Saturday, May 15, 2004



Lawyers from the military's Judge Advocate General's Corps, or JAG, had been urging Pentagon officials to ensure protection for prisoners for two years before the abuses at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison came to light, current and former JAG officers told ABCNEWS.

But, the JAG lawyers say, political appointees at the Pentagon ignored their warnings, setting the stage for the Abu Ghraib abuses, in which military police reservists photographed each other subjecting Iraqi prisoners to physical abuse and sexual humiliation.

As the military's uniformed lawyers, JAG officers are in charge of instructing military commanders on how to adhere to domestic and international rules regarding the treatment of detainees.

"If we — 'we' being the uniformed lawyers — had been listened to, and what we said put into practice, then these abuses would not have occurred," said Rear Admiral Don Guter (ret.), the Navy Judge Advocate General from 2000 to 2002.

Specifically, JAG officers say they have been marginalized by Douglas Feith, undersecretary of defense for policy, and William Haynes II, the Pentagon's general counsel, whom President Bush has nominated for a judgeship on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.


Majority support gay marriage or something just like gay marriage but with a different name.

Majority (51%) Now Supports Gay Marriage (28%) Or Civil Unions (23%); 43 Percent Oppose All Legal Recognition.


So, the Bush's big education initiative is to throw a bunch of money (in theory, at least) at local schools in exchange for them signing onto some accountability rules.

But, he doesn't think that the federal government should be funding local schools.

"It's not the federal government's responsibility to fund schools," Bush said. "It's the state and local levels' responsibility.

But Brenda Brum, a librarian at Parkersburg South and a former delegate, said Bush's comments fly in the face of the reality teachers, students and parents face every day trying to meet new federal mandates.

"He doesn't think the federal government is responsible for funding local schools," Brum said. "My question then is why are they setting all the rules?"


Yes, I know that it isn't quite as cute as "Taxachusetts," but can I take this opportunity to point out what a total moron Zell Miller is?

Sen. Zell Miller, the Bush campaign's most famous Democratic attack dog, ripped into John Kerry on Saturday as an "out-of-touch, ultraliberal from Taxachusetts" whose foreign and domestic policies would seriously weaken the country.

First of all, since Kerry happens to be elected to the Federal government he has little control over state and local tax policy in his home state. But, since Zell wants to play that game, let's turn to the facts.

According to those lovable nuts over at the Tax Foundation, Taxeorgia's state and local tax burden ranks 18th in the nation, at precisely the national average of 10% of income.

While in small government loving Massachusetts, the state and local tax burden ranks 36th in the nation, at 9.6% of income.

What about business friendlyness? Well, Zell, sorry to say once again your tax-loving commie state of Taxeorgia with its totally complicated tax code appears to be downright hostile to business! At least compared to the free market haven of Massachusetts! You see, Massachusetts, according to the Tax Foundation, ranks 12th in the nation while Taxeorgia ranks 25th!

And, hey, what do you know? It appears you welfare lovers in Taxeorgia are sucking at the federal government's teat! Taxeorgia gets more from the federal government than it sends in taxes! For every buck you freeloaders send to DC you get $1.01 back! What of Massachusetts? Well, suprise surprise! Massachusetts is supporting layabouts like Taxeorgia! A whopping $.25 of every dollar Massachusetts sends to the Feds is stolen from them and redistributed to states which can't manage to take care of themselves, like Taxeorgia.

Down Down Down...

Do I hear the 30s calling?

May 15 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush faces the disapproval of a majority of Americans for the first time in his presidency, with only 42 percent saying they approve of the job he's doing, the lowest number yet in a Newsweek magazine poll.

Bush's overall job approval rating in the survey conducted May 13 and 14 fell from 49 percent in the last Newsweek poll almost a month ago, while the number of respondents who say they approve of his handling of Iraq also dropped to 35 percent from 44 percent. Forty-one percent of registered voters say they want Bush reelected, down from 46 percent.

I just might...

Bush's overall job approval rating fell from 49 percent to 46 percent since the last CNN/Time poll on April 8, while his disapproval rating rose from 47 percent to 49 percent -- the first time that more people disapproved of Bush's job performance than approved.


President George W. Bush's approval rating fell to 42 percent, the lowest since his election, amid dwindling support for his handling of the war in Iraq, the Financial Times reported, citing New York-based pollster Zogby Internation.


Just go read and be horrified.

The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror.

According to interviews with several past and present American intelligence officials, the Pentagon’s operation, known inside the intelligence community by several code words, including Copper Green, encouraged physical coercion and sexual humiliation of Iraqi prisoners in an effort to generate more intelligence about the growing insurgency in Iraq. A senior C.I.A. official, in confirming the details of this account last week, said that the operation stemmed from Rumsfeld’s long-standing desire to wrest control of America’s clandestine and paramilitary operations from the C.I.A.

Santorum for President

"Moderate" Arlen Specter says he'd support Santorum for President.

oy. Let's get rid of this guy.

AAR news

Here's a pretty balanced look at what's going on at AAR which fits with the rumors I've heard.

Think Big

MyDD notices a rise in "throw the bums out" sentiment in the polls. I really hope the Dems start to consider nationalizing the congressional races rather than trying to fight 460 or so separate races finely tuned to local conditions.

It may not be the right thing to do, but it's something to think about.

Neuharth Tells Bush to Go


When? After 9/11. Bush bravely took on a necessary fight against terrorists who attacked us. But then he diverted his attention to an unrelated and unnecessary "pre-emptive" war.

Where? Iraq. He led us astray by falsely claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction that threatened us. After the "Mission Accomplished" boast in May 2003, he put our troops in new jeopardy by taunting terrorists from other countries with his "Bring 'em on!" challenge last July 2. His anything-goes-against-the-bad-guys attitude and his total lack of postwar planning helped prompt the ongoing prison-abuse embarrassments and brutal retaliations.

Why? Because he believes he can be re-elected as a tough-talking, self-proclaimed "War President."

Maybe Bush should take a cue from a fellow Texan, former president Lyndon Baines Johnson, who also had some cowboy characteristics.

LBJ, after mismanaging the Vietnam War that so bitterly divided the nation and the world, decided he owed it to his political party and to his country not to run for re-election. So, he turned tail and rode off into the sunset of his Texas ranch.

How do you say déjà vu in Cowboyese?

The Inquisition

The General is a one man excommunicating machine.

Open Thread II

The Empire Strikes Back.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Open Thread

Enjoy your evening. See you tomorrow.

Comfort the King

Here's a delightful story:

Brum said that on Thursday one only had to look around the school to see how the expensive No Child Left Behind requirements are affecting students.
"We've got 1,200 students sitting over there in an un-air conditioned auditorium watching this (on television) with fans blowing on them to keep cool," she said. "Here, we've pumped in air conditioning for the President. I resent that. We need to first make sure there's money to provide students with an adequate learning environment."

Bad News for Specter

Taegan Goddard has some shockingly bad news for Specter (boo hoo). He's currently running only 52 to 40 against Hoeffel. I know that sounds like bad news for us, but this is way early in the campaign and Hoeffel still barely has any statewide name recognition. He's up to 40% without (as far as I know) spending anything for media buys.

Specter's disapproval is at 55%.

Click here to give to the Hoeffel campaign - we can take this one. Bye bye Arlen...

(via Patridiots)

Open Thread

Chat away.

Notable Quotables

"He did drive us into a ditch."
-Bill Kristol, regarding Bush, said on the Daily Show 5/13/04.


So, we have the latest round in the Catholic Church's attempt to get rid of its tax-exempt status.

The bishop of Colorado's second-largest Roman Catholic diocese has issued a pastoral letter saying Catholics cannot receive Communion if they vote for politicians who support abortion rights, stem-cell research, euthanasia or gay marriage.

Only after citizens reverse their positions and repent for their sins in the confessional would access to the central ritual of the church be restored, Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan instructed 125,000 Catholics in his charge.

But, I'll leave aside that issue for a moment. One of my pet peeves is the fact that the religious Right is obsessed with stem cell research and abortion, but they don't give a flying fuck about IVF. In IVF, multiple embryos are created with full knowledge and expectation that most of them won't ever come to term or even be implanted.

"I'm a Survivor"

Spencer Ackerman rightly suggests that this is perhaps the most appalling statement said by a Bush administration official. Ever. And, damn, there's been a lot of competition. He also lets us know what some of the troops were asking Rumsfeld.

He really needs to go. Sign the petition if you haven't yet.

Jeff Jacoby is an Absurd America Hater


Rumsfeld Must Go

Powerful op-ed in the NY Post of all places.

JK Totals!

Total Donations: 1915
Total Dollars: $161705.54

Which means 105 donations yesterday totalling $6160.74!

Thanks all!


One Good Move catches MSNBC in a bit of editing. I'm not sure if this quite crosses the line - news reports show edited clips all the time - but it's a bit odd the way they're presenting it as if it were seamless.



"This administration has made a grievous error in the laxity of command control," Kerry told the Fox News Channel in an interview. "And I am convinced this didn't happen just because six or seven people decided to make it happen in a prison. It happened as a matter of what was going on in terms of interrogation and the laxity of command up and down."

Choosing Fox News to deliver the attack made it all the more pointed. The station is a favorite of conservatives.

Kerry blamed Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for first casting doubt on the protections afforded prisoners by denying detainees from Afghanistan formal standing under the Geneva Conventions.

"I would never have thrown out the door or window, the obligations of the Geneva Conventions. Why? Because I know as a former combatant, that had I been captured, I would have wanted our moral high ground, with respect to those Geneva Conventions, to be in place," Kerry said.

"By being selective and saying they (the Geneva Conventions) apply here, then they don't apply here, and so forth, we invite others to be equally as selective and it puts American troops in greater danger."


Thursday, May 13, 2004


Spc. Charles A. Graner Jr., leaning against the wall and labeled as No. 1, identified four other soldiers in this photograph (Nos. 4, 5, 7 and 8) as military intelligence officers. No. 2 is a civilian translator.


WASHINGTON - Abusive treatment under the supervision of military intelligence officers may have been intentionally used as part of the interrogation of Iraqi captives at the Abu Ghraib prison, according to a previously unpublished photograph of U.S. soldiers and other personnel obtained by NBC News.

The photograph was taken during the interrogation of several Iraqi prisoners who are depicted naked in a heap on the floor, according to a military police officer who faces a court-martial in connection with alleged abuses at the notorious facility on the outskirts of Baghdad.

JK Day Update!

Total Donations: 1883
Total Dollars: $159835.53

That's 73 donations totalling $4290.53!

Click here to add to the pile...

Max Has a Contest

Not for the squeamish, and it's going to be hard to beat one of the first entries...

The 101st Fighting Keyboarders Turn Ugly

Anyway, just go read this post by Big Media Matt.

A slightly edited version of what I wrote in comments:

All very predictable. Not in the sense that I predicted events in Iraq, but in sense that the response by a certain segment of the population - you know, the 101st Fighting Keyboarders* - if things didn't go as they promised is rather predictable.

I'm not sure who "most normal Americans" are supposed to be, presumably that means "most other members of the 101st Fighting Keyboarders." But, yes, the transformation from "Saddam is an evil omnipotent overlord who will kill us all" to "we are there to save the poor Iraqi people" to simply "they're the enemy" is all going according to schedule.

The sad thing, of course, is this basic bloodlust is mostly because they invested themselves emotionally in this, somehow feel responsible for it, and all along the MO has been to turn the big guns on anyone who disagreed. Well, now the people they went to liberate disagree, so the guns will be turned on them.

*101st Fighting Keyboarders a trademark of tbogg, inc.

Tucker the Sucker

CARLSON: Now there's Senator Daschle suggesting that maybe, after all, Saddam doesn't have weapons of mass destruction. He said that on the very day, literally the same day, that Hans Blix's report to the United Nations became public, which outlined in detail instances of Iraq possessing chemical weapons.

Why should we take the Democratic leadership seriously when they say things like that?

[from another show]

CARLSON: You see, what the remarkable thing and why this reveals Tom Daschle is a very unserious person at least on this issue, is he completely ignores him.

From the day he gave that speech, Hans Blix report became public and it said very clearly Iraq has weapons of mass destruction. In that same speech, he said, Well where's the evidence? It was right there. he didn't bother to read it.

Apologize to Janeane!

Kos notes that Newsweek owes Janeane an apology.

And the rest of us.

I've noted before that there's an asymmetry on how predictions are treated. You can spend your entire life making Bullish predictions and never be blamed for it. But, any kind of Bearish prediction, even it ends up being true, brings condemnation. Odd, that.

Remember When....

The Bush administration pledged yesterday for the first time that the United States will not torture terrorism suspects or treat them cruelly in an attempt to extract information, a move that comes as the deaths of two Afghan prisoners in U.S. custody are being investigated as homicides.

"All interrogations, wherever they may occur," must be conducted without the use of cruel and inhuman tactics, the Pentagon's senior lawyer wrote after members of Congress and human rights groups pressed the White House to renounce abusive tactics reported by U.S. government officials.

On a day when President Bush asserted that his administration intends to lead by example in a global fight against torture, Defense Department general counsel William J. Haynes II said that anyone found to have broken the law in the Afghanistan deaths will be prosecuted.

Human rights organizations welcomed the announcement, which went further than the Bush administration had gone before. An earlier letter from Haynes, for example, had mentioned the prohibition against torture without citing the broader category of mistreatment that is against the law in the United States.

While neither Bush nor Haynes cited specific tactics, human rights activists said the administration appeared to bar such techniques as depriving prisoners of sleep, withholding medicine and forcing them to stand at length in painful positions. U.S. authorities have used each technique against captives held abroad in the war on terrorism, according to current and former national security officials interviewed last year by The Washington Post.

(thanks to reader d)

Isn't lying to congress a crime?

Don't Forget...

John Kerry Day! Woot promised new boobies if we hit $12K. There's a ways to go.

Silence on Torture

So, I was curious about how often someone with access to some of the most valuable newspaper real estate in the country - the WaPo op-ed page - condemned Saddam Hussein for torture. As far as I can tell, Hoagland's been writing his column for them since 1988.

So, I did a little search and here are the dates when Hoagland mentioned torture in Iraq:
August 7, 1990
June 6, 1991
May 24, 2001
March 24, 2002
December 5, 2002 (Criticizing Amnesty for being insufficiently thrilled about war)
May 13, 2004

In other words, when it was appropriate to beat the drums of war Hoagland mentions torture. Other times, no big deal.

That isn't to say that Hoagland hasn't critcized Hussein for other abuses over the years, but still...

...Tiny Revolution notes that Hoagland was on Saddam's case even before the Kuwait invasion. Fair enough - and, as I said, I wasn't claiming Hoagland hadn't condemned Saddam for other things. Just, that torture didn't seem to to the list. But, as for my assertion that he wasn't too concerned until war was looming, that's at least partially retracted.


Go sign the petition.

Why Does Bush Hate Pennsylvania?


A $10 million ad blitz in Michigan (another crucial swing state for the president) criticized presumptive Democratic nominee John Kerry for votes against various weapons systems. An ad that ran in Detroit claimed Kerry voted against the Bradley Fighting Vehicle, a tank-like weapon that saw extensive action in Iraq.

The ad said the vehicle was “made in Michigan,” and campaign spokespeople stood in front of the General Dynamics headquarters there asking if Kerry cared about the site’s 1,200 jobs.

Wrong state.

Wrong company.

While General Dynamics makes some fine weapons systems, it doesn’t manufacture the Bradley.

Any York countian can tell you it’s made right here in West Manchester Township by 910 United Defense workers.

Lying to the Supremos?

Eric Muller explores the possibility that the DOJ lied to the Supreme Court.

What did the Solicitor General's office know and when did they know it? Oh, Ted,...



While on missions in Iraq last year, 35-year-old Todd Drobnick was attacked by small-arms fire, grenades and makeshift bombs. Yet he continued to go out day after day, until he died in a vehicle crash on his way from one U.S. military base to another. For his loyalty and dedication, he was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star.

Thousands of Americans in Iraq have received such honors, but Drobnick's case was unusual: He wasn't a soldier. He was a private contractor working with a translation company.

"He died in the service of his country and the gratitude of his comrades is deep and lasting," U.S. Army Col. Gary L. Parrish, assistant chief of staff of intelligence, wrote in a letter to Drobnick's family after .


I've frequently said there are three kinds of cities (or colleges or countries or sports teams or insert any similar entity here).

People who live in 1st class cities never feel the need to tell everyone how great their city is. It speaks for itself. Think New York, Paris.

People who live in 2nd class cities feel the need to proclaim their greatness, and to convince you that they really are 1st class cities.

People who live in 3rd class cities just accept their lot and get on with their lives.

What's with the 2nd class attitude all of a sudden?

(oddly, Philadelphia is a 2nd class city with a 3rd class attitude).



Those who were silent about torture in Iraq during Saddam Hussein's time should be modest about cloaking established political agendas in the name of that cause now.


More Hagerty

Roger Ailes takes care of something I forgot to mention - Hagerty's bizarre assertion that EPPC isn't right-wing because "the Center is highly respected and follows policy issues from a Catholic, Protestant and Jewish standpoint."

Happy John Kerry Thursday!

You know what to do.

And, read this article from Joe Conason:

Those bits of conventional wisdom were all embarrassingly wrong (although those who parroted them seem forever immune to embarrassment). And back then, the same correspondents who now collect anonymous insults about Mr. Kerry were also quite pessimistic about his chances.

When the Massachusetts Senator fired his campaign team last fall, The New York Times derided his decision—later hailed for turning the race around—as "a bit of scapegoating by a candidate who seems on the rocks." On New Year’s Day, just before his victories in Iowa and New Hampshire and everywhere else, The Times said Mr. Kerry "may be remembered for running the worst campaign of the year, squandering a perception by many Democrats that he was among the party’s strongest candidates."

The worst campaign indeed, except for all the others. (Only in the American political press could anyone be accused of "squandering a perception.") Since that dark assessment, Mr. Kerry has not only locked up his party’s delegates, but he has also held the largest fund-raising dinner in history and raised more money in a single quarter than any candidate ever, including our gilded President.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Gay or Twisted

For the record, I wouldn't out Kaus as the goat molester that he is.

You don't have to print everything. I wouldn't print the identities of CIA agents. I wouldn't print private information (e.g. outing someone as gay, or twisted) if it would cause them to commit suicide.


It's official. Our government does it.

Radio Days

I'll be doing my usual Wednesday gig on the Majority Report tonight. 8:45 or so.

Tucker's Out

I suppose I'll spend the day tomorrow hunting for choice Tucker quotes in the Crossfire transcripts....

"I think it’s a total nightmare and disaster, and I’m ashamed that I went against my own instincts in supporting it," he said. "It’s something I’ll never do again. Never. I got convinced by a friend of mine who’s smarter than I am, and I shouldn’t have done that. No. I want things to work out, but I’m enraged by it, actually."

...and so is everyone else.

Just 29 percent -- the lowest figure so far in CBS News Polls -- say the result of the war in Iraq has been worth the cost in lives and money. Almost two-thirds say it has not been worth it.

Hagerty Again

The ombudsman has her response to issues readers raised. Of course, she didn't really respond to most of the issues, but here it is:

'Right-wing Catholics'

On April 30, reporter Barbara Bradley Hagerty reported on the attitude of some Catholics with regard to John Kerry. She interviewed a number of people leaving a Wednesday morning Mass in Washington, D.C. A number of listeners wrote to point out that those attending weekday Mass are often more observant, and therefore often more conservative, than those who only attend on Sunday:

During this report, Ms. Hagerty interviewed three Catholic parishioners who were extremely critical of Mr. Kerry. Ms. Hagerty does not disclose that those three individuals -- Ted Flynn, Phillip Munoz and Carrie Gress -- are right-wing Catholic activists... To make matters worse, Ms. Hagerty was until recently affiliated with... the World Journalism Institute. Although it's since been changed, WJI's mission statement originally included this statement: To accompany reporting with practical commentary on current events and issues from a perspective committed to the final authority of the Bible as the inerrant written word of God...

Barbara Bradley Hagerty has responded to those listeners:

You pointed out something that many people have called me on in that story: namely, that I did not identify the weekday Mass-goers as more conservative than, for example, Sunday Mass-goers. I was remiss on that point, and it's a mistake I'll not make again. The reason I interviewed people on a weekday is that I was assigned the story on Monday night and it was due on Thursday afternoon, so I had no other option... I stood outside the church last Wednesday morning, and asked everyone who would stop to talk with me. I did not know who they were; I had never seen any of these people before. They identified themselves as "policy analyst," "professor," "union official," etc. Mr. Flynn, who seems to be the most controversial, stopped so briefly that I could not even get his profession, so I had no idea what he did.

Bradley Hagerty says her name was used without her permission by the World Journalism Institute. She says she has no affiliation with that group despite attempts by certain blogs to link her.

According to an email she sent to a reader, more precisely Hagerty says she was approached to teach a 3 hour course by WJI, and though she hadn't heard of them she agreed to do it. This was to be in June this year, and once a colleague informed her that her name was listed on their website and she learned about their mission statement, she withdrew.

But, her response ignores many key issues:

1. She only named the job description of one of the people she interviewed - the "union organizer."

2. Her unsourced assertion that "John Kerry's challenge is to persuade voters that this presidential candidate is a good Catholic."

3. Her contrasting of "orthodox Catholics," who follow the "conservative moral teachings of the Vatican" who believe in "absolute truth," with "cafeteria Catholics," despite the fact that both in their own ways are "Cafeteria Catholics." In fact, she had previously done a report about how Catholics and other churchgoers were ignoring the authority of the church when it came to the Iraq war, and having one of those "orthodox Catholics" justify and defend that. Opposing papal authority on left wing issues? Good! Opposing papal authority on right wing ones? Bad!

4. Her statement that "Today the Vatican and some American bishops are cracking down on Catholic politicians on this issue, threatening to bar them from Communion." One Cardinal at the Vatican has made this statement. It isn't an official Vatican position.

5. The fact that Hagerty didn't bring up the existence of prominent pro-choice Republican Catholics for context.

6. The fact that she didn't both to consider why abortion is apparently the only political issue that the Catholic church cares about - or so she would have us believe.

Anyway, here's my original post on this report.

My statement about her WJI affiliation was this:

Hagerty was affiliated with the World Journalism Institute until fellow traveller Jack Kelley got his ass canned by USA Today, and their mission statement came to light.

I don't think there's anything incorrect in that statement, though she claims to have been unaware of what their mission was and unaware that she was listed on their website as someone who was going to be teaching a class -- even though she was in fact going to be teaching a class.


Sometimes it's so simple. Here's a message from Terry, who used to run the weblog Nitpicker until he got busy doing other things:


As many of you know, I am currently in the apolitical position of Army public affairs specialist in Afghanistan. I only recently arrived, after waiting for 2.5 months at Ft. Riley, Kansas, but that's another issue. I'm writing you all today because I'm going to take many of you up on your offers and rudely ask a favor of those who made no offer.

When I first mentioned on my blog, Nitpicker, that I was going to be deployed, a large number of you asked how you could help me, what I would need for Afghanistan. The truth is, there's not much. However, I just went on my first mission with a civil affairs group and found a way you might be able to help me out.

It seems that the children of Afghanistan want nothing more than they want a pen.

It was explained to me that the villages through which I traveled (near Kandahar, where I'm based) are so poor that a pen is like a scholarship to these children. They desperately want to learn but, without a pen, they simply won't. It's a long story. I won't bore you with it. Trust me, though, when I say that it would be a big deal if even a few of you could put up the call for pens for me. Anyone interested in helping out could either send some directly to me or go to these sites and send them, where you can find them for as cheap as $.89 a dozen.

You can send them to me at this address:

Terry L. Welch
105th MPAD
Kandahar Public Affairs Office
APO AE 09355

I edited out his site list - he linked to Officemax and Office Depot. Office Depot was making it very difficult to enter a military shipping address, so I went through Office Max. Spend a few bucks - send a few pens.

...Office Max does require a delivery address phone number, but I just put in my own. I put in "Armed Forces" rather than Armed Forces America or Armed Forces Pacific...


Jack Balkin sums up the issue nicely:

Boykin is free to believe whatever he likes. But the costs of putting him in such a position of responsibility have now been made apparent. There could be nothing worse for the United States than to have a top military official who publicly proclaims that this is a holy war enmeshed in a scandal involving the abuse and torture of Muslim detainees, the vast majority of whom appear to be innocent of any crime at all.


Digby has a wee scoop. Go read.

The Media Suck

Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know that. Amy Sullivan has a good article on the media's one-sided reporting of religion and politics.

"Kerry Takes Communion on Mother's Day" was the headline on a recent AP story about John Kerry's Sunday doings, followed by the lede: "Democrat John Kerry attended Mother's Day Mass on Sunday and took communion although some Roman Catholic leaders say he should not receive it because his abortion-rights stance violates church teachings."

Missing once again was the accompanying story that begins, "Republicans George Pataki and Tom Ridge attended Mother's Day Mass on Sunday and took communion although some Roman Catholic leaders say pro-choice politicians should not receive it because their stance violates church teachings."

Also no word on whether George W. Bush attended church over the weekend.

Frankly, I don't give a hoot if Bush goes to church. Anyone who has spent much time with an assortment of religious people knows that frequent church attendance doesn't necessarily make you a good person and that plenty of highly moral people never attend church. But if reporters are going to spill plenty of ink each and every Sunday on the church activities of one candidate, then they had better do the same for his opponent. Particularly if that opponent has staked much of his domestic agenda on the argument that civil society -- and particularly religious congregations -- holds the key to solving social problems. I think it's perfectly relevant and fair to ask why a man with such firm convictions about the power of religious congregations doesn't belong to a congregation himself.

So why doesn't he? Among the reasons I've been given is that the security precautions would be too onerous. This, it should be noted, is the exact same excuse Ronald Reagan proffered for not attending church at all during his time in Washington. And I'd almost buy it, if not for the fact that for several years in the late 1990s, I attended Foundry Methodist Church when the Clintons were members there and found that it took all of an extra five seconds to pass through the metal detectors and enter the church. Parishioners were not outnumbered by tourists (and, in any case, we were happy that they were in church, no matter what the reason) and the Clintons played an active role in the life of the church, with Chelsea particularly involved in the choir and youth group while she was still in town.

Go read the rest.


NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty on her job:

"Reporters should be thinking about big ideas and can get bogged down in detail," she says. "I write stories with blanks and let the library staff fill them in."


From Powell:

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said Tuesday that he and other top officials kept the president “fully informed in general terms,” about complaints made by the Red Cross and others of ill-treatment of detainees in American custody.

Powell’s statement suggests Bush may have known earlier than the White House has previously acknowledged about complaints raised by the International Committee of the Red Cross and human rights groups about abuse of detainees in Iraq.

“We kept the president informed of the concerns that were raised by the ICRC and other international organizations as part of my regular briefings of the president, and advised him that we had to follow these issues, and when we got notes sent to us or reports sent to us ... we had to respond to them, and the president certainly made it clear that that’s what he expected us to do,” Powell said.

Powell said that he, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld kept Bush “fully informed of the concerns that were being expressed, not in specific details, but in general terms.”

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said last week the president was first informed about the abuse of detainees in Iraq by Rumsfeld, who “let the president know that there were allegations of prisoner abuse in Iraq and that the military was taking action to address it.”

Someone in this administration has to go. While the war between State and the Pentagon probably makes for oh-so-wonderful Beltway cocktail chatter, it also means that we have a completely dysfunctional government at a time when we can ill-afford to have that.

I'm no fan of Powell, who has never deserved the reputation the boot-licking media has allowed him to maintain, but Rumsfeld is the one responsible for everything in Iraq.

...Robert Jeffers sums up the story so far:

The story changes so fast you can't keep up with it.

They first learned about this when the "courageous" soldier took the pictures to his superiors. And the pictures were all "personal."

But then stories came out that the pictures were ordered by MI for "intimidation" purposes.

And the ICRC reported it had told the Admin. about these problems months ago.

And it was limited to a handful of "bad apples." Except the same thing happened in Afghanistan.

And the photos were staged, not "snapshots."

And they knew something was up in November, but they fixed it. But they were surprised by the allegations in January.

But no one knew about it. But everyone knew about it, because there was a breakdown in command.

But there was no breakdown. And the Geneva Convention has always applied.

Except when it hasn't.

And we've always followed it. Except when we didn't.

And we don't abuse prisoners. Except when we do. It's not "American." Except it is expressly sanctioned by military regulations. Except it can only be sanctioned by the DoD, because Rumsfeld keeps tight rein on everything.

Except he doesn't. Because this was authorized in Iraq, not in Washington. Except it couldn't have been, because Rummy runs a tight ship.

Except he didn't know. But don't call it "plausible deniability." Because there's a chain of command.

Except Rumsfeld doesn't know what it is. He only knows about the PR campaign he's been conducting since these photos went public.

But he isn't lying. He just doesn't know anything.

But it's okay. Because he's doing a great job.

Even though everything is a shambles.

We're Not As Bad As the Worst People Ever!

What a fucking standard we've set for ourselves.

The White House condemned the killing, which it said reinforced its insistence that US abuses of prisoners paled in comparison with the crimes of its enemies.

Rumsfeld Wire

The DCCC has set up an automated system to track commentary on the necessary resignation of Donald Rumsfeld (see left sidebar, down the page a bit).

They are really going out on a limb doing this kind of thing.

Reward good behavior.

The DCCC and the DSCC are both organizations which really really need a big war chest. They're the groups which can swoop down into a close race at the last minute and pour in tons of cash. They're really the strategic players in the money game - unlike the candidates themselves whose fundraising is basically public knowledge, the DCCC and DSCC can shower surprise money into a race. The more money they have, the more they can keep the other side on their toes and guessing.

...POE news shows us the invincible fighting styles of Donald Rumsfeld.

Daily Show

Tresy transcribed a funny bit from last night.

Brahimi to Walk?


On June 30, the fabled handover of sovereignty is to take place. In Washington they are clinging to the mantra that this marks a turning point, with no reason why things should get better. It's only six weeks away, but there is still no plan, not a single piece of paper yet describing exactly what powers are being transferred to whom. Who will these 10,000 prisoners belong to? How much of the oil revenues will flow directly into the interim government? Who will the new government be?

Lakhdar Brahimi, the UN special representative, was sent to Iraq to ease the passage to democracy much against his will. With his arm twisted by Kofi Annan and George Bush, he reluctantly agreed but warned of the risk of ensnaring the UN in this ill-fated US/UK adventure. As the murder of its previous envoy showed, the UN is unloved in a country that suffered 12 years of corruptly administered UN sanctions. Brahimi warned that the US would never hand over enough power to make a truly independent UN intervention possible. He was right. Now, according to Tony Blair's close advisers, he is about to walk away from Iraq, leaving Britain and America alone to stew after June 30.


Brahimi is struggling with Paul Bremer, the US governing power, over what sovereignty is to be handed over in June. He plans a government led by an honorary triumvirate, but run by technocrats not planning to stand for office, a nascent civil service. But Bremer is resisting Brahimi's attempts to disband all members of the present discredited governing council, dominated by the likes of Ahmed Chalabi, who have been running the country on networks of patronage and nepotism. Now only real power will convince Iraqis they are no longer occupied, but Bremer is denying the interim government the right to make new laws. It is unclear how much of the oil money the new government will control: the US is keeping the strings tightly drawn, according to Dr Toby Dodge, Iraq expert and author of Inventing Iraq: The Failure of Nation Building and a History Denied.

The interim government will not even control its own armed forces, let alone US/UK armies. Robin Cook points out that contracts have been placed for the building of 14 "enduring" US bases. Since Donald Rumsfeld closed US bases in Saudi Arabia it is not surprising Iraqis fear the US never means to leave Iraq. As his ratings fall, the Bush doctrine is giving way to emergency expediency, yet Rumsfeld true-believers still see Iraq as the centre of future US power in the Middle East. Iraqis can be glad Saddam has gone, yet hate the invader too.

Scapegoated General Says Not Me


The U.S. general who was in charge of running prisons in Iraq told Army investigators earlier this year that she had resisted decisions by superior officers to hand over control of the prisons to military intelligence officials and to authorize the use of lethal force as a first step in keeping order -- command decisions that have come in for heavy criticism in the Iraq prison abuse scandal.

Brig. Gen. Janis L. Karpinski, head of the 800th Military Police Brigade, spoke of her resistance to the decisions in a detailed account of her tenure furnished to Army investigators. It places two of the highest-ranking Army officers now in Iraq, Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, at the heart of decision-making on both matters.

Out on a Limb

Yesterday I said we should reward Democrats who go out on a limb. Well, today there's a Democrat who deserves a little help. Daily Kos notes that right now Tony Knowles is running dead even with Murkowski in the Alaska Senate Race.

Knowles is someone who has gone out on a limb - not only being pro-gay rights enough to receive the endorsement of the HRC, but pro-rights enough to proudly advertise it.

There are plenty of races to direct your dollars to, but Knowles is one I'd recommend.

They Get Letters

The General writes a letter to Dr. Laura.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Open Thread

Chat away.

High Crimes

Digby brings us back to something the press doesn't care about - Bush's illegal diversion of congressionally authorized money from Afghanistan to Iraq.


What is it with right wingers who are unable to grasp that there's a tiny bit of difference between consensual and nonconsensual sexual activity?

Bizarre. Here's little Rich Lowry:

Then, there is the very fact of the pictures. The American jailers, who live in a country where pornography is a $10 billion-a-year business, became amateur pornographers. They videotaped themselves having sex with one another. One of the officers disciplined at Abu Ghraib allegedly took pictures of female soldiers showering. The Americans sexually humiliated Iraqi prisoners, forcing them to masturbate, to wear women's underwear, and to commit (or feign committing) unnatural acts, and captured it on film. If they had done this stateside in different circumstances, they might be very rich and perhaps even up for an Adult Video Award.


On Limbaugh:

Another conservative finger-pointer seemed to get Rush Limbaugh all hot and sweaty during his week-long quest to downplay the images as nothing more than college fratboy games. Donna M. Hughes, on National Review online, asked, "Why are we shocked by these images from Abu Ghraib, but when the victims are women (or gay men) the images are called pornography or 'adult entertainment'?" Yes, she was attempting to explain and excuse the behavior—and give anti-porn crusader John Ashroft more grist for his twisted mill—by claiming that the reservists might have engaged in these acts of torture because they'd seen them played out in porn films. (Of course, according to that logic we should ban The Passion of the Christ, because if people played out the sadomasochistic scenes in that film, we'd be taking down bloody crosses from every street corner.)

That got Limbaugh thinking and making some lurid confessions: "If you look at these pictures, you cannot deny that there are elements of homoeroticism …I've seen things like this on American websites. You can find these if you have the passwords to these various porn sites, you can see things like this. And [Hughes'] point was maybe these kids—the soldiers, the guards, whoever, who are of a certain age group, who've grown up with access to this are simply acting out what they've seen on these websites or something, just for the fun of it, or maybe other reasons."

Another crackpot deflection regarding the brutality, to be sure. But now we also know what Limbaugh was doing on those oxycontin-dazed nights: fumbling for his passwords, looking for those homoerotic websites. Live and learn.

What to Say

It's horrible when people die and it's horrible when they die in particulary gruesome ways. The only actual al Qaeda in Iraq, the followers of al Zarqawi, have now made their presence felt.

The presence of al Zarqawi was used as one of the justifications for invading Iraq, despite the fact that he was being harbored in Kurdish controlled territory in the North. The Bush administration ignored 3 opportunities to get him, feeling that it would undercut their non-existent case for war in Iraq.

We can look forward to the usual suspects to further embrace the collective guilt of the Iraqi people, as they continue to morph ever-faster into simply "the enemy."

The parents of the victim, Nick Berg, had previously accused the US military of detaining him illegally.

... and, yes, troll repellent: This is an outrage. Though, why some people are shocked and surprised that there are bad guys who want to kill us in the Middle East confuses me a bit. As Max says, there's really no one to express "outrage" to. Perhaps I'll send al Zarqawi a really angry note. That'll sure show him.

Partisanship and Appeasement

Kos has a good post up that everyone should read. I'll do a somewhat shorter version adding my own thoughts.

First -- it's important to understand that when we're talking House seats which are contestable, and conventional wisdom puts that number at about 40, that those congressional districts are for the most part pretty conservative. It can be a bit frustrating because it means having to passionately support people towards the Right end of the Dem spectrum in order to achieve the golden prize - Speaker Pelosi.

But, second, as Kos points out -- there's a big difference between a "conservative Democrat" and an "appeasement Democrat." You can be a conservative Democrat and still be a loyal partisan Democrat. Sure, they may vote the wrong way too often, but they aren't pulling Zell/Lieberman shenanigans.

And, third, yes -- in my relatively limited contact with DC Dems his assessment of them as frightened little bunnies is spot on. Too many people in the establishment seem to be comfortable in their role as minority party. I don't know why. So, we're going to have to fight the good fight for them.

But, having said that last part - the best way to encourage them is to support them when they go out on a limb.


There's admittedly a lot of competition, but I think a convincing case can be made that Inhofe is the Dumbest Senator Ever. Tom Tomorrow catches him on some BS.

But, aside from the snarkyness - it's rhetoric like his which will help to sink whatever slim hopes we have in Iraq, not criticisms of Bush administration policy. Particularly when those policies condone and allow torture.

...Kicking Ass has more.

...apprently McCain walked out during Inhofe's remarks - CNN implied cause and effect, though that isn't 100% clear.


Better Angels takes a look at NPR's Barbara Bradley Hagerty and concludes she's in violation of NPR's ethics policies.

Top Officials Have Bogus Degrees


Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Abell has a master's from Columbus University, a diploma mill Louisiana shut down. Deputy Assistant Secretary Patricia Walker lists among her degrees, a bachelor's from Pacific Western, a diploma mill banned in Oregon and under investigation in Hawaii.

CBS News requested interviews with both officials. The Pentagon turned us down, saying, "We don't consider it an issue."

But using such a degree is a crime in some states. Alan Contreras cracks down on diploma mills for Oregon, a state that's taken the lead on this issue.

"You don't want somebody with a fake degree working in Homeland Security," says Contreras. "You don't want somebody with a fake degree teaching your children or designing your bridges."

But we found employees with diploma mill degrees at the new Transportation Security Administration, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Departments of Treasury and Education, where Rene Drouin sits on an advisory committee. He has degrees from two diploma mills including Kensington University.

A Few Bad Apples

Wapo, 7-28-2003:

Col. David Hogg, commander of the 2nd Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division, said tougher methods are being used to gather the intelligence. On Wednesday night, he said, his troops picked up the wife and daughter of an Iraqi lieutenant general. They left a note: "If you want your family released, turn yourself in." Such tactics are justified, he said, because, "It's an intelligence operation with detainees, and these people have info." They would have been released in due course, he added later.

The taking of hostages is, of course, forbidden by the Geneva Conventions.

(thanks to reader d)

Birth/Death Model

Here's something I wasn't aware of. According to this article in the NYPost, the Labor department uses a "birth/death" model in its calculation of the number of jobs in its monthly employment report. Essentially, the idea is that it'll take awhile for new businesses time to show up in official surveys, so they estimate the number of these jobs. Last month, an incredible 270,000 of these jobs were included in the official employment estimate.

Now, that doesn't mean that the numbers are wrong or wholly fabricated - but nonetheless this estimate is going to have a huge impact on the number of jobs counted.

(link thanks to OTB)

I'm Bad For Democracy

Who knew?


George Will understands the scope of the damage done by the prisoner torture. It has and it will put our troops in even greater danger. It will cause more deaths. Those responsible for it, and those who didn't think it necessary to make sure this kind of activity wasn't happening, are not fit to do their jobs.

The first axiom is: When there is no penalty for failure, failures proliferate. Leave aside the question of who or what failed before Sept. 11, 2001. But who lost his or her job because the president's 2003 State of the Union address gave currency to a fraud -- the story of Iraq's attempting to buy uranium in Niger? Or because the primary and only sufficient reason for waging preemptive war -- weapons of mass destruction -- was largely spurious? Or because postwar planning, from failure to anticipate the initial looting to today's insufficient force levels, has been botched? Failures are multiplying because of choices for which no one seems accountable.


Americans are almost certainly going to die in violence made worse in Iraq, and not only there, by the substantial aid some Americans, in their torture of Iraqi prisoners, have given to our enemies in this war. And by the appallingly dilatory response to the certain torture and probable murder committed in that prison.

(via Ailes).

Morning Comic

Monday, May 10, 2004


Good point about the consequences of congress abdicating their responsibility. And, I'll add, ditto for the media.

To their credit, some supporters of the administration are speaking out. "This is about system failure," said Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican from South Carolina. But do Mr. Graham, John McCain and other appalled lawmakers understand their own role in that failure? By deferring to the administration at every step, by blocking every effort to make officials accountable, they set the nation up for this disaster. You can't prevent any serious inquiry into why George Bush led us to war to eliminate W.M.D. that didn't exist and to punish Saddam for imaginary ties to Al Qaeda, then express shock when Mr. Bush's administration fails to follow the rules on other matters.

Meanwhile, Abu Ghraib will remain in use, under its new commander: General Miller of Guantánamo. Donald Rumsfeld has "accepted responsibility" — an action that apparently does not mean paying any price at all. And Dick Cheney says, "Don Rumsfeld is the best secretary of defense the United States has ever had. . . . People should get off his case and let him do his job." In other words: Just trust us.

Sign DCCC's petition.

The Republican Noise Machine

There's an excerpt of Brock's new book here.

You can buy it here...

Wrong on So Many Levels

The racism triple reverse lindy.

..try refreshing the page once you load it.

Rumsfeld Must Go

Army Times:

Myers, Rumsfeld and their staffs failed to recognize the impact the scandal would have not only in the United States, but around the world.

If their staffs failed to alert Myers and Rumsfeld, shame on them. But shame, too, on the chairman and secretary, who failed to inform even President Bush.

He was left to learn of the explosive scandal from media reports instead of from his own military leaders.

On the battlefield, Myers’ and Rumsfeld’s errors would be called a lack of situational awareness — a failure that amounts to professional negligence.

To date, the Army has moved to court-martial the six soldiers suspected of abusing Iraqi detainees and has reprimanded six others.

Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski, who commanded the MP brigade that ran Abu Ghraib, has received a letter of admonishment and also faces possible disciplinary action.

That’s good, but not good enough.

This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top. Accountability here is essential — even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war.

Don Emilio Fulci


It was the lead item on the government's daily threat matrix one day last April. Don Emilio Fulci described by an FBI tipster as a reclusive but evil millionaire, had formed a terrorist group that was planning chemical attacks against London and Washington, D.C. That day even FBI director Robert Mueller was briefed on the Fulci matter. But as the day went on without incident, a White House staffer had a brainstorm: He Googled Fulci. His findings: Fulci is the crime boss in the popular video game Headhunter. "Stand down," came the order from embarrassed national security types.

New Gallup

Someone put Woodruff on suicide watch. 46 approve 51 disapprove.

And, Schneider let slip that Kerry's ahead by 6 points among registered voters - it's only using their likely voter formula that Bush is up 48-47.


Bérubé finishes him off.

More Lies

The Bush administration knew about the torture in Abu Graib when they were telling the Supreme Court that they would honor their obligations to prohibit torture.


So, I was stupidly listening to the abominable Day by Day NPR/Slate co-production where I was treated to some insightful political analysis by Saletan. According to him, it would be wrong to get rid of Rumsfeld because by keeping Rumsfeld on Bush is saying that accountability goes to the top. So, if you want to get rid of Rumsfeld you just have to vote Bush out.

Uh, Will? Responsible leaders fire incompetent people, particularly when those people are making a bad situation worse.

Debt of Gratitude

Give me a break.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Bush strongly backed Donald Rumsfeld on Monday and said the nation owed him a debt of gratitude, countering calls by some Democrats for the defense secretary to resign over his handling of the Iraqi prisoner abuse scandal.
After a meeting with Rumsfeld, military leaders and other top administration officials at the Pentagon, Bush told Rumsfeld, "Thank you for your leadership. You are courageously leading our nation in the war against terror."

"You're doing a superb job. You're a strong secretary of defense and our nation owes you a debt of gratitude," Bush said.

Part of the Process

This is just horrible.

LONDON (Reuters) - The Red Cross saw U.S. troops keeping Iraqi prisoners naked for days in darkness at the Abu Ghraib jail in October, and was told by the intelligence officer in charge it was "part of the process," a leaked report said on Monday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross also described British troops forcing Iraqi detainees to kneel and stomping on their necks in an incident in which one prisoner died.

The Red Cross said it had repeatedly alerted U.S.-led occupation authorities to practices it described as "serious violations of international humanitarian law" and "in some cases tantamount to torture

The Geneva Conventions were put into place not to protect the bad guys - they were put into place to protect our people. Every time we cross these lines we make it okay for the rest of the world to do it too.

$2.6 Billion from Citibank

That's what they're paying out for a class action suit over Worldcom.

Who Will be the First?

The editor of Editor and Publisher asks which newspaper will be the first to call for a withdrawal.

I doubt any paper will, at least not until we've figured out a way to "declare victory."

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Wanted to be Wrong

I spent a few minutes going over my archives to examine just what I wrote and when I wrote it regarding the Iraq adventure. I was surprised by something -- I clearly remembered being against this thing, but I was surprised by how sure I was that the whole justification was crap early on. I think I've heard too many people say something along the lines of "well, everyone thought he had WMD!" Apparently, I didn't.

There's no joy in being right about this administration's current and inevitable future failure in Iraq. I wrote as much many times - PLEASE LET ME BE WRONG. The truth is, I was wrong, but in the other direction. Even this partisan hack Bush-hater had absolutely no clue just how incompetent the people in charge could be. I had little expectations of their competence, but I had no idea that my worst nightmares would morph into my most optimistic dreams.

Today, I have to say the people I'm still angry at were those "serious centrists" who contributed to the effort to marginalize all anti-war voices by labelling them as the fringe. Exhibit A in all of this was Salon's Michelle Goldberg, who in her most recent article finds someone to continue to perpetuate this basic idea -- those who were against the war were fringe nutters. -- even as polls showed majority opposition to this war, one without UN approval at least, proved that idea wrong.

I'm a partisan hack, but I'm basically just an angry centrist. There are few if any issues I would consider myself to be on the "fringe" of. People like Goldberg did their best to portray the anti-war movement as a bunch of loonies. Screw them.

...okay,okay, to be fair to Goldberg (And correct) - I misread. The person is talking about people calling for removal of troops now thus far having been the fringe left and right. But, look, even that isn't correct. I'll agree that up until recently that wasn't exactly mainstream opinion, but nor was it an opinion which solely came from people who otherwise identified with the political fringe.

All Class

Despite Steno Sue Schmidt's best efforts, Jessica Lynch didn't let them get away with making shit up. And, now she dares care for some victims and their families in a not entirely patriotically correct fashion.

MONTGOMERY, West Virginia (AP) -- Former POW Jessica Lynch said prayers should go out to the families of Iraqi prisoners who have been mistreated by American military prison guards.

Lynch's comments came after she addressed about 150 graduating students Saturday at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology.

When asked her opinion of news reports of the mistreatment of prisoners, Lynch told reporters, "Pray for their families and keep up hope."

Blogger All New

Man I hate change.

mmmm. Guess I should try out the fancy new blogger comments. Let's give it a go...

...okay, we'll not make that switch yet.

AP Kerry Communion Watch Continues

No word on the wine and wafer consuming activities of Messrs. Ridge, Pataki, Schwarzenegger, and Santorum (who supported the pro-choice Specter).

Whatever Happened to This?


Posted 10/6/2003 10:02 PM Updated 10/7/2003 6:52 AM

Rice will manage Iraq's 'new phase'
By Judy Keen, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — President Bush is giving his national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, the authority to manage postwar Iraq and the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice will handle postwar efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Luke Frazza, AFP

While some saw it as a sign of frustration with the handling of postwar efforts, Bush and other officials said the move is a logical next step and reflected no dissatisfaction with progress.

"We want to cut through the red tape and make sure that we're getting the assistance there quickly so that they can carry out their priorities," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said. "It's a new phase, a different phase we're entering."

Rice will head the Iraq Stabilization Group, which will have coordinating committees on counterterrorism, economic development, political affairs and media messages. Each committee will be headed by a Rice deputy and include representatives of the State, Defense and Treasury departments and the CIA.

Temporary Comments in Place

Haloscan is misbehaving so I set up an alternative. But, it'll just be temporary so don't be upset if your brilliant post gets lost...

Oh, and blogger will be down this evening for a few hours. I don't know if that means that blogspot (where the site is hosted) will be down too, or just the posting interface, but in any case they're promising all kinds of unnamed fun new features.

Going Cowboy

You really need to read this whole Baltimore Sun article. I'll excerpt more than I should:

WIESBADEN, Germany - The two military intelligence soldiers, assigned interrogation duties at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, were young, relatively new to the Army and had only one day of training on how to pry information from high-value prisoners.

But almost immediately on their arrival in Iraq, say the two members of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade, they recognized that what was happening around them was wrong, morally and legally.

They said in interviews Friday and yesterday that the abuses were not caused by a handful of rogue soldiers poorly supervised and lacking morals but resulted from failures that went beyond the low-ranking military police charged with abuse.

The beatings, the two soldiers said, were meted out with the full knowledge of intelligence interrogators, who let military police know which prisoners were cooperating with them and which were not.

"I was told, 'Don't worry about it - they probably deserved it,'" one of the soldiers said in an interview, referring to complaints he made while trying to persuade the Army to investigate. "I was appalled."

The two soldiers are the first from a military intelligence unit known to speak publicly about what happened at Abu Ghraib, and they are the first from such a unit to contend publicly that some interrogators were complicit in the abuses. The soldiers stressed that not all interrogators were involved.

The soldiers were interviewed together Friday in person and then separately yesterday by telephone. They said they had alerted superiors at Abu Ghraib and the Army's Criminal Investigations Division by November or early December of prisoners being beaten, stripped naked and paraded in front of other inmates.

Parts of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade were in Iraq from the start of the war, handling such duties as signal interceptions and identifying targets to be bombed. Only after the war did some members of the brigade end up as interrogators at Abu Ghraib.


"We would see prisoners who had been sitting for months without being interrogated," one of the soldiers said. "We just didn't have anybody who could get to them, to get them out of there."

"There was like a big disconnect at every level," said the other. "Guys were given jobs they had never done, contractors [working as interrogators] are in there acting like they're in the movies. The whole operation was like a chicken with its head cut off."

The soldiers spoke on the condition that they not be identified because of concern that their military careers would be ruined, and because their unit was given a written directive not to speak to the press.


Though they entered Iraq with no training in interrogation, they were assigned to extract information from prisoners considered of high intelligence value - ranking Baath Party members and suspected insurgents, for example - and report on their findings.


"There would be the handoff from MI [Military Intelligence] to the MPs, and the word would be, 'Here you go, here's one who's not cooperating,'" one of the soldiers said. "Then - What do you know? - that prisoner ends up beaten or paraded around naked."

One of the soldiers witnessed military intelligence interrogators put one Iraqi naked under an outside shower for four hours in view of other prisoners, a violation of the Geneva Conventions, which the soldiers said they were briefed on.


The "A" list included directly asking for information as well as relatively mild interrogation techniques, such as becoming angry with the prisoner or threatening to withhold meals - but not actually doing so. The interrogators were free to use these techniques at their will.

The "B" list included harsher techniques, such as sleep deprivation and withholding meals.

These techniques were considered acceptable, but because they were also considered close to the line of abuse, the interrogators could not use them without permission from their commanding officer, Col. Thomas Pappas, or his designate.

Around November, with casualties among U.S. troops rising, Saddam Hussein still in hiding and solid intelligence becoming more urgent, Pappas issued an order that broadened acceptable interrogation methods.

"I think he was referring to any techniques on the A and B lists," the soldier said. "But there was kind of the third list, the unofficial list. Guys called that the 'made-up list.'"


'Wild, wild west'

The made-up list spawned a couple of other terms, the soldiers said: "going cowboy" and "wild, wild west."

"I don't know where they got this from, but the MPs would say it all the time," one of the soldiers said. "MI would drop off a guy who wasn't talking, and the MP would say, 'So looks like I'll be going cowboy on him' or 'Looks like he needs some wild, wild west.'"

The terms meant beatings, they said, and the military intelligence interrogators and private contractors did nothing to discourage them.

They do not believe, the soldiers said, that Pappas realized the extent of the abuses. A Pentagon source last week said that Pappas had received a severe letter of reprimand, which will most likely end his career. The letter was a result of an investigation by Maj. Gen. Antonio M. Taguba.


Many of the military intelligence interrogators were paired with private contractors from CACI International and with linguists from Titan Inc. The soldiers said most of those employees seemed to operate with autonomy, seemingly answerable to nobody in the command.

"They would say it right out, that 'we don't answer to you,'" one of the soldiers said. The Taguba report recommended that two of the contractors employed by CACI be dismissed.


Blasts with both barrels:

The basic attitude taken by Rumsfeld, Cheney and their top aides has been "We're at war; all these niceties will have to wait." As a result, we have waged pre-emptive war unilaterally, spurned international cooperation, rejected United Nations participation, humiliated allies, discounted the need for local support in Iraq and incurred massive costs in blood and treasure. If the world is not to be trusted in these dangerous times, key agencies of the American government, like the State Department, are to be trusted even less. Congress is barely informed, even on issues on which its "advise and consent" are constitutionally mandated.

Leave process aside: the results are plain. On almost every issue involving postwar Iraq—troop strength, international support, the credibility of exiles, de-Baathification, handling Ayatollah Ali Sistani—Washington's assumptions and policies have been wrong. By now most have been reversed, often too late to have much effect. This strange combination of arrogance and incompetence has not only destroyed the hopes for a new Iraq. It has had the much broader effect of turning the United States into an international outlaw in the eyes of much of the world.

Chechen President Killed


... or maybe just wounded.

...yep, killed.


They can change the date, but they can't change the fact that summer without electricity is going to suck.