Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Hopes to Undermine Terror Network
In a bold move to undermine the international terror network, President George W. Bush today named former deputy defense secretary and World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz to be the new president of al-Qaeda.
Mr. Wolfowitz, who has no experience running an international terror organization, struck many Washington insiders as an unlikely choice for the al-Qaeda job.
But in a White House ceremony introducing his nominee for the top terror post, President Bush indicated that Mr. Wolfowitz's role in planning the war in Iraq and bringing scandal to the World Bank showed that he was "just the man" to bring chaos and disorder to al-Qaeda.
"I've seen Paul Wolfowitz in action," said Mr. Bush, a beaming Mr. Wolfowitz at his side. "If anyone can mess up al-Qaeda, it's this guy."
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
All the dead were Task Force Lightning soldiers. The military said six soldiers died in explosions near their vehicles, but gave no further information.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
"enhanced interrogation techniques" is a fairly decent English translation of the Gestapo euphemism "verschaerfte Vernehmung" which was the code word for torture in the Third Reich. Look it up." The dictionary confirms it.
How wonderful that the Bush Admininstration looks to the Nazis for its verbage. What's next? "The Final Solution to the Iraqi Question"?
How's this for a headline supporting that old saying?
Cheney criticizes the Geneva Conventions in Military Academy commencement address
"Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States," the Vice President said in the Saturday morning speech. "Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."
Wonderful. Rather than live up to the highest moral standards- which is what is truly great about America- let's live down to the standards of the terrorists.
Even worse, he criticizes the Geneva Conventions in front of graduates of the military academy- those whose responsibility should be to uphold those conventions out in the field upon graduation.
When will Cheney and the others who condone torture recognize and admit that their stance is not only morally reprehensible, but actually puts Americans at risk?
Thursday, May 24, 2007
"The level of sectarian violence is an important indicator of whether or not the strategy that we have implemented is working," - president Bush, May 10.
"More than three months into a U.S.-Iraqi security offensive designed to curtail sectarian violence in Baghdad and other parts of Iraq, Health Ministry statistics show that such killings are rising again. From the beginning of May until Tuesday, 321 unidentified corpses, many dumped and showing signs of torture and execution, have been found across the Iraqi capital, according to morgue data provided by a Health Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information. The data showed that the same number of bodies were found in all of January, the month before the launch of the Baghdad security plan," - Washington Post today.
Key findings include:
- Overall, Muslim Americans have a generally positive view of the larger society. Most say their communities are excellent or good places to live.
- A large majority of Muslim Americans believe that hard work pays off in this society. Fully 71% agree that most people who want to get ahead in the United States can make it if they are willing to work hard.
- The survey shows that although many Muslims are relative newcomers to the U.S., they are highly assimilated into American society. On balance, they believe that Muslims coming to the U.S. should try and adopt American customs, rather than trying to remain distinct from the larger society. And by nearly two-to-one (63%-32%) Muslim Americans do not see a conflict between being a devout Muslim and living in a modern society.
- Muslim Americans reject Islamic extremism by larger margins than do Muslim minorities in Western European countries. However, there is somewhat more acceptance of Islamic extremism in some segments of the U.S. Muslim public than others. Fewer native-born African American Muslims than others completely condemn al Qaeda. In addition, younger Muslims in the U.S. are much more likely than older Muslim Americans to say that suicide bombing in the defense of Islam can be at least sometimes justified. Nonetheless, absolute levels of support for Islamic extremism among Muslim Americans are quite low, especially when compared with Muslims around the world.
|May 13||May 14||May 15||May 16||May 17||May 18||May 19||May 20||May 21||May 22||May 23||Total|
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
So much for the will of the people expressed in the midterm elections.
U.S. warships staged maneuvers off Iran's coast highlighting American concern over Iran's nuclear ambitions and Iraq.... The U.S. navy said the ships, including two aircraft carriers, would conduct exercises as part of a long-planned effort to reassure regional allies of U.S. commitment to Gulf security. Naval officials described it as the largest daytime assembly of ships since the 2003 Iraq war.
The following is a letter from Michael F. Scheuer, former Chief of the CIA's Osama bin Laden Unit, to the editor of Antiwar.com, regarding Congressman Ron Paul's exchange with Rudy Giuliani about why the al Qaeda network has targeted the United States.
In the dozen-plus years I have been active in matters relating to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda, I have watched them go from a small Islamist organization to a worldwide insurgent movement, while bin Laden has established himself as the primary source of inspiration and leadership for tens of millions of Muslim Islamists. This process has been made possible by two things: (a) the skill, courage, patience, and ruthlessness of bin Laden and his ilk, and (b) the refusal of the U.S. government to understand the motivation of bin Laden and his allies.
Last week, Representative Paul did all Americans an immense service by simply pointing out the obvious: Our Islamist enemies do not give a damn about the way we vote, think, or live. Though any country they ruled would surely not look like ours, they are motivated by the belief that U.S. foreign policy is an attack on Islam, its lands, and its believers. This, of course, is not to say that America is to blame for the war it is now engaged in, but it is to say that it is foolish – and perhaps fatal – for Americans to believe that are we are being attacked for such ephemera as primary elections, R-rated movies, and gender equality. If our Islamist enemies were motivated by such things their numbers would be minuscule and they would be a sporadic lethal nuisance, not, as they are, the most serious national security threat we face today.
Of the eighteen presidential candidates now in the field from both parties, only Mr. Paul has had the courage to square with the average American voter. We are indeed hated and being warred against because we are "over there," and not for what we are and how we live. Our failure to recognize the truth spoken by Mr. Paul – and spelled out for us in hundreds of pages of statements by Osama bin Laden since 1996 – is leading America toward military and economic disaster.
At day's end, Mr. Paul has at least temporarily shaken the pillars of the bipartisan consensus on U.S. foreign policy. Neither party, and none of the candidates, want to discuss the Islamists' motivation because they would have to deal with energy policy, support for Israel, and the 50-year record of U.S. support and protection for Arab tyrannies. These holy cows of U.S. politics have long been off limits to debate, but Mr. Paul has now accurately identified them as the source of motivation for our Islamist enemies, and implicitly has said that the obsessive interventionism of both parties has inspired al-Qaeda and its allies to kill 7,000-plus U.S. civilians and military personnel since 11 September 2001. The war we are engaged in with the Islamists is a long way from over, but it need end in America's defeat only if Mr. Paul's frank statements are ignored.
And no matter how you view Mr. Paul's words, you can safely take one thing to the bank. The person most shaken by Mr. Paul's frankness was Osama bin Laden, who knows that the current status quo in U.S. foreign policy toward the Islamic world is al-Qaeda's one indispensable ally, and the only glue that provides cohesion between and among the diverse and often fractious Islamist groups that follow its banner.
Michael F. Scheuer
Falls Church, VA
Isn't this what de-Baathification was supposed to do?
Somehow the 'new' sounds like more of the 'old' to the Pilgrim.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
Friday, May 18, 2007
Thursday, May 17, 2007
Iraq is on the verge of collapse: report
Iraq's government has lost control of vast areas to powerful local factions and the country is on the verge of collapse and fragmentation, a leading British think-tank said on Thursday.
Chatham House also said there was not one civil war in Iraq, but "several civil wars" between rival communities, and accused Iraq's main neighbors -- Iran, Saudi Arabia and Turkey -- of having reasons "for seeing the instability there continue."
"It can be argued that Iraq is on the verge of being a failed state which faces the distinct possibility of collapse and fragmentation," it said in a report.
"The Iraqi government is not able to exert authority evenly or effectively over the country. Across huge swathes of territory, it is largely irrelevant in terms of ordering social, economic and political life."
The report also said that a U.S.-backed security crackdown in Baghdad launched in February has failed to reduce overall violence across the country, as insurgent groups have just shifted their activities outside the capital.
The last paragraph is key- the surge has focused on Baghdad. Problems appear to have grown in other areas of the country. We don't see a lot of news reports on that here in the US because most reporters are in Baghdad and cannot- for safety reasons- travel far to report conditions elsewhere.
Perhaps this is why the military now says they won't be able to tell us in September if the surge is working (see below). They know it's not and want to forestall judgment day.
Occupation and war without end appears to be the policy.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
In the Republican race, Rudy Giuliani leads with 23%, followed by Sen. John McCain at 17%, Fred Thompson at 15%, Mitt Romney at 11% and Newt Gingrich at 6%.
In general election match ups, Giuliani beats all leading Democrats.
Open-ended: Among all registered voters, Clinton led with 13.5 percent support, followed by Edwards at 12.6 percent and Obama at 10.9 percent. All three leading Republicans followed the Democrats, with Giuliani at 7.1 percent, McCain at 6.6 percent and Romney at 4.7 percent. No other candidate received more than 2 percent of mentions, and 36.4 percent of respondents were undecided.
Forced-choice: When registered Iowa voters were given the top six candidates by name, Clinton led statewide with 19.3 percent, followed closely by a near-tie between Edwards, 17.6 percent, and Obama, 16.7 percent. Again the three top Republican candidates have lower support statewide, Giuliani at 12.2 percent, McCain at 11.9 percent and Romney at 11.7 percent. When given these six names, 10.7 percent say they don't know whom they will support.
It is time to move past the 'rock star' status and get down to serious business.
"And I think that withdrawal would be totally unrealistic and would be a catastrophe."
Sound familiar? It is Hubert Humphrey at the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago speaking in defense of the Vietnam War.
President Bush says:
[Setting a timetable for withdrawal would be a] "prescription for chaos and confusion"... "Setting a deadline for withdrawal would demoralize the Iraqi people, would encourage killers across the broader Middle Eastand send a signal that America will not keep its commitments" ... "Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure."
Of course, when it comes to the President's logic, history does not repeat.
George W. Bush, 4/9/99:
"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the president to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
George W. Bush, 6/5/99
"I think it's also important for the president to lay out a timetable as to how long they will be involved and when they will be withdrawn."Now, in the middle of his Iraq debacle, he speaks differently
George W. Bush, 6/24/05:
"It doesn't make any sense to have a timetable. You know, if you give a timetable, you're — you're conceding too much to the enemy."
He's been right so rarely in regards to military action, it's truly a shame to see him turn away from those statements that were right.
President Bush has chosen Lt. Gen. Douglas Lute, the Pentagon's director of operations, to oversee the fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as a "war czar" after a long search for new leadership, administration officials said Tuesday.
It was a difficult job to fill, given the unpopularity of the war, now in its fifth year, and uncertainty about the clout the war coordinator would have.
I'm certain it was also a difficult job to fill because this new 'czar' has to advice a President who has stubbornly rejected the advice of commanders before, and who has created a disasterous situation on the ground in Iraq that my well now be unfixable in any meaningful sense of the word. How will this new Czar fix a war that never should have been started?
I received an interesting email on this topic:
Sad to hear of the appointment of the first "US War Tsar". What is your take on the naming of the "ruler of war". What kind of resume does one need for that job? Is there ever going to be a "peace tsar"? S ad state of affairs when we elevate war to a task that glorifies now a "tsar".... I wonder how the Russians feel about us using their language to justify such an obnoxious title.
I've commented a bit on the "War Czar" previously- that the job should not be necessary given that we have a President who is commander in Chief, a Joint Chiefs of Staff w/ a Chairman, a Defense Secretary, and commanders in each theater of operation. How much of a "War Government" do we really want in the US?
Further, I think there will never be a "Peace Czar (or Tsar)". Americans seem to want to make war on everything. War on Terror. War on Poverty. War on Drugs. Notice this- none of these wars has worked.
It's time to make Peace on some of our problems- to look to deal with important societal issues with compassion and human understanding.
Tell Gandhi that. Or Martin Luther King, Jr. Or how about Boris Yeltsin who stood atop the tank. Or the mothers who danced in Argentina for the missing.
Nonviolent resistance may not always work quickly, but it does work.
Just War theory in Christianity requires that a people resort to war as a last resort. Our tendency in this country to declar war on everything suggests we turn to it as a 'first resort.' It certainly was not the 'last resort' in Iraq.
We could certainly use a 'Peace Czar.' At least then someone could remind us that there is another path. We can try another way. We can stop making enemies faster than we can kill them.
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Thursday, May 10, 2007
Why can't he break through? Is the American Idol of politics (Obama) such a shining start that he's blinding people from looking at Richardson? Is the Hillary machine to hard nosed to stop and impossible to catch? Is the media too in love with the top money makers in politics to give Richardson any ink?
I don't know the cause of the problem, but it's a problem. Richardson is a solid candidate who deserves a hard look from all Americans. I fear he won't get it.
This is not an endorsement, but rather a lament. The more candidates are examined by the public, and the more strenuously they are examined, the better off our republic will be. Such a serious examination will more often lead to the best electoral outcomes. Serious examination is not what we are getting right now. Not in the media with their horse-race mentality, and not among the public who seem, in general, to be more focused on image than substance.
We may get lucky. Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. We could stumble upon the right President. But... you can't count on being lucky.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007
USA Today | Susan Page, William Risser | May 9, 2007 08:50 AM
Most Americans don't believe that the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq is the key to preventing a full-scale civil war there or protecting the United States from new terrorist attacks, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds.
The results of the poll, taken Friday through Sunday, underscore the limited traction the Bush administration's arguments have gotten as White House officials and congressional Democrats negotiate an interim bill to finance the war.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
Bring them home
After four years of war, more than $350 billion spent and 3,363 U.S. soldiers killed and 24,310 wounded, it seems increasingly obvious that an Iraqi political settlement cannot be achieved in the shadow of an indefinite foreign occupation. The U.S. military presence — opposed by more than three-quarters of Iraqis — inflames terrorism and delays what should be the primary and most pressing goal: meaningful reconciliation among the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
President Bush can't veto this editorial. He can't veto the truth either.
Get ready for $4 gasoline
With gas prices near record highs, experts say $4-a-gallon gasoline is just around the corner.
"I think it's going to happen," said Phil Flynn, a senior market analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago. "Unless things change dramatically, I think we're going to see $4 a gallon."
Refinery output in the U.S. has been below normal for several months now, after fires and other accidents combined with longer than normal maintenance shutdowns, hurting production.
This all comes just as the nation gears up for the summer driving season, spurred by vacationing families and students out of school.
Sunday, May 06, 2007
Friday, May 04, 2007
Thursday, May 03, 2007
An honor undeserved.
President Bush did not get a return on this investment either- Tenet did not keep his mouth shut.
I've not read his book. I may never read it. If I do, I'll pick it up off the bargain rack someday- where it will inevitably be found. For now, we are hearing enough from him as he promotes his book, and from the media as the report on his book, to be left with a hollow feeling both about the rush to war, and about Tenet himself.
If Tenet had said 4 years ago, in a forthright manner, what he has said in his book and his book tour, then a Medal of Freedom may have been warranted. If he had stood on principle, even resigned his office, rather than see the intelligence provided by his agency 'cherry-picked' and misused, then he would have been a heroic figure, worthy of admiration.
But his statements now, after 4 years of lost lives and wasted resources, are too little, too late. He's trying to save himself from history- from being tied to Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld for the Iraq disaster. This is not an honorable, but a cowardly act. Exactly what we should expect from the man who failed to stand up to those who would rush us to an invasion of Iraq. Rather than absolving him, what we are learning now is only confirming his guilt as complicit in the loss of more than 3,000 lives and the wasting of more that $400 billion.
Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Tuesday, May 01, 2007
"Setting a deadline for withdrawal is setting a date for failure, and that would be irresponsible," he said.
No, Mr. President. Continuing to throw lives and money at Iraq with no real strategy for success- in fact with no real definition of success- is irresponsible.
You said "Mission Accomplished" four years ago, Mr. President. Do you have any plan to make that statement come true? Or do you plan simply to 'stay the course' and watch our young soldiers die while waiting for the next president to try and extricate our country from your monumental mistake?
When we need to move away from oil to alternative energies, our President and his Administration demonstrate a decided lack of vision.
The Arctic ice cap is melting much faster than expected and is now about 30 years ahead of predictions made by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a U.S. ice expert said on Tuesday.
No ice on the Arctic Ocean during summer would be a major spur to global warming, said Ted Scambos, a glaciologist at the National Snow and Ice Center in Colorado.
"Right now ... the Arctic helps keep the Earth cool," Scambos said in a telephone interview. "Without that Arctic ice, or with much less of it, the Earth will warm much faster."
Often in the discussions of climate change, one hears the term 'tipping point.' This is when we cross a point of no return. When too much carbon is released from the permafrost, for example. Or, in this case, when too much ice near the poles has melted.
Have we reached a 'tipping point'? I surely don't know. But I'm worried.
This news adds to the worry:
Netherlands records the hottest April in 300 years
The previous record, April 1794, was exceeded by almost two degrees.
I'm not sure we can expect to pay the price of continued inaction.
Today he intends to veto legislation that intended to put an end to this still unaccomplished mission.
The war machine grinds on, to the benefit of no one.