As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Friday, October 28, 2005


The indictment statement is pretty damning. Talk amongst yourselves, I'm on vacation.


Thursday, October 27, 2005

Still Alive, Still Working, Still Heckuva

Today's Washington Times features a comment by someone who clearly didn't get the memo about today's Harriet Miers announcement.

Conservative activist Michael D. Brown said internal GOP polling being cited by party and administration emissaries purports to show that "70 percent of self-identified conservative voters have a favorable impression of Harriet Miers."

The emissaries are warning that ordinary Republicans beyond the Washington Beltway continue to support the nomination because they trust President Bush, even after several weeks of conservative opposition to her, according to several conservative Miers critics who have been courted by the White House.

The administration is "disappointed that conservatives inside the Beltway are fighting among ourselves over this nomination, and it fuels the fires for our enemies, for Democrats," said Mr. Brown, the former Federal Emergency Management Agency director.

So the former FEMA director was late with his response?

These things just write themselves sometimes.

Incidentally, the Washington Times (owned by the Rev. Moon) has got to be the laughingstock of the newspaper biz at this point. They're quoting Brownie and calling him a "conservative activist"? As if what he says has any credibility at all? Also, how about the former director of emergency management, who has been criticized by some on the fringes as deliberately not caring about the large African-American community in New Orleans, most of them who vote Democratic, calling Democrats "our enemies"? I don't want the guy who has to help people in the event of a disaster to have any enemies. Were Mayor Nagin and Gov. Blanco enemies? Is that why they received no help?

By the way, Brownie is STILL on the FEMA payroll. We're still paying his salary.

This time, I mean it, I'm gone.


Again and Again and Again

Brent Scowcroft, longtime Bush family confidant and national security expert, is the focus of a New Yorker piece critical of the Bush Administration and the Iraq war. The Administration responds by sliming him.

What do you do with people that never learn? I mean, the whole reason they're in trouble right now is because they responded to criticism by sliming the critic. And they keep on doing it again and again. In fact, yesterday I read that one of the White House's main strategies post-PlameGate is to CONTINUE TO DISCREDIT JOSEPH WILSON.

We're running an insane asylum on Pennsylvania Avenue.

OK, now I'm really gone.



No more blogging until Sunday, I'm off to the Great White North.

Yeah, yeah, I know about Miers, and while I see no reason an unqualified person should ever even be nominated for the Supreme Court, I dread the replacement, now that the White House believes the far right owns them when it comes to judicial picks. Funny, too, to see Dr. Dobson backpedaling faster than a guy on a bicycle in front of an oncoming train.

See y'all...


What It All Means

I swear Patrick Fitzgerald held off on any announcements until Friday because he knew I would be going to Alaska, and I wouldn't be able to get the news. The waiting truly is the hardest part, Tom Petty, you beholder of the truth.

So my Fitzmas will have to be delayed. Nevertheless, on the eve of the announcements, I think it's important to understand what this whole thing is about. We're going to hear a lot of spin, and a lot of denial of objective reality.
It's important to explain this whole thing.

The rationale for the war in Iraq was based entirely on the fact that Saddam had WMD. I know 2 years is an awful long time to remember back, especially in this day and age, but that was the entire rationale. If you don't believe me, ask Paul Wolfowitz:

"For bureaucratic reasons we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction, because it was the one reason everyone could agree on," Mr Wolfowitz tells the magazine.

Well, everyone at the White House could agree on it, but not everyone in the intelligence community. There simply wasn't enough evidence that the WMD programs were ongoing, that the inspections weren't working, all of it. Bush demanded that inspectors return to the county, expecting Saddam to defy him and start the fight. Saddam let the inspectors back in. If WMD was the rationale, then by George the White House had to come up with some WMD intelligence or they weren't going to be able to sell the war to the public.

Clearly this intelligence was altered, misleadingly highlighted, or in some cases just made up out of whole cloth. We know that the Secretary of Defense set up his own off-the-books intelligence shop independent of the national security apparatus to come up with their own analysis. We know that Dick Cheney visited CIA Headquarters over and over and over again, browbeating senior intelligence analysts to give him the answers he wanted. We know that, well before any of this intelligence was validated or even gathered, the goal was to have "the intelligence fixed around the policy.". We know that the infamous 16 words were taken out of one speech in Cincinnati, then put back into the State of the Union address, despite the fact that it was based entirely on obvious forgeries. In fact, this business with the phony Niger documents was symptomatic of the whole thing, and I'm not surprised Fitzgerald is studying it. It's now coming out in the Italian media that the Italian government, and possibly even uber-neocon Michael Ledeen, may have had a hand in those forgeries. Current National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley met with the Italian intelligence chief just a few weeks BEFORE the forgeries were revealed. The Niger Embassy in Italy was burlgarized and the robbers only took letterhead. Something real fishy going on over there.

Now, the Vice President wanted to know about this whole Saddam-buying-uranium-from-Niger story. If true, it would legitimate claims that Iraq was reconstituting their nuclear program, allowing phrases like "we can't let the smoking gun be a mushroom cloud" to be seen as more ominous, etc. The CIA dutifully gets someone on the job to look into the claims. Joe Wilson is selected. Is it ever said by the Right that Wilson was unqualified for the job? He had worked in Africa, he was the charge d'affaires in Iraq during the first Gulf War, he spoke the language of Niger, and he had contacts there. Does it matter how he was selected for the task? I don't think so, but more on that later.

Wilson goes over and says the whole thing is bunk. Nevertheless, the charge makes its way into the SOTU address, in a very parsed way: it says "British intelligence has learned" that Saddam recently sought uranium from Africa. It basically puts the burden of proof on British intelligence. Josh Marshall explains, and it's fascinating, so here's a large excerpt:

Some White House defenders still hang their hat on this point, arguing that nothing the president said was in fact false. Anybody who got the wrong impression just didn't read the fine print.

That argument (let's call it 'the con-man defense') speaks for itself, I think.

But all of this brings us back to the question: What did the British know? They said they had good intel. The CIA didn't buy it. So what did they know?

To date the British have refused to concede that they too may have been relying on flawed or phony evidence. They stand by their claim, but refuse to disclose the source or the nature of their evidence.

Last year's Butler Report (a rough analogue to last year's Senate intelligence committee report) went to great lengths to insulate the British finding from the taint of the forgeries. In a pretty telling illustration of how tied the Butler Report was to the needs of US politics, the authors went so far as to provide the president with a specific exoneration ...

We conclude that, on the basis of the intelligence assessments at the time, covering both Niger and the Democratic Republic of Congo, the statements on Iraqi attempts to buy uranium from Africa in the Government’s dossier, and by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons, were well-founded. By extension, we conclude also that the statement in President Bush’s State of the Union Address of 28 January 2003 that:
The British Government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa... was well-founded.

I'll leave you to draw your own conclusions about how such a passage could have found its way into a British government inquiry. But let's review the story. The Brits say that they had multiple pieces of evidence upon which they based their claim. And the forged documents -- which they only found out about much later -- were not one of them. So the discreditation of the forgeries is irrelevant to their finding. The taint, shall we say, does not attach.

My assumption, and that of many others, is that the Brits are, to put it bluntly, full of it on this one. My best guess is that they are holding on to some de minimis 'other' evidence as a placeholder to get out of taking their own lumps in the Niger skullduggery.

With the claims of an intelligence agency especially, proving a negative is near impossible. So I can't prove to you that the Brits have nothing else. But I think I can make a pretty strong argument that the Butler Report was intentionally misleading on this key question.

The Butler Report wasn't the only British government inquiry into the faulty intelligence question. There was also a parliamentary committee report published in September 2003, before the question of the forgeries and Wilson and the rest of it became so intensely politicized. And a close look at this earlier report, chaired by Labour MP Ann Taylor, shows pretty clearly, I think, that the Butler Report was willfully misleading about the Brits' reliance on the forgeries.

Josh has an even more in-depth post about this from last year which asserts that The Butler Report's "other" intelligence was simply the same forgery from a different source.

Here's the point: if it got out into the public that Saddam's nuclear threat was willfully ginned up, the whole WMD house of cards would come tumbling down. In July of 2003 it was still very possible that there were WMD; in public statements the White House was counting on it. The long road downhill to understanding the doctoring of intelligence, a road we're now going down, was at risk. Joe Wilson had the power and the knowledge to take the Administration down that road. They didn't want to go. So they smeared him.

They smeared him with a smear that doesn't even really make sense: they said his wife works for the CIA and she sent him there. Is a trip to Niger such a plum assignment that anyone would want to pull strings to get it? Are Wilson's previously discussed qualifications put in jeapordy by this fact? No. Of course not.

Two things: 1) Plame's name was leaked because it feminized Joe Wilson as a guy whose wife has his balls in her purse. Digby has been very good on pushing this point, and I totally agree. The whole notion was that a guy pushed around by his wife has no credibility. 2) The leak also sent a message to anyone else in the intelligence community, and there were hundreds, who wanted to come forward and rebut the Administration's spin: do it and we'll get you. We'll go after you and your whole family. We don't care. Don't you dare tell the public about our lies.

That worked, by the way. Very few other people have publicly come forward. But the way they went about "playing hardball" with Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame was reckless and stupid. If you're going to say someone's wife works at the CIA, how's this, ASK THE CIA if that would disable any of their intelligence interests at home or abroad. Yesterday on CNN, David Ensor revealed that the CIA did do an after-action report on whether or not the Plame link compromised them, and the answer was it did "damage". Need it be said that the benign statement of "damage" means murder? If spies around the globe were compromised as a result of contact with Plame, or using Brewster-Jennings (her front company, which Novak put in a second article, because the first one wasn't damaging enough) as a cover, they're either in jail or dead in a foreign country, all of whom have laws against spying.

Ray McGovern on the Randi Rhodes show confirmed this today, by saying that in the CIA after-action "post-mortem" on the case, "mortem was the operative word." The CIA simply can't come out and say this publicly. They can't even admit whoever was killed worked for the CIA to begin with. That's part of the deal. But you can bet that "damage" is a euphemism for what actually happened as a result of "playing politics."

This is why people are perjuring themselves, obstructing justice, and all the rest. What they did was treasonous, putting politics ahead of national security. My guess is they were so dead-set on keeping the lies that brought us to war under wraps that they didn't care who they injured in the process. And that has to be remembered as this investigation moves forward (and it will move forward; apparently Fitzgerald just rented DC office space). This is about Iraq, and how this country ended up in a war that has cost 2,000 American lives so far. That's what it all means.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Great News: Davis-Bacon Reinstated

This is really good for New Orleanians and the American worker:

The Bush administration will reinstate rules requiring that companies awarded federal contracts for Hurricane Katrina pay prevailing wages, usually an amount close to the pay scales in local union contracts.

Representative Peter King of New York was among congressmen critical of the administration's decision to waive the requirement and who met today with White House chief of staff Andrew Card. He said Card told them the wage requirement would be reinstated November eighth.

Maybe the no-bid contractors will have to pony up some of the cash cow they get to the labor force that actually does the work, instead of hording it for themselves.

This is great news, and this also shows the dwindling of the President's political capital. People aren't afraid to take him on anymore. He can't get away with ripping off the American worker anymore. Even members of his own party, mindful of their own re-elections, won't let him get away with that.

Rep. George Miller of California led the fight for this on the House floor (which would have led to an embarrassing number of GOP defectors; embarrassing for the White House, that is), and he deserves praise.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Cabal

White House insiders, faced with the probability of indictments, are starting to come clean on how decisions are made there, and their displeasure with it. I agree that this kind of thing would be more powerful if it wasn't done after the fact. However, Colin Powell's chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson is best-suited to unravel this tale of monomania, ruthlessness and secrecy:

In President Bush's first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. national security — including vital decisions about postwar Iraq — were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

He's talking about the government being hijacked by a select few, away from the bureaucracies and decision-making processes that ensure that the ship of state moves slowly through the water, and toward a small group who imposes their will on the nation, even if it means going through illegal means to do so. I don't know if I'd call it hijacked, however; everyone in that room is complicit by their silence, from the President on down to even Mr. Wilkerson. He continues:

Its insular and secret workings were efficient and swift — not unlike the decision-making one would associate more with a dictatorship than a democracy. This furtive process was camouflaged neatly by the dysfunction and inefficiency of the formal decision-making process, where decisions, if they were reached at all, had to wend their way through the bureaucracy, with its dissenters, obstructionists and "guardians of the turf."

But the secret process was ultimately a failure. It produced a series of disastrous decisions and virtually ensured that the agencies charged with implementing them would not or could not execute them well.

I watched these dual decision-making processes operate for four years at the State Department. As chief of staff for 27 months, I had a door adjoining the secretary of State's office. I read virtually every document he read. I read the intelligence briefings and spoke daily with people from all across government.

I knew that what I was observing was not what Congress intended when it passed the 1947 National Security Act. The law created the National Security Council — consisting of the president, vice president and the secretaries of State and Defense — to make sure the nation's vital national security decisions were thoroughly vetted. The NSC has often been expanded, depending on the president in office, to include the CIA director, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Treasury secretary and others, and it has accumulated a staff of sometimes more than 100 people.

But many of the most crucial decisions from 2001 to 2005 were not made within the traditional NSC process.

We know much of this-- the stovepiping of intelligence, Don Rumsfeld setting up his own intelligence shop at the Pentagon, Dick Cheney making countless trips to Langley to browbeat the agency into giving him the intelligence he needed to sell the war he wanted-- but to hear it from somebody in the room is striking. The closing paragraphs sound like someone who is still protective of his boss. However, seeing how the worm has turned since his boss exited stage right, one must give this a level of creedence.

The administration's performance during its first four years would have been even worse without Powell's damage control. At least once a week, it seemed, Powell trooped over to the Oval Office and cleaned all the dog poop off the carpet. He held a youthful, inexperienced president's hand. He told him everything would be all right because he, the secretary of State, would fix it. And he did — everything from a serious crisis with China when a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft was struck by a Chinese F-8 fighter jet in April 2001, to the secretary's constant reassurances to European leaders following the bitter breach in relations over the Iraq war. It wasn't enough, of course, but it helped.

Today, we have a president whose approval rating is 38% and a vice president who speaks only to Rush Limbaugh and assembled military forces. We have a secretary of Defense presiding over the death-by-a-thousand-cuts of our overstretched armed forces (no surprise to ignored dissenters such as former Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric Shinseki or former Army Secretary Thomas White).

It's a disaster. Given the choice, I'd choose a frustrating bureaucracy over an efficient cabal every time.

Republicans don't like government; any one of them would tell you that. However, their solution to government appears not to be streamlining and ensuring a lack of corruption, but transforming government into oligarchy. That cannot be acceptable to any citizen who believes they live in a democracy under a Constitution that provides checks and balances.


This is Victory?

The referendum on the Iraqi Constitution passed today, which means we've cemented an Islamic Republic in the heart of the Sunni/Shi'a divide in the Middle East. The Ninevah province results (a majority-Sunni area which was the Ohio of Iraq) were held until the last minute, and then came in at 55% no, just short of the 67% no that would have been enough to overturn the document. There were earlier reports that the Yes vote was running 75% in Ninevah. After the fraud allegations, I guess the Iraqis took it down to a nice respectable number where they could still get their Constitution in and not be as open to fraud charges.

Sunni Arabs are getting a hard lesson in majority rule. They strongly voted down the Constitution and it still passed. The question is whether or not they will now see the political situation as unwinnable, and resort even more to insurgency as a means to achieving their goals. Quotes like this do not make me optimistic:

Farid Ayar, an official with the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq, said the audit had turned up no significant fraud.

But Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni Arab member of the committee that drafted the constitution, called the referendum "a farce" and accused government forces of stealing ballot boxes to reduce the percentage of "no" votes in several mostly Sunni provinces.

"The people were shocked to find out that their vote is worthless because of the major fraud that takes place in Iraq," he said on Al-Arabiya TV.

Adnan al-Dulaimi, a spokesman for the General Conference for the People of Iraq, a largely Sunni coalition of politicians and tribal leaders, said the audit took so long it left many Sunnis suspicious of possible fraud and manipulation. But he said his group "will work to educate Iraqis and get them to participate" in the December vote.

Incidentally, now that this Constitution has passed Iraqi women will have their rights severely diminished under Sharia law, forcing them to wear abayas, leaving them unable to divorce, and subject to clerical tribunals with enlightened notions like this:

As one of the Shi'ite clerics' representatives put it the other day:

"We don't want to see equality between men and women because according to Islamic law, men should have double of women. This is written in the Quran and according to God."

Now those are some strict constructionists right there.

This should be celebrated, according to the war supporters stateside. This is why we went to Iraq, to create a democracy that subjugates 50% of its population. This is why we went to Iraq, to create a Shi'a-Sunni split in the Muslim world that could easily spread in the region (The Iran-Iraq War, after all, was a Shi'a-Sunni conflict, for even though Sunnis are the minority in Iraq, they held power under Saddam). This is why we went to Iraq, so our troops could get caught in the crossfire of an internecine conflict without a definable strategy.

Am I supposed to be happy with this turn of events? Am I supposed to look at chaos and call it victory?

UPDATE: 2000 lives now snuffed out. It's no mor a milestone than the 1st, the 82nd, the 923rd, or the 1864th. They're all tragic, all this brave people, many of them teenagers, who deserve to go to war with a better plan, better equipment, and a better rationale. The 15,000 injured in this war, most of them severely, also should occupy some of our thoughts. One thing about this war that we can all be proud of, maybe the only thing, is that those of us on the antiwar side are steadfast in blaming the policy and not the troops. Those at the top deserve to be blamed for this loss of life, not those who follow orders under harrowing circumstances. What's really shocking is when those at the top turn on these troops who they've ordered to do the unspeakable, calling them "a few bad apples" and the like. It's a discredit to their memory and their legacy.


Go F**k Yourself, Mr. Cheney

Well, the New York Times just proved it can get a scoop without the help of Judy Miller:

I. Lewis Libby Jr., Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, first learned about the C.I.A. officer at the heart of the leak investigation in a conversation with Mr. Cheney weeks before her identity became public in 2003, lawyers involved in the case said Monday.

Notes of the previously undisclosed conversation between Mr. Libby and Mr. Cheney on June 12, 2003, appear to differ from Mr. Libby's testimony to a federal grand jury that he initially learned about the C.I.A. officer, Valerie Wilson, from journalists, the lawyers said.

The notes, taken by Mr. Libby during the conversation, for the first time place Mr. Cheney in the middle of an effort by the White House to learn about Ms. Wilson's husband, Joseph C. Wilson IV, who was questioning the administration's handling of intelligence about Iraq's nuclear program to justify the war.

Lawyers involved in the case, who described the notes to The New York Times, said they showed that Mr. Cheney knew that Ms. Wilson worked at the C.I.A. more than a month before her identity was made public and her undercover status was disclosed in a syndicated column by Robert D. Novak on July 14, 2003.

The leaks always come out from "lawyers involved in the case," which usually means defense lawyers (certainly NOT the prosecutor, who hasn't leaked a thing). So you have to wonder who this came from: Rove's lawyer, trying to innoculate himself? Perhaps the lawyers for John Hannah or David Wurmser, both reported to have "flipped" in this case and out to get Libby, and possibly his boss?

Here's what Steve Clemons thinks about this new scrap of information:

This is amazing information. You may ask why?

First of all, this means that Vice President Cheney has known all along that he was Scooter Libby's source -- and whether Libby had license from him or not to try and slaughter the reputation of Joe Wilson -- CHENEY KNEW.

The entire charade of President Bush stating that he wanted to get to the bottom of who leaked Plame's name -- and who was involved -- is no longer believable at any level. Cheney would not have failed to disclose this to Bush, and Bush played along as if none of his staff were involved. They confessed nothing -- accepted no responsibilty -- until forced by Fitzgerald.

According to Scooter Libby's notes, George Tenet was the source for the information about Valerie Wilson lining up the trip -- so to speak -- for her husband, but did not necessarily include the information that she was a covert operative.

This is where things get interesting. Although Fitzgerald may not need to establish this connection, it seems increasingly plausible to TWN that Tenet and Cheney had some kind of exchange regarding Joe and Valerie Wilson. Cheney then passed off the information to Libby along with a few expletives about Wilson, implying that the @#$%@%er should be done in.

We know from an article last Friday in the LA Times that Libby was literally obsessed with discrediting Joe Wilson, to the extent that somebody in the White House had to tell him to back off. Lewis Libby is a chief of staff. He doesn't go on fishing expeditions without his boss knowing it. And now we know there was at least a conversation where he could have gotten his marching orders. This doesn't necessarily implicate Cheney from a legal standpoint, as the contents of that meeting are unclear, and two high-level officials discussing classified information they're both cleared to receive is not a crime.

But certainly the Dick let it be known publicly that he never heard of this Wilson guy:

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I don’t know Joe Wilson. I’ve never met Joe Wilson. A question had arisen. I’d heard a report that the Iraqis had been trying to acquire uranium in Africa, Niger in particular. I get a daily brief on my own each day before I meet with the president to go through the intel. And I ask lots of question. One of the questions I asked at that particular time about this, I said, “What do we know about this?” They take the question. He came back within a day or two and said, “This is all we know. There’s a lot we don’t know,” end of statement. And Joe Wilson—I don’t who sent Joe Wilson. He never submitted a report that I ever saw when he came back.

And Jane at firedoglake seems to think this portends perjury. I didn't know Cheney testified under oath, but apprently he did, if the NY Times story is correct. Jane makes the connection:

What indication do we have that Cheney lied? Well, if Cheney had told the truth when he was interviewed last year, i.e., that he was Scooter Libby's source, Fitzgerald would not have needed to threaten Judy Miller and Matt Cooper with jail in order to counter Scooter Libby's testimony that he first heard about Valerie Plame's identity from journalists.

...the testimonies of Cooper and Miller were necessary to bust Libby in a lie.
The decision of Judges Tatel, Henderson and Sentelle against Judy Miller was decided on February 15, 2005 and reissued April 4, 2005. Without getting into elaborate quotes, basically they agreed that there was no other way to get the information they needed other than from these journalists. They did not resort to jailing Miller or Cooper lightly without first having exhausted all other possibilities.

Which means Fitzgerald was not sitting on some big cathartic confession from Dick Cheney at the time.

Cheney lied. Under oath. Put any Republican (and a few DINOs) in the wayback machine, and they will tell you -- this is an impeachable offense.

Forget the perjury charge for one second, though it's not a technicality. What we have here is the Director of the CIA passing information to the Vice President, who gives it to his Chief of Staff, who starts talking to reporters. That information is classified for good reason. They're using it to get back at a guy who may be impacting public opinion on their war, which they misled the country into (and that Big Lie can never get out into the public).

This is bad, bad stuff, and you don't perjure yourself and obstruct justice unless you don't want to the truth to reveal itself. We are looking at a White House that has abused the public trust, abused the powers of the office, and compromised national security. All in the name of a tragic and cruel war that has inflicted pain and suffering in virtually every corner of this country. It's impossible to talk about this case without understanding the Big Lie that's being protected. Intelligence about Iraq was fabricated, fudged, unchecked, and uncorroborated. And they splashed it on the front pages of the NY Times thanks to their mole in the newsroom. When it turned out to be all a cruel hoax, they tried to change the subject. And it was so important to change the subject that they over-reached. They broke the law. And they broke the law some more to cover the changing of the subject.

This all goes back to Iraq, and every member of this Administration, save the President (although I can't see how he would possibly not be invlolved), is in it up to their eyeballs. These next weeks and months will not be pretty; they'll be a sad and discouraging time for the nation. I've passed the stage of schadenfruede, and am just plain angry that we as citizens have taken our collective eye off of those in power for so long that something like this could happen. It's a failure of government, media, and also us.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Every Judge Deserves an Up or Down Vote

Except Harriet Miers. has been established to urge the withdrawal of Harriet Miers from consideration as a nominee for Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court. will serve as a clearinghouse for information related to the nomination along with tools for leaders, activist groups, and the general public to contact U.S. Senators and the White House to express the shared belief that Ms. Miers’ nomination should be withdrawn.

Between this and the "perjury isn't a crime" thing yesterday, that's a whole lot of evolving opinions for a constituency that doesn't really believe in evolution. Conservatives don't worry about consistency so much because they don't expect their base to remember what they did last week. They're like sharks, always moving forward. Of course, they demand consistency from their opponents. I know Rove's hallmark has always been attacking the opponent at their strengths; maybe it's actually just attacking their opponent at their own weaknesses.


Cheaper By the Dozen (of Indictments)

Via Armando:

$ spent by Fitzgerald on the CIA Leak investigation: $700,000.
$ spent by Ken Starr on Whitewater/Lewinsky: $40,000,000.

I guess it doesn't cost as much when you don't have to go hunting for the crime.

In addition, the Senate just stopped funding the Henry Cisneros investigation, who was already pardoned five years ago. They finally stopped funding it last week. Cost? $20 million.

Fiscal conservatives...


Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Evolving Republican Party

They suddenly don't think perjury is a crime:

On Meet the Press, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchinson picks up where Bill Kristol left off:

I certainly hope that if there is going to be an indictment that says something happened, that it is an indictment on a crime and not some perjury technicality where they couldn’t indict on the crime so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation were not a waste of time and dollars.

Perjury is just a little technicality punishable by up to five years in prison.

I know that when a Republican is being charged, all those legal books get thrown out the window, but are you serious? After two terms worth of "rule of law" and "he lied to the American people" in the Clinton years, you're honestly going to throw out this kind of bullshit and hope the public eats it up like candy? You simply don't grab at these kind of straws unless you know what's coming down the pike. And if this is the best defense they've got, Mr. Rove and Mr. Libby had better go orange-jumpsuit shopping.

By the way, it looks like as early as Tuesday.

Fitzgerald is expected to give final notice to officials facing charges as early as Monday and may convene the grand jury on Tuesday, a day earlier than usual, to deliver a summary of the case and ask for approval of the possible indictments, legal sources said. The grand jury is to expire on Friday unless Fitzgerald extends it.

Fitzgerald could still determine that there was insufficient evidence to bring charges, but the lawyers said that appeared increasingly unlikely.


Go Blue

Based on the recent SUSA poll, this is currently where the nation stands on George W. Bush.

Welcome to Blue Nation.


Will we ever learn?

Here's an LA Times article that came out yesterday. I'm going to block out the name of the country involved. Can you guess who it is?

Despite a desire by officials here to assume greater responsibility for the defense of their country, the United States and (blank) agreed Friday to leave a U.S. commander in charge of their combined armies [...]

(Blank's) President said recently that his country was ready to take on more control of its armed forces, and suggested altering the current arrangement that put (blank) forces under U.S. command during wartime.

After discussions Friday between Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and his (blank) counterpart, both sides agreed that the United States would retain "operational control" during a conflict. Yet they raised the possibility that command authority could change in the future.

"As the capabilities of (blank) grow, obviously they will assume more and more responsibility as they have been doing in recent years," Rumsfeld said after the meeting. "As that happens in an orderly way there will be adjustments in the command relationship, and those are the kinds of things allies discuss."

Yes, you've got it, the answer is South Korea.

U.S. officials said there was no firm timetable for an eventual transfer of wartime authority, and that Washington would welcome serious negotiations on the matter.

The United States has maintained a large troop presence in South Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953, but in recent years the Pentagon has begun withdrawing troops from the country as part of a larger effort to reposition its forces around the globe.

The Pentagon wants to have 25,000 troops in South Korea by the end of 2008, compared to 37,500 last year, a reduction in forces that U.S. commanders say is made possible by the growing capability of South Korea's 690,000 troops.

We've been in South Korea for 52 years, and we're still there, and we still engage in hostile actions from time to time along the border. Does anybody credibly think we're going to leave Iraq EVER? The US military simply does not remove their footprint once they drop anchor in another country.

Here's an excerpt from another LA Times article from yesterday, about the growing crackdown on Islamists in the kingdom of Morocco:

The relationship between the Moroccan government and the nation's outspoken Islamists was wobbly long before the Casablanca suicide attacks.

Fundamentalist Islam had been gaining strength as a political force for decades in Morocco, as ideas imported from Saudi Arabia and neighboring Algeria gained traction with Morocco's young, poor and frustrated populace and as radicalized volunteers filtered home from the Afghan war against the Soviets.

The Afghan holy war against the big bad Westerners was literally a training ground for thousands of fundamentalists, who then filtered across the globe to fight for their Wahhabist cause in their countries of origin, spreading terrorism around the globe.

Sound familiar?

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has created a terror network to rival Osama bin Laden's by expanding his terrorism campaign in Iraq to extremists in two dozen terror groups scattered across almost 40 countries, US intelligence officials say.

US government officials have said the threat to US interests from Zarqawi compared with that from bin Laden, to whom Zarqawi pledged his loyalty last year.

The director of the National Counterterrorism Centre considers bin Laden a strategic plotter deep in hiding and out of regular contact with his followers, while Zarqawi is involved in planning scores of brutal attacks in Iraq.

"He is very much a daily operational threat," said Scott Redd, who is in charge of the US Government's counter-terrorism strategy and analysis.

Counter-terrorism officials say his network of contacts has grown dramatically since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and includes associates in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe.

The phrase "History repeats itself" has never been more salient. Do we ever learn anything? We continue to entangle ourselves in wars of choice abroad without viable strategies for winning the peace. We continue to believe our government that we will simply let the military finish the job and come home, erasing their footprint around the globe. We see how the expulsion of the West from Afghanistan created a globalized, interconnected network (indeed we funded it); we choose to create the same kind of conditions in Iraq.

It's almost depressing to read newspapers these days, it feels too much like a rerun.