Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 30, 2005

WB: Land of Lincoln

Billmon:

Why rent when you can own?

Land of Lincoln

Posted by b on November 30, 2005 at 05:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (54)

WB: A Strategy for Victory

Billmon:
A Strategy for Victory

Posted by b on November 30, 2005 at 11:47 AM | Permalink | Comments (26)

O T

News and views ...

Posted by b on November 30, 2005 at 02:58 AM | Permalink | Comments (65)

WB: Strawberry Fields +

Billmon:
II. The Air War
---
I. Strawberry Fields

Posted by b on November 30, 2005 at 02:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (8)

November 29, 2005

WB: Second Thoughts

Billmon:

Second Thoughts

Posted by b on November 29, 2005 at 04:46 PM | Permalink | Comments (11)

Red Flags

The Washington Post reports:

Air Force Erred With No-Bid Iraq Contract, GAO Says.

That headline hints to a bureaucracy error or the usual cronyism. But there is some serious and maybe sinister background and a longer story.

Is the DoD hiring new personal for Abu Ghraib or the Salvador option?

From the WaPo piece (all following emph. mine):

The Air Force, under pressure from the Pentagon, committed a "gross error" last year when it rushed to sign a no-bid contract for advisers to help plan and implement Iraq's national elections and draft its constitution, the Government Accountability Office has ruled.

New York-based REEP Inc., a private translation company also known as Operational Support Services, was awarded two contracts worth more than $45 million. The firm was tasked with finding bilingual speakers "committed to a democratic Iraq" as part of a program a Pentagon official hoped would create "a nudge toward democracy," the report said.

Hmm, the Air Force not buying jets or jet fuel but "democracy commitment". Why would they do that?

Paul D. Wolfowitz, then deputy defense secretary, "determined that the success of the United States war effort" required experts in "reconstruction and governance," the report said. Wolfowitz sought to enable 50 to 75 [Iraqi Reconstruction and Development] Council members to operate independently throughout the country, according to the report. The program originally called for "Western oriented individuals of Iraqi background" but was later changed to Iraqis with U.S. citizenship.
...
The duties of the advisers include "advising government ministers, planning for and implementation of elections, drafting of constitutional documents, advising neighborhood, municipal and national councils and public services, training of security forced and details," according to the report.

$45 million to find and enable some Iraqi expats to advise in Iraq is an awful lot of money. These must be quite special people with expensive skills to justify that pay grade.

More information on the Air Force contract with REEP is in the original GAO decision.

The contract was initiated by Wolfowitz, but the Pentagon man to push it was Victor A.D. Rostow, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (at that time Douglas Feith), and son of the late neocon Eugene Rostow (pdf).

First Rostow tried to channel the contract through some low level folks of the Air Force’s Center for Environmental Excellence. When the leadership of that center woke up, they rejected the plot.

The Air Force, under pressure from above, found other means and gave a sole-source  contract about bilingual-bicultural advisor-subject matter experts to REEP without the usual bid process. Later it issued a second sole-source follow up contract that runs from December 2005 to July 2006 and increases the number of experts to 200.

To justify the newer contract they claimed, cited in the GAO document, that REEP Inc was:

the only provider of subject matter experts with the requisite cultural competences and linguist skills. While there are a number of other providers of linguists (Titan Corp.) and linguists with security clearances, none of these providers have mined the Iraqi heritage community with a view to finding and deploying individuals with skills required by the MNF-I CAC. . . . They are the only provider having [deleted]. They are the only provider that can perform the contract without significant additional start-up costs and recruitment delays.

Do you also wonder about that "[deleted]"?

The Office of the Secretary of Defense also justified the need by pointing to shortages within the Civil Affairs Command. Part of that command's task is "foreign internal defense operations, unconventional warfare operations and direct action missions".

What is the [deleted] capability of REEP Inc to provide Civil Affair experts in "reconstruction and governance"? Why did Rostow channel that contract through the Air Force? Why not push this through the official budget or through special operations and have a competitive bid?

REEP Inc does a lot of language training and offers tours to old battlefields. But the also answer to Why Choose Us?

REEP also provides specialized training services we are currently contracted to provide nineteen highly specialized instructors to support the US Army Survival, Escape, Resistance, and Evasion (SERE) School at Ft Bragg NC as well as Special Forces instructors in such areas as operations, intelligence, force protection, unconventional warfare and base operations.

Currently REEP Inc is urgently looking for "Counter Intelligence Agents":

There is a unique opportunity to serve the United States as an Interrogator, Counter Intelligence Agent and Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) Analyst as part of a rebuilding effort in Iraq. [REEP] hopes to gain Middle-Eastern language speakers to help with this effort.

There is no other job offer at REEP's site that fits the GAO investigated contracts like the above.

I do not have answers to the questions I asked above, but this story stinks. The GAO report only came about, because Rostow called someone at the Air Force Environmental Center of Excellence to get a contract done for democracy advisors. That person did not manage to get done what Rostow asked. It escalated from there. GAO does not seem to ask why this was done at all. That, I think is the real question and Congress should look into this.

A combination of SERE training, counter intelligence agents and creepy contracts should raise some big red flags.

From a recent NYT/IHT piece:

The Pentagon appears to have flipped SERE's teachings on their head, mining the program not for resistance techniques but for interrogation methods. At a June 2004 briefing, the chief of the U.S. Southern Command, General James T. Hill, said a team from Guantánamo went "up to our SERE school and developed a list of techniques" for "high-profile, high-value" detainees.
...
By bringing SERE tactics and the Guantánamo model onto the battlefield, the Pentagon opened a Pandora's box of potential abuse.

Posted by b on November 29, 2005 at 03:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

WB: Riding With the Bad Boys

Billmon:
Riding With the Bad Boys

Posted by b on November 29, 2005 at 03:35 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)

November 28, 2005

Nature's Force

We had a bit of a surprising winter arrival in Germany. Some weird weather conditions led to never experienced ice growth especially on overland electric cables.

Those electricity towers are supposed to take hurricane winds, but some eight inch of ice around six or so two-inch cables along some 600 yards between poles results in a load of about a hundred (metric) tons between those poles.

Add some storm level wind that induces critical resonance swing on the cables and you get the above.

In the end some 100,000 folks are without electricity for the third day now, but emergency services have made sure that everybody had a warm meal and enough candles at home or some shelter so nobody will be really hurt.

Things like this make you value a prepared and well financed state emergency service.

Posted by b on November 28, 2005 at 04:25 PM | Permalink | Comments (16)

Another Video and it is Worse

You may by now have seen yesterdays Telegraph story about a video filmed through the rear window of a private security company car in Iraq. It shows some random looking shooting with automatic weapons on cars coming up from behind. People seem to get hurt.

You can watch that video here and here, but there is another one and it is worse.

The Telegraph story lead me to a blog named The Red Zone about "Real life on the mean streets of Iraq". The current Red Zone post is about a very disturbing video made by US military in Iraq. It is hosted on flurl and here.

This video shows how US soldiers in Iraq, with the help of a robot, blow up a standing car that appears to have had an accident, while a young man, well alive but probably trapped, is still sitting in that car.

The trailer of the September 14 video names the National Guard 319th Ord Co (EOD) as author.

First we see Humvees and an M1 tank and a few hundred yards away a red car standing in the middle of the road. A tracked, radio controlled robot with video equipment is send to the lone standing car. The operators video screen shows the take from the robot's camera.

The red car looks like it had a very serious front crash - the hood is tilted upward, the  engine compartment is smashed, the driver door is open. I do not have the impression that there had been an explosion at this point.

The robot's camera shows a young man in working trousers and a white undershirt in the red car's driver seat. He is alive and does not appear to be injured but is distressed - putting his head into his hands. He seems not to be able to move away. His right foot might be trapped with the pedals.

The robot drives around the car and comes back to the Humvees. A demolition charge is shown and through a helicopter camera we now see how the robot drags this to the red car.

The demolition charge, the red car and the young panicked man are blown up. There is NO secondary explosion. The next pictures show him falling from the side of the car. He is dead.

Now a still picture of what may be a self made bomb is shown, but it does not appear to be at the same scene. Another short last cut is of an explosion somewhere in an open field.

What has happened?

Was this a suicide bomber who failed to explode his load and had to be taken out?

Or was this some unlucky innocent guy who somehow had an accident, was trapped in his car and blown up by the US military because they feared him to be a bomber?

What is your take?

The music on the quite professional video is AFI's, The Leaving Song Pt 2:

I saw its birth
i watched it grow
I felt it change me.
i took the life
I ate it slow
Now it consumes me

Posted by b on November 28, 2005 at 07:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (27)

November 27, 2005

Plan for Victory

The White House released:

Setting the Record Straight: Sen. Biden Adopts Key Portions of Administration's Plan for Victory in Iraq,
Nov 26, 2005

Victory, interesting. But first let us look at some news headlines, mostly from last week, to understand what is victory is not:

Bush: Iraq withdrawal would weaken U.S.
August 23, 2005

Bush hails Senate defeat of bill on Iraq timetable
Nov 17, 2005

Bush Rejects Calls for Iraq Withdrawal
Nov 18, 2005

Bush Says Setting Iraq Withdrawal Deadline Would Court Disaster
Nov 19, 2005

Bush rejects timetable on Iraq pullout
Nov 20, 2005

Rumsfeld rejects Iraq withdrawal
Nov 20, 2005

Troop withdrawal would be a 'victory for the terrorists': Cheney
21 Nov 2005

Somehow I did get the impression the administration would not think of a withdrawal and/or a timeline for a withdrawal. It would be 'victory for the terrorists'. But then, what is the White House/Biden agreed plan for victory in Iraq: 

The question most Americans want answered about Iraq is this: When will our troops come home?

We already know the likely answer. In 2006, they will begin to leave in large numbers. By the end of the year, we will have redeployed about 50,000. In 2007, a significant number of the remaining 100,000 will follow. A small force will stay behind -- in Iraq or across the border -- to strike at any concentration of terrorists.
Time for An Iraq Timetable - By Joseph R. Biden Jr.
Nov 26, 2005

Whoaa - does that sound like a timetable and does redeploying troops has this wiff of withdrawal? Do they really have the chuzpa to do this orwellian flip-flop? Indeed:

The White House has for the first time claimed ownership of an Iraq withdrawal plan, arguing that a troop pullout blueprint unveiled this past week by a Democratic senator was "remarkably similar" to its own.
...
In the statement, which was released under the headline "Senator Biden Adopts Key Portions Of Administration's Plan For Victory In Iraq," McClellan said the Bush administration welcomed Biden's voice in the debate.

"Today, Senator Biden described a plan remarkably similar to the administration's plan to fight and win the war on terror," the spokesman went on to say.
White House claims 'strong consensus' on Iraq pullout
Nov 26, 2005

Well, who are we to believe now - the White House or our lying eyes? What they said before, or what they are saying now and claim to have said all along?

In the end I am with Atrios on this one:

This is all about the 2006 elections but it's more complicated than that. I'm sticking with my "we're never leaving while George Bush is in office." The number of troops in Iraq is now at near record levels, so decreasing that number somewhat is possible simply by reverting back to the average.

Posted by b on November 27, 2005 at 01:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (39)

Time For a Walk

Some Sunday morning reads:

Frank Rich's column is liberated here. Why is he the only one in the major press writing this strong?

[E]ach day brings slam-dunk evidence that the doomsday threats marshaled by the administration to sell the war weren't, in Cheney-speak, just dishonest and reprehensible but also corrupt and shameless.

A NYT story on how the administration makes up rules in "enemy combatant" cases. Short conclusion: There ain´t no rules.

The Washington Post's Pincus writes about the expending Pentagon spying within the U.S..

Torture, American-Style

Blair to be investigated?

Allawi says human rights in Iraq are worse than under Saddam. Al Hakim wants more leeway to torture.

Iraq is really worse than Vietnam. Maybe that´s why Col. Westhusing killed himself - or was he killed?

It´s a bit cold here, but the sun is shining. Time for a walk.

Posted by b on November 27, 2005 at 06:36 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

November 26, 2005

Open Thread 05-121

News & views ...

Posted by b on November 26, 2005 at 04:43 AM | Permalink | Comments (87)

November 24, 2005

The Plan?

Bush is in trouble. Three years to go and already on the historic low side of every poll - and falling.

Some papers suggested a serious house cleaning. Throw out the overworked and almost indicted staff (Rove, McClellan, Card, Haley etc.) and get in some "wise guys" to run the shop.

But that isn´t the plan.

As Laura notes, every bad issue is currently dumped on Cheney. Bush holds back and makes presidential remarks about polite discussions while Cheney burns down the townhalls.

Wilkerson, Powell's former chief of staff, is running around and tells anybody who cares to listen that Bush "wasn´t told", is completely innocent and he blames the cabal of Cheney/Rumsfeld of all things evil. Of course that´s bullshit.
(Sidestep: Did Powell send Powell's Mouth because he wants the VP seat?).

This is the setup:
- Cheney will resign around Christmas for medical reasons and will take the blame on all the bad stuff - Iraq, torture laws, oil prices (and his Halliburton options) - with him into retirement.
- Bush will do some house cleaning by changing some public faces, mainly spokesman McClellan and probably Rove in his official position (but not Rove the Brain).
- Bush will be presented as having been aloft from all discussions about anything that afterward became a problem.

Will this be sufficient? I don´t think so, but Bush did pull of more bad stunts than I ever would have though possible. And the US public sofar did applaud to all of them.

Posted by b on November 24, 2005 at 06:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (39)

November 23, 2005

Turkee

Two years ago, it was high tide for Bush's popularity. Though the picture might be a year or two too early, the military folks will sure be happy when it becomes real. The tide has changed.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Posted by b on November 23, 2005 at 02:57 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

And Again and again

News and views ... an open thread ...

Posted by b on November 23, 2005 at 04:10 AM | Permalink | Comments (104)

November 22, 2005

The VP

Why is Cheney so full of hate?

Milbank:

Vice President Cheney protested yesterday that he had been misunderstood when he said last week that critics of the White House over Iraq were "dishonest and reprehensible."

What he meant to say, he explained to his former colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, was that those who question the White House's use of prewar intelligence were not only "dishonest and reprehensible" but also "corrupt and shameless."

Maybe it is this: Bypass Surgery: Good for Your Heart, but Bad for Your Mind?

The exact number of people who suffer post-operative cognitive changes from [coronary artery bypass grafting] is unknown. Researchers use different testing methods to assess mental functioning. Studies indicate anywhere from 20%-80% of bypass patients suffer some mental impairment. Initially, doctors thought the deficits were temporary. But researchers at Duke University Medical Center measured declines in 42% of patients five years post-operatively.

It would fit with Brent Scowcroft's words:

“I consider Cheney a good friend—I’ve known him for thirty years. But Dick Cheney I don’t know anymore.”

So how does the U.S. assess and get rid of an ill VP?

Posted by b on November 22, 2005 at 02:55 AM | Permalink | Comments (23)

November 21, 2005

Open Threadddd

News and views ...

Posted by b on November 21, 2005 at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Comments (107)

WB: No Exit

Billmon:

"Hell is other people!"

No Exit

Posted by b on November 21, 2005 at 02:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (25)

November 20, 2005

WB: The Salvadoran Option II

Billmon:

Meanwhile, back here in the good old U.S. of A (the A is for assholes) the ruling party is reliving Joe McCarthy's glory years, while the leaders of the so-called opposition party try to hide their worthless carcasses behind an ex-Marine congressman who finally saw one too many broken bodies warehoused at Walter Reed and suffered a temporary fit of sanity, causing him to blurt out the ugly truth that the war is hopelessly lost.

The Salvadoran Option II

Posted by b on November 20, 2005 at 05:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (156)

November 19, 2005

USACTC

The U.S. Defense Department finally finds that during and after a war, you will need to take some care for a stable aftermath.

Pentagon to Raise Importance of 'Stability' Efforts in War

The newest draft of the document, delivered in recent days to the acting deputy secretary of defense, Gordon R. England, for final approval, states, "Stability operations are a core U.S. military mission that the Department of Defense shall be prepared to conduct and support."

Before the war on Iraq, the Defense Department discarded the plans developed by the State Department regarding a stabilization of Iraq after Saddam's fall.

Looking at the ongoing catastrophe, the right option now should be to reverse that position and to give the State Department the lead in establishing a viable government.

Not so:

Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wrote last month to the senior members of the Senate Armed Services Committee in favor of granting the Defense Department authority to transfer millions of dollars to the State Department in part "to enable civilian professionals to deploy alongside military forces in stabilization and reconstruction operations.

In any administration, control over the budget allows control over what gets done how. So these plans are nothing less than a unfriendly DoD takeover attempt. Future control of the State Department's budget will not be by Congress, but through the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the DoD's budget process.

The empire will be ruled by the Pentagon. Now don´t miss the next sequel which will feature: The US Army Corps for Tax Collectors and then ask yourself how an even more  militarized state may look.

Posted by b on November 19, 2005 at 04:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (12)

November 18, 2005

Houseleek

Houseleek
by beq
3"x3", acrylic on board
uncompressed

i didn´t know anything about houseleek so I googled and this came up:

Superstitious country-folk in Wiltshire are often found to have a strong objection to the removal of a plant of Houseleek from their roof, or even to the plucking of the flowers by a stranger, believing it will bring death to the dwellers; it was formerly believed to be an efficient guard against sorcery as well as against lightning.

Houseleek

Interesting coincidence(?) of the shape of a plant and mythical stories about it inducing against its removal. Is that the background for this hesitating curiosity?


Posted by b on November 18, 2005 at 04:36 PM | Permalink | Comments (25)

Always an Open Thread

[back now - sorry, took a bit longer than expected]

News and views ...

Posted by b on November 18, 2005 at 04:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (116)

November 17, 2005

Conventional Terror

Riverbend:

This war has redefined ‘conventional’. It has taken atrocity to another level. Everything we learned before has become obsolete. ‘Conventional’ has become synonymous with horrifying. Conventional weapons are those that eat away the skin in a white blaze; conventional interrogation methods are like those practiced in Abu Ghraib and other occupation prisons…

Quite simply… conventional terror.

I would rather say war is always terror. Unfortunatly, throughout history, too few people seem to have learned that.

Posted by b on November 17, 2005 at 01:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (46)

November 16, 2005

WB: Judy Woodward

Billmon:

All the President's Whores

Judy Woodward

Posted by b on November 16, 2005 at 02:03 AM | Permalink | Comments (45)

November 15, 2005

Open Thread 05-117

Sorry, I am busy with some job related stuff, so there is no real post today and tomorrow.

But there are a few reads out there that you might want discuss here:

The End of News in U.S. media?

Is it a democracy if a leader uses the military for partisan attacks? And if people, who are officially proven to be innocent, are kept in jail anyhow?

Now which was this empire that did throw people in into lion cages

Also in a few days it's the 60th anniversary of the start of the main Nuremberg Trial.  Is there hope for another one?

You also may use this as an open thread.

Posted by b on November 15, 2005 at 04:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (118)

November 14, 2005

The Laptop

In mid-July, senior American intelligence officials called the leaders of the international atomic inspection agency to the top of a skyscraper overlooking the Danube in Vienna and unveiled the contents of what they said was a stolen Iranian laptop computer.

The Americans flashed on a screen and spread over a conference table selections from more than a thousand pages of Iranian computer simulations and accounts of experiments, saying they showed a long effort to design a nuclear warhead, according to a half-dozen European and American participants in the meeting.
Relying on Computer, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran's Nuclear Aims, Nov. 13, 2005

---

Where most Iraqi politicians will speak in infuriating generalities, Chalabi, adept on laptop computers and his iPod music player, is almost wonkish in his grasp of details.
Iraq deal-maker has big plans, Nov. 6, 2005

---

IN AN E-MAIL to Foer, Times executive editor Bill Keller — who reportedly wrote the editors’ note himself — defended Miller, saying, "Judy is a smart, relentless, incredibly well-sourced, and fearless reporter. It’s a little galling to watch her pursued by some of these armchair media ethicists who have never ventured into a war zone or earned the right to carry Judy’s laptop."
Miller’s Times - June 4, 2004

---

Chalabi, of course, has been elected by no one except the neocons. As P. Mitchell Prothero points out in the Washington Times, "in the fledgling opinion polls of the new Iraq, Chalabi always polls lower in popularity than Saddam." But that is quite enough for Ms. Pletka and her coterie of laptop bombardiers, who now have a martyr to the somewhat quixotic cause of Iraqi "democracy."
The Chalabi Follies - May 24, 2004

---

In a remarkable display of how much loyalty Mr. Chalabi commands among some Americans, one Pentagon official opened his laptop computer to display a photograph of Mr. Chalabi and King Abdullah to refute the recent statements by the king that he had never met Mr. Chalabi
Opposition Groups to Help to Create Assembly in Iraq, May 6, 2003

---

Dr. Chalabi is a hands-on kind of guy. He doesn't seem to like delegating authority when he's got the time to excercise it himself. This is intensely irritating when you're trying to configure his laptop's TCP/IP settings and he insists on driving. From a computing standpoint, he's the most dangerous type: enough knowledge to be dangerous and not enough to know what he's doing.
Meeting Mr. Chalabi - Dec. 7, 2003

---

THE man who could be Saddam Hussein's successor is hunched over a laptop computer with his comrades inside a top-floor room of a rented terraced house on Capitol Hill, Washington. Downstairs, security cameras are trained on the entrance, back door and street outside.

Suddenly, Ahmad Chalabi emerges, a chunky man wearing a tweed jacket and armed with the cheery confidence of someone who is used to getting his way. For years he has dreamed of a free Iraq and now that goal appears to be within reach.
Plotter of Saddam's fall pleads case in US,  Apr. 27, 2002

---

American officials, citing the need to protect their source, have largely refused to provide details of the origins of the laptop computer beyond saying that they obtained it in mid-2004 from a longtime contact in Iran.
...
"I can fabricate that data," a senior European diplomat said of the documents. "It looks beautiful, but is open to doubt."
Relying on Computer, U.S. Seeks to Prove Iran's Nuclear Aims, Nov. 13, 2005

Translated senior European diplospeech: "Bullshit!"

Posted by b on November 14, 2005 at 04:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (17)

The Real America

Some sane person writes an LA Times Commentary, though I am not sure that the headline is correct:

This isn't the real America by Jimmy Carter

IN RECENT YEARS, I have become increasingly concerned by a host of radical government policies that now threaten many basic principles espoused by all previous administrations, Democratic and Republican.

These include the rudimentary American commitment to peace, economic and social justice, civil liberties, our environment and human rights.

Also endangered are our historic commitments to providing citizens with truthful information, treating dissenting voices and beliefs with respect, state and local autonomy and fiscal responsibility.

At the same time, our political leaders have declared independence from the restraints of international organizations and have disavowed long-standing global agreements — including agreements on nuclear arms, control of biological weapons and the international system of justice.

Instead of our tradition of espousing peace as a national priority unless our security is directly threatened, we have proclaimed a policy of "preemptive war," an unabridged right to attack other nations unilaterally to change an unsavory regime or for other purposes. When there are serious differences with other nations, we brand them as international pariahs and refuse to permit direct discussions to resolve disputes.

Regardless of the costs, there are determined efforts by top U.S. leaders to exert American imperial dominance throughout the world.

These revolutionary policies have been orchestrated by those who believe that our nation's tremendous power and influence should not be internationally constrained. Even with our troops involved in combat and America facing the threat of additional terrorist attacks, our declaration of "You are either with us or against us!" has replaced the forming of alliances based on a clear comprehension of mutual interests, including the threat of terrorism.

Another disturbing realization is that, unlike during other times of national crisis, the burden of conflict is now concentrated exclusively on the few heroic men and women sent back repeatedly to fight in the quagmire of Iraq. The rest of our nation has not been asked to make any sacrifice, and every effort has been made to conceal or minimize public awareness of casualties.

Instead of cherishing our role as the great champion of human rights, we now find civil liberties and personal privacy grossly violated under some extreme provisions of the Patriot Act.

Of even greater concern is that the U.S. has repudiated the Geneva accords and espoused the use of torture in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, and secretly through proxy regimes elsewhere with the so-called extraordinary rendition program. It is embarrassing to see the president and vice president insisting that the CIA should be free to perpetrate "cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment" on people in U.S. custody.

Instead of reducing America's reliance on nuclear weapons and their further proliferation, we have insisted on our right (and that of others) to retain our arsenals, expand them, and therefore abrogate or derogate almost all nuclear arms control agreements negotiated during the last 50 years. We have now become a prime culprit in global nuclear proliferation. America also has abandoned the prohibition of "first use" of nuclear weapons against nonnuclear nations, and is contemplating the previously condemned deployment of weapons in space.

Protection of the environment has fallen by the wayside because of government subservience to political pressure from the oil industry and other powerful lobbying groups. The last five years have brought continued lowering of pollution standards at home and almost universal condemnation of our nation's global environmental policies.

Our government has abandoned fiscal responsibility by unprecedented favors to the rich, while neglecting America's working families. Members of Congress have increased their own pay by $30,000 per year since freezing the minimum wage at $5.15 per hour (the lowest among industrialized nations).

I am extremely concerned by a fundamentalist shift in many houses of worship and in government, as church and state have become increasingly intertwined in ways previously thought unimaginable.

As the world's only superpower, America should be seen as the unswerving champion of peace, freedom and human rights. Our country should be the focal point around which other nations can gather to combat threats to international security and to enhance the quality of our common environment. We should be in the forefront of providing human assistance to people in need.

It is time for the deep and disturbing political divisions within our country to be substantially healed, with Americans united in a common commitment to revive and nourish the historic political and moral values that we have espoused during the last 230 years.

The best President the US ever had.

Posted by b on November 14, 2005 at 05:33 AM | Permalink | Comments (216)

November 13, 2005

Humane Restraint

Newsweek has this picture next to a piece The Debate Over Torture:


John Moore / Getty Images

It is an recent photo by an embedded photographer. The military obviously believes that there is nothing to hide here. The caption to this picture says:

An Iraqi detainee screams "Allah" while tied down in a "humane restraint chair" at the maximum security section of the Abu Ghraib Prison on Oct. 28, 2005. U.S. Army military police said that he had been given two hours in the chair as punishment. The suspected insurgent, a juvenile, had earlier been moved to the maximum-security section of the prison for 30 days for attacking a guard in another section of the facility.

Maybe people do not think this is torture. But is this not inhumane, cruel and degrading treatment? Is this not unusual punishment?

Does the boy in this "humane restraint chair" know why was he arrested?

But the US military thinks this is just fine humane, usual punishment and there is no problem if a Pulitzer price wining professional photographer takes this picture.

Will they ever learn?

Posted by b on November 13, 2005 at 03:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (47)

November 12, 2005

The Juggler

lifted from a comment

by anna missed

So by early next week Ahmad Chalabi will have finished his (pre) victory lap in front of the Cheney Administration, including an audience with Big Dick himself, side kick Rumsfeld, angeneiux Condi, and "Igor" Hadley.

Sure, he's under FBI investigation, and a barrage of criticism for the pre-war intelligence, but reports of his (fawning) reception at the Council on Foreign Relations, showed a man confident enough to be standing in a rowboat, with a powdered (& perfectly unmussed) wig crossing a Delaware River full of political ice floes.

The man is tenacious if nothing else, and those in Washington must in some ways watch in envy at such an operator, a risk taker, back slapper and back stabber -- an ultimate interlocutor and juggler -- who manages to make all happy (enough). Which is why he's here in the first place, to get the job done in Iraq.

Not unlike the Juan Cole(/Billmon) theory about how the Zarqawi (myth/entity) is useful to all interests, Chalabi can also be seen through this prism of utility.

The US would like to disengage militarily, while preserving some vestiges of victory. On several fronts the Cheney administration can claim success if it throws its full weight behind Chalabi.

Chalaibi, is now the oil minister, and has had some reputed effect in protecting the oil infrastructure from sabotage. And while rhetorically anti-Syrian (anti-Baath) he seems to have laid the groundwork for an Iraqi / Mediterranean pipeline project, which could placate Syrian hostility (toward Iraq) and greatly benefit potential export.

He has, also with typical duplicity, simultaneously called for Iraqi oil wealth to remain in the hands of the Iraqi population, while at the same time being a strong advocate for privatization of those same Iraqi assets.

The other issue which the administration would dearly like to avoid, is having Iraq fall into the hands of the non-secular forces, that would in any way cast all their blood and treasure into the service of a (Iranian) mullah bound theocracy. Here too Chalabi has made some interesting maneuvers.

Much of the credibility he has gained from the Sistani perspective is based upon the US raid on his compound during the Bremer days -- from which he was able to claim that he was not in the pocket of the US, but was (through his Iranian linkage) looking out for Iraqi interests first. So he tied his influence and new found populist image to the Shiite ticket and managed to win deputy vice-president, which has now morphed into the powerful oil-minister position.

Recently, Chalabi has broken with the non-secular Shiite alliance, and has established his own secular Shiite list. This would from the neo-con perspective, resolve the remaining overt face problems at issue -- a secular majority candidate sworn to privatization, with cards to deal out to both Iran and Syria. And if he could just his hands on some Diebold machines we'd have a real democracy in action.

Posted by b on November 12, 2005 at 06:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (26)

Debunking Boot

Max Boot, a neocon with regular OpEd columns in the LA Times, points to some burning cars in Paris and takes on Europe's problems.

It is precisely because of France's high level of "social protection" that it is now experiencing its own version of urban hell. The welfare state that is the pride and joy of postwar France has become a ball-and-chain hobbling its ability to keep up economically with the despised Anglo-Saxons. In the United States, the government spends 35.9% of gross domestic product; in France, it's 54.5%.

Generous unemployment benefits, free housing and healthcare and other goodies make life cushy even for those without a job. Yet this generosity has not bought social peace. The prisons in France are filled with young men of African and Arab descent who decided to supplement their subsidies with the proceeds from muggings, break-ins and drug deals. The crime rate in France is soaring even as it is declining to a 40-year low across the Atlantic.

According to the World Prison Brief published by the London King's College the incarceration rate in France is 88 per 100,000 national population. The rate in the United States is 726 prisoners per 100,000 Americans.

According to Nation Master there are some 80.1 crimes per 1,000 people in the United States compared to some 62.2 per 1,000 people in France.

Looking at GDP figures one finds 0.2 prisoners per $1 million GDP in the United States, while France has 0.03 prisoners per $1 million GDP.

Boot implies, that a high level of government GDP spending is positive correlated with a high rate of crime and prison population. This is obviously false. The correlation is precisely negative. To achieve his tendency Boot looks at change rates which are mostly depending on short term changes in law (esp. drug and immigration delicts) and general statitical issues. Given the huge differences in absolute numbers, those change rates says nothing about the general quality of life or advantages of certain economic concepts.

Also:

Europeans are finding it almost impossible to Viagrify their sclerotic economies because the political class lacks the will to face down such powerful entrenched interests as labor unions, farmers and pensioners.

Dear Mr. Boot, maybe the political class, including you(?), in the United States needs pharmaceutical help to screw the voters. But let me assure you that European workers, farmers and pensioners don´t need any pharmaceutical help to face down their politicans when needed.

Why do editors allow such experts to fill their papers pages? Sorry - a rhetorical question. The LA Times just fired columnist Robert Scheer but added Jonah Goldberg of National Review infamy to their OpEds. Liberal media?

Posted by b on November 12, 2005 at 05:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (14)

Just Another Open One

News and views ...

Posted by b on November 12, 2005 at 02:56 AM | Permalink | Comments (57)

November 11, 2005

Low Hanging Fruit

Low Hanging Fruit
by beq
3"x3", acrylic on board
uncompressed

Recently, scrabbling beneath the ivy which now covers the orchards, he found a fruit he had never seen before. It was a Baumann’s Reinette: the horticultural equivalent of a Faberge egg. “But I had no idea which bloody tree it had fallen off”. Somewhere in the nursery there should be two varieties – King Harry and St Augustine’s Orange – which even the national fruit collection doesn’t possess, but he hasn’t been able to find them yet.
George Monbiot:  Low Hanging Fruit

Posted by b on November 11, 2005 at 04:17 PM | Permalink | Comments (10)

WB: Hit Back +

Billmon:

II. RIP Chamber of People's Deputies

---

I. Hit Back

Posted by b on November 11, 2005 at 01:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (24)

November 10, 2005

"I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong"

Bush, who appeared almost playful, fastened the heavy medal around Muhammad Ali's neck and whispered something in the heavyweight champion's ear. Then, as if to say "bring it on," the president put up his dukes in a mock challenge. Ali, 63, who has Parkinson's disease and moves slowly, looked the president in the eye -- and, finger to head, did the "crazy" twirl for a couple of seconds.
At the White House, Prizes for 14 Champs

---
Keep asking me, no matter how long
On the war in Viet Nam, I sing this song
I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong

Muhammad Ali

Posted by b on November 10, 2005 at 12:37 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Specific Security Alert

The following is not from a fringe conspiration mongering website, but a Haaretz correspondent report.

Israelis evacuated from Amman hotel hours before bombings

A number of Israelis staying on Wednesday at the Radisson hotel were evacuated before the bombing by Jordanian security forces, apparently due to a specific security alert. They were escorted back to Israel by security personnel.

The Foreign Ministry stated Wednesday that no Israeli tourists are known to have been injured in the blasts. Representatives of Israel's embassy in Amman were in contact with local authorities to examine any report of injured Israelis, but none were received. There are often a number of Israeli businessman and tourists in Amman, including in the hotels hit Wednesday.

UPDATE (06:23am): Haaretz has changed its report now, but under the same URL so the old one is no longer available.

No truth to report of Israeli evacuations before Amman bombs

There is no truth to reports that Israelis staying at the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman on Wednesday were evacuated by Jordanian security forces before the bombing that took place there.

The Israelis were escorted back to Israel by Jordanian security personnel only after the attacks had taken place, contrary to earlier reports.

Juan Cole also linked to the original Haaretz report and wrote

.. it transpires that Jordanian security operatives came to the Radisson earlier in the day and escorted Israeli tourists from the hotel.

Aljazeera also refers to the original Haaretz report as does KUNA.

Now I am not sure what I am supposed to believe here. Did Haaretz screw up big time, or did they get a friendly phone call from their military censor?

Then this:

Of course Abu Musab 'Goldstein' al-Zarqawi is the prime suspect and Al-Qaida claimed responsibility and it is reported that his spokesman posted such on a website.

Now please folks - there is no anonymous website on the Internet. Any website can be tracked down, its traffic can be monitored and the physical location of the posters can be determined.

If one is prepared to do so, it can happen within minutes after something gets posted. I once helped to track down a blackmailer in such an operation. There was no chance we would not get him - so please.

If an Al-Qaeda operative posts something on an obviously known website, why isn´t he/she staring into a gun 10 minutes later?

Posted by b on November 10, 2005 at 05:54 AM | Permalink | Comments (54)

Open Thread 05-115

News and views ...

Posted by b on November 10, 2005 at 03:16 AM | Permalink | Comments (72)

November 09, 2005

WB: How Do You Say "Dick Cheney" in Serbian?

Billmon:

Milosevic's problem was that he didn't have enough lawyers ...

How Do You Say "Dick Cheney" in Serbian?

Posted by b on November 9, 2005 at 08:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (20)

shake 'n' bake

We did know of war crimes in Fallujah, but there were only rudimentary reports from sources of unknown quality the MSM would not pickup on.

But now the U.S. armed forces describe themself how they did use white phosphorous as direct effect ammunition against people in Fallujah.

 

Steven D in a DKos diary finds this in the March edition of Field Artillery Magazine (PDF)

Indirect Fires in the Battle of Fallujah

b. White Phosphorous. WP proved to be an effective and versatile munition. We used it for screening missions at two breeches and, later in the fight, as a potent psychological weapon against the insurgents in trench lines and spider holes when we could not get effects on them with HE. We fired “shake and bake” missions at the insurgents, using WP to flush them out and HE to take them out.
...
We used improved WP for screening missions when HC smoke would have been more effective and saved our WP for lethal missions.

Another report on mortar fire from an embedded reporter of the North County Times says

"Fire!" Bogert yelled, as Millikin dropped it.

The boom kicked dust around the pit as they ran through the drill again and again, sending a mixture of burning white phosphorus and high explosives they call "shake 'n' bake" into a cluster of buildings where insurgents have been spotted all week.

According to the Army Battle Book ST 100-3, 5-11. FIELD ARTILLERY AMMUNITION such usage is against U.S. and international law.

(4) Burster Type White phosphorus (WP M110A2) rounds burn with intense heat and emit dense white smoke. They may be used as the initial rounds in the smokescreen to rapidly create smoke or against material targets, such as Class V sites or logistic sites. It is against the law of land warfare to employ WP against personnel targets.

The use of such ammunition in this way is outlawed chemical warfare:

Under this [Chemical Weapons] Convention, any toxic chemical, regardless of its origin, is considered as a chemical weapon unless it is used for purposes that are not prohibited (an important legal definition, known as the General Purpose Criterion).

Chemical weapons are classified as weapons of mass destruction by the United Nations, and their production and stockpiling was outlawed by the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993.

That convention was ratified by the United  States in 1997.

Posted by b on November 9, 2005 at 07:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (112)

Beware Those Machines

Now in a way this is funny, but it is also a terrible sign for democracy in the United States.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger showed up to his Brentwood neighborhood polling station today to cast his ballot in the special election — and was told he had already voted.

Elections officials said a Los Angeles County poll worker had entered Schwarzenegger's name into an electronic voting touch screen station in Pasadena on Oct. 25. The worker, who was not identified, was testing the voting machine in preparation for early voting that began the next day.

Obvioulsy someone was able to test the machine before the election started. There is nothing problematic with this - testing is appropriate.

But a voting machine must be reset to a virgin state the moment before the election starts. This has obviously not been done. So how many precast votes had that machine already tabulated when the election started? Only one, Schwarzeneggers, or 20,000?

Somehow, Schwarzenegger's name was then placed on a list of people who had already voted, said Conny B. McCormack, the Los Angeles County registrar.

Schwarzenegger's aides were informed of the problem when they arrived this morning to survey the governor's polling station. The poll worker told the governor's staff he would have to use a "provisional" ballot that allows elections workers to verify if two votes were made by the same person. McCormack said the poll worker did the correct thing.

The governor, however, was allowed to use a regular ballot.
Schwarzenegger Hits Snag at Polling Place

If a voting machine/process has a list of voters and when an identified voter did cast his vote, the machine/process should always block that voter from casting another vote. There should be NO way to discard the first vote and allow a second as this would open the process to full manipulation.

So how could Schwarzenegger use a regular ballot? Why did the machine not reject that second ballot? Will the first or the second vote be counted?

Just from reading that small LA Times piece it is obvious that these machines and the process allow several ways of manipulation.

How can anyone expect trust in elections if such things happen?

Posted by b on November 9, 2005 at 06:01 AM | Permalink | Comments (18)

November 08, 2005

WB: War Plan

Billmon:

"Law is not a one-way street."

War Plan

Posted by b on November 8, 2005 at 05:13 PM | Permalink | Comments (52)

Dirty Laundry

This would be very nice chance to wash the dirty laundry of this administration in public:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Top Republicans in Congress are considering a investigation into leaks of information used by The Washington Post in an article on a covert global CIA prison system, congressional sources said on Tuesday.

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and House of Representatives Speaker Dennis Hastert of Illinois were "contemplating" requesting the investigation and had drafted a letter proposing such a probe, a congressional source said.
Congress may probe leaks in CIA prisons story

Any investigation into this leak would be troubling for The Washington Post, the reporters and the leaker(s).

But I can not imagine an investigation where the fact that the prisons are illegal, their exact location and the names of those who have ordered their setup will not be leaked and publicly discussed.

So will Frist and Hastert bring it on? Maybe not:

"The leaking of classified information is a serious matter. It ought to be taken seriously," [White House spokesman] McClellan said. "But this is a congressional prerogative and it was a decision that was made by those leaders and that's the way I would describe it."

Translated McClellan: Rove to Frist/Hastert: "Did I tell you to do this? No. So what the f... are you trying here."

Posted by b on November 8, 2005 at 02:22 PM | Permalink | Comments (15)

November 07, 2005

The Meaning of Right

Back in October 2000 Bush said:

"We will ask not only what is legal, but what is right.

People implied that Bush did expressed a promise to act on a standard more narrow or more ethical than the law.

They were wrong.

What Bush really expressed could only be seen over time. He did and does what he feels to be right - regardless of the law. If the law does not fit to what he perceives to be right, it will have to be ignored, changed or discarded.

To torture is unlawful and unethical. But when Bush says "We do not torture." He really says: "Torture is something illegal. My ethics determine, that any method by which we interrogate prisoners is right. We have changed the laws accordingly. The interrogation methods are within the limits of those laws. Thereby, we do not torture."

You can clearly detect this Orwellian language in Bush's press conference today. It is followed by an excerpt from a New Yorker piece, also published today.

Q Mr. President, there has been a bit of an international outcry over reports of secret U.S. prisons in Europe for terrorism suspects. Will you let the Red Cross have access to them? And do you agree with Vice President Cheney that the CIA should be exempt from legislation to ban torture?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Our country is at war, and our government has the obligation to protect the American people. The executive branch has the obligation to protect the American people; the legislative branch has the obligation to protect the American people. And we are aggressively doing that. We are finding terrorists and bringing them to justice. We are gathering information about where the terrorists may be hiding. We are trying to disrupt their plots and plans. Anything we do to that effort, to that end, in this effort, any activity we conduct, is within the law. We do not torture. ...
President Bush Meets with President Torrijos of Panama , Nov. 7, 2005

---

A source familiar with the memo’s origins, who declined to speak on the record, said that it “was written as an immunity, a blank check.” In 2004, the “torture memo,” as it became known, was leaked, complicating the nomination of Alberto R. Gonzales to be Attorney General; as White House counsel, Gonzales had approved the memo. The Administration subsequently revised the guidelines, using language that seemed more restrictive. But a little-noticed footnote protected the coercive methods permitted by the “torture memo,” stating that they did not violate the “standards set forth in this memorandum.”

The Bush Administration has resisted disclosing the contents of two Justice Department memos that established a detailed interrogation policy for the Pentagon and the C.I.A. A March, 2003, classified memo was “breathtaking,” the same source said. The document dismissed virtually all national and international laws regulating the treatment of prisoners, including war-crimes and assault statutes, and it was radical in its view that in wartime the President can fight enemies by whatever means he sees fit. According to the memo, Congress has no constitutional right to interfere with the President in his role as Commander-in-Chief, including making laws that limit the ways in which prisoners may be interrogated. Another classified Justice Department memo, issued in August, 2002, is said to authorize numerous “enhanced” interrogation techniques for the C.I.A. These two memos sanction such extreme measures that, even if the agency wanted to discipline or prosecute agents who stray beyond its own comfort level, the legal tools to do so may no longer exist.
Can the C.I.A. legally kill a prisoner?, Jane Miller, The New Yorker, Nov. 7, 2005

Posted by b on November 7, 2005 at 01:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (55)

Non-Weekend Open Thread

Niews and views ...

Posted by b on November 7, 2005 at 02:21 AM | Permalink | Comments (89)

November 06, 2005

"I determine that ..."

The Left Coaster is up to something here and it is big trouble for Bush.

There now may be legal proof that Bush did lie to congress - an impeachable offense.

We have to look a bit into the background to follow the reasoning.

In Section 3a of the October 2002 ‘‘Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002’’, Public Law 107-243 (PDF), Congress gave the President the authority to use US armed forces under specific conditions laid out in Section 3b (emph. mine).

To use the conditional authority given under that law, the President had to determine:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to this joint resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorist and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

The president did send Congress his determination in a Presidential Letter on  March 18, 2003.

Dear Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)

Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I determine that:

(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq; and

(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.

Sincerely,

GEORGE W. BUSH

Part (1) is too vague to be seen as a breach of law or a lie. But part (2) is quite specific. To meet the condition sine qua non of part (2), to wage war on Iraq, Bush had to determine that Iraq, which is a nation, not a terrorist organization, had "planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."

Bush, by law, had to have some information of a connection between Iraq and Al Qeada to be authorized to wage this war. Without any information there can not be a determination. So what was Bush's information? 

As the NYT article today documents, the intelligence community said about the only available witness of any AlQaeda-Iraq connection, specifically of training of AlQaeda in Iraq, it was "more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers".

I have yet to find the document enclosed with Bush´s letter to Congress, but in a press briefing on the same day the letter was written, there is this exchange.

Q And one other question, which is, can the President present any show-and-tell evidence of ties to al Qaeda with Saddam, and also a nuclear potential immediately or imminently?

MR. FLEISCHER: You heard what Secretary Powell talked about when he went to the United Nations and has reiterated on a regular basis since then, as well as others in the administration, about the presence in Baghdad of al Qaeda operatives, about the involvement of al Qaeda trained in Iraq involved in the assassination of AID worker Foley in Jordan. So this has been something that has been discussed very publicly.

Q Why is the -- the CIA and FBI have never said that, backed that up.

MR. FLEISCHER: Don't think it would have been said if it hadn't been supported by them.

Fleischer asserts here, that the CIA and FBI had supported the claims.

If this is proven to be wrong, and the NYT article is the first of more such reports that I am sure will come up, Bush's determination was not based on facts and/or even contrary to facts and assessments available to him. Then, he indeed did lie to Congress.

Maybe Fitzmas was just the foreplay to the coming impeachment debate.

Posted by b on November 6, 2005 at 03:29 PM | Permalink | Comments (19)

Smoking Gun

E&P had an early announcement of a "Smoking Gun" yesterday and the NYT today reports:

Report Warned Bush Team About Intelligence Doubts

A top member of Al Qaeda in American custody was identified as a likely fabricator months before the Bush administration began to use his statements as the foundation for its claims that Iraq trained Al Qaeda members to use biological and chemical weapons, according to newly declassified portions of a Defense Intelligence Agency document.

Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi was captured in Pakistan in late 2001, interrogated by the U.S. and came up with a story about Al Queda being training in and by Iraq. A February 2002 Defense Intelligence Agency paper, now unclassified, said he was "more likely this individual is intentionally misleading the debriefers". Powell used the training evidence for his UN speech. A CIA report, still classified, is said to have assessed  at that time:  "the source was not in a position to know if any training had taken place."

It will be interesting to see how they will spin and whitewash this one. It is by far not the first report of willful intelligence misinterpretation, but up to now probably the best documented one. It will need some strong detergent. We know: Poland did attack us. Nothing will change that fact.

So will Mr. Libi be hold accountable? Like for perjury, false statements and obstruction of justice?

Posted by b on November 6, 2005 at 04:13 AM | Permalink | Comments (11)

November 05, 2005

"Care to Comment ?"

Billmon has deleted his prominent Whiskey Bar "Care to Comment ?" link to this site, Moon of Alabama.

He did this before my recent piece, which takes exception to inevitable wars on foreign countries - so the reasoning must have been something other than that.

Maybe too much wacked out Stalinist fruit cake here for his taste? Taste differs.

  I don´t know.

Hey, barkeeper, your honor, at least you could have shouted last call - couldn´t you?

Posted by b on November 5, 2005 at 04:58 PM | Permalink | Comments (136)

Poland Did Attack Us

Sick, I really am getting sick of these moderate liberals who exculpate themselves form any warmongering now. Just one example: Kevin Drum:

Liberals, for their part, need to accept the obvious: in 2002, virtually everybody believed Iraq had an active WMD program. The CIA believed it, ... [t]he British believed the same thing. The Germans and French believed it. Former Clinton administration officials believed it. Lots of Democratic members of congress believed it. They were all wrong, it turned out, but they weren't lying. The simple fact is that virtually everyone who had access to the full range of classified intelligence at that point in time thought Iraq had an active WMD program. Scott Ritter is about the only exception.

This is factual wrong, very wrong and it is irrelevant, but I have seen it in creeping up in variants all over the net. Check the comments to that piece if you want some serious debunking, or ask this man.

Kevin and others are rewriting history to save face - their face.

The scrutinized history is this:

  • There was no possibility that Iraq could have WMDs, except maybe a forgotten cookie jar of old unusable mustard gas.
  • There was a bunch of proven liars with documented nefarious aims, claiming without any proof that Iraq had WMDs.
  • There were hundreds of millions of stupid folks who out of stupidness, or just to keep their head low, made themselves believe the proven liars lies.
  • There were billions who didn´t believe this bullshit
  • The hope is that maybe some of the stupids will at learn something from this.

The new history tale goes like this:

  • Everybody believed there were WMDs.
  • Everybody came to believe this, because Cheney has deceived them.
  • Impeach Cheney.

My condolence to everybody who did believe in the old history. Sorry folks, but it is dead. The new history is now the reality. No learning or insight required here.

Another variant of this is the attribute inevitable. You know, after that guy DUIed my spouse, I just had to kill his neighbors children - and his brother-in-law's grandparents and siblings  - and I had to burn down that village. It was inevitable, just like the war on Afghanistan was inevitable.

I have heard the word inevitable often, in my teens, when I tried to discussed WWII and death camps with some older folks in Germany: "You know Poland did attack us, right? It was all inevitable."

Posted by b on November 5, 2005 at 04:32 PM | Permalink | Comments (23)

Another Weekend Open Thread

News and views ...

Posted by b on November 5, 2005 at 06:08 AM | Permalink | Comments (74)

WB: We Are All Argentines

Billmon:
We Are All Argentines

Posted by b on November 5, 2005 at 02:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (19)

November 04, 2005

WB: The Cheney Administration

Billmon:

Impeach him now.

The Cheney Administration

Posted by b on November 4, 2005 at 02:53 PM | Permalink | Comments (62)