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April 30, 2006

"Once They Stand Up. . ." (Part Four)

This is what we sacrified thousands of our soldiers for:

HABBANIYA, Iraq (Reuters) - Newly graduated Iraqi soldiers protested after a passing out parade on Sunday saying they were promised they would serve only in their hometowns.

The troops were among 1,000 graduates, mostly from the Sunni Arab minority, at the Habbaniya base near Falluja west of Baghdad.

The protesters told reporters they were unhappy about their first assignments after being promised they would serve only in their hometowns.

Some took off their shirts and threw them down in anger. Others yelled at their officers and threatened to quit. One officer yelled back, telling them to leave, witnesses said.

Well, if they don't like the military, they can always get cushier jobs with the militias:

Militias steal new recruits with better pay and perks By Daniel McGrory

SOON after he graduated near the top of his class at the American-run police academy, Alah defected. He did not bother to inform his superiors. The young Iraqi police officer simply walked into a recruitment office in a rundown neighbourhood of Baghdad and signed on for the Mahdi Army, the private militia run by the radical young cleric Moqtada al-Sadr that has been blamed for some of the most savage atrocities in this city in recent weeks.
The 23-year-old absconder described it as “a career move�. The pay was better, the duties less onerous and there was far less chance of being killed.

Three years after President Bush declared “mission accomplished� in Iraq, young gunslingers such as Alah are what passes for the law across much of this city today.

Nobody knows for sure the strength of Iraq’s militias, but they certainly outnumber the 120,000-strong police force that estimates it is losing several hundred recruits a month. This is the only country where police and soldiers have it written into their contracts that they can leave on a whim without being punished.

Alah’s defection is a blow to attempts to rebuild Iraq. Western money and manpower trained him to replace the British and US forces. But, with young recruits deserting in ever growing numbers, the prospect of a swift pullout recedes still further.

. . .Alah was brought up in a Shia neighbourhood but laughs at the idea that it was religious conviction that encouraged him to join the ranks of the Mahdi Army. “It is an attractive package,� he says, weighing up the economic advantages offered by the militia, such as a pledge to take care of Alah’s family if anything happens to him. He and his colleagues do as they please. They do not bother with warrants before searching premises, and can open fire at will.

Hell Freezes Over Again

hell_freezes_over.jpg

WASHINGTON, April 30 — The Senate Republican plan to mail $100 checks to voters to ease the burden of high gasoline prices is eliciting more scorn than gratitude from the very people it was intended to help.

Aides for several Republican senators reported a surge of calls and e-mail messages from constituents ridiculing the rebate as a paltry and transparent effort to pander to voters before the midterm elections in November.

"The conservatives think it is socialist bunk, and the liberals think it is conservative trickery," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, pointing out that the criticism was coming from across the ideological spectrum.

Angry constituents have asked, "Do you think we are prostitutes? Do you think you can buy us?" said another Republican senator's aide, who was granted anonymity to openly discuss the feedback because the senator had supported the plan.

Conservative talk radio hosts have been particularly vocal. "What kind of insult is this?" Rush Limbaugh asked on his radio program on Friday. "Instead of buying us off and treating us like we're a bunch of whores, just solve the problem." In commentary on Fox News Sunday, Brit Hume called the idea "silly."

Rush Limpballs and I agree on something. Now I need a shower.

April 27, 2006

Fobbits

Looks like the soldiers neither acknowledge or care anymore that those who put them on the frontlines are coming to make some photo-ops in secure "temporary" bases:

BALAD, Iraq (CNN) -- As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made their surprise visits to Baghdad on Wednesday, many of the troops stationed north of Baghdad, in Balad and Dujail, say either they didn't know about it or didn't care.

"I'd ask him for a plane ticket home to see my wife. I have barely seen her in the last two years," said a young sergeant, who did not want to be identified. Like many of the soldiers with the 4th Infantry Division, he is on his second deployment to Iraq.

Some joked that whenever VIP's come to visit they just go to the main bases and meet the "fobbits," the nickname given to troops who do not go outside the barbed wire.

"They have to get out to see the people that are doing the jobs they are making them do. If they didn't they would not be very good leaders," said Maj. Michael Humphreys, one of the few soldiers here willing to tell journalists some of his opinions on senior leadership.

"Fobbits" of course coming from the term Forward Operating Bases.

Meanwhile, Iraqi politicians are clearly pissed that Rice and Rumsfailed are coming again to insert themselves in their politics:

BAGHDAD — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld paid a surprise visit to Baghdad on Wednesday to express support for Iraq's new leaders, but drew criticism from Iraqi politicians who said they feared the unannounced visit might do more harm than good.

"We didn't invite them," said Kamal Saadi, a Shiite legislator close to the new prime minister-designate, Nouri Maliki.

Saadi said Iraqi leaders had not been given advance notice of the visit, which came just days after Iraqi politicians broke through a months-long impasse on the selection of a prime minister.

"Maybe Rumsfeld's visit can be justified" because of American troop presence, "but I can't see a clear reason behind Rice's visit," Saadi said. "The crisis is over and negotiations are taking place."

...Some observers and Iraqi politicians speculated that the visit had more to do with the U.S. domestic audience than the creation of an inclusive and sustainable government in Iraq.

In Washington, the visit was seen as an attempt by the White House to shore up U.S. public opinion about the war and as the first foreign policy calling card of the new chief of staff, Joshua B. Bolten.

"I actually think it's completely aimed at American public opinion," said Brian Katulis, Middle East analyst at the Center for American Progress, a liberal think tank. "What's going on here is part of Bolten's plan to signal to the American public that we're not staying there forever."

Ivo H. Daalder, a foreign policy analyst at the Brookings Institution, said the visit was "all about us."

"We are trying to demonstrate that there is positive direction. How better to do that than having the chief horses of the State Department and the Defense Department make this joint and dramatic appearance. Every newspaper will quote them as saying this is a new turning point."

. . .Some Iraqi politicians thought the visit could backfire on the sensitive negotiations. Similar concerns were raised recently about the statements and actions of U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and about Rice's April 2 visit with her British counterpart, Jack Straw.

"It would be more appropriate if they would leave us alone," said Mahmoud Othman, a senior Kurdish legislator. "Let us solve our problems by ourselves."

"Enough is enough," said Sheik Mahmoud Sudani, a politician affiliated with radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Sadr. "Rice's trip to Iraq at this critical time is just another desperate move by the Americans to try to impose themselves on our new government. But they have lost their influence."

They still don't want to learn. Their meddling allowed Jafaari to hold on to power longer than anticipated, and now this episode is really going to harden anti-American sentiments. To be fair, there isn't a lot one can do to ameliorate the desperate situation made courtesy of the Worst President Ever.

April 26, 2006

Bush's "Culture of Compassion" In Action

Yeap, Bush couldn't get off his ass during last year's tsunamis and hurricanes, but decisively ended his vacation to sign the Terri Schiavo bill (which thankfully got struck down in court). With all the protesting and poitical grandstanding that went on with the Terri Schiavo case, why the deathly silence on this one?

Houston Hospital Votes To End Woman's Life With Bush Law HOUSTON---The countdown has begun on the life of Andrea Clark, a patient at St. Luke's Hospital.

Six days left.

No, she's not terminal, her family says and she's not brain dead. Her sisters say that she wants to live. The Houston hospital is going to unilaterally remove a woman from life support, apparently based on the decision of a lone physician even though her family wants her to continue to receive care.

The central issue in the Andrea Clark case is the same as that in the Terri Schindler Schiavo case, whether the state should be able to sanction the removal of a human being from life support.

What's even more significant in the Clark case is that the Texas bill that allows health care providers to end a human life despite the wishes of the patient and the patient's family was signed into law in 1999 by President George W. Bush as Texas Governor. However, in 2005, he rushed back to the White House from Easter vacation to sign a bill rushed through Congress which was designed to save the life of Terri Schiavo because of his "presumption in favor of life".

The hospital's ethics committee has apparently decided they don't want Andrea Clark to receive care anymore, saying its futile, and has recommended that she be removed from life support despite her family's wishes. If her family can't find another hospital to transfer her to by Sunday, April 30, she will be removed from her respirator and dialysis and die.

Andrea Clark, 54, has been a heart patient at the hospital since November. In January, she underwent open heart surgery and in February, she developed bleeding on the brain.

Clark's sisters, Lanore Dixon and Melanie Childers, point out that under a little known Texas law, a self-appointed ethics committee can decide to forcibly remove care from a patient. Once that decision is made, the patient and family have 10 days to find another hospital to provide care for their family member.

But they say the law also requires that the attending physician help with the transfer which they say hasn't been done in Andrea's case. They say that the hospital has unlawfully and unjustly transferred responsibility to them, a denial of due process.

Andrea's sisters are racing to beat the clock but say the hospital is working against them. Although the obscure 1999 Futile Care Law that gave hospitals the authority to remove patients from life support despite the patient's and family wishes says once such a decision is made that the hospital must provide the patient's family with a list of hospitals where the patient could be transferred, St. Luke's hasn't done that. The sisters also claim that the hospital social worker exaggerated the seriousness of Andrea's condition, exaggerating the level of care that is needed in an alleged attempt to discourage other hospitals from admitting her as a patient.

Ho well, I've already wrote an op-ed on this relating to two other cases in Texas, this is just another drop in the river of hypocrisy that is modern conservative politics.

Iraq Army Commanders Supply Insurgents With Weapons

Looks like the New Eye-Rack Army is standing up all right, standing up to the Americans:

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2006 (UPI) -- Eight Iraqi soldiers, mostly privates, have turned in their company commander, a major, and a captain who were supplying army weapons to local insurgents. U.S. and Iraqi intelligence officers had believed for some time that munitions from the Badush ordnance depot in al Kisik, near Tal Afar, were being purloined and supplied to guerrillas, who used them to manufacture improvised explosive devices.

The Badush munitions depot was established during the reign of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Stars and Stripes reported on April 24 that although Iraqi army officers repeatedly assured their U.S. counterparts that the magazine had been secured, U.S. intelligence noted that local guerrillas seemed to have a limitless supply of artillery shells and other military ordnance. The issue strained local relations between Iraqi officers and U.S. military commanders in northwestern Iraq.

The soldiers turned in their commanders last month.

The 1st Armored Division's 1st Brigade liaison officer to the 1st Brigade of the 3rd Iraqi Army Division, Maj. John Stark, said, "It's an incredible story. What makes it great is that it wasn't just one guy who came forward, it was eight, and they did it when they were scared. They had never done something like that before."

On March 6 the soldiers, members an intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance company, were using night-vision equipment to monitor the site when they observed two civilian cars, which they decided to investigate.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one of the men said, "We went down to question them and they confessed. They told us, 'we have bombs in our car. Don't worry though, we are only going to use them on Americans.'"

A search of the men and one of the cars uncovered a battery, explosive timers and a cell phone. After they summoned their commanding officer, he ordered them away from the vehicles, took out something, and then allowed them to drive off. The commander subsequently told them that he had searched the vehicles and found nothing.

The soldiers then contacted a U.S. liaison officer and some U.S. Special Forces soldiers and informed them about what had happened.

Under interrogation the officers were determined to be lying and imprisoned. Ordnance disposal teams were sent then to the facility to inventory the remaining explosives.

The 3rd Iraqi Army Division's intelligence officer, Col. Khalid Al Murad, said, "I am very proud of the soldiers who told us what happened. It's hard to find faithful men and I'm really proud of them."

Law & Order Under The Bushelvikis

All I can say is mmmgmaamhjdhgghdhuuughga!

No Charges in Falsified Nuclear Waste Data

By THE NEW YORK TIMES
Published: April 26, 2006

WASHINGTON, April 25 — The United States attorney for Nevada has decided not to prosecute federal employees who admitted making up details about research involving the Energy Department's effort to open a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, the department's inspector general said Tuesday.

But the inspector general, Gregory H. Friedman, said the Yucca project had "internal control deficiencies" that allowed lapses that contributed to a loss of public confidence.

Mr. Friedman's findings were part of a report about e-mail messages sent by employees of the United States Geologic Survey who said they had made up details about their research about the mountain's geology.

April 20, 2006

Worst President Ever At 33%: Fox-Jazeera News Poll

Loser.

Finally! The Answer To All Of Eye-Rack's Problems!

So when you think of Eye-rack, what is the first problem that comes to mind? The rise of sectarian militias? Ethnic cleansing? The need to replace the prime minister? No, no, no my friend, for according to the All Knowing Darren Bernard, the root of Eye-rack's problems lay in its inability to adopt neoliberal economic policies. And that is despite the fact that almost every sector of Iraq's economy is below prewar levels - including oil production which is actually 1.7 million barrels per day, not the 2.1 million figure cited in Darren Bernard's piece.

Oh well, I guess I do have to give kudos to Bernard for not ignoring the elephant in the room this week, but once again he is refusing to see the forest through the trees.

April 18, 2006

Bush Lied, People Died. Period. End Of Sentence.

Remember those "sixteen words" in the 2003 SOTU that Bush and his shock troops played semantics games with until people grew tired of it? Well there's now a memo written several days before that speech that said unequivocally that the conclusions reached in the Niger forgeries, even after talking to the British, cannot be verified:

Sixteen days before President Bush's January 28, 2003, State of the Union address in which he said that the US learned from British intelligence that Iraq had attempted to acquire uranium from Africa - an explosive claim that helped pave the way to war - the State Department told the CIA that the intelligence the uranium claims were based upon were forgeries, according to a newly declassified State Department memo.

The revelation of the warning from the closely guarded State Department memo is the first piece of hard evidence and the strongest to date that the Bush administration manipulated and ignored documents information in their zeal to win public support for invading Iraq.

The memo says: "On January 12, 2003," the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR) "expressed concerns to the CIA that the documents pertaining to the Iraq-Niger deal were forgeries."

Moreover, the memo says that the State Department's doubts about the veracity of the uranium claims may have been expressed to the intelligence community even earlier.

Those concerns, according to the memo, are the reason that former Secretary of State Colin Powell refused to cite the uranium claims when he appeared before the United Nations in February 5, 2003 - one week after Bush's State of the Union address - to try to win support for a possible strike against Iraq.

"After considerable back and forth between the CIA, the (State) Department, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association), and the British, Secretary Powell's briefing to the UN Security Council did not mention attempted Iraqi procurement of uranium due to CIA concerns raised during the coordination regarding the veracity of the information on the alleged Iraq-Niger agreement," the memo further states.

If it weren't for this damn outrage fatigue, I'd be more outraged.

How Does Rumsfailed Keep His Job

I guess Worst President Ever needs a lightning rod that looks stupider than him. In any case, this news piece says that the Pentagon ignored the rise of the Shiite militias (now responsible for the plurarity of the civilian deaths in Iraq) in order to concentrate on the Sunni insurgency:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - U.S. officials were warned for more than two years that Shiite Muslim militias were infiltrating Iraq's security forces and taking control of neighborhoods, but they failed to take action to counteract it, Iraqi and American officials said.

Now American officials call the militias the primary security concern in Iraq, blaming them for more civilian deaths than the Sunni Muslim-based insurgency and demanding that the Iraqi government move quickly to stem their influence.

U.S. officials concede that they didn't act, in part because they were focused on fighting the Sunni-dominated insurgency and on recruiting and training Iraqi security forces.

"Last year, as we worked through the problem set, that (militias) wasn't a problem set we focused on," Maj. Gen. Rick Lynch, the top American military spokesman, said at a recent news briefing.

U.S. inaction gave the militias, with support from Iran, time to become a major force inside and outside the Iraqi government, and American officials acknowledge that dislodging them now would be difficult.

That's a nice act of ass-covering. The Pentagon didn't ignore the Shiite militias, they MADE the Shiite militias:

'The Salvador Option’ The Pentagon may put Special-Forces-led assassination or kidnapping teams in Iraq

WEB EXCLUSIVE
By Michael Hirsh and John Barry

Jan. 8 - What to do about the deepening quagmire of Iraq? The Pentagon’s latest approach is being called "the Salvador option"—and the fact that it is being discussed at all is a measure of just how worried Donald Rumsfeld really is. "What everyone agrees is that we can’t just go on as we are," one senior military officer told NEWSWEEK. "We have to find a way to take the offensive against the insurgents. Right now, we are playing defense. And we are losing." Last November’s operation in Fallujah, most analysts agree, succeeded less in breaking "the back" of the insurgency—as Marine Gen. John Sattler optimistically declared at the time—than in spreading it out.

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras. There is no evidence, however, that Negroponte knew anything about the Salvadoran death squads or the Iran-Contra scandal at the time. The Iraq ambassador, in a phone call to NEWSWEEK on Jan. 10, said he was not involved in military strategy in Iraq. He called the insertion of his name into this report "utterly gratuitous.")

Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.

Yeap, they hoped that this strategy will created a "controlled chaos" that plagued the Central American countries for years, but all they have now is chaos. Mission accomplished.

Civil War Accomplished

What else needs to happen before all out civil war?

Baghdad street battle smacks of open civil war Tue Apr 18, 2006 12:29 PM BST Printer Friendly | Email Article | RSS By Omar al-Ibadi

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Snipers held rooftop positions as masked Sunni Arab insurgents said they were gearing up for another open street battle with pro-government Shi'ite militiamen in Baghdad's Adhamiya district on Tuesday.

The Arab Sunni stronghold is still feeling ripples from overnight clashes on Monday that appeared to be the closest yet to all-out sectarian fighting.

It's a reality that has Washington scrambling to avert civil war as Iraqi politicians struggle to form a government four months after parliamentary elections.

A U.S. military spokesman said 50 insurgents attacked Iraqi forces in the middle of the night in a seven-hour battle that killed five rebels and wounded an Iraqi soldier.

Fighting was so fierce that U.S. reinforcements were brought in to the northern district, home to some of Iraq's most hardcore Sunni guerrillas and the Abu Hanifa mosque, near where Saddam Hussein was last seen in public before going into hiding.

April 15, 2006

Remission Accomplished

Bushies are planning a "new liberation" of Baghdad:

THE American military is planning a “second liberation of Baghdad� to be carried out with the Iraqi army when a new government is installed. Pacifying the lawless capital is regarded as essential to establishing the authority of the incoming government and preparing for a significant withdrawal of American troops. Strategic and tactical plans are being laid by US commanders in Iraq and at the US army base in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, under Lieutenant- General David Petraeus.

He is regarded as an innovative officer and was formerly responsible for training Iraqi troops. The battle for Baghdad is expected to entail a “carrot-and-stick� approach, offering the beleaguered population protection from sectarian violence in exchange for rooting out insurgent groups and Al-Qaeda. Sources close to the Pentagon said Iraqi forces would take the lead, supported by American air power, special operations, intelligence, embedded officers and back-up troops.

Helicopters suitable for urban warfare, such as the manoeuvrable AH-6 “Little Birds� used by the marines and special forces and armed with rocket launchers and machineguns, are likely to complement the ground attack. The sources said American and Iraqi troops would move from neighbourhood to neighbourhood, leaving behind Sweat teams — an acronym for “sewage, water, electricity and trash� — to improve living conditions by upgrading clinics, schools, rubbish collection, water and electricity supplies. Sunni insurgent strongholds are almost certain to be the first targets, although the Shi’ite militias such as the Mahdi army of Moqtada al-Sadr, the radical cleric, and the Iranian-backed Badr Brigade would need to be contained.

President George W Bush and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, are under intense pressure to prove to the American public that Iraq is not slipping into anarchy and civil war. An effective military campaign could provide the White House with a bounce in the polls before the mid-term congressional elections in November. With Bush’s approval ratings below 40%, the vote is shaping up to be a Republican rout.

You can't make this shit up if you tried.

April 13, 2006

Those Unhealthy Deadbeats

Hey look, Darren Bernard has a plan to lower health care costs. Not that they are origninal, effective or compassionate or anything, but they are ideas nonetheless.

His first bright idea, we Americans use the hospital too much so the government should put bouncers at every revolving doorto make sure only those with "acceptable" illnesses can come in. All you obese people and other "hypochondriacs" brought the illness on yourselves so you're shit outta luck. That sounds reasonable, except for the fact that hospital visits are not like Gucci fashions. You see, people like to get Gucci clothes, on the flip side, people hate going to the doctor. That would explain the lack of waiting lists for countries with universal health care.

Bright Idea Number Two: Tort Reform!

Never mind the fact that medical malpractice costs make up only two percent of total health care costs, or in other words, even though America spends $6,000 per person on health care, malpractice awards only amount to $16 per person. Only five percent of the patients who are injured actually file any suit, and apparently the medical malpractice "crisis" is already over, huzzah!

April 12, 2006

Another "Liberated" Beauty Queen Fears For Her Life

First it was Miss Afghanistan who now cannot return to her home country because she may face prosecution:

An Afghan woman, condemned in her homeland after appearing in a bikini in a Philippine beauty contest last year, rejoined the pageant Sunday as a judge, saying the controversy bolstered her advocacy for women's rights.

Vida Samadzai, 26, was among 11 judges chosen to pick the winner in Miss Earth, an annual beauty pageant that promotes environmental protection, organizers said. There was no Afghan candidate among more than 60 women vying for the title Sunday.

. . .In a radical departure from the conservative image of Afghan women, Samadzai paraded in a red bikini down a catwalk last year to qualify for the contest. She failed to make it to the semifinals but won a special "beauty for a cause" award, largely for her women's rights work.

Afghan officials, however, said she betrayed Afghan culture by appearing in the beauty contest and warned she could face prosecution if she returned to her native country.

Samadzai said she felt uncomfortable in the skimpy attire, but did it to qualify for the contest and raise awareness of the plight of women and children in her homeland. She said she was urged to join the pageant by people aware of her work as a volunteer fund raiser and as a founder of an Afghan women's rights organization.

Samadzai said she has not returned to Afghanistan since the controversy erupted. "I'm not welcomed there, they might prosecute me if ever I go back home," she said.

She has stayed mainly in the United States, where she became involved with fund-raising activities and was often invited on talk shows. Her busy schedule has prevented her from returning to school to finish a course in speech communications and international business.

Now it's the newly crowned Miss Eye-Rack that is fearing for her life:

Iraq's newly crowned beauty queen has gone into hiding, fearing she will be targeted by Islamic militants who reportedly threatened to kill other women who participated in a Baghdad pageant last week.

Silva Shahakian, an Iraqi Christian, received the title of Miss Iraq when the initial winner stepped down after receiving death threats and two other runners-up also bowed out, a person familiar with the event said Wednesday.

Since receiving the crown, Shahakian has been lying low, fearing she will be targeted, he said. The pageant was held April 9 in a Baghdad social club and the initial winner, Tamar Goregian, gave back the crown four days later, he said.

The man spoke on condition of anonymity, refusing to be identified further, saying he also feared retribution from militants.

Shahakian's whereabouts were unknown, although it was believed that she was still in Iraq. Several attempts to reach Goregian, who is believed to have left Iraq, failed.

That's our Boosh, spreading peece and democrapsee all over the world.

Winnebagoes Of Mass Destruction Revisited

Oh those lying bastards. Back during the spring of 2003, they sent a team to check out the trailers they found in Eye-Rack suspected of being the mobile biolabs so carefully explicated in Colin Powell's February presentation to the U.N., and they came back and wrote a report that said they were fucking sand toilets.

But Bush and the rest of his cabal went ahead for four months afterwards saying they were INDEED bioweapons labs, starting the next day in Poland.

On May 29, 2003, 50 days after the fall of Baghdad, President Bush proclaimed a fresh victory for his administration in Iraq: Two small trailers captured by U.S. and Kurdish troops had turned out to be long-sought mobile "biological laboratories." He declared, "We have found the weapons of mass destruction."

The claim, repeated by top administration officials for months afterward, was hailed at the time as a vindication of the decision to go to war. But even as Bush spoke, U.S. intelligence officials possessed powerful evidence that it was not true.

A secret fact-finding mission to Iraq -- not made public until now -- had already concluded that the trailers had nothing to do with biological weapons. Leaders of the Pentagon-sponsored mission transmitted their unanimous findings to Washington in a field report on May 27, 2003, two days before the president's statement.

The three-page field report and a 122-page final report three weeks later were stamped "secret" and shelved. Meanwhile, for nearly a year, administration and intelligence officials continued to publicly assert that the trailers were weapons factories.

The authors of the reports were nine U.S. and British civilian experts -- scientists and engineers with extensive experience in all the technical fields involved in making bioweapons -- who were dispatched to Baghdad by the Defense Intelligence Agency for an analysis of the trailers. Their actions and findings were described to a Washington Post reporter in interviews with six government officials and weapons experts who participated in the mission or had direct knowledge of it.

I especially like the next sentence, however:

None would consent to being identified by name because of fear that their jobs would be jeopardized.
We can't be embarrassing Chairman Boosh, can we now?

So how are his minions going to spin this? Why blame the CIA of course:

"The lead suggested that what the president was saying was based on something that had been debunked, and that is not true," McClellan said. "In fact, the president was saying something that was based on what the intelligence community — through the CIA and DIA — were saying."

The "I didn't do it" presidency indeed.

April 11, 2006

Demons Playing Hockey In Hell

A HUGE rat jumps the sinking ship:

Gingrich at USD: Pull out of Iraq

Ex-House speaker says U.S. should scale back

VERMILLION - Newt Gingrich, the former Republican Speaker of the House, told students and faculty at the University of South Dakota Monday that the United States should pull out of Iraq and leave a small force there, just as it did post-war in Korea and Germany.

"It was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003," Gingrich said during a question-and-answer session at the school. "We have to pull back, and we have to recognize it."

Update: ThinkProgess is busy cataloguing the various flipflops the newly minted anti-American Saddamite has said in the past

Zarqawi is Goldstein

"Propoganda campaign" are the exact words the Washington Post used to describe the blame peddlers at the Pentagon who are augmenting the role the Jordanian terrorist is playing in Eye-Rack:

Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi Jordanian Painted As Foreign Threat To Iraq's Stability

By Thomas E. Ricks
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, April 10, 2006; A01

The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The documents state that the U.S. campaign aims to turn Iraqis against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived dislike of foreigners. U.S. authorities claim some success with that effort, noting that some tribal Iraqi insurgents have attacked Zarqawi loyalists.

For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.

Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi's role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist. Although Zarqawi and other foreign insurgents in Iraq have conducted deadly bombing attacks, they remain "a very small part of the actual numbers," Col. Derek Harvey, who served as a military intelligence officer in Iraq and then was one of the top officers handling Iraq intelligence issues on the staff of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an Army meeting at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., last summer.

I know the first casualty of war is the truth, but do they have to make it a hard and fast policy? BTW, this story reminded me of this:

Avoiding attacking suspected terrorist mastermind Abu Musab Zarqawi blamed for more than 700 killings in Iraq

By Jim Miklaszewski
Correspondent
NBC News
Updated: 7:14 p.m. ET March 02, 2004

. . .NBC News has learned that long before the war the Bush administration had several chances to wipe out his terrorist operation and perhaps kill Zarqawi himself — but never pulled the trigger.

In June 2002, U.S. officials say intelligence had revealed that Zarqawi and members of al-Qaida had set up a weapons lab at Kirma, in northern Iraq, producing deadly ricin and cyanide.

The Pentagon quickly drafted plans to attack the camp with cruise missiles and airstrikes and sent it to the White House, where, according to U.S. government sources, the plan was debated to death in the National Security Council.

“Here we had targets, we had opportunities, we had a country willing to support casualties, or risk casualties after 9/11 and we still didn’t do it,� said Michael O’Hanlon, military analyst with the Brookings Institution.

Four months later, intelligence showed Zarqawi was planning to use ricin in terrorist attacks in Europe.

The Pentagon drew up a second strike plan, and the White House again killed it. By then the administration had set its course for war with Iraq.

“People were more obsessed with developing the coalition to overthrow Saddam than to execute the president’s policy of preemption against terrorists,� according to terrorism expert and former National Security Council member Roger Cressey.

In January 2003, the threat turned real. Police in London arrested six terror suspects and discovered a ricin lab connected to the camp in Iraq.

The Pentagon drew up still another attack plan, and for the third time, the National Security Council killed it.

Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.

The United States did attack the camp at Kirma at the beginning of the war, but it was too late — Zarqawi and many of his followers were gone. “Here’s a case where they waited, they waited too long and now we’re suffering as a result inside Iraq,� Cressey added.

And despite the Bush administration’s tough talk about hitting the terrorists before they strike, Zarqawi’s killing streak continues today

I'm surprised Bush hasn't already adopted Zarqawi as his pet terrorist.

Israel "Doesn't Want, Doesn't Support, Doesn't Accept" Purple Fingers

Once again, Israel continues the policies that have placed Hamas in power in the first place:

Olmert: No ties with Hamas-led Authority By Aluf Benn and Arnon Regular Israel will cut off ties with the Palestinian Authority, view it as a "hostile" entity and act to prevent Hamas from becoming an established government, Prime Minister-designate Ehud Olmert said yesterday.

Olmert also decided that Israel will refuse to hold official meetings with any public figures from abroad who meet with Hamas officials. This move is a renewal of the boycott Israel imposed on officials who met with the late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat.

Olmert said Israel viewed the Palestinians as "one authority, and not as having two heads," but would refrain from a "personal disqualification" of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

Olmert's statements came during a special session he convened in the wake of the swearing-in of the Hamas government, led by Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh. The decisions made at the meeting will soon be presented to the cabinet for approval. . .

In an effort to prevent a crisis, international aid would go to the Palestinian population without the intervention of the government services under Hamas' jurisdiction, perhaps by going through the authorities under Abbas' control, the official added. In addition, humanitarian aid would be able to pass through the checkpoints on the Gaza border, "subject to security considerations."

I wonder how the already violently resentful Palestinian population will feel being totally enslaved and dependent on the Israelis. They will probably react in the same way once they find out that the Israelis are going to unilaterally redraw the borders.

April 7, 2006

No Mas For HAMAS

First Israel is withholding tax monies to the newly Hamasified PA, now the Bushelveckis are joining in the party:

U.S. Cuts Some Aid to Palestinians

By ANNE GEARAN
The Associated Press
Friday, April 7, 2006; 1:30 PM

WASHINGTON -- The United States will cancel or suspend more than $240 million in projects aimed at assisting Palestinians out of concern that the money could go to help the new leadership of the militant Islamist movement Hamas, a senior State Department official said Friday.

At the same time, the United States will redirect some of that money to humanitarian projects for the impoverished Palestinian people. Humanitarian assistance will rise by 57 percent to $287 million over several years, the official said.

Another $13 million will go for new vetting procedures, including a special inspector general, to ensure that even humanitarian aid funneled through the United Nations Relief Agency and approved charities does not end up in Hamas hands, said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity because no public announcement has yet been made by the State Department. That was expected later Friday.

Morons. Hamas got elected in the first place because A.) U.S. and Israel did everything it can to discredit the Fatah movement, creating a vacuum for Hamas to exploit and B.) The years of ruinous American-Israeli policies towards the Palestinians excascerbated the violently antagonistic attitudes of the Palestinians towards the Israelis (who the hell names their kid "Eichmann"?), making for an accepting population for groups like Hamas.

Sure, the Palestinians kill Jews, and Jews kill even more Palestinians, but somehow those two are just going to have to learn to live with each other, especially since the Arab population in Israel and the occupied territories is well past the Jewish population. Impoverishing an already radicalized population is not going to get you anything, and neither will annexing 30 percent of the West Bank and leaving the future "state" of Palestine divided into 3 bantustans in total anaconda grip of the Israelis will achieve any measnure of justified peace either.

Slaying The Election-Year Wedge Issue Beast

MyDD says that the bill is likely to whither and die at the hands of those who want to filibuster it. Good, this was a distraction issue anyways and the Republicans are too incompetent and hateful to do anything useful about it anyways.

Update: More here.

April 5, 2006

The Return of Jafaari

You know, the Sadr-supported divisive prime minister of Eye-Rack, Ibrahim al-Jafaari, might have bucked down under intense pressure from other partisan groups. But the way the Bush administration, who on foreign policy are so stupid they couldn't pour piss from a boot if the instructions were written on the heels, had to stick their necks in, giving Jafaari an opportunity to play the hero and stand up to the Crusaders:

Iraqis Say Rice Trip Stiffened Premier's Resolve to Stay

By KIRK SEMPLE
Published: April 5, 2006

BAGHDAD, Iraq, April 5 — The visit here this week by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her British counterpart, Jack Straw, only served to stiffen the resolve of Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari to retain his post, prolonging a deadlock in the formation of a new government, a top aide to Mr. Jaafari said today.

The aide, Haider al-Abadi, said the visit was ill-timed, counterproductive and what he called "naked intervention."

"Pressure from outside is not helping to speed up any solution," he said. "All it's doing is hardening the position of people who are supporting Jaafari."

He added, "They shouldn't have come to Baghdad."

His comments were echoed by other leaders across the political spectrum today, including Kurds and Sunni Arabs.

"They complicated the thing, and now it's more difficult to solve," said Mahmoud Osman, an independent member of the Kurdistan Alliance, speaking of Ms. Rice and Mr. Straw. "They shouldn't have come and they shouldn't have interfered."


A Crook And A Liar To The End

Looks like Tom Delay is laughing all the way to the bank:

DeLay was determined to hang on to his seat at least through the primary, said Carl Forti, spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. That was because he considered his three Republican challengers gadflies and traitors and he was determined to try to block them from succeeding him. ...

An additional impetus for putting off the resignation until now was suggested by John Feehery, a former aide to DeLay and House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). "He needed to raise money for the defense fund. That was the bottom line," Feehery said. "He wanted to make sure he could take care of himself in the court of law." Under federal campaign rules, any reelection money a lawmaker raises can be used to pay legal fees stemming from official duties.

Duping his supporters into covering his legal bills? Boy the cons are sure gonna looooove this.

Race Pimpin'

I've tried to avoid this issue of Rep. Cyntia McKinney hitting a Capitol policeman simply because it is one completely contrived to distract the media and just enough people from the slow-motion implosion of the Republican party, but Mr. Bernard, who decided to write a day early, has forced my hand.

Apparently what happened is that last week, McKinney failed to stop at the Capitol Building when an officer was yelling "Ma'am, ma'am!" Apparently she didn't realize she was the "ma'am they were referring to until she was grabbed from behind, and out of alarm struck the person who grabbed her, who turned out to be the police officer.

She initially apologized, informally and officially, and that should have been the end of that. But prosecuters began pursuing what kind of charges could be pressed against her, So McKinney, detecting a pattern with her previous run-ins with the Capitol police, decided to come out accusing the police of racial profiling. She knows this is a coordinated attack, and she's fighting back like she knows how to do.

And now the embattled conservatives are piling on with glee. The former head snake Tom Delay just called McKinney a "racist" and I won't even address the other methane fumes bubbling from the reich-wing fever swamps. And of course Darren Bernard feels the need to jump right in.

Unlike the Dick Cheney hunting incident, with its cronyism, the denials and the coverups that may or may not be endemic in the Republican movement, the McKinney incident is symbolic of the inefficacy of the civil rights leaders' in ability to take care of the problems of the black community and it's increasing irrelevance in American social and political discourse.

His litany of "proof" is:

1. Julian Bond pointing out that the Republicans have a history of defending the Confederate flag, which he calls the "Confederate Swatstika", which is part of their larger practice of exploiting racial divisions

2. Some unsubstantiated thing about Jesse Jackson he picked up from Kenneth R. Timmeran.

3. Joseph Lowery making a political rally out of the Correta Scott King's funeral, unlike say what everyone else did with the Reagan funeral

4. Fiddee Sents is popularizing promiscuity and materialism, while Brittany Spears, Paris Hilton and most other celebs on E! are practically virginal

5. Rap music (along with every POPULAR segment of the entertainment industry) is violent and black congresspeople aren't bitching about it.

6. Black out-of-wedlock births are insane, even though the number of black children living with single parents has fallen during the last decade.

7. Rap music caused all the innercity poverty, drug use, delinquencies and other pathologies that have been around since before the Sugar Hill Gang came on the scene, even though it left alone all the white kids who buy 60 percent of all rap records.

8. Lil' Kim is in jail for perjury, and Busta Rhymes isn't saying anything about a murder.

Yep, those are compelling reasons why black civil rights leaders (apparently headed by McKinney) should shut their yaps.

Putz.

April 3, 2006

President Officially Crowned As Dictator

Thanks to the increasingly supine and irrelevant Supreme Court:

Court sidesteps war powers challenge In 6-3 vote, justices won't review appeal of ex-'enemy combatant' From Bill Mears CNN

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A divided Supreme Court on Monday rejected an appeal from a U.S. citizen held until recently as an "enemy combatant" without traditional legal rights.

The case goes to the heart of the president's executive authority against global terrorism.

But justices, in a 6-3 vote, sidestepped that issue, agreeing with the government that it was moot because Jose Padilla now faces criminal charges in Florida.

The court's denial of jurisdiction was a victory for the Bush administration, which had suffered a series of legal setbacks over its anti-terror policies.

One justice noted that Padilla's appeal was "hypothetical" at this stage since he is no longer in military custody.

The court's refusal to consider the matter further had been debated internally by the justices for weeks. . .

Ginsberg, Souter, Breyer dissent
In a brief dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, "Nothing the government has yet done purports to retract the assertion of executive power Padilla protests." Justices David Souter and Stephen Breyer also would have accepted the case for review.

It takes at least four justices to accept cases for review, meaning oral arguments are held and written opinions are usually issued.

Padilla's attorney, Donna Newman, expressed disappointment. "We believe those constitutional issues should have been resolved by the Supreme Court, and we're not alone on that," she said. "But they have spoken, and there is nothing else we can do."

Mission Accomplished

Exxon Dethrones Wal-Mart on Fortune 500

NEW YORK (AP) - Skyrocketing energy prices propelled Exxon Mobil Corp. to the top of the 2006 Fortune 500 list, and consigned Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to the No. 2 spot on the magazine's annual ranking of the nation's largest publicly traded companies.

Fortune compiled its list based on companies' 2005 revenues. Exxon Mobil raked in $340 billion in revenue, a 25.5 percent increase over 2004, and had $36.1 billion in profits, the most by any U.S. company in history.

What else can result when you privatize the greed and the profits while socializing the costs?

April 1, 2006

We've Finally Achieved Energy Independence

No, not us, Brazil. Via No More Mr. Nice Blog the Brazillians finally figured out how to make cheap ethanol:

in Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, there's a plan to become free from imported oil, not in the next 30 years, not in the next 10, but by the end of this year....

That's primarily because while the rest of the world was mapping the human genome, scientists in Brazil were mapping the DNA of sugar in an effort to create a cleaner, cheaper alternative to gasoline: sugarcane ethanol.

They succeeded. Brazil's ethanol is about 30 percent less expensive than gasoline; according to the World Bank, it's about 50 cents cheaper per gallon to produce sugarcane ethanol. And although ethanol gets slightly less mileage, it's still cheaper on a per-mile-driven basis....

Hmm, who woulda thought subsidizing oil companies to fulfill promises they don't intend to keep would put us behind a country like Brazil? Maybe if I wave the flag harder. . .