March 29, 2007

Bush Cites Fadhils For Proof Of "Success" In Iraq!

[see below for updates]

When the President of the United States of America is reduced to quoting propaganda nonsense fabricated by his own neocon supporters, that's pathetic.

When he does so specifically in order to justify failed policies which continue to see dozens, if not hundreds, dead every day in Iraq, that's worse than tragic. It's criminal.

Here's what President Bush just said today:
The missions I described are only the opening salvos in what is going to be a sustained effort. Yet, the Iraqi people are beginning to say -- see positive changes. I want to share with you how two Iraqi bloggers -- they have bloggers in Baghdad, just like we've got here -- (laughter) -- "Displaced families are returning home, marketplaces are seeing more activity, stores that were long shuttered are now reopening. We feel safer about moving in the city now. Our people want to see this effort succeed. We hope the governments in Baghdad and America do not lose their resolve."
That's a direct quote from the Fadhil brothers' Wall Street Journal piece I just linked to five minutes ago. Bush is really scraping the bottom of the propaganda barrel here, folks.

Where do I start? Let's hope Bush's remarks shine some long-overdue light on the neocons' favourite fantasists.

For anyone not familiar with the story, which is a long-running saga on this blog, Omar and Mohammed Fadhil run a blog called Iraq The Model (ITM). They have a brother named Ali Fadhil who angrily departed the blog under very odd circumstances just before the 2004 US election, when Omar and Mohammed went to Washington to meet with Bush and Wolfowitz in the Oval Office. The White House meeting was organized by a bogus US "charity" called Spirit of America (SoA), whose CEO Jim Hake was also present.

Ali Fadhil alleged that the SoA staff were using the Fadhil brothers for propaganda purposes. He said that SoA CEO Jim Hake and his former "Director of Logistics and Procurement" Kerry Dupont were "stealing donors money" and lying to both Iraqis and Americans. He said Dupont offered the brothers $300,000 "that we could use to do what we want".
Mohammed seemed to recall her saying tht it was Kerry's personal money while I recall her saying it wasn't.
As I have said previously:
Three hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money to be throwing around, folks. And let's remember, this was happening while Paul Bremer was (supposedly) running Iraq and US$800 million was disappearing! Add two and two together and you would have to think that the money Dupont was offering came from those same taxpayer-funded coffers. But how the hell did Kerry Dupont get authorised to hand it out? Prior to her (extensive) involvement with Iraq The Model, Dupont was (as far as I can tell) just a plain old mother of two from Topsham, Maine. What happened on the way to Baghdad, Kerry?
When Ali complained to Jim Hake about Dupont's behaviour, Hake dumped him from the trip to the USA. Afterwards he promised Ali "any position I wanted and any salary I would find suitable". Instead of taking the offer, Ali went public with a barrage of blog posts exposing SoA projects where he claimed money had gone missing and SoA's claimed goals had proved illusory. Then suddenly - after discussions with his two brothers - Ali deleted his blog posts, aplogized for causing any trouble, and refused to discuss his allegations any further.

Ali maintained a blog of his own for a while, but the URL later pointed to a porn site and now suggests that Ali may be living in "freedom" in Germany. His brothers quickly removed Ali's blog link from their Iraq The Model site and no longer even mention his name.

That's just the start of it! When you look at the people who were behind setting up Iraq The Model and Spirit of America, a whole new ball game opens up.

Spirit of America was originally set up and supported by Cyber Century Forum (CCF), a group dedicated to spreading US influence worldwide, with a particular emphasis on covert cyber-intelligence measures. Cyber Century Forum’s three ageing members are old guard warhorses from the Cold War days. And they used oil company finances to set up Spirit Of America:
Cyber Century Forum's tax return for 2003 shows that it holds $109,440 in corporate stocks from Schlumberger Ltd, "the leading oilfield services technology company supplying technology, project management and information solutions to the oil and gas industries". It also holds a further US$9,292 in stocks from Transocean Sedco Forex, the world's largest offshore drilling company. Now isn't that a big surprise? "Freedom and Democracy for Iraq", sponsored by the US oil and gas industry.
There is even more if you want to keep digging. For example, two of the three members of Cyber Century Forum are also members of a top-level think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, which is also dedidicated to spreading US influence.

And Spirit of America is a client of Direct Impact, a "grassroots marketing" organisation, whose marketing involves creating a "Buzz" by getting seemingly ordinary people (or better yet, influential people) to promote a product by word-of-mouth. Online promoters include people like Jeff Jarvis, who also helped set up Iraq The Model.

And Jim Hake went on to set up a media company called SignalOne media with people like Ahmad al-Rikaby (from Baghdad's own Radio Dijla and formerly U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe) and former US Ambassador and Kissinger speech-writer Mark Palmer (a member of the Committee for Present Danger).

I am not suggesting that Bush is familiar with this whole ITM/SoA story, but the fact that he is reduced to quoting such blatant propagandists just goes to show how desperate he now is.

For more information, use the search box in the top left of this blog, or check out feedback from other (genuine) Iraqi bloggers like Iraqi Konfused Kid. Any comments are welcome.

UPDATE: Jeebus! I posted this at TPM Cafe ten minutes ago and I am already getting hits from the US military's Directorate of Automation Services! Let's hope I make it home tonight!

UPDATE 2: Reuters picks up the story and the SMH runs with it. Well done! Even better, the article suggests that Reuters staff have questioned the Bush White House about their source:
In a speech, Bush did not identify them, but the White House said he was referring to an opinion article published March 5 in the Wall Street Journal by the two bloggers, Omar and Mohammed Fadhil.

UPDATE 3: RawStory is also on the case:
During his speech, Bush also quoted from an editorial written by bloggers from Iraq the Model published in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago to argue that his "surge" or escalation plan has already been successful.
UPDATE 4: JuliaAnn at Kos has picked up the story, but the "kids" in the comments are running all over the place with it (points for enthusiasm). Someone has the good sense to link to this post but it's obvious others have not followed the links. FYI, Kos folks: the Texas-based blog registration address for ITM has previously been explained as a result of US-based bloggers like Jarvis and the decidedly dodgy Tom Villars very thoughtfully "helping" to get the blog started.

And meanwhile there seems to have been a "surge" in propaganda from the Fadhils. An editorial in Investors Business Daily cited their upbeat blog on March 14th. A week later, Omar Fadhil was spreading even more "good news" for the Christian views section of World Magazine:
Is the change in U.S. military strategy evident on the streets of Baghdad?

Fadhil said: "Absolutely! A lot more troops, Iraqi and American, are available and visible in Baghdad than there were a couple months ago—checkpoints are more abundant and security measures are far stricter than before. And yes, civilian activity is much better now than before...
Notice how the Fadhils never even mention these media scoops (I'm thinking WSJ more than IBD or WM) on their blog. As I write, they have not even bothered to post a story mentioning that Bush is quoting them. You'd think that might be a memorable thing for a couple of humble Iraqi dentists, wouldn't you?

But without focussing too narrowly on these bogus bloggers, the real issue here is surely the very sad fact that George W. Bush, the President of the United States of America, is living in a dreamy cocoon of fictional fantasy. Where does he get his information? Who fed him the quotes from the Fadhil brothers (please tell me he is not a regular reader at ITM!)? Does he really believe this crap, or is he just bullshitting for all he is worth?

UPDATE 5: The New York Times has this rather thin story. Associated Press's story is also laced with scepticism but assumes readers are a few years behind the times:
Blogs are Web sites that tend to be narrow in focus and directed at a niche audience. Most operate without editors and give instant reaction to the news. Their freewheeling, open nature makes them popular but also ripe for unverified statements.
Greg Mitchell does a better job, quoting White House spokeswoman Dana Perino defending Bush's decision to quote bloggers:
"I think that maybe somebody found it compelling, the President wanted to include it in his speech..."
Oh my God, he does read ITM, doesn't he?! Or maybe just the WSJ (not much better)? I guess if you are desperate to believe your own "surge to victory" fantasy, where else are you going to go?

Meanwhile, Jillian at Kos reminds us that paid blogging propaganda is most certainly a happening thing, citing this Austin Statesman story:
These days, even the U.S. State Department is blogging.

[Karen] Hughes' video blogs are one way the State Department seeks to improve America's image overseas. It's an acknowledgement that while terrorism materializes in violent attacks, it's rooted in anti-American ideas and perceptions. The department is trying to challenge those ideas before they take root.

It's why Hughes, the State Department's undersecretary for public diplomacy and public affairs, hired a half-dozen Arabic speakers to surf international blogs and post messages that counter "propaganda and rumors with facts," she said.
When I suggest that people get paid to post comments, I am called a Conspiracy Theorist. When Karen Hughes admits it, she's a genius.

What's really tragic is that these fools in the White House today think they can win a war with nothing but pure spin. They got hit by bloggers early on, so they have come back with blogs of their own. But it was never the blogs that were the real problem: it was the inconvenient FACTS the bloggers were highlighting.

UPDATE 6: Mo Fadhil has updated ITM with a predictable post aimed more at dismissing his critics than celebrating his propaganda victory:
I've seen some of them publish stories full of lies and accusations they can't support and I think it's pathetic to throw the "you're a sold-out propaganda" accusation at people just because they don't share the same point of view. This only reflects their lack of knowledge and the bankruptcy of ideas they suffer.

We speak the language of facts, supported by images and statistics and more important, we live here while they don't.
Facts, Mo? The fact is that you routinely ignore inconvenient facts (like another hundred plus dead in Baghdad today, where you are supposedly having beers and a BBQ) and relentlessly push a line of propaganda which has been consistently in tune with the US neocons since you first chose the name "Iraq The Model". The fact is that you have never bothered to answer or explain Ali's allegations, or your shady relationship with Spirit of America and other US financial backers. The fact is that your opinions are totally out of touch with the vast majority of Iraqis, your fans are in the redneck States and Tel Aviv, and (more importantly) the US military action which your charlatan blog advocates has already killed over 600,000 of your countrymen and continues to reap more innocent victims every day.

UPDATE 7: This is turning into quite a trip down memory lane. There was a big, bitching, blogger-bashing brouhaha back in January 2005 when Martini Republic and Sarah Boxer at the NYT first picked up on my ITM criticisms and Juan Cole backed her up. Jeff Jarvis called Cole pond scum and screamed that my reckless allegations had foolishly endangered the Fadhil brothers' lives (as if a White House visit was not guaranteed to place a target on your back in Baghdad). Even the BBC weighed in (ever so gently, of course).

Now we have Zionist blogs like KesherTalk wading back into the fray, and media whores like Michelle Malkin pulling up the rear. My concern is that this might all come to be seen as another unsightly dustup between rival bloggers (last time the allegations against the Fadhils were being countered with claimes that Riverbend was a fake).

The most important issue here is not whether ITM is a CIA blog, or a money-making scam, or a desperate trick to earn the Fadhils a couple of US Green Cards. It's not whether SoA is a clever bit of US PsyOps, or a neocon money-laundering operations. It is the fact that this foolish nonsense is all Bush has got left in his propaganda armoury. The man is a fool, a fake and a shameless stooge. Impeach now!!!.

UPDATE 8: Glenn Reynolds jumps on the bandwagon:
Is there any enemy of America that the left won't side with? Or any friend that the left won't oppose? No.
But the wingnut response seems pretty muted so far. Meanwhile, Ryeland at Kos has compiled the DC's efforts into a single decent post which begins to open the doors on Spirit of America's involvement (let's see what you Kos Kids can do with that, eh?). And for a bit of light relief, Attaturk has provided this video. To quote one dental patient:
It's your professionalism that I respect!
Wo ist der weisse Engel? Hey, did somebody just mention the Nazis?

UPDATE 9: Whoo hoo! Gandhi gets linked at the world best blog site:! And that, ladies and gentlemen, should be enough to push my hits on this blog over the magic 100,000 mark! I'd like to thank the Academy, my family, and of course the brothers Fadhil...! Oooh, this is just embarrassing now, isn't it George?

Let me express a little hope and a prayer here. I am an ordinary, working class Aussie father of three who has simply become so outraged by the Bush administration and my own government's War Crime participation in the invasion of Iraq that I have been compulsively blogging against these bastards for about four years. I know poor little Dubya is facing a whole host of big, nasty problems right now, from his failed war in Iraq to his failed manipulation of the justice system in the USA, but I dare hope - and pray - that this little story might just be the straw that breaks the big, fat, oil-guzzling camel's back.

Seriously, what could be more emblematic of Bush's pathetic situation today than the fact that he is reduced - nay, he chooses it because he is so out of touch! - to quoting these charlatan bloggers for proof of his desperate last "surge" policy's success?

I have been derided by wingnuts as a misguided idealist. I do not deny that I dare to dream. But it is really Bush and his supporters who are the the wilfully ignorant idealists: their fantasy vision of Iraq, an ideal that will never, ever be realised, has already cost over 650,000 lives. How many more must die before the people of the USA bring this sad horror to an end?

Impeach. Now!


UPDATE 10: Amazing coincidences are a regular thing in BushWorld. One day the President is quoting your words, the next day US troops are raiding your home. A pretty transparent effort to establish some credibility, IMHO:
At the end we stood to take some pictures together.

These are bloggers dude, cover your face if you don't want to be seen nude on the internet tomorrow! One soldier said to his colleague as I snapped this photo, and we all chuckled.

And I know what you're thinking; Mohammed and I do not appear in this one.
Oh yeah, that's right. The Fadhil's cannot possibly appear in photos. It's far too dangerous! Even though everything in Baghdad is just fine these days. And even though they previously had their photos in USA Today and other major publications.

The photo above was taken from their now-defunct political party website (still publicly available here). Yeah, they started their own political party, the grandly named Iraqi Pro-democracy Party, for the 2005 elections. Donations poured in from eager wingnuts. Surprise! Political party disappeared without trace. But hey! Don't let the fact that they got less than zero percent of the vote stop you from thinking that these guys represent the true hopes and dreams of intelligent Iraqis who yearn for Freedom (TM). M'kay?

Meanwhile, somebody at the Boston Herald needs a good kick in the pants:
The brothers, who met Bush in the Oval Office in 2004, are widely respected on the Internet and have become regulars on sites such as, and, with their reports on how Iraqis are experiencing life in Baghdad.
What's that all about? I thought the Boston Herald used to be a decent paper.

You know, I used to think the ITM blog was a CIA operation, but that's obviously not the case. If an operation ever became this compromised, the CIA would have had the good sense to shut it down long ago.

UPDATE 11: Ryeland at Kos helps explains the timely US raid on the Fadhil's house with a link to this story:
US forces are conducting realistic mock raids of Iraqi businesses in order to "hide in plain sight," i.e. to gain access to the businesses on the US payroll in order to take stock of the progress, without revealing that the business is working with the Americans.
I am still not even totally convinced the Fadhil brothers are even living in Baghdad. There are large US military bases in Germany, an Iraqi named Omar Fadhil on German radio, and Ali - whose latest blog is in German - has previously done interviews with German media. It would be easy enough to get photos and news stories from soldiers and other contacts in Iraq and then compile them in Berlin. But that's not really the point, is it? Whether it's a Baghdad-based PsyOps or not, it is clearly a farce.

And what all this reveals, as my good friend Winter Patriot says, is that THERE'S NOTHING LEFT BUT SPIN.

UPDATE 12: Omar Fadhil is now officially Pajamas Media's "Baghdad Editor". The results are totally predictable: even more of the same. Should we judge a man by the company he keeps?
I hope that by the time you read this, the cruise missiles have already impacted; the stealth bombers have taken out radar and missiles sites; the land and sea blockade is in place … nothing moving in or out of an Iranian port and any road traffic that doesn’t risk death from above. I hope, by the time you read this, the destruction of Iran’s military infrastructure is underway.

Because we are magnanimous, and more importantly are concerned about the long-term price of oil, operations to reduce Iran’s oil production facilities can await a later phase. It’s not clear to me what the holdup has been.
How long before Bush starts quoting bloggers from Tehran?

WSJ's New Writers: The Fadhil Bros

Why didn't somebody tell me about this earlier? What do I pay you guys for?

A few weeks ago, the Fadhil brothers (still excluding Ali the traitor, who has escaped to Germany) had an article published in the WSJ Opinion Journal. Not surprisingly, it was their usual topic about how well everything is going in Baghdad these days.

The Wall Street Journal, which previously touted Arthur "Good News" Chrenkoff's malarky, is a highly respected financial news publication owned by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. You would think that their readership might be a little disturbed at being repeatedly misinformed about the situation in Iraq, but apparently the loss in credibility is worthwhile to ... somebody.

Guess that explains those hits I was getting in the days after the story was published. Also worth noting that the Allawi takeover scenario, which the Fadhil neocon shrills were touting at the time, is now looking highly unlikely.

Thanks For Nothing, Karl

Michael Isikoff digs up an odd email sent to Karl Rove GOP address:
“Thanks for everything,” Domenici chief of staff Steve Bell wrote Rove and two other White House officials, including Rove’s political deputy, Scott Jennings, in a Jan. 8, 2007 e-mail that forwarded the name of a candidate to replace Iglesias...

Did Rove in fact intervene to have Iglesias removed? Fratto replied: "We're not commenting on that" because of general White House policy not to talk about "internal White House communications."
But of course it was NOT an internal White House communication, it was a GOP email. That could be important.

Meanwhile, if you need a laugh, check out this video of a Bush GOP shill caught in the headlights. The GSA is a supposedly non-partisan government body that has been using Powerpoint slide shows compiled by Karl Rove.

March 28, 2007

Death Inside The Green Zone

Two killed in Baghdad Green Zone attack:
Insurgents and militia fighters routinely fire rockets and mortars into the Green Zone, the nominally secure area in central Baghdad that is site of the US Embassy and the Iraqi government and parliament. The attacks seldom cause casualties or damage because they are poorly aimed and the zone contains much open space.
Four years later, Bush cannot even guarantee safety INSIDE the Green Zone, which was Saddam's formerly informidable palace.

Gandhi Goes Live At The Smirking Chimp

I have posted a blog entry at The Smirking Chimp: Drunk Bush Reveals All On TV Chat Show.

Will Bush Veto?

US Senate has just backed the Dem's Iraq troop "withdrawal" bill:
The US Senate has endorsed a March 31, 2008, target date for withdrawing American combat troops from Iraq, moving Congress a step closer to a showdown with President George W Bush over the war.

By a vote of 50-48, the Senate defeated an amendment that would have stricken the withdrawal language from a $US121.6 billion ($A150.37 billion) bill that mostly would fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. A final vote on the bill is expected later this week.

Bush has promised to veto any legislation with dates for withdrawing from Iraq, including a measure passed by the US House of Representatives on Friday.

The Monica in Bush's future

There is a Monica in President Bush's future, and her presence may be even more toxic to him than Monica Lewinski's was to President Bill Clinton. Even without a blue dress or cigar.

This Monica is Attorney General Gonzales' deputy and liaison to the White House from the Department of Justice, Monica Goodling.

Why is her testimony -- which she is now withholding by invoking her 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination -- so important?

Others from the DOJ who have testified before Congressional committees have been shown to have given misleading, incomplete and perhaps false answers to questions posed them. And they are saying that they were prepped for their testimony by Monica Goodling, who assured them the White House was not closely involved in the firing of the US Attorneys.

Now she doesn't want to talk about it.
Follow the story at Talking Points Memo.

What If It's Already Too Late To Impeach?

Sheila Samples:
Cheney and his bumbling bunch of neo-conservative henchmen are obsessed with this really crazy "vision" that they can control the world. Flip through their chilling masterpiece and you'll see that they believe the world is theirs -- everything, including space and cyberspace -- all theirs. And, it'll hit you right between the eyes that every one of these suckers is a flaming psycho. If it takes lies, they'll lie. If it takes imprisonment, torture, mass murder, either at home or abroad -- they'll do that too...

One swipe of Bush's pen will inflict martial law and we will discover, too late, that we live in a police state patrolled by jackbooted Blackwater USA mercenaries who will, indeed, serve at the pleasure of the president..

Blackwater is in place to become this nation's shadow police force and is its current shadow army. Go back to the "dry run" of Katrina and take a look at the heavily armed force that laid seige to New Orleans, that sped through the streets rounding up hurricane victims, packing them into a "detention" arena where they were forced to stay for days without food or water or assistance. Go back even further -- the bodies hanging from the bridge in Fallujah were not US soldiers, but Blackwater mercenaries -- death squad troops 100,000 strong who roam the Iraqi streets at will and stir up violence and hatred against the uniformed US military.

March 27, 2007

Dylan Thomas: Do not go gentle into that good night

Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,

Because their words had forked no lightning they

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright

Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,

And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight

Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,

Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.

Do not go gentle into that good night.

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Bush Gets Drunk, Goes On TV Chat Show

Amazing stuff. Here’s the transcript:
DL: Ladies and Gentlemen, here he is. A man who most certainly needs no introduction. The forty third President of the Unites States of America (cheers) George W. Bush.

GWB: It’s a pleasure to be here, Dave.

DL: OK, President Bush, you’ve promised us some good old-fashioned straight talk tonight. So tell us. Why did you invade Iraq? What was the real reason? (cheers) I mean, we’ve heard that it was for WMDs, we’ve heard that it was to punish Saddam for his links to terrorism, we’ve heard that it was to spread Democracy and freedom across the Middle East, so please tell us all now - what was the real reason?

GWB: Oil.

DL: Oil? Really?

GWB: Well, duh! (muted laughter) What did you think? When we talk about America’s “strategic interests” and “national security”, what do you think we are really talking about? People’s lives? Get real! We’re talking about the economy. A strong economy means a strong America, and a strong America means a safe America (muted cheers). So when we talk about “WMDs” and “Terrorism” and even “Freedom” we are really talking about stocks and shares and Ten Year Treasury Bonds. Most people don’t even look at the business pages in the newspaper, they switch channels when the Finance reports come on screen. Talk about “you can’t handle the truth!” So we sex it up a bit by calling it other names. WMDs, Terrorism, whatever. That’s just spin. And like I always say, part of a President’s job is to catapult the spin.

DL: But what’s that got to do with oil?

GWB: The system is called Capitalism, Dave. And the way it works is that the one with the most Capital is the winner. And Capital is a funny thing. See, most people never actually get to see much money in their whole lives. But the folks I work with every day sure do. And when you have a lot of money, I mean billions and billions of dollars, you start to realise that the money itself, the actual paper or the gold bullion bars or whatever, is not really the thing of value. It’s what it represents, it’s what other people imagine it to be. It’s the potentiality, not the actuality. That’s where your wealth lies.

DL: Those are big words for you, Mr Bush.

GWB: Well, thank you Dave. I’ve made a living out of acting dumb, as you know. (laughter)

DL: And you’re a very good actor too, Mister President. (laughter) But seriously. I still don’t understand, what’s all this got to do with oil, the real reason we invaded Iraq?

GWB: Well, as I have said in public more than once, the USA is addicted to oil. Our economic strength – and this is the reason we shattered the dark visions of those Godless Communists, remember – our economic strength is totally dependent on oil. Take away the oil and what have you got? Factories sitting idle, cars stranded on motorways, planes rusting on runways. Suddenly none of it is worth anything. Even our military strength is dependent on the oil that drives the tanks and planes, and the factories that churn them out. It’s the oil that gives that other stuff value. Similarly, the oil isn’t worth anything when it’s just lying in the ground. You’ve gotta pour it into your tank, or light a candle with it, before it actually becomes valuable.


GWB: So here we had a situation that some people call the Peak Oil Phenomenon. And that’s the reason why Dick and I were appointed to the White House.

DL: You mean elected.

GWB: Whatever. It was our job to ensure that America had the oil resources to not just survive the Peak Oil crisis, but to come out on top. To stay Number One. And so we didn’t really have a choice. We had to get the oil from somewhere, and Iraq was just the most obvious choice. Like Dick said, it was a no-brainer.

DL: Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States! (muted cheers) More after the break. (pause)

DL: OK, folks, we’re back in the studio talking to the forty third President of the United States.

GWB: Howdy.

DL: President Bush, you’ve just admitted for the first time ever, on national TV, that oil was the real reason we went to war.

GWB: Yup.

DL: So now I have to ask you, what about the hundreds of thousand of Iraqis who died? How about those brave young American soldiers? How can you justify those deaths in the name of – what? – economic expansionism?

GWB: Well, Dave. That’s where God gives me strength. Who knows why He decided to take those lives?

DL: But surely, Mister President, it was your decisions that –

GWB: Well, hold on a sec, Mister. Be careful what you say now. We went into Iraq fully expecting it to be a cakewalk, remember? When I declared Mission accomplished on the deck of the USS Lincoln my poll ratings were still over sixty percent. Only a handful of people had died back then.

DL: You weren’t doing body counts.

GWB: Exactly. We didn’t need to. Things were looking good. Who knows why the Lord chose to plunge that country back into chaos and violence? I tend to think that it’s a combination of things. On the one hand, we have the dark, evil visions of the Evil-doers, the Terrorists, who bring such calamity down upon their own heads. On the other hand, I believe, the Lord is testing our resilience and our faith.

DL: But Mister President, didn’t you say earlier that “Terrorism” was just like a key word, a piece of spin? So when you say “Terrorists” here –

GWB: Well, sure, you can look at it that way too. It’s the people who are resisting the USA and our takeover of Iraq’s oil – call them Terrorists or Insurgents or whatever you want – who are causing all this death and destruction.

DL: But what about the US troops? You’ve just said that we invaded Iraq for the oil, so surely as the aggressors, our own troops are at least partly, if not wholly responsible for –

GWB: Do you love your country, Dave?

DL: I beg your pardon?

GWB: Do you love your country, the United State of America? Because I surely do (muted cheers). And let me tell you something, Dave. God has blessed this country like none other. America has a destiny to lead the world towards freedom, prosperity and equality.

DL: So what you’re saying is that the USA has a God-given right to invade Iraq and steal their oil.

GWB: Well, you can put it like that if you want to Dave, but just think about the alternatives for a moment. What if we hadn’t invaded Iraq? Are you going to just sit and watch this great nation descend into economic chaos? It’s tragic to see what’s happening on the streets of Baghdad these days, but that could just as easily be Washington or New York or LA if people like you have their way.

DL: People like me?

GWB: Yeah, Dave. You heard me.

DL: Well, what are you saying, Mister President?

GWB: You think I would come on a show like this without doing a little background? We’ve got all your phone call transcripts and your emails and your banking details. We’ve got video of you screwing your neighbour’s cat, for fuck’s sake. Guards! Arrest this man! Guards!!!

(Plain clothes police come on stage, grab Bush and drag him off stage, still shouting)

DL: Ladies and gentlemen, er... George W. Bush! (cheers) We’ll be back with more soon.

Abu's Last Words?

OJ vowed to hunt down his wife's killer, Bush vowed to find out who leaked Valerie Plame's name to the media, and now Alberto Gonzales vows to sack any of his staff who have politicized recommendations that led to the sacking of US Attorneys:
I've got nothing to hide in terms of what I've done. And we now want to reassure the American public that nothing improper happened here.

If I find out that, in fact, any of these decisions were motivated, the recommendations to me were motivated for improper reasons to interfere with the public corruption case, there will be swift and -- there will be swift and decisive action. I can assure you that.

March 26, 2007

Go Josh Go!

Joshua Micah Marshall throws down the gauntlet:
It is not too much to say that everything that has come out of Alberto Gonzales' mouth on this issue has been a lie. Sure, that sounds like hyperbole. But it's just a factual summary of what the public record now shows. On the very day his second lie was being exposed Gonzales was publicly claiming "it’s reckless and irresponsible to allege that these decisions were based in any way on improper motives."

And the president is fine with all of this. Fine with the fact that the Attorney General has not only repeatedly lied to the public but has also been exposed as repeatedly lying to the public. He's fine with at least two US Attorneys being fired for not giving in to pressure to file bogus charges to help Republican candidates.

Of course he's fine with it. Because it comes from him. None of this is about Alberto Gonzales. This is about the president and the White House, which is where this entire plan was hatched. Gonzales was just following orders, executing the president's plans. This is about this president and this White House, which ... let's be honest, everyone on both sides of the aisle already knows.

Gonzales' Republican support erodes - Yahoo! News

Bottom line is that - even if he did nothing else - Gonzales committed perjury:
At a March 13 news conference, trying to stem the furor over the firings, Gonzales said, "I never saw documents. We never had a discussion about where things stood."

But his Nov. 27 schedule, included in a batch of memos sent to Capitol Hill late Friday, showed he attended an hour-long meeting at which, aides said, he approved a detailed plan for executing the purge.

March 24, 2007

Bush Spits The Dummy

"A narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law and brings us no closer to getting the troops the resources they need to do their job."

He added: "These Democrats believe that the longer they can delay funding for our troops, the more likely they are to force me to accept restrictions on our commanders, an artificial timetable for withdrawal and their pet spending projects. This is not going to happen."

Bush quoted Defense Secretary Robert Gates as warning that without additional funding by April 15, U.S. troops could face shortages. "Congress needs to send me a clean bill that I can sign without delay. I expect Congress to do its duty and fund our troops."

March 23, 2007

New Developments in the U.S. Attorney Controversy

John Dean:
This time, it is my belief that Bush -- unlike Reagan before him -- will not blink. He will not let Fielding strike a deal, as Fielding did for Reagan. Rather, Bush feels that he has his manhood on the line. He knows what his conservative constituency wants: a strong president who protects his prerogatives. He believes in the unitary executive theory of protecting those prerogatives, and of strengthening the presidency by defying Congress.

In short, all those who have wanted to see Karl Rove in jail may get their wish, for he will not cave in, either -- and may well be prosecuted for contempt, as Gorsuch was not. Bush's greatest problem here, however, is Harriett Miers. It is dubious he can exert any privilege over a former White House Counsel; I doubt she is ready to go to prison for him; and all who know her say if she is under oath, she will not lie. That could be a problem.

White Hot Rage

Cindy Sheehan:
Some people accuse me of being “angry.” I just want to say, I am not “angry,” I am filled with a white-hot rage that my first born is dead. My courageous, sweet, honorable, honest, funny, irreplaceable Casey is dead so companies like Blackwater, Halliburton, KBR, Exxon, Raytheon, etc can rape the American taxpayers. But can it be rape when the partner is willing?
Sheehan points out that all the crap about "cutting off funding for the troops" is total bullshit:
THE TROOPS AREN’T GETTING THE MONEY! Blackwater security agents make more in two days in Iraq than our troops do in a month. Blackwater security agents are better equipped and armored than our troops. Our troops are dying guarding pipelines and Halliburton convoys.

Mortar Hits Green Zone While UN Head Does A Presser

Think Progress has the video. Look how al-Maliki brushes aside the startled UN aides and continues pretending that nothing is happening. And this is inside the Green Zone!

Progressive Dems Back Down On "Anti-war" Bill

To quote one observer:
Only in bizarro world can we call the greatest supplemental spending bill in history, funding the greatest strategic military blunder in history, with zero control over the executive, an "anti-war" vote.

The Constitution Is Just A Piece Of Paper

Astonishing nonsense from Tony Snow today:
"The executive branch is under no compulsion to testify to Congress, because Congress in fact doesn't have oversight ability."
And here's Alberto Gonzales, dead but still walking:
"I'm not going to resign. No United States Attorney was fired for improper reasons."
As suggested here yesterday, delaying the resignation is just expanding the scandal. Now the former leader of a US Justice Department team that prosecuted tobacco companies says Bush appointees forced her to present a weakened case:
Sharon Eubanks said Bush loyalists in the office of the Attorney-General, Alberto Gonzales, began micromanaging the team's strategy in the final weeks of the 2005 trial, to the detriment of the Government's claim that the tobacco companies had conspired to lie to American smokers...

"The political people were pushing the buttons and ordering us to say what we said," she said. "And because of that, we failed to zealously represent the interests of the American public."

Ms Eubanks, who served for 22 years as a lawyer at the Justice Department, said three political appointees were responsible for the last-minute shifts in the Government's tobacco case in June 2005: then associate attorney-general Robert McCallum, then assistant attorney-general Peter Keisler, and his deputy Dan Meron.
Yeah, that's Robert McCallum the current US Ambassador to Australia.
Wednesday was the first time that any of the Government lawyers on the case spoke at length publicly about what they considered high-level interference by Justice Department officials.

Ms Eubanks, who retired from the department in December 2005, said she was coming forward now because she was concerned about what she called the "overwhelming politicisation" of the department demonstrated by the controversy over the sacking of eight federal attorneys.
Still not resigning, Alberto?

March 22, 2007

Josh Marshall Must Die

CNN picks up the story from Josh Marshall, who is now becoming part of the narrative. How long before the GOP launches a personalized attack on Josh?

No More "New Realities"?

Josh Marshall calls bullshit:
Okay, enough. The president fired US Attorneys to stymie investigations of Republicans and punish US Attorneys who didn't harass Democrats with bogus voter fraud prosecutions. In the former instance, the evidence remains circumstantial. But in the latter the evidence is clear, overwhelming and undeniable.

Indeed, it is so undeniable the president hismelf does not deny it.

The president himself says that in some cases US Attorneys were dismissed because they were too lax in prosecuting election fraud. What he does not say -- but what we know directly from the accounts of the players involved -- is that these were cases in which Republican operatives and activists complained to the White House and Republican members of Congress that certain US Attorneys weren't convening grand juries or issuing indictments against Democrats, even though these were cases where all the available evidence suggests there was no wrongdoing prosecuted...

Back up a bit from the sparks flying over executive privilege and congressional testimony and you realize that these are textbook cases of the party in power interfering or obstructing the administration of justice for narrowly partisan purposes. It's a direct attack on the rule of law.
That's exactly what it is. The battle lines have been drawn. Where do YOU stand?

No Email To Trace?

The Bush White House has been actively laying the groundwork for a Constitutional crisis since day one of their administration. Gonzales and Cheney have jointly masterminded the fuzzy logic on Executive privelege. Was there a dark purpose behind this strategy, or was it just part of the broader effort to ensure maximum secrecy during and after Bush's tenure?

It looks like they either make a stand now, or never. I don't think they will drop Gonzales unless they are also prepared to abandon the whole strategy. But as the Carpetbagger suggests, the longer Bush holds onto Gonzo, the bigger the scandal will get. And there is a whole lot of buried shit to be examined.

Bloggers are now frantically scrambling through a mess of document dumps searching for incirminating emails, and an 18 day "hole" has emerged.

Meanwhile, Joseph Hughes at TPM reveals that just about nobody in the highest levels of the Bush White House actually uses email.
While the endgame of this saga is far from decided, what is already apparent is that a vital facet of the story - the administration's seeming unwillingness to comply with both the law and a fundamental cornerstone of our American system - is in danger of being lost in the shuffle of the overarching stampede. And, if we can no longer expect our government's top officials - including the top official, the president - to obey the law and adhere to the bedrock standard of open government, then the questions about whether or not we still live in a democracy are no longer so far-fetched.

al-Qaeda is not going to take over Iraq

Jeff Huber:
The Sunni organization al-Qaeda is not going to take over Shiite dominated Iraq...

In recent months "fighting them over there" has morphed into "If we withdraw, they will follow us here." Pish. How are they going to get here--hide in our troops' luggage? Swim? Wind surf? Jump?

Despite what Bush the younger tells us, the oceans do, in fact, still protect us. Nobody has an army large enough to invade and occupy the United States, and they certainly don't have a navy or air force capable of transporting a force that size across the Atlantic or Pacific. Even if they did, we could sink them and/or shoot them down before they got halfway here.

Yes, terrorists might still sneak through our borders and ports in drips and drabs like the 9/11 perpetrators did, but nothing we're doing militarily in the Middle East is preventing that from happening. That's Homeland Security's job, and if Homeland Security can't keep terrorists from infiltrating our country, why does it even exist?

Young Mr. Bush exhorts us to show "resolve" in the Middle East. But the kind of resolve we're showing in the Middle East is the kind of resolve it takes to throw yourself in front of a moving bus, and then lie there while the bus continues to roll back and forth over you.

A Deal Is Done

This is interesting. US forces have released Moqtada al Sadr's #2 aide in reponse to a request from Iraq's perpetually "embattered" PM al-Maliki. Sadr's aide was detained by the US for two years despite an Iraqi court finding him innocent. So a significant deal has been done, but what's really going on here?

Al Sadr has been in hiding while the US makes a show of razing his ghetto patch in Baghdad, killing and arresting "hundreds" of his supporters. Al-Maliki relies on Sadr's political support, but he was forced to support the US crackdown. So I can see how this deal would help cement al-Maliki's ties with Sadr. But what's in it for the US?

How does this sound: Bush wants a military surge for his own political PR purposes (knowing that militarily it will be insignificant). He presses al-Maliki to co-operate, identifying Sadr as (once again) the public face of evil, again just for PR purposes. Al-Maliki makes a deal with Sadr: save your ass and lie low till this dies down, and in return I will get your #2 aide back to you. Bush gets his "surge", al-Maliki maintains his power base, and Sadr gets his man.

Colorin colorado? Does this signal an end to the "surge" in Sadr's district?

What will become of Iraq's children?

US vets aren't the only ones with PSTD issues:
Mohsen says he hears similar stories every day. He treats up to 15 patients a day. Despite meager resources, he says, he doesn't get any government financing.

One of his patients is 16-year-old Zaman. She was kidnapped outside her school in the Sunni neighborhood of Al Mansour. She says she was held for nine days in a windowless room with 20 other girls.

When one girl's family didn't pay for her release, the abductors raped and killed her. Zaman says she was beaten and forced to sleep next to the girl's dead body. Zaman's family says it paid $20,000 for her release.

The 16-year-old now suffers from deep depression. She screams and cries in the middle of the night. Her nightmares are so intense she's too afraid to sleep.

Her mother begs Dr. Mohsen to help her daughter.

"It's OK. It's OK," he said. "Calm down."

But away from her, he confides that he believes this is a lost generation.

"They live in real tragedy. They have many psychological problems," he said. "What we can do to them is just try to help them by simple things. And so I think our children have big problems."

What does he make of it all for Iraq's youngest generation?

"I don't know what their future is," he said.

Meanwhile In the Islamic State of Iraq

Freedom on the march:
Dozens of insurgents wielding machine guns surrounded the police station before dawn Monday in Duluiyah, a majority Sunni town about 45 miles north of Baghdad. The five officers on duty walked out, hands to the dark sky, and waited to be executed.

But instead of firing, the insurgents' leader spoke: Repent, he commanded, or die.

"So we swore to quit the police and support the Islamic State of Iraq," recalled Mohammad Hashmawi, one of the police officers, referring to a militant Sunni organization active in many parts of the country.

Apparently content, the insurgents stole the officers' decrepit weapons and the station's communications equipment, blew up the building and released the officers. ..

Later, Hashmawi said he would keep his vow. "I have seen death with my own eyes, and I don't want to see it again. I will return to being a farmer. I tell you that the decisions and control of the city are in the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq."

March 21, 2007

Karma Calls: Debra Yang

Even more delightful pig-poking from Joshua Micah Marshall:
If you look at the corruption investigations over the last two years, there's an odd pattern of pivotal investigators and prosecutors getting fortuitous promotions or offers of employment in the private sector at key moments.
It looks like former US attorney Yang sold out to the company who was defending the GOP stooge she was supposed to be investigating.

Gonzales’s Fall, Bush’s Impeachment?

James Bovard:
Bush may have knowingly derailed an investigation that could have exposed his own criminal conduct...

If the next Attorney General is halfway honest and opens the files of what has been done since 2001, even damn moderates will be shocked. There are bombshells waiting to detonate on the torture scandal, on Iraq, and other dishonest and illegal gross abuses...

The Bush administration has survived because it has succeeded in keeping the lid on so many scandals. Any change in top personnel raises the risks of lids slipping. New appointees will not want to put their heads on the chopping block to cover up crimes that occurred before they got the corner office.

Democratic subpoenas are beginning to darken the D.C. sky like the English arrows at Agincourt.

Bush's Boy In Baghdad

Allawi keeps working hard to "bring down the Maliki government."

BushWorld: A Failed Experiment

"America has been conducting an experiment for the past six years, trying to validate the proposition that it really doesn't make any difference who you elect president. Now we know the result of that experiment."
That's from General Tony McPeak (retired), a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War.

Operation Iraqi Liberation = O.I.L.

Greg Palast says the war has gone exctly to plan:
[T]he Bush Administration said the war had nothing to do with Iraq's oil. Indeed, in 2002, the State Department stated, and its official newsletter, the Washington Post, repeated, that State's Iraq study group, "does not have oil on its list of issues."

But now, we've learned that, despite protestations to the contrary, Condoleezza Rice held a secret meeting with the former Secretary-General of OPEC, Fadhil Chalabi, an Iraqi, and offered Chalabi the job of Oil Minister for Iraq. (It is well established that the President of the United States may appoint the cabinet ministers of another nation if that appointment is confirmed by the 101st Airborne.)

In all the chest-beating about how the war did badly, no one seems to remember how the war did very, very well -- for Big Oil.

The war has kept Iraq's oil production to 2.1 million barrels a day from pre-war, pre-embargo production of over 4 million barrels. In the oil game, that's a lot to lose. In fact, the loss of Iraq's 2 million barrels a day is equal to the entire planet's reserve production capacity.

In other words, the war has caused a hell of a supply squeeze -- and Big Oil just loves it. Oil today is $57 a barrel versus the $18 a barrel price under Bill "Love-Not-War" Clinton.

Since the launch of Operation Iraqi Liberation, Halliburton stock has tripled to $64 a share -- not, as some believe, because of those Iraq reconstruction contracts -- peanuts for Halliburton. Cheney's former company's main business is "oil services." And, as one oilman complained to me, Cheney's former company has captured a big hunk of the rise in oil prices by jacking up the charges for Halliburton drilling and piping equipment.

But before we shed tears for Big Oil's having to hand Halliburton its slice, let me note that the value of the reserves of the five biggest oil companies more than doubled during the war to $2.36 trillion.

And that was the plan: putting a new floor under the price of oil. I've have that in writing. In 2005, after a two-year battle with the State and Defense Departments, they released to my team at BBC Newsnight the "Options for a Sustainable Iraqi Oil Industry." Now, you might think our government shouldn't be writing a plan for another nation's oil. Well, our government didn't write it, despite the State Department seal on the cover. In fact, we discovered that the 323-page plan was drafted in Houston by oil industry executives and consultants.

The suspicion is that Bush went to war to get Iraq's oil. That's not true. The document, and secret recordings of those in on the scheme, made it clear that the Administration wanted to make certain America did not get the oil. In other words, keep the lid on Iraq's oil production -- and thereby keep the price of oil high.

Rove and Abu G: Last Of The Texas Mafia

To understand Bush's continued support for Gonzales, you only need to look back at their long relationship.

Bush's Top Ten Mistakes in Iraq during the Past 4 Years

From Juan Cole's Informed Comment:
10. Refusing to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld when his incompetence and maliciousness became apparent in the growing guerrilla war and the Abu Ghraib torture scandal.

9. Declining to intervene in the collapsed economy or help put Iraqi state industries back on a good footing, on the grounds that the "market" would magically produce prosperity effortlessly.

8. Invading and destroying the Sunni Arab city of Fallujah in November, 2004, thus pushing the Sunni Arabs into the arms of the insurgency in protest and ensuring that they would boycott the January, 2005, parliamentary elections, a boycott that excluded them from power and from a significant voice in crafting the new constitution, which they then rejected.

7. Suddenly announcing that the US would "kill or capture" young nationalist Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in spring, 2004, throwing the country into massive turmoil for months.

6. Replying to Baathist guerrilla provocations with harsh search and destroy missions that humiliated and angered ever more Sunni Arab clans, driving them to support or join the budding guerrilla movement.

5. Putting vengeful Shiites in charge of a Debaathification Commission that fired tens of thousands of mostly Sunni Arab state employees simply for having belonged to the Baath Party, leaving large numbers of Sunnis penniless and without hope of employment.

4. Dissolving the Iraqi Army in May, 2003, and sending 400,000 men home, unemployed, resentful and heavily armed.

3. Allowing widespread looting after the fall of Saddam Hussein on April 9, 2003, on the grounds that "stuff happens," "democracy is messy," and "how many vases can they have?"-- and thus signalling that there would be no serious attempt to provide law and order in American Iraq.

2. Plotting to install corrupt financier, notorious liar, and shady operator Ahmad Chalabi as the soft dictator of Iraq, and refusing to plan for a post-war administration of the country because that might forestall Chalabi's coronation.

1. Invading Iraq.
Cole also marks the 4 year anniversary by looking back at Bush's mendacious speech of March 19, 2003:
The accusation that Iraq was planning to attack anyone in 2003, that US cities were in danger from it, was monstrous in its mirroring of Bush intentions toward the Iraqi people. Which innocents have had to dig out of rubble? And, at a time when Bush rushed to war, engaging in dirty tricks in hopes of getting a Baath provocation that would serve as casus belli, and not letting the weapons inspectors even finish their jobs, to say he was "reluctant"! It is impossible to reread this text without images from the destruction of Fallujah, from Abu Ghraib, from Najaf, flashing through one's mind. It is America's nadir, the most Goebbels-like Big Lie in modern American history.

March 20, 2007

Stephen Morris: Mea Culpa Minimalis

You just know a warmonger's four-years-later mea culpa is full of crap when it starts out like this:
I gave four reasons that were sufficient cause. In retrospect I was wrong to do so, not because one of those reasons - the belief that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction - turned out to be false...

In place of tyranny we have attained not a reasonable social order but near anarchy, and massive civilian carnage, albeit mostly at the hands of other Iraqis.
How quickly the past is assigned to the dustbin of memory! Iraqis may be killing one another at a rapid pace today, thanks largely to Cheney's PsyOps death squads, but it was the massive bombing campaign and the massacre of entire cities like Falluja which really got those body count numbers climbing. Remember?

But of course we cannot waste time squabbling about such things...
[A]cknowledging a moral blunder in 2003 cannot tell us what we should do now. We cannot turn back the clock. Instead we have to try to estimate the consequences of withdrawal as opposed to fighting on with a new strategy.

What would be the most likely scenarios if the US and its allies withdraw by next year from Iraq? ...
Stop right there, Mr Morris. You just admitted that you completely failed to predict the consequences of your illegal invasion, but now you want us to listen to your predictions on the consequences of a US withdrawal? Sir, you have no credibility.

Today's nightmare visions of burgeoning regional wars and Al Quaeda dominance are as fantastic as yesterday's rose-strewn boulevardes. Why is this nonsense still being published in my newspaper?
An idealist concern for the fate of the Iraqi people, and for the neighbouring Arabs and Israelis, and a realist concern for regional stability and Western interests, demands that the Petraeus strategy be tried. The dreadful consequences of the hitherto flawed occupation of Iraq will only be multiplied by a forced retreat in failure.
No, sir. Concern for the fate of the Iraqi people is not "idealist". It is just, humane, and ultimately logical (in the end, the Iraqi people, not the neocons in Washington, will decide the fate of their own country).

Similarly, an over-riding concern for regional stability and other identified "Western interests" is not "realist". Such terminology ultimately betrays the greedy, insensitive mindset of those who employ it. We must "succeed" in Iraq in order to guarantee the safety of Moms and babgy girls in shopping malls across the USA. We need regional stability in the Middle East so that SUVs can keep thundering across the Texan plains.

Four years later, the situation on the ground in Iraq has changed, but the mindsets in Washington remain very much the same.

Neocons in Cheney's Office Fund al Qaeda-Tied Groups ... and No One Cares?

What if Iran-Contra veterans working out of Dick Cheney's office are using stolen funds from Iraq to arm al Qaeda-tied groups and foment a larger Sunni-Shia war ... and No One Cares?
All this and much more was revealed, often in remarkable detail, just over a week ago in "The Redirection," a Seymour Hersh piece in the New Yorker... As far as I can tell, there haven't even been denunciations of Hersh's report or suggestions anywhere that it was inaccurate or off-base. Just the equivalent of a giant, collective shrug of the media's rather scrawny shoulders.

Since the response to Hersh's remarkable piece has been so tepid in places where it should count, let me take up just a few of the many issues his report raises...

"Sovereign" Iraq?

Not according to most Iraqis:
Asked who controlled the country, just one third said the Iraqi government while 59 per cent said the United States.

March 19, 2007

The Walls Start To Crumble

Talking Points Memo:
Fired San Diego U.S. attorney Carol Lam notified the Justice Department that she intended to execute search warrants on a high-ranking CIA official as part of a corruption probe the day before a Justice Department official sent an e-mail that said Lam needed to be fired...
Oh dear!

Goosey Goosey Gander

Wither shall I wander? Upstairs, downstairs, in my lady's chamber...

On the one hand, we have the prospect of a US Police State. On the other hand, we have the prospect of Howard, Blair and Bush on trial at The Hague.

There I met an old man who would not say his prayers
So I took him by the leg and I threw him down the stairs.

Bush's GOP: Shocked, Shocked At Voter Fraud

Given how the Bush Junta siezed power in 2000, it would be pretty ironic if voter fraud issues also brought about his downfall.

What's ironic just now is that Abu Gonzales could be fired in part because right-wingers have been complaining about vote fraud:
As the controversy over the firings escalates, the circumstances of the dismissals demonstrate the pressure federal prosecutors have faced over election fraud from the Justice Department and among Republican activists in swing states.

Among Republicans, "you had this widespread belief that voter fraud exists, combined with close elections," said Doug Chapin, director of, a group that monitors electoral reforms. "They were either pushing the U.S. attorney or pushing the administration to push the U.S. attorney to investigate."
One assumes this was part of an orchestrated campaign to "balance" all those damned left-wing complaints about vote fraud. Not surprisingly, most of the GOP complaints turned out to be baseless. In other news, it turns out that all those "Islamofascists" are not really the fascists, either!

The current situation actually provides an excellent opportunity for the USA to get its voting system fixed up once and for all. If both Dems and GOP agree that the system is broken, surely it is time for a complete overhaul including strict anti-fraud laws?

Antiwar Demonstrations

We have gotten used to the idea that anti-war protesters are not going to flood the streets like they did in the 1960's, and (for all the great work of those who got out on the streets this week) the relatively subdued 4-year anniversary of the Iraq invasion confirms that. But as Atrios points out, something is defenitely "up" when ten thousand people turn out to see Barak Obama over a year and a half before the next Presidential election. The people are (finally) making their voice heard, one way or another.

Then there's the polls. Only 34% of Americans are still (inexplicably) confident about the war in Iraq, compared to 83 percent four years ago. A new CNN poll also finds that “30 percent of those polled this month said they were proud of the war, as opposed to 65 percent who expressed that sentiment in 2003."

In fact, the increased political role of polls is almost certainly linked to the decreased participation in street protests. Why go out and protest when your sentiment is already registering on the front page of the NYT?

Increased cynicism with politicians also plays a part. As Leunig pointed out, you only have to fool half the people once every four years and you have a Democracy! Sadly, we are becoming accustomed to our "Democratic" voices being totally ignored in non-election years.

UPDATE: This piece by Michael Leunig seems appropriate:
Inside the building, marbles bearing birthdates were being drawn from a barrel to determine which young men were to be press-ganged into the Vietnam War and which ones would be allowed to get on with their lives unhindered by explosions, gunfire and submission to military might.

This was not the only selection process, for it became evident that young men from wealthy, influential backgrounds had developed methods of ducking and weaving to avoid conscription via the miracle of deferments and overseas jaunts. You couldn't blame them, except that some of these cunning gentlemen later became politicians, academics and media commentators in favour of violent military solutions to humanitarian problems. In America such low-character men are called chicken-hawks - and in Australia they are simply known as "arseholes"...

A neighbour saw my photo in the newspaper that evening, holding a placard bearing the words "we don't want to kill", and he told me as he watered his garden that I should be ashamed of myself.

But I was too disturbed to feel ashamed; surrounding me was a society righteously demanding human sacrifice and stirring up xenophobia and military madness. Under a cloak of conservative respectability and reason, this war-urgency seemed driven not only by jingoism or the empathetic disorders of overwrought politicians and intellectuals, but also by something deeply ghoulish and primal in the general population. To make matters worse, my marble had been chosen...

In the darkness one night at a rally near the American consulate, a police baton was driven into my back, for no reason that I could understand. This caused pain and anger but now it makes sense because I can see how the assault perfectly symbolised what the state was doing to the young men of my generation...

Then, in 1970, when the writing, the mess and futility were on the wall, a huge anti-war rally jammed the streets of Melbourne. Australia had changed its mind. But as I moved along with the moratorium marchers, I felt strangely despondent and somehow out of connection with the crowd. An unforgiving, almost sanctimonious question hovered in my thoughts: "Where were you all five years ago when it really mattered?" But a young man's bitter ambivalence about humanity does not make a good peace slogan.

Bush In Deep Denial Over Gonzales

Think Progress:
President Bush is the main force holding up the resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, GOP sources say tonight. CBS News reports:
Republicans close to the White House tell CBS News chief White House correspondent Jim Axelrod that President Bush is in “his usual posture: pugnacious, that no one is going to tell him who to fire.” But sources also said Gonzales’ firing is just a matter of time.

The White House is bracing for a weekend of criticism and more calls for Gonzales to go. One source tells CBS News he’s never seen the administration in such deep denial, and Republicans are growing increasingly restless for the president to take action.
Also tonight, CNN’s Suzanne Malveaux reported: “Wolf, I have to tell you, I’ve spoken to a lot of people who are friends of those here at the White House and GOP strategists. They want Gonzales gone. They’re putting a lot of pressure on this president. One of them said, look, Gonzales has a constituency of one, and that is the president. But tonight, Wolf, White House officials who I’ve spoken to say that that is exactly the person who’s saving his job, that the president does not intend to let him go.”
Well, of course, with Gonzo gone and Rummy gone, who's gonna be the next target?

Baghdad Under Surge

Patrick Cockburn on "the biggest exodus of refugees in the Middle East since Palestinians were forced from their homes at the time of the creation of Israel in 1948"...
If Iraqis believed that President Bush's famous troop 'surge', the dispatch of a further 21,500 American to Iraq announced in January, would stop these massacres then they might welcome the new Baghdad security plan. But they have seen such plans come and go before without result. It is extraordinary that three-and-a-half years after the US captured Baghdad it still controls so little of the city. At the end of January US and Iraqi army soldiers were trying to fight their way intoHaifa Street, a district with a population of 170,000 people that has long been a bastion of Sunni insurgents, though it is less than a mile from the Green Zone. I started reading a New York Times piece about Haifa Street entitled 'There are Signs That the Tide may be Turning on Iraq's Street of Fear' I had found in a file. It seemed to be well-informed but then I noticed that the date of the article was 21 March 2005 and it was an optimistic account of one of the US army's previous failed offensives in Haifa Street almost two years ago...

The true reason for Bush's anti-Iranian policy may be that it makes most sense in terms of American domestic politics. Ever since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein was first mooted the White House has shown itself more interested in holding power in Washington than in Baghdad. Bush went to war in Iraq in 2003 because, having overthrown the Taliban so easily inAfghanistan, he thought he would win an easy victory in Iraq, to his great political advantage at home. In this he was partly right since the Iraqis did not fight for Saddam Hussein. But they also rapidly showed that they did not intend to be permanently occupied by the US. Spurious turning points were exaggerated or invented to show progress in the war: Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003, power was supposedly handed over to an Iraqi government in 2004, elections were held in 2005, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, was killed by US bombs in 2006. None of these supposed successes made any real difference on the battlefield but all were used to demonstrate that American was not simply caught in a bloody stalemate. For the White House the real victories were won at home in the US and not in Iraq. The moment American voters realized the depth of the failure in Iraq was postponed long enough for Bush to win the Presidential election in 2004 and hold onto both Houses of Congress until 2006.
Hey, Dick! How much money is Halliburton going to make out of the coming war with Iran?

The War Of Error

Somewhere in Islamabad, Paul McGeough taps away at his keyboard...
It is more the war of error than a war on terror.

Who, four years ago, would have put money on Washington bungling its invasion of Iraq so badly? What might the odds have been, back then, on the terrorist Osama bin Laden surviving to celebrate his 50th birthday? ...

Remember all the ignored warnings about al-Qaeda before September 11? When, as the former CIA chief George Tenet later conceded, the system was "blinking red"? Same-same today - intelligence officials alarmed by a remarkable rejuvenation and expansion of al-Qaeda cannot get traction in Washington, so they are backgrounding reporters instead.

The emerging consensus among analysts is that, despite its losses since September 11, al-Qaeda has regrouped and restructured and has opened new bases in Africa and Europe along with its Iraq campaign.
Of course, that may be exactly the point: an empowered opponent provides just the right excuse for endless military spending.
See how the American President's decisions after September 11 have created a minefield that now extends from the Mediterranean to Islamabad.

The US and its allies, Australia included, are trapped in two "hot" war zones - Iraq and Afghanistan.

Undermanned and underfunded by careless choice, the US is attempting full-scale war and half-baked nation-building on two wild fronts. But it is surrounded by countries - Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan - that are havens for its enemies just as they are happily indifferent to or deliberately stoking Washington's fires on their borders.

Yet, as the Americans stomp around the region, loose-lipped and guns blazing, they refuse to bite the bullet on Pakistan, where bin Laden hides.
Did you see that the USA recently approved a massive $750 million in new funds to support Pakistan's military dictatorship? And at the same time, riots were breaking out across the country as a Pakistani's top anti-corruption judge was arrested? Now other lawyers and opposition figures are also being arrested in an attempt to block the surge of public support.

McGeogh fingers Pakistan as the place where so many of the post-September 11 threads are rooted:
Elements in the US and NATO hierarchy increasingly question President Pervez Musharraf's commitment to the fight against terrorism, and to democracy - remember that supposedly is the cause for which more than 3000 Americans have died and US taxpayers have kissed off hundreds of billions of dollars in Iraq.

But Washington plays into Musharraf's hands, sending conflicting messages...

Last month, the new Director of National Intelligence, Admiral John McConnell, told the US Senate that any new terrorist attack on the US was "most likely" to come from Pakistan.

He said: "Many of our most important interests intersect in Pakistan, where the Taliban and al-Qaeda maintain critical sanctuaries … [Pakistan] is our partner in the war on terror and has captured several al-Qaeda leaders. However, it also is a major source of Islamic extremism."

But then came the catch-22: "We recognise that aggressive military action, however, has been costly for Pakistani security forces and appreciate concerns over the potential for sparking tribal rebellion and a backlash by sympathetic Islamic political parties.

"There is widespread opposition among these parties to the US military presence in Afghanistan and Iraq. With elections expected later this year, the situation will become even more challenging - for President Musharraf and for the US."
Of course, the Bush administration has not shown much concern for democracy, fair elections, or the rule of law within their own US borders, so there is little reason to expect they would do so in Pakistan, Iraq, or anywhere else.

Basically it all comes down to empty rhetoric, or in other words: Spin. And when you examine the actions behind the spin, what you see is a war-mongering administration focussed on the business of war, not the winning of it. From that perspective, one has to wonder whether Bush and his close supporters really see this as a "War Of Error". Their companies and investments have profited massively from the war, and will continue to do so when (as expected soon), US-based Big Oil gets its hands on Iraq's oil resources.

Message to the Free World: you been punk'd!

March 17, 2007

A Dangerous Game Of Chicken

Attorney firing inquiry reaches impasse:
Snow was asked whether Bush might have suggested the firings.

"Anything's possible," he said, "but I don't think so." He added that Bush "certainly has no recollection" of doing so.
Gee, Pop. I guess I might have suggested sacking every top lawyer in the land. I was probably stoned.

March 16, 2007

Iraq War Timeline: Four Long Years

We invaded Iraq on March 19, 2003. Monday will be the fourth anniversary. Look for planned demonstrations in your local area.

Think Progress has a timeline of the major events (and stupid quotes) since then.

March 15, 2007

Bizarro Logic

WaPo's Dana Milbank captures the madness:
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faced the cameras for all of nine minutes yesterday, but he managed to contradict himself at least four times as he fought off calls to resign over the firing of U.S. attorneys.

"Mistakes were made," he said in fluent scandalese, but "I think it was the right decision."

"I am responsible for what happens at the Department of Justice," he posited, but "I ... was not involved in any discussions about what was going on."

"Kyle Sampson" -- Gonzales's chief of staff -- "has resigned," he said, but "he is still at the department."

And, finally, "I believe in the independence of our U.S. attorneys," Gonzales maintained, but "all political appointees can be removed ... for any reason."

CurveBall Is Alive And Well

And living in Germany, where he is still being protected by the German intelligence services. The Blotter has photos, plus a look at the ongoing debate about who's to blame for actually using Curveball's dodgy intelligence:
"People died because of this," said Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of European operations at the CIA, who has written about it in a new book, "On the Brink." "All off this one little guy who all he wanted to do was stay in Germany."

Drumheller says he personally redacted all references to Curveball material in an advance draft of the Powell speech.

"We said, 'This is from Curveball. Don't use this,'" Drumheller says. Powell says neither he nor his chief of staff Col. Larry Wilkerson was ever told of any doubts about Curveball.

"In fact, it was the exact opposite," Wilkerson told ABC News. "Never from anyone did we even hear the word 'Curveball,' let alone any expression of doubt in what Secretary Powell was presenting with regard to the biological labs," Wilkerson said.

Drumheller also says he met personally with the then-deputy director of the CIA, John McLaughlin, to raise questions about the reliability of Curveball, well before the Powell speech.

"And John said, 'Oh my, I hope not. You know this is all we have,' and I said, 'This can't be all we have.' I said, 'There must be another, there must be something else.' And he said, 'No, this is really the only tangible thing we have.'"

McLaughlin adamantly denies any such meeting or warning from Drumheller and also denies knowing that Drumheller had attempted to redact the Curveball portions of Powell's speech.

"This man never came into my office, sat down, looked me in the eye and made a case that Curveball was a fabricator. That didn't happen," McLaughlin, now retired, told ABC News.
How about getting these guys under oath in front of the Senate?

Iraq: Where Are The Dems?

Another good Op-ed in today's NYT:
THE debate that Congress needs to have about the Iraq war is being hijacked by sound-bite arguments. Defenders of President Bush concede that Congress has “the power of the purse” and insist it could use it to completely “cut off the funds to the troops.” But that, most of them say, is the only power Congress has to change the course of the war. They then insinuate that exercising this power would be an unspeakable act of disloyalty to our soldiers, leaving them without supplies, ammunition or pay. Congress is thus placed in a box: it has a single awesome power that it would never employ.

There are at least three errors in this line of argument. First, Congress is hardly limited to this seemingly magical power of the purse. It has several sources of constitutional authority over the use of military force, including the express right “to make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces.”

When Congress decides, for example, to limit warrantless surveillance of telecommunications, it does not need to say: “No funds appropriated under this act may be used for a search unless a warrant has been obtained.” It may instead simply require the executive branch to obtain a warrant.

True, restrictions on spending are often attractive to Congress, because they can be attached to essential spending bills that a president may not be willing to veto. But when the debate gets turned to the spending power, it has been soured by the second false claim: that using the power of the purse would somehow leave the troops high and dry in Iraq.

Suppose that Congress did decide that military forces financed by future defense appropriations acts would, after a certain date, have to be deployed elsewhere than Iraq. Such a requirement would not cut a single penny of support for the troops in Iraq before the redeployment date, or for those same troops redeployed outside Iraq after that date.

How could that possibly be seen as “cutting off” support for our fighting men and women? Only if a president chose to violate both the Congressional provision that the troops were to be redeployed and the laws providing for the pay, benefits and support of those in the military. Why would a president do something so perverse? Mr. Bush wouldn’t. Thus this claim — that he would be forced to defy the law by sending “unfunded” troops into combat — is simply a false threat intended to curtail meaningful debate.

The third incorrect precept in the Iraq debate is the notion that while Congress could bring our troops home via its spending power, it lacks the ability to limit the size of the deployment: it is all or nothing.

Proponents of this argument ignore longstanding executive branch legal opinions as well as Supreme Court precedent. The Supreme Court has long recognized Congress’s authority to set limits on the president’s military power, as in 1799 when it accepted Congress’s power to authorize the seizure of ships going to, but not coming from, French ports.

More important, the legal advisers of presidents have themselves repeatedly recognized this Congressional power...
The media is happily playing along with this "Democrats are helpless" meme. This is from Reuters:
It was unclear how long the debate would last. There seemed to be little expectation that the measure could pass given the procedural rules of the Senate, which give the minority considerable power to block debates or votes.

Republicans could still try to bar a vote on the measure, and Democrats, with a 51-49 majority, have said they cannot be sure of the plan's passage if it does come to a vote.
And yet for the past few years, when the GOP held the Senate and Congress and Dems were in the minority, the Dems repeatedly complained that they couldn't do anything. So suddenly the minority is all-powerful? Go figure!

And another thing. If you are so sure the GOP is going to knock back your proposals, why not at least ensure that they have teeth?

It's All About Bush

Glenn Greenwald looks at the neocons' hold on Bush's fragile mind:
The most critical priority is to convince the President to continue to ignore the will of the American people and to maintain full-fledged loyalty to the neoconservative agenda, no matter how unpopular it becomes.

To do this, they have convinced the President that he has tapped into a much higher authority than the American people -- namely, God-mandated, objective morality -- and as long as he adheres to that (which is achieved by continuing his militaristic policies in the Middle East, whereby he is fighting Evil and defending Good), God and history will vindicate him...
He provides this astonishing Bush quote (via Michael Novak):
"I want to have my conscience clear with Him. Then it doesn't matter so much what others think."
And here's Bush wondering why there is such rising anti-Americanism all over the world, even in English-speaking countries such as England:
'Is it due simply to my personality?' he wondered, half-seriously.
It's all about you, George. Half a million dead in Iraq, a country in ruins, international law flushed down the toilet with a Koran and all that matters is how YOU feel about it!
The president confided to Roberts that he believes he has an advantage over Churchill, a reliable source with access to the conversation told me. He has faith in God, Bush explained, but Churchill, an agnostic, did not. Because he believes in God, it is easier for him to make decisions and stick to them than it was for Churchill. Bush said he doesn't worry, or feel alone, or care if he is unpopular. He has God.

Gandhi has fun with racist wingnuts

Check out the comments at this blog post. I expect they will be deleted soon.

March 14, 2007

Abu G: Stalling For Time

If you have been following the revelations at Talking Points Memo and other places closely, you will realize that this is Abu Gonzales' assignment right now: stalling for time.

There are twenty months left to go... Think he'll make it? Think Bush & Co. can keep the wolf from the door that long?

Dylan Hears A Who!

Totally not related to anything: Dylan Hears A Who!

In The Line Of Firing

Tsk tsk:
Gonzales earlier accepted the resignation of his top aide, Kyle Sampson. Authorities said that Sampson failed to brief other senior Justice Department officials of his discussions about the firings with then-White House counsel Harriet Miers.

E-mail correspondence between Sampson and Miers indicate they began two years ago to consider individual U.S. attorneys for possible dismissal. As the list took shape, their correspondence indicated possible political backlash from the attorneys and their congressional allies.

In a Sept 13, 2006, e-mail to Miers, Sampson listed one prosecutor, Bud Cummins (nyse: CMI - news - people ) in Little Rock,Ark., "in the process of being pushed out." Five other prosecutors - in Arizona, Nevada, Grand Rapids, Mich., San Diego and Seattle - were listed as U.S attorneys "we should now consider pushing out."

Four days later, Miers responded: "Kyle, thanks for this. I have not forgotten I need to follow up on the info but things have been crazy."

But nearly three months later, the Justice Department was still waiting for White House approval for the firings. "Still waiting for green light from White House," Sampson wrote in a Dec. 2, 2006, e-mail to Michael Elston, the top aide to McNulty.

The White House responded shortly thereafter.

"We're a go for the US Atty plan," deputy White House counsel William K. Kelley wrote in a Dec. 4, 2006, e-mail to Sampson and Miers. "WH leg, political, communications have signed off and acknowledged that we have to be committed to following through once the pressure comes."

The term "WH leg" refers to the White House office of legislative affairs, which deals with Congress.
Don't foret that Harriet Miers was nominated by Bush for the Supreme Court. And Rove was in deep:
In one of the emails to be released today, Sampson wrote that getting Griffin appointed was "important to Harriet, Karl, etc."


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