Saturday, July 24, 2004
BESANCON, France (AP) -- Lance Armstrong capped his most dominant Tour de France with another impressive win in the final time trial Saturday, all but guaranteeing that he will ride into history as the first six-time champion in the race's 101-year history.
``John Edwards and I are determined that we are going to be champions for the middle class, the folks who built this country,'' he told an audience in Sioux City, Iowa, the state whose caucuses put him on the path to the nomination.
``We go to Boston, to the birthplace of the revolution of America and the possibilities of the future. And from there we go to the White House.''
WASHINGTON — Sen. Richard Shelby (search) is the target of an ongoing Justice Department investigation into the leaking of the contents of classified phone intercepts received the day before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, congressional sources told FOX News.
Justice Department officials briefed members of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (search) in closed session Thursday on Capitol Hill, naming the Alabama Republican as the target of the leak probe.
Law enforcement and congressional sources said the purpose of the briefing was to notify Congress of the department's intent to refer information collected to the Senate Select Committee on Ethics (search) for review.
Our press is like so all over this story.
Carlson, however, is a different matter. He's a real creep. On the July 5 edition, he inisinuated that John Edwards made his name as a trial lawyer by "specializing in Jacuzzi cases." This was an allusion to the horrific disembowlment of a young girl who'd been sucked into an open swimming-pool drain. When informed of the facts behind his cruel phrasing, he snapped, "Oh, I know. I've heard that," and then pressed the point that Edwards took money for getting the girl a $25 million settlement. Carlson is a quicker debater than any of the Crossfire hosts, and he's a good-looking twerp. But he's got cold, dead eyes that seem to match his heart. He's a prime example of the Triumph of the Telegenic. Recently rewarded with his own show on the now-utterly-soulless PBS, Carlson can spew his bile all over the tube.
But, actually, it's the last couple of paragraphs which tell some of the real story:
The bottom line—and the share prices—of the Washington Post Company are in quite good shape. The flagship daily newspaper is now only a small division of the Post Company, which reaps its largest profits from other divisions, especially the Kaplan education training group.
If only Kaplan could train newspaper readers.
Kaplan likey the Bush administration. Kaplan makes educational tests. Kaplan makes educational test prep materials. Want your to school to do well? Sign up for the whole package...
Friday, July 23, 2004
But...but...but... I thought in the summer of 2001 Bush didn't have an inkling that something could happen, and that the optimal response to the information he received was to spend the month of August brushing up on My Pet Goat.
The Pentagon on Friday released newly discovered payroll records from President Bush's 1972 service in the Alabama National Guard, though the records shed no new light on the future president's activities during that summer.
A Pentagon official said the earlier contention that the records were destroyed was an "inadvertent oversight."
Like records released earlier by the White House, the newly released computerized payroll records show no indication Bush drilled with the Alabama unit during July, August and September of 1972. Pay records covering all of 1972, released previously, also indicated no guard service for Bush during those three months.
The records do not give any new information toward determining whether Bush kept his National Guard commitments during 1972, when he transferred to the Alabama National Guard unit so he could work on the U.S. Senate campaign of a family friend.
Well, I suppose they don't shed any new light as long as we all agree that he was AWOL for three or more months, technically Desertion, and these records confirm it.
And, while we're on this story, what was the reason we didn't get to the bottom of this 4 years ago.
Oh, and one more thing.
I continued flying with my unit for the next several years [after completing training in June 1970]
claimed Bush in his autobiography A Charge to Keep. That, we've known for years, is bullshit as he stopped flying 22 months later. Tell me again why the liberal media doesn't care that Bush lies about his military service? Tell me again why the military doesn't care that Bush lies about his military service?
Then a passenger yelled, "Roll it!" While earlier accounts reported the phrase as "Let's roll," which was repeated in speeches by President Bush and became the title of a bestseller, some aviation experts have speculated that this was actually a reference to a food cart, being used as a battering ram.
With the words ``Let's roll,'' passengers rushed down the airliner's narrow aisle to try to overwhelm the hijackers.
Relying on the cockpit recorder and flight data, the commission said terrorist-pilot Ziad Jarrah violently rocked the jet's wings and told another hijacker to block the door. With the sounds of fighting outside the cockpit, Jarrah asked, ``Is that it? Shall we finish it off?''
Another hijacker, who wasn't identified, replied, ``No, not yet. When they all come, we finish it off.''
Jarrah then began pitching the nose of the plane up and down to throw passengers off balance.
Seconds later, a passenger who wasn't identified yelled, ``In the cockpit! If we don't, we die!'' And 16 seconds afterward, another passenger yelled, ``Roll it!'' Investigators previously have said they believe passengers tried to use a food cart to break the cockpit door.
...to be clear, I don't really care if someone said "let's roll a joint" or "roll it" or "it's cold" or all of the above. I'm not trying to take away from the fact that apparently these brave people took action. Just highlighting the contradiction between the two reports...
Tenet told us that in his world "the system was blinking red." By late July, Tenet said, it could not "get any worse." Not everyone was convinced. Some asked whether all these threats might just be deception. On June 30, the SEIB [Senior Executive Intelligence Brief] contained an article titled "Bin Ladin Threats Are Real." Yet Hadley told Tenet in July that Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz questioned the reporting. Perhaps Bin Ladin was trying to study U.S. reactions. Tenet replied that he had already addressed the Defense Department's questions on this point; the reporting was convincing. To give a sense of his anxiety at the time, one senior official in the Counterterrorist Center told us that he and a colleague were considering resigning in order to go public with their concerns.
Undercover federal air marshals on board a June 29 Northwest airlines flight from Detroit to LAX identified themselves after a passenger, “overreacted,” to a group of middle-eastern men on board, federal officials and sources have told KFI NEWS.
The passenger, later identified as Annie Jacobsen, was in danger of panicking other passengers and creating a larger problem on the plane, according to a source close to the secretive federal protective service.
Jacobsen, a self-described freelance writer, has published two stories about her experience at womenswallstreet.com, a business advice web site designed for women.
“The lady was overreacting,” said the source. “A flight attendant was told to tell the passenger to calm down; that there were air marshals on the plane.”
The source said the air marshals on the flight were partially concerned Jacobsen’s actions could have been an effort by terrorists or attackers to create a disturbance on the plane to force the agents to identify themselves.
Air marshals’ only tactical advantage on a flight is their anonymity, the source said, and Jacobsen could have put the entire flight in danger.
“They have to be very cognizant of their surroundings,” spokesman Adams confirmed, “to make sure it isn’t a ruse to try and pull them out of their cover.”
The movie just left out all the important context. It was noted that Kelly was brought in along with a very rigid editing and fact-checking process. I'll leave it to the readers to remember why it was thought that TNR needed improved fact-checking (hint: think former editors). We only quietly hear the reason why Kelly was fired - in the movie it's because Peretz thought the magazine had gotten "too nasty," something which was completely at odds with the sweet portrayal of Kelly and the young folk who were working for him, and which made it just seem like Peretz was being a jerk and firing him for no reason. But, more importantly, Kelly's rigid fact-checking system obviously was a joke because Glass's stuff wouldn't have gotten through if they had any real fact-checking going on (the movie tried to tell us that since Glass's only "sources" were his "personal notes" that his pieces could only be checked against them. Wuuuuh?)
Anyway, I'm a bit hazy on my TNRology from the past - there's a lot more to the story than this movie told. But, all in all it was a load of crap.
Well, I did. I'm not sure if panic is quite the right word, but it is close enough. Anthrax played a role in my decision to support the Bush administration's desire to take out Saddam Hussein. I linked him to anthrax, which I linked to Sept. 11. I was not going to stand by and simply wait for another attack -- more attacks. I was going to go to the source, Hussein, and get him before he could get us. As time went on, I became more and more questioning, but I had a hard time backing down from my initial whoop and holler for war.
Nations and peoples can lose their heads. The easiest way to explain how Hitler came to power is simply to say that Germany went nuts. That's the most extreme example. But something irrational overcame the United States after World War I and the anti-radical Palmer Raids, or the decision, following Pearl Harbor, to incarcerate Japanese Americans. McCarthyism was another period of collective insanity. I know we are a great and brave country, but sometimes we react to threats by simply going to pieces.
It's great that we have multiple commissions looking into intelligence failures, but none of those commissions will come close to the greatest intelligence failure of all -- our inability to use our heads when we most needed to. The terrorist attacks coupled with the anthrax scare unhinged us a bit -- or maybe more than a bit. We eventually went into a war that now makes little sense and that, without a doubt, was waged for reasons that simply did not exist. We did so, I think, because we were scared. You could say we lacked judgment. Maybe. I would say we lacked leadership.
Okay, kudos to Cohen for a few things. First, it's nice that someone remembers anthrax, which the media have shoved down the memory hole because despite it dominating the news for a couple of months it failed to fit the official narrative which has since developed (the perps are believed to be not-so-swarthy and Bush likes to claim there has been no major terrorist attack since 9/11). And, second, yes, it's nice that someone admits that they were gripped by a wee bit of insanity. But, it's the last few sentences which just make me batshit crazy:
You could say we lacked judgment. Maybe. I would say we lacked leadership.
Yes, we did. We lacked leadership from people in leadership positions like Richard Cohen. Yes, obviously the Bush administration's leadership was horrible for many reasons. But, Richard Cohen writes a column for what is the most influential foreign policy newspaper in the country. He is an opinion leader. He can't just say "if only Daddy had made me feel better and done the right thing" and wash his hands of it.
On November 30, 2001, a mere 50 or so days after 9/11, Richard Cohen wrote a column entitled "...And Now to Iraq."
Those weapons -- plus the ultimate inevitability of nuclear ones -- are precisely why Hussein must go. He is too evil to be allowed to menace us with weapons of mass destruction. He invaded Iran. He invaded Kuwait. He used chemical weapons on Kurdish civilians. He has murdered his critics, his opponents and -- just to keep people off balance -- anyone at random. He has not been linked to the anthrax deaths here, but that's precisely the sort of thing he's capable of doing and what, given enough time, he will do.
Richard Perle, the former Reagan administration official and the Zelig-like character who appears over the shoulder of countless op-ed writers, makes a good point (over my shoulder) when he says that the danger is not merely that Iraq will go nuclear but also that it will hand off the device to some terrorist with a suitcase. Then, as with anthrax, we will not be able to find the source.
Is that likely? I don't know. But I do know that Hussein tried to assassinate George H. W. Bush. I do know that Bush's son is now in the White House. I do know that Hussein is a sociopath -- not irrational but reptilian in both instinct and conscience. We have seen his type before -- Hitler, Stalin and, in his hideously overachieving way, Milosevic -- and always waited almost until it was too late.
We do not have that luxury now. Sept. 11 taught us what terrorists can do. Afghanistan taught us what we can do. In due course, Saddam Hussein must get our message: Uncle Sam Wants You.
Yes, there was a failure of leadership.
white powder found in a package opened at John Kerry's presidential campaign headquarters Thursday was harmless and could have been garlic powder, authorities said of an apparent hoax that forced police to seal off the building.
"It appears to be some kind of garlic powder, commonly used for seasoning foods," said Alan Etter, a spokesman for the Washington, D.C., Fire Department.
The package, containing two letter-sized envelopes, was turned over to the FBI for further investigation.
I don't worry much about real attacks of this sort, but the fake ones can be disruptive enough.
Thursday, July 22, 2004
So, anyway, hopefully it'll be fun for me but I don't know quite how to make it fun for you. I have some ideas, but I won't really know how well they'll play out until I get there.
...I suppose this is one of those "dimishing expectations" posts. I hope I can provide some exciting inside scoop coverage of the convention. I'm glad bloggers are invited, but given the fact that there will be 15,000 media people there, I find the presence of 35 odd bloggers to be not all that much of a story, at least before the event. I tend to ignore a lot of press inquiries -- partially because I'm lazy, partially because I get tired of spending a lot of time answering questions only to find one silly quote popping up in a story, and partially because I don't really feel like "bloggers going to convention" is a particularly interesting story. If bloggers make news while there, it'll be interesting. If not, it won't. Don't get me wrong -- I think Blogging the Phenomenon, and the general netroots movement, is nothing to be sneezed at, but Bloggers at Convention just shouldn't be garnering the attention that it is.
Though, my one thought is that all of the self-righteous articles about bloggers vs. real journalists are motivated by one thing -- we'll be in the media box, too... And, to paraphrase some idiot... We Can Hear You...
WASHINGTON — Police sealed off the office building that houses Sen. John Kerry's presidential campaign headquarters on Thursday after finding a suspicious letter, authorities said.
The letter at the downtown office building brought out emergency personnel, said Alan Etter of the District of Columbia Fire and EMS Department. He said he didn't know what made the letter suspicious.
"There's lots of these things every week," said Etter, adding that he expected the scene to be cleared shortly.
An e-mail distributed to Kerry staff said: "There is a suspicious package found on one of the floors of the building. Emergency services, fire, police and hazmat are on site. Please be advised if you leave, you will not be allowed to re-enter until authorities have given the all clear."
We should NOT assume that anyone who supported or helped Eric Rudolph is a racist. No one's in favor of murder or bombing of public places. But feelings in North Carolina may just be more complicated than the NY Times can conceive. ...Rudolph is charged with bombing an abortion clinic, not a "health clinic."
Why now? The answer is simple. Refugee children are dying of disease and malnutrition. Women are being raped. Men are being murdered. The clock is ticking and every day that passes means the loss of more human life. Americans of all faiths do not want to stand by and simply let this kind of ethnic warfare and humanitarian crisis happen again. I came to the conclusion that simply passing resolutions and sending letters would not do enough to bring about the kind of quick action needed to save lives.
And, what's Hoeffel's opponent been up to lately? Saying things like this (from Roll Call):
To that end, Specter said, Santorum has his vote for any future leadership race — "anything, including president."
President Man-on-Dog? Woof!
Donate to Hoeffel!
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
In Iraq, the transfer of sovereignty has led to some reduction in American casualties.
There were more casualties during the month of July thus far than there were in June.
The New York Times - where making shit up is good enough for the editors.
And, according to member Ben Wattenberg, "we win in case of a tie." More of that lowering expectations, I guess.
I'm not aware of any one in the White House who is aware of anyone who's aware that the President ever was aware of having made such a comment.
Over on a DKos diary, mitch2k2k notes that a reporter actually asked Scotty about the failure to find more massive mass graves. Obligatory disclaimer: Saddam's a bad guy and failure to find super-massive mass graves does not mean that I think Saddam was a good guy. But, here the issue isn't that the Bush administration believed, or claimed to believe, that there were mass graves in Iraq. The issue is that Bush has claimed that they were found
Remember we discovered mass graves with hundreds of thousands of men and women and children clutching their little toys, as a result of this person's brutality.
Apparently, we haven't actually discovered them. They may be there, but why is Bush lying about them?
...yes, yes, people, the Scotty line is a joke. Click through the links...
Q If someone was to make that suggestion -- it just occurred to me that somebody might think that, you know, it's the Justice Department that is investigating it, it might have been leaked by the Justice Department to --
MR. McCLELLAN: I haven't heard anyone make such a suggestion. Certainly, the first we became aware of it was upon seeing the media reports.
President Bush (news - web sites)'s spokesman, Scott McClellan, disclosed Wednesday that the Justice Department notified the office of White House legal counsel Alberto Gonzalez about the probe before news of it leaked to the media Monday.
"My understanding is that this investigation has been going on for several months and that some officials in our counsel's office were contacted as part of the investigation," McClellan told reporters. "The counsel's office is the one that is coordinating with the Sept. 11 commission the production of documents and since this relates to some documents, the counsel's office was contacted as part of that investigation."
"The Majority Report," the nightly Air America show co-hosted by actress-comedian Janeane Garofalo, was the top-rated AM radio program in New York during the 8-to-11 p.m. time slot.
Congrats to Sam and Janeane!
(via Sisyphus Shrugged)
Also, Uncle Alan said that he did not know if increases in expenditures related to terrorism and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were, as Bush has asserted, the primary cause of the ballooning deficit. Right.
Set up vote registration tables anywhere and everywhere.
Support Joe Hoeffel who, along with his wife Francesca, was just arrested protesting at the Sudanese embassy.
Tuesday, July 20, 2004
Associates said Berger knew there were copies of the documents and that former counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke, the after-action report's author, was cooperating with the commission inquiry.
They questioned what motive Berger would have had to take and destroy documents.
Two sources associated with the investigation said Breuer made a detailed statement of Berger's view of the facts at issue several months ago and has offered to talk to the Justice Department about a resolution to the probe.
Breuer has renewed his offer to talk several times since, one of the Berger associates said, but said prosecutors have refused to enter into such discussions.
And what about the alleged sock stuffing?
That latter allegation drew a sharp response from Berger associate and former White House lawyer Lanny Davis, who challenged any unnamed official who makes such an accusation to come forward publicly.
"I suggest that person is lying," he said. "And if that person has the guts, let's see who it is who made the comment that Sandy Berger stuffed something into his socks."
The 9/11 Commission seems to be doing its darndest to keep their report non-partisan. It's too bad the Bushies can't slither out of the mud for a change and at least pretend they care about the well-being of the country.
President Bush told Chilean President Ricardo Lagos there would be a "full investigation" into allegations that Riggs Bank helped former Chilean dictator Gen. Augusto Pinochet hide millions of dollars from international prosecutors.
"It's important for the facts to be 'en la mesa,' as we say -- on the table -- so that we know what course of action may or may not be needed," said Bush, who added that Lagos brought up the issue with him yesterday. Lagos last week told media in Chile that the government would investigate Pinochet's connection to Riggs with an eye toward finding out the sources of Pinochet's wealth.
Now read this
For two years after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, an unlicensed money transmitter in New York City used a New Jersey bank to move $1 billion in and out of foreign accounts, some belonging to black market currency traders. By law, Hudson United Bank was required to tell regulators at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. about such suspicious transactions, but it didn't. Instead, a probe by the New York district attorney finally alerted FDIC officials.
Senate investigators report that Riggs Bank courted business from the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and helped him hide millions of dollars in assets from international prosecutors. Investigators say the top federal bank examiner in charge of supervising the District's largest bank kept details about the relationship hidden and aided Pinochet while he was under house arrest in Britain.
In the first three weeks of the interim government, Allawi’s unelected and despised administration has assumed the power to impose martial law, ban demonstrations and monitor citizens’ phones and email. He has declared his intention to recruit the military and intelligence operatives of Hussein’s regime and this week announced the formation of a secret police agency to “annihilate” opposition. He is already being contemptuously referred to in Baghdad as “Saddam without the moustache” or “America’s Saddam”.
Far from denouncing the Bush administration for establishing a US-protected police-state in Iraq, commentary over the past week in the New York Times and the Washington Post has lauded Allawi for his reputation for sadism and ruthlessness. It is part of a shift that is underway: previous claims that the US occupation was to establish democracy are being jettisoned in favor of increasingly open support for the “strongman” Allawi and his methods.
Q Do you think it's appropriate for Halliburton to set up an off shore subsidiary and then have operations in Iran? Do you think that's an appropriate thing for a company to do?
MR. McCLELLAN: Are you asking because the Kerry campaign is making some accusations?
No, Scottie, it's not the Kerry campaign that says Halliburton set up an off-shore subsidiary that conducted business in Iran. Halliburton is saying that:
A U.S. grand jury issued a subpoena to Halliburton Co. seeking information about its Cayman Islands unit's work in Iran, where it is illegal for U.S. companies to operate, Halliburton said on Monday.
He believes (but don't quote him on it) that the Pentagon seems to have lost $1 billion in cash in Iraq - not wasted, *lost*.
Also, from the Taguba Report, a detainee's eye-witness description of child rape perpetrated by US soldiers at Abu Ghraib, via Boing Boing.
Worse than Oy. Fucking unforgivable.
Thanks to Ben R. and M.V.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A Republican lawmaker says it was inappropriate for a GOP office to display a bumper sticker declaring: "Kerry is bin Laden's Man. Bush is Mine."
Kentucky Rep. Anne Northup said she found out about the stickers over the weekend and doesn't want any more distributed. "What campaigns need to center on, debates need to center on and the party needs to focus on are ideas," she said.
If any of you out there are Anne's constituents, might not be a bad idea to drop her a note saying the party could use more people in it who stand up to bullies.
Mistakens were made.
UPDATE: The White House is not immune.
They will probably change it soon, but this is the headline currently on the White House web site regarding an online chat with Treasury Secretary Snow:
I wonder if he knows Commerce Secretary Pimp?
Setting - July 9, 2004: Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz sits down with local reporters after attending a military ceremony and giving a speech in Omaha, Nebraska.
Wolfowitz's public affairs officer, Bill Turenne, began by asking that Wolfowitz's comments be attributed to a "senior Defense Department official." The Kansas City Star's [Scott] Canon took immediate issue with these ground rules. "I was less heroic than you might imagine," he says in a telephone interview.
Canon politely explained to Wolfowitz and Turenne that the conversation would be of no professional value to him if he couldn't name Wolfowitz as the source of the remarks. There just wouldn't be much use at his paper for such blind quotery. "My complaint was less about the practice in general than that it would be a waste of [Wolfowitz's] time."
[William Petroski of the Des Moines Register], who wrote a short account of the incident for the Register, told the deputy secretary that going on background was not the way local reporters did their business. Canon advanced the point that no reader was going to be fooled by the protective coloration of "a senior Defense Department official" in a news story. Wolfowitz was easily the only senior Defense Department official in the city, the state, and maybe the region that day.
Hello, Washington Post and New York Times reporters. Are you taking notes?
"Listen, Ralph," she said in her been-around-the-block-a-couple-of-times manner. "Sometimes I look at a really fabulous pair of shoes, but I can't afford them. I can't afford you. I'm not saying you're not fabulous. I can't afford you! Why you don't get this, I don't know."
Within a few seconds, Nader hung up the phone in disgust.
Q I just have one other question about Iran and 9/11. The President said earlier that the government is still investigating whether there is a connection we don't know about between Iran and 9/11. I just want to -- related to that, how you would respond to criticism that will likely come from Democrats and others, who say that your very aggressive posture toward Iraq may have been misplaced, and that given the -- if there was an actual connection, there may have even been influences or a role on the margins of 9/11 by Iran that this administration's posture toward Iraq was, frankly, misdirected in the war on terror?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I think what the President said was, he repeated what the Acting Director said yesterday on one of the Sunday shows, when he said that there's no evidence that there was any official involvement between Iran and the September 11th attacks. And the commission will be coming out with their report later this week. Apparently they addressed this issue in the report. We want to see what they know about that issue; apparently it's something that's evolved over time.
[Two paragrphs of Scottie Speech edited for sanity.]
Q I asked you, Scott, whether the President spent too much time, money, effort, political capital confronting Saddam Hussein in Iraq and not enough confronting Iran?
MR. McCLELLAN: Remember, Iraq was a unique situation. We talked about that from early on. Iraq was a country that had invaded its neighbors, had used weapons of mass destruction, had a 12-year history of defying the international community. It was a threat, I think everybody recognized that it was a threat, and we have removed that threat.
Q Okay. The President, today on Iran, talked about a link between Iran and al Qaeda. We now know that there was a connection, at least, between Iran and the 9/11 hijackers. He talked about the fact that they have -- that we think they have weapons of mass destruction, nuclear material. So that sounds eerily similar to Iraq. So why -- can you explain --
MR. McCLELLAN: What was the connection? What was the relationship?
Q Which one?
MR. McCLELLAN: Between Iran and al Qaeda.
Q That they passed through.
MR. McCLELLAN: And there were ties between Iraq and al Qaeda, where they had contacts going back over the last decade.
Q So my question is, many people are asking, why is it that the President did focus on Iraq, and perhaps -- the way he did, and perhaps not on Iran?
MR. McCLELLAN: That wouldn't be an accurate way, I think, to describe it, because he has focused on Iran. It has been a high priority for this administration from very early on. As I said, you confront different threats in different ways. There are different strategies for confronting different threats. But what this President is doing is confronting those threats. We're not letting them build and fully materialize. September 11th taught us that we had to confront those threats before that happens. That's why he's been working with the international community to get Iran to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons and to abide by the international obligations Iran agreed to. That's why we are pressing Iran to turn over those al Qaeda members in their country to their country of origin. That's why we are continuing to urge the unelected few in Iran to heed the aspirations of the Iranian people.
We have spent the past three years running around willy-nilly, pulling out of international treaties, declaring our right to do anything we consider to be in our strategic interest. The Philippine government decided it was no longer in its strategic interest to put its people in harm's way for a country that, it turns out, was about as big a threat to the world as the Republic of Palau. Even if you disagree, you can't argue with their right to do whatever they like with their military, not if you've been shouting about freedom fries and pouring wine down the storm drain since the start of the war.
...Politics will likely loom large at Tuesday's hearing and again Wednesday morning before the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services panel.
With the November presidential election campaign in full swing, Democrats and Republicans will try and draw Greenspan into the debate over whether the recovery is too slow to rebuild the labor market or is responding nicely to Bush administration tax cuts.
The economy clearly lost momentum in June -- retail sales fell, industrial production slipped and job creation came in below forecasts -- but there were early signs of improvement in July and policy-makers are confident the elements of lasting expansion are intact.
Greenspan may counter lawmakers' efforts to quiz him on big budget deficits -- a hot issue in the election campaign -- by repeating his long-held conviction that Congress needs to impose discipline on government spending.
The Fed chief has emphasized that while he sees deficits as dangerous, spending curbs, not tax increases, are the wisest way to fix them.
Spending curbs? Someone better tell the preznit.
Last week, Republican officials in Kentucky applauded bumper stickers distributed at G.O.P. offices that read, "Kerry is bin Laden's man/Bush is mine." Administration officials haven't gone that far, but when Tom Ridge offered a specifics-free warning about a terrorist attack timed to "disrupt our democratic process," many people thought he was implying that Al Qaeda wants George Bush to lose. In reality, all infidels probably look alike to the terrorists, but if they do have a preference, nothing in Mr. Bush's record would make them unhappy at the prospect of four more years.
All infidels look alike? Hmmmm. It seems there are a lot of people out there who *look like* terrorists.
DES MOINES (AP) - Federal prosecutors claim they built 35 terrorism-related cases in Iowa in the two years after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, but most of the defendants have questionable links to violent extremism.
Defendants who could be identified by the Des Moines Register were, in most cases, charged with fraud or theft and served just a few months in jail.
"If there have been terrorism-related arrests in Iowa, I haven't heard about them," said U.S. District Judge Robert Pratt. But Pratt himself presided over courtroom proceedings in at least six of the criminal cases that federal prosecutors had cataloged as terrorist in nature.
The Iowa arrests were part of a national compilation of statistics by the U.S. Department of Justice to lobby Congress.
Lumping minor crimes under the terrorism label could wrongly heighten public anxiety and provide a questionable rationale for more anti-terror resources, critics say.
"When people read that they're doctoring the numbers, aren't they going to have less confidence in the Justice Department and the war on terror?" asked U.S. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa. "You can't say that somebody's a terrorist when he isn't a terrorist."
Ashcroft sure is doing a great job, isn't he? Link.
Monday, July 19, 2004
Remember the story about lazy journalists relying on someone else's work...to the detriment of factual reporting?
Update: Trolls don't know how to read.
In a bandwagon-type column out today in USA Today, Richard Benedetto quotes the Report thusly ...
Second, the Senate report said that Wilson "was specifically recommended for the mission by his wife, a CIA employee, contrary to what he has said publicly."
As we've noted here previously, consistently from day one until today, Plame's bosses at CIA have insisted that the idea to send Wilson was theirs, not hers -- a presumably relevant fact the committee Report fails to mention.
Still, that quotation sounds even more definitive than the Report made out. And in fact it is. Benedetto says he's quoting the Report, but he's actually quoting Schmidt.
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) - The head of the Environmental Protection Agency for two Republican presidents criticized President Bush's record on Monday, calling it a ``polluter protection'' policy.
Russell E. Train, who headed the EPA from September 1973 to January 1977 - part of the Nixon and Ford administrations - said Bush's record on the environment was so dismal that he would cast his vote for Democrat John Kerry.
``It's almost as if the motto of the administration in power today in Washington is not environmental protection, but polluter protection,'' Train said. ``I find this deeply disturbing.''
It's wonderful to see grownups speaking out against his policies.
Q Prime Minister Blair took full personal responsibility for taking his nation into war under falsehoods -- under reasons that have been determined now to be false. Is President Bush also willing to take full, personal responsibility --
MR. McCLELLAN: I think Prime Minister Blair said that it was the right thing to do; that Saddam Hussein's regime was a threat.
Q Those were not the reasons he took his country into war. It turned out to be untrue, and the same is true for us. Does the President take full, personal responsibility for this war?
MR. McCLELLAN: The issue here is what do you to with a threat in a post-September 11th world? Either you live with a threat, or you confront the threat.
Q There was no threat.
MR. McCLELLAN: The President made the decision to confront the threat.
Q Saddam Hussein did not threaten this country.
MR. McCLELLAN: The world -- the world, the Congress and the administration all disagree. They all recognized that there was a threat posed by Saddam Hussein. When it came to September 11th, that changed the equation. It taught us, as I said --
Q The Intelligence Committee said there was no threat.
MR. McCLELLAN: As I said, it taught us that we must confront threats before it's too late.
Q So the President doesn't take full responsibility?
MR. McCLELLAN: The President already talked about the responsibility for the decisions he's made. He talked about that with Prime Minister Blair.
Q Personal responsibility?
MR. McCLELLAN: Terry, go ahead.
The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control has been investigating Halliburton's operations in Iran since 2001, so I would assume that at least a portion of the investigation is concerned with business dealings while Dick Cheney was CEO of the oil field services corporation.
I'm sure most of us are aware that Cheney's Halliburton had business dealings with Iraq under Saddam, also through a foreign subsidiary.
Nice one, smarty jones.
Today Media Matters provides a full transcript:
LIMBAUGH: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation is reporting that the new Iraqi Prime Minister Allawi has executed six insurgents in front of witnesses, wanting to send a clear message to these people. Good. Hubba-hubba.
Now that's right. Now, you're going to have -- you're going to have -- you're going to have some of the powerless fearful Left in this country saying see, this is what Bush has done. Bush did this, no due process, they just kill them when you find them. We can't -- America's going to be hated in the world, blah blah blah blah. Well, the Iraqis are handling their own affairs.
Put aside, if you can, the fact that Limpbutt places no value on democratic principles. It's obvious from this response that the self-anointed bastion of all conservative knowledge finds these allegations to be credible.
The Australian press is all over this story, and Iraq's Human Rights Minister has opened an investigation. Where are you, New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR... ?
The British Government's Office of Communications (Ofcom) – the official regulator of the UK's communications industries - recently chastised Fox News and found it in violation of various regulations in that country aimed at preventing the media from deliberately spreading misinformation. Ofcom found that Fox News anchor John Gibson made "false statements by undermining facts."
Imagine that, requiring news programming to be truthful.
"We are the right-wing freedom fighters — we are out there and are just as animated as the protesters can be," said member Jason Sager, of Brooklyn.
Protest Warriors, which claims about 3,000 members nationwide, expects about 200 in New York for the four-day convention, which begins Aug. 30 and is expected to draw tens of thousands of opponents of President Bush.
If these young warriors are so eager to defend the personage and policies of their beloved leader, may I suggest that instead of waving signs around, they start here?
President Bush said Monday that the U.S. is studying whether Iran had any role in 9/11.
"We will continue to look and see if Iranians were involved," Bush said. "I have long expressed my concerns about Iran. After all, it's a totalitarian society where people are not allowed to exercise their rights as human beings."
The CIA continues to maintain that there is no connection.
Ok, this begs a couple of questions: the first is how the hell would he know what rights human beings are supposed to have? Secondly, seriously, WTF? Is the administration now going to cook up some intel that shows a connection between Iran and 9/11 and use that as an excuse to invade Iran? And what is he going to use for an army?
Josh Marshall has been the go-to guy on all things Wilson, so I will leave it to him to rebut Safire as he sees fit. But for my money the last word on the 16 words was provided by the White House on July 18, 2003, when an unnamed Senior Administration Official gave an extraordinary press briefing. The administration officially backed off of the 16-word claim in that briefing, and have yet to revise that position.
As recently as last Thursday, GOP-USA's Jeff Gannon gave Scottie McClellan (who we learned last week is paid about $1 per lie) the opportunity to revise the official White House position on the 16 words, but Scottie did not bite:
Maybe Safire should shut his yap until the White House revises its position on the 16 words.
Q Last Friday, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report that shows that Ambassador Joe Wilson lied when he said his wife didn't put him up for the mission to Niger. The British inquiry into their own prewar intelligence yesterday concluded that the President's 16 words were "well-founded." Doesn't Joe Wilson owe the President and America an apology for his deception and his own intelligence failure?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, one, let me point out that I think those reports speak for themselves on that issue. And I think if you have questions about that, you can direct that to Mr. Wilson.
Q Well, we spent so many weeks here dissecting the 16 words that are now absolutely true. Don't you think --
Q How do you know that?
Q Excuse me, Helen. Don't you think that America deserves the opportunity to have this information brought forward, as well?
MR. McCLELLAN: Well, I noticed the media reports on this very issue over the weekend.
Q There were very few of them.
MR. McCLELLAN: And I certainly recognize that it was getting a lot of attention previously. But I think the reports speak for themselves on it.
O'Brien does briefly mention that Joe Allbritton owned a controlling interest in Riggs from 1981 until Riggs was sold last week to PNC Financial (while revealing that Allbritton's wife Barbara, a Riggs board member, protested when the bank finally ended its relationship with Pinochet). However he makes no mention of the fact that Mr. Allbritton is a long-time Bush family friend and fundraiser for both GHW Bush and GW Bush.
If a blood relative and close friend/financier of Bill Clinton or John Kerry were deeply involved in a bank that laundered money for dictators and terrorists, what do you think the focus of the Times story would be?
The man in the grey turtleneck is due back tomorrow, my friends. I imagine his batteries are fully charged. This should be fun.
Still, there was debate over Mr. Bush's vacation within the White House. One group argued that the president should do whatever he wanted, while another, including Mr. Rove, said in essence that he should not.
At this White House, Mr. Rove's views, which may well have been the president's views, prevailed, to no one's surprise. "What Karl advocated happened," said a Republican close to the White House. "I don't think any voting decision is going to be made on what the president did for three weeks in August, but there are people who believe very strongly that it created the wrong visuals. They didn't want those pictures."
Why is there even any debate on this topic, to the point that Karl Rove has to put his pudgy white foot down? With Bush trailing Kerry in nine of the eleven national polls conducted this month, a sub-50% approval rating in six out of seven current polls, and Fahrenheit 9/11 devastating all box office records for a documentary here and abroad, why would you even consider shambling around a faux ranch attacking defenseless brush for four weeks at the height of the campaign?
[H]ow does Sean feel about the large percentage of Playgirl fans who are gay men who make the magazine their go-to-sleep-sufficiently-gratified night table reader? Not that there's anything wrong with that -- after all, Log Cabin Republican have their needs too.
That said, neither our government nor that of the British should lie in order to take us to war. Today it appears that we have been lied to about Saddam's mass graves:
Downing Street has admitted to The Observer that repeated claims by Tony Blair that '400,000 bodies had been found in Iraqi mass graves' is untrue, and only about 5,000 corpses have so far been uncovered.
At the heart of the questions are the numbers so far identified in Iraq's graves. Of 270 suspected grave sites identified in the last year, 55 have now been examined, revealing, according to the best estimates that The Observer has been able to obtain, around 5,000 bodies.
Forensic examination of grave sites has been hampered by lack of security in Iraq, amid widespread complaints by human rights organisations that until recently the graves have not been secured and protected.
While some sites have contained hundreds of bodies - including a series around the town of Hilla and another near the Saudi border - others have contained no more than a dozen.
Personally, I'm disgusted by a president who wails about mass graves in Iraq while creating them in Afghanistan.
Thanks to Robert for the tip.
Thanks to Jim F.
(Added by Atrios: Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News also has written on this).
Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, then the U.S. commander in Iraq, allowed dogs to be present during interrogations beginning Sept. 14, 2003. In an update of his order a month later, Sanchez allowed dogs to be used at the discretion of interrogators without his specific approval, according to classified documents obtained by USA TODAY. It was in the next two months that abuses at Abu Ghraib were documented, including use of dogs to terrify naked prisoners.
In April 2003, Rumsfeld had issued an order banning the use of dogs during interrogations at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a technique he had allowed there previously. But Rumsfeld's order applied only to Guantanamo, so commanders in Iraq were not told about the restriction.
Sanchez has testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee that he never approved a request for permission to use dogs in an interrogation. But his rule said his permission was not required. In an Oct. 12, 2003, memo to prison commanders and military intelligence officials, Sanchez wrote, "Should military working dogs be present during interrogations, they will be muzzled and under control of a handler at all times to ensure safety." The memo contains no requirement that Sanchez or any senior officer be consulted in advance. There was no requirement that dogs be muzzled outside of interrogation rooms.
Army Col. Thomas Pappas, who headed the military intelligence brigade running interrogations at Abu Ghraib, told an Army investigator early this year that interrogators and translators told him, " 'It's not very intimidating if they're muzzled.' And my response to that was, 'Well, then don't use them. Find another way.' "
This year's presidential campaign marks the latest effort to hurl the L-word -- the most familiar and, on some occasions, most lethal spear in the Republican arsenal. President Bush's campaign spokesmen have called the Democratic ticket of Sen. John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) the most liberal ticket in U.S. history.
First of all, I don't think people keep spears in arsenals anymore. Second, it's only lethal because we let it be known that it's so, because we let it be, let it hurt us. I'd argue this all night myself, but my man Aaron already said it better:
"We all need some therapy, because somebody came along and said "liberal" means soft on crime, soft on drugs, soft on Communism, soft on defense, and we're gonna tax you back to the Stone Age because people shouldn't have to go to work if they don't want to. And instead of saying "Well, excuse me, you right-wing, reactionary, xenophobic, homophobic, anti-eductaion, anti-choice, pro-gun, 'Leave it to Beaver' trip back to the fifties," we cowered in the corner and said "Please, don't hurt me." No more."
—The West Wing
Sunday, July 18, 2004
He told Britain's ITV network that Bush and Blair ''should have been able to tell before the war that the evidence did not exist for drawing the conclusion that Iraq presented a clear, present and imminent threat on the basis of existing weapons of mass destruction.''
''That was not something that required a war,'' he said.
Of course, we all recall that back in October your preznit claimed that Kay had found justification for the war:And David Kay continues to ferret out the truth. This is a man -- Saddam Hussein is a man who hid programs and weapons for years. He's a master at hiding things. And so David Kay will continue his search. But one of the things that he first found was that there is clear violation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441. Material breach, they call it in the diplomatic circles. Casus belli, it means a -- that would have been a cause for a war. In other words, he said, it's dangerous.
Mr Amin described the allegation as very serious, referring to reports in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, sourced to two unnamed men, that Iraq's interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi had personally executed at least six suspected insurgents in Baghdad last month.
Former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook is calling for the International Committee for the Red Cross to open an independent investigation:
"These are dreadful allegations. It is vital that they are cleared up one way or another, and that needs an independent inquiry," Mr Cook, who quit the Blair cabinet over the Iraq war, told the British newspaper the Sunday Herald. "An international body such as the Red Cross would be best able to give authority to the investigation that the situation now demands."
Here are three questions that the Red Cross and Mr. Amin should ask:
- Were Ahmed Abdulah Ahsamey, Amer Lutfi Mohammed Ahmed al-Kutsia, and Walid Mehdi Ahmed al-Samarrai ever detained by Iraqi or coalition authorities?
- Were these three men ever detained at the Al-Amariyah security centre in the southwestern suburbs of Baghdad?
- Where are Ahmed Abdulah Ahsamey, Amer Lutfi Mohammed Ahmed al-Kutsia, and Walid Mehdi Ahmed al-Samarrai today?
UPDATE: Questions begin to be raised about why the US media is ignoring the story.
Hey, Mitt, shouldn't you be out finding outdated laws you can use to screw with loving couples or something?
And if that gets boring after a while, as we all know it does, maybe you could try governing.
The president who took the threat seriously and responded energetically: Bill Clinton.
A secret intelligence report prepared for President Clinton in December 1998 reported on a suspected plot by Osama bin Laden to hijack a U.S. airliner in an effort to force the United States to release imprisoned conspirators in the 1993 World Trade Center attacks.
The one-page declassified version of the President's Daily Brief (PDB) dated Dec. 4, 1998, contains chilling information the CIA had gleaned from several sources indicating that al-Qaida was working with U.S.-based operatives of its deadly ally, the Eqyptian group Gama at al-Islamiyya, in the hijack plot.
[The commission's report] will contain details of what the commission's executive director, Philip Zelikow, described Saturday as an "energetic response" to the hijack threat information by the Clinton administration, including its efforts to determine if the reports were true.
Richard Clarke, who was White House counterterrorism chief under Clinton and for a few months under Bush, testified before the commission that the Bush national security team was not sufficiently concerned about the threat information prior to the Sept. 11 attacks. He has cited the 2001 PDB as proof the Bush team had reason to be concerned about hijack threats, but Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security adviser, in her testimony, played down the importance of the hijack reference in that memo, saying it was based on "old reporting."
I'm glad Bill Clinton did not like to clear brush with a chain saw.