and you can bet your next paycheck that anyone who is of any rank that allows them to work on a brigade or higher level staff position hasn't had to drink warm sanitized water lately. As a matter of fact, I have witnessed several "higher ups" in my particular unit with private shower facilities, private porta-johns, and ice chests full of bottled water and potable ice in their immediate work areas while their subordinates (meaning the soldiers) are struggling every day to get a cold bottle of water. These very same senior soldiers are living in an air conditioned room while their soldiers are trying, in vain, to keep mosquitoes from consuming them nightly, and using hoses from an Iraqi latrine stall to get water enough to maintain their hygienic needs.

Thanks to The Whiskey Bar for the link.

Looks like American taxpayers picked up the tab for the embedded reporters in Iraq to report Dubya Dubya II:

To prepare for duty as embedded journalists during the war in Iraq, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters Katherine Skiba and Nahal Toosi received thousands of dollars worth of combat training at media boot camps. After meeting her assigned unit, Skiba later flew to Kuwait on a chartered Northwest Airlines jet full of soldiers. Toosi, joining her unit in the Kuwaiti desert, donned an imposing military gas mask during gas and Scud missile drills.

Who paid for this media training, transportation and equipment? Unwittingly, American taxpayers picked up the tab for these and many other expenses in the military's embedded media program.

"That's one way of looking at it," concedes Maj. Tim Blair, Pentagon officer in charge of the program. Another way of looking at it is the embedded media, by accepting military handouts at taxpayer expense, betrayed the public's trust and venerable journalism policies against freebies.

These hidden costs of the program have gone curiously unreported, perhaps because the top news organizations accepted this bargain for their own embedded employees. Or maybe it's because the Pentagon didn't disclose any media expenses in its $60 billion war budget. Either way, taxpayers had no reason to suspect they would foot the bill when the Pentagon recruited 775 embedded journalists to tell the military's story. For critics who already feared embeds were too beholden to report objectively, this sweetheart deal will likely cast further doubt. The bottom line is that Pentagon officials, to attract as many journalists as possible, offered free training, transportation, food, shelter, medical care, protection, gas masks and chemical suits, Blair tells Milwaukee Magazine.

"The military is paying for these guys," says Blair. "We went into this program saying we weren't going to have reimbursement." In effect, the Pentagon offered free trips to Baghdad and hundreds of journalists jumped on board without packing their ethics codes.

Thanks to Buzzflash for the link.
Bobby Byrd, earning his paycheck:

Mr. President, last fall, the White House released a national security strategy that called for an end to the doctrines of deterrence and containment that have been a hallmark of American foreign policy for more than half a century.

This new national security strategy is based upon pre-emptive war against those who might threaten our security.

Such a strategy of striking first against possible dangers is heavily reliant upon interpretation of accurate and timely intelligence. If we are going to hit first, based on perceived dangers, the perceptions had better be accurate. If our intelligence is faulty, we may launch pre-emptive wars against countries that do not pose a real threat against us. Or we may overlook countries that do pose real threats to our security, allowing us no chance to pursue diplomatic solutions to stop a crisis before it escalates to war. In either case lives could be needlessly lost. In other words, we had better be certain that we can discern the imminent threats from the false alarms.

Then this:

Whether or not intelligence reports were bent, stretched, or massaged to make Iraq look like an imminent threat to the United States, it is clear that the Administration's rhetoric played upon the well-founded fear of the American public about future acts of terrorism. But, upon close examination, many of these statements have nothing to do with intelligence, because they are at root just sound bites based on conjecture. They are designed to prey on public fear.

That's it! That's exactly right! The good Senator continues...

Mr. President, Congress must face this issue squarely. Congress should begin immediately an investigation into the intelligence that was presented to the American people about the pre-war estimates of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and the way in which that intelligence might have been misused. This is no time for a timid Congress. We have a responsibility to act in the national interest and protect the American people. We must get to the bottom of this matter.

Although some timorous steps have been taken in the past few days to begin a review of this intelligence – I must watch my terms carefully, for I may be tempted to use the words "investigation" or "inquiry" to describe this review, and those are terms which I am told are not supposed to be used – the proposed measures appear to fall short of what the situation requires. We are already shading our terms about how to describe the proposed review of intelligence: cherry-picking words to give the American people the impression that the government is fully in control of the situation, and that there is no reason to ask tough questions. This is the same problem that got us into this controversy about slanted intelligence reports. Word games. Lots and lots of word games.

Well, Mr. President, this is no game. For the first time in our history, the United States has gone to war because of intelligence reports claiming that a country posed a threat to our nation. Congress should not be content to use standard operating procedures to look into this extraordinary matter. We should accept no substitute for a full, bipartisan investigation by Congress into the issue of our pre-war intelligence on the threat from Iraq and its use.

The purpose of such an investigation is not to play pre-election year politics, nor is it to engage in what some might call "revisionist history." Rather it is to get at the truth. The longer questions are allowed to fester about what our intelligence knew about Iraq, and when they knew it, the greater the risk that the people – the American people whom we are elected to serve – will lose confidence in our government.

This looming crisis of trust is not limited to the public. Many of my colleagues were willing to trust the Administration and vote to authorize war against Iraq. Many members of this body trusted so much that they gave the President sweeping authority to commence war. As President Reagan famously said, "Trust, but verify." Despite my opposition, the Senate voted to blindly trust the President with unprecedented power to declare war. While the reconstruction continues, so do the questions, and it is time to verify.

Read the whole speach. It's one of the most important statements ever to come from an American. THIS is what true leadership is all about.........

Is the truth finally coming out?

WASHINGTON, June 24 — A top State Department expert on chemical and biological weapons told Congressional committees in closed-door hearings last week that he had been pressed to tailor his analysis on Iraq and other matters to conform with the Bush administration's views, several Congressional officials said today.

The officials described what they said was a dramatic moment at a House Intelligence Committee hearing last week when the weapons expert came forward to tell Congress he had felt such pressure.


Mr. Westermann's decision to speak out has caused a stir inside the House and Senate intelligence committees, even though he did not go into details and indicated he was not comfortable doing so in front of the large group of officials around him in the House hearing. But he said he was prepared to discuss the matter further.

In a second hearing last week with the Senate Intelligence Committee, he made it clear that he had felt pressure from John Bolton, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security, that originally dated to a clash the two had over Mr. Bolton's public assertions last year that Cuba had a biological weapons program. Mr. Westermann argued those assertions were not supported by sufficient intelligence.


A number of analysts have suggested that they felt less direct pressure on reports concerning the status of Iraq's unconventional weapons, but were angered that senior Bush administration officials selectively disclosed classified intelligence reports that supported the worst-case scenario concerning Iraq's weapons programs, making it seem as if there was an imminent threat to the United States.


Tuesday, June 24, 2003

Blah blah blah....nobody is listening:

This administration's behavior is an affront to the nation's founders and the system of governance they crafted. It is sad that we now have a president who acts like a king and a Congress that is his pawn.

Pawns? I thought the operative word was "cowards"......
The usual sad hilarity from Tom Tomorrow:

Now where is that darned 9-ll report the President has been covering up?
One of Dubya's friends came by for a visit today:

The dictator rose to power by launching a bloody military coup against a democratically elected government. Political prisoners, torture, and repression followed.
Three years later, after changing his title from "General" to "President" because it sounded better, this dictator was "elected" in an election boycotted by opposition groups and most voters, and considered by the rest of the world to be a complete farce.

His country is now considered one of the world's leading havens for Muslim fundamentalist terror groups; if Osama bin Laden is alive, it's thought likely he is here. Our dictator's intelligence agency trains and arms terror groups sympathetic to bin Laden, and the country's ongoing support of such groups in a campaign against its largest neighbor -- a secular democracy -- nearly led to full-blown war last year.

In that confrontation, this dictator threatened to use nuclear weapons. He has them. North Korea has gotten its nuclear weapons materials from this country, which is now believed to be only months away from developing the capacity to launch missiles with nuclear warheads.

The man is "President" Pervez Musharraf; his country, Pakistan. And today, Musharraf will probably ask for still more American weaponry while visiting the White House for an amiable chat with Pres. George W. Bush.

With friends like this who needs terrorists.....
Congrats to Greg at The Talent Show for moving his act off Blogger and into his own digs. The movable type set-up looks great!
How many times must it be said that the US adventure in Iraq is looking more and more like a failure? While the mainstream media and the Bushies are still crowing about it's success Lew Rockwell, a pretty darned Conservative guy, says otherwise:

Turkish and American officials had just finished toasting the first shipment of oil out of Iraq when the sound of clinking glasses was drowned out by a terrifying explosion. An oil pipeline west of Baghdad had been blown up by saboteurs. The resulting flaming tower was a fitting symbol. The supposed victory of US forces in Iraq has turned from hoax to chaos and, now, to all-round calamity.

Those who have made a science out of studying government know the principle at work: government tends to accomplish the opposite of its stated aims. The advertised aim of this war was to bring the region and world more safety and order. But even ulterior aims have failed: Saddam is loose, oil pipelines are being sabotaged, troops are being killed every day, and the entire region is more resistant to US control than ever before.

Already it is too late for the US to leave in hopes of restoring anything resembling normalcy in the country and region. Islamic fundamentalists have never been as influential and powerful, and terrorists never more bolstered with an ideological rationale for menacing Americans at home and abroad.

Winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people by, ya know, killing them:

QAIM, Iraq, June 23 -- Ahmed Hamad, a burly shepherd and smuggler, awoke to his mother's shouts. He looked at his watch. It was 1:10 a.m., he recalled. He gazed across a horizon illuminated by destruction, where U.S. aircraft were raining fire on four trucks. About a half-hour later, he said, a missile slammed into his house, killing his sister-in-law and her 1-year-old daughter.

The rest of his family, 10 in all, survived. On a hot summer night in Iraq's western desert, they had been sleeping outside on cots.

"Praise be to God," Hamad, 27, said from his hospital bed, shaking his head.

U.S. officials backed away from their initial assessments of whether the attack early Thursday near the village of Dhib killed top officials in the former Iraqi government, saying they had picked up no indications since the attack that Saddam Hussein or his sons, Uday and Qusay, had been in the convoy.

Angry and resentful, residents of the village interviewed today at Central Qaim Hospital, where two people wounded in the U.S. strike were taken, acknowledged that they could not know for certain all the occupants of the vehicles. And as smugglers, with a penchant for secrecy, they left some questions unanswered -- why the trucks were apparently empty, for instance. But they insisted the attack was a case of mistaken identity, that their houses were targeted unnecessarily and that the four vehicles were part of a smuggling attempt gone bad.

Residents said the U.S. blitz lasted two hours under cover of night. And they said they were left wondering why a village -- whose biggest change in the wake of the government's fall is that its sheep can graze closer to the Syrian border -- is now occupied by American forces.

"During the war, they flew over our village and never attacked us," Hamad said. "Why now?"

The U.S. military in Qaim refused to comment today on the attack. "The bottom line is it's an ongoing operation," said Capt. Aaron Barreda of the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, which is based locally in a cement factory outside the city.

No, Capt. Barreda. The bottom line is that by killing innocent sheepherders you are losing the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people, and it might help explain why we're now involved in a guerrilla war against the same people we want to "save".

Thanks to BlogLeft for the link.
Suppose Paul Krugman wrote a column and a brave Democrat or Republican read it?

So why are so many people making excuses for Mr. Bush and his officials?

Part of the answer, of course, is raw partisanship. One important difference between our current scandal and the Watergate affair is that it's almost impossible now to imagine a Republican senator asking, "What did the president know, and when did he know it?"

But even people who aren't partisan Republicans shy away from confronting the administration's dishonest case for war, because they don't want to face the implications.

After all, suppose that a politician — or a journalist — admits to himself that Mr. Bush bamboozled the nation into war. Well, launching a war on false pretenses is, to say the least, a breach of trust. So if you admit to yourself that such a thing happened, you have a moral obligation to demand accountability — and to do so in the face not only of a powerful, ruthless political machine but in the face of a country not yet ready to believe that its leaders have exploited 9/11 for political gain. It's a scary prospect.

Yet if we can't find people willing to take the risk — to face the truth and act on it — what will happen to our democracy?


Monday, June 23, 2003

Just kinda stumbled into this today. Jude Wanniski, WorldNetDaily columnst, president of Polyconomics, and one of the leading political economists in the United States has some interesting things to say about that yellow cake the Chimp-in-Chief claimed Iraq was using to rebuild it's nuclear program:

Memo: To Sen. Robert Byrd [D WV]
From Jude Wanniski
Re: It Gets Worse

As long as the Senate is going to investigate the CIA’s assessments of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, Senator, you might suggest some questions about the CIA’s capabilities in understanding nuclear weapons. When I first heard the story about how Saddam Hussein was trying to buy uranium from Niger I thought it couldn’t be true. The only reason he would be trying to acquire fissile material would be for use in a nuclear weapons program, and it has been clear for years and years that Saddam abandoned the program when his own efforts to manufacture highly-enriched uranium (HEU) fizzled.

Even before the International Atomic Energy Agency found that the CIA report on the Niger “yellowcake” sale relied on obviously forged documents, it had to be puzzled as to what Iraq would do with it, as all the facilities Iraq had for trying to make a nuke had been dismantled under IAEA supervision. It is easy enough for some of your fellow Senators to say he could have reconstituted his nuke program once the inspectors were gone, but that is false. Any dim bulb at the CIA would have known of the IAEA’s new protocols of perpetual inspections that Iraq would have to submit to under any circumstances.

The reason I know so much about all this, Senator, is that I have for years relied for all my information regarding nuclear weapons on a nuclear physicist named Gordon Prather. You’ve never heard of him, I’m sure, although he occasionally writes for The Washington Times and also for But you know Senator Pete Domenici of New Mexico, of course, and Senator Domenici was Dr. Prather’s patron years ago, having first met him when he was a nuclear weapons designer in New Mexico at the Sandia Corp. Domenici helped Gordon get an appointment to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in the Nixon and Ford administrations. From there, Gordon worked for Sen. Henry Bellmon of Oklahoma on energy matters. He then served in the Reagan administration as the Army’s chief scientist. The Senate Intelligence Committee would find him a valuable source of information and knowledge, of the kind I think may be lacking at the CIA and is certainly lacking in Congress. There is nobody with his skills on any congressional staff, of either party.

Did I mentiuon that he's also an insider? And a confirmed Conservative?

He also has nice things to say in a "memo" he wrote to Howard Dean today:

To tell you the truth, Dr. Dean, when I first heard of the possibility you would run for the Democratic presidential nomination I did not take it seriously. That’s not because you are a relatively unknown ex-governor from Vermont, a small state. You can easily overcome that problem. It’s because the little bits and pieces about you that got through to me in the news media seemed to add up to an eccentricity that would not wear well in the Democratic primaries.

The reason I’ve decided you are a very serious contender is because I watched Tim Russert interview you yesterday morning on Meet the Press. And the reason I decided to watch the whole hour of the interview is that Eleanor Clift on The McLaughlin Group said she thought you had a 70% or 80% chance of winning the Democratic presidential nomination. If she saw that in you, I knew there had to be something there, and she is certainly right. I like the way you think and the way you express yourself cleanly, without reaching into the back of your head for some programmed response. You actually persuaded me that your opposition to parental notification made some sense in context, that your mixed views on gun control also made sense in context and that your support of capital punishment has taken place over a decade of agonizing, and that it is a position I can agree with. You were most impressive in your foreign policy views, with an extremely well-thought-out philosophy that stresses diplomacy over force, the exact opposite of the Bush Doctrine.

If this guy isn't brilliant, nobody is. Spend some time and cruise thru his entire writings. Find wonderous things....
Just got back from the Howard Dean meeting in downtown Bend. About 35 people showed up, and we watched Dr. Dean's speach from this morning (see below). It was a short meeting, basically just a get-together to sign up for the campaign.

I did meet a few interesting people. One, Anne Philiben , is a political activist and was a nurse on Vietnam and a very interesting woman.

This would be her website.

So, did I know that? The lady who cleans your teeth, Barb, happens to be my girlfriend of the past 21 years. Small world?

Anyway, check out the links to the right and get started exploring the blogisphere. Buzzflash is a good place for lefty news. Calpundit is very good. Eschaton and Kos have good links to news items and analysis. The Whiskey Bar has humor and good drinks. Working for Change has the writers.

Hell just cruise thru the entire list and have fun.

Nice meeting you. See you Wednesday night....
Here's the text of Howard Dean's speach officially announcing his candidacy for President. It was quite the speach:

Today I announce that I am running for President of the United States of America. I speak not only for my candidacy. I speak for a new American century and a new generation of Americans -- both young people and the young at heart. We seek the great restoration of American values and the restoration of our nation’s traditional purpose in the world.

This is a campaign to unite and empower people everywhere.

OK. After listening to his "The Great American Restoration" speach announcing he was In, I'm on the bandwagon, officially. I like this guy a lot. He tells it like it is. He needs polishing, but I believe with him as the Democratic Party standard bearer we can change the direction of this country.

I'm going to a Dean Meet-Up tonight in Bend. This will mark the first time in 31 years that I have gone willingly to a political meeting. 20 people have signed up, but I have the feeling there will be a lot of walk-ins..........
War is war, no matter where you find it:

It was time for a break at Clay Junction, Liberia's front line 30 miles north of the capital, Monrovia, and the kids wanted something to smoke. Boy soldiers in women's wigs and girl soldiers in shower caps loitered by the road or practised penalties with spent sub-machine-gun cartridges. One fighter found a more amusing toy. He twisted the thigh bones from a putrefying corpse and thwacked them together. The kids loved it. Leaping and shrieking, they forgot their urge for dope and danced to his grizzly percussion.


The road from Clay Junction to Monrovia provided snapshots of Mr Taylor's Liberia. The bodies of young men and boys lay spread-eagled on the asphalt, face-down, face-up, their eyes pecked out by birds. Casually, a soldier sprayed a stinking corpse with bullets. But he ignored the next one, perhaps because it was wearing a wig.


After 14 years of on-off war in Liberia with a pause following Mr Taylor's election in 1997, the country is in humanitarian meltdown. The EU says more than a third of its three million people are displaced, mostly living in camps with no power, no clean water and almost no western food aid. More than 10,000 child soldiers were never demobilised after the first stage of the war, and thousands have been recruited since. The UN's statistics suggest Liberia has the highest teenage pregnancy rate in the world.

On the edge of Monrovia, Anthony Washington, 30, turned off the road into a displacement camp, carrying a bundle of palm sap and cassava roots, scavenged from the bush. "You gotta advocate for us, man, cause we're dying here, people dying here every day,"he said. "We got no food, no medication, we got no food, man."

The rebels launched their attack at the camp, looting its market, then fighting a gun battle with the army over the prostrate bodies of thousands of terrified refugees.

"Bullets hitting arms, bullets hitting legs, we were crawling around screaming," said Vanday Ibrahima, 37, who was there at the time. "God help us, we need some peace."

Thanks to Democratic Veteran for the reminder.....

Molly Ivins latest:

AUSTIN, Texas -- My, my, my, the great Iraqi Gold Rush is on, and who should be there at the front of the line, right along with Halliburton and Bechtel, but our old friends at WorldCom, perpetrator of the largest accounting fraud in American history.

WorldCom, shortly to become MCI, has been given a contract worth $45 million in the short term to build a wireless phone network in Iraq. I learned via The Associated Press that Washington Technology, a trade newspaper that follows computing-related sales to the U.S. government, "found WorldCom jumped to eighth among all federal technology contractors in 2002, with $772 million in government sales." And that is only counting the deals in which WorldCom is the primary contractor. It is actually getting much more as a subcontractor.

The Securities and Exchange Commission recently reached a settlement with WorldCom, fining the company $500 million for its $11 billion defrauding of investors. The company did not have to admit any guilt. "The $500 million is in a sense laundered by the taxpayers," Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, told AP.

WorldCom got the Iraq contract without competitive bidding, to the anger of rival companies AT&T, Sprint, etc., which actually have experience in building wireless networks, according to the AP. A WorldCom spokesman "also stressed the company's deep, overall relationship with the U.S. military and government."

Can you hear me NOW?
If you're the Chimp-in-Chief you can lie your ass off and nobody cares:

And now we have the Bush Administration, which never met a fact it couldn't embellish, or, in the absence of supporting facts, simply invent. Lying about, well, virtually everything is a staple of politicians, but the Bush cabal has taken it to a new level of bald misstatement. And as we're seeing with the phantom weapons of mass destruction, this crowd responds to inconvenient realities like a five-year-old confronted with the non-existence of the Easter Bunny. "Does not," the world explained. "Does so!," the White House spokesman exclaimed.

Only 12 days ago, we learned from the President of the United States that the United States had, in fact, found Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. The "find" was already known to be two trailers, which the Iraqis claimed (and the evidence seemed to confirm) were used for launching weather balloons. The White House's logic was that such trailers could be used to house a mobile lab for banned weapons. The lack of any supporting evidence whatsoever that they were used for such a purpose -- such as weaponry itself, corroborating intelligence from years worth of satellite monitoring, any of the dozens of people who would need to work in such a lab, any of the (extensive) necessary equipment, or the unavoidable trace elements that would have been left behind, and so on -- made no difference. It was like claiming that the FBI uncovered an Al-Qaeda plot to blow up a federal building, because someone found an abandoned Ryder truck.

By golly, I'm proud PROUD to be a Democrat:

Have you heard about the newest political party? You probably saw them, and mistook them for someone else. They are called The Invertebrates. Their symbol is the jellyfish. Dozens of Democrats, especially the leadership, have defected to the Invertebrate Party. Their “I sorta kinda disagree with W” squishiness has made possible the triumph of the fanatical. Their opposition to the agressive rightwing is so spineless, so timid, and so lacking in confidence, it can only be described as cowardly.


The problem isn’t that Democrats are on the wrong side of the issues. They are afraid to make an issue of being on the right side - not to mention directly in the middle of mainstream America.
For example, three out of four Americans believe the latest round of tax cuts will not significantly reduce their taxes and fewer than 30 percent think the cuts are the best way to stimulate the economy. A majority of Americans are intensely concerned about the skyrocketing unemployment rate and out-of-control budget deficits. But Democrats gelatinate when it comes to challenging a president who consistently provides more and more tax cuts for the wealthy. Some of them shoot out a few stinging words, but, inevitably, hitch themselves to that piece of Republican taxcut seaweed and float.


There are nine Democrats running for President in 2004. Some of them are talking tough. A few have stridently spoken out against the destructive policies of this White House.

But many of them, as Congressional members, have complied with Bush, have hemmed and hawed, but given wholehearted support of the war in Iraq and the tax cuts. They now expect us to believe they will stand up to the right wing forces wanting more tax cuts for the wealthy and more military aggression, even though they have previously been hesitantly milquetoast.

One of the greatest of all Democrats, Franklin D. Roosevelt once said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. So to all you fearing, apprehensive Invertebrates, heed the word. Otherwise, you may find yourself to be just another washed up jellyfish on the political shore while the rest of us try to figure out how to live in a country that is broke and at war with the next enemy-of-the-month.

Thanks to Buzzflash for the encouraging link.

Sunday, June 22, 2003

Whenever I'm a little sad like I am today, I just think about my dog Sonny:

Sonny went to the big DogPound in the Sky two years ago May7th. I miss him, but it helps me feel better when I think about how much happiness he brought us during his 13 years.

Thanks, good friend.....
Good news today. One of the strongest voices from the left is back and writing again.

Welcome back Digby.
Full-on account from The New Republic about the Deceptions:

From late August 2002 to mid-March of this year, the Bush administration made its case for war by focusing on the threat posed to the United States by Saddam Hussein's nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and by his purported links to the Al Qaeda terrorist network. Officials conjured up images of Iraqi mushroom clouds over U.S. cities and of Saddam transferring to Osama bin Laden chemical and biological weapons that could be used to create new and more lethal September elevenths. In Nashville on August 26, 2002, Vice President Dick Cheney warned of a Saddam "armed with an arsenal of these weapons of terror" who could "directly threaten America's friends throughout the region and subject the United States or any other nation to nuclear blackmail." In Washington on September 26, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld claimed he had "bulletproof" evidence of ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda. And, in Cincinnati on October 7, President George W. Bush warned, "The Iraqi dictator must not be permitted to threaten America and the world with horrible poisons and diseases and gases and atomic weapons." Citing Saddam's association with Al Qaeda, the president added that this "alliance with terrorists could allow the Iraqi regime to attack America without leaving any fingerprints."

Yet there was no consensus within the American intelligence community that Saddam represented such a grave and imminent threat. Rather, interviews with current and former intelligence officials and other experts reveal that the Bush administration culled from U.S. intelligence those assessments that supported its position and omitted those that did not. The administration ignored, and even suppressed, disagreement within the intelligence agencies and pressured the CIA to reaffirm its preferred version of the Iraqi threat. Similarly, it stonewalled, and sought to discredit, international weapons inspectors when their findings threatened to undermine the case for war.


Saturday, June 21, 2003

I wonder what other goodies were smuggled out of Iraq after the fall of the statue?

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia - Weapons and explosives smuggled out of Iraq after the collapse of Saddam Hussein's regime may have ended up in the hands of al-Qaida militants in Saudi Arabia, according to Saudi officials and a former Iraqi army officer.

Part of a major arms cache discovered by Saudi authorities during a May 6 raid in Riyadh appears to have come from Iraq, according to a Saudi official and the former Iraqi officer. The raid had targeted 19 al-Qaida members who fled during a shoot-out with Saudi security forces. At least three of the fugitives died when they took part in a series of simultaneous suicide bombings in Riyadh a week later, Saudi officials said.

In the safe house they raided, Saudi authorities found 800 pounds of advanced explosives, hand grenades, assault rifles, ammunition, disguises and tens of thousands of dollars in cash.

"We suspect that some of this weapons cache was smuggled in from Iraq, either during the chaos of the war or soon afterward," said a Saudi official who asked not to be named. The official would not say whether any of the explosives used in the May 12 suicide bombings came from Iraq.

Now, where did I leave all that nu-cler waste?
He's not quite running for President yet, but Gen. Wesley Clark has a website that looks suspiciously like one a candidate might have if he were, ya know, running for President.....
Can you feel the love?

Donald Rumsfeld and former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki have never liked each other, with the two men clashing during the past two years over the Army's budget and future weapons systems. Rumsfeld's in-your-face approach rankled Shinseki, a quiet general who tried not to make waves. The general was even publicly rebuked by Rumsfeld's staff for telling Congress it might take hundreds of thousands of troops to secure post-Saddam Iraq, a prediction that looks ever more correct. Well, Shinseki's retirement ceremony last week was no time to bury the hatchet. During his speech, Shinseki spent 20 minutes listing all the people who had helped the Army during his tenure, including the large congressional delegation that came to the ceremony. Rumsfeld's name wasn't mentioned once. Shinseki even took a jab, talking about "arrogance of power" being the worst substitute for true leadership. All the feelings, it seems, are mutual: No one from Rumsfeld's staff showed up to bid the general farewell.
Move along, please. Nothing to see here.

Yet another report is casting doubt about the government's intelligence on Iraq before the war. As U.S. News revealed earlier this month, the Defense Intelligence Agency in a September assessment found "no reliable information" on Iraq's production of chemical weapons. Top Bush administration officials later said that line was taken out of context. But it turns out that in November the agency repeated its conclusion in a classified report on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, U.S. News has learned. "No reliable information indicates whether Iraq is producing or stockpiling chemical weapons or where the country has or will establish its chemical agent production facility," the second report states. This means the DIA analysts remained cautious even after their bosses signed off on an October National Intelligence Estimate, a joint assessment by the U.S. intelligence community, which concluded that Iraq did in fact possess chemical and biological weapons. Both DIA reports noted suspicious arms transfers, but a spokesman says: "There was no single piece of irrefutable data that said Saddam definitely has it."
Ahhhh I can always count on Pravda for upbeat reporting from the frontlines.......

"This may be a rash conclusion, but it seems that the Afghan campaign of Americans and their allies is almost over. At that, the campaign ended in an absolute failure. The same way as the government of Hamid Karzai, the coalition troops control just those areas where they are stationed. There are lots of problems with appropriation of financial aid to Afghanistan although much has been spoken on the issue. The country in its integrate form no longer exists: Afghanistan has split into dozens of semi-independent districts. In fact, now Afghanistan is in focus only when Talilbs organize another act of terrorism there. Is it possible that problems in Afghanistan are paid less attention to because there is practically no way to settle them?"

Also from The Collective Lounge.
Mission Accomplished....indeed:

A series of sustained counterinsurgency operations by US troops has signaled a new stage in the US occupation of Iraq. Faced with escalating armed resistance and growing hostility from the Iraqi people, Washington has decided to use overwhelming force to suppress and terrorize the country’s 24 million people.

A war that was waged under the pretense of destroying fictitious “weapons of mass destruction” is evolving into a classical colonial-style war of repression, the kind that has been waged with bloody results from the US campaign in the Philippines at the dawn of the 20th century, to the French bloodbath in Algeria beginning in the 1950s, to the US war in Vietnam.

Six weeks after President Bush strutted across the flight deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln and proclaimed that major combat operations had ended and the military mission had been accomplished, American soldiers are being killed by Iraqis at the rate of one a day. Iraqi casualties over the same period have climbed to several hundred.

The latest American death, the shooting of a soldier patrolling Baghdad Tuesday, brings to 50 the number of occupation troops killed in attacks or accidents since Bush utilized the aircraft carrier for a photo opportunity.

Beyond the daily guerrilla attacks on US troops, there are a number of other telling indications of the mounting resistance to the occupation. Robert Fisk, the veteran Middle East reporter for the Independent in Britain, said US officials had told him that aircraft seeking to land at Baghdad airport come under fire from snipers hiding near the runway virtually every night.

Didn't the US announce this week that three different airlines have signed deals to begin service to Baghdad? As much as I like getting frequent flyer miles, I think I'm gonna wait.......

Thanks to The Collective Lounge for the link.

Wednesday, June 18, 2003

Tony Blair, paying the price for having Bush as a friend:

Tony Blair pays a heavy price today for the war in Iraq. Victory, synonymous with the elimination of Saddam Hussein, gained the Prime Minister an ephemeral state of grace. But now he basks rather in a state of disgrace, ever since his real motives, modeled closely on those of George W. Bush, for overthrowing the Master of Baghdad have begun to arouse the deepest skepticism, when they are not just purely and simply condemned.

According to a poll published last Saturday in The Times, 58% of the British believe that Mr. Blair and Mr. Bush "deliberately" exaggerated the threat of Iraqi weapons of extermination to justify the intervention of Anglo-American troops in Iraq. Fifty-eight percent of them, certainly, still judge that recourse to force was justified to get rid of the Baathist tyranny for the Iraqis. But that's 6% less than those who in April believed London and Washington had a basis to resort to force.

Finally, and above all, doubt about Tony Blair's integrity is taking root. More than a third of the British ( exactly 34%) affirm that they are no longer disposed to trust the head of the government in any matter whatsoever, given his behavior over the Iraq case. Quite a rebuff for a political leader who situated all his activities in the framework of the sincerity of his convictions and moral rigor.

This stain that attaches to the Prime Minister risks lasting as long as the weapons of mass destruction remain indiscoverable. In this regard, the testimony of expert witnesses from Australia and New Zealand should add to Mr. Blair's troubles. Steve Allison, British chemical engineer, UN expert, who belonged to Han Blix' disarmament inspectors team, describes as "absolute nonsense" "intelligence" that London and Washington furnished them about supposedly sensitive sites. In an interview with the paper Christchurch Press, he deplores having had to investigate, on the basis of this information, vacuous evidence just "to placate Washington". According to him, an episode that raises two questions that have still not been answered: "Did the Americans dispose of intelligence they hid from us or did they give us their best tips?" Two months later, in any case, proof is still lacking.

The Australian, Andrew Wilkie, an intelligence service expert, resigned from his position as government advisor last March to protest against "the exaggerations" of John Howard's government with regard to the Iraqi threat. He has agreed to testify this week in London before the Foreign Affairs Commission of the House of Commons, which is inquiring into the truth of the information given by Tony Blair's government precisely on the Iraqi threat. Mr. Wilkie has no doubt either. The reality of the danger was "strongly exaggerated". Undoubtedly, "Iraq possessed weapons of extermination at one time". And, most likely, traces of this arsenal "will be discovered", he recognizes. "But nothing as imminently dangerous as they wanted to make us believe," he adds in an interview with the Sydney daily, Morning Herald.

Need more evidence that the Bushies are soft on terrorism?

Last Thursday a House subcommittee met to finalize next year's homeland security appropriation. The ranking Democrat announced that he would introduce an amendment adding roughly $1 billion for areas like port security and border security that, according to just about every expert, have been severely neglected since Sept. 11. He proposed to pay for the additions by slightly scaling back tax cuts for people making more than $1 million per year.

The subcommittee's chairman promptly closed the meeting to the public, citing national security — though no classified material was under discussion. And the bill that emerged from the closed meeting did not contain the extra funding.

It was a perfect symbol of the reality of the Bush administration's "war on terror." Behind the rhetoric — and behind the veil of secrecy, invoked in the name of national security but actually used to prevent public scrutiny — lies a pattern of neglect, of refusal to take crucial actions to protect us from terrorists. Actual counterterrorism, it seems, doesn't fit the administration's agenda.

Yesterday The Washington Post printed an interview with Rand Beers, a top White House counterterrorism adviser who resigned in March. "They're making us less secure, not more secure," he said of the Bush administration. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done." Among the problem areas he cited were homeland security, where he says the administration has "only a rhetorical policy"; failure to press Saudi Arabia (the home of most of the Sept. 11 terrorists) to take action; and, of course, the way we allowed Afghanistan to relapse into chaos.

While the Chimp-in-Chief is out fund raising, the question from the troops in Iraq is not WMD, rather WTF?:

HABANIYAH, Iraq - In the back of a Bradley fighting vehicle, the still air soars to 130 degrees and sweat stains the soldiers' desert camouflage uniforms as they patrol central Iraq, hunting for insurgents. When the ramp door drops, the soldiers scramble into the blinding sun and a hot wind fails to cool them through body armor and helmets. The only thing cold is the reaction of Iraqis whose cars they search. The unrelenting heat, the ambiguity of their mission, the longing for home and the indefinite duration of their deployment has crushed morale, the soldiers say.

Gone are the cool evenings of April, when U.S. soldiers played with laughing children and accepted sweet tea from elderly men. The Iraqi summer has arrived along with a growing anti-American insurgency.

With attacks against U.S. troops a daily occurrence, American soldiers are struggling to adjust as they seek to quell the insurgency with humanitarian largesse and combat power.

"We need to pull these guys out and put some other troops in here who are trained for peacekeeping, because our first impulse is to kill," said Sgt. 1st Class Eric Wright of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division.

"My guys question why we are going from warriors to peacekeepers, because the belief in what was told to us was that we would fight and win and go home and that someone else would do this (peacekeeping)," he said.

For now there are no plans to send another division to Iraq. With attacks on the rise, senior commanders refuse to say when the 3rd Infantry - which has been in the Persian Gulf region for seven months - will go home.

A sniper killed a U.S. soldier late Monday in northern Baghdad, the latest of a series of attacks and mishaps that have left about 50 American troops dead since major combat was officially declared over on May 1. Between March 20, when the war started, and May 1, 138 Americans died from accidents or hostile fire.

On Tuesday, assailants carried out drive-by shootings at a police station, a courthouse and a mayor's office in two towns west of Baghdad - attacks apparently designed to intimidate Iraqis who have cooperated with U.S. forces.

The fighting has taken on a new, more threatening tone in what some fear may be the beginning of a guerrilla war.


On their way back to the dilapidated barracks on an Iraqi air base where they live, the soldiers can see the resentment of Iraqis they thought they had liberated from Saddam Hussein. No longer greeted as heroes, they recognize the potential for trouble.

"Little kids wave at us and their parents slap them in the back of the head and make them stop," said Spc. Anthony Combs of Hyden, Ky. "It makes me feel like I wasted my time over here and they don't appreciate what we did."

Things are just peachy keen in Iraq:

The American-led reconstruction effort in Iraq is "in chaos" and suffering from "a complete absence of strategic direction", a very senior British official in Baghdad has told The Telegraph. The comments paint a grim picture of American incompetence and mismanagement as the Coalition Provisional Authority struggles to run post-Saddam Iraq.

"This is the single most chaotic organisation I have ever worked for," the official said yesterday.

The source revealed that Paul Bremer, the US administrator in Iraq, had "fewer than 600" staff under his control to run a country the size of France in which the civil infrastructure was on the point of collapse. "The operation is chronically under-resourced and suffers from an almost complete absence of strategic direction," he added.

Similar frustrations have been voiced privately in London, where British ministers are said to be fed up with being "taken for granted".

William Rivers Pitt's take on The Missing WMDs:

After several years teaching high school, I've heard all the excuses. I didn't get my homework done because my computer crashed, because my project partner didn't do their part, because I feel sick, because I left it on the bus, because I had a dance recital, because I was abducted by aliens and viciously probed. Houdini doesn't have as many tricks. No one on earth is more inventive than a high school sophomore backed into a corner and faced with a zero on an assignment.

No one, perhaps, except Bush administration officials forced now to account for their astounding claims made since September 2002 regarding Iraq's alleged weapons program.

After roughly 280 days worth of fearful descriptions of the formidable Iraqi arsenal, coming on the heels of seven years of UNSCOM weapons inspections, four years of surveillance, months of UNMOVIC weapons inspections, the investiture of an entire nation by American and British forces, after which said forces searched "everywhere" per the words of the Marine commander over there and "found nothing," after interrogating dozens of the scientists and officers who have nothing to hide anymore because Hussein is gone, after finding out that the dreaded 'mobile labs' were weather balloon platforms sold to Iraq by the British, George W. Bush and his people suddenly have a few things to answer for.

You may recall this instance where a bombastic claim was made by Bush. During his constitutionally mandated State of the Union address on January 28, 2003, Mr. Bush said, "Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent." Nearly five months later, those 500 tons are nowhere to be found. A few seconds with a calculator can help us understand exactly what this means.

500 tons of gas equals one million pounds. After UNSCOM, after UNMOVIC, after the war, after the US Army inspectors, after all the satellite surveillance, it is difficult in the extreme to imagine how one million pounds of anything could refuse to be located. Bear in mind, also, that this one million pounds is but a part of the Iraqi weapons arsenal described by Bush and his administration.

Maybe the dog ate it. Or maybe it was never there to begin with, having been destroyed years ago by the first UN inspectors and by the Iraqis themselves. Maybe we went to war on a big lie, one that killed over 3,500 Iraqi civilians to date, one that killed some 170 American soldiers, one that has been costing us one American soldier's life per day thus far.

Robert Scheer is asking the Question:

What did the president know and when did he know it?

The answer to that question forced the resignation of Richard Nixon as he was about to be impeached.

Now, with President Bush facing that same question, congressional Republicans have circled the wagons to prevent a public hearing on whether intelligence was distorted by the White House to convince us of the need for war. Why? Because public hearings could lead to public demands for impeachment. Sound far-fetched? Not when you consider the gravity of the charge.

"To put it bluntly," former Nixon White House counsel John Dean wrote on the legal Web site FindLaw on June 6, "if Bush has taken Congress and the nation into war based on bogus information, he is cooked. Manipulation or deliberate misuse of national security intelligence data, if proven, could be 'a high crime' under the Constitution's impeachment clause. It would also be a violation of federal criminal law, including the broad federal anti-conspiracy statute, which renders it a felony 'to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose.'

A very disturbing story coming out of the country that I spend a lot of time hanging out in during the winter months: Thailand.

Just a few weeks before President George Bush launched the attack on Iraq, Thailand's Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra declared his own war, against the country's stubborn methamphetamine trade.

Over the following three months, while most of the world's attention was on the Middle East, Thai military and police-controlled hit squads shot to death nearly 2,300 people, in their homes, in the middle of the street, and sometimes just after taking them into custody. At the peak, these extrajudicial executions topped 40 a day.

While officially denying the government was running a murder campaign, Thaksin, a former police officer, cheered the deaths as a victory over the narcotics trade. Yet, if involved in drugs at all, the victims were nearly all petty users and small dealers. The dead include several children and a number of apparently misidentified people. In some cases, the police had only scant evidence – such as the accusation of a business rival – upon which they made their decision to kill.

Meanwhile, actual kingpins of the drug trade, many with connections in police, military and political circles, are getting the soft touch, if pursued at all.

The Prince of Darkness wooing the Euros:

Perle truly is a contrarian, and what was surprising about his appearance here was that his tone was relatively restrained: Rather than pushing to open new fault lines with the Europeans, he seemed to be seeking ways to put things back together -- on American terms, to be sure. Perle was speaking at a gathering sponsored by Deutsche Bank on the theme "Desperately Seeking Europe." That dire message was printed on the wrappings of chocolates handed out to conference participants. Perle observed that Europe itself was like the confections: It was beautifully packaged and enticing, but it would make you fat and prove unsafe in the long run.

It was lines such as that one that led a European leftist to call Perle's remarks "possibly the most dangerous speech I have ever heard." But I'm not sure she got his message.

The underlying topic of the conference was the collapse of the transatlantic alliance. The breakup was mentioned by so many different speakers that it seemed almost to assume the force of fact. One of the few who seemed unconvinced was Perle himself.

He said Europeans needed to understand that after 9/11, Americans felt themselves facing an existential threat. Just as America had stood by Europe during the long crisis of the Cold War, Europe now needed to "wake up" and come to America's help.

When pressed, Perle conceded that the Bush administration could do a better job of maintaining dialogue with European leaders, as America had during the Cold War. And when asked to critique America's Iraq policy, Perle said he wished the Bush administration could have been successful in gathering more international support before going to war. As for what will come next after Iraq, Perle made some hawkish statements without recommending hawkish policies. His line seemed similar to that of a fellow neoconservative, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who has suggested that America needs to finish its war in Iraq before attacking Damascus or Tehran.

Winning friends and unfluencing people, the Neo-con Way:

CERNOBBIO, Italy -- Just you wait, said Undersecretary of State John Bolton, referring to weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. If you only knew what he knew, he said. In six to nine months, you will regret questioning the Bush administration's sincerity. Then, having vindicated every European's caricature of the arrogant American, he left this resort on Lake Como carrying a suitcase in one hand, a briefcase in the other -- and a chip on his shoulder so big I feared he would exceed the weight limit for his flight home.

Bolton's performance at the annual meeting of the Council for the United States and Italy was just plain mystifying -- although some Europeans here thought it was merely par for the course. They have come to expect a certain take-it-or-leave-it attitude on the part of U.S. officials -- one Rumsfeld after another. It was the defense secretary, after all, who recently said that if Belgium didn't change a certain silly law, NATO just might pull out of Brussels. For some reason, the Belgians took umbrage and reflexively embraced a law they know needs changing.

Was it worth it? It's too early to say that the issue of the missing WMD will hurt Bush politically. But recent polls are turning up good evidence that the public is starting to entertain real doubts about whether the Iraq war was truly worth the investment of blood and money we had to make.

Moreover, if you look at swing-voting independents, doubts about the worthwhileness of the Iraq war are even stronger: 43 percent of this group said that the Iraq war was a success and worth the cost, compared to 55 percent who said either that its success was not worth the cost, or that it was not a success. The data also show a wide gender gap on this issue. While 57 percent of men said that the Iraq war was a success and worth the cost, just 40 percent of women felt this way (55 percent of women thought that either the war's success wasn't worth the cost, or that the war wasn't a success).

The CBS News poll has other findings consistent with these doubts. While 53 percent of adults in this poll say that Iraq was a threat that required immediate action, 45 percent now say that Iraq was either a threat that could have been contained (35 percent) or was not a threat at all (10 percent). The poll also finds that locating the WMD does matter to most Americans (58 percent) and that the belief that the administration overestimated the number of WMD in Iraq is growing (now 44 percent, up 5 points from two weeks ago).

The Gallup poll confirms that Americans are becoming more skeptical about Iraqi WMD. Currently, 44 percent say that they are certain Iraq had facilities to create WMD before the war, down 11 points from what the public believed before the war. Similarly, 43 percent say that they are certain Iraq had biological or chemical weapons before the war, down 13 points from prewar views, and 37 percent are certain that Iraq was trying to develop nuclear weapons before the war, down 11 points from prewar beliefs.


Monday, June 16, 2003

Would Fox News actually lie? No way, Hoesay...
This article in today's WaPo ought to make you angry, scared, and disgusted with the way the Bushies are handleing the war on terror within this countries borders. Read the whole thing. Rand Beers was the top counterterrorism adviser in the White House when he got fed up and quit:

Five days before the war began in Iraq, as President Bush prepared to raise the terrorism threat level to orange, a top White House counterterrorism adviser unlocked the steel door to his office, an intelligence vault secured by an electronic keypad, a combination lock and an alarm. He sat down and turned to his inbox.

"Things were dicey," said Rand Beers, recalling the stack of classified reports about plots to shoot, bomb, burn and poison Americans. He stared at the color-coded threats for five minutes. Then he called his wife: I'm quitting.

Beers's resignation surprised Washington, but what he did next was even more astounding. Eight weeks after leaving the Bush White House, he volunteered as national security adviser for Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.), a Democratic candidate for president, in a campaign to oust his former boss. All of which points to a question: What does this intelligence insider know?

"The administration wasn't matching its deeds to its words in the war on terrorism. They're making us less secure, not more secure," said Beers, who until now has remained largely silent about leaving his National Security Council job as special assistant to the president for combating terrorism. "As an insider, I saw the things that weren't being done. And the longer I sat and watched, the more concerned I became, until I got up and walked out."

No single issue has defined the Bush presidency more than fighting terrorism. And no issue has both animated and intimidated Democrats. Into this tricky intersection of terrorism, policy and politics steps Beers, a lifelong bureaucrat, unassuming and tight-lipped until now. He is an unlikely insurgent. He served on the NSC under Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and the current Bush. The oath of office hangs on the wall by his bed; he tears up when he watches "The West Wing." Yet Beers decided that he wanted out, and he is offering a rare glimpse in.

"Counterterrorism is like a team sport. The game is deadly. There has to be offense and defense," Beers said. "The Bush administration is primarily offense, and not into teamwork."

In a series of interviews, Beers, 60, critiqued Bush's war on terrorism. He is a man in transition, alternately reluctant about and empowered by his criticism of the government. After 35 years of issuing measured statements from inside intelligence circles, he speaks more like a public servant than a public figure. Much of what he knows is classified and cannot be discussed. Nevertheless, Beers will say that the administration is "underestimating the enemy." It has failed to address the root causes of terror, he said. "The difficult, long-term issues both at home and abroad have been avoided, neglected or shortchanged and generally underfunded."

The focus on Iraq has robbed domestic security of manpower, brainpower and money, he said. The Iraq war created fissures in the United States' counterterrorism alliances, he said, and could breed a new generation of al Qaeda recruits. Many of his government colleagues, he said, thought Iraq was an "ill-conceived and poorly executed strategy."

"I continue to be puzzled by it," said Beers, who did not oppose the war but thought it should have been fought with a broader coalition. "Why was it such a policy priority?" The official rationale was the search for weapons of mass destruction, he said, "although the evidence was pretty qualified, if you listened carefully."

He thinks the war in Afghanistan was a job begun, then abandoned. Rather than destroying al Qaeda terrorists, the fighting only dispersed them. The flow of aid has been slow and the U.S. military presence is too small, he said. "Terrorists move around the country with ease. We don't even know what's going on. Osama bin Laden could be almost anywhere in Afghanistan," he said.


Part of that stemmed from his frustration with the culture of the White House. He was loath to discuss it. His wife, Bonnie, a school administrator, was not: "It's a very closed, small, controlled group. This is an administration that determines what it thinks and then sets about to prove it. There's almost a religious kind of certainty. There's no curiosity about opposing points of view. It's very scary. There's kind of a ghost agenda."

Thanks to Billmon at The Whiskey Bar for the link.

Sunday, June 15, 2003

Playing with statistics to show how the US is winning the war on terror:

For decades, bureaucrats in Washington have utilized the trick of tweaking statistics, reclassifying what they were already doing into whatever Congress is eager to fund at a particular moment. The war on terrorism is no different. For many federal law enforcement agencies, especially the FBI, anti-terrorism operations helped justify their budgets at a time when older threats to domestic security, like organized crime and communist espionage, were on the decline. And thanks to an expansive, non-standardized, and often subjective definition of the term "terrorism," it's easy to make mundane criminal cases look like terrorist threats. When two Philadelphia Inquirer reporters studied Department of Justice cases between 1996 and 2001, they found numerous misclassifications. Among those counted as terrorist cases were a tenant impersonating an FBI agent to try and escape eviction by his landlord, a commercial pilot who falsely implicated his copilot in a hijack plot out of personal jealousy, and seven Chinese sailors who stole a Taiwanese fishing boat to seek political asylum in Guam. (Not to mention the Arizona man who got drunk on a United Airlines flight, kept ringing the call button, and "put his hands on a flight attendant," according to the article--and was classified in Justice's records as a case of "domestic terrorism.") As Jonathan Turley, a professor of constitutional criminal procedure at George Washington University Law School, told the Inquirer, Justice, like all agencies, needs to "justify past appropriations and secure future increases." Bagging more terrorists, even if they probably just need a few A.A. sessions, is a good way to do it.

The same scheme can be found in other departments, too. Two months before 9/11, for instance, Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University, wrote in Foreign Policy that the State Department's 2001 Patterns of Global Terrorism report "not only exaggerates and distorts reality but also obscures the political context in which specific episodes of terrorism actually occur." Bacevich, who describes himself as a conservative, points out that 170 of 200 "anti-U.S." attacks the report labels "terrorism" were bombings of a U.S.-owned oil pipeline in Colombia. "When I looked at the report and peeled back the surface of what constituted a statistic, killed, property, etc., [it] just didn't seem to justify the rhetoric of alarm," says Bacevich. This year's Patterns showed 156 fewer international terrorism incidents in 2002--practically all of them a decline in Colombian pipeline bombings. Yet after the report was released, Cofer Black, the State Department's counterterrorism coordinator, cited the decline as evidence that "Al Qaeda is under extreme stress" because "their numbers have been whittled down tremendously."
Perspective of Dubya's failure in Afghanistan:

...In Kosovo, according to retired Gen. Montgomery Meigs, then commander of the Balkan stabilization force, we were forced to "do less" because the Pentagon claimed it could not send more peacekeeping troops. As a result, says Meigs, "we were unable to run operations inside Kosovo to interdict the internal movement of arms and Albanian-Kosovar fighters to [neighboring] Macedonia." Those armed separatists set off a civil war in Macedonia--stopped only by the timely deployment of more Western troops, including Americans, into that country.

Something very similar happened in Afghanistan. Our biggest failure there occurred in the mop-up stage, following the flight of the Taliban government. Because we had so few troops on the ground, we failed to cut off and destroy the remnants of al Qaeda--including, most likely, Osama bin Laden himself--as they fled into the lawless mountain regions of the Afghan and Pakistani frontier. Our subsequent efforts at nation-building on the cheap have yielded similar results. Our unwillingness to put many troops on the ground has made a mockery of the president's promise for a "Marshall Plan" for Afghanistan. The Western-oriented, U.S.-installed president, Hamid Karzai, controls little more than Kabul, and the rest of the country has already drifted back into warlordism.

A really excellent overview of what's happening in Iraq. A must read...

Things have not gotten much better over the following weeks. Lawlessness and chaos continue to reign. Women are raped, law-abiding citizens have their property stolen, those who have anything left don't go to work so they can guard what they still have. The prize the United States sacrificed so much to gain--freeing Iraq from Saddam and clearing the way for its democratic rebirth--is being squandered on the ground as ordinary Iraqis come to equate the American presence with violent lawlessness and immorality, and grasping mullahs rush into the vacuum created by our lack of troops. Mass grave sites, with no troops to secure them, have been unearthed by Iraqis desperate to find remnants of relatives killed by Saddam Hussein's regime, but those same Iraqis, digging quickly and roughly, may have inadvertently destroyed valuable evidence of human rights violations and crippled the ability of prosecutors to bring war criminals to justice. Perhaps worst of all, the prime objective of the entire invasion--to secure and eliminate Saddam's weapons of mass destruction capacity--has been dealt a serious blow. Even Iraq's publicly known nuclear sites had been thoroughly looted before American inspectors arrived, because, once more, not enough troops had been available to secure them. Radioactive material, perhaps enough to make several "dirty bombs," has now disappeared into anonymous Iraqi homes, perhaps awaiting purchase by terrorists. Critical records detailing the history and scope of the WMD program have themselves been looted from suspected weapons sites because too few soldiers were available to guard those places. "There aren't enough troops in the whole Army," said Col. Tim Madere, the officer overseeing the WMD effort in Iraq, in a recent interview with Newsweek. Farce vied with disaster when the inspectors' own headquarters were looted for lack of adequate security. Triumph on the battlefield has yielded to tragedy in the streets.

Belatedly recognizing their horrendous miscalculation, the Bush administration last month replaced the retired general in charge of Iraq's reconstruction, Jay Garner, with former diplomat L. Paul Bremer, who immediately called for 15,000 more troops to keep order. Even if he gets that many, however, Bremer will still be woefully short of the manpower he'll need to turn Iraq from anarchy to stable democracy.

The architects of the war might be forgiven for misgauging the number of troops required had the war come a dozen years ago, when the United States had little experience in modern nation-building. But over the course of the 1990s America gained some hard understanding, at no small cost. From Port-au-Prince to Mogadishu, every recent engagement taught the lesson we're now learning again in Iraq: America's high-tech, highly mobile military can scatter enemies which many times outnumber them, in ways beyond the wildest dreams of commanders just a generation ago. But it's not so easy to win the peace.

Seems that everybody but the Americans are a tad upset about the lies and deceptions over the WMD "evidence":

Messrs Bush, Blair, Rumsfeld and Howard continue to cling with varying degrees of desperation to the hope that somehow, somewhere, Saddam's weapons of mass destruction will turn up. We will, I suspect, be waiting a long time - indeed, probably in vain - for anything resembling an apology from any of them. (Mr Rumsfeld, for one, has already dug himself a bolt hole: that bizarrely and inexplicably, Saddam may have destroyed the weapons of mass destruction just before the invasion.)

I think we need to take a leaf from their book and give them all a deadline to come up with the goods. If by, let's say, the end of June they haven't produced anything, they will be in material breach of the obligations inherent in their offices of trust.

Well, so much for credibility in whatever the Bushies have to say next. Some of the comments from that article:

"Sorry, we were duped" isn't going to cut it on this one, minister. At best, you were wilfully ignorant of the truth. At worst, you, and the Prime Minister, deliberately misled the Australian people. Either way you defied the public will and committed Australian troops, as aggressors, into a conflict that we never wanted."

"Remember Mr Wilkie? He resigned from a senior position in the Federal Government's intelligence-gathering organisation before the coalition invaded Iraq because he believed the intelligence collected did not justify going to war. It now appears that the Defence Minister, Robert Hill, is starting to agree with him."

"Now that it is becoming known that the US lied about the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, how is Mr Howard going to rationalise his support for the invasion? It is noticeable that since the invasion and "winning" of the war, there has been little comment from the Government about the justification for invasion. Is this going to go the same way as the "children overboard", the "terrorist" boat people and all the other lies this Government has told? Where is the accountability of this Government to the Australian people? Does accountability exist any more?

We should be asking the same questions here in The States. Loudly.

About those trailers of mass destruction that the Chimp-in-Chief was crowing about in Poland a few weeks ago:

An official British investigation into two trailers found in northern Iraq has concluded they are not mobile germ warfare labs, as was claimed by Tony Blair and President George Bush, but were for the production of hydrogen to fill artillery balloons, as the Iraqis have continued to insist.

The conclusion by biological weapons experts working for the British Government is an embarrassment for the Prime Minister, who has claimed that the discovery of the labs proved that Iraq retained weapons of mass destruction and justified the case for going to war against Saddam Hussein.

Instead, a British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq, told The Observer last week: 'They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were - facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons.'

Hmmmm I wonder if the Bushies will put out a retraction on the comments made by our dear selected President? I doubt it, but this little gem ought to sting a little bit if the media finds the time to bring it up:

The revelation that the mobile labs were to produce hydrogen for artillery balloons will also cause discomfort for the British authorities because the Iraqi army's original system was sold to it by the British company, Marconi Command & Control.

As if Tony Blair doesn't have enough probs. He really needs to pick his friends a little better.....

It's been hard not to notice Bill Clinton's sudden re-appearance onto the media stage. I wonder why?

Disgraced in presidential office but redeemed in retirement as one of America's most popular politicians, Bill Clinton appears set to run for the only appointment that New Yorkers really care about - the mayor of their own city.
Amid furious rumours, encouraged by the multi-billionaire Republican incumbent, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the stage seems set for one of the most gripping mayoral races in the city's memory.

Bloomberg himself fanned the flames this weekend, gracing Clinton's potential candidacy with a statement saying that Bloomberg 'fully expected' to win re-election in 2005, whether or not Clinton were to run.

'I welcome lots of competition,' said Bloomberg, whose popularity ratings hit an all-time record low this week.

Expectation that Clinton would run was also heightened by the comments of former Democratic mayor Ed Koch. Speaking on CNN yesterday, he said he 'very much' hoped Clinton would stand for office, leading off solid backing from New York's famous and muscular Democratic party machine.

Speculation was heightened further still by the comments of the man otherwise likely to run for the Democrats, a powerful local politician called Gifford Miller, who says he would stand down if Clinton were to run.

'I don't think you could be a lot more qualified than having served as President of the United States,' said Gifford, 'He has done a phenomenal job for our country - so, if Bill Clinton wants to run for mayor, I'll support him.'

Most New Yorkers believe the vote is a foregone conclusion - that Clinton could only win by a landslide if he chose to stand.


Saturday, June 14, 2003

Stumbled into this today.

Hmmmmmm liberal net radio. Been listening for about a half hour and it's really good. OK so right now it's PetTalk, but the people sure seem nice and intellegent.

I think I've found something good.........