Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Careful, Dick...

The american people (and especially the Democrats) can smell fear.

via Wonkette, a Mid-Atlantic Shredding Services truck was spotted heading for the Cheney compound at the Naval Observatory.

Oh, to think that the tide might finally begin to turn, and maybe one day members of this administration might be up on charges -- it's best not to get my hopes up too high and soon. These people are practiced at burying their dirty deeds, but even if we can just get rid of them it'll be a wonderful change.

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Sunday, October 22, 2006


I wanted to pass along this timely letter from Kevin Tillman, brother of Pat Tillman.

KEVIN TILLMAN - It is Pat's birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice... until we get out.

Much has happened since we handed over our voice:

Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be
liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can't be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt
policy of torture became the fault of a few "bad apples" in the military.

Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartener scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It's interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.

Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.

Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.

Somehow those afraid to fight an illegal invasion decades ago are allowed to send soldiers to die for an illegal invasion they started.

Somehow faking character, virtue and strength is tolerated.

Somehow profiting from tragedy and horror is tolerated.

Somehow the death of tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of people is tolerated.

Somehow subversion of the Bill of Rights and The Constitution is tolerated.

Somehow suspension of Habeas Corpus is supposed to keep this country safe.

Somehow torture is tolerated.

Somehow lying is tolerated.

Somehow reason is being discarded for faith, dogma, and nonsense.

Somehow American leadership managed to create a more dangerous world.

Somehow a narrative is more important than reality.

Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.

Somehow the most reasonable, trusted and respected country in the world has become one of the most irrational, belligerent, feared, and distrusted countries in the world.

Somehow being politically informed, diligent, and skeptical has been replaced by apathy through active ignorance.

Somehow the same incompetent, narcissistic, virtueless, vacuous, malicious criminals are still in charge of this country.

Somehow this is tolerated.

Somehow nobody is accountable for this.

In a democracy, the policy of the leaders is the policy of the people. So don't be shocked when our grandkids bury much of this generation as traitors to the nation, to the world and to humanity. Most likely, they will come to know that "somehow" was nurtured by fear, insecurity and indifference, leaving the country vulnerable to unchecked, unchallenged parasites.

Luckily this country is still a democracy. People still have a voice. People still can take action. It can start after Pat's birthday.

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Thursday, October 19, 2006

(Olive Drab) Green Acres

Speculation is rising as to what the Bush plans are for a 98,840-acre ranch recently bought in Paraguay, protected by a nearby, semi-secret U.S. military base - with some 500 military personnel having been granted exemptions from war crimes prosecution by the Paraguayan government (Scroll down to story #25.).

Speculations range to everything from another secret interrogation site to thoughts of eventual conflicts over water rights and recollections of where the nazis ran off to once their regime collapsed.

Steve O, over on Bring It On!, does a quick job of ticking off the key links to get matters rolling, while Wonkette starts at Steve O's piece and runs with it at length.

It's a bizarre, oddly entertaining development, including the bits that appear to show 24 year old Jenna Bush possibly acting as an agent for the family, though she had UNICEF as a reasonable cover story.

The thought of el Jefe and entourage potentially fleeing as war criminals is a tad too delicious an aroma for me to bite the bait -- currently placing it in the too good to be true section -- but something's definitely brewing.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Bloody October Surprise?

I just noticed over on Buzzflash that the U.S. build-up in the Gulf continues off the coast of Iran.

Is a military srike on Iran - or, being even more cynical, trying to provoke a strike against our military - going to be part of the GOP strategy for holding onto power?

More on the general build-up.

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Thursday, October 05, 2006

Why... He Can Do Anything!

Yes, our mystifying, magical el Jefe continues to stretch the credibulity of onlookers and amazingly increases the nightmarish surrealism of the Bush regime. Supreme Overlord Dubya is asserting once again that he can pretty much write anything into law via his magical signing statement pen.

I can't help but keep feeling as if I should be waking up any moment. After years of this one would think I'd get over it, but, no, Bush and his administration continue to forge new frontiers of should-be-fantasy.

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Tuesday, October 03, 2006

"Good Morning, Terrorist"

As I lamented last week, recently-passed legislation threatens many. Hail, Dubyus! (on October 2nd) provides a nice overview of it, including some links, to which I will add another op-ed piece from a Yale professor of law and politics.

The header line is something reported by one of the people who had been taken into custody early on and had made it out of Guantanamo, describing what at least one of the guards said to him while he was in captivity. It was an audio interview, something heard while driving, so I can't easily dig up the reference. It is something that stuck in my mind, though.

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Sunday, October 01, 2006

So... It really IS Vietnam again

While football screwed up the schedule terribly for us on the East Coast, this week's 60 Minutes featured an interview with Bob Woodward (portions of the video are available there, too) concerning his third book on the Bush presidency, State Of Denial: Bush At War. (Transcript of the interview is included below.)

Essentially, Woodward has worked on this for the past two years, interviewing everyone involved who would talk with him, including people in the Bush White House. He's learned that not only has the level of violence been escalating over the past two years despite what the Bush administration has been claiming, but he's seen that their own intelligence experts are projecting increasing levels of violence through 2007. Upon learning what Woodward would be presenting to him and asking about, Bush refused to meet with him.

Also -- and I know this came out in the news a little earlier -- it's been shown that Henry Kissinger is back as a frequent and welcome visitor to the White House with the same "Victory is the only exit strategy" message he was feeding the Nixon administration.

Here's the transcript:

Bob Woodward: Bush Misleads On Iraq
Tells 60 Minutes About His Book 'State Of Denial'

(CBS) President Bush's former chief of staff, Andy Card, said the Bush presidency will be judged by three things: “Iraq, Iraq, Iraq.” Bob Woodward, of Watergate fame, has just completed his third book on the Bush presidency, “State of Denial.”

Woodward spent more than two years, interviewed more than 200 people including most of the top officials in the administration and came to a damning conclusion. He tells Mike Wallace that for the last three years the White house has not been honest with the American public.

"It is the oldest story in the coverage of government: the failure to tell the truth," Woodward charges.

Asked to explain what he means that the Bush administration has not told the truth about Iraq, Woodward says, "I think probably the prominent, most prominent example is the level of violence."

Not just the growing sectarian violence — Sunnis against Shias that gets reported every day — but attacks on U.S., Iraqi and allied forces. Woodward says that’s the most important measure of violence in Iraq, and he unearthed a graph, classified secret, that shows those attacks have increased dramatically over the last three years.

"Getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week," he says. "That’s more than 100 a day—that is four an hour. Attacking our forces."

Woodward says the government had kept this trend secret for years before finally declassifying the graph just three weeks ago. And Woodward accuses President Bush and the Pentagon of making false claims of progress in Iraq – claims, contradicted by facts that are being kept secret.

For example, Woodward says an intelligence report classified secret from the Joint Chiefs of Staff concluded in large print that "THE SUNNI ARAB INSURGENCY IS GAINING STRENGTH AND INCREASING CAPACITY, DESPITE POLITICAL PROGRESS."


But just two days later a public defense department report said just the opposite. “Violent action, will begin to wane in early 2007,” the report said.

What does Woodward make of that?

"The truth is that the assessment by intelligence experts is that next year, 2007, is going to get worse and, in public, you have the president and you have the Pentagon [saying], 'Oh, no, things are going to get better,'" he tells Wallace. "Now there’s public, and then there’s private. But what did they do with the private? They stamp it secret. No one is supposed to know," says Woodward.

"Why is that secret? The insurgents know what they’re doing. They know the level of violence and how effective they are. Who doesn’t know? The American public," he adds.

"President Bush says over and over as Iraqi forces stand up, U.S. forces will stand down. The number of Iraqis in uniform today I understand is up to 300,000?" Wallace asks.

"They’ve stood up from essentially zero to 300,000. This is the military and the police," Woodward replies.

"But, U.S. forces are not standing down. The attacks keep coming," Wallace remarks.

"They’ve stood up and up and up and we haven’t stood down, and it’s worse," Woodward replies.
John Negorponte knows it’s worse. He’s the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, and according to Woodward, Negroponte thinks the U.S. policy in Iraq is in trouble – that violence is now so widespread that the U.S. doesn’t even know about much of it; and that the killings will continue to escalate.

"He was the ambassador there in Iraq and now he sees all the intelligence," Woodward says. "I report he believes that we’ve always going almost back to the beginning, miscalculated and underestimated the nature of the insurgency."


"There’s this feeling, 'How can a bunch guys running around putting improvised explosive devices in dead animals and by the side of the road in cars, cause all this trouble," Woodward says.

Woodward reports that a top general says Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has so emasculated the joint chiefs that the chairman of the chiefs has become “the parrot on Rumsfeld’s shoulder.”

And, according to Woodward, another key general, John Abizaid, who’s in charge of the whole Gulf region, told friends that on Iraq, Rumsfeld has lost all credibility.

"What does that mean, he doesn’t have any credibility anymore?" Wallace asks.

"That means that he cannot go public and articulate what the strategy is. Now, this is so important they decide," Woodward explains. "The Secretary of State Rice will announce what the strategy is. This is October of last year." She told Congress the U.S. strategy in Iraq is "clear, hold and build."

"Rumsfeld sees this and goes ballistic and says, 'Now wait a minute. That’s not our strategy. We want to get the Iraqis to do these things.' Well it turns out George Bush and the White House liked this definition of the strategy so it’s in a presidential speech he’s gonna give the next month," Woodward tells Wallace. "Rumsfeld sees it. He calls Andy Card, the White House chief of staff and says 'Take it out. Take it out. That’s not our strategy. We can’t do that.' Card says it’s the core of what we’re doing. That’s two and a half years after the invasion of Iraq. They cannot agree on the definition of the strategy. They cannot agree on the bumper sticker."

"General John Abizaid, commander of all U.S. forces in the Middle East, you quote him as saying privately a year ago that the U.S. should start cutting its troops in Iraq. You report that he told some close Army friends, quote, 'We’ve gotta get the f out.' And then this past March, General Abizaid visited Congressman John Murtha on Capitol Hill," Wallace says.

"John Murtha is in many ways the soul and the conscience of the military," Woodward replies. "And he came out and said, 'We need to get out of Iraq as soon as it’s practical' and that sent a 10,000 volt jolt through the White House."

"Here’s Mr. Military saying, 'We need to get out,'" Woodward continues. "And John Abizaid went to see him privately. This is Bush’s and Rumsfeld’s commander in Iraq," Woodward says.

"And John Abizaid held up his fingers, according to Murtha, and said, 'We’re about a quarter of an inch apart, said, 'We’re that far apart,'" Woodward says.

"You report that after George W. Bush was reelected, his chief of staff, Andy Card, tried for months to convince the president to fire Don Rumsfeld. Why?" Wallace asks.

"To replace him. Because it wasn’t working. Card felt very strongly that the president needed a whole new national security team," Woodward says.

"You write Laura Bush was worried that Rumsfeld was hurting her husband. Andy Card told her the president seemed happy with Rumsfeld. And the first lady replied, quote, 'He’s happy with this but I’m not.' And later she said, 'I don’t know why he’s not upset,'" Wallace remarks.

"What’s interesting, Andy Card, as White House chief of staff every six weeks set up a one on one meeting with Laura Bush. Set aside an hour and a half to talk about what’s going on, what are the president’s anxieties? Smart meeting," Woodward explains. "And in the course of these sessions the problem with Rumsfeld came up. And she voiced her concern about the situation."

But Dick Cheney wanted Rumsfeld to stay. Why?

"Well, Rumsfeld’s his guy," Woodward says. "And Cheney confided to an aid that if Rumsfeld goes, next they’ll be after Cheney."

Cheney stunned Woodward by revealing that a frequent advisor to the Bush White House is former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who served Presidents Nixon and Ford during the Vietnam War.

"He’s back," Woodward says. "In fact, Henry Kissinger is almost like a member of the family. If he’s in town, he can call up and if the president’s free, he’ll see him."

Woodward recorded his on-the-record interview with Cheney, and here’s what the vice president said about Henry Kissinger’s clout: "Of the outside people that I talk to in this job I probably talk to Henry Kissinger more than just about anybody else. He just comes by and I guess at least once a month," Cheney tells Woodward. "I sit down with him."

Asked whether the president also meets with Kissinger, Cheney told Woodward, "Yes. Absolutely."

The vice president also acknowledged that President Bush is a big fan of Kissinger.

"Now, what’s Kissinger’s advice? In Iraq, he declared very simply:
'Victory is the only meaningful exit strategy.' This is so fascinating. Kissinger’s fighting the Vietnam War again. Because in his view the problem in Vietnam was we lost our will. That we didn’t stick to it," Woodward says.

He says Kissinger is telling the president to stick to it, stay the course. "It’s right out of the Kissinger playbook," Woodward says.

In his book, published by CBS sister company, Simon & Schuster, Woodward reports that the first President Bush confided to one of his closest friends how upset he is that his son invaded Iraq.

"The former President Bush is said to be in agony, anguished, tormented by the war in Iraq and its aftermath," Wallace says.

"Yes," Woodward replies.

Asked if the former president conveys that message to his son, Woodward says, "I don’t know the answer to that. He tells it to Brent Scowcroft, his former national security advisor."

"You paint a picture, Bob, of the president as the cheerleader-in-chief. Current reality be damned. He’s convinced that he’s gonna succeed in Iraq, yes?" Wallace asks.

"Yes , that’s correct," Woodward says.

Woodward interviewed President George W. Bush for the first two books for hours.

"And do you know what? There are people who are gonna say, look Woodward is savaging President Bush because he wouldn’t see him for this book," Wallace remarks.

Woodward says that's not true. "He did not, and I asked. And I made it very clear to the White House what my questions were, what my information was. What could he say? That the secret chart is not right?" Woodward says. "That these things that happened in these meetings didn’t occur? They’re documented. I talked to the people who were there. Your producer, Bob Anderson, has listened to the tapes of my interviews with people to make sure that it’s not just kind of right, but literally right. This is what occurred."

And Woodward says that no matter what has occurred in Iraq, Mr. Bush does not welcome any pessimistic assessments from his aides, because he’s sure that his war has Iraq and America on the right path.

"Late last year he had key Republicans up to the White House to talk about the war. And said, 'I will not withdraw even if Laura and Barney are the only ones supporting me.' Barney is his dog," Woodward says. "My work on this leads to lots of people who spend hours, days with the president."

"And in most cases they are my best sources. And there is a concern that we need to face realism. Not being the voice that says, 'Oh no, everything’s fine,' when it’s not," Woodward adds.

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