Friday, October 28, 2005

An Enemy Combatant...Named Scooter

Dave Lindorff calls Shrub out on his newfound love of due process.

From AmericaBlog a link to a statement made on Joseph Wilson's behalf by his attorney:

WASHINGTON, Oct. 28 /PRNewswire/--The following release is being issued today by Christopher Wolf--The five count indictment issued by the Grand Jury today is an important step in the criminal justice process that began more than two years ago. I commend Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald for his professionalism, for his diligence, and for his courage.

There will be many opportunities in the future to comment on the events that led to today's indictment. And, it appears that there will be further developments before the grand jury. Whatever the final outcome of the investigation and the prosecution, I continue to believe that revealing my wife Valerie's secret CIA identity was very wrong and harmful to our nation, and I feel that my family was attacked for my speaking the truth about the events that led our country to war. I look forward to exercising my rights as a citizen to speak about these matters in the future.

Today, however, is not the time to analyze or to debate. And it is certainly not a day to celebrate. Today is a sad day for America. When an indictment is delivered at the front door of the White House, the Office of the President is defiled. No citizen can take pleasure from that.

As this case proceeds, Valerie and I are confident that justice will be done. In the meantime, I have a request. While I may engage in public discourse, my wife and my family are private people. They did not choose to be brought into the public square, and they do not wish to be under the glare of camera. They are entitled to their privacy. This case is not about me or my family, no matter how others might try to make it so.

This case is about serious criminal charges that go to the heart of our democracy.

We, like all citizens, await the judgment of the jury in a court of law.

Thank you.
Gathering the Facts

Here's the transcript from Fitzgerald's press conference. As a friend of mine noted, he's a lot nicer when not revealing information than Scott McClellan.

Billmon is a little disappointed that they didn't indict on the Espionage Act or the IIPA, but I'm holding out hope that Scooter is more bait on the hook, and that there are bigger fish to fry...

And, as YRHT noted, Shrubusto gave into his inner frat boy and went on a road trip--he extensively cited a letter of dubious origin that the gang in DC attributed to Al Qaeda's number two...hmmmm...

I wonder if the same folks vouching for the letter are now hoping they won't follow Libby to the docket.

Otherwise, Shrub's speech appears to be the same tired, warmed over rhetoric...and will have the same effect--no sale. Because it was all based on big, fat lies.
In Black & White

For those who don't want to deal with a .pdf file, The Smoking Gun has the Libby indictment available for those who wish to read it.
And Now For Something Completely Different

Greg Saunders considers a possible Shrub court appointment. But I'm guessing he might be soft on the death penalty...


Rove's not off the hook yet, either--but y'all probably already know that.

Still busy with a project over here, but will try to keep up with things as they develop.
While U Wait

Juan Cole has a few interesting posts: low-intensity civil war in Iraq (of course, low-intensity is a relative term--I'll bet folks in the line of fire don't consider it "low-intensity"). Three more U.S. soldiers were killed Wednesday...and he posts a partial transcript of a CNN interview of Larry Johnson by Wolf Blitzer.

I think this interview by Wolf Blitzer with Larry Johnson on CNN's Situation Room on Wednesday is extremely important and worry that it may be missed. I'm quoting some excerpts below. I was struck by the information that Plame Wilson has had death threats from al-Qaeda, and that the CIA has declined to offer her any special protection even though she still works there.

So the Bush administration is throwing our own counter-proliferation intelligence operatives to al-Qaeda by outing them, and Porter Goss refuses even to provide any security? Oh, yeah, we're going to recruit a lot of capable, competent people into counter-terrorism after this.

Transcript (excerpt):
JOHNSON: Yes. There will be a written -- there's a written document within the CIA. There has to be, because every time that someone like this is outed, it's not just the person. In this case, it's the front company. It's other NOCs who may have been exposed.

BLITZER: Non-official cover is the NOCs.

JOHNSON: Non-official cover officers, also other intelligence officers who were exposed to that company, as well as intelligence assets overseas who were working with Brewster-Jennings who didn't know that it was a CIA front, and some who may have been witting...

BLITZER: Well...

JOHNSON: ... assets.

BLITZER: ... do you know whether or not they concluded that serious damage did occur?

JOHNSON: I have heard that serious damage did occur...

JOHNSON: But what I do know for certain is, we're not just talking about Valerie Plame. We're talking about an intelligence resource, a United States national security resource that was destroyed by these White House officials that went out and started talking to the press about this. Reckless. And they have -- they have harmed the security of this country. They're trying to pretend no harm, no foul, and find lots of excuses...

JOHNSON: ...And she had received death threats overseas from al Qaeda. So, as a result of that outing...

BLITZER: How do you know she got death threats from al Qaeda?

JOHNSON: I have heard it directly from people that have been told that there was a threat.

BLITZER: Because she is a...

JOHNSON: Because...

BLITZER: ... a former CIA operative?

JOHNSON: ... operative and outed by Robert Novak.

There were three people that were identified as having a threat. And she was contacted by the FBI.

BLITZER: Does she get security protection...

JOHNSON: She did not.

BLITZER: Why didn't she?

JOHNSON: She called...

BLITZER: She still works for the CIA.

JOHNSON: She called CIA and was told, you will have to rely upon 911 . . .

BLITZER: Larry Johnson, former CIA officer, worked at counterterrorism at the State Department as well.
Want Some Cheese With Your Whine, Tom?

DeLame reveals his inner hissy:

Rep. Tom DeLay, under indictment on campaign finance violations, railed against Democrats in a letter Thursday, accusing them of engaging in "the politics of personal destruction."

The letter, sent to constituents and contributors, connected his case with investigations into possible misconduct by White House adviser Karl Rove and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

"What we're fighting is so much larger than a single court case or a single district attorney in Travis County," the Texas Republican wrote. "We are witnessing the criminalization of conservative politics."

Actually, Tom, what we're witnessing is the fact that plenty of conservative politicians--like yourself--are criminals.

Speaking a lot of other folks, my Fitzmas stocking is hung by the chimney with care. However, I'll be working on a big project here, so posting might be a little spotty.

Of course I've seen this morning the reports--supposedly a definite indictment for Scooter, while Rove must sweat longer--Firedoglake, though, says hold on, and take all rumors with a grain, if not a shaker of salt. Anyway, there's a document dump in a little over an hour, and a press conference set for 2 o'clock, eastern time.

So, if Santa's arriving in the afternoon, should we set milk and cookies out--or something else?

Thursday, October 27, 2005


I almost wish this post was about something as simple as laughing at morons who can't grasp scientific reality...but I'm actually referring to the changing tactics of the Iraqi insurgency. Seems that, back in the day, when the military was supposedly on a hunt for WMD in Iraq--a hunt based on lies, as we're now well aware--a tactical error of huge proportions was made. Plain old weapons were ignored, to the peril of forces now in the country:

After 31 months of fighting in Iraq, more than half of all American fatalities are now being caused by powerful roadside bombs that blast fiery, lethal shrapnel into the cabins of armored vehicles, confronting every patrol with an unseen, menacing adversary that is accelerating the U.S. death toll.

U.S. military officials, analysts and militants themselves say insurgents have learned to adapt to U.S. defensive measures by using bigger, more sophisticated and better-concealed bombs known officially as improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. They are sometimes made with multiple artillery shells and Iranian TNT, sometimes disguised as bricks, boosted with rocket propellant, and detonated by a cell phone or a garage door opener.

The bombs range from massive explosives capable of destroying five-ton vehicles to precision "shaped charges" that bore softball-size holes through thick armor, the main defense of troops in the field, and they are becoming a key factor in the fast-rising U.S. death toll.

It took about 18 months from the start of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq to reach 1,000 U.S. deaths; it took less than 13 months to reach 1,000 more. A major reason for the surge, statistics show, is the insurgency's embrace of IEDs, together with the military's inability to detect them.

"It's the dreaded IED that's killing our soldiers," said Michael White, the creator of , a Web site that tracks U.S. military casualties. "I read in the paper that we have some new device to detect them, or we're taking extra care to make sure we don't get hit, and death after death keeps coming in, and it's IEDs."

In the first six months of battle in Iraq, only 11 soldiers -- about 4 percent of the 289 who died -- were killed by homemade roadside bombs. In the last six months, at least 214 service members have been killed by IEDs, or 63 percent of the 339 combat-related deaths and 53 percent of the 400 U.S. fatalities, according to data complied by the Brookings Institution's Iraq Index.

"The IEDs are the biggest threat we have," said Lt. Col. John Walsh, commander of Task Force 1-163, a Montana Army National Guard battalion that is completing a year-long combat tour in Hawija, a Sunni Arab city about 30 miles southwest of Kirkuk. Walsh's soldiers have encountered more than 600 roadside bombs, 60 percent of which exploded before they were detected. The unit has lost four soldiers, two from roadside bombs, and had 68 wounded, a casualty rate of 8.5 percent.

"Right now they're probably four times more powerful than when we first got here," 1st Sgt. Stanley Clinton said, referring to the bombs. Clinton, 53, has been deployed for the past year in Kirkuk for Alpha Company of the 2nd Battalion, 116th Brigade Combat Team.

Clinton said that when the 116th combat team, an Idaho Army National Guard unit, arrived last December, the insurgents employed "backwoodsy stuff" -- often tiny bombs fashioned from items as basic as Coca-Cola cans. Now, he said, they often consist of one or more 120- or 155-mm artillery rounds, 15 or 20 pounds of rocket propellant or shaped charges that concentrate the blast and punch through armor plating.

"Clearly we are not winning the competition over tactics and counter-tactics," said Michael O'Hanlon, a defense analyst who heads Brookings' Iraq Index. "The insurgency's ability to hide IEDs better, detonate them more remotely and build them more powerfully has been at least as effective as our improvements in better armor and better tactics."

In some instances, insurgents have constructed IEDs powerful enough to kill soldiers inside 22-ton Bradley Fighting Vehicles, which are more heavily armored than Humvees.

Even though U.S. commanders have placed huge emphasis on countering IEDs, O'Hanlon said, "We are still suffering as many casualties as ever, which makes me wonder if we've found the limitations of our reconnaissance measures." Militants may have discovered, for instance, how to avoid being spotted by surveillance flights, he said.

The development of shaped charges appears to be a direct response by insurgents to the Americans' use of more heavily armored vehicles, according to soldiers and U.S. military explosives experts. Those vehicles -- principally five-ton, armor-plated Humvees -- are used by all U.S troops traveling outside military bases. The Pentagon drew criticism last year for failing to provide adequate protection for soldiers patrolling Iraq's increasingly dangerous streets.

To fashion a shaped charge, one end of a cylindrical object such as a pipe is welded shut, and is then packed with explosive material and a conical piece of metal that becomes a molten projectile when the device is detonated. The charge is designed to focus the blast on a small area. In the case of a Humvee, the charge blasts a hole in the armor plating, propelling the scorching metal into the vehicle's cabin.

In July, a Humvee belonging to Alpha Company was out on patrol in Kirkuk when it was hit by a bomb equipped with a shaped charge, said Capt. Paul White, 39, the company commander. The explosion drilled a hole the size of a softball in the driver's door, he said. The red-hot shrapnel severed the driver's legs while the Humvee was still moving.

"He probably would have bled out except the shaped charge made [the metal] so hot it actually cauterized his legs as it cut his legs off," White said.

When a soldier yelled to stop the vehicle, White said the driver replied: "I can't stop. I don't have any legs."

"He literally said that," White recalled, adding that the Humvee came to a halt only after it rammed into a store...

The insurgents have hidden the bombs in gunny sacks to disguise them as part of the garbage that litters the streets of Kirkuk, soldiers said. They have embedded them in concrete blocks similar to those used as building materials in new Kurdish settlements. As the Americans adapt their tactics, so, too, do the insurgents.

On the night of their Baghdad patrol this week, a platoon from the Army's 4-64 Armor Battalion of the 3rd Infantry Division studied every pile of trash on the side of darkened streets for telltale wires and other signs of explosives.

Earlier in the war, "We had an enemy who we could see," said Sgt. Brian Zamiska, 27, of Bentleyville, Pa., tapping the hood of a black Opel sedan as the patrol passed it. "We didn't have to worry about looking at every cardboard box in the road or every car like this and wondering if it was going to blow up."

His platoon mate, Lt. Lennie Fort, 30, of Clarksville, Tenn., said this style of warfare was frustrating.

"There's no one to shoot back [at], no one to kill," he said. "Honestly, it just gets us amped up to go out and get someone, but there's never anyone to get."

"Now they get a hose and they lay it across the road, and when you drive across it, it ignites the IED," said Clinton, the Alpha Company sergeant in Kirkuk. "You know years ago, when you had service stations where you'd drive across the rubber hose and it would go, 'ding, ding, ding'? Here you drive across a little hose and it sends water back into a little bottle with wires sitting there. When water goes back into the bottle, it connects wires, and off goes the IED. It's just so simple and so stupid."

"So simple and so stupid..." Indeed. Add to this the supidity of the Bush administration, which led us into this horrific mess.
You're Kidding, Right?

Hey, imagine that:

Exxon Mobil Corp. posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion Thursday, the largest in U.S. corporate history, as it raked in a bonanza from soaring oil and gas prices.

Record profits for Big Oil at a time when consumers are paying sky-high prices for gasoline have brought calls for a windfall profits tax or other penalties on oil companies.

Exxon isn't alone:

Royal Dutch Shell reported a similar 68 percent jump in profits, to $9.03 billion ($1.35 a share), from $5.37 billion (80 cents). Revenue rose 6 percent, to $94.7 billion, from $89 billion...

Also today, Marathon Oil reported that its third-quarter earnings more than doubled, to $770 million ($2.09 a share), from $222 million (64 cents). Revenue jumped 40 percent, to $17.2 billion, from $12.3 billion.

Let's see...rising prices, rising profits...and you have to wait for the stuff. Reminds me of a song.

From my source:

Driving Blind as the Deaths Pile Up

Much of the nation is mourning the more than 2,000 American G.I.'s lost to the war in Iraq. But some of the mindless Washington weasels who sent those brave and healthy warriors to their unnecessary doom have other things on their minds. They're scrambling about the capital, huddling frantically with lawyers, hoping that their habits of deception, which are a way of life with them, don't finally land them in a federal penitentiary.

See them sweat. The most powerful of the powerful, the men who gave the president his talking points and his marching orders, are suddenly sending out distress signals: Don't let them send me to prison on a technicality.

This is not, however, about technicalities. You can spin it any way you want, but Patrick Fitzgerald's investigation of Karl Rove, Scooter Libby et al. is ultimately about the monumentally conceived and relentlessly disseminated deceit that gave us the war that never should have happened.

Oh, it was heady stuff for a while - nerds and naïfs swapping fantasies of world domination and giddily manipulating the levers of American power. They were oh so arrogant and glib: Weapons of mass destruction. Yellowcake from Niger. The smoking gun morphing into a mushroom cloud.

Now look at what they've wrought. James Dao of The Times began his long article on the 2,000 American dead with a story that was as typical as it was tragic:

"Sgt. Anthony G. Jones, fresh off the plane from Iraq and an impish grin on his face, sauntered unannounced into his wife's hospital room in Georgia just hours after she had given birth to their second son."

The article described how Sergeant Jones, over a blissful two-week period last May, "cooed over their baby and showered attention on his wife."

"Three weeks later, on June 14," wrote Mr. Dao, "Sergeant Jones was killed by a roadside bomb in Baghdad on his third tour in a war that is not yet three years old. He was 25."

Three times Sergeant Jones was sent to Iraq, which tells you all you need to know about the fairness and shared sacrifices of this war. If you roll the dice enough times, they're guaranteed to come up snake eyes.

Sergeant Jones told his wife, Kelly, that he had "a bad feeling" about heading back to Iraq for a third combat tour. After his death, his wife found a message that he had left for her among his letters and journal entries.

"Grieve little and move on," he wrote. "I shall be looking over you. And you will hear me from time to time on the gentle breeze that sounds at night, and in the rustle of leaves."

In addition to the more than 2,000 dead, an additional 15,000 Americans have been wounded. Some of these men and women have sacrificed one, two and even three limbs. Some have been permanently blinded and others permanently paralyzed - some both. Some have been horribly burned.

For the Iraqis, the toll is beyond hideous. Perhaps 30,000 dead, of which an estimated 10 percent have been children. The number of Iraqi wounded is anybody's guess.

This is what happens in war, which is why wars should only be fought when there is utterly and absolutely no alternative.

So what's ahead, now that the giddiness in Washington has been replaced by anxiety and the public is turning against the war?

Even Richard Nixon's cronies are crawling out of the woodwork to urge the Bush gang to stop the madness. In an article for Foreign Affairs magazine, former Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, now 83, says the administration needs to come up with a clearly defined exit strategy, and fast.

Said Mr. Laird: "Getting out of a war is still dicier than getting into one, as George W. Bush can attest."

But President Bush, who never gave the country a legitimate reason for going to war, and has never offered a coherent strategy for winning the war, seems in no hurry to figure out a way to exit the war.

Soon after the Pentagon confirmed on Tuesday that the American death toll in Iraq had reached 2,000, the president gave a speech in which he said: "This war will require more sacrifice, more time and more resolve. No one should underestimate the difficulties ahead, nor should they overlook the advantages we bring to this fight."

Thousands upon thousands are suffering and dying in Iraq while, in Washington, incompetence continues its macabre marathon dance with incoherence.

Whether or not the sorry group of folks running things in Washington is ever convicted of ANYTHING, there's not a doubt in my mind that they're little more than criminals--guilty of all sorts of things, up to and including murder.

Gore Vidal, as usual, has a few things to say--and does so with style. However, the substance is more than a little worrisome:

...But there have been things unimaginable to me and most Americans--that we would have a government that is absolutely in your face to every country on earth. We have insulted everybody.

Q:We now see that House majority leader Tom DeLay has been indicted. The Senate majority leader, Bill Frist, is under investigation by the SEC. We've seen the debacle around Michael "Brownie" Brown and FEMA. Is this Administration finally collapsing under its own weight?

A:"Under its own lack of weight" [laughing], I think, is the phrase you are searching for.

Q:Sort of the unbearable lightness?

A:Yes, the unbearable lightness. Or here DeLay--gone tomorrow. Yes, I do believe it is breaking up. And the indictment of DeLay would not have happened had there not been two hurricanes, which dramatized to everybody in the United States that we don't have a government. And to the extent we do have one it is not only corrupt but a menace to other countries, to our liberties, to our Bill of Rights.

Q:If, indeed, this Administration is collapsing for lack of weight, what comes after it?

A:Martial law, that's next. Bush is like a plane of glass. You can see all the worms turning around in his head at any moment. The first giveaway of what's on his mind--or the junta's mind.

Q:The junta being...?

A:Cheney, who runs everything, I suspect. And a few other serious operators. Anyway, I first noticed this was on their mind when Bush finally woke up to the fact that the hurricanes were not going to be good PR for him. And he starts to think friends of his are going to be running in '08. So what's the first thing he does? The first thing on the mind of a dictator? He gets the National Guard away from the governors. The Guard is under the governors, but Bush is always saying, Let's turn it over to the military. This is what's on their mind. Under military control.

Take a look at the entire interview.
Tiny Scooter

Billmon reinterprets a classic, while Wolcott makes Scooter chum.

Speaking of chum, guess Harriet can't swim with the sharks after all...and the administration of one George Dubya is cracking...or should I say quacking?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


More dirty laundry:

Rep. Tom DeLay failed to comply with House requirements that he disclose all contributions to a defense fund that pays his legal bills, the Texas Republican acknowledged to House officials.

He wrote officials that $20,850 contributed in 2000 and 2001 was not reported anywhere. Another $17,300 was included in the defense fund's quarterly report but not in DeLay's 2000 annual financial disclosure report -- a separate requirement.

Other donations were understated as totaling $2,800, when the figure should have been $4,450.

Tom's opting for the "I reported on myself" defense for this:

"I brought this matter -- which I discovered on my own -- to the attention of the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct to alert the chairman and ranking member. Upon learning of these accounting irregularities, I immediately requested that the trust undergo a full and complete audit from its June 2000 inception through 2004 to determine if any additional accountancy problems existed with the trust."

Well, Tom, I'll give you a gold star...but you're still a crook.

YRHT: Trendsetter

Came across this paragraph while idly perusing Slate:

Not even Oliver Stone could have imagined the eerie parallel between Bush and LBJ. Both men overcame the soft bigotry of low expectations to enjoy surprising electoral success. Both brought Texas-sized ambitions to the White House and insisted that America could binge on both guns and butter. Both squandered their high-flying popularity by mismanaging foreign entanglements. In their fifth year in office, both watched their own party sour on cronies they nominated for the Supreme Court.

I believe a certain NOLA blogger has more than once written similarly.

Note: the Slate is about the World Series and the possibility of a Texass curse...aside from the curse of Texass itself, certainly an interesting coincidence (noted by Reed) is while the White Sox are beating Houston, Team Bush is fading, thanks to...a Chicago prosecutor.
Fire the Handicapped

Actually, just don't hire them in the first place--that's one element of Wal-Mart's strategery for cutting health care costs:

To discourage unhealthy job applicants, Ms. Chambers suggests that Wal-Mart arrange for "all jobs to include some physical activity (e.g., all cashiers do some cart-gathering)."

The memo acknowledged that Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, had to walk a fine line in restraining benefit costs because critics had attacked it for being stingy on wages and health coverage. Ms. Chambers acknowledged that 46 percent of the children of Wal-Mart's 1.33 million United States employees were uninsured or on Medicaid.

Wal-Mart executives said the memo was part of an effort to rein in benefit costs, which to Wall Street's dismay have soared by 15 percent a year on average since 2002. Like much of corporate America, Wal-Mart has been squeezed by soaring health costs. The proposed plan, if approved, would save the company more than $1 billion a year by 2011.

In an interview, Ms. Chambers said she was focusing not on cutting costs, but on serving employees better by giving them more choices on their benefits.

"We are investing in our benefits that will take even better care of our associates," she said. "Our benefit plan is known today as being generous."

Ms. Chambers also said that she made her recommendations after surveying employees about how they felt about the benefits plan. "This is not about cutting," she said. "This is about redirecting savings to another part of their benefit plans."

Not about cutting...reminds me of the French explanation for the bomb that blew up the Rainbow Warrior--IIRC, they said it wasn't a bomb, but a device designed to explode, or words to that effect.

Oh--if you want to read the whole memo (.pdf warning) here it is.

That you'd even have memos circulating about how to Scrooge employees out of the already miserly benefits Wal-Mart offers explains a great deal as to the state of the nation...we've got a GDP of almost $12 trillion dollars...and Wal-Mart wants to nickel and dime their $8 dollar an hour employees even more.
Earning One's Pay

Via TPM, Team Shrub rescinded their suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act as it applied to hurricane Katrina reconstruction:

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...

In the immediate aftermath of Katrina, President Bush suspended provisions of the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, which sets wages for employees on federal contracts to ensure they are not underpaid.

My own modest proposal is to suspend BUSH'S pay until he cleans up the mess he's gotten this country into.
Protracted Schadenfreude Justice

Hopefully good things do come to those who wait.

The headlines this morning are all focused on when the hammer will fall (no not that hammer, but his day is nigh too). However, while officialdom sits even more firmly on their asses than usual, events continue to occur...

Juan Cole has a solid rap/rip on Team Bush this morning, reminding us all that the prospect of a fundamentalist state in Iraq was ridiculous as late as 2002--but not anymore:

...anyone who heard that Bush thought Usamah Bin Ladin could overthrow Saddam and take over Iraq would have just fallen down laughing. Saddam would have had all the al-Qaeda people just taken out and shot. Twice. It was risible. Now, Bush has screwed up things so royally that he can even say this with a straight face. (It still is fairly ridiculous, since 80 percent of Iraqi is Shiites and Kurds who would kill Usamah on sight, and few Iraqi Sunni Arabs would want a fugitive Saudi terrorist as their leader). It is George W. Bush's fault if this outcome is at all plausible. His policies have reduced Iraq to violent chaos, and he is the one who let Usamah escape at Tora Bora. And then he made the US military lie about it during the presidential campaign! Impeachment is too good for this kind of dishonesty and incompetence. Actually I have to just stop writing about this now before my blood pressure goes into the 200s. Usamah in Iraq, indeed.

Meanwhile, the death toll continues to climb there--both for US forces AND Iraqi civilians...who, for those who might need to be reminded, weren't exactly consulted on the decision to invade:

The number of Iraqis who have died violently since the U.S.-led invasion is many times larger than the U.S. military death toll of 2,000 in Iraq. In one sign of the enormity of the Iraqi loss, at least 3,870 were killed in the past six months alone, according to an Associated Press count.

One U.S. military spokesman said it is possible the figure for the entire war could be 30,000 Iraqis, which many experts see as a credible estimate. Others suspect the number is far higher, since the chaos in Iraq leaves the potential for many killings to go unreported.

The losses are far larger than most analysts and Pentagon planners expected before the war and mean Iraqi civilians are bearing most of the suffering.

"We may never know the true number of the Iraqi public that has been killed or injured in this war," said the U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad, Lt. Col. Steve Boylan. "The Iraqi public has taken the brunt of the casualties."

Way to go, GOP. You've managed to accomplish something almost impossible: make Iraqis even less safe than they were before:

"Most Iraqis remain less secure than they were under Saddam, less secure even than they were in the first year of the American occupation," said James Dobbins, a former Bush administration envoy to Afghanistan and veteran diplomat who now directs the Rand Corp.'s International Security and Defense Policy Center.

Dobbins supplied figures from the Baghdad morgue that show 1,800 violent deaths in 2002, Saddam Hussein's last full year in power. That number jumped beyond 6,000 in 2003, the first year of the American occupation, and topped 8,000 last year, he said.

"Under Saddam, you usually were OK as long as you kept your mouth shut," said Joost Hiltermann, an Iraq analyst with the International Crisis Group. "Now you might get hurt or even killed almost arbitrarily, given the absence of rule of law, the sectarian fighting, insurgent actions and U.S. carelessness in responding to attacks."

Another Center for Strategic and International Studies expert, Jon Alterman, who heads the think tank's Middle East program, said: "Almost certainly, there were more deaths in the last 2 1/2 years than there would have been had Saddam stayed in power."

And, I repeat myself, but it bears mentioning yet again: this was NOT a necessary war--it was fought at the discretion of those who, at this very moment, are worried about saving their sorry posteriors in the matter of outing a NOC dedicated to STOPPING THE PROLIFERATION OF UNCONVENTIONAL WEAPONS. Geez. What a sorry group of people sitting at the apex of power.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

In Other News

Shrubusto delivered yet another "stay the course" speech re: Iraq--though most major media outlets in this country seem to have ignored it. I found a partial transcript:

blah blah blah blah blah blah bad joke blah blah blah 9/11 blah blah blah war on terror blah blah blah stay the course blah 9/11 blah Islamo fascism blah 9/11 blah war on terror blah blah Al Qaeda blah Zawahiri blah Zarqawi blah blah 9/11 blah freedom blah 9/11 blah blah blah courage sacrifice blah blah blah thank you blah blah God Bless America.
Presents for Us, Lumps of Coal Target Letters for Them

One to Five indictments to be issued by Fitzgerald, according to Steve Clemons (note: can't say for sure, but I'm guessing his site is crashing because too many people are trying to hit it).

1-5 indictments are being issued. The source feels that it will be towards the higher end.

The targets of indictment have already received their letters.

The indictments will be sealed indictments and "filed" tomorrow.

A press conference is being scheduled for Thursday.

Hope this is true...
Completing the Mission

"He's a vile, detestable, moralistic person with no heart and no conscience who believes he's been tapped by God to do very important things."

A disgruntled, low-level White House staffer talking about the dauphin? Sure sounds like it--but no.
"It's OK. He's Exempt"

The lurching, out of control carnival ride that's the Bush administration continues apace--and once again, Big Dick is at the controls:

The Bush administration has proposed exempting employees of the Central Intelligence Agency from a legislative measure endorsed earlier this month by 90 members of the Senate that would bar cruel and degrading treatment of any prisoners in U.S. custody.

The proposal, which two sources said Vice President Cheney handed last Thursday to Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) in the company of CIA Director Porter J. Goss, states that the measure barring inhumane treatment shall not apply to counterterrorism operations conducted abroad or to operations conducted by "an element of the United States government" other than the Defense Department.

Although most detainees in U.S. custody in the war on terrorism are held by the U.S. military, the CIA is said by former intelligence officials and others to be holding several dozen detainees of particular intelligence interest at locations overseas -- including senior al Qaeda figures Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and Abu Zubaida.

Cheney's proposal is drafted in such a way that the exemption from the rule barring ill treatment could require a presidential finding that "such operations are vital to the protection of the United States or its citizens from terrorist attack." But the precise applicability of this section is not clear, and none of those involved in last week's discussions would discuss it openly yesterday.

What else can you say, except "what a dick."?

Lunatics play the sadist equivalent of stoner games when it comes to torture, devising bizarre scenarios to justify their particular fetishes. Truth is, torture, as most people engaged in security matters know, produces results about as often as slogging through pigshit produces pearls.

In other words, it's NOT the intelligence pro-torture folks want: it's the perverse thrill they're after.

That's just plain sick.

Remember though, it's the Shrub administration we're dealing with--which explains a lot.
Miller Gets it Wrong--Again

The Editors link to Arianna Huffington's honor roll of those who didn't swallow Team Shrub's Iraq-WMD argument hook, line, sinker, rod, and reel--as Judith did.

Seems like such a long time ago, eh? Back when Tom Brokaw was advising on the consequences of property damage by would be owners, Shrubleroy was getting fitted for his flight suit...and 2,000 U.S. soldiers, not to mention tens of thousand Iraqis, still had a future to plan for.

Shrub can bark as often as he wants to about his war, but it won't alter the fundamental fact that it was all based on lies. Lies that, at the time, seemed so innocent, i.e., what did it matter if some serious butt was kicked (or some crappy little country was thrown against the wall)...because, in the end, the grand might of the reigning superpower would be on display for the world to see--and shudder about?

Hence, no concern about little things like body armor for the troops--nope, must invade NOW! No concern about the lack of fluent Arabic speakers, or a genuine understanding of the country itself, which is FAR more complex than the "Saddam bad, everything else good" mentality shaping the worldview of Shrubusto. Indeed, even after the lie was exposed, the dauphin still insisted on cracking jokes--while soldiers and civilians were suffering from shattered limbs. Because the little white lies they told--lies passed on for public consumption by the likes of Judith Miller--really didn't matter when the end result was a red meat, all-you-can-eat-buffet of screaming patriotic fervor.

Well, two years in, and the din's worn off--imagine that. Let's see: terrorism is no less of a threat than before, but we've also got $60 a barrel oil, a potential home heating crisis this winter, a shaky economy, an entire region of the country wrecked thanks to the forces of Mother Nature (and NO plan for recovery from the administration--looks like they're just trying to ride it out). And, we're trapped in a Mesopotamian sinkhole with the only exit being failure.

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: why is anyone surprised? Failure is Bush's life story. Only this time, there's no one big enough to bail out the entire country.

I don't really understand why idiots like Judith Miller would go along for the crash and burn...but I guess power intoxicates and impairs judgement. At least it looks that way with her case. Fortunately, not everyone took the bait.
Cheney Gang?

Alas, we probably won't see Big Time in prison stripes, but this bombshell from the Paper-Desperately-Trying-to-Restore-its-Status-as-the-Paper-of-Record will no doubt reverberate throughout the corridors of power:

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.

The Big Time (pun intended) question seems to be whether or not Big Time did a big time bad thing: perjury. At least that's how Jane Hamsher sees it. She believes the Times is being extra careful in its reporting, given the stench emanating from their headquarters of late. And Swopa hits nothing but net from behind the arc with the following comment, re: the fallout:

"If Cheney goes down with Scooter and Karl, I'm not sure how Dubya survives -- it would be tantamount to admitting he's just an empty suit they send out to read the teleprompter while other folks run the country. Granted, they'd need the jaws of life to pry him out of the Oval Office, but Republicans in Congress might realize that he's going to drag them down with him."

As for me, I still think the Shrub administration ends not with a bang, but a whimper...and, if we can judge things from today's perspective, a Big Time whimper.

Monday, October 24, 2005


Wayne Uff at Bad Attitudes points to a DailyKos compilation of around a dozen GOP'ers hrummphing about perjury back when it meant putting all things Clinton down for the count...below, we see Senator Hutchinson's attention span has a statute of limitiations--I'm betting the same for the others.

And Uff points out something worth citing in it's entirety re: back in the day before the GOP discovered their collective inner prevaricators:

...while it is fun to play “gotcha” with the pro-perjury and pro-obstruction of justice statements by GOP senators from the Monica Lewinsky days, on a basic level it is a gross distortion to equate Bill Clinton’s half-truths and prevarications about his private sexual peccadilloes with the matters of state and abuse of power being investigated by Pat Fitzgerald. The Clinton investigation was never about an abuse of public power or the potentially illegal release of information that may have had national security or life-and death implications, whereas those things are at the heart of the exposure of a covert CIA agent. So while Clinton no doubt did perjure himself, it was fair to characterize his violations as purely technical, and in the end as entrapment by the prosecutor; here, that is not a fair characterization.

Remember, too, that Clinton’s initial lie came in a civil matter; it is exceedingly rare, but technically possible, to see a criminal investigation centering on untruthful civil testimony. However, prosecutions for false statements to criminal investigators are common, and properly so. Also, quite important when comparing the legitimacy of the two criminal investigations is the fact that the Clinton inquiry was headed up by a bone-deep political opponent of the president, while Fitzgerald is an appointee of the very president he is hounding.

And, since I've been winding my way down the thirty year old Watergate Memory Lane, I'll note in passing that the perjury rap on Clinton was definitely a case of political payback for one (already dead) Dick Nixon--the charge itself was merely the icing on the cake (Dick's impending impeachment was on the same charge and obstruction of justice).

Finally, recall that Team Shrub's smug assurances about "changing the tone" and "restoring dignity" upon arriving in Washington. I think we all know what that meant.

pe·tard: n. A small bell-shaped bomb used to breach a gate or wall.
"To be hoist by one's own petard," a now proverbial phrase apparently originating with Shakespeare's Hamlet...means "to blow oneself up with one's own bomb, be undone by one's own devices."
Reality Bites

And those bites hurt even more when you spend more than four years claiming to be above reality:

Facing the darkest days of his presidency, President Bush is frustrated, sometimes angry and even bitter, his associates say.

Yeah, that's a link to the NY Daily News article already referenced by the big blogs--just passing it along for additional consumption. And since I'm passing along links, here's another bitter pill for the dauphin to swallow--a thorough smackdown by one Brent Scowcroft--the old man's national security advisor. Scowcroft also metes out big time criticism of big time Dick, Condi, Wolfie, and Hadley--a vertiable passel of stooges (note: link is not to the New Yorker article, which isn't online, but a liberal--no pun intended--lifting of the piece courtesy of the Washington Note). Rice, in particular, was so miffed she called to deliver a scolding to the man who lifted her up by her dominatrix boot-straps...such lack of gratitude, Condi...

Yep, barely a year after the 51 percent man-date, the walls are beginning to creep inward. It'll be interesting to see what the reaction is from the White House. If I remember right, the last time something this serious came down the pipe, Al Haig issued a directive to the effect that any direct order from Nixon had to pass through him first (Haig, that is--and note this was a good eight years before "I am in control here..."). But this time, Bush's version of Big Al--Turd Blossom--won't be around to filter Shrubusto.

I wonder if we're about to find out just how divorced from reality the pResident really is...
Which is it, Kay?

Everything I've heard about Kay Bailey Hutchison seems to confirm the worst: arrogant, elitist, prone to temper tantrums...and only able to avoid trial following a Ronnie Earle indictment with the help of Texass-style cronyism...

Well, we can add flip-flopper to the list of descriptives for Texass' senior Senator.

Hutchison, 1999:

I was reminded as well, however, that the laws of our Country are applicable to us all, including the President, and they must be obeyed. The concept of equal justice under law and the importance of absolute truth in legal proceedings is the foundation of our justice system in the courts...

The Supreme Court of the United States has observed that there is an occasional misunderstanding to the effect that the crime of 'perjury' is somehow distinct from 'obstruction of justice.' United States v. Norris, 300 U.S. 564, 574 (1937). They are not. While different elements make up each crime, each is calculated to prevent a court and the public from discovering the truth and achieving justice in our judicial system. Moreover, it is obvious that 'witness tampering' is simply another means employed to obstruct justice...

Lying is a moral wrong. Perjury is a lie told under oath that is legally wrong....Willful, corrupt, and false sworn testimony before a Federal grand jury is a separate and distinct crime under applicable law and is material and perjurious if it is 'capable' of influencing the grand jury in any matter before it, including any collateral matters that it may consider. See, Title 18, Section 1623, U.S. Code, and Federal court cases interpreting that Section.

The President's testimony before the Federal grand jury was fully capable of influencing the grand jury's investigation and was clearly perjurious...

A hundred years from now, when history looks back to this moment, we can hope for a conclusion that our Constitution has been applied fairly and survives, that we have come to principled judgments about matters of national importance, and that the rule of law in American has been sustained.

Hutchison, 2005:

...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 and so they go to something just to show that their two years of investigation was not a waste of time and taxpayer dollars."

Oh--you can add "unprincipled" to descriptions of Hutchison, too.
Pay Per View

Lately I've been disappointed to find myself disagreeing with Alexander Cockburn on several substantive issues...but for sheer style he still is tough to top. This weekend, Mr. Cockburn treated us to a delicious account of the MoDo/Miller grudge match (cage, Texass rules):

Would you pay $49.95 to watch women wrestling in mud? I did this morning, and it was well worth the expense. I get the New York Times Online and until a couple of weeks ago all the features were free. Then, as some of you have no doubt discovered, the NYT's columnists started to have only their opening sentences on free display. To get the full columns of Krugman, Rich, Dowd and the others you have to pony up $49.95 a year's subscription to Times Select.

I held off until today when the Times nailed the sale with Dowd's column titled, "Woman of Mass Destruction" and her ominous opening sentence, "I've always liked Judy Miller".

Miller has been the sport of a million stories and there was nothing much by way of startling revelations in what Dowd wrote, but in operatic terms it was as though Maria Callas had suddenly rushed onto the stage and slugged Elizabeth Schwartzkopf.

After that enticing lead, designed to make online readers fish out their credit cards, Dowd spent five paragraphs sketching Miller's profile as a power-mad egomaniac, (demanding Dowd's chair at a White House briefing) before drop kicking her in the face with the blunt accusations that she's a liar and--a thought first expressed in this column the day Miller went behind bars--that "her stint in the Alexandria jail was in part a career rehabilitation project".

Then, with Judy down on the canvas, Dowd came flying down from the corner post, with her knee on Judy's throat:
Judy told The Times that she plans to write a book and intends to return to the newsroom, hoping to cover "the same thing I've always covered - threats to our country." If that were to happen, the institution most in danger would be the newspaper in your hands.

Moral: Don't ever take Maureen Dowd's chair at a White House briefing.

Dowd mentions an internal memo to the staff from the Times' editor, Bill Keller in which--to use Dowd's words--"Judy seemed to have 'misled' the Washington bureau chief, Phil Taubman, about the extent of her involvement in the Valerie Plame leak case."

What Keller actually wrote was the following:
"if I had known the details of Judy's entanglement with Libby, I'd have been more careful in how the paper articulated its defense and perhaps more willing than I had been to support efforts aimed at exploring compromises."

"Entanglement" is a curiously suggestive word, given the notoriously rich and varied texture of Judy Miller's sexual resumé whose imagined contours have been the sport of newsrooms and hotel bars around the world. Certainly Miller took it that way, writing in response, "As for your reference to my 'entanglement' with Mr. Libby, I had no personal, social, or other relationship with him except as a source." Welcome to The Times as Pay-Per-View Reality TV.

Keller's sniveling "internal" memo throwing Miller over the side, which he obviously knew would be forwarded to Howard Kurtz ten seconds after he hit the SEND key, seems to me to be entirely disgusting. The Times nailed Miller's colors to its mast many years ago. There are decades' worth of her atrocious mendacities in its archives, and decades' worth of accurate refutations of her news stories ignored by Times' editors.

Miller's game was the Times' game. They were witting co-conspirators. When Miller co-wrote (with Stephen Engelberg and William Broad) Germs: Biological Weapons and America's Secret War, the Times was happy to print her stories in the paper designed to push the book up into Bestseller status, in a staggering conflict of interest that earned the paper plenty of money. This, remember, was when Miller was sent that mysterious envelope of white powder that turned out not to be anthrax spores, which gave the book yet another boost.

It's way too late in the game for Times editors to start whining that Judy misled them. They printed her rubbish because they were disposed to believe it, and for Keller to turn on her now in an "internal" memo designed for public consumption is cowardly and despicable. The gentlemanly thing for Keller to do would to keep a stiff upper lip, let Dowd and the reporters toss Miller on their horns and, if circumstances warrant, fall upon his sword, accompanied in this act by the publisher, unless the Times' shareholders shoot him first for presiding over the 53 per cent drop in profits this year.

I never cared much for the whole Plame scandal, mostly on the aesthetic grounds that outing Plame as a CIA agent seemed such a moronic way for the White House to try to discredit Joe Wilson, also because outing CIA agents is an act for which--for radicals at least--applause should be the default setting. But in that odd way that scandals acquire critical mass by dint of larger social and political discontent, the Plame scandal is severely wounding the Bush regime and the New York Times and we certainly applaud that.

And with the Times now publicly dismembering itself the scandal has at last become fun. Not as much fun as the Lewinsky scandal of course, but what scandal will ever match those magic years?

By way of a coda: My favorite among Judy's amours has always been the British consular official in Tripoli whom Judy had once made the plaything of an idle hour, or of the need for some document or fragment of information. The British journalist David Blundy, later killed in Central America, was in the cellar of the British consulate in Tripoli during the US bombing raid in Reagan-time, designed to kill Qadaffi. Also present was Judy's conquest, the consular official. The wretched man had never got over Judy and as the bombs crashed down and the building trembled on its foundations, he took ever heavier swigs from a bottle of Scotch and moaned in his broad Scottish accent, "She's a terrr-ible, terrrr-ible woman, but I love her (CRASH) She's a terrrr." (CRASH, etc)

Crack open a bottle of the best red you can afford.

Note: for the record, I disagree in part with Al's own assessment of the Plame matter: he thinks radicals should applaud the outing of any CIA agent. As for me, I don't have a problem with what's knows as the "Ivy Leaguers," i.e., the part of the agency that centralizes intelligence. The "cowboys" are the one I could do without (the country could do without them as well--mostly, they've bungled almost everything they've touched). I also think Cockburn's wrong with his recent support of the position that petroleum is inorganic and renewable. While I'm not necessarily a peak-oil advocate, I'm inclined to believe that oil is NOT a renewable resource. Hell, even if it was, the associated waste in production and use make it untenable in the long term...and this country could go a long way in cementing it's position as reigning superpower if we'd, say, invest heavily in renewables--emphasis on "invest."

We Don't Do Body Counts

That is, unless shit and fan are inexorably fated to meet:

Eager to demonstrate success in Iraq, the U.S. military has abandoned its previous refusal to publicize enemy body counts and now cites such numbers periodically to show the impact of some counterinsurgency operations.

The revival of body counts, a practice discredited during the Vietnam War, has apparently come without formal guidance from the Pentagon's leadership. Military spokesmen in Washington and Baghdad said they knew of no written directive detailing the circumstances under which such figures should be released or the steps that should be taken to ensure accuracy...

So far, the releases have tended to be associated either with major attacks that netted significant numbers of enemy fighters or with lengthy operations that have spanned days or weeks. On Saturday, for instance, the U.S. military reported 20 insurgents killed and one captured in raids on five houses suspected of sheltering foreign fighters in a town near the Syrian border. Six days earlier, the 2nd Marine Division issued a statement saying an estimated 70 suspected insurgents had died in the Ramadi area as a result of three separate airstrikes by fighter jets and helicopters.

That Oct. 16 statement reflected some of the pitfalls associated with releasing such statistics. The number was immediately challenged by witnesses, who said many of those killed were not insurgents but civilians, including women and children.

Privately, several uniformed military and civilian defense officials expressed concern that the pendulum may have swung too far, with body counts now creeping into too many news releases from Iraq and Afghanistan. They also questioned the effectiveness of citing such figures in conflicts where the enemy has shown itself capable of rapidly replacing dead fighters and where commanders acknowledge great uncertainty about the total size of the enemy force.

However, it DOES tend to deflect questions about messy details, like where there IS a raging insurgency in both countries, a good two to three years following "Mission Accomplished." Or why secruity is so limited that the Palestine Hotel can be attacked by rockets and car bombs. Or why there even needs to be a "Green Zone."...Hmmm.
And 18 Cents

Hey, nothing to sneeze at, but it's still not enough for a night in the Lincoln Bedroom regardless of which faction is running the show...well, good. I'd like to think that affords me a bit of integrity.

Given my readership numbers, that puts each of y'all between one and two thousand dollars per. Thanks!

Link courtesy of Billmon.

My blog is worth $9,597.18.
How much is your blog worth?

Note: my internet at home is unbelievably limited right now--so, I'm playing catch-up from the weekend. Back in a bit.