Thursday, July 31, 2003
CNN reports that there will be one less previously-convicted criminal in the Bush administration soon. He had to go because his "terror futures market" idea was so obviously warped. But then again, so were the tax cuts and the wars: why don't they all just leave?
There's only one way the war against Iraq could have gone worse: if Bush hadn't been lying about Saddam Hussein's nuclear program. But short of a Manhattan mushroom cloud, it's hard to imagine a darker scenario than the one we're in. No WMDs. No Saddam. Millions of new enemies. Billions in new debt. And an estimated 35,000 guerillas exacting a terrible tithe--one dead American soldier for every day we stay where we don't belong. -- Ted Rall
If they can take you away and lock you away from your friends, your family, and your attorneys; if they can try you in a court that does not allow you to see all the evidence against you; if they can do all this without review, constraint, or oversight then you are not free. You may not be in jail yet, but that is simply because the government has not yet decided to put you there. If the courts do not put a stop to these actions, then you will live at the government's sufferance, not as a free person. Your freedom will be tolerated, not protected. You will not be free, in any meaningful sense of the word. -- from Lean Left.
He was talking about the Lackawanna defendants pleading guilty recently out of fear that they would be declared "enemy combatants" and disappeared, as I discussed in my post a few days ago.
Same for Nat Hentoff.
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (8 to 4) gave George W. Bush a fearsome power that can be found nowhere in the Constitution—the sole authority to imprison an American citizen indefinitely without charges or access to a lawyer.
This case is now on appeal to the Supreme Court, which will determine whether this president—or his successors until the end of the war on terrorism—can subvert the Bill of Rights to the peril of all of us.
Despite vigorous efforts, the U.S. government has been unsuccessful so far in finding key senior Iraqi scientists to support its prewar claims that former president Saddam Hussein was pursuing an aggressive program to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, according to senior administration officials and members of Congress who have been briefed recently on the subject.
The sources said four senior scientists and more than a dozen at lower levels who worked for the Iraqi government have been interviewed by U.S. officials under the direction of the CIA. Some scientists have been arrested and held for months, others have made deals in return for information and at least one has agreed to be interviewed outside Iraq.
No matter the circumstances, all of the scientists interviewed have denied that Hussein had reconstituted his nuclear weapons program or developed and hidden chemical or biological weapons since United Nations inspectors left in 1998. Several key Iraqi officials questioned the significance of evidence cited by the Bush administration to suggest that Hussein was stepping up efforts to develop new weapons of mass destruction programs. -- Washington Post
Senator Ben Brownback (R-KS) has joined Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) in circulating a letter from senators to Bush calling for the declassifying of the 28 pages "redacted" from the Congressional 9/11 Report. According to CNN, approximately 42 senators have signed the letter so far, with Brownback being the only Republican. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Richard Shelby (R-AL) have also called for the release of the material, although CNN says that Shelby refuses to sign the letter without giving a reason. Unfortunately, two "Democratic" senators, Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Diane Feinstein of California, have said that they won't sign the letter. CNN says that a majority vote in the senate would force the declassification of the material.
Maybe folks in California should support Feinstein for governor: get her out of the Senate ASAP! (Better yet, just recall her!)
Bush Blames Tax Cut Failure on March to War
Jeez, I wish I wrote the headlines! I just read the articles from the NY Times and Washington Post, and neither one mentions what I thought was the most outrageous statement that he made in the press conference, which I quoted in my previous post, but is worth repeating here:
Q: What evidence can you point to that tax cuts, at least of the variety that you have supported, are really working to help this economy? And do you need to be thinking about some other approach?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. No, to answer the last part of your question. First of all, let me -- just a quick history, recent history. The stock market started to decline in March of 2000. Then the first quarter of 2001 was a recession. And then we got attacked in 9/11. And then corporate scandals started to bubble up to the surface, which created a -- a lack of confidence in the system. And then we had the drumbeat to war. Remember on our TV screens -- I'm not suggesting which network did this -- but it said, "March to War," every day from last summer until the spring -- "March to War, March to War." That's not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear, "March to War" all the time.
The headline of this post is what I'd like to see on the front page of every paper in the country:
Bush Blames Tax Cut Failure on March to War
Gee, say Mr. and Ms. America reading that, we might actually have jobs and be able to afford to feed our kids if only it weren't for that stupid war that Bush lied to get us into! Heck, even he said so! And I thought he told us those tax cuts would work! Maybe he should be unemployed too!
Aargh!I just checked the CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS and (gag) FoxNews web sites: None of their reports mention this particular Bush excuse. All except Fox just used the AP report! Is that nuts or what? Our idiot president gives only his ninth formal press conference, and the major networks can't be bothered to cover it for themselves.
Wednesday, July 30, 2003
And in order to placate the critics and the cynics about intentions of the United States, we need to produce evidence. And I fully understand that. And I'm confident that our search will yield that which I strongly believe, that Saddam had a weapons program. I want to remind you, he actually used his weapons program on his own people at one point in time, which is pretty tangible evidence. But I'm confident history will prove the decision we made to be the right decision. -- aWol, today
Irrelevant, W. That he had a weapons program in the late '80s/early '90s did not constitute a threat in 2003. Hitler had a weapons program, too. If you want to "take out" a world leader who actually has several ongoing WMD programs and has stated a willingness to use them, kill yourself, George.
And don't miss his latest excuse for his tax cuts not working:
Q: What evidence can you point to that tax cuts, at least of the variety that you have supported, are really working to help this economy? And do you need to be thinking about some other approach?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes. No, to answer the last part of your question. First of all, let me -- just a quick history, recent history. The stock market started to decline in March of 2000. Then the first quarter of 2001 was a recession. And then we got attacked in 9/11. And then corporate scandals started to bubble up to the surface, which created a -- a lack of confidence in the system. And then we had the drumbeat to war. Remember on our TV screens -- I'm not suggesting which network did this -- but it said, "March to War," every day from last summer until the spring -- "March to War, March to War." That's not a very conducive environment for people to take risk, when they hear, "March to War" all the time.
Hmm...maybe the networks should pay less attention to the president and his minions?
But then there's this:
THE PRESIDENT: I take personal responsibility for everything I say, of course. Absolutely.
So, let's recall this quote from July 11:
We need to have an investigation, find out who was responsible for it and fire them. -- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ)
There's your guy, John. Go get him!
Q Mr. President, with no opponent, how can you spend $170 million or more on your primary campaign?
THE PRESIDENT: Just watch. (Laughter.) Keep going.
Q Yes, sir. And with 15 fundraisers scheduled between -- for the summer months, do you worry about the perception that you're unduly attentive to the interests of people who can afford to spend $2,000 to see you?
THE PRESIDENT: Michael, I think American people, now that they've realized I'm going to seek reelection, expect me to seek reelection. They expect me to actually do what candidates do. And so, you're right, I'll be spending some time going out and asking the American people to support me. But most of my time, as I say in my speeches -- as I'm sure you've been bored to tears listening to -- is that there is a time for politics, and that's going to be later on. I've got a lot to do. And I will continue doing my job. And my job will be to work to make America more secure.
Bob's translation of W's answer to Michael's question: "No."
I added two new blogs to my list:
- Conceptual Guerilla, who champions using the term "cheap-labor conservatives" for Republicans and their ilk; and
- Liberal Oasis, who does a great summary of the Sunday morning talk shows every week, and has a great collections of links to help you get involved in about any cause you'd like.
I should probably add a lot more, but many of the blogs I have listed already have great blogrolls, especially MouseMusings, MaxSpeak, and Conceptual Guerilla. I know these are great blogrolls because they link to my blog! So if you've got a few days to spare and want to read some good online commentary, start browsing the blogrolls on those three sites.
Tuesday, July 29, 2003
Executive summary: American POW's tortured in Gulf War I. They win a $1 billion judgement against Iraq. Bush Jr. administration steals $1.7 billion in frozen Iraqi money, refuses to pay POW's claim.
One plaintiff, Lt. Col. Richard Dale Storr, now with the Washington Air National Guard, said the administration's position troubled him. Colonel Storr endured beatings in Iraq that broke his nose, dislocated his shoulder and burst his left eardrum.
"It's sending a conflicting message to our troops," he said of the administration's recent court filings. "Congress and the judicial branch say, `Let's protect our guys to the maximum extent possible,' " while the executive branch is "saying the opposite."
"Disappointing," he added, "would be a good way to put it."
Yesterday I suggested that Bush didn't have a good way out after a Saudi prince "insisted" that the 28 redacted pages from the 9/11 report be made public without resorting to some seriously dangerous wag the dog action (I'm not talking about Sen. Santorum here).
But then I read Bartcop's report from yesterday, where he said:
Sure, he (the prince) said that after Bush guaranteed them he'd hide the findings from the American voters.
That BartCop hit the nail on the head was confirmed by the prince's statements after meeting with Bush, who "turned down" the request:
"We are disappointed," the prince said of the administration's refusal. "But we understand the reasons."
"Anyone who believes that this president would cover up for anyone involved with 9/11 must be out of touch with reality," the prince said as he reasserted that his country is a full partner with the United States in battling terrorism.
Sorry Prince, but anyone who still believes, after he has delayed and hindered any and all investigations for the last two years, that Bush is NOT covering up something is an idiot, a liar, or both.
Clearly, this was one of Karl Rove's masterpieces. Have the Saudis "insist" that the pages be exposed while guaranteeing them that they won't be, protecting them and Bush. Last week the Saudis were saying:
Last week, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, expressed outrage at the decision to keep parts of the report dealing with Saudi Arabia classified.
"Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages," the prince said.
He called it "unfortunate that false accusations against Saudi Arabia continue to be made by some for political purposes. -- CNN
Now we're supposed to believe that Bush is some kind of diplomatic genius, quicky defusing the "outrage" and leading the Saudis to "understand the reasons" which even Republican Senator Richard Shelby doesn't understand. What a charade.
For President Bush and the press corps that covers him, the month of July has been one long cat-and-mouse game. Five times, questioners have invited the president to take responsibility for the Iraq-uranium allegation that found its way into his State of the Union address. Five times, Bush has deflected the question. Dana Milbank, Washington Post
A new audio tape purportedly from ousted Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has acknowledged the death of his sons, Uday and Qusay, killed by US forces last week.
"I mourn to you the deaths of Uday and Qusay and those who struggled with them. You are the honour of this nation," he said on the tape, broadcast by al-Arabiya satellite television on Tuesday. -- BBC
I think they screwed up, though. Wouldn't Saddam also mention by name his fourteen-year-old grandson, who was also supposedly killed in the raid? Saddam probably would, but his body double mourning the deaths of the body doubles of U and Q and the grandson probably wouldn't.
Even a southern Republican senator disagrees strongly with Bush on this one:
Bush said, "declassification of that part of a 900-page document would reveal sources and methods that would make it harder for us to win the war on terror. ... It would help the enemy if they knew our sources and methods.''
The top Republican senator on the 9-11 inquiry, Richard Shelby, said Sunday that 95 percent of the classified pages could be released without jeopardizing national security. Bush ignored a reporter's question on Shelby's assessment. -- AP
Bush's "sources and methods" said there were large quantities of WMD's in Iraq, and ties between Iraq and al Qaeda. Al Qaeda getting access to these sources and methods might be the simplest way to win the "war on terror."
My response to continued government secrecy is: Assume the worst. For Cheney's Energy Task Force, assume that it was Ken Lay and five oil company executives all sitting around saying how much they hate the environment and how they want to destroy it as quickly as possible while making obscene profits. (Actually, probably pretty close to the truth.) For 9/11, assume that the whole thing was planned in a Bush cabinet meeting in March 2001. Tell them that if they want us to believe otherwise, they need to convince us. Make them DEFEND themselves!
"If you're not prepared to act on the basis of murky intelligence, then you're going to have to act after the fact." -- Paul Wolfowitz
"It's a poor sort of memory that only works backwards," the Queen remarked.
"What sort of things do you remember best?" Alice ventured to ask.
"Oh, things that happened the week after next," the Queen replied in a careless tone. "For instance, now," she went on, sticking a large piece of plaster on her finger as she spoke, "there's the King's Messenger. He's in prison now, being punished: and the trial doesn"t even begin till next Wednesday: and of course the crime comes last of all."
"Suppose he never commits the crime?" said Alice.
"That would be all the better wouldn't it?" the Queen said, as she bound the plaster round her finger with a bit of ribbon.
Alice felt there was no denying that. "Of course it would be all the better," she said: "but it wouldn't be all the better his being punished."
"You're wrong there, at any rate," said the Queen: "were you ever punished?"
"Only for faults," said Alice.
"And you were all the better for it, I know!" the Queen said triumphantly.
"Yes, but then I had done the things I was punished for," said Alice: "that makes all the difference."
"But if you hadn't done them," the Queen said, "that would have been better still; better, and better, and better!" Her voice went higher with each "better," till it got quite to a squeak at last.
Alice was just beginning to say "There's a mistake somewhere-," when the Queen began screaming so loud that she had to leave the sentence unfinished. "Oh, oh, oh!" shouted the Queen, shaking her hand about as if she wanted to shake it off. "My finger's bleeding! Oh, oh, oh, oh!"
Her screams were so exactly like the whistle of a steam-engine, that Alice had to hold both her hands over her ears.
"What is the matter?" she said, as soon as there was a chance of making herself heard. "Have you pricked your finger?"
"I haven't pricked it yet," the Queen said, "but I soon shall - - oh, oh, oh!"
I got that from MaxSpeak.
Check it out!
Thanks to Mary S., tireless Kucinich volunteer, for sending me that one!
I hate the DLC!
The moderate Democratic group that helped elect Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992 warned today that Democrats were headed for defeat if they presented themselves as an angry "far left" party fighting tax cuts and opposing the war in Iraq.
Moderate? These guys are right-wingnuts!
"I miss having a president here," Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm of Michigan said in a remark that drew a hearty round of support from the audience.
Gee, Jenny, you could have invited Bush--he'd fit right in. War, tax cuts--you're singing his tune!
Anybody in Michigan should contact Granholm and Senator Debbie Stabenow and ask them to drop their affiliation with these Republicrats.
This time it's the Democrats from the Senate. Polizeros claims that California politics are still crazier than Texas politics. Hey, don't forget about Florida!
But seriously, folks, this is serious. The Texas situation is pure power politics, and could lead to the complete collapse of whatever little democracy they've ever had there. California is about to recall its governor for being a worthless scumbag, even though they knew he was a worthless scumbag when they re-elected him last year. The House Republicans in Washington called the cops on the House Democrats two weeks ago. And Smirky can apparently fly into any city in America, repeat and even brag about his lies, and walk away with another $2 million for his campaign war chest (literally). American democracy was far from perfect when everyone pretended that it worked. But with the pretense of open debate and fairness being dropped, we've reached a crisis. You've probably heard that the Chinese symbol for "crisis" combines those for "danger" and "opportunity." Strong-arm fascism is the danger; a rejection of the status quo in favor of real improvements in democracy (instant runoff voting and the collapse of the two-party system in favor of multiple parties, for example) is the opportunity.
From what I've read, California may represent the opportunity. While the recall sets a dangerous precedent, it seems fairly likely that the state will end up with a better governor. With many candidates and most votes winning, somebody like Arianna Huffington or Green Party candidate Pete Carmejo should have excellent chances.
Even though "prosecutors never offered evidence that the Lackawanna defendants intended to commit an act of terrorism," they plead guilty. Why?
Defense attorneys say the answer is straightforward: The federal government implicitly threatened to toss the defendants into a secret military prison without trial, where they could languish indefinitely without access to courts or lawyers.
That prospect terrified the men. They accepted prison terms of 6 1/2 to 9 years.
"We had to worry about the defendants being whisked out of the courtroom and declared enemy combatants if the case started going well for us," said attorney Patrick J. Brown, who defended one of the accused. "So we just ran up the white flag and folded. Most of us wish we'd never been associated with this case."
The Lackawanna case illustrates how the post-Sept. 11, 2001, legal landscape tilts heavily toward the prosecution, government critics contend. Future defendants in terror cases could face the same choice: Plead guilty or face the possibility of indefinite imprisonment or even the death penalty. -- Washington Post
Even the prosecutors seem a tad embarrassed:
U.S. Attorney Michael Battle, whose region encompasses Lackawanna, said his office never explicitly threatened to invoke enemy combatant status but that all sides knew the government held that hammer. "I don't mean to sound cavalier, but the war on terror has tilted the whole [legal] landscape," he said. "We are trying to use the full arsenal of our powers.
"I'm not saying the ends justify the means," he continued, "but you have to remember that we're protecting the rights of those who are being targeted by terror as well as the rights of the accused."
From what I've read, this is exactly how the Soviet Union used to work: Confess, and maybe someday you'll see the light of day again. Otherwise, forget it.
Another quote from Scott Ritter:
Bush as Hitler? You're damn right. For Americans, Bush is worse than Hitler. Hitler never came close to destroying the American way of life; Bush is accomplishing that objective in spades. (Frontier Justice, p. 194)
The Pentagon, lead by super-creep John Poindexter, has set up a futures market on terrorist attacks and assassinations. Apparently, if this had been in place two years ago, you could have spent a few thousand dollars on "WTC coming down within three months" and walked away with hundreds of thousands.
Democratic Senators Byron L. Dorgan of North Dakota and Ron Wyden of Oregon blew the whistle on this nonsense, although it appears it ain't dead yet:
The senators also suggested that terrorists could participate because the traders' identities will be unknown.
"This appears to encourage terrorists to participate, either to profit from their terrorist activities or to bet against them in order to mislead U.S. intelligence authorities," they said in a letter to Admiral Poindexter, the director of the Terrorism Information Awareness Office, which the opponents said had developed the idea.
Saudi Arabia's foreign minister has asked to meet with President Bush on Tuesday, and a diplomatic source said the Saudi official will seek the release of all, or at least part, of the material dealing with Saudi Arabia that was kept out of the public version of the new congressional report on the attacks of September 11, 2001.
Last week, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the United States, expressed outrage at the decision to keep parts of the report dealing with Saudi Arabia classified.
"Saudi Arabia has nothing to hide. We can deal with questions in public, but we cannot respond to blank pages," the prince said. -- CNN.
There has been lots of speculation about Saudi involvement with the 9/11 hijackers. Whether the 28 pages point the finger at the Saudis or not, I don't know. One thing I'm pretty sure of is that there is plenty in those 28 pages that the Bushies don't want made public. I'm also pretty sure that they are overly protective of the Saudis, probably due to the long-standing ties between the Bush family and the Saudi royal family. If the Saudis are demanding the pages be made public, the Bushies are going to have a hard time turning them down.
It doesn't look like they have a legitimate way out. So be on the lookout for some seriously insane wag-the-dog action around the time of this meeting with the Saudis.
Most likely: the death of Saddam Hussein will be announced, killed in a bombing attack that burned the building to the ground. We will be told to rejoice once again that "justice" has been served by assassination, and attention will be temporarily distracted from the 9/11 issue. All this talk of closing in on Saddam is just prepping us for the announcement. Saddam was either killed months ago and they're saving his death for when they really need it, or he's long gone and they haven't a clue as to his whereabouts. But this Saudi-9/11 thing could prompt the panic in the White House that would cause them to release the story. Any relation to the actual truth will be completely coincidental.
Less likely, but scarier: an attack on Syria or Iran on trumped up charges. Or massive arrests across the country, breaking up some alleged terror attack. Or, deity of your choice forbid, another terror attack. Rabid animals are dangerous. Cornered animals are dangerous. If the Saudi thing is about to expose some awful truth about the Bushies to the public, these rabid animals will be cornered. Look out.
Monday, July 28, 2003
"The pattern is not just one of reluctant cooperation, nor is it merely a lack of cooperation," Colin Powell told the Security Council. "What we see is a deliberate campaign to prevent any meaningful inspection work." True words, indeed, if Secretary Powell had been honest enough to admit that the nation refusing to cooperate with the inspectors, and working hard to prevent meaningful inspection work, was the United States, not Iraq, because the inspections represented the gravest threat to the war plans of Sheriff Bush and the PNAC posse. Inspections could expose the truth. And truth was the enemy.
GRAHAM: Well, I cannot name a specific foreign government. I can say what a foreign government did that led to that statement that I made.
This foreign government provided logistical assistance to at least two of the hijackers, made acquisitions on their behalf, made payments on their behalf. Provided, not through charities, but through a source related back to an official of that government, significant financial support for these two terrorists.
The question that have had is, one, is there any reason to believe that these two terrorists would have been picked out of the 19 and given this special treatment? Or was it just because we happen to know a lot more about these two that we have this pattern of support?
LIASSON: When you say this foreign government, are you talking about, as a policy, this foreign government did this? Or certain individuals who had connections to a foreign government?
GRAHAM: I am saying high officials in this government, who I assume were not just rogue officials acting on their own, made substantial contributions to the support and well-being of two of these terrorists and facilitated their ability to plan, practice and then execute the tragedy of September the 11th.
Brit Hume and Mara Liasson had been asking Graham about the "redacted" 28 pages from the 9/11 report, saying that all the buzz was about Saudi Arabia. Graham said several times that revealing the name of the foreign country would violate secrecy and be a criminal offense, although he also said the stuff shouldn't be secret. But he's saying here that high officials in some foreign government gave direct assistance to at least two 9/11 hijackers. I think one can safely assume that that government was neither the Taliban nor Iraq, or the Bushies wouldn't have pushed to keep this secret (or if it was, their reasons are even scarier). So Bush has changed two regimes in bloody, messy, expensive fashion, and there's some other government out there that actually did support the terrorists. And they don't want us to know who it is.
I suggest that we start insinuating that it might have a country whose involvement would have been even more embarassing to the Bushies than Saudi Arabia, namely Israel or Great Britain. Certainly in Britain's case it would explain Blair's otherwise inexplicable support of Bush in favor of intense opposition at home. But if the Brits or Israelis were in on 9/11, that would suggest that they were in collusion with the Bush administration, and Cynthia McKinney might wish she actually had said those things she was accused of saying. I don't really think it was Israel or Britain, but only scary allegations like that are going to get the 28 pages unredacted so we can finally find out who our true enemy is, instead of whatever country Bush feels like attacking at the moment.
And isn't it maybe time for Graham or Shelby to practice a little civil disobedience? Doesn't their oath to protect the constitution override their requirement to keep stuff secret which they both say shouldn't be secret? Would two conservative southern senators actually go to jail for letting the public know what they say it should know? Why does the executive branch get to decide what's secret here, anyway?
"He's the governor. Not some guy you married in Vegas."
On the troubled California economy Davis is being blamed for: "The dotcom bubble burst, just as Gray Davis ordered. ...We went off to two foreign wars, playing right into Davis' hands. ...Enron ripped the state off for billions. So you can see the problem, Gray Davis."
"So you can see the solution, a Viennese weight lifter. Arnold Schwarzenegger: Finally, a public official who can explain the administration's social policies in the original German." -- from Pacific Views
My post below has Russert asking Murky Wolfowitz some great questions. Later in the show, he asks Bob Graham this question:
MR. RUSSERT: Senator Graham, why would we declassify the National Intelligence Report to buttress arguments about the war in Iraq but keep classified some information that could help us find out what our leaders knew was coming down before September 11?
SEN. GRAHAM: Well, I think one of the fundamental reasons for that is to avoid accountability.
Excellent answer! I am in almost complete agreement with Dennis Kucinich's platform, and probably disagree with 70% of Graham's, but if Graham succeeds in bringing down the Bush administration, a strong case for electing him president out of sheer gratitude could be made. He's already ahead of Kerry in my book.
From yesterday's Meet the Press:
MR. RUSSERT: Many people are now asking why the urgency in going to war. If, in fact, we have not found the weapons of mass destruction, could not we have waited a few months with more coercive inspections and have resolved this without a war?
DR. WOLFOWITZ: Let me say a couple of things, Tim. People act as though the cost of containing Iraq is trivial. The cost of containing Iraq was enormous. Fifty-five American lives lost, at least, in incidents like the Cole and Khobar Towers, which were part of the containment effort. Billions of dollars of American money spent so...
MR. RUSSERT: Was Iraq linked to those?
DR. WOLFOWITZ: Absolutely. Oh, no, not to the—I don’t know who did the attacks. I now that we would not have had Air Force people in Khobar Towers if we weren’t conducting a containment policy. I know we wouldn’t have had to have the Cole out there doing maritime intercept operations. And worst of all, if you go back and read Osama bin Laden’s notorious fatwah from 1998 where he calls for killing Americans, the two principal grievances were the presence of those forces in Saudi Arabia, and our continuing attacks on Iraq. Twelve years of containment was a terrible price for us.
So basically Wolfowitz is saying that we had to invade Iraq to appease Osama, whom we pissed off with our last attack on Iraq based on false pretenses.
Here's some more Wolfy logic:
We know that for 12 years Saddam Hussein did everything he could to frustrate U.N. inspectors. He sacrificed $100 billion in money that he could have spent on palaces and tanks and all those things that he loved so much in order to frustrate those inspectors. Isn’t that in itself an indicator there was something there? Let’s be patient and let’s figure out—wait until we can find things out.
Replace "12" with "2", "Saddam Hussein" with "George W. Bush," "frustrate U.N. inspectors" with "block a serious investigation into 9/11," "palaces and tanks" with "tax cuts", and "frustrate those inspectors" with "block that investigation," and the statement makes more sense. The "sacrificed $100 billion" part I assume refers to the very questionable idea that the US would ever have removed the sanctions on Iraq no matter how thorough the inspections had been. From what I've read in Scott Ritter's book, Iraqi compliance between 1995 and '98 was quite good, and inspectors had verified that Iraq didn't have much in the way of banned weapons left. This certainly seems to have been substantiated now. Since '98, Iraq was mostly or entirely WMD-free, but the sanctions continued. On the other hand, Bush willingly pursued an illegal war which will eventually cost over $100 billion, and while global empire was probably the main reason, distracting attention from the massive failures by his administration leading up to 9/11 was certainly desirable collateral damage as far as the Bushies were concerned.
Q: Ibrahim Hayat (ph), Al-Hayat, LDC. I would like to ask you, don't you regret the fact that you couldn't get Uday and Qusay alive? It would have been probably the source of a lot of information could have got from them both. Also, wasn't a failure in a way, because you didn't use commandos to come and surprise them both? You conducted operation in a very traditional way. How would you describe it? All this attack preparation was only to surround five, probably four people who were armed with light weapons. And also, what about the child of Qusay?
Sanchez: First of all, we have confirmation that we've got Uday and Qusay Hussein, and we've got two other bodies that we're continuing the identification process on them.
On whether this was a failure, absolutely not. I would never consider this a failure. Our mission is to find, kill or capture. In this case, we had an enemy that was defending, it was barricaded, and we had to take the measures that were necessary in order to neutralize the target. When you look at the possibilities of what you may have gained or what you may have lost, that would be pure speculation on my part at this point.
Q: Thank you. General, I'd like to try and see if you could address more of the first question which we had from our colleague up front. The Americans are specialists in surrounding places, keeping people in them, holding up for a week, if necessary, to make them surrender. These guys only had, it appears, AK-47s, and you had immense amount of firepower. Surely, the possibility of the immense amount of information they could have given coalition forces, not to mention the trials that they could have been put on for war crimes, held out a much greater possibility of victory for you if you could have surrounded that house and just sat there until they came out, even if they were prepared to keep shooting.
Sanchez: Sir, that is speculation.
Next slide (sic).
Q: No, sir, it's an operational question. Surely you must have considered this much more seriously than you suggested.
Sanchez: Yes, it was considered, and we chose the course of action that we took.
Q: Why, sir?
Sanchez: Next slide -- or, next question, please. -- From the DOD transcript of the press conference with Lt. General Ricardo Sanchez on the deaths of Uday and Qusay.
The phrase "dead men tell no tales" comes to mind, as does the phrase "it is easier to fake the identities of dead people than live ones." (I just made that second one up.)
Then there's this interesting quote from Sanchez:
The identification was done through multiple means. We had senior former regime members do visual identification of the bodies. We had four individuals that independently verified that we had both of Saddam Hussein's sons.
We also compared X-rays and verified that the injuries on one of the bodies were consistent with the injuries that had been suffered by this individual during a previous assassination attempt.
That seems to imply that this was an assassination, which of course it was (if it really was Uday and Qusay), but the general seems to acknowledge that. It appears that if U and Q had walked out with their hands held high they would still have been gunned down.
Isam al-Khafaji, a former member of the Iraqi reconstruction council, explains his decision to resign.
Iraq is now in almost total chaos. No one knows what is going on. We're not talking here about trying to achieve an ideal political system. People cannot understand why a superpower that can amass all that military might can't get the electricity back on. Iraqis are now contrasting Saddam's ability to bring back power after the war in 1991 to the apparent inability of the US to do so now. There are all kinds of conspiracy theories.
Sunday, July 27, 2003
Using your earlier screw-ups to explain your more recent ones:
Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, defending the Bush administration's justification of the Iraq war, said today that intelligence on terrorism is by its nature "murky," and that the United States may have little choice in the future but to "act on the basis of murky intelligence" if terror attacks are to be prevented. (NY Times)
Gee, you'd almost think they let 9/11 happen so they could sell war in Iraq!
Funny thing is, Murky, that back in October Smirky said this:
Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun -- that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud. -- President Bush, Cincinnati, October 7, 2002
From the Encarta online dictionary, one of the definitions of "murky" is:
obscure: unclear and difficult to understand.
So even Murky (Wolfowitz) is calling Smirky (Bush) a liar. That makes it unanimous! Bush says clear, Wolfie says murky. Why didn't we call the whole thing off?
Fascinating article about the reappearance of the Zapatistas in Mexican politics. Vicente Fox vowed to resolve the Chiapas/Zapatista conflict "in fifteen minutes," but has failed to deliver. The EZLN (Zapatista party) vowed to give Fox a chance. They gave him a chance. The chance appears to be over.
And, in a call to all their supporters throughout Mexico and around the world to put on our shoes and socks and get ready to speak en masse, Marcos wrote:
“It would be good if national and international Civil Society does not make any appointments for the days of August 8, 9, and 10. We don’t know why.”
The NY Times finally gets it right. They treat the death of Cpl. Travis J. Bradach-Nall, a 21-year-old marine who was killed in Iraq clearing mines on July 1, just like he was a 9/11 victim or Laci Peterson. Quotes from his mother and many anguished relatives. Like this, for example:
[Bradach-Nall's mother] was always a liberal Democrat, she said, and had signed various petitions circulating in Portland against the war, even as she found herself in the awkward position of trying to support the military, her son's employer.
Now she plans to join the international campaign to ban land mines and do whatever she can to get a Democrat elected president in 2004, she said.
"I don't ever do anything that would hurt the Marines," she said. "However, I want everything to come out about why decisions were made. And I don't want to hear, `Well, you know what, it's over now, the decision was made.' You know what? If you make a wrong decision, you have to pay for that. I want to make sure that changes are made or people are held accountable for what happened."
If a lengthy obituary for every soldier killed in Iraq were on the front pages every day, with whatever space is left over going to Bush's latest lies justifying the war, the remaining troops would be home real soon, and Bush's Texas vacation would be permanent.
Saturday, July 26, 2003
Scott Ritter's new book, Frontier Justice: Weapons of Mass Destruction and the Bushwhacking of America.
I've only read about 25 pages, but it looks like it will be good.
After the Capitol Hill Blue thing, I'm wary of unconventional sources (of course, after the Jayson Blair and Judith Miller stuff, I'm wary of conventional sources, too!). But this article certainly would explain a lot, including the Bushies' never-ending quest for secrecy:
A captured Al Qaida document reveals that US energy companies were secretly negotiating with the Taliban to build a pipeline. The document was obtained by the FBI but was not allowed to be shared with other agencies in order to protect Enron. Multiple sources confirm that American law enforcement agencies were deliberately kept in the dark and systematically prevented from connecting the dots before 9/11 in order to aid Enron’s secret and immoral Taliban negotiations.
The suppressed Al Qaida document tends to support recent claims of a cover-up made by several mid-level intelligence and law enforcement figures. Their ongoing terrorist investigations appear to have been hindered during the same sensitive time period while the Enron Corporation was still negotiating with the Taliban. An inadvertent result of the Taliban pipeline cover-up was that the Taliban’s friends in Al Qaida were able to complete their last eight months of preparations for 9/11 while the Enron secrecy block was still in force.
Although the latest order to block investigations allegedly resulted from Enron’s January 2002 appeal to Vice President Dick Cheney, it appears that there were at least three previous block orders, each building upon the other, stretching back for decades and involving both Republican and Democratic administrations.
It is time for Congress to face the truth: In order to give Enron one last desperate chance to complete the Taliban pipeline and save itself from bankruptcy, senior levels of US intelligence were ordered to keep their eyes shut and their subordinates ignorant.
The Enron cover-up confirms that 9/11 was not an intelligence failure or a law enforcement failure (at least not entirely). Instead, it was a foreign policy failure of the highest order. If Congress ever combines its Enron investigation with 9/11, Cheney’s whole house of cards will collapse. -- From Atty. John J. Loftus. Read the whole thing!
Thanks to Jerri for finding this one!
That Uday and Qusay thing is really working. Frankly, I'm torn about reporting these casualties. I don't want to seem glad that Bush's insane policies are getting US soldiers killed and wounded every day, and I'm not. But the Bushies try to claim that the soldiers dying is justified because they are somehow "defending our freedom" by occupying Iraq.
I say that the only possible good that can come out of their senseless deaths is to discredit Bush and his neoconmen (and women--sorry, Condi, you traitor to pretty much everything you are). I think of Uday and Qusay type photos of every dead and wounded GI were published daily, along with full bios on them, their families, wives, husbands, girlfriends, and so on, along with why they joined the army in the first place, maybe the public would wake up and demand that the troops be brought home and that Bush stop his murderous ways. Since the press doesn't even tell us their names much anymore, I think all of us need to make sure that the American public is constantly aware the soldiers are dying daily in Iraq.
The NY Times continues to downplay the casualty figures, using only the "enemy action" fatalities number (161 as of today), not the total including accidents (about 238, I think). As I've read several places, many of those accidents have been vehicular, and the reason for the accident was that the soldiers were driving too fast hoping to avoid bullets and RPG's and such. In any case, Bush sent them there, and they're just and dead as the others.
The World Socialist Web Site has a wonderful article about the criminality of the Bush administration as it relates to the murder of the Hussein sons. It provides a clear contrast between the thoughtful, justice- and information-seeking approach that Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson recommended to President Truman to the frontier "justice" approach of the Blair-Bush project. It's a great article--check it out!
Friday, July 25, 2003
We stand together for national health insurance, Canadian style. We stand together on public financing of campaigns, on same day voter registration, on instant runoff voting. We stand together on civil rights, and equal rights, and human rights. We stand together on voting reforms for ex-felons. We stand together on ending the trade and travel embargoes on Cuba. We stand together in opposition to the current war on drugs, which is all too often a war on the urban poor.
I, along with other local Kucinich supporters, got an e-mail yesterday asking me to tell Kucinich to renounce Nader. I sent off this reply:
Speaking strictly for myself, I absolutely will not ask Kucinich to renounce Ralph Nader. Nader was the best candidate in 2000, and I voted for him. Kucinich is the best candidate now, and that is why I support him. He and Nader agree on most issues. The Democrats collusion with the Republicans to keep Nader out of the debates was shameful, and issues of great importance to America were ignored because of it. Gore's inability to carry his own state and unwillingness to fight for the office he had rightfully won are the main reasons he isn't president; not Ralph Nader.
With Bill Clinton defending Bush's lies, Kerry still defending his vote for the Iraq war, and the DLC attacking Dean for being anti-war, I have little respect for what the Democratic party has become. Kucinich can bring Greens and millions of non-voters into the party by bringing it back to its ideals. Renouncing Nader is no way to do that.
The reply I got was a hate-filled anti-Nader article written by Michael Tomasky, whom I had never heard of before. The article called for some Democratic candidate to "ferociously" attack Nader. I certainly like Kucinich's approach better, and several of my fellow Kucinich supporters have answered the guy in a similar vein.
Frankly, I've had about enough of that particular discussion, but if you haven't, you can check out Leah's post at Atrios, and the comments, for more.
An FBI budget official told the Joint Inquiry that counterterrorism was not a priority for Attorney General Ashcroft before September 11, and the FBI faced pressure to make cuts in counterterrorism to satisfy his other priorities. -- from the 9/11 report, p. 47 (p. 79 in the PDF file)
Those priorities focused mainly on depriving the terminally ill of rights they had been granted by their states: the right to assisted suicide in Oregon, and the right to medicinal marijuana for AIDS and cancer patients in California. Ashcroft obviously saw these are greater threats to America than some fundamentalists who had declared war on America and already carried out devastating attacks overseas (embassy bombings and the Cole attack). No wonder Ashcroft has been an even more arrogant prick ever since: He could have done a lot to prevent 9/11, but chose instead to inflict more pain and suffering on those who have already suffered plenty.
Here's an interesting point: I searched the whole report document for the word "Taliban," and it doesn't appear; not once, although Afghanistan being a "safe haven" for al Qaeda members is mentioned several times. "Iraq" appears a few times, but not in any context that implies that the Iraqi government had anything to do with 9/11.
And if you are looking for somebody else to go, if for shear incompetence or blatant lying (take your pick), compare these two quotes:
From at least 1994, and continuing into the summer of 2001, the Intelligence Community received information indicating that terrorists were contemplating, among other means of attack, the use of aircraft as weapons. This information did not stimulate any specific Intelligence Community assessment of, or collective U.S. Government reaction to, this form of threat.
Discussion: [While the credibility of the sources was sometimes questionable and the information often sketchy, the Inquiry confirmed that the Intelligence Community did
receive intelligence reporting concerning the potential use of aircraft as weapons. For example, the Community received information in 1998 about a Bin Ladin operation that
would involve flying an explosive- laden aircraft into a U.S. airport and, in summer 2001, about a plot to bomb a U.S. embassy from an airplane or crash an airplane into it. The FBI and CIA were also aware that convicted terrorist Abdul Hakim Murad and several others had discussed the possibility of crashing an airplane into CIA Headquarters as part of “the Bojinka Plot” in the Philippines, discussed later in this report. Some, but apparently not all, of these reports were disseminated within the Intelligence Community and to other agencies]. -- from the report, pp. 9-10 (42-43 in the pdf file)
I don't think anybody could have predicted ... that they would try to use an airplane as missile. Had this president known of something more specific or known that a plane was going to be used as a missile, he would have acted on it. -- National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Spring 2002.
Of course, the buck should stop in the oval office. That lame-brain Texan hired these clowns; it's his fault!
"The idea that the Saudi government funded, organized or even knew about Sept. 11 is malicious and blatantly false," he [Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan] said. "There is something wrong with the basic logic of those who spread these spurious charges. Al Qaeda is a cult that is seeking to destroy Saudi Arabia as well as the United States. By what logic would we support a cult that is trying to kill us?" -- NY Times
This even though much of the evidence of Saudi involvement was "redacted" from the report. Of course, the explanation would make a lot more sense if "Saudi Arabia" were replaced with "Iraq" and it came from an Iraqi, since no Iraqis were involved in the 9/11 plot, as opposed to 15 Saudi hijackers and one infamous Saudi mastermind (OBL). I sure hope that if W tries to defend the Saudis that Congress and the press will remind him incessantly of that.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, somebody has taken offense at the cop-calling shenanigans in the House of Representatives:
The theme is 10 years of one-party rule is enough. They (Republicans) have had control for 10 years, they've gotten arrogant, they demean the institution, they demean democracy by virtue of the heavy-handed way they run the House, minority rights are downtrodden, and it's time, Mr. and Mrs. America, to make a change. -- former House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-TX).
*I said this called for a big asterisk, because the Chronicle article appears to be the only major news site that has that quote. I found it from BartCop, who got it from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Chronicle doesn't say where Armey was when he said it; from the "Mr. and Mrs. America" line it would seem to be from a speech somewhere. And while the quote clearly seems to suggest that he is calling for people to vote for Democrats next time around, it gets watered down later on:
I hear everybody talking about the good old days when we had such congeniality in the House. In the good old days, they had 30 or 40 votes in their majority, and we had a minority that had become quite expert at being the minority. Now we've got five, six votes in our majority and we've got a minority that is not in any way intending to become good at being in the minority. . . . I don't think it will get better until somebody gets a decisive advantage.
I know that Armey is supposed to be working with the ACLU now and that he expressed reservations about war with Iraq last year, but for a former obnoxious Texas Republican congressman to seem to be calling for a Democratic House...that seems far-fetched. Or maybe he's seen the light and decided to become an Armey of one?
Today a conservative administration is close to asserting that whatever the facts turn out to be regarding Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, the enforcement of U.N. resolutions was a sufficient reason for war. If so, war was waged to strengthen the United Nations as author and enforcer of international norms of behavior. The administration also intimates that ending a tyranny was a sufficient justification for war. Foreign policy conservatism has become colored by triumphalism and crusading zeal. -- George Will, arch-conservative.
Thursday, July 24, 2003
An article about W's version of "justice" from Douglas Valentine at Counterpunch. Thanks to Tatiana for finding both of these articles and posting them on our e-mail list.
From Joe Vialls in Britain:
If the latest story about the adventurous American 101st Airborne Division was true, Saddam Hussein's two sons, his grandson and their solitary bodyguard, would have to go down in history as some of the world’s greatest and bravest fighters. According to the media these four heroic individuals, including one cripple and one child, managed to fight off 200 heavily armed and highly aggressive members of the 101st Airborne for six long hours, before finally perishing in a hail of Hellfire missiles launched by helicopter gunships.
read the rest...
to utter this nonsense:
Had the Bush administration not acted, Saddam and his sons would still be in power, torture chambers would still exist, mass graves would still be undiscovered, terrorists would still have a safe haven in Iraq and Saddam would still have vast wealth to finance weapons programs, he said.
"Knowing these things,'' Cheney said, "how could we, I ask, have allowed that threat to stand? These judgments were not lightly arrived at. And all who were aware of them bore a heavy responsibility for the security of America.''
What threat? Mass graves are a THREAT? The terrorist connection and the WMD crap have both been thoroughly debunked, and Useless Dick STILL has the cojones the bring them up.
I get tired of hearing the term, but for Cheney it fits. The man is 100% pure unadulterated EVIL.
I went to Dearborn this afternoon/evening to protest W's $2000 a plate fundraiser. Limo after limo filled with fancily-dressed, snotty Republicans pulled up. There were about 50 of us in our little "free-speech" zone, which was surprisingly close to the entrance where the Repugs went in. We yelled "Bush Lies People Die" and "You Should Be Ashamed" at the soulless rich monsters as they left, the two grand only putting the slightest dent in their hefty wallets, which will be replaced many times over with their tax cuts and military contracts. What was really disturbing was how many of these creeps were young. I mean, is there anything more repulsive than a young Republican?
We never saw the stupid little liar himself.
What a slimeball:
I don't believe the American people are going to elect for president in 2004, post 9/11, in an unsettled world, a candidate who has been opposed to the use of military power against a brutal dictator like Saddam Hussein. -- Joe Lieberman, quoted by Fox News (Fox News calls Lieberman a "centrist.")
The report shows there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida
The report of the joint congressional inquiry into the suicide hijackings on Sept. 11, 2001, to be published Thursday, reveals U.S. intelligence had no evidence that the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein was involved in the attacks, or that it had supported al-Qaida, United Press International has learned.
Sixteen words? Try everything the Bushies have said for the past year. The only times they have spoken the truth were either mistakes or attempts to cover up some bigger lie ("The president is not a fact-checker," for example).
This came from UPI, which is owned by right-wingnut Sun Yung Moon, who has been a major supporter of Bush and Reagan administrations. When the report is finally released, supposedly today, will the supposedly more liberal "mainstream" media pick up on this item, or will they just jump on the FBI, which already seems primed to take the fall?
But a bipartisan congressional commission says there is no link between Iraq and al-Qaida. Bush has hinted and actually said there was for months. It was his best excuse for war. It was a lie.
Be sure to read the whole article! It has some great quotes from former Senator Max Cleland, who was on the committee, and some government officials, both named and unnamed. Here's one:
He [Unnamed government official] went on to suggest that the conclusions drawn from the information about the Sudan meetings was indicative of a wider-ranging problem with the administration's attitude to intelligence on the alleged Iraq al-Qaida link.
"They take a fact that you could draw several different conclusions from, and in every case they draw the conclusion that supports the policy, without any particular evidence that would meet the normal bar that analytic tradecraft would require for you to make that conclusion," he concluded.
TO: "Saddam Hussayn" [firstname.lastname@example.org]
DATE: Jan 1 1904 00:00:00
SUBJECT: Request Assistance
MY NAME IS AKIMBO BOKIMBI OF THE NIGERIAN INTERIOR MINISTRY BUREAU OF MINING. YOUR NAME WAS GIVEN OF ME BY MUTUAL ACQUAINTANCE OF OURS OF WHOM YOU ARE MOST RECOMMENDED HIGHLY. BECAUSE OF ADMINISTRATIVE OVERSIGHT AND THE RECENT UNFORTUNATE DEATH OF MY SUPERIOR JONAS FALUMBOKIKOJO IT HAS COME UNDER MY PURVEY SOME 1400 KILOS OF HIGHLY ENRICHED YELLOW CAKE URANIUM.
THIS YELLOW CAKE AS YOU MIGHT WELL IMAGINE IS QUITE HEAVY SO I CANNOT EASILY DEPOSIT IT INTO YOUR ACCOUNT BUT IF YOU WERE TO COME OVER HERE AND GET IT I KNOW IT WILL BE OF MUCH USE TO YOU AND YOU WILL BE VERY SAFE WHILE IN MY COUNTRY. PLEASE HURRY IN YOUR REPLY AS I AM QUITE KEEN TO DISPOSE OF THIS MATERIALS BEFORE I AM INVADED BY MR W. BUSH.
Thanks to Rick Green for finding that one, and for discovering Saddam Hussein's e-mail address!
If you have or ever had an hourly job at a store, restaurant or factory or wherever, you know that you get paid time-and-a-half for working over forty hours a week. Well, the House just voted 213-210 to remove that requirement. If that vote becomes law (needs a Senate vote and W's signature), employers will be able to reward overtime with just "comp time," which is just time off later on. Many hourly workers rely on overtime pay to be able to pay the rent and feed their families. That would no longer be an option.
So, while this major screw-the-worker bill was being passed by the House, Rep. Dick Gephardt was speaking to union members in Iowa, telling them how much he'd do for workers if he was president. The other House member running for president, Dennis Kucinich, was present for the vote and was one of the 210 who voted against it.
I hope this gets the attention it deserves, since Gephardt appears to be Kucinich's main obstacle to getting union endorsements. While Gephardt was talking about worker rights, Kucinich was voting to protect them. And with a vote that close, I don't think Gephardt can claim that he knew the outcome beforehand so his vote wasn't needed. Read more about Kucinich's positions on workers' rights here.
The Washington Post has TWO articles today analyzing the "scandal" about Bush's lies in the State of the Union address in terms of how the Bushies could have "handled" it better. One basically attempts to minimize the whole thing, saying it will blow over soon. The other is more critical, but not much better, since it considers the whole thing to be basically a case of clumsy spin: having the wrong person admit the wrong thing at the wrong time. Both articles focus on the buzz around the "scandal" rather than the scandal itself: that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Rice, Wolfowitz and others in the administration consistently lied about the threat posed by Iraq for the purpose of getting the war that they obviously so desperately wanted.
From today's NY Times article on the killing of Saddam's sons:
In meetings at the White House today, some top aides said they were relieved that the military operation happened to occur just as new details were coming out suggesting that the White House and the C.I.A. had both mishandled intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program as they built the case for war.
Of course, the Times doesn't follow up on this at all. From the official story, it appears that the army only had the word of a single informant that Odai and Qusai were in the house. After minimal attempts to get the occupants to come out, they stormed the building, getting four soldiers wounded in the process. The only evidence we have that the two sons were killed is what the army says, and of course they'll never get any useful information about Saddam or WMD's from the two bullet-ridden corpses. It certainly seems that the main point of the whole thing was to have some news to counteract the daily revelations of impeachable lies by the Bushies, and that's what they got.
Wednesday, July 23, 2003
That was the vote in the House today to overturn the FCC's June 2 decision which would have allowed further media consolidation. Bush has threatened to veto, so it's not done yet, but with almost the entire Republican-majority House voting against him and big-media champ Michael Powell, it looks like we may have won one.
Dennis Kucinich on the House floor yesterday:
It is time for the United States to get out of Iraq.
But this Administration, whose entry strategy was based on falsehood, with no exit strategy, has trapped our troops in Iraq and exposed them to greater harm. The total number of American casualties is now 232. Here is what needs to be done diplomatically: The United Nations must be brought in. Negotiations for an exit must begin now. An exit agreement with the United Nations must involve the US letting go of the contracting process (Halliburton, Brown and Root, etc).
The UN must also take over management, accounting and distribution to the Iraqi people of Iraq's oil profits. Additionally, a transition from UN control to self- determined governing structure by and for the Iraqi people must be planned. Finally the Administration, which unwisely ordered the bombing, must fund the reconstruction
It was wrong to go into Iraq. It is wrong to stay in Iraq. US out. UN in. Let's support our troops by bringing them home.
A free, democratic, peaceful Iraq will not threaten America or our friends with illegal weapons. A free Iraq will not be a training ground for terrorists or a funnel of money to terrorists, or provide weapons to terrorists who would willingly use them to strike our country or our allies. (from Bush's speech about the murder of Saddam Hussein's sons)
Of course it won't, George, Iraq never did. That's what Saudi Arabia is for!
The Bushies have been trying to claim that killing Saddam's sons would cut down on the attacks on American soldiers in Iraq. Wrong again:
Hopes among American officials that the death of the two sons would help to stem the attacks on the occupation army in Iraq dimmed today as two American soldiers were killed in separate guerrilla attacks.
One soldier was killed and seven wounded this morning when two vehicles were struck by a bomb while traveling on a road outside Mosul, the city where Mr. Hussein's sons died, the United States Central Command said in a statement. In another attack about an hour and a half later, a soldier was killed when his convoy was hit by a bomb in Ar Ramadi, the military said. Another soldier and a contractor working with the American military were wounded. -- NY Times.
Just as the shell of lies from the Bushies begins to crack, Slick Willie calls up Larry King to defend them.
[Updates] This just infuriates me! I saw it this morning while eating breakfast, and I haven't had time to follow up on it. Until now!
Clinton told King that "Everybody makes mistakes when they are president."
Clinton goes on:
Former President Clinton also said Tuesday night that at the end of his term, there was "a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for " in Iraq.
"At the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what [Saddam] had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes, and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it.
"But we didn't know. So I thought it was prudent for the president to go to the U.N. and for the U.N. to say, 'You got to let these inspectors in, and this time if you don't cooperate the penalty could be regime change, not just continued sanctions.'"
Clinton also told King: "People can quarrel with whether we should have more troops in Afghanistan or internationalize Iraq or whatever, but it is incontestable that on the day I left office, there were unaccounted for stocks of biological and chemical weapons."
George W. Bush is our worst president ever. William J. Clinton may be our worst ex-president ever.
I always figured that the Republicans had blackmail material on Clinton from way back which explained NAFTA, the WTO, the telecommunications act, welfare reform, the almost complete lack of anti-trust action, and all the other Republican schemes that Clinton supported. I would have thought that it no longer has much of a hold on him, but apparently it does. The only good I can see coming from this is that the heads of Rush Limbaugh and Tom DeLay may explode.
Tuesday, July 22, 2003
Last week, Senator Richard Shelby told CNN that declassified information in the report would "shed some light, maybe not all the light" on the attacks.
"... I can tell you this, there are a lot of high people in Saudi Arabia, over the years, that have aided and abetted Osama bin Laden and his group," Shelby said, alleging the Saudis had done so via charities as well as directly.
Sort of a rhetorical question; I've got a pretty good idea what the answer is.
By the way, Shelby is a Republican from Alabama. I think Shelby and senators Lugar of Indiana, Hagel of Nebraska, Chaffee of Rhode Island, Snow and Collins of Maine, and McCain of Arizona are the most likely places for cracks to appear in the Republican facade. Finding cracks in the House will probably be much harder.
The four-term senator urged the administration to put aside "hubris" and form an international coalition to rebuild Iraq. He said the United States should rely more heavily on Pakistan and other Muslim nations that enjoy more credibility than U.S. troops on the streets of Baghdad.
"I feel this passionately. I feel this very strongly. You can't look a mother or father in the eye when their son or daughter is lost, and tell them you did everything possible to protect them unless you're taking those kinds of steps," Kerry said.
"There are 147,00 American troops in Iraq, compared to about 13,000 non-American troops," Kerry said. "The whole world has an interest in a peaceful Middle East, and the whole world has a stake in our winning the peace."
"This administration did not have a sufficient plan -- they didn't have any plan -- for how to secure nuclear facilities, for how to secure Baghdad, for how to wind up winning the peace," Kerry said.
"I regret that we have to be chiming in from the sidelines to get the administration to do what's right. But lives are at stake. We need to internationalize this. We need to do it now, and we need to do it openly and we need to do it in order to defuse the sense of occupation and protect the troops."
I'm glad to see him speak up, but where were you last fall, Mr. Kerry? Voting FOR the war. Surely he could have seen that the evidence was shaky. And after the inspectors went in, why wasn't he forcefully opposing the war like Byrd and Kucinich did? He could have called to rescind the war resolution, but he didn't. He still defends his vote for war. He certainly did not do everything possible to protect the troops--he could have worked to keep them out of an illegal, immoral war based on false pretenses, but he didn't. Kerry really has almost no credibility with me.
I just finished reading a book called "The Cell: Inside the 9/11 Plot, and Why the FBI and CIA Failed to Stop It." It was written by John Miller of ABC News along with Michael Stone and Chris Mitchell. Not especially well written, it frequently reverts to the first person without explicitly telling you which author is speaking. It also has not one single footnote, nor does it have a bibliography. Where it touches on events that I have studied in some detail, like the TWA 800 explosion in 1996, the book glosses over lots of details and generally passes the government explanation off as fact. It also basically buys into the "war on terrorism" crap, believing that killing more people overseas is the way to stop people from getting killed here, whereas I believe the opposite is true. Just because Osama is wrong doesn't mean we're right.
On the other hand, it does offer some criticism of the Bushies, and points out that the Clinton administration was more on the ball with terrorism than the Bushies were before 9/11 (or probably since, all the bluster and wars notwithstanding). This quote was revealing (and properly attributed, unlike many in the book):
"Before September 11, I couldn't get half an hour on terrorism with Ashcroft," says Tom Pickard, former deputy director of the FBI. "He was only interested in three things: guns, drugs and civil rights."
Anyhow, I don't really recommend the book; I try to read the occasional item from the mainstream or even right-wing sources, as a reality check and to see what they're up to. I'd say this book was more bad because it was just bad than because of a particular slant.
The report from the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation into 9/11 is due out any day now, and plenty of rumors are swirling about its contents. According to AP,
Blacked out in the report is a 28-page section that the officials say criticizes Saudi Arabia's government and details its lack of interest in tackling Muslim extremism.
That section probably also mentions the decades-long ties between the Bush family and the Saudi government, including close ties between George H. W. Poppy Read My Lips 41 Bush and Osama bin Laden's father. If any nation could be blamed for 9/11, it wasn't Afghanistan or Iraq, it was Saudi Arabia. Fifteen of the hijackers were Saudis; Osama is a Saudi. Most of the money probably came from Saudi sources. It's amazing and scary how the Bushies have been able to start two wars, killing thousands of civilians and wounding thousands more, while the country most closely related to the attack on America goes not only unpunished but unexamined.
Two in a row for Wolfowitz: I'm not concerned about weapons of mass destruction.
Now he tells us.
As Atrios points out:
This is just the occasional reminder that the reason we need to find WMDs in Iraq, if they exist, isn't simply to help re-elect George Bush. It's also because if they really exist, and we don't know where they are, then we have a wee bit of a problem on our hands. That's why we went to war in the first place, remember.
I'd find the notion that they really believed Iraq was a threat more plausible if all discussions of the weapons weren't simply about ass covering.
Labels: Quote du jour
She voted for the Patriot Act. She voted for the war. Now she's calling for school vouchers in DC. I think Californians may be recalling the wrong politician.
Is George Bush the Iraq war's "useful idiot"?
The phrase was coined by Vladimir Lenin to refer to gullible communist sympathizers who swallowed whole the party line. They believed what they were told, and what they were told was mostly lies.
Now Bush stands abandoned by events. No weapons of mass destruction. No nuclear program. No links to al Qaeda. His judgment and his competence are being questioned -- his honesty as well. But the president is no liar. More likely, he is merely an uncritical man who believed what he was told. Lenin knew the type. -- Richard Cohen in today's Washington Post.
Monday, July 21, 2003
Maybe I'm fighting the last war (or several wars back), but I sense a familiar dynamic. The troops will be the peace movement. The troops will want to come home, and they will be hard to refuse. I went to college a right-wing Democrat, supportive of the war (though god knows not enough to actually enlist). Returning veterans did a lot to turn me around. The weight of the lost cause grew on all who were deluded into envisioning an idealistic and successful U.S. role in Vietnam. In Vietnam, it was never a case of the U.S. military being unable to acquit itself well in actual battle. It was the failure to construct a loyal society out of fundamentally disaffected masses of people. It was good money after bad, each additional life lost more pointless than the preceding.
So far there seems to be no difference in Iraq. You have two coherent national groups -- Kurds and Shi'a -- with no desire to be ruled by U.S. surrogates, and no need to knuckle under to the U.S., and you have the Saddamist-saturated Sunni.
I could be wrong, but I see the U.S. in a hole, and still digging.
Lots of interesting comments to that post as well.
I've read several articles recently which suggested that impeachment now is a waste of time and energy, that we should focus on next year's election. But President aWol appears to want to fight his way out of trouble, and he must be stopped before he pre-emptively starts more wars:
President Bush today accused Syria and Iran of continuing to "harbor and assist terrorists," and he warned that they would face consequences.
"This behavior is completely unacceptable, and states that support terror will be held accountable," Mr. Bush said at a news conference with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy at Mr. Bush's ranch in Crawford, Tex. -- NY Times
Our military is already stretched to the limit, continuing to struggle and die in Afghanistan and Iraq, and with Marines now going into Liberia. The "war on terror" is just a big crock designed to let Bush pursue his fascist agenda; it and he must be stopped--now. Impeach Bush & Cheney!
I suggested on Friday that the Bush administration's announcement that they were going to try six Guantanamo Bay "detainees," including two British citizens, followed shortly thereafter by a willingness to listen to Tony Blair's arguments that the Brits should be tried in Britain, was basically a setup to toss Tony a bone without really costing Bush anything.
LA Times columnist Jonathan Turley suggests that Bush may actually be giving up something--his desire to be a despot:
If the British courts are adequate to try these two men, many in this country will ask why our courts are inadequate — particularly after convicting more than a dozen such terrorists (including Al Qaeda members).
Moreover, other countries will now presumably renew their requests for their own citizens. Some officials also are concerned that there is little real evidence against these men and that a civilian criminal trial in Britain could result in acquittals.
The British share the overwhelming worldview that the Bush tribunals are an affront to the rule of law: denying basic rules of evidence, allowing indefinite detention of suspects, barring access to the federal courts, permitting the introduction of statements derived from torture, barring the application of constitutional and federal laws and limiting the grounds for appeal.
The president has repeatedly acted like an American Caesar, sending some accused terrorists to federal court while others are sent for tribunal justice. In the case of these two men, Bush will allow them a fair trial in Britain as a gift to a friend in political need while he arbitrarily denies such trials to others.
The message is clear and simple: Bush alone will decide the meaning and the means of justice. Ironically, in his actions since 9/11, Bush may have handed these defendants a victory that they could not have achieved alone. The terrorists sought to destroy the American system and to show that we are hypocrites who refuse to comply with rules that we apply to others.
It takes little to destroy buildings and to sacrifice innocent people. It takes a president to destroy a legal system and its underlying values. Like those he seeks to execute, Bush wants justice by his own definition and by his own hand.
The final paragraphs of an LA Times article:
Still, [Feith] and other Pentagon officials said, they are studying the lessons of Iraq closely — to ensure that the next U.S. takeover of a foreign country goes more smoothly.
"We're going to get better over time," promised Lawrence Di Rita, a special assistant to Rumsfeld. "We've always thought of post-hostilities as a phase" distinct from combat, he said. "The future of war is that these things are going to be much more of a continuum.
"This is the future for the world we're in at the moment," he said. "We'll get better as we do it more often."
Writing as a veteran of the United States Navy, I can understand the dissatisfaction of Gen. John P. Abizaid, the Central Command's senior officer, with troops speaking out against the war and against Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld (front page, July 17).
As anyone in a military uniform knows, service people protect democracy without being able to enjoy the liberty of free speech. So the fact that the soldiers risked almost certain punishment by publicly complaining reveals the level of their frustration and disillusionment.
I suppose that if President Bush can use military groups for carefully crafted political rallies and carrier landings for photo opportunities, military personnel on the ground should be able to set the record straight for the American people.
Knoxville, Tenn., July 17, 2003
In 1974, the mounting evidence against Richard Nixon finally convinced one of his staunchest Republican supporters to call for his resignation or impeachment, and Nixon resigned a few days later. Apparently George Tenet told the Senate Intelligence Committee some things last week that are changing some minds:
Not a month ago, as the frustration about ''missing'' Iraqi chemical and biological weapons was evolving into suspicions about phony nuclear weapons information, Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Pat Roberts of Kansas, a Republican, was a willing stonewaller. In helping to block hearings into prewar intelligence, Roberts declared there was no evidence of misdeeds and that holding hearings would merely imply there was.
Last week, he was singing an entirely different tune, vowing that ''we will take this where it leads us; we'll let the chips fall where they may.'' That includes the White House - accountings from Vice President Cheney and National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice are going to be difficult to evade.
Roberts's switch follows the expressions of other Republicans whose independence is a matter of record - especially John McCain and Foreign Relations Committee big shots Richard Lugar and Chuck Hagel. In any congressional investigation the first confirming bits of political validity are provided by an administration's fellow party members. That is now occurring.
Roberts did more than switch. In pledging to let the facts lead his probe, the Kansan was opening the door to inquiry into a wide range of statements about Iraq's alleged possession of unconventional weaponry made by Bush, Cheney, and Rice, statements that make it clear that the infamous 16 words in Bush's State of the Union address were but the tip of a hyperbolic iceberg.
What tipped Roberts's hand was CIA Director George Tenet's odd appearance behind closed committee doors last week. -- From the Boston Globe. Definitely worthwhile reading!
In Room 5714, Garth Stewart is sleeping when three doctors arrive. One of them reaches for a light switch, and before Garth can shield his eyes, his room is flash-blasted in white.
"Can we take a look at the leg?"
Garth flips back the bedsheet. His desert tan has gone sallow. His GI buzz cut is a woolly disgrace. Even in this condition, he wishes for a decent soldier's haircut. The drugs have made his stomach cramp so much that he stays curled on his side. Now, with the doctors hovering, he tries to straighten out his 6-foot-4 frame. His amputated leg won't lie down. It trembles in midair.
A doctor works quickly, unwrapping the bandage and then the white gauze. Garth watches as they probe the black caterpillar of sutures on his bulbous stump. He moans. The stump begins to shake violently. "I'm gonna get sick," he says.
"You want your bucket?"
Garth reaches for the container. "I can't do this much longer," he says, holding his hand over his eyes.
"We're almost finished," the doctor tells him.
"No," Garth says, "not that, everything. I can't take it any more."
Sunday, July 20, 2003
The Bush administration tries to explain away lies it made leading up to the war in Iraq; California tries to overcome the largest state deficit in history; the federal deficit projection revised sharply upward; inspectors look for evidence of an Iraqi nuclear program; CEO pay up--and this was all twelve years ago!
Things will never get better as long as we allow Bushes in the White House.
A majority in this poll, 52 percent, said the president is doing a poor job of handling the economy, and just four in 10 say the U.S.-led military campaign in Iraq has been a success. That's down from 52 percent who felt that way in late March.
That's right--more people thought the war was a success BEFORE W claimed that major combat operations were over and "Mission Accomplished" than do now.
Peace Row at the Art Fair!
Our Kucinich booth was one of seven in a row with a peaceful message!
(Click on picture for larger image.)
From the left, the groups were the Huron Valley United Nations Association, Kucinich for President, the Megiddo Peace Project, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, the Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice, Veterans for Peace, and the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace. Other peaceful groups with booths included Global Renaissance Alliance (pushing for Kucinich's Department of Peace), Amnesty International, Ann Arbor Peace Circle, Youth for Understanding, the Green Party, the Libertarian Party, and probably one or two others (please e-mail me, email@example.com, if I left you out--and Dean and Kerry don't count, since Dean won't cut the defense budget and Kerry voted for the war in Iraq). There were several other booths in line conceptually, if not physically, with the Kucinich platform: Vegans in Motion, Sasha Farms (Thanks very much for helping us with our booth takedown!), the ACLU, the Sierra Club, the Freedom Activist Network, the Ecology Center, and more. Most of these booths were staffed with one or two volunteers for four days, twelve hours per day. That says a lot for the progressive activist community here in Ann Arbor.
The Megiddo Peace Project was very interesting. Long-time Ann Arbor activist Alan Haber had his Peace Table on display. The Peace Table was built around the time that the arguments about the shape of the table at the Vietnam peace talks in Paris were happening. Alan designed the table to be made from a single large board, with nothing wasted. The table belonged to a friend of his for a long time, but has since been all over the world. Nobel prize winners and Dennis Kucinich are among the many dignitaries who have sat at the table. Alan hopes that one day the table will find a permanent home in the US Department of Peace which President Kucinich will establish!
The Peace Table
How the table pieces were cut from one board.
Three more soldiers die in Iraq. (Pay no attention to CNN's headline which says two soldiers were killed; the article says three.) Anita Blount, wife of Major General Buford Blount (yes, that's really his name), says that complaints from the families of soldiers in the Third Infantry encourage the attacks: "When the Iraqis see media coverage of disgruntled Americans, publicly campaigning for the return of our soldiers from Iraq, they are encouraged and believe their strategy is working." The pentagon says the troops can't complain. Personally, I think our mad cowboy president is more to blame: "Bring them on!"
Express your opinion now! Soldiers in Iraq and their family members can vote as many times as they like!
Saturday, July 19, 2003
I got an e-mail from Mr. Welch with this article in it, and it expresses the hope and optimism I feel for the Kucinich campaign. We just finished four days of getting the Kucinich message out at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, and I'm glad to post this fine article. (I won't italicize like I usually do; just change the font a little so you can tell Welch's writings from mine.)
The Fire This Time:
Why Kucinich May be the Right Guy at the Right Time
Daniel Patrick Welch
Kucinich may be the only guy who can win this election. Sounds far-fetched, right? What the Brits would call Loony Left delusional thinking. The U.S. press would just ignore the whole thing, naturally, until it's no longer possible. Just plain crazy. But is it? Every finely tuned ear has recorded the spike in interest every time someone has had the guts to speak up about various aspects of the nascent fascism we are confronting. From Gore's early comments breaking the taboo of criticizing Bush to Byrd's articulate blasts, mainstream politicians have received a grateful roar from the rabble with each thrust, the bolder the better.
Of course, political parties have never been comfortable with movement politicians, and the Boy Mayor of Cleveland is no exception. But these, of course, are no ordinary times, and along the political spectrum, from Chomsky to, say, Chenoweth, people would be hard pressed to say the old rules will work this time around. Along with positive notes from Chomsky, Studs Terkel, Ben Cohen of Ben and Jerry's, Lynn Woolsey of the Progressive Caucus, and left/liberal websites like Democrats.com and Citizens for Legitimate Government, the Kucinich campaign crossed new threshold when he took second place in the Moveon.org online primary, itself a fascinating exercise in online democracy.
It's a remarkable surge in just a few days, and with the resultant influx of sorely needed cash, it is only a matter of time before people start voting where they really want to-the buzz is that Dennis is people's "I would, but.." candidate. And all the notables who take note of Kucinich, even some who overtly or implicitly endorse him, "concede" that he doesn't have a chance.
I think they may be selling their man short. My answer to those who say we can only win by playing the same game is that--what seems completely logical to me--it's the only way we can lose. The money and the media will always favor the right--unless we can learn to run an insurgent, Kucinich--type candidate and campaign and win successfully, we are screwed. Why is this news? Why should U.S. elections be so special--they are some of the most corrupt and money-polluted scams in the world.
We need to look elsewhere for models and quit whining and focusing on old-school gamesmanship. It is nothing new for progressive populists to run against moneyed candidates with "only" the Truth and the People on their side. Why should this be a losing proposition? Lula did it in Brazil. Chavez did it in Venezuela. Allende did it in Chile before the CIA mowed him down... Not only is it possible--it may be the only way to win, especially as time goes on and the demographics further favor such insurgency. It's still Jackson's model: without bringing millions of new people into the process, by energizing and mobilizing base constituencies, the left is suicidally following the right's game plan and ignoring its own overwhelming strengths.
The Emerging Democratic Majority is ours--but we have the power to blow it by convincing future generations of Blacks, Latinos, Asians, and others that their growing numbers are not of interest to us and they have nothing to gain by participating. The right is quite justifiably following a smart strategy which is the only way they can win. They have even succeeded in getting most Democrats to follow a strategy which is the only way they can lose.
The last insurgent populist campaign the Democrats dispensed with was Jesse Jackson's, and his math is still sound. Consider this equation from his 1984 convention speech (still a great read-isn't it amazing what you can find online?):
If Blacks vote in great numbers, progressive Whites win. It's the only way progressive Whites win. If Blacks vote in great numbers, Hispanics win. When Blacks, Hispanics, and progressive Whites vote, women win. When women win, children win. When women and children win, workers win. We must all come up together. We must come up together.
Those who think that campaign never set off alarm bells in the halls of power need only remember the Newsweek cover four years later, when Jackson managed to break 50% in the Michigan primary by mobilizing tens of thousands of African American youths to vote in their first electoral experience. Somebody found a fairly scary close-up of Jackson in the throes of an intense speech, face contorted and sweaty in a way reminiscent of Hitler or Sun Yung Moon. The one-word caption, in large-type yellow letters, served as headline, heads-up, and horrified call-to-arms: Jesse?! It was apparently the moment when the establishment, although still dismissive, actually considered that he might win, and began to contemplate what it might mean.
The math, stripped of its eloquence, looks something like this: If minority constituencies could be inspired to vote in proportionate numbers and in line with their historical preferences, a populist candidate would need less than 40% of the white vote to constitute a majority. In other words, in a 100 million vote election, 12% Black at 90%, 12 Latino at 65%, Asian at 60%, White Women at 53%...leads to only 25% of white men needed…. Before you get out your calculators, remember this is only a rough sketch. The theory is that by truly energizing the progressive base, we can further effect this shift to the left.
The problem, of course, is that Kucinich isn't Black, and it remains to be seen whether he could mobilize the necessary base constituencies in sufficient numbers. Jackson had a special charisma, which Sharpton and Braun seem to lack in the same quantity. It may not only be about race, though white progressives have been saying this for generations. The difference is that the African American community still has a cohesive political consciousness: Black voters enticed to vote can largely be relied on to support progressive causes. The same can not be said for the alienated white votership, who occasionally sneak out in record numbers to vote for David Duke or worse.
And these tendencies aren't changing, much as we are led to believe otherwise. For one thing, the right would not be pouring money into vote suppression if they were. Anecdotal insights may also be instructive. A Latina friend of mine, recently naturalized, sought my advice on voting, since we often discussed politics. One caveat, she said, was that she couldn't vote for any candidate who supported abortion. I cautioned her that, given her other beliefs, she would probably find that pigeonholing along these lines might cause her to vote for some ideas she rejected with greater vehemence. Some time later, it has become apparent that she is horrified by the right wing, furious at what she felt was a GOP coup in 2000, and poised to support progressive candidates despite their reproductive rights stand. Similarly, in California, Pete Wilson and the state GOP's ugly support for anti-immigration legislation has virtually guaranteed the further entrenchment of these gains. And it can only get worse for the right if the left wakes up soon enough.
Even white people are getting the message. The Nation ran a piece in May quoting the likes of former Silicon Valley moguls on how they may have changed their minds about the need for unions, limits on corporate power and the like. The Kucinich campaign seizes on one of these transformations, maybe with a little too much hope of Things to Come (but who's to say?), a disaffected voter who, after 22 years of being a libertarian, just switched to Democrat because he finally found "someone to vote for: thank you Dennis Kucinich!"
The notion of elections actually reflecting the popular will is at the root of radical democratic thought, and provides the ground on which elements of radical democratic, anarcho-socialist, libertarian and anarchist ideas intermingle. Expanding democracy can only be a good thing. If the people's voice were truly free to be heard, would people really be against such things as raising the minimum wage? Providing health care and education? Limiting the influence of corporations, and the intrusive power of government in private lives?
The real trouble, of course, to advancing a people-focused, progressive agenda, is that democracy isn't really in the offing. The money-drenched, corporate-fixed "process" we stomach has little in common with the Greek ideal, unless you consider that women, slaves, and the poor are not included. Even before the end of American Apartheid, the hypocrisy of exporting "democracy" was a staple of the American self-perception. Florida is only the latest chapter in our national self-denial. It may seem ludicrous to many to think in terms of obtaining change through a major party candidate in the current system. Without structural changes like proportional representation, instant runoff voting and other reforms that would encourage independent and third-party participation--as well as abolishing the electoral college and other undemocratic forms of skewed representation--not to mention long overdue representation for DC--the bar is that much higher, and the dream recedes.
But there is no need to choose one path over the other. The fight is now, and it has never been more important. And Kucinich just may be the Right Guy at the Right Time. To paraphrase Jackson, who paraphrased Lazarus, who couldn't have said it better: "Give me your tired, give me your poor, your huddled masses who yearn to breathe free, and come next November there will be a change because our time has come!"
© 2003 Daniel Patrick Welch. Reprint permission granted.
I'm getting the feeling that Jayson Blair was the most honest reporter at the NY Times (and certainly not the most dishonest Blair in the world). The Times today is reporting that the US started attacking Iraqi defenses in 2002. I knew that! You knew that!
Maybe tomorrow they'll report that there were serious irregularities in the voting in Florida in 2000. Well, better late than never, but not by much.
The president "is not a fact checker," the official said. -- NY Times.
The document also noted that the intelligence agencies had "low confidence" in some of its conclusions, including when Saddam Hussein might use weapons of mass destruction, whether he would try to attack the United States and whether he would provide chemical or biological weapons to Al Qaeda.
Friday, July 18, 2003
The gloves appear to be coming off in the House of Representatives.
The partisan bickering later spilled over onto the House floor, where Democrats and Republicans offered conflicting accounts about what happened in the Ways and Means Committee meeting on a pension plan bill.
The whole thing blew up, witnesses said, when Democrats complained of the way committee's Republican chairman, Rep. Bill Thomas of California, was running the session.
The Democrats said they needed more time to review some changes in the legislation after getting them only the night before.
When they could not to get a line-by-line reading of the bill, a common parliamentary tactic, they walked out and gathered to talk in a library at the back of the meeting room. Thomas, who has a reputation for being blunt, had his staff call the cops.
Democrats said Thomas called police to get them out of the room. Republicans said the police were called because one Democrat, Rep. Pete Stark of California, got out of hand. -- from CNN
Fortunately, the Dems are stepping up:
"How outrageous," Pelosi said before introducing a resolution to condemn Thomas for the way he handled the hearing. The resolution failed on a party line vote.
"The Ways and Means Democrats were subjected to an indignity, an indignity no member should have to endure," said Pelosi.
"Make no mistake about this the police were summoned to remove these Democratic members because the chairman didn't want them in the room and for no other reason."
Atrios has much more here and here. The second post suggests ways uo can help.
Lou Dobbs asks: "Who is responsible for the WMD intelligence controversy?"
Currently it's Bush 62%, Democrats 34%, CIA 3%, British 1%.
Check out Katherine Albrecht's CASPIAN web site for much more on the evil of supermarket cards.
I was very pleased last fall when both of my senators, Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow, along with my outgoing rep in the House Lynn Rivers and new rep (to me) John Dingell, voted against the resolution giving W authority to go to war with Iraq. Since then, Levin and Dingell have both made good statements opposing Bush policies, although not with the clarity or force of Robert Byrd or Dennis Kucinich. Stabenow, unfortunately, has been fairly silent, generally spouting the "support our troops" line. That is, until now. Here's what she said Wednesday on the Senate floor:
Madam President, I rise to . . . commend our service men and women who have served us so well in Iraq, as well as around the world.
We join in our pride and gratitude for their courage and their service.
However, I must rise today to express my deep concern about revelation after revelation of the fragile nature of the facts presented to the American public and the world about the reasons we had to preemptively, unilaterally attack Iraq.
Those misleading words in the President's State of the Union Address this past January have brought into question the credibility of our Government. This is extremely serious. It hurts our country because Iraq is not the only threat to our Nation, as the Senator from New Jersey indicated. We continue to be threatened by terrorists in emerging nuclear countries such as Iran and North Korea. In order to win the war on terrorism and ultimately disarm Iran and North Korea, we are going to have to work with
NATO and other allies to protect American citizens.
Unfortunately, the misleading statements about Iraq attempting to purchase uranium from Niger will make building such coalitions even more difficult. This means our homeland will be less safe and our American citizens less secure. This is a deep concern of mine. I wish the misleading statements about Iraq and Niger were the only statements in question that the President and his administration have made to the American people. Unfortunately, there have been others.
First, let's go through what transpired with the statements on Iraq and Niger. Before the State of the Union referencing Iraqi purchases of uranium from Africa, the administration, at the direction of the CIA, took out a nearly identical line in a speech the President gave in Cincinnati last October justifying the use of force in Iraq. Then, the African uranium purchase was back in the State of the Union Address, although we were told now this was a mistake by the CIA director George Tenet. Then, the African reference was dropped from Secretary of State Powell's presentation on Iraqi weapons capabilities to the United Nations just 8
days later. Then, Saddam's nuclear weapons came back with certainty when Vice President Cheney appeared on Meet the Press in March and said, "We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.''
This was one of the main assertions used that took us to war, and I believe the American people have a right to know which it is. If it was good intelligence, why the constant change of mind? Either Iraq had nuclear weapons or it didn't. If it was bad intelligence, who kept pushing to use it in the administration speeches and interviews? We need to know the answers to these questions. It is important for the credibility of our country and for the trust of the American people in our Government.
It does not end there. We heard much about specially-made aluminum tubes that could be used to build centrifuges to create weapons-grade uranium. In the same State of the Union where he referenced uranium purchases from Africa, President Bush also said: Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
But, in fact, an unclassified intelligence assessment back in October stated some intelligence specialists "believe that those tubes are probably intended for conventional weapons programs.''
Last February, Secretary of State Colin Powell told the U.N. Security Council that "we all know there are differences of opinion,'' and that "there is controversy about what these tubes are for.''
However, the International Atomic Energy Agency, after conducting its own study, concluded the uranium tubes were not for uranium enrichment.
Which is it? Enough time has gone by; we should have and are entitled to answers. We are entitled to the truth. Most importantly, the American people are entitled to the truth. Although we now have more than 140,000 troops in Iraq, we have not yet found chemical or biological weapons or even the plants needed to make them. We have not found evidence of al-Qaida training camps, although in the run-up to the war the administration not only said they were there in Iraq but that they knew
Again, this administration has taken us into a new age, an age where we claim the right to unilaterally, preemptively strike another nation because we believe our national survival is at stake. In such a world, the intelligence used as proof for striking first has to be unassailable, has to be totally credible, or the American people and our allies will be deeply suspicious of any future claims.
The claims led to decisions to put American men and women in harm's way and in too many instances have led to the loss of life. We need to find out the truth behind the various claims and questions, legitimate questions that have arisen, questions that have been asked by colleagues on both sides of the aisle, questions that have taken us into the deserts of Iraq and put our men and women in harm's way.
The only way we can get to the bottom of this is to set up an independent commission to get the facts, a bipartisan commission, a way to objectively look at what happened so it does not happen again.
There is nothing more serious than a potential nuclear threat to our people. If there was ever a need for an independent commission, it is now. We now face potential nuclear threats from Iran, from North Korea. We could face more in the future. American families and our American troops deserve answers to the questions that have been raised. We all deserve answers. We all deserve the truth.
I hope my colleagues will join in support developing this independent commission. I believe nothing less than the credibility of our country is at stake. I hope we all join in supporting the Corzine amendment.
Two British nationals were among the six "detainees" at Guantanamo Bay that the Bushies had said they were going to bring before military tribunals, possibly leading to the death penalty. Now, at Tony Blair's request, they are backing off, at least a little.
Does this stink of a setup or what? These "detainees" have been held at Gitmo for over a year, with very little changing in their circumstances except for getting older. All of a sudden, a couple of weeks ago, the Bushies announce that six detainees, including two Brits and an Aussie, would be the first to be tried. I'm pretty sure they knew at the time that Bush's poodle was coming to visit, and they decided this would be a way to toss him a bone without really giving up anything.
Agence France-Presse said a Blair spokesman promised a full inquiry if the body proved to be Dr. Kelly's. "It goes without saying that the government will cooperate fully," the spokesman said, adding. "I do not think today is the time to rush to judgment or jump to conclusions." (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/07/18/international/worldspecial/18CND-BRITISH.html?hp)
That's right, Tony. You and George have been rushing to judgment and jumping to conclusions for a year now. Time to take a break.
There's no mystery about why the administration's budget projections have borne so little resemblance to reality: realistic budget numbers would have undermined the case for tax cuts. So budget analysts were pressured to high-ball estimates of future revenues and low-ball estimates of future expenditures. Any resemblance to the way the threat from Iraq was exaggerated is no coincidence at all.
Thursday, July 17, 2003
"I take responsibility for putting our troops into action," Mr. Bush said. "And I made that decision because Saddam Hussein was a threat to our security and a threat to the security of other nations."
"I take responsibility for making the decision, the tough decision to put together a coalition to remove Saddam Hussein, because the intelligence — not only our intelligence but the intelligence of this great country," Mr. Bush continued, referring to Mr. Blair's Britain, "made a clear and compelling case that Saddam Hussein was a threat to security and peace." -- NY Times.
I've been coordinating volunteers for the booth and making sure things go smoothly, which is why blogging has been light today. If you're coming to the art fair, be sure to visit us! We're booth 56 in the non-profit/activism section, which is on Liberty Street between Fifth and Division. We're part of a long line of peace-oriented booths; the local United Nations association is on one side, and the Megiddo Peace Project is on the other. There's even a booth for the "Global Renaissance" group, which is promoting Kucinich's Department of Peace. These booths have to be staffed twelve hours a day for four days, but there doesn't seem to be a shortage of local activists willing to help!
Tony Blair receives a standing ovation from Congress, the majority of whom did just what he did: went along with George Bush's evil plans in the face of all logic and evidence (or lack thereof).
Wednesday, July 16, 2003
None of us that wear this uniform are free to say anything disparaging about the secretary of defense or the president of the United States," General Abizaid said during his Pentagon briefing.
I hope THAT is plastered all over the wall behind Bush the next time he struts in to talk to the troops, just so people don't get the wrong idea. It's not that people in the military don't want to heckle and boo him and throw rotten vegetables in his general direction--it's just that they're not free to.
They know that aWol and Rummy sent them to hell on a bunch of lies, but they're not allowed to speak out?
A U.S. soldier was killed Wednesday in an attack on a convoy in Baghdad, bringing the number of American battle deaths in the Iraqi conflict to 148 -- the same number as in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. -- CNN.
HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, Michigan (AP) -- Authorities dug under a backyard pool in a residential neighborhood Wednesday in search of clues to the disappearance of ex-Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa but came up empty after a six-hour search.
From today's Ann Arbor News Letters to the Editor:
I was enjoying the Fourth of July celebration in Ann Arbor after having run the Independence Day 5 K when my wife suggested we stay and watch the parade.
To my shock and dismay I proceeded to watch a protest march disguised as a parade. I realize that the Ann Arbor area is left-of-center. However, people should put aside their animus toward the Bush administration and enjoy the day.
In my opinion, a parade celebrating the nation's birth is not an appropriate place for protest (especially when you have young children attending like my two-year-old daughter).
Needless to say my family and I will not be attending the parade next year.
Mark Vaeth, Livonia
By the way, Mark, I had a GREAT time! And read the old Declaration of Independence again; you seem to have forgotten what the Fourth of July is supposed to be about. Hopefully your daughter will learn better than you did; I'm glad to have done my part in her education!
Monday, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer dismissed as "a bunch of bull" the very idea that fear of Hussein building nuclear weapons was central to the president's decision to go to war.
With an anxious world hanging on his every word, was it just careless to leave those 16 words in the president's State of the Union speech, or did somebody decide it was OK to embellish the case for a preemptive war? How good is the intelligence upon which the United States government makes momentous decisions to send Americans to war, destroy foreign dictatorships and undertake the rebuilding of a hostile nation? If the basis for the nuclear claim was shaky, how firm was the information about Hussein's arsenal and his ties to terrorism? How realistic were the estimates of what would be involved in the postwar restart of Iraqi society?
Given the danger facing American forces in Iraq today, given the failure to find weapons of mass destruction there, given the lack of clear and convincing evidence linking the Iraqi regime to Al Qaeda or the 9/11 attacks, these are questions worth asking. They should not be summarily dismissed by an administration that's quick to holler "national security" and clam up.
This is about 16 words, sure. But it's about a lot more. It's about things the American people are entitled to know, because it is their security that is involved, and their lives being laid on the line to defend it.
And that is no bull. -- from a Free Press editorial on Tuesday.
By Jan. 28, in fact, the intelligence report concerning Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa -- although now almost entirely disproved -- was the only publicly unchallenged element of the administration's case that Iraq had restarted its nuclear program. -- Washington Post. Combined with yesterday's article, it looks like the Post wants to take the lead on highlighting Bush's lies (I was going to say "exposing," but the lies are already exposed, and have been for some time--they've just been largely ignored). The NY Times seems willing to move on to something else as soon as possible; of course they, especially Judith Miller, played a major role in promoting Bush's lies.
From the Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace:
You may have already heard the news that Rabih Haddad has been deported. He arrived in Lebanon earlier this evening, where he was detained at the airport. His circumstances at present are unclear.
Rabih's deportation was done quickly. His family was not notified until he was in Amsterdam, on a stop-over during his flight. It is also unclear how much
longer his wife and children will remain in the U.S.
The Ann Arbor Area Committee for Peace has supported due process and the civil liberties of Rabih Haddad since he was arrested on December 14, 2001. Many of us have become friends with Rabih's family and friends. Our communities have grown closer during this time -- probably the one positive result of Rabih's detention. The bonds of friendship that have been developed are especially important now, as the Muslim community grieves the deportation of one of its most esteemed and loved members. Please express your support in whatever ways you can.
I will forward more information as it becomes available, and will also pass on specific requests for assistance for the Haddad family.
Rabih Haddad was a respected member of the Ann Arbor community. He was arrested in front of his family on 12/14/01, and has been held without charges ever since. No real explanation for his arrest or continued confinement was ever given. While I didn't know him personally, I know many people who did, and all agree that he is a kind and peaceful man who would not have had anything to do with terrorism.
The Bushies were planning to exaggerate Syria's WMD capability too, but the CIA put the brakes on harder this time.
Tuesday, July 15, 2003
The quote is, in response to a question about Iraq: "We gave him a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."
Pitiful Item Number One: UN General Secretary Kofi Annan was sitting right next to Bush when he said it.
Pitiful Item Number Two: One of Bush's aides had at least twice tried to stop the questions, but Bush insisted on allowing that one last question.
Pitiful Item Number Three: While the Washington Post did an excellent job of ripping this and other lies (from the same video) to shreds, none of the other major media seem to have picked up on it.
We don't know if it's true -- but nobody, but nobody, can say it is wrong.
From his last White House press briefing yesterday.
We'll see how long the new guy lasts.
[Update:] I'm watching it right now (http://www.whitehouse.gov/#); he won't last long, I'd say! He doesn't believe what he's saying. Ari Fleischer's don't come along every day.
[Update 2:] He's already citing 9/11 as justification for Iraq. He sounds like a high-school debater who doesn't have a case or evidence.
[Update 3--still watching the press briefing:] The guy's name is Scott McClellan. The Bushies are in serious trouble with him taking Ari's place. He's either going to quit screaming or make a major gaffe--maybe both. He doesn't believe what he's saying. He's getting paid to lie, and he knows it.
[Update 4:] He just mentioned the "mobile labs," which the British said were for producing hydrogen. I guess he doesn't trust the British on this one.
Do you believe Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction on the eve of the war? Currently 87% NO, 13% YES.
As Atrios says, Torture Wolf Now! (By voting in his poll, that is. Bob's Links and Rants is opposed to physical torture, and psychological torture beyond that required to make the right-wing media see the errors in their ways.)
More than half of the U.S. Army's combat strength is now bogged down in Iraq, which didn't have significant weapons of mass destruction and wasn't supporting Al Qaeda. We have lost all credibility with allies who might have provided meaningful support; Tony Blair is still with us, but has lost the trust of his public. All this puts us in a very weak position for dealing with real threats. Did I mention that North Korea has been extracting fissionable material from its fuel rods?
How did we get into this mess? The case of the bogus uranium purchases wasn't an isolated instance. It was part of a broad pattern of politicized, corrupted intelligence.
Bush said the CIA's doubts about the charge -- that Iraq sought to buy "yellowcake" uranium ore in Africa -- were "subsequent" to the Jan. 28 State of the Union speech in which Bush made the allegation. Defending the broader decision to go to war with Iraq, the president said the decision was made after he gave Saddam Hussein "a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn't let them in."
Bush's position was at odds with those of his own aides, who acknowledged over the weekend that the CIA raised doubts that Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger more than four months before Bush's speech. -- Washington Post.
Who's the revisionist historian? Inspectors had been in Iraq for months when Bush ordered them out to start the war. And the White House was denying all winter that they had already decided to go to war, so if Bush is now claiming that he decided on war last fall before the inspectors returned, he is admitting to repeatedly lying.
[Update] I've finished reading that Washington Post article, and it is remarkable in that it actually points out numerous contradictions in the Bushies' story lines. So many "news" articles in the past year have quoted administration officials saying things that are obviously false, or which at the least contradict some other thing they've said. But rarely have the reporters pointed this out. It's good to see it finally happening.
Monday, July 14, 2003
From Peace Action. They are placing these ads in the DC Metro and other subway systems, and running similar ads in newspapers.
STEPHANOPOULOS: …Is it plausible that perhaps Saddam Hussein, by the time the war began, really didn’t have an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction?
RUMSFELD: I think it's unlikely…
…It seems to me that he could have had billions and billions of dollars of revenues from his oil lifting, if he had wanted to do what other countries did…and say, "Come in here, inspect."
STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, it could be for the reason those scientists said…
…But you say, in the end, it's unlikely that he didn't have an arsenal but not impossible?
RUMSFELD: You know…until we've done this job and talked to enough people and been through it, we won't know precisely what we'll find.
Stephanopoulos was referring to reports that many Iraqi scientists have said that all Iraqi WMD's had been eliminated by the mid-90's. And while I can't blame Stephanopoulos for choosing one lie to pursue over another, I sure wish he had pointed out that inspectors had returned to Iraq when the Bushies called the whole process off. It seems quite plausible to me that for several years Saddam thought it was in his best interest, both internally and internationally, to let people think he had WMD's, even if he didn't. Bush's rabid sabre-rattling in 2002 changed that calculation, and Saddam let the inspectors in. If the UN inspectors had found substantial quantities of weapons and evidence that Iraq had ways to threaten the US with them, I might have to grudgingly give Bush some credit for his mad-dog approach, even though it was clearly illegal. But the reality is very far from that. Bush had almost no evidence of WMD's, the inspectors returned, found nothing, Bush invaded anyway, and found nothing. Bush's crime is doubled. Violating international law is an impeachable offense. Doing so on false pretenses is a crime of the highest order.
Does the Niger uranium fiasco alter your view on Bush's case for invading Iraq? Yes and No are the only choices. I felt that Bush had no case for invading Iraq a month ago, or four months ago. I still feel that way. So I should vote "no?" Who makes up this stuff?
More than just "sixteen words:"
Of the nine main conclusions in the British government document "Iraq's weapons of mass destruction", not one has been shown to be conclusively true. -- BBC.
If all George W. Bush does, is read prepared speeches written by others, vetted by others, put onto ready to read scrolling devices for the lips of the President, does that make the one that utters the words a puppet? A void and vacuous being whose only purpose is to mouth the threats and words of others.
We have someone in our highest office who will not take responsibility for his words. Do you think that George W. Bush will take responsibility for the rest of what he has created? George W. Bush demanded that our Congress give him the power to decide who, where and when our military would make this “pre-emptive” attack. George W. Bush demanded that we ignore the reservations of other nations on the United Nations Security Council. George W. Bush ordered the attacks. George W. Bush is responsible. -- Bridget Gibson.
Sunday, July 13, 2003
Sort of like an underage drinker with a fake ID, Bush kept running the bogus uranium story past the CIA until they finally signed off on it. According to the Washington Post, the CIA successfully had the uranium lies removed from an earlier Bush speech.
And while it is encouraging to see the Post sticking with this even after Bush said the matter was closed, they still insist on muddling it up:
Another senior official with knowledge of the intelligence said the CIA had doubts about the accuracy of the documents underlying the allegation, which months later turned out to be forged. Wrong. The documents were forged at the time, and the CIA probably suspected as much. Months later, but still before the war, it was public knowledge that the documents were forged. But they were forged all along.
A senior administration official said Bush's chief speechwriter, Michael J. Gerson, does not remember who wrote the line that has wound up causing the White House so much grief. Cause the White House grief? What about those thousands of dead Iraqis? The families of the over 200 US dead, and the 1000+ solidiers who were wounded? It's about time the White House got some grief--the more, the better.
And then there's Condaliar Rice: "It is ludicrous to suggest that the president of the United States went to war on the question of whether Saddam Hussein sought uranium from Africa," Rice said on "Fox News Sunday."
Where do they get these lines? This is like the old question "Have you stopped beating your wife?" How do you answer Rice's assertion? "No, it is not ludicrous to suggest...?"
I think this is the approach:
- The Bushies claim(ed) that pre-emptive wars may be necessary to prevent attacks on America, using 9/11 as justification. (Lots to argue with here, but let's humor them for a moment.)
- They claimed that Iraq was violating various UN resolutions and continued to possess or develop so-called weapons of mass destruction. This definition included extremely dangerous nuclear weapons, as well as chemical and biological weapons, which while nasty are not significantly more dangerous than many so-called conventional weapons. Chem and bio weapons are also bulky and hazardous to transport, and Iraq did not have any way to get large quantities of these into America. If they had been intent on a chem or bio attack on the US, they would have had a much better chance of creating the weapons here (or just blowing up any one of thousands of industrial or military facilities around the US).
- If Bush had based his argument for war strictly on the threat of chemical and biological weapons, these arguments would have gotten the attention they deserved and the case for war would have been repudiated.
- Therefore, Bush had to claim that Iraq might have nuclear weapons, or would soon (his "mushroom cloud" reference in Cincinnati).
- There was precious little evidence, even bad evidence, to suggest that Iraq had nuclear weapons or was likely to any time soon. In fact, all of the best evidence indicated the opposite. But Bush wanted his war, so he played up the lies, passed them on to the British, convinced them on one lie, and then quoted them on it.
So what is ludicrous to suggest is that Bush could have made even the weak case he did make for war without lying about uranium from Africa and aluminum tubes. We also can't let the quibbling about who's to blame for the sixteen words obscure the fact that
NO WMD's HAVE BEEN FOUND!!!
It is clear, in the lead-up to war against Iraq, the Administration from the top on down orchestrated an organized campaign of false and misleading statements to persuade the Congress of the United States and American pubic to support a war against Iraq.
We now know that multiple claims made by the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, and other Administration officials about Iraq's nuclear weapons programs were false and used solely to play on the fears of Americans to conjure an excuse for war.
The President of the United States is simply using the CIA as a scapegoat to shift blame from those truly responsible.
The Administration's attempt to shift blame to the CIA is transparent and ridiculous in light of the active role that the Vice President played in the misuse of intelligence before the war. We know that the Office of the Vice President knew almost a year before the President’s State of the Union Address that reports that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Niger were false. We also know that the Vice President, and his top staff, made multiple unprecedented trips to the CIA before the war, in order to pressure the CIA analyst to disseminate unreliable information.
It is time for the President to step forward and take responsibility for the pattern of false and misleading statements that he, and other members of his Administration, made in the lead-up to war in Iraq. It is also time for Congress to step forward and hold full and public hearings on these matters. The American public deserves no less.
Combine that with John McCain's statement on Friday, "We need to have an investigation, find out who was responsible for it and fire them," and we're on to something!
As President Bush has made clear, we are committed to establishing the conditions for security, prosperity and democracy. America has no designs on Iraq and its wealth. We will finish our job here and stay not one day longer than necessary.
Once our work is over, the reward will be great: a free, democratic and independent Iraq that stands not as a threat to its neighbors or the world, but as a beacon of freedom and justice.
Excuse me, Mr. Viceroy sir, but we've had troops in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait for over a decade, and democracy hasn't even started to break out in those places. You, sir, are a liar.
Saturday, July 12, 2003
From the DNC: http://www.democrats.org/truth/index.html?s=taf
From Dennis Kucinich: http://www.petitiononline.com/affero03/
From Howard Dean: http://www.deanforamerica.com/site/PageServer?pagename=petitiontt
And from Tom DeLay: http://www.justkidding.org/index.php?siteCode=butdontyouwish&pagename=pigsfly
And those sixteen words were just the tip of the iceberg. Regardless of how many of his lies Bush can blame on underlings, or the British, or Clinton, or FoxNews, the fact remains that almost none of what he said has been shown to be true. No weapons, no ties to al Qaeda. He said there were, he had people killed for it, he violated international law and the constitution, and he, horror of horrors, is the "man" in charge.
The matter is just finally getting opened. It won't be closed until we've had regime change in the US.
Q: When did you know that the reports about uranium coming out of Africa were bogus?
RUMSFELD: Well, within recent days, since the information started becoming available.
That the Niger uranium claims were fake was known publicly back on March 7, before the war started. Colin Powell acknowledged it. Ari Fleischer acknowledged it. That the Secretary of Defense was not aware of this at the time is simply not believable.
One other thing from that March 7 NY Times article that should be noted, since it relates directly to what I said in my previous post (below):
In addition to casting severe doubt on the reported Iraqi attempt to buy uranium in Niger, Dr. ElBaradei said that "there is no indication that Iraq has attempted to import aluminum tubes for use in centrifuge enrichment" of uranium into weapons-grade material. For months, American officials have cited Iraq's importation of these tubes as evidence that Mr. Hussein's scientists have been seeking to develop a nuclear capability.
The sentence immediately following the one about "uranium from Africa" in the State of the Union address is this:
Our intelligence sources tell us that he has attempted to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes suitable for nuclear weapons production.
As I said in that post, the SOTU would have been extremely short if every part of it had been subjected to the level of certainty that George Tenet says should be required for inclusion in a presidential speech.
Friday, July 11, 2003
From a quick glance at the headlines on CNN, the NY Times and the Washington Post, you'd get the impression that CIA Director George Tenet has taken full responsibility for the false claims about Iraq getting uranium from Niger that were made in Bush's State of the Union address in January. This is based on the opening paragraph of Tenet's statement:
Legitimate questions have arisen about how remarks on alleged Iraqi attempts to obtain uranium in Africa made it into the President's State of the Union speech. Let me be clear about several things right up front. First, CIA approved the President's State of the Union address before it was delivered. Second, I am responsible for the approval process in my Agency. And third, the President had every reason to believe that the text presented to him was sound. These 16 words should never have been included in the text written for the President.
But if you read the whole statement, you'll see that the CIA is only to blame in a very minor way, and that at the obvious insistence of the White House:
Although the documents related to the alleged Niger-Iraqi uranium deal had not yet been determined to be forgeries, officials who were reviewing the draft remarks on uranium raised several concerns about the fragmentary nature of the intelligence with National Security Council colleagues. Some of the language was changed. From what we know now, Agency officials in the end concurred that the text in the speech was factually correct – i.e. that the British government report said that Iraq sought uranium from Africa. This should not have been the test for clearing a Presidential address. This did not rise to the level of certainty which should be required for Presidential speeches, and CIA should have ensured that it was removed.
If Bush thinks he's off the hook with this, I think he's wrong. So much of what was said in the State of the Union address and numerous other speeches was couched in similar CYA language, for example:
- The United Nations concluded in 1999 that Saddam Hussein had biological weapons sufficient to produce over 25,000 liters of anthrax -- enough doses to kill several million people.
- The United Nations concluded that Saddam Hussein had materials sufficient to produce more than 38,000 liters of botulinum toxin.
- From three Iraqi defectors we know that Iraq, in the late 1990s, had several mobile biological weapons labs.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed in the 1990s that Saddam Hussein had an advanced nuclear weapons development program, had a design for a nuclear weapon and was working on five different methods of enriching uranium for a bomb.
- Evidence from intelligence sources, secret communications, and statements by people now in custody reveal that Saddam Hussein aids and protects terrorists, including members of al Qaeda.
One other thing that Tenet makes quite clear without saying it directly: The CIA did not put those 16 words in the speech; they merely mistakenly signed off on them. Whoever wrote those words is at least as much to blame as the CIA. He points out several times in his statement that the evidence was considered dubious and that he never used it in any of his testimony to Congress or elsewhere.
An adminstration so inept that is unable to live up to the duties of the Occupying Power in Iraq while now begging the Allies we so casually disdained in starting this war. Suddenly we now need old Europe to help us control the Iraqi beasties. They just won't have a nice, docile colony for us and seek to express themselves. It's time to bring back the days of Mad Dogs and Englishmen and disciplining the wog.
They were told this is what would happen. Only Ken Pollack, who people still, unaccountably cut slack for, said differently. Every other Iraq expert, every one, said this adventure would end badly. Anthony Cordesman, a former Army officer, said without planning for the peace, disaster would strike. Former Army Chief of Staff Eric Shinseki, a man who lost his leg in combat, was humiliated by Rummy and the PNAC gang for telling the truth.
Bush and his men are liars. Inept, bad liars. Men who told transparent lies. Who slandered others, from Scott Ritter to Hans Blix, because they did not share their world view and delivered what is apparently the truth.
But unlike blowjobs, or even Watergate, Bush's lies are far, far worse. Because he lied about war and 1250 families will live with that lie forever.
Even more shocking than a Republican speaking out is this:
"These are troubling reports that need full and thorough investigation. We cannot and should not play fast and loose with our intelligence information, and however it happened we now know that the information in the State of the Union was false, and misled the American people," said Lieberman.
The information misled. It had help, Joe. But, that's a start! You can do it! Nine months too late, but better late than never.
The White House now claims that the CIA approved Bush's statement about uranium for Africa in the State of the Union address. CBS reports that since British intelligence reported the claim, and since Bush said "The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" in the SOTU, that it was technically not a lie, even though the CIA had told him that the British intelligence was wrong. Rumsfeld contends that the uranium from Africa was just "one scrap" of a larger picture.
We should probably ignore the quibbling. Many of Bush's and others' speeches were laced with qualifiers to keep the statements from being out-and-out lies. But the message was clear, to Congress, the UN, and the world: The reason for going to war was that Iraq had WMD's that posed a significant and immediate threat to the US and other countries. This has now been proven to be false--no WMD's were used, none have been found. I doubt if the CIA gave Bush false information to the extent that Rumsfeld seems to imply, but even if they did, the CIA works for Bush. Two-hundred plus and counting US soldiers dead. Over 1000 wounded. Tens of thousands of Iraqis dead and wounded. $70 Billion spent so far, increasing at $4 billion per month. Bush is the guy in charge. It's his fault.
Thursday, July 10, 2003
"There was no effort or attempt on the part of the president or anyone else in the administration to mislead or deceive the American people," Powell said Thursday from South Africa. "The president was presenting what seemed to be a reasonable statement at that time." -- from CNN.
Kerry and many other Democratic presidential contenders supported giving Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq. Kerry said Thursday that decision was "100 percent right" because it gave the United States additional leverage in the United Nations. -- CNN
The only plausible defense for Kerry, Edwards and Gephardt of their votes for the war resolution last October is to say that they were deceived by the administration. (Lieberman's defense is "I'm George Bush with a D-CT after my name.") Kerry certainly doesn't offer much hope for international cooperation if he thinks he needs to give a war-happy moron authorization to invade a largely defenseless country in order to gain "additional leverage" on an organization located in our country and in which we can veto any meaningful action (and where we were spying on other countries' representatives just a few months ago). Just stationing a few warships in the East River with their guns pointed at UN headquarters would have been a lot cheaper, and probably more legal. There were plenty of indications last year that the Bushies were, at the very least, stretching the truth to the breaking point to get their war. Kerry and the others should, at the very least, have insisted on a thorough investigation of all the claims of WMD's before their authorization led to thousands of Iraqis being killed, over 200 Americans being killed, and over 1000 being wounded.
The report will show that top Bush administration officials were warned in the summer of 2001 that the al Qaeda terrorist network had plans to hijack aircraft and launch a "spectacular attack.'' -- from the Miami Herald.
A long-awaited final report on the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks will be released in the next two weeks, containing new information about U.S. government mistakes and Saudi financing of terrorists.
Former Rep. Tim Roemer, who served on the House Intelligence Committee and who has read the report, said it will be ''highly explosive'' when it becomes public.
This article suggests that a spy chaser brought out of retirement at the Bushies' request "resigned" on Sunday because he was getting too close to evidence of connections between George H.W. Poppy Read My Lips Bush and boogeymen Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein. I'd say this relates somehow to what I posted last week, which quotes an article which suggested that
George W. Bush expressed his concern to Blair who agreed that Saddam Hussein, if left in power, and alive, is in a position to blackmail the Bush Family.....
Admittedly, neither source is guaranteed to have any more credibility than Capitol Hill Blue or the NY Times, but they hint at the possibility that the second Gulf War was not so much finishing what Poppy started as it was burying the evidence of Poppy's crimes. And it certainly can't be mentioned often enough that the first Gulf War was also based on fabricated evidence and lies (babies thrown from incubators and 250,000 Iraqi troops on the Saudi border being the best known lies). Between Prescott's funding of Hitler, Neil's theft of S&L money, Jeb's theft of the 2000 election, and of course the numerous crimes of the two Georges, the Bushes will eventually be remembered as America's premier crime family.
When the war began in March, Iraq posed no threat to the United States or to its neighbors, a former senior State Department intelligence official said Wednesday.
Its missiles could not reach Israel, Saudi Arabia or Iran, said Greg Thielmann, who held a high post in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research.
But Thielmann, one of four critics at a session held by the private Arms Control Association, said the Bush administration had formed a "faith-based'' policy on Iraq and took the approach that "we know the answers; give us the intelligence to support those answers.''
Thielmann said the administration had distorted intelligence to fit its policy purposes. He said Iraq had no active nuclear weapons program and that while CIA Director George Tenet told Congress Iraq had Scud missiles, the intelligence finding actually was that the missiles could not be accounted for.
These paragraphs were buried, along with a bunch of other stuff deserving of major headlines, in a NY Times article with the headline Bush Says US Must "Remain Tough".
Wednesday, July 09, 2003
Tom Tomorrow says he thought the whole report smelled bad. Maybe, but I'd say the retraction smells a little fishy, too. But I'm willing to concede that maybe no one named Terrance Wilkinson was at the White House to report this:
"He said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said. "He said he knew the story was true and so would the world after American troops secured the country."
There's plenty of evidence for impeachment on the whitehouse.gov web site.
Kucinich speaks out in Congress
From the Kucinich campaign web site:
For the second day in a row, Rep. Kucinich took to the House Floor to call for cutting wasteful military spending to fund domestic programs.
Yesterday, in debate on the $368 billion Defense Department Appropriations Bill, he singled out the F22 fighter plane, the V22 Ospry and other unnecessary weapons systems. Today, in a debate on an education bill, he continued to critique Pentagon waste and misplaced priorities:
"We will pass this bill today, the Ready to Teach Act, and in doing so, we all agree that the country needs the federal government to spend $300 million on teacher preparation and retention. But in fact, we won't spend that much on teacher preparation and retention. The President has asked that we spend only $90 million, or 30 percent of what we today all agree is necessary. Why?
"Yesterday we passed a Defense spending bill that spends $8.9 billion on the National Missile Defense system that doesn't work, and today we will pass an education bill that, if fully funded, would work. But we won't fully fund it.
"There is money for education. We could re-allocate the $8.9 billion for missile defense and put it into education. We'd have money to hire and train thousands more qualified teachers. We'd have money to buy 9 million new computers for our children and schools. We'd have the money
to fully fund and expand the Head Start program, DEA, and The No Child Left Behind Act.
"National Missile Defense doesn't work. Teachers do. They work for our children, they work for America, and they work for our future."
Kucinich also spoke about the lies the administration used to go to war:
"More attention needs to be paid to false and misleading statements that preceded the vote on the Iraq Resolution in this House. Two days before the vote, on October 8, 2002, speaking in Cincinnati, the President spoke of his determination to attack Iraq: 'Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof - - the smoking gun - - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud'.
"This chilling, apocalyptic statement was not based on clear evidence of peril, but was in fact based on falsehoods, hidden from public view by the office of the Vice President.
"Did the Vice President's office knowingly conceal information its own representative obtained that Iraq was in fact not attempting to purchase nuclear materials from Niger? Was the White House in possession of this same information prior to the President giving his shocking declaration in Cincinnati?
"There is no question that the President's statements we now know were false and misleading influenced the debate in this House and the decision to go to war. It is imperative we have open, public hearings to wash this stain from our national reputation."
Nice shot, there, DK! "Stain!" If one president can be impeached for staining a dress, surely another one can be impeached for staining our national reputation.
Here's the theory: The Bushies, of course, wanted to invade Iraq. That was their given. But last summer they weren't sure if Iraq had WMD's or not and were afraid that those weapons, if they existed, might make invasion and taking over the oil wells too difficult and expensive. So they had to find a way to find out for sure if the weapons were actually there, and the easiest way to do that was through UN inspectors. But to get Saddam to let inspectors back in after they had spied on him in the '90's, it was necessary to threaten him in a big way. So the administration cranked up the WMD talk, sent lots of troops to Kuwait, and conned Congress into approving a pre-emptive war. This forced the hand of the UN, who passed 1441 (which BTW does not say what the Bushies always say it said). The Bushies made it look like they thought that Saddam would refuse to let inspectors back in, but were secretly relieved when he did (in this theory). Despite what they said about hiding stuff in the desert and mobile labs, they knew that any serious WMD's had to be in a limited number of places. They told the UN inspectors to look there; they did, found nothing, and the "coalition" invaded, secure in the knowledge that they wouldn't face any significant WMD threat.
I'm not sure I believe it myself, but I think it's a plausible theory given what we know now. I've read some articles that said that February or March was the earliest that the invasion force could be ready, so Bush/Powell played the UN game in order to get a "fig leaf" of international approval for their oil grab. But given their disdain for the UN and diplomacy in general, I think it is at least as likely that they played the UN game precisely for the purpose of getting inspectors on the ground to verify what they suspected--that Iraq DID NOT have WMD's. And remember, before the war Bush kept insisting on something that now appears to have been impossible: that Saddam disarm. Bush did not insist that inspectors be given even greater access to even more sites, and I think the complaints about Iraqi scientists not being free to tell the truth about weapons programs was just the Bushies pretending that they believed that WMD's existed, when they were more sure every day that they did not.
"We were shut up like sheep," said 15-year-old Mamadou.
Many residents compared Bush's hour-long visit unfavorably to the island tour by former President Bill Clinton in 1998.
"When Clinton came, he shook hands, people danced," said former Mayor Urbain Alexandre Diagne. -- Reuters.
"The coalition did not act in Iraq because we had discovered dramatic new evidence of Iraq's pursuit" of weapons of mass destruction, Rumsfeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "We acted because we saw the evidence in a dramatic new light -- through the prism of our experience on 9-11." -- Washington Post.
PRESIDENT BUSH: The first question is, look, there is no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein was a threat to the world peace. And there's no doubt in my mind that the United States, along with allies and friends, did the right thing in removing him from power. And there's no doubt in my mind, when it's all said and done, the facts will show the world the truth. There's absolutely no doubt in my mind. And so there's going to be a lot of attempts to try to rewrite history, and I can understand that. But I am absolutely confident in the decision I made.
Q Do you still believe they were trying to buy nuclear materials in Africa?
PRESIDENT BUSH: Right now?
Q No, were they? The statement you made --
PRESIDENT BUSH: One thing is for certain, he's not trying to buy anything right now. If he's alive, he's on the run. And that's to the benefit of the Iraqi people. But, look, I am confident that Saddam Hussein had a weapons of mass destruction program. In 1991, I will remind you, we underestimated how close he was to having a nuclear weapon. Imagine a world in which this tyrant had a nuclear weapon. In 1998, my predecessor raided Iraq, based upon the very same intelligence. And in 2003, after the world had demanded he disarm, we decided to disarm him. And I'm convinced the world is a much more peaceful and secure place as a result of the actions. from the White House web site.
There's no doubt in his mind--there never is. That's the problem.
And now Bush is using Clinton's actions to defend himself. I've been digging through Google trying to find a "wag the dog" comment from Governor George W. Bush, ca. 1998, without luck, so far (please send me a link if you find it--but don't fabricate anything; I am not Dick Cheney!). I did, however, find a very interesting article from July 2000. It has a lot to say about Scott Ritter, the former UN inspector (and former marine and Bush voter) who was saying a year ago that Iraq couldn't possibly have any WMD's:
Ritter, previously demonized by the Iraqis as American arrogance incarnate – a man who wanted to "kick down doors" to get the goods on Iraq's alleged weapons stockpile – has done a complete about-face since stepping down from his official duties. Here is a man who was at the very core of the American effort to disarm Saddam Hussein saying that it is time to not only lift the sanctions, but to rethink our entire policy toward Iraq's disarmament, and his recent article in Arms Control Today has caused a sensation. Ritter exposes how the US-British insistence on Iraq's complete and utter prostration has led, ironically, to a period of completely unmonitored Iraqi rearmament – setting up Saddam for another round of attacks. This is the self-perpetuating fraud at the very heart of the US-British policy: Iraq is a convenient punching bag, which is being pummeled more or less constantly, the punches coming faster and harder as Election Day 2000 approaches. As Ritter put it to the Independent:
"The ironic thing is that the longer the inspectors stay away from Iraq, the more time the hardliners there have to rebuild their weaponry. The intelligence services of the US, Britain and Israel realise, but there is nothing they can do while the US Administration wants to keep Iraq as the whipping boy they can
wheel out at times of domestic difficulties."
Ritter makes a convincing and technically detailed argument that Iraqi weapons facilities have not only been largely destroyed but are beyond the possibility of regeneration any time in the foreseeable future. In the face of Ritter's inside knowledge of the subject, combined with a heroic determination to get the truth out, the US State Department is stepping up its propaganda campaign, whipping up a war scare over renewed accusations of Iraqi rearmament. While not disputing the perfect legality of Iraq testing short-range missiles – allowed under the terms of the UN's disarmament mandate – Washington clouds the issue with murky accusations about possible military applications of ordinary materials that have civilian uses. As long as the Americans reserve the unilateral right to invade Iraqi territory at will, and insist on utterly destroying not only Saddam but a whole generation of Iraqis who are being devastated by the murderous sanctions, then no arms inspection regime is possible. Ritter and his Unscom colleagues succeeded in defusing the threat of another war in Iraq as long as they had access – but American and British arrogance has prevented any resumption of the process begun by Ritter. This enables the US to maintain a cloud of mystery and suspicion over Iraq as a potential repository of biological, chemical and even nuclear weapons. As a recent wire story put it: "The State Department . . . said that in the absence of United Nations inspectors on the ground in Iraq, uncertainties about the significance of these activities will persist," said the US State Department in a written response to a New York Times report about Iraqi rearmament. "As time passes our concerns will increase." (interesting article">entire article; the author appears to be a Buchananite anti-war type.)
Remember, this is from July 2000. So Ritter was discrediting Clinton's "evidence" that was used to justify the Desert Fox bombings--and Bush, in desperation, is now grasping at Clinton's illegal bombing as justification for his illegal war.
Boy, I REALLY want to find a Governor G. W. Bush "wag the dog" quote from '98! Please send the link to firstname.lastname@example.org if you find one!
UpdateCapitol Hill Blue has retracted the article quoted here, saying that there is no CIA analyst named Terrance J. Wilkinson, so I've posted my own retraction here and above. I've changed the font color of the now discredited material to red so you'll still know what it said, but know that it seems to be as dodgy as Tony Blair's dossier.
An intelligence consultant who was present at two White House briefings where the uranium report was discussed confirmed that the President was told the intelligence was questionable and that his national security advisors urged him not to include the claim in his State of the Union address.
"The report had already been discredited," said Terrance J. Wilkinson, a CIA advisor present at two White House briefings. "This point was clearly made when the President was in the room during at least two of the briefings."
Bush's response was anger, Wilkinson said.
"He said that if the current operatives working for the CIA couldn't prove the story was true, then the agency had better find some who could," Wilkinson said. "He said he knew the story was true and so would the world after American troops secured the country." -- Capitol Hill Blue.
Meanwhile, the hammer continues to see everything as a nail:
House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) also defended Bush's approach, telling reporters that it is "very easy to pick one little flaw here and one little flaw there." He defended the U.S.-led war against Iraq as "morally sound, and it is not just because somebody forged or made a mistake. . . . The Democrats can try all they want to undermine that, but the American people understand it and they support it." -- Washington Post.
DeLay certainly should know how easy it is, having picked on a little flaw here and a little flaw there to impeach Clinton for a much lesser crime. Fortunately, a few Democrats are finally finding out how easy it is--especially when the Liar in Chief gives them so much to work with:
Senate Minority Leader Thomas A. Daschle (D-S.D.) called it a "very important admission," adding, "This ought to be reviewed very carefully. It ought to be the subject of careful scrutiny as well as some hearings."
The senior Democrat on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, Sen. John D. Rockefeller IV (W.Va.), said the administration's admission was not a revelation. "The whole world knew it was a fraud," Rockefeller said, adding that the current intelligence committee inquiry should determine how it got into the Bush speech. "Who decided this was something they could work with?" Rockefeller asked.
Sen. Carl M. Levin (Mich.), ranking Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, yesterday questioned why, as late as the president's Jan. 28 speech, "policymakers were still using information which the intelligence community knew was almost certainly false."
Several candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination spoke out yesterday. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (D-Mo.) said Bush's "factual lapse" cannot be easily dismissed "as an intelligence failure." He said the president "has a pattern of using excessive language in his speeches and off-the-cuff remarks" which "represents a failure of presidential leadership."
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) said the administration "doesn't get honesty points for belatedly admitting what has been apparent to the world for some time -- that emphatic statements made on Iraq were inaccurate."
Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.), former chairman of the intelligence panel, said, "George Bush's credibility is increasingly in doubt."
Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio) expanded the credibility problem to the administration: "The White House's admission that it cited false information to set this country on the path toward war erodes the credibility of the administration."
Former Vermont governor Howard Dean said, "The credibility of the U.S. is a precious commodity. We should all be deeply dismayed that our nation was taken to war and our reputation in the world forever tainted by what appears to be the deliberate effort of this administration to mislead the American people, Congress and the United Nations."
What did he know? That he had no evidence of WMD's. When did he know it? Before the state of the union address to Congress and the American public in which he knowingly cited false information. Before the war started. Case Closed. Impeach Bush, Cheney, Powell, Rice and Rumsfeld now!
(I'd love to include Ashcroft, too, but I can't see an easy way to link him to the lying-about-WMD's issue. We'll let Bush's successor replace Ashcroft.)
Tuesday, July 08, 2003
"Obviously, when you use foreign intelligence, you — we don't have necessarily as much confidence or as much reliability as you do your own," said Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, the No. 3 Republican in the Senate.
"It has since turned out to be, at least according to the reports that have been just released, not true," he added. "The president stepped forward and said so. I think that's all you can expect." -- NY Times.
Okay, follow along with me, Senator Sanitarium, if you can (a big if): The foreign intelligence said that Iraq may have tried to buy uranium from Niger. Our own CIA and DIA intelligence indicated that this was likely false. The CIA said that Iraq was highly unlikely to use WMD's, if it had them, unless attacked. The CIA also said there was no evidence of Iraq-al Qaeda ties. So, if it is obvious to you that foreign intelligence is more suspect than our own, it should also be obvious that we should expect the president to believe it over the foreign crap. And since the domestic intelligence said that Iraq posed little threat and was not tied to 9-11, it should be obvious that Bush lied to go to war. It should be obvious that he should not only be impeached, but tried for murder, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Obviously.
Amazing! Does this sound familiar?
The federal commission investigating the Sept. 11 terror attacks said today that its work was being hampered by the failure of executive branch agencies, especially the Pentagon and the Justice Department, to respond quickly to requests for documents and testimony.
The panel also said the failure of the Bush administration to allow officials to be interviewed without the presence of government colleagues could impede its investigation, with the commission's chairman suggesting today that the situation amounted to "intimidation" of the witnesses.
At a news conference, Mr. Kean described the presence of "minders" at the interviews as a form of intimidation. "I think the commission feels unanimously that it's some intimidation to have somebody sitting behind you all the time who you either work for or works for your agency," he said. "You might get less testimony than you would."
"We would rather interview these people without minders or without agency people there," he said. -- NY Times.
This is what the Bushies were accusing Saddam Hussein of when they were claiming that Iraqi scientists couldn't tell the UN inspectors where the supposed WMD's were--Iraqi minders intimidated them into silence.
"The inspectors are there to verify whether or not he is disarming. You hear these reports about Iraqi scientists being interviewed, but there's a minder in the room," Bush told reporters during a tour of his Texas ranch. -- Reuters, January 3, 2003.
The United States offered a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest of anyone who kills a coalition soldier or Iraqi policeman.
You've got a country filled with angry people without any money, and you start offering $2500 rewards. And what has to happen before anyone gets a reward? A soldier or cop has to get killed. If more soldiers get killed, more reward money gets paid. Maybe some of it will go to innocent witnesses who actually saw it happen, but most of it will probably go to people who framed their enemies, or in some other way be a reward for getting the soldier killed. The only way to prevent abuse of such a system would be through careful, detailed police work to verify that the accused was actually the killer and that the witness was not involved in any way. How are US soldiers, most of whom are not even trained as MP's, much less homicide detectives, supposed to do this in a hostile city where they don't speak the language and no one likes them?
If it weren't for insane, ridiculous stuff, the Bushies wouldn't be doing anything.
A very interesting article from From the Wilderness suggests that the neocons are just pawns in a larger chess game, and their incompetence will soon lead to their replacement.
Just as with Watergate, every time the administration wiggles now, it will only be drawing the noose tighter. And this is what the "Board of Directors" intends. The Bush administration will be controlled as it is being eased out. Business and finance cannot afford any more militarism and this is all that the Neocons know.
The biggest challenge for those who run the country---who select, remove and replace presidents---will be to oust the Bush administration and yet keep the darkest secrets of 9/11 from being publicly acknowledged.
Thanks to Cyndy for the link.
According to Polizeros, it only takes $3500 and 65 signatures to get on the ballot for governor of California if Gray Davis gets recalled. Maybe my brother or niece wants to run--I'll help finance them!
The White House admitted yesterday that Bush's statement in his state of the union address about Iraq trying to obtain uranium from Africa was based on incomplete and inaccurate information. According to the NY Times, the White House issued a statement in addition to Ari's incomprehensible triple talk.
CNN mentions this story, but considers it less important than the unsuccessful surgery to separate Iranian twins. A lot more Iranians, and Americans, are in danger if the media doesn't start making Bush's lies the main issue.
The photo was taken during the Fourth of July parade by Thomas Kaeding, who has lots of good pictures here.
On a 9-2 vote, Ann Arbor City Council passed, without changes, the Resolution to Protest the Eroding of Civil Liberties Under the USA PATRIOT Act and Related Federal Orders Since 9/11/01.
With the passage of this resolution, Ann Arbor becomes the 137th city in the U.S. to go on record against the post 9/11 civil liberties assault. -- from the ACLU of Washtenaw County.
Monday, July 07, 2003
Actually, I get nervous every time W visits a school.
Now let me tell a story ‘bout a man named Jeb
A rich family guv’ner couldn’t keep his girl off meds
But then one day while disenfranchising blacks
He got an urgent call from Republican hacks
Karl that is…bad man…Dubya’s brain
Well the first thing you know old Jeb is on the phone
Calling Katherine Harris (whom we think he used to bone)
He says “Hey Kathy, can you do this thing for me?
See brother must have Florida to get the pres’dency!"
Hanging chads…no recounts
So Katherine did her best to muddle up the way
Told all the recounters that "the deadline's yesterday"
So Bush the usurper triumphed from insanity
And posed a mortal threat to all humanity.
Thanks Jeb...Thanks a lot.
[Sorry, Buddy. Hope you've got a nice seat by the great ceeement pond in the sky.]
Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says nuclear weapons could be crucial tools for destroying chemical and biological weapons stocks without causing wider harm.
"In terms of anthrax, it's said that gamma rays can ... destroy the anthrax spores, which is something we need to look at," Myers told reporters at the Pentagon on May 20. "And in chemical weapons, of course, the heat (of a nuclear blast) can destroy the chemical compounds and make them not develop that plume that conventional weapons might do, that would then drift and perhaps bring others in harm's way." -- from a USA Today article on the Bushies' fascination with noocular weapons.
Maybe napalm could be used to put out fires, too? Sulfuric acid makes a wonderful bath soap.
Read the post and comments at Atrios on this.
The pictures are from a NY Times article about THREE MORE US SOLDIERS being killed in Iraq.
Screw the past tense: Bush is lying, people are dying.
[Update] Can you imagine what that soldier frisking the seven-year-old is thinking? Maybe "Is this all I can be?" I don't blame the soldier, he's following orders, and some of his comrades have just been killed. But frisking kids in 115-degree heat to protect yourself because you're in a place you have no business being--it doesn't get much worse than that. Remember those Army ads: "We frisk more kids before 9 am than most people do all day?" Me either.
As it should be. Have a pretzel, George.
Sunday, July 06, 2003
The open-ended deployments in Iraq are lowering morale among some ground troops, who say constantly shifting time tables are reducing confidence in their leadership. "The way we have been treated and the continuous lies told to our families back home has devastated us all," a soldier in Iraq wrote in a letter to Congress.
1. Kucinich, Cong. Dennis, OH - Democrat (100%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Kucinich.html
2. Green Party Candidate (92%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Nader.html
3. Kerry, Senator John, MA - Democrat (70%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Kerry.html
4. Leahy, Patrick Senator, Vermont - Democrat (65%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Leahy.html
5. Dean, Gov. Howard, VT - Democrat (65%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Dean.html
6. Jackson, Cong. Jesse Jr., IL - Democrat (63%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Jackson.html
7. Socialist Candidate (63%) http://selectsmart.com/president/blank.html
8. Sharpton, Reverend Al - Democrat (61%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Sharpton.html
9. Lieberman Senator Joe CT - Democrat (58%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Lieberman.html
10. Feingold, Senator Russ, WI - Democrat (58%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Feingold.html
11. Gephardt, Cong. Dick, MO - Democrat (58%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Gephardt.html
12. Edwards, Senator John, NC - Democrat (57%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Edwards.html
13. Biden, Senator Joe, DE - Democrat (54%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Biden.html
14. Moseley-Braun, Former Senator Carol IL - Democrat (53%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Moseley-Braun.html
15. Graham, Senator Bob, FL - Democrat (43%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Graham.html
16. Clark, Retired Army General Wesley K "Wes" Arkansas - Democrat (42%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Clark.html
17. Feinstein, Senator Dianne, CA - Democrat (42%) http://selectsmart.com/president/blank.html
18. Kaptur, Cong. Marcy, OH - Democrat (42%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Kaptur.html
19. Libertarian Candidate (23%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Browne.html
20. Bradley, Former Senator Bill NJ - Democrat (23%) http://selectsmart.com/president/blank.html
21. Bush, George W. - US President (13%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Bush.html
22. Hagelin, John - Natural Law (10%) http://selectsmart.com/president/blank.html
23. Buchanan, Patrick J. - Reform/Republican (8%) http://selectsmart.com/president/blank.html
24. McCain, Senator John, AZ- Republican (7%) http://selectsmart.com/president/blank.html
25. Phillips, Howard - Constitution (2%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Phillips.html
26. Vilsack, Governor. Tom IA - Democrat (-4%) http://selectsmart.com/president/Vilsack.html
27. LaRouche, Lyndon H. Jr. - Democrat (-9%) http://selectsmart.com/president/LaRouche.html
Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat. -- Joseph C. Wilson 4th, career US diplomat, from an op-ed in this morning's NY Times. More...
The next morning, I met with Ambassador Owens-Kirkpatrick at the embassy. For reasons that are understandable, the embassy staff has always kept a close eye on Niger's uranium business. I was not surprised, then, when the ambassador told me that she knew about the allegations of uranium sales to Iraq — and that she felt she had already debunked them in her reports to Washington. Nevertheless, she and I agreed that my time would be best spent interviewing people who had been in government when the deal supposedly took place, which was before her arrival.
I spent the next eight days drinking sweet mint tea and meeting with dozens of people: current government officials, former government officials, people associated with the country's uranium business. It did not take long to conclude that it was highly doubtful that any such transaction had ever taken place.
Given the structure of the consortiums that operated the mines, it would be exceedingly difficult for Niger to transfer uranium to Iraq. Niger's uranium business consists of two mines, Somair and Cominak, which are run by French, Spanish, Japanese, German and Nigerian interests. If the government wanted to remove uranium from a mine, it would have to notify the consortium, which in turn is strictly monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Moreover, because the two mines are closely regulated, quasi-governmental entities, selling uranium would require the approval of the minister of mines, the prime minister and probably the president. In short, there's simply too much oversight over too small an industry for a sale to have transpired.
The question now is how that answer was or was not used by our political leadership. If my information was deemed inaccurate, I understand (though I would be very interested to know why). If, however, the information was ignored because it did not fit certain preconceptions about Iraq, then a legitimate argument can be made that we went to war under false pretenses. (It's worth remembering that in his March "Meet the Press" appearance, Mr. Cheney said that Saddam Hussein was "trying once again to produce nuclear weapons.") At a minimum, Congress, which authorized the use of military force at the president's behest, should want to know if the assertions about Iraq were warranted.
America's foreign policy depends on the sanctity of its information. For this reason, questioning the selective use of intelligence to justify the war in Iraq is neither idle sniping nor "revisionist history," as Mr. Bush has suggested. The act of war is the last option of a democracy, taken when there is a grave threat to our national security. More than 200 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq already. We have a duty to ensure that their sacrifice came for the right reasons.
All together now: IMPEACH BUSH! IMPEACH CHENEY!
Saturday, July 05, 2003
Declaration of Independence. A reminder of some of the complaints that the colonies had against King George back in 1776--they still work today. (All quotes straight from the Declaration of Independence.)
He has refuted his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. (Kyoto, land mine treaty, International Criminal Court).
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people... (Homeland Security, TIPS, TIA, Patriot Act).
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power. (Declaration of war? I don't need no stinkin' declaration of war.)
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation. (That's what NAFTA and the WTO are all about.)
For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States. (ICC again).
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury. ("Enemy combatants," "detainees").
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences. (People taken prisoner in Afghanistan hauled off to Cuba).
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. (That's what the British and Polish troops are doing in Iraq.)
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers... (Jeez, it's like he's deliberately following King George's script!)
And what did they conclude?
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
Regime Change U.S. 2004!
From BartCop. Actually, that's a bit behind the times, since the unemployment rate is 6.4% now. Like father, like dim son.
Soldiers marching around in this heat in heavy packs under fire and Iraqis whose air conditioning still doesn't work should send complaints to:
George W. Bush
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Bring them on.
The Doctor is good...but
The Dennis is Better!
The Doctor opposed the war in Iraq, but won't cut the defense budget.
The Dennis opposes all wars, and thinks money spent on bombs and "Star Wars" could be put to better use.
The Doctor proposes a complex, largely untried health-care system which covers all except the most unfortunate.
The Dennis proposes a simple, single-payer system, like that used successfully in Canada and most western European countries, which covers everybody.
The Doctor thinks we should send union organizers along with the jobs leaving this country because of NAFTA and the WTO.
The Dennis will cancel NAFTA and the WTO, and allow union organizers to work in this country.
The Doctor is good...but the Dennis is better!
Friday, July 04, 2003
I have no respect for Rumsfeld. He's arrogant and contemptuous of the American public. His claim not to know the details of the raid is typical of his style. It's pointless for anyone to attend or listen to a Pentagon briefing. Officials never tell the public anything important.
The Republicans in the House and Senate, to their discredit, are blocking a real investigation of the claims that led up to the war. They and the administration folks are slip-sliding all over the place. Pretty soon they will be saying, "We never said Saddam had weapons of mass destruction." Bull again.
As far as I'm concerned, the Bush administration has lost all of its credibility, and an administration no one can believe is an administration that needs to be replaced. -- Charley Reese
- Cheney's Energy Policy Team
- Harken stock sale
- Ignored 9/11 Warnings
- Continued suppression of 9/11 investigation
- Shadow government
- Enron connections
- Killing of civilians in Afghanistan
- Killing of civilians in Iraq
- Lies, lies, lies about WMD's
- Lies, lies, lies about Iraq-al Qaeda ties
- Tax cuts
- Enemy combatants
- Guantanamo Bay
- Withdrawal from Kyoto treaty
- Withdrawal from ABM treaty
- Withdrawal from International Criminal Court
- Failure to sign landmine treaty
- Use of depleted uranium
- Use of cluster bombs
- Patriot Act
- Patriot Act II
- Florida voting scandals
- Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera...
Or, you could just read this article by Maureen Farrell.
"Still At War," says general
Iraqi resistance brought them on on the Fourth of July, killing one US soldier and wounding 20.
Here's what I suggest: Instead of flying out to another aircraft carrier, George W. Bush flies to Amman, Jordan. He gets a ride in an unmarked Humvee from there to Baghdad. If he gets there without being "smoked out" by an RPG or a Hellfire missile, he tours the city on foot for a few hours in the heat of the day before arriving at the pedestal where the toppled statue of Saddam once stood. There, in front of a big sign saying "Utter Failure," he apologizes to a crowd of thousands of US soldiers and Iraqis.
Military families are not happy about the ongoing chaos in Iraq:
Frustrations became so bad recently at Fort Stewart, Ga., that a colonel, meeting with 800 seething spouses, most of them wives, had to be escorted from the session.
"They were crying, cussing, yelling and screaming for their men to come back," said Lucia Braxton, director of community services at Fort Stewart.
"That's my biggest fear," Valerie Decal, the wife of an artillery sergeant, said. "That my husband will come back different. Even if you're G.I. Joe, if you have to kill someone, that's not something you just forget about."
Thursday, July 03, 2003
President Bush Thursday designated six captives in the war on terror as eligible to be tried before U.S. military commissions, the Defense Department said.
"The president determined that there is reason to believe that each of these enemy combatants was a member of al Qaeda or was otherwise involved in terrorism directed against the United States," the Pentagon said in a statement.
Senior defense officials, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, declined to discuss many details of the process. They refused to identify the six individuals by name or even by nationality, saying no charges have yet been brought against them, and said their identities may never be announced.
The Pentagon was next to decide whether the men will be brought to trial before commissions and on what charges, the officials said.
Can you say "banana republic?" Can you say "Soviet Union?" Sure ain't America.
Some would argue going into Liberia is to stop a humanitarian crisis. There is plenty of evidence in postwar Iraq of atrocities on the part of the Saddam Hussein regime to say that's just what was accomplished there, even if the WMD are so far MIA.
Seemingly everyone, including me, stipulates that Saddam was a very bad guy. But were people actually being killed, wounded or arrested faster a year ago, or five months ago, than they are now? Were children dying at a faster rate before combat started on March 19 than they have been since? Maybe--I don't know. But except for some pictures of some skulls, I haven't seen a lot of specific evidence of how bad things actually were when Saddam was in charge, especially in recent years. There are tallies like this which give totals around one million people who were killed by Saddam, but they include 500,000 soldiers killed in the war with Iran (in which the Reagan administration was arming both sides), as well as people killed by US bombs in the Gulf War and by sanctions. The supression of the Shiite uprising at the end of the Gulf War was certainly brutal, but it was done under the watchful eye and with the tacit approval of the Bush I/Powell/Cheney administration.
So, not to defend Saddam's actions, but my question is: were lots of Iraqis being killed or tortured by Saddam's regime in 2002? How many, and where is the evidence? You can't claim to be stopping a humanitarian crisis unless you show that the killing and arrests were on-going (and unless you've actually stopped the killing and arrests, which clearly we haven't). Skulls from twelve years ago don't cut it--they are evidence to be used at Saddam's trial, but you can only use the "stopping a humanitarian crisis" argument if the crisis was ongoing. Of course, that wasn't there reason for the war until all their other reasons proved to be BS. Just because Saddam had been a tyrant doesn't necessarily mean that there was an ongoing humanitarian crisis. There probably was, but I'm sure not going to take the Bushies', or Wolf Blitzer's, word on it.
Somebody in Iraq "brought it on" and wounded at least ten US soldiers. Bush really should be prosecuted for this.
Wednesday, July 02, 2003
We are going to fight them and impose our will on them and we will capture or... kill them until we have imposed law and order on this country. We dominate the scene and we will continue to impose our will on this country. -- Paul Bremer, US Viceroy in Iraq, quoted in the Guardian .
I thought inviting people to attack Americans constituted terrorism. Isn't that what made Osama Bin Laden so abhorrent? Isn't this considered aiding and abetting the enemy? At the very least, this MUST violate some provision of the Patriot Act, doesn't it?
A Democrat Speaks Out!
"I am shaking my head in disbelief. When I served in the army in Europe during World War II, I never heard any military commander -- let alone the commander in chief -- invite enemies to attack U.S. troops," said Lautenberg.
Lautenberg described Bush's word choice –"bring them on"-- as tantamount to inciting and inviting more attacks against U.S. forces. He said that the U.S. should be aspiring for the opposite military objectives:
"We want to see the Iraqi opposition disappear. We want to see law and order restored to Iraq, which will allow the Iraqi people to live in security and freedom. These should be our goals – rather than encouraging more violence and bloodshed."
-- Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), from his web site. At age 79, Lautenberg becomes the youngest Democratic senator to really criticize Bush, joining octogenarians Robert Byrd and Fritz Hollings. NBC News tonight showed Bush's statement--the "man" is insane. Let's hope this incredibly stupid remark finally opens some eyes around the country.
Our idiot president is apparently trying to incite a riot, if not a full-scale rebellion, in Iraq:
"Anybody who wants to harm American troops will be found and brought to justice," Bush said. "There are some that feel like if they attack us that we may decide to leave prematurely. They don't understand what they are talking about if that is the case. Let me finish. There are some who feel like the conditions are such that they can attack us there. My answer is, bring them on."
U.S. forces, he added, are "plenty tough" to deal with any security threats. -- from CNN.
This from the guy who flew over the country for an hour at 31,000 feet. This should play real well with the parents of the troops on the front line. What a moron.
If Dennis Kucinich gets the nomination, it'll be less reason to have a third-party challenge. He's a very progressive Democrat... -- Ralph Nader on last night's CNN Crossfire. In other DK news, Willie Nelson is endorsing Kucinich!
[Correction] Earlier I had posted that Willie Nelson is not endorsing Kucinich. This was incorrect. What I meant to say was that Laura Bush is not endorsing Kucinich--yet. But Willie Nelson is, so I've now decided to go positive and put that in instead. (Actually, Cyndy caught my error--thanks Cindy!)
Last week I linked to a post from DailyKos, which referred to an editorial in the Army Times complaining about the many ways that Bush is NOT supporting our troops (in fact, screwing them royally by cutting numerous benefits). Well, the editorial has apparently disappeared from the Army Times web site! Fortunately, it has been mirrored many places, including at thousand yard glare, who also is tracking its disappearance from the Army Times site.
I wonder what's on the other side of the memory hole--probably the cave containing Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein, and Dick Cheney.
Meanwhile, back in the Rose Garden:
President Bush yesterday reaffirmed his commitment to Iraq, saying the attacks on American troops would not force the United States out of the nation before freedom took root.
Bush, in a Rose Garden speech marking the 30th anniversary of the end of the military draft, spoke of "terrorists, extremists and Saddam loyalists" who have attacked U.S. forces, intimidated Iraqis, and destroyed infrastructure. He warned of foreign fighters entering Iraq, al-Qaeda-related groups waiting to strike, and former Iraqi officials "who will stop at nothing" to recover power.
"These groups believe they have found an opportunity to harm America, to shake our resolve in the war on terror, and to cause us to leave Iraq before freedom is fully established," Bush said. "They are wrong and they will not succeed."
What an arrogant, obnoxious liar Bush is. People in Iraq are fighting against an arrogant and incompetent foreign invader. Iraq has NOTHING to do with the "war on terror," and freedom will never be fully established there until the occupiers leave.
and Americans are finally starting to realize that:
For the first time since the beginning of the war in Iraq, a solid majority of Americans believe the Bush administration either "stretched the truth" about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction or told outright lies, according to a new opinion survey.
Similarly, 56 percent of those polled believed the US government stretched the truth or made outright false statements about Hussein's ties to al-Qaeda. -- from a University of Maryland poll cited by AFP.
At a $2,000 a plate fundraising dinner for president Bush the other night, Republicans dined on nachos and hot dogs. And at the event, president Bush said the economy is turning the corner. Well, of course he thinks the economy is turning the corner. He's surrounded by people who can afford to pay $2,000 a plate for nachos and hot dogs. - Jay Leno, quoted by Polizeros.
At Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Actually, the NY Times article is co-authored by Judith Miller, which means the evidence is probably some unidentified guy in a baseball camp pointing in the general direction of North Carolina. But it raises a point which should be obvious: the greatest threat to US citizens from chemical, biological or nuclear weapons is from those weapons already in this country.
Tuesday, July 01, 2003
I've just done a quick search through the Constitution and its amendments, and as far as I can tell there is nothing there that requires members of the House of Representatives to represent specific districts. Article I, Section 4 states "The times, places and manner of holding elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each state by the legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by law make or alter such regulations, except as to the places of choosing Senators." (The method of choosing senators was changed by the 17th amendment.) But as far as I know, there are no states which have more than one representative which use any method other than geographical districts for selecting their representatives (I think Vermont did, but they've only got one rep. now). If there were any interest in improving our democracy, I would think that some states would be looking for better ways to select their representatives than by having the party in power create some mind-warping jigsaw puzzle. This method results in a large minority of the population being poorly represented in Congress--imagine being a liberal in Tom DeLay's district: who ya gonna call? Michigan has 15 seats in the House--having all 15 seats be at-large would almost guarantee that everyone in the state would have several representatives for whom they voted. With preferential voting, it could be even better. Perhaps give every person 15 votes to cast anywhere on the ballot, including multiple votes for the same candidate. This would practically guarantee that every sizeable minority would get at least one representative in the delegation.
So why don't we have something like this? My guess is the blame goes to the highly undemocratic two-party system, which benefits by denying minorities the opportunity to come together in any way unless they are lucky enough to compose the majority of one particular jigsaw piece. In a fifteen-seat at-large election, minor parties would have an excellent shot at getting a representative or two, even if their members were spread evenly throughout the state.
Sorry, I haven't researched this very much--just a quick rant based on the NY Times article. If anyone knows of any errors in what I said, or can shed further light on the subject, I'll be happy to post it. I just find it depressing that there is so much rhetoric about how wonderful our democracy is, and so little debate on the many simple ways in which it could be vastly improved.
The Council on Foreign Relations published a report saying that the U.S. is woefully unprepared to deal with another major terrorist attack. While spending $70 billion or so to demolish Iraq, and hundreds of billions on tax cuts for the rich, the Bushies and the Republitron congress refuse to spend the $100 billion or so deemed necessary by the report to provide adequate preparation.
The report was made by a committee chaired by former Republican Senator Warren Rudman:
"I believe in the next five years — can’t tell you when, where, what or how — there will be an attack," Rudman told Tim Russet Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press."And, God forbid, it’s an attack with either chemical or biological or worse, some sort of nuclear device. We are not prepared to deal with that."
See Back In Iraq 2.0 for more on this; you can also read the whole report if you've got the time. (Full disclosure--I don't.)
My personal feeling is that 9/11, as terrible as it was, was overhyped, and that terrorism still poses a tiny threat to America. As I've pointed out several times on this blog, more Americans are killed every month in car accidents than have been killed in all terrorist attacks in the past ten years. (A nice several-dollar hike in the gas tax would cut way down on both numbers, as well as those killed by air pollution.) But if you disagree and believe that we must address the threat of terrorism, this latest report clearly shows that, despite all his rhetoric and wars, George W. Bush is not doing that at all.
Time's Joe Klein makes last week's Supreme Court decisions on affirmative action and sodomy laws out to be Bush victories. I should have expected it--the "liberal media" made Afghanistan, Iraq and the 2000 election out to be Bush victories too.
 In discussions with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, George W. Bush admits he is greatly troubled by suppressed documents of the American CIA proving there is no danger by Saddam Hussein and no basis for a pre-emptive military attack by the U.S. aided by the British on Iraq. Blair and Bush discuss the oil question. Namely, that in several years Saudi oil reserves will have passed their peak. On the other hand, Iraq has huge untapped oil reserves.
In the past, Texaco got a lof of their crude oil from Iraq. As a result of a bankruptcy situation caused by a monstrous court judgment against Texaco by Pennzoil, that Pennzoil has a great financial interest in Texaco. The Bush Family historically have been financially interwoven with the founders of Pennzoil. Texas state high court judges, beholden to the Bush Family, reportedly were corrupted to nail down the largest court judgment in U.S. history, eleven billion dollar verdict by Pennzoil against Texaco, causing Texaco to petition the bankruptcy court for protection. The U.S. Supreme Court, beholden to the Reagan/Bush Administration, refused to grant a remedy to Texaco.
 As apparently shown by the secret transcripts and other stolen documents, George W. Bush expressed his concern to Blair who agreed that Saddam Hussein, if left in power, and alive, is in a position to blackmail the Bush Family....
If that's not enough to get you to read all of Skolnick's article, let me just add that it mentions the Queen of England, Ronald Reagan, Alan Greenspan, Timothy McVeigh, Osama bin Laden, and Hillary Clinton. Something for everyone!
Now Canada is leading the way. And America is looking fussy, Victorian and imperial. -- from an interesting article on our cool neighbor to the north in the Washington Post.
Happy Dominion Day, eh!