Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Al-Jazeera Wants Answers On Bush Bombing Comments

Steve Clemons at the Washington Note has the text of the letter Al-Jazeera's Managing Director, Wadah Khanfar, sent to Tony Blair demanding answers about the Downing Street memo that details Preznit Bush's alleged desire to bomb Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar.

Steve also notes that:

This "bombing memo" matter is going to continue to boil for a while, and the UK Attorney General is apparently intent on prosecuting two bureaucrats for leaking the contents of the memo.

Eventually, the memo will be made public, and it will add yet another few news cycles of attention to this matter and potentially implicate all of those who said that Bush said no such thing.

Obsession with secrecy and covering up mistakes is characteristic of the Bush administration, which now seems to be paying a high price for this undemocratic behavior.

They keep getting caught in their lies. The WMD's. The Niger uranium story. The aluminum tubes story. The Al-Qaeda/Saddam connection. The Mohammed Atta/Iraq Secret Service meeting in Prague. The claim that we didn't use white phosphorus (a chemical weapon, according to the Pentagon) in the Fallujah assault when we clearly did. How many Iraqi troops are trained and battle-ready. The claim the U.S. doesn't use torture. The whitewash of Abu Ghraib. The overseas secret prison and the use of "extraordinary renditions" of terror suspects to other countries. The various CIA leak lies. The various lies surrounding the Abramoff/Delay/Frist/Coingate/Randy Cunningham scandals. The Armstrong Williams/Maggie Gallagher/et al. propaganda links. The Jeff Gannon bullshit. And on an on...

Unfortunately, the boys haven't paid a political price for these lies. Sure, the 2005 elections of Democratic governors in Virginia and New Jersey hint at bad times to come for the GOP, but they haven't actually arrived just yet.

And Georgie Boy and Big Time Cheney and Karl and Karen and the rest of the GOP propagandists/apologists seem to believe they can keep trouble at bay by spinning away reality into easily digestible talking points for television, lying about the past, present, and future, and swift boating all opponents of their policies as "traitors."

Until somebody makes these fuckers pay a price for their lies, half-truths, and crimes against the nation, this behavior isn't going to change.

This is why they think they can get away with ignoring the "Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera" story. They figure they'll get away with this lie and/or half-truth the way they've gotten away with all of the others in the past.

So far they're right. But we'll see how long they can go stonewalling the story.

Trying To Win The War Of Words

I have to work for a living, so I didn't get to see the preznit's big Iraq speech today. But Dan Froomkin from the Washington Post provides a pretty good summary:

Refusing to bow to growing public pressure to produce an exit strategy in Iraq, President Bush today pugnaciously declared that his focus is on winning, not leaving.

"We will never back down, we will never give in, and we will never accept anything less than complete victory," he said in this morning's speech at the U.S. Naval Academy.

Or, as he put it even more succinctly yesterday in El Paso : "We want to win."

Bush's speech -- combined with a new, rosy, slogan-filled White House document entitled " Victory in Iraq " -- kicks off a bold public-relations campaign to recast the debate about the war.

But there are several reasons to suspect that it might not work:

* It doesn't answer the most compelling question in contemporary American politics: When are the troops coming home?

* It doesn't even include any objective ways of measuring progress towards an eventual U.S. pullout.

* It is at heart a restatement, rather than a reappraisal, of a strategy that according to the polls the American public has overwhelmingly rejected.

* The White House did not address, not to mention refute, the argument that the continued presence of American troops is making things worse, rather than better.

* And nothing Bush said is likely to change the fact that he has a big credibility problem with most Americans.

Bush's speech, delivered to an enthusiastic, captive audience of Navy midshipmen, was the first in a series that Bush will be making between now and the December 15th elections in Iraq.

This is what Bush had to say about when troops come home: "As the Iraqi forces gain experience and the political progress advances, we will be able to decrease our troop levels in Iraq without losing our capability to defeat the terrorists.

"These decisions about troop levels will be driven by the conditions on the ground in Iraq and the good judgment of our commanders, not by artificial timetables set by politicians in Washington."

The new White House document put it this way: "We expect but cannot guarantee that our force posture will change."

Bush did cover a little new ground today. For the first time, he defined the insurgency as consisting of three constituent parts: "The enemy in Iraq is a combination of rejectionists, Saddamists and terrorists.

"The rejectionists are by far the largest group. These are ordinary Iraqis, mostly Sunni Arabs, who miss the privileged status they had under the regime of Saddam Hussein. And they reject an Iraq in which they're no longer the dominant group. . . .

"The second group that makes up the enemy in Iraq is smaller but more determined. It contains former regime loyalists who held positions of power under Saddam Hussein, people who still harbor dreams of returning to power. . . .

"The third group is the smallest but the most lethal: the terrorists affiliated with or inspired by Al Qaida."

But even in this, his most sophisticated analysis of the enemy, Bush did not mention the important role that resistance to an occupation plays in Iraq.

Bush ramped up the rhetorical attack against those who are calling for him to establish some objective goals and timetables in Iraq, accusing them of wanting to set an artificial deadline.

"Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a message across the world that America is weak and an unreliable ally," he said.

"Setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would send a signal to our enemies that if they wait long enough, America will cut and run and abandon its friends.

"And setting an artificial deadline to withdraw would vindicate the terrorist tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder and invite new attacks on America.

"To all who wear the uniform, I make you this pledge: America will not run in the face of car bombers and assassins so long as I am your commander in chief."

There were several straw-man arguments. For instance:

"Some critics continue to assert that we have no plan in Iraq except to, quote, 'Stay the course.'

"If by 'Stay the course,' they mean, 'We will not allow the terrorists to break our will,' they're right.

"If by 'Stay the course,' they mean, 'We will not permit Al Qaida to turn Iraq into what Afghanistan was under the Taliban, a safe haven for terrorism and a launching pad for attacks on America,' they're right, as well.

"If by 'Stay the course,' they mean that we're not learning from our experiences or adjusting our tactics to meet the challenges on the ground, then they're flat wrong."

My understanding is that by "stay the course" at least some of his critics mean remaining obstinately and indefinitely in a quagmire, where our presence just makes things worse.

Gee, several straw-man arguments in a Bush speech?

Frankly straw-man arguments, savage partisan attacks, and talking tough in front of vetted military audiences is about all the preznit can give us these days.

And that's all he gave us today.

Nothing new, nothing to feel hopeful about.

This motherfucker hasn't learned anything from his mistakes. He's completely delusional. You can see it in his demeanor and hear it in his words. He still thinks he's going down as one of the greatest American presidents ever for brining democracy to Iraq and taking the fight to the terrorists.

What a mess - both Iraq and America.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

NY Times, LA Times Both Say U.S. Trained Shiite "Deathsquads" Execute Sunnis

Boy, I sure am glad we invaded Iraq and shut down Saddam's torture chambers, rape rooms and death squads. First from the NY Times:

BAGHDAD, Iraq, Nov. 28 - As the American military pushes the largely Shiite Iraqi security services into a larger role in combating the insurgency, evidence has begun to mount suggesting that the Iraqi forces are carrying out executions in predominantly Sunni neighborhoods.

Hundreds of accounts of killings and abductions have emerged in recent weeks, most of them brought forward by Sunni civilians, who claim that their relatives have been taken away by Iraqi men in uniform without warrant or explanation.

Some Sunni men have been found dead in ditches and fields, with bullet holes in their temples, acid burns on their skin, and holes in their bodies apparently made by electric drills. Many have simply vanished.

Some of the young men have turned up alive in prison. In a secret bunker discovered earlier this month in an Interior Ministry building in Baghdad, American and Iraqi officials acknowledged that some of the mostly Sunni inmates appeared to have been tortured.


Many of the claims of killings and abductions have been substantiated by at least one human rights organization working here - which asked not to be identified because of safety concerns - and documented by Sunni leaders working in their communities.

American officials, who are overseeing the training of the Iraqi Army and the police, acknowledge that police officers and Iraqi soldiers, and the militias with which they are associated, may indeed be carrying out killings and abductions in Sunni communities, without direct American knowledge.

But they also say it is difficult, in an already murky guerrilla war, to determine exactly who is responsible. The American officials insisted on anonymity because they were working closely with the Iraqi government and did not want to criticize it publicly.

The widespread conviction among Sunnis that the Shiite-led government is bent on waging a campaign of terror against them is sending waves of fear through the community, just as Iraqi and American officials are trying to coax the Sunnis to take part in nationwide elections on Dec. 15.

Sunnis believe that the security forces are carrying out sectarian reprisals, in part to combat the insurgency, but also in revenge for years of repression at the hands of Saddam Hussein's government.

Ayad Allawi, a prominent Iraqi politician who is close to the Sunni community, charged in an interview published Sunday in The London Observer that the Iraqi government - and the Ministry of Interior in particular - was condoning torture and running death squads.

The allegations raise the possibility of the war being fought here by a set of far messier rules, as the Americans push more responsibility for fighting it onto the Iraqis. One worry, expressed repeatedly by Americans and Iraqis here, is that an abrupt pullout of American troops could clear the way for a sectarian war.

One Sunni group taking testimony from families in Baghdad said it had documented the death or disappearance of 700 Sunni civilians in the past four months.

An investigator for the human rights organization said it had not been able to determine the number of executions carried out by the Iraqi security forces. So far, the investigator said, the evidence was anecdotal, but substantial.

"There is no question that bodies are turning up," said the investigator, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, citing safety concerns. "Quite a few have been handcuffed and shot in the back of the head."

Now the LA Times:

BAGHDAD — Shiite Muslim militia members have infiltrated Iraq's police force and are carrying out sectarian killings under the color of law, according to documents and scores of interviews.

The abuses raise the specter of organized retaliation to attacks by Sunni-led insurgents that have killed thousands of Shiites, who endured decades of subjugation under Saddam Hussein.

And they undermine the U.S. effort to stabilize the nation, and train and equip Iraq's security forces — the Bush administration's key prerequisites for the eventual withdrawal of American troops.

In recent months, hundreds of bodies have been discovered in rivers, garbage dumps, sewage treatment facilities and alongside roads and in desert ravines. Many of them are thought to be victims of Sunni insurgents, who are known to target Shiite civilians and Iraqi security forces, and even Sunni Arabs believed to be collaborating with U.S. forces or the Iraqi government. But increasingly, the Shiite militias operating within the national police force are also suspected of committing atrocities.

The Baghdad morgue reports that dozens of bodies arrive at the same time on a weekly basis, including scores of corpses with wrists bound by police handcuffs.

Over several months, the Muslim Scholars Assn., a Sunni organization, has compiled a library of grisly autopsy photos, lists of hundreds of missing and dead Sunnis and electronic recordings of testimonies by people who say they witnessed abuses by police officers affiliated with Shiite militias.

U.S. officials have long been concerned about extrajudicial killings in Iraq, but until recently they have refrained from calling violent elements within the police force "death squads" — a loaded term that conjures up the U.S.-backed paramilitaries that killed thousands of civilians during the Latin American civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s.

But U.S. military advisors in Iraq say the term is apt, and the Interior Ministry's inspector general concurs that extrajudicial killings are being carried out by ministry forces.

"There are such groups operating — yes, this is correct," said Interior Ministry Inspector General Nori Nori.

Meet the new Iraq, same as the old Iraq.

And it only cost billions of American dollars and 2108 American lives.

Monday, November 28, 2005

The Working and Middle Classes Get Fucked Again By Corporate America

Surprise, surprise...Corporate profits up, worker's wages stagnant. From the LA Times:

This is Wall Street's version of comfort food: Corporate earnings keep rising at a double-digit pace while workers are lucky to get even low-single-digit wage increases.

For the last few years, those trends have been dependable and soothing for many stock market bulls — if not for the average worker. It's a world in which share prices are underpinned by healthy earnings while inflation risks are muted because employee pay isn't in danger of an upward spiral.

The story continued in the third quarter ended Sept. 30. With nearly all of the companies in the blue-chip Standard & Poor's 500 index now having reported their earnings for the period, the year-over-year growth rate was once again in double digits.

By S&P's reckoning, operating earnings for the S&P 500 companies rose 11.5% in the quarter. It was the 14th straight quarter of double-digit growth, the data firm says.

Because profit growth rate calculations can vary depending on the definition of operating results (i.e., earnings before one-time gains or losses), the results look even better by some yardsticks. Boston-based Thomson Financial, another data cruncher, estimates that S&P 500 profit rose 16% in the latest quarter.

In any case, the double-digit growth pace has gone on a lot longer than many analysts expected. For 2005 overall, S&P expects blue-chip earnings to be up 13.4%. And it predicts an 11.5% rise next year.

As for the workers whose toil is producing these handsome results, wages and salaries for all private-industry employees rose 2.2% in the 12 months ended Sept. 30, according to the government's employment cost index. That was down from a 2.6% increase in the year ended September 2004.

Add in benefits such as healthcare coverage, and total employment costs were up 3% in the most recent 12 months, compared with 3.7% in the previous period, government data show.

Now, there are many ways to measure compensation, and "average" pay gains can be as misleading as "average" earnings growth. For example, it's logical to assume that employees of energy companies have a lot more to look forward to, pay-wise, than employees of auto companies, given the profit trends in those two industries.

But few on Wall Street would dispute that corporate earnings have been fattened in recent years in large part because the rewards of the economic expansion — and spectacular gains in worker productivity — have primarily flowed to companies' bottom lines, not into employees' pockets.

"It's accurate to say that most of the productivity dividend has not gone to labor," said Ken Goldstein, an economist for the Conference Board, a business-sponsored research organization.

Historically, companies have reaped most of the financial benefits of economic growth at the beginning of expansions, when workers are in relative excess supply and thus have less leverage to demand higher pay.

As expansions wear on, however, and the labor supply tightens, the pendulum is supposed to swing toward workers: They make more, at the expense of corporate earnings. Labor is, of course, the largest single expense for most companies.

"What's different this time is it's taking longer for the pendulum to swing back," Goldstein said.

Based on the U.S. unemployment rate, which was 5% in October, down from 6% two years ago, workers arguably should feel more confident about demanding better wages. And in some occupations, especially technical ones in manufacturing, there's no doubt they can.

Overall, though, compensation data suggest employees don't believe that they have much leeway with the boss.

And that's usually how most companies finally agree to share more of their profit with workers, says Milton Ezrati, an economic strategist at investment firm Lord, Abbett & Co. in Jersey City, N.J.: "It's not largesse; it's because of pressure" from employees who are ready to find a better job, he says.

Yet even with the unemployment rate falling for the last two years, there are legitimate reasons workers may not feel confident about their prospects. General Motors Corp.'s announcement last week of 30,000 job cuts was hardly a morale booster. And many people rightly believe that they're now competing with other workers worldwide, not just within the U.S.

The fear is that "if you argue too loud that 'I need more money,' you're going to get a pink slip," Goldstein said. "Whether it's true or not, that perception is out there."

The squeezing of the working classes and middle classes just gets worse and worse every year. Most Americans feel very scared about their own economic futures. Prices are up, college costs are way up, and health care costs are through the roof while their wages are stagnant, their pensions are at risk of disappearing, and layoffs are always just around the corner.

Yet the morons on the TV talk shows can't figure out why Americans are worried about the economy and give Preznit Bush and the GOP low approval numbers on their handling of the economy. Just tonight, John Fund, wanker extraordinaire from Opinion Journal, said on Hardball that the economy is doing really well but Americans aren't giving Bush the credit he deserves. Fund decided it was a perception problem which could be solved by getting the message out their that the economy is doing great cuz' the market is doing great.

But of course the problem with the economy for most Americans is not a perception problem. It is a stagnant wage, high health care/college costs/prices problem compounded by layoffs, offshoring/globalization, and Bush's ownership society economic policies where the top 1% of the nation reaps most of the economic and tax benefits.

That's the problem. But of course Fundie doesn't actually work for a living, so what the fuck does he know? He just looks at his stock portfolio, salivates at the double-digit increases and says "What a great economy!"

John Fund - another arrogant, clueless member of the investment class.

Bruce Willis Plans a "Die Hard" Iraq Film

Gotta love that Bruce Willis, just another cheap-ass John Wayne-wanna be. From The Sunday Times:

ANGERED by negative portrayals of the Iraq conflict, actor Bruce Willis is to make a pro-war film in which US soldiers will be depicted as brave fighters for freedom and democracy.

It will be based on the exploits of the heavily decorated members of Deuce Four, the 1st Battalion, 24th Infantry, which has spent the past year battling insurgents in the northern Iraqi town of Mosul.

Willis attended Deuce Four's homecoming ball this month in Seattle, Washington, where the soldiers are on leave, along with Stephen Eads, the producer of Willis's films Armageddon and The Sixth Sense.

The 50-year-old actor said he was in talks about a film of "these guys who do what they are asked to for very little money to defend and fight for what they consider to be freedom". Unlike many Hollywood stars, Willis supports the war and recently offered a $US1million ($1.35million) bounty for the capture of any of al-Qa'ida's most-wanted leaders such as Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, its commander in Iraq. Willis visited the war zone with his rock and blues band, the Accelerators, in 2003.

"I am baffled to understand why the things I saw happening in Iraq are not being reported," he told MSNBC, the US news channel.

Boy, Bruce is such a tough guy...just like our preznit. God love the both of them...two chickenhawks who love to put on the uniform and play soldier as long as it doesn't mean actual combat duty!

I do hope Willis films "Die Hard in Baghdad" or whatever the fuck he's calling this piece of shit on location in Iraq and not say, Arizona, or New Mexico. I mean, if everything's going so swell in Iraq, Bruce should help out the local economy by filming on location. He just needs to watch out for those roadside bombs hidden in dead dogs by the side of the highway and the suicide bombers in the donkey carts headed for the outdoor markets.

Bruce is also wondering why the press isn't reporting the progess he saw happening in Iraq when he visited in 2003 with his rock and blues band. Perhaps that's because it's now 2005 and the situation has gotten much, much worse. Robin Wright, a reporter for the Washington Post, wrote on Friday November 25th that the situation in Iraq has deteriorated greatly since she first visited the country along with Secretary of State Colin Powell in 2003:

BAGHDAD -- Five months after the fall of Baghdad, I went to Iraq with Colin Powell. It was the first visit by a secretary of state in half a century, and although he moved under heavy security, there was an optimistic, forward-looking feel to the trip.

Much has changed about Iraq in the intervening two years. And visits by America's secretary of state -- first Powell, then Condoleezza Rice -- have proved to be a microcosm of America's intervention here.

On our first trip, in mid-September 2003, the State Department entourage and diplomatic press corps stayed for two full nights at the legendary al Rashid Hotel, the high-rise once heavily bugged by Saddam Hussein's security goons. Iraqi vendors in the hotel arcade sold military paraphernalia and souvenirs from the old regime. Medals that Hussein once bestowed on his troops went for 10 bucks -- or less, if you bargained enough.

Back then, we could tool around the Iraqi capital. With a New York Times colleague, I walked through the concrete barriers down the lonely lane that linked the protected Green Zone to the rest of Baghdad. U.S. troops stationed along the route didn't stop us.


We also wandered freely around Hussein's favorite Republican Palace, the headquarters for the new U.S.-led occupation government. We marveled at the marble halls. We stopped to gawk at Hussein's gilded throne in a hall festooned with frescoes of giant missiles blasting into the sky.

Back then, Powell would leave the Green Zone -- surrounded by a security "bubble" -- for meetings with Shiite, Kurd and Sunni government officials, and then dinner with a prominent Shiite cleric.


My second trip to Baghdad, on July 30, 2004, some 15 months after the fall of the city, was a secret. This time, the press corps traveling with Powell couldn't report it until after we'd landed.

We traveled from the airport to the Green Zone in Black Hawk helicopters, with U.S. troops perched in open windows on both sides manning machine guns that fire as many as 4,000 rounds per minute.

The route was so dangerous that we were all given flak jackets and helmets for the short trip.

This time, we didn't stay even one night. The al Rashid had come under rocket fire in October 2003, when then-Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz was visiting. The attack had killed one American soldier and wounded 15 other people.

The hotel was off-limits even for journalists traveling with Powell. When I pressed the case, a diplomat offered to escort me through a new barricade between the convention center and the hotel, which was just across the street. Unfortunately, she didn't have clearance for the hotel. I didn't get in.

This time, Powell's bubble -- and ours -- was much smaller. America's top diplomat didn't leave the Green Zone and U.S. security wouldn't let the press out, either. I did manage to travel inside the four-square-mile zone with then-Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih to his residence.

We drove down palm-fringed boulevards with ornate villas once home to Hussein's aides, generals and family, and now inhabited by Iraq's new leaders, U.S. contractors and Iraqi squatters. We passed a busy open-air bazaar where gregarious Iraqi vendors hawked trinkets, carpets, T-shirts and techno-gadgets. Complete with parkland, monuments and ministries, the Green Zone is a city within a city. It was only a brief outing, but when I got back, the State Department's security team still read me the riot act for breaking out of the bubble.

Most of the time, the news media waited at the domed and well-guarded convention center as Powell met with Iraqi leaders who had assumed power from the U.S.-led occupation government a month earlier. But there was no connection with ordinary Iraqis or the real Baghdad.


My latest trip to Iraq, on Nov. 11, 31 months after the fall of the capital, was kept secret even from some of the people on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's plane. The dozen members of the traveling press were summoned to the State Department the day before we left on a trip to the Middle East and sworn to secrecy after a briefing about the additional stop.

We could tell an editor and a family member, but we were asked not to mention it to anyone else, particularly our bureaus in the Iraqi capital -- and not on the phone or by e-mail to anyone, at all, anywhere. If word got out, the trip would be canceled. A leak had forced the postponement of a similar trip in the spring.

The road between the airport and the Green Zone was officially considered safer, but we still flew in armed Black Hawks moving in diversionary patterns through the sky.

On this latest trip to Baghdad, the bubble shrank even more. No roaming the Green Zone. Not even a stop at the convention center. The press corps, including veteran war correspondents, was sequestered in Hussein's old palace for most of the seven-hour stay. We were discouraged from wandering the palace and were provided escorts to go to the bathroom.

Our one venture out was a short hop to the nearby prime minister's office, also in the Green Zone. All we saw were new barricades trimmed with razor wire, concrete blast walls, roadblocks and time-consuming identity checks. No Iraqis. No vendors. In October 2004, the bazaar had been attacked, one of two almost simultaneous suicide bombings inside the Green Zone that together killed 10, including four Americans.


For the first time, we pulled out after dark. As we flew from the Green Zone, the Black Hawk gunners wore night vision scopes, which look like little binoculars on eyeglasses, so they could spot suspicious activity through the night. The pilot of the C-17 military transport that flew us out of Iraq did not turn on the interior lights until we had reached a safe altitude -- and were well out of Baghdad airspace.

Yup, I sure do hope Bruce Willis makes his "Die Hard in Baghdad" film on location in Iraq. Then maybe after somebody shoots at his arrogant, steroid-laden ass while he's walking through the Green Zone or he watches a couple of suicide bombers blow a hotel where American reporters are staying to smithereens he'll be less eager to glorify this fucking war or create Bushie propaganda.

Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Ca) Pleads Guilty To Bribery, Tax Evasion Charges And Resigns

We get our first guilty plea from a sitting GOP politician and 2006 (the official "Year of the Frogmarch") hasn't even started yet! From the Associated Press:

SAN DIEGO (AP) -- Rep. Randy ''Duke'' Cunningham pleaded guilty Monday to conspiracy and tax charges and tearfully resigned from office, admitting he took $2.4 million in bribes to steer defense contracts to conspirators.

Cunningham, 63, entered pleas in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to commit bribery, mail fraud and wire fraud, and tax evasion for underreporting his income in 2004.

Cunningham answered ''yes, Your Honor'' when asked by U.S. District Judge Larry Burns if he had accepted bribes from someone in exchange for his performance of official duties.

Later, at a news conference, he wiped away tears as he announced his resignation.

''I can't undo what I have done but I can atone,'' he said.

Cunningham, an eight-term Republican congressman, had already announced in July that he would not seek re-election next year.

House Ethics rules say that any lawmaker convicted of a felony no longer should vote or participate in committee work. Under Republican caucus rules, Cunningham also would have lost his chairmanship of the House Intelligence subcommittee on terrorism and human intelligence.

The former Vietnam War flying ace was known on Capitol Hill for his interest in defense issues and his occasional temperamental outbursts.

After the hearing, Cunningham was taken away for fingerprinting and released on his own recognizance until a Feb. 27 sentencing hearing. He could receive up to 10 years in prison.

He also agreed to forfeit to the government his Rancho Santa Fe home, more than $1.8 million in cash and antiques and rugs.

In a statement, prosecutors said Cunningham admitted to receiving at least $2.4 million in bribes paid to him by several conspirators through a variety of methods, including checks totaling over $1 million, cash, rugs, antiques, furniture, yacht club fees and vacations.

''He did the worst thing an elected official can do -- he enriched himself through his position and violated the trust of those who put him there,'' U.S. Attorney Carol Lam said. The statement did not identify the conspirators.

The case began when authorities started investigating whether Cunningham and his wife, Nancy, used the proceeds from the $1,675,000 sale to defense contractor Mitchell Wade to buy the $2.55 million mansion in Rancho Santa Fe. Wade put the Del Mar house back on the market and sold it after nearly a year for $975,000 -- a loss of $700,000.

He drew little notice outside his San Diego-area district before the San Diego Union-Tribune reported last June that he'd sold the home to Wade.

Cunningham's pleas came amid a series of GOP scandals. Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas had to step down as majority leader after he was indicted in a campaign finance case; a stock sale by Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is being looked at by regulators; and Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff was indicted in the CIA leak case.

Buh-bye, Duke.

Daily News: Bush Doesn't Want To Hear Bad News About Iraq

This story comes as no surprise, yet it is still terrifying nonetheless. Georgie Boy doesn't want to hear any bad news about his Iraq war - not even from the military or his top aides - and even believes in the rightness of his actions to the point of absolute certainty.

From The NY Daily News:

WASHINGTON - President Bush will hear no evil on the Iraq war - even when the bad news comes from military brass and top government officials, a new report says.

Bush "remains convinced that it is his personal mission to bring democracy to Iraq," according to The New Yorker magazine.

The article, echoing a Daily News story yesterday, says Bush and his inner circle are so determined to follow their own plan that generals fear saying what's wrong in Iraq - and senior advisers are snubbed if they have bad news.

"I tried to tell" the President about problems in Iraq, one former senior official told the magazine. "And he couldn't hear it."

The News quoted another Bush confidant yesterday saying that Team Bush has an "unyielding belief in the wisdom of what they're doing" in Iraq and elsewhere, and that "they're talking to people who could help them, but they're not listening."

New Yorker reporter Seymour Hersh said that Bush is motivated in part by religious fervor and that he believes the war must be judged on a time line of decades, not years. "He's a utopian, you could say, in a world where maybe he doesn't have all the facts and all the information he needs and isn't able to change," Hersh said on CNN yesterday.

"I'll tell you, the people that talk to me now are essentially frightened because they're not sure how you get to this guy."

Hersh said such tunnel vision helps explain why the Bush administration went ballistic when Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), a Vietnam War hero, recently declared the war is tanking and it's time to bring the troops home.

"The generals know him and like him," Hersh said. "His message to the White House was much more worrisome than maybe to the average person in the public. [White House officials] know that generals are privately telling him things that they're not saying to them."

The administration is looking for options to bring some troops home. The Pentagon is expected to cut forces from the current level of about 160,000 to about 138,000 after next month's elections in Iraq. And under "optimistic" scenarios, forces would be cut to around 100,000 by late 2006.

Hersh, however, reports that keeping fewer boots on the ground may be designed only to provide political cover and that a bigger air war may follow.

"The war is not going to slow down," Hersh told CNN. "We're going to increase the pace of air operations. There's going to be more bombing in direct support of Iraqi units."

A White House spokesman said he hadn't seen Hersh's story and could not comment.

The reports of Bush's determination regarding Iraq come as he's preparing to launch a major new publicity push on the war, starting with a speech Wednesday at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Also, Bush's ambassador to Iraq warned yesterday that pulling out of the country early would be disastrous. "Terrorists could take over part of this country and expand from here," Zalmay Khalilzad told Newsweek. "And given the resources of Iraq, given the technical expertise of its people, it will make Afghanistan look like child's play."

Until somebody sane permanently sedates the preznit, sticks him into a rehab clinic for some 12 stepping and takes over control of the administration, this White House is never going to change direction nor pull out of its tailspin.

David Gergen has said over and over again that the White House needs to bring in an outsider who's less politicized than the current crop or Rovians and reach out to the middle in order to govern as the president of everybody in the country.

But that is not going to happen as long as this preznit remains in control. It is quite obvious that the preznit is completely incapable of change or living in reality.

The more stories we see about how crazy and in denial the preznit is, the more you have to realize how dangerous the next three years are going to be.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Another TIME Reporter to Testify In CIA Leak Case

No matter what David Broder, Tom Brokaw and the rest of the D.C. conventional wisdom brigade say about Karl Rove being out of serious legal jeopardy in the CIA leak case, Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald still has his sights on Bush's Brain. From the Associated Press:

A second Time magazine reporter has agreed to cooperate in the CIA leak case and will testify about her discussions with Karl Rove's attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide.

Viveca Novak, a reporter in Time's Washington bureau, is cooperating with Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, who is investigating the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity in 2003, the magazine reported in its Dec. 5 issue.

Novak specifically has been asked to testify under oath about conversations she had with Rove attorney Robert Luskin starting in May 2004, the magazine reported.

Novak, part of a team tracking the CIA case for Time, has written or contributed to articles in which Luskin characterized the nature of what was said between Rove and Matthew Cooper, the first Time reporter who testified in the case.

Cooper appeared before the grand jury in July after Time surrendered his notes and e-mail detailing a conversation with Rove. Cooper agreed to talk and avoid jail after disclosing that his source — now confirmed to be Rove — released him from his confidentiality agreement.

A grand jury indicted I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, on perjury and obstruction charges on Oct. 28. Fitzgerald said in court papers earlier this month that he will present additional evidence to another grand jury.

Rove has remained under investigation for his involvement in leaking the identity of Plame, whose husband, former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson, is a critic of the Bush administration.

First Bob Woodward testifies in the CIA leak case to a new grand jury a couple of weeks ago, now Viveca Novak will testify about conversations she had with Rove's lawyer in 2004.

Lots of trouble for Rove here.

How much do you want to make a bet that tomorrow we will hear from some of Rove's apologists, like Joe DiGenova/Victoria Toesing or Kay Bailey Hutchinson, who'll say Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald got embarrassed by Bob Woodward last week when Woodward revealed that a senior administration official had leaked Valerie Plame's identity to him in June 2003 before Scooter Libby leaked her identity to Judy Miller, so now Fitzgerald's just trying to save face by impaneling a new grand jury, subpoening a few more people, and hearing a little bit more testimony in the case?

I bet we'll hear that either on Wolf's show or Tweety's show by no later than 5:30 PM.

Only problem is, the more Rove's apologists try to spin news in the CIA leak case, the more events in the case reveal their excuses to be pure spin.

Or pure bullshit.

Abramoff, Coingate Scandals and a Gangland Murder Investigation Break Simultaneously

The stench of corruption and greed surrounding the GOP and the White House is unmistakeable and overwhelming.

First yesterday's Washington Post on the Abramoff scandals:

The Justice Department's wide-ranging investigation of former lobbyist Jack Abramoff has entered a highly active phase as prosecutors are beginning to move on evidence pointing to possible corruption in Congress and executive branch agencies, lawyers involved in the case said.

Prosecutors have already told one lawmaker, Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio), and his former chief of staff that they are preparing a possible bribery case against them, according to two sources knowledgeable about the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The 35 to 40 investigators and prosecutors on the Abramoff case are focused on at least half a dozen members of Congress, lawyers and others close to the probe said. The investigators are looking at payments made by Abramoff and his colleagues to the wives of some lawmakers and at actions taken by senior Capitol Hill aides, some of whom went to work for Abramoff at the law firm Greenberg Traurig LLP, lawyers and others familiar with the probe said.

Former House majority leader Tom DeLay (R), now facing separate campaign finance charges in his home state of Texas, is one of the members under scrutiny, the sources said. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), Rep. John T. Doolittle (R-Calif.) and other members of Congress involved with Indian affairs, one of Abramoff's key areas of interest, are also said to be among them.

Prosecutions and plea deals have become more likely, the lawyers said, now that Abramoff's former partner -- public relations executive Michael Scanlon -- has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and to testify about gifts that he and his K Street colleagues showered on lawmakers, allegedly in exchange for official favors.

An attorney for DeLay, whose wife worked for a lobbying firm that received client referrals from Abramoff, said there was no connection between her work and congressional business. A spokesman for Doolittle, whose wife received payments from Abramoff's lobbying firm, also said there was no connection with her husband's position. Burns's office has said his actions were consistent with his support for improving conditions for Indian tribes.

Ney is the congressman whose name has surfaced most prominently in the Abramoff investigation. His spokesman and attorney have said for weeks that Ney has not been told he is a target of the inquiry, even while acknowledging that his office has received a grand jury subpoena and that his activities were mentioned in Scanlon's plea agreement.

But the sources said that during the third week of October prosecutors told Ney and his former chief of staff, Neil Volz, that they were preparing a bribery case based in part on activities that occurred in October 2000. Abramoff and another business partner, Adam Kidan, were also told that they are targets in that case, the sources said.


The events in 2000 that interest investigators are connected to the purchase by Abramoff and Kidan of SunCruz Casinos, owner of a fleet of Florida gambling boats. Ney twice placed comments in the Congressional Record about SunCruz, first criticizing its former owner when Abramoff and Kidan were in difficult purchase negotiations and then, in October, praising Kidan's new management. Abramoff and Kidan are facing trial in January on charges of defrauding lenders in their purchase of the casino boats.

On Thursday, the Miami Sun-Sentinel reported that the gangster who murdered former Sun Cruz casino owner Gus Boulis implicated Abramoff's partner, Adam Kidan, in the 2001 gangland murder (via Josh Marshall at

Anthony "Big Tony" Moscatiello said he thought he was just going to get a gift -- a 1987 Cadillac. What he ended up with was a confession to the headline-grabbing murder of casino magnate and Miami Subs founder Konstantinos "Gus" Boulis, according to court filings.

In court records publicly released Wednesday, Moscatiello incriminated his two co-defendants in the Boulis murder case, saying they both told him they carried out the hit on the business tycoon. With police and prosecutors tight-lipped about the high-profile case, the documents provided the first glimpse into the murder investigation.

Moscatiello began talking with Fort Lauderdale police detectives within just a few hours after they arrested him Sept. 26 on charges of first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and solicitation to commit murder, court records show. He immediately pointed the finger at an associate, Anthony "Little Tony" Ferrari, 48, and James "Pudgy" Fiorillo, 28, who worked for Ferrari.

In a taped sworn statement, Moscatiello told police that Fiorillo confided during a dinnertime conversation that he gunned down Boulis at the request of Ferrari. Fiorillo revealed his involvement in the Feb. 6, 2001, murder while Moscatiello had dinner with him two weeks after the slaying, Moscatiello told police. Fiorillo had driven to New York to deliver the Cadillac, a gift from Ferrari.

Moscatiello, 67, said Fiorillo also told him that Ferrari ordered the hit after getting a call from New York businessman Adam Kidan, according to court filings. Kidan had been fighting with Boulis for control of SunCruz Casino, a cruise ship gambling operation based out of Dania Beach.

Moscatiello told police that when he confronted Kidan about Fiorillo's claims, Kidan denied it. Moscatiello, who has admitted ties to the Gambino crime family, said he has known Kidan for years.

Court records show that when Kidan ran SunCruz, the company paid $145,000 to Moscatiello's daughter and one of Moscatiello's companies, and an additional $95,000 to a company run by Ferrari. Kidan has said he hired the Moscatiellos for food and beverage consulting and Ferrari's company to guard his vessels.

Kidan has not been charged in Boulis' killing. Beyond Fiorillo's third-hand account of what Kidan allegedly said, the court documents reviewed Wednesday by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel made no direct link between Kidan and the slaying.

Kidan's attorney, Robert LaRusso, said Wednesday night that Kidan had no involvement in the hit. Kidan told police in a March 2001 statement that he had nothing to do with Boulis' death and that the murder of the Greek business tycoon only complicated his fight for SunCruz Casino.

Kidan and one of his partners in the SunCruz deal, high-powered Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff, currently are fighting federal fraud charges related to their purchase of the cruise-to-nowhere operation. They are accused of lying on financial statements and creating phony documents to persuade lenders to back their bid for SunCruz. The company has since been sold to new owners.

The Broward County State Attorney's Office stated in court documents that it does not intend to issue subpoenas to either Kidan or Abramoff in the Boulis case.

Moscatiello said that killing Boulis made no sense and he never would have approved of it. Even if there were a lengthy legal fight over SunCruz, it would still have been a profitable venture for him, he said.

"It's a company doing 147 million a year," Moscatiello said. "If you can't skim a few dollars off 147 million a year, ha-ha you shouldn't be in business."

Moscatiello said later in the conversation, "I'm not going to go down the yellow brick road for something that I would ... I would have been dead set against and never, never once in a million years would I have said, `Let's do this.' And I'm just not going to go ... I'm not going [to] do life without parole for this."

Moscatiello said he was furious once Fiorillo told him that he had been the shooter. Moscatiello said he confronted Ferrari, who later confessed that he and Fiorillo performed the hit, according to Moscatiello's sworn statement.

Attorneys for Fiorillo and Ferrari could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Prosecutors have accused Moscatiello and Ferrari of attempting to solicit a fourth man -- Dwayne Nicholson -- to carry out the murder. Nicholson told police that Ferrari asked him to "take out" Boulis, according to court documents.

Nicholson has not been charged in the case.

Boulis was ambushed as he drove his BMW in the 1900 block of Miami Road in Fort Lauderdale. A car darted in front of him and the driver slammed on the brakes, forcing him to stop. That's when a black Mustang pulled up beside him and someone inside fired several shots through the driver's window. The two cars then sped away.

Boulis drove on, making a couple turns and getting on South Federal Highway. That's when he either lost consciousness or control, slamming head-on into a tree. An hour later, Boulis died on a Broward General Medical Center operating table.

David Bogenschutz, Moscatiello's attorney, said Wednesday night that he had not seen the transcripts of his client's statements to police.

"At this time and since the time from his arrest, Anthony Moscatiello is not cooperating," Bogenschutz said. "He never intends to cooperate and does not have a history of cooperating."

Moscatiello said he learned of Boulis' shooting on the night it happened when Ferrari called him to say he had heard on the news that someone had been shot and it might be Boulis. A Fort Lauderdale police detective asked Moscatiello how Ferrari would know about the shooting within just 12 minutes of the attack.

Moscatiello said he didn't know, but maybe there had been a "special" on television.

Court records show Moscatiello first talked to police in April 2002, but he never mentioned knowing anything about the hit.

Moscatiello, Ferrari and Fiorillo are in the Broward County Jail without bail on first-degree murder charges. The three, who have pleaded not guilty, are scheduled to have a Jan. 12 court appearance.

Moving along, here's today's Washington Post on Tom Noe, Bob Ney, and the Coingate scandal:

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The scandal began as a curiosity. Tom Noe, a gregarious businessman and Republican Party leader in northwest Ohio, had been entrusted with $50 million in state money to invest in rare coins, with the idea of winning fat returns for the workers' compensation fund.

It seemed an oddity at most, but like a loose thread on a jacket, the more investigators pulled, the more the garment unraveled, revealing members of Ohio's Republican establishment who had been wined, dined and enriched by Noe.

Gov. Bob Taft (R), heir to the state's most famous political name, pleaded no contest in August to accepting secret freebies from Noe and others and was fined $4,000. Members of his staff admitted borrowing money from Noe or using his Florida Keys vacation home. Millions in state funds proved to be missing from Noe's accounts.

As Republicans raced to distance themselves from Noe, a federal grand jury in Toledo indicted him last month on charges that he illegally funneled $45,400 in campaign contributions to President Bush's reelection campaign. Prosecutors said he circumvented the $2,000 limit on individual contributions by getting 24 friends and associates to make the contributions, and reimbursing them.

Although Noe protests he is innocent, investigators are asking how far the growing scandal will go, and political consultants are measuring the potential fallout in a crucial Midwestern state controlled by the GOP. Historically, power has been split between the major parties in Ohio, but Republicans have won the past two presidential elections, and taken hold of both U.S. Senate seats and the state legislature in recent years. Republicans have occupied the governor's office since 1990.

The Republican brand in Ohio last week picked up another dent when six-term Rep. Robert W. Ney was identified as the recipient of favors -- including a golf trip to Scotland, meals and sports tickets -- from lobbyists Jack Abramoff and Michael Scanlon in return for official actions. A lawyer for the central Ohio congressman denied the allegations.

Last year, the GOP caucus in the state legislature was buffeted by reports of improper fundraising and self-dealing by two consultants working for the Republican speaker of the state House.

With Ney under a cloud and Taft's approval rating diving to a historically low 15 percent in a Columbus Dispatch poll, Democrats hope to harness the scandals as part of a national campaign to paint their opponents as purveyors of arrogance and greed.


Ohio is the bellwether state that pushed President Bush over the top against Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) in the final hours of the November 2004 vote-counting. Often studied for signals of national importance, the state is suffering from a flat economy and damage to the president's standing by the increasingly unpopular war in Iraq.

If the Democrats get traction on the scandal issue in Ohio, it likely will be because of the dealings of Noe, an entrepreneur who parlayed his political ties into the chairmanships of the Ohio Turnpike Commission and the Ohio Board of Regents.

In Toledo, he chaired the Lucas County Republican Party, as did his wife, Bernadette, and contributed generously to GOP candidates at all levels. He was so anxious to honor his pledge to the Bush-Cheney campaign, prosecutors said Oct. 27 in issuing a three-count indictment, that he funneled money through friends, including local elected officials.

Noe was later named one of 19 Ohio "Pioneers," those who had raised at least $100,000 for the president's successful reelection. There is no evidence that Bush-Cheney officials knew of the alleged laundering operation, investigators said. A total of $6,000 contributed directly by the Noes to the presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee has been donated to charity, said RNC spokesman Aaron McLear.

Investigators for the Ohio Ethics Commission, highway patrol, attorney general's office and an array of other agencies have uncovered a web of business transactions they are still trying to untangle. Central to the case are two stakes of $25 million each that Noe was given by the Bureau of Workers' Compensation to invest in rare coins, artwork and other collectibles.

The money, a small fraction of a fund valued at more than $15 billion, was intended as a creative way to diversify the bureau's portfolio. After the Toledo Blade revealed Noe's coin investment contract in April, an agency spokesman said that "there is not one iota of evidence showing politics played a role."

Investigators continue to examine that issue. Taft said he was fooled by Noe and did not know of the coin stake until the Blade reported it -- a point disputed by Noe. Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles asked Taft about his staff receiving benefits, leading to the governor's disclosure of 52 gifts from an array of people -- such as golf outings, meals and hockey tickets -- that he had failed to report as required by public ethics laws.

A tearful Taft pleaded no contest Aug. 18 to misdemeanor charges. After vowing earlier not to tolerate ethics violations in his administration, he said he had failed to live up to his own standards and public expectations.

"I am disappointed in myself," said Taft, the son and grandson of U.S. senators and the great-grandson of President William Howard Taft. "I just want to say there are no words to express the deep remorse that I feel over the embarrassment I have caused."

Two Taft aides pleaded no contest to accepting items of value from Noe. Ohio newspapers have identified two other former staff members as having received loans from Noe, who allegedly treated members of the governor's staff so often that dinners were called "The Noe Supper Club."

"It was a two-way street, back and forth, where influence was used and influence was sought," said one investigator who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiry is continuing.

Noe's attorney has said more than $11 million is missing from the coin fund that Noe established with workers' compensation money. Attorney General Jim Petro (R), who has joined the large field of contestants for next year's open governor's race, filed a civil lawsuit accusing Noe of diverting as much as $4 million for his own use.

Ethics specialists and prosecutors working on the continuing investigation say they do not yet know whether state money was channeled to political campaigns or what Noe may have received in return for his largess.

The Bureau of Workers' Compensation, meanwhile, fired 69 investment managers this month and announced that it will shift $7.2 billion from the stock market into safer fixed-income investments. The coin investments -- the ones the bureau can find -- are being liquidated.

Today on ABC's This Week, George Will told the roundtable that much of the ado surrounding the Abramoff scandals is nothing mor ethan the "criminalization of politics."

We've heard this phrase before: the "criminalization of politics."

Ken Melhman, Liddy Dole, Kay Bailey Hutchinson, and George Will, among other GOP apologists, used the phrase to excuse Scooter Libby's indictment in the CIA leak case as well as Karl Rove's rather active role in the leaking of Ms. Plame's name and/or identity to members of the press.

Now the GOP apologists are starting to use the phrase to defend graft, bribery, fraud, money laundering, and a gangland murder.

But the actions that Tom Noe, Bob Taft, Bob Ney, Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, Adam Kidan, Conrad Burns, Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed, and John Doolittle, among others, were engage dis was not "politcs."

It was crime. Plain and simple.

And the stench of it, as I say, is unmistakeable and overwhelming.

And that's without anything more happening in the CIA leak case.

NY Daily News: Bush White House In Denial


Thomas DeFrank, Washington Bureau Chief for the New York Daily News and a reporter with close ties to the Bush 41 White House, co-writes an article today with Kenneth Bazinet that says the Bush White House is careering toward ruin and the preznit and his top staff are completely in denial about the problem:

WASHINGTON - Embattled White House aides have begun to believe President Bush must take the reins personally if his evaporating agenda and credibility are to be salvaged.

"We're just plodding along," admitted a senior Bush aide from deep within the West Wing bunker. "It's up to the President to turn things around now."

Even as his poll numbers tank, however, Bush is described by aides as still determined to stay the course. He resists advice from Republicans who fear disaster in next year's congressional elections, and rejects criticism from a media establishment he disdains.

"The President has always been willing to make changes," the senior aide said, "but not because someone in this town tells him to - NEVER!"

For the moment, Bush has dismissed discreetly offered advice from friends and loyalists to fire Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and bring back longtime confidant Karen Hughes from the State Department to shore up his personal White House staff.

"He thinks that would be an admission he's screwed up, and he can't bring himself to do that," a former senior staffer lamented.

So aides have circled the wagons as Bush's woes mount, partly hoping they can sell the President on a December blitz of media interviews to help turn the tide.

"The staff basically still has an unyielding belief in the wisdom of what they're doing," a close Bush confidant said. "They're talking to people who could help them, but they're not listening."

Two sources said Bush has not only lost some confidence in his top aides, as the Daily News has previously reported, but is furious with a stream of leaks about the mood within the West Wing.

"He's asking [friends] for opinions on who he can trust and who he can't," one knowledgeable source said.

Much to Bush's relief, political mastermind Karl Rove is said to be engaged in day-to-day strategy, even though he still could be indicted in the CIA leak case. Some in the White House think Rove is a continuing drain and has also hurt Bush's recovery by not clearing the reputation of spokesman Scott McClellan, who repeatedly told reporters Rove assured him he had nothing to do with leaking covert agent Valerie Plame's name, even though it's now clear he did.

The problem for Bush, advisers admit, is that the ongoing leak probe reinforces allegations that the White House allegedly hyped prewar intelligence to justify a war most Americans no longer support.

So far Team Bush doesn't know how to separate the two issues, and compounding its woes is the fact that aides aren't talking to each other as much as they once did.

Gone from the schedule are weekly cholesterol-laden breakfasts at Rove's home where top Bush hands discussed strategy. Also missing are Sunday "message meetings" with outside thinkers like GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman, campaign pollster Matthew Dowd and superlobbyist Ed Gillespie.

A card-carrying member of the Washington GOP establishment with close ties to the White House recently encountered several senior presidential aides at a dinner and came away shaking his head at their "no problems here" mentality.

"There is just no introspection there at all," he said in exasperation. "It is everybody else's fault - the press, gutless Republicans on the Hill. They're still in denial."

Not ready to throw in the towel and declare the boss a lame duck, the Bushies are hoping two issues can help firm up their base and perhaps make inroads with centrists who voted for Bush: the anticipated confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, and a plan to reinforce the border with Mexico to help stop illegal immigration.

This week Bush will begin to press the border security issue, while Alito's Senate confirmation hearings start early next year. Aides hope those issues will draw attention away from the war and leak probe.

Total fucking denial.

Seymour Hersh just told Wolf Blitzer on Late Edition on CNN (transcripts not up yet) that Preznit Bush is quite serene in private with friends over the Iraq war. According to Hersh, when Bush talks to friends about the war, he believes totally in the "mission" and knows that history will judge him well. Hersh also said that the White House staff doesn't bother the preznit with details of what is happening on the ground in Iraq, partly because Bush doesn't want to know particulars, partly because he cannot handle the truth when it does not correlate with what he wants to actually happen.

God help us. The man is fucking crazy. And America is even crazier for electing him.

But one thing I'm taking from all of these inside looks into the state of Bush's mind: the White House is never going to "turn the corner" on their problems because the head guy is a obsessive-compulsive dry drunk crazy man who thinks God wants him to democratize Iraq.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Al-Jazeera Staffers Start A Blog Called "Don't Bomb Us"

Check out the new blog by Al-Jazeera staffers at (via firedoglake and crooks and liars.)

I think it's a good idea for them to write this blog. Maybe this way people who aren't ordinarily sympathetic to the station will understand that real human beings work for it (and bombing it might be a bad idea.)

Can you imagine if FOX News, certainly a media organization with a political bias and bent towards propaganda (kinda like Bush's claims against Al-Jazeera), had its headquarters on Sixth Avenue in New York bombed by a United States presidential administration that didn't like what they were broadcasting to the world?

Hard to fathom, right?

So why are some on the right, like Daniel Johnson at The New York Sun and the fuckers at Powerline, cheerleading the story that Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera?

And why is it that when many people on the right don't like somebody, their first instinct is to bomb the fuck out of 'em?

Friday, November 25, 2005

Spectator Magazine Editor Says He Is Willing To Publish The "Bush Wanted To Bomb Al-Jazeera" Memo If Someone Passes It To Him

Over in Britain, a Tory member of Parliament and the editor of the conservative Spectator magazine, Boris Johnson, wrote a column in The Daily Telegraph entitled "I'll Go to Jail to Print the Truth About Bush and Al-Jazeera" in which he says that he believes the public deserves to know whether Bush said he wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar or not. He lays out the reasons for why he supported the Iraq war, including the bringing of democracy to the Middle East and the "dissemination of the institutions of a civil society - above all a free press, in which journalists could work without fear of being murdered." And then he says:

Then we heard about the Bush plan to blow up al-Jazeera.

Some of us feel that we have an abusive relationship with this war. Every time we get our hopes up, we get punched by some piece of bad news. We yearn to be told that we're wrong, that things are going to get better, that the glass is half full. That's why I would love to think that Dubya was just having one of his little frat-house wisecracks, when he talked of destroying the Qatar-based satellite TV station. Maybe he was only horsing around. Maybe it was a flippant one-liner, of the kind that he delivers before making one of his dramatic exits into the broom-closet. Perhaps it was a kind of Henry II moment: you know, who will rid me of this turbulent TV station? Maybe he had a burst of spacy Reagan-esque surrealism, like the time the old boy forgot that the mikes were switched on, and startled a press conference with the announcement that he was going to start bombing Russia in five minutes. Maybe Bush thought he was Kenny Everett. Perhaps he was playing Basil Brush. Boom boom.

Who knows? But if his remarks were just an innocent piece of cretinism, then why in the name of holy thunder has the British state decreed that anyone printing those remarks will be sent to prison?

We all hope and pray that the American President was engaging in nothing more than neo-con Tourette-style babble about blowing things up. We are quite prepared to believe that the Daily Mirror is wrong. We are ready to accept that the two British civil servants who have leaked the account are either malicious or mistaken. But if there is one thing that would seem to confirm the essential accuracy of the story, it is that the Attorney General has announced that he will prosecute anyone printing the exact facts.

What are we supposed to think? The meeting between Bush and Blair took place on April 16, 2004, at the height of the US assault on Fallujah, and there is circumstantial evidence for believing that Bush may indeed have said what he is alleged to have said.

We know that the administration was infuriated with the al-Jazeera coverage of the battle, and the way the station focused on the deaths of hundreds of people, including civilians, rather than the necessity of ridding the town of dangerous terrorists. We remember how Cheney and Rumsfeld both launched vehement attacks on the station, and accused it of aiding the rebels. We are told by the New York Times that there were shouty-crackers arguments within the administration, with some officials yelling that the channel should be shut down, and others saying that it would be better to work with the journalists in the hope of producing better coverage.

We also recall that the Americans have form when it comes to the mass media outlets of regimes they dislike. They blew up the Kabul bureau of al-Jazeera in 2002, and they pulverised the Baghdad bureau in April 2003, killing one of the reporters. In 1999 they managed to blow up the Serb TV station, killing two make-up girls, in circumstances that were never satisfactorily explained.

To be fair to the Americans, we must also accept that they had good grounds for resenting al-Jazeera. The station is hugely respected in the Arab world, has about 35 million viewers, and yet it gives what can only be described as a thoroughly Arab perspective of current affairs. It assists in the glorification of suicide bombers; it publishes the rambling tapes of Bin Laden and others among the world's leading creeps and whackos; it is overwhelmingly hostile to America and sceptical about the neo-con project of imposing western values and political systems in the Middle East.

And yet however wrong you may think al-Jazeera is in its slant and its views, you must accept that what it is providing is recognisably journalism. It is not always helpful to the American cause in Iraq, but then nor is the BBC; and would anybody in London or Washington suggest sending a Tomahawk into White City? Well, they might, but only as a joke. Exhausted Western leaders, living in the nightmare of a media-dominated democracy, are allowed to make jokes about blowing up journalists. I seem to remember that when I was sent to Belgrade to cover the Nato attacks, Tony Blair told the then proprietor of The Daily Telegraph that he would "tell Nato to step up the bombing!" Ho ho ho.

But if there is an ounce of truth in the notion that George Bush seriously proposed the destruction of al-Jazeera, and was only dissuaded by the Prime Minister, then we need to know, and we need to know urgently. We need to know what we have been fighting for, and there is only one way to find out.

The Attorney General's ban is ridiculous, untenable, and redolent of guilt. I do not like people to break the Official Secrets Act, and, as it happens, I would not object to the continued prosecution of those who are alleged to have broken it. But we now have allegations of such severity, against the US President and his motives, that we need to clear them up.

If someone passes me the document within the next few days I will be very happy to publish it in The Spectator, and risk a jail sentence. The public need to judge for themselves. Sunlight is the best disinfectant. If we suppress the truth, we forget what we are fighting for, and in an important respect we become as sick and as bad as our enemies.

Mr. Johnson is right.

If Bush went to war with Saddam in order to bring democracy and the institutions of civil society to Iraq and yet also decided that it is okay to bomb an Arab television network because he believes it is "Anti-American" and disseminates "pro-terrorist" propaganda to the Arab, the world needs to know.

The world should see how George W. Bush only believes in democratic institutions and debate when they already agree with him.

Kinda like when he's holding his Social Security townhall meetings or campaign rallies and only supporters who sign loyalty oaths are allowed to attend while dissenters are arrested.

Or when John kerry was debating him and he got mad cuz' Kerry didn't suck up to him and tell him how he was the "best preznit ever."

Or when he didn't like the line of questioning at a press conference in China and he tried to duck out (but the doors were locked and he got stuck!!!)

Yup, wanting to bomb Al-Jazeera is just like those other incidents, only with bombs.

Which is why the allegations are quite serious and need to be addressed openly and honestly by the White House and 10 Downing Street.

So let's start the process by getting the contents of this memo published and see if the story is true or not.

Al-Jazzera Wants Answers Over Memo

The "Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera" story still hasn't gone away despite the administration's best efforts to kill it. Here's Reuters on Al-Jazeera's reaction to the allegation:

LONDON (Reuters) - Arabic news channel Al Jazeera's general manager flew to London on Friday to demand the British government explain a leaked report that President George W. Bush wanted to bomb the TV station.

The Daily Mirror newspaper reported on Tuesday that a secret British government memo said British Prime Minister Tony Blair had talked Bush out of bombing Al Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar in April last year.

"I have come to London in order to reach out to British officials, to investigate about the memo that some claim exists during the past week," Al Jazeera managing director Waddah Khanfar told Reuters by telephone after his arrival in London.

"It is a matter of deep concern for all of us in al Jazeera, and the Arab world and the media."

He said a delegation from the channel would deliver a letter to Blair on Saturday asking for an interview.

The White House has said the allegation that Bush wanted to bomb Jazeera is "so outlandish" it does not merit a response.

Britain, which is prosecuting a civil servant and a parliamentarian's aide for leaking the secret memo, refuses to comment on its contents.

The Daily Mirror quoted one unnamed government official saying Bush's comments may have been a joke, but another unidentified source saying the president appeared to be serious.

Britain's attorney general has warned other media that they can be prosecuted under the Official Secrets Act if they reveal anything else about the memo.

"It is of very deep concern not only to Al Jazeera journalists, but to people who trust Al Jazeera as the most credible source of information in the Arab world," Khanfar said.

"People should know the facts about it. It is not a matter that can be brushed away or dealt with in very vague statements."

Blair's spokesman said the prime minister's office had not yet received a formal request from Al Jazeera for an interview, but the British government would be willing to talk to Al Jazeera as it would to any other news organization.

"This is the first I suspect that Downing Street has heard of this request. It is somewhat short notice," he said.

"We are quite happy to talk to Al Jazeera just as we are quite happy to talk to other broadcasters and media operations. In terms of who talks to them I think that depends on who is available and how much time he will give us to set up meetings."

Al Jazeera has repeatedly denied U.S. accusations it sides with insurgents in Iraq. Khanfar said it was time the United States stopped accusing it of supporting terrorism.

"We demand to know the facts about this document and we demand a (cessation) of all kinds of accusations from the American administration."

Asked if he thought it was true that Bush wanted to bomb the station, Khanfar said:

"We are going to suspend any judgment until we find out if that document is correct or not. But I can say we were attacked twice, once in Kabul and once in Baghdad, and two of our colleagues were killed."

In 2001, the station's Kabul office was hit by U.S. bombs and in 2003 Al Jazeera reporter Tareq Ayyoub was killed in a U.S. strike on its Baghdad office. The United States has denied deliberately targeting the station.

The Daily Mirror said Bush told Blair at a White House summit on April 16, 2004 that he wanted to target Al Jazeera.

While White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan told the Associated Press in an email that the allegations that Bush said he wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera's headquarters in Qatar were "outlandish" and "inconceivable," according to Channel 4 in Britain (via, the White House has put pressure on the British to make sure no more details from the memo are published.

Channel 4 concludes White House pressure is one of the main reasons why Tony Blair's government has threatened to use the Official Secrets Act to prosecute anyone else who publishes or reveals any more contents from the top secret memo that details Bush's call for bombing Al-Jazeera.

So my question is, if the allegations that Bush wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera's headquarters before Tony Blair talked him out of it are so "outlandish" and "inconceivable," why doesn't the Bush administration want any more contents from the memo detailing the supposed incident published?

I mean, what are they worried about?

If Bush didn't say he wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera at that meeting, the White House should tell us that fact straight out and have the Brits publish the relevant contents of the memo to prove the point.

If Bush did say he wanted to bomb Al-Jazeera but he was only joking, then the White House should tell us that too and show us in the memo transcripts where the punchline to the joke was. Perhaps Al-Jazeera, which has already lost two correspondents to American bombs in the last four years, and the Arab world in general will understand why Georgie Boy thought it was funny to bomb the Arab television station.

And if Bush really did want to bomb Al-Jazeera, then the White House should tell us that too. The American people should know if George W. is the craziest motherfucker to inhabit the American Presidency since Richard Nixon was drunkenly wandering the halls of the White House at night talking to the pictures of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt and ordering up air strikes against various countries that Henry Kissinger was always putting the kibbosh on.

Regardless, this story doesn't look like it is going to go away until the White House addresses it openly. And an email from Scottie McClellan to the Associated Press isn't what I would call addressing the problem openly.

Abramoff Scandal Threatens To Embroil GOP

2006 really does appear like it is going to be the Year of the Frogmarch. From The Wall Street Journal:

WASHINGTON -- A Justice Department investigation into possible influence-peddling by prominent Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff is examining his dealings with four lawmakers, more than a dozen current and former congressional aides and two former Bush administration officials, according to lawyers and others involved in the case.

Investigators want to know whether Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying firm partners made illegal payoffs to lawmakers and aides in the form of campaign contributions, sports tickets, meals, travel and job offers, in exchange for helping their clients.

The Justice Department's probe is far broader than previously thought. Though it remains smaller than the congressional influence-peddling scandals of the 1970s, its focus on prominent Republicans raises the risk of serious embarrassment to the party before next year's congressional elections. Those involved in Mr. Abramoff's case say that the Justice Department investigation could take years to complete.

Prosecutors in the department's public integrity and fraud divisions -- separate units that report to the assistant attorney general for the criminal division -- are looking into Mr. Abramoff's interactions with former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay of Texas, Rep. Bob Ney (R., Ohio), Rep. John Doolittle (R., Calif.) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R., Mont.), according to several people close to the investigation. Messrs. DeLay and Ney have retained criminal defense lawyers. Spokespeople for Messrs. Doolittle and Burns said they haven't hired lawyers.


Prosecutors also are investigating at least 17 current and former congressional aides, about half of whom later took lobbying jobs with Mr. Abramoff, say lawyers and others involved in the case. Five of the former aides worked for Mr. DeLay, including Tony Rudy, Ed Buckham and Susan Hirschmann. The three were top aides to Mr. DeLay and are now Washington lobbyists. None returned calls or emails seeking comment.

Until this week, prosecutors seemed to be focused primarily on whether Mr. Abramoff and his partner, Michael Scanlon, had bilked a half-dozen Native American tribes out of $80 million over four years. But a plea agreement made public Monday between prosecutors and Mr. Scanlon, and interviews with individuals and lawyers close to the investigation, show that the Justice Department is pursuing a much broader influence-peddling and bribery case.

Mr. Scanlon pleaded guilty to a single bribery charge, admitting that he and Mr. Abramoff "engaged in a course of conduct through which one or both of them offered and provided things of value to public officials in exchange for a series of official acts," according to his plea agreement.

Mr. Scanlon said that beginning in January 2000 he and Mr. Abramoff offered Mr. Ney, a close ally of the House Republican leadership, meals, sports tickets, political contributions and a golfing trip to Scotland in exchange for a series of "official acts" that helped Mr. Abramoff and his clients.

The plea agreement, which refers to Mr. Abramoff as "Lobbyist A" and Mr. Ney as "Representative #1," states that the congressman put two statements in the House's official record in 2000 supporting one of Mr. Abramoff's business ventures. In June 2002, the lawmaker attempted to help Mr. Abramoff by trying to approve legislation that would have helped one of Mr. Abramoff's Indian-tribe clients win a license to operate a casino, according to the plea. That effort failed, and Mr. Ney says that he was duped by Mr. Abramoff.

Stephen Braga, a lawyer for Mr. Scanlon, wouldn't comment on targets of the Justice Department investigation. But he said that the "investigation is much broader -- and Mr. Scanlon's cooperation in it will be much more extensive than the 'Lobbyist A' and 'Representative #1' facts recited in the plea agreement papers." A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment.


It had been widely assumed in Washington that prosecutors were scrutinizing Mr. DeLay's dealings with Mr. Abramoff, who were longtime political allies. Mr. Abramoff took Mr. DeLay and several of his then aides on an expensive golf trip to Scotland several years ago. Mr. DeLay stepped down as House majority leader two month ago after he was indicted in Texas on unrelated campaign-finance charges.

Mr. Scanlon's guilty plea suggests that prosecutors may be setting a low threshold for bringing bribery charges. Mr. Scanlon pleaded guilty to bribing Mr. Ney by contributing just $4,000 to his campaign account in 2000 and an additional $10,000 to a separate Republican campaign fund. Prosecutors told Mr. Scanlon that if he made the contributions in exchange for some action or public statement by Mr. Ney, the donations amounted to bribery. That argument put pressure on Mr. Scanlon to plead guilty.

Despite the surge in donor-financed campaign spending, the Justice Department, at least in the past 30 years, hasn't charged a lobbyist with bribery based on political contributions. The Justice Department won't discuss its tactics, but Washington lobbyists are watching closely. If it were to use a similar standard for other prosecutions, it might be easier for the Justice Department to bring cases against Mr. Abramoff and his lobbying partners.

A Justice Department argument that political contributions are akin to bribery if the lobbyist is looking for something in return would force a big change in the way lobbyists ply their trade. Registered lobbyists have contributed $6 million in political donations in the first nine months of this nonelection year. Last year, lobbyists contributed $24 million to candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan watchdog group.

In the 1970s, Congress was shaken by two influence-peddling scandals -- Koreagate, in which dozens of congressmen were found to have taken money from South Korean lobbyist Tongsun Park and one congressman went to prison, and Abscam, in which one senator and four congressmen were convicted of accepting bribes from Federal Bureau of Investigation operatives posing as Arab sheiks.

This Scanlon plea really was a big deal and you know that the GOP is a lot more worried about the Abramoff scandals than they are the CIA leak case.

Which doesn't mean we should write off the significance of the Libby indictment or the continuing investigation by Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald into possible criminal conduct by Preznit Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, or Vice Preznit Cheney.

But if, as Scanlon's lawyer says in the WSJ piece, the "investigation is much broader -- and Mr. Scanlon's cooperation in it will be much more extensive than the 'Lobbyist A' and 'Representative # 1' facts recited in the plea agreement papers," this case could quite literally destroy the GOP for the midtem elections.

As the Ruling Party in power, the GOP is already dealing with the fall-out generated by the economy, energy prices, Iraq war, deficit spending, Katrina aftermath, Delay/Frist/CIA leak scandals and cronyism/patronage within the administration.

If you add a dozen or more indictments against GOP members of Congress and administration officials in the Interior Department, you're really laying the groundwork for a "throw the bums out" November 2006 the likes of we haven't seen since November 1994.

Which is why you're already staryting to see the pushback from the GOP. Note the article in today's NY Times by Carl Hulse that seems to question the Justice Department's decision to prosecute pay-for-play campaign donations from lobbyists to politicians. The Hulse article quotes Republican Party advocate and former federal prosecutor Joe diGenova as saying "'The department has rarely charged campaign contribution cases'...'It would be a surprise that a contribution that has been lawfully reported' would lead to a criminal charge."

In other words, it doesn't matter if politicians have taken pay-for-play money, gifts, or favors from lobbyists in return for leigslative help so long as the money, gifts, and favors have been "lawfully reported."

Let's see if the American public as a whole buys that defense. Remember, according to a Harris poll published in the November 23, 2005 Wall Street Journal (and reported by Dan Froomkin in the Washington Post - hat tip to the Left Coaster), 64% of Americans already think the Bush administration "generally misleads the American public on current issues to achieve its own ends." Remember too that Americans actually hold the Congess and Senate in lower regard than the they do the preznit, and the preznit's approval ratings have fallen into the 30's in nearly every recent poll.

So it's not as if the Bush administration, the GOP leadership or the current Congress (both parties) have a lot of trust saved up with the American public.

If the Scanlon plea deal leads to indictments of more than a dozen Republicans including Tom Delay and Bob Ney, I think the GOP is going to have a very difficult time holding onto power after the 2006 midterm elections.

Thus, 2006 becomes the "Year of the Frogmarch."

Oh boy oh boy oh boy...

Thanksgiving In Iraq: November 24, 2005

From The Washington Post:

Bomber Bloodies U.S. Toy Giveaway
At Least 31 Iraqis Killed; 22 Die in Other Violence

By Ellen Knickmeyer
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, November 25, 2005; A01

BAGHDAD, Nov. 24 -- A suicide attacker steered a car packed with explosives toward U.S. soldiers giving away toys to children outside a hospital in central Iraq on Thursday, killing at least 31 people. Almost all of the victims were women and children, police said.

In all, 53 people were killed in bombings and gunfire across the country, including two American soldiers who died in a roadside bombing near Baghdad. The U.S. military also reported the deaths of four American troops on Wednesday.

About 140,000 Americans marked Thanksgiving in Iraq, the third there for U.S. forces. Private contractors at the increasingly fortified bases prepared feasts of turkey, lobster and steak flown in for the troops on jumbo planes.

U.S. military helicopters ferried the top U.S. officer in Iraq, Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., from base to base so he could deliver Thanksgiving greetings and encouragement.


President Bush, who made a surprise visit to Iraq on Thanksgiving two years ago, telephoned service members here and in Afghanistan from his ranch in Texas to send his greetings this year, U.S. officials said.

Iraqi security officials said they believed that Iraqi police or U.S. forces were the target of Thursday's bombing outside the general hospital in Mahmudiyah. The town has a mixed Shiite and Sunni Arab population and is in an area south of Baghdad known as the Triangle of Death.

One Iraqi police officer was among the dead, said Capt. Muthanna Ahmed, a police spokesman in Babil province. Four American troops participating in the toy giveaway were wounded, according to Iraqi officials.

"It was an explosion at the gate of the hospital," a woman who had wounds on her face and legs told the AP. "My children are gone. My brother is gone."

With no room left at the hospital, emergency workers rushed victims to hospitals in Baghdad, about 15 miles to the north. And when the hospital morgue was full, the workers were forced to place the dead in the hospital garden so family members could find them.

Ahmed said late Thursday that an Iraqi parliament member, Jafar Muhammad, was among the dead. His death would bring to three the number of National Assembly members killed in insurgent attacks.

In Baghdad on Thursday, a spokesman for the interim government warned that violence, particularly against Iraqi soldiers and police, would probably accelerate ahead of the Dec. 15 elections to elect Iraq's first permanent postwar government. Officials issued similar warnings ahead of previous national votes.

"They are trying to challenge the state's authority and spread the impression that there is no state structure or authority in Iraq, to promote a sense of despair among citizens," said Laith Kubba, spokesman for Prime Minister Ibrahim Jafari.

Kubba also announced the discovery of arms caches in the northern city of Tall Afar. He said the find was "surprising," because U.S. and Iraqi forces had in recent months carried out a third full-scale offensive there, leveling some neighborhoods. The discovery "means there are some terrorist cells still operating there" despite the all-out U.S. offensive, he noted.

The deaths reported Thursday included five people killed in a suicide car bombing at a market in Hilla, an overwhelmingly Shiite town about 60 miles south of Baghdad. "There were no police or army at the scene when the car exploded, so all the casualties were Shiite civilians," said Ahmed, the provincial police spokesman. News agencies reported that the car exploded outside a soft-drink stand on Thursday evening, when many fathers take their families out for snacks and a stroll at the beginning of the Muslim weekend.

In other violence, a close-range attack in Baghdad killed three bodyguards of the country's industries minister, and four police officers were killed in an ambush in the capital.

Also Thursday, the U.S. military denied reports from officials in far western Iraq that U.S. troops and insurgents were engaged in fighting near the Syrian border.

And Thanksgiving in Crawford, Texas:

Notice how Georgie Boy didn't follow up his "Thanksgiving in Iraq" stunt from two years ago and instead chose to talk to 10 members of the military in Iraq over the phone.

You know why he chose the phone route over a visit to Iraq?

Because Iraq is a more dangerous place now than it was two years ago in November 2003.

Trend lines in both American military and Iraqi military and civilian casualties are way up since November 2003.

There seems to be no end in sight to the violence.

First we were told the handoff of Iraqi sovereignty in June 2004 would help end the violence.

But it didn't.

Then we were told the elections for the interim Iraqi government in January 2005 would help end the violence (remember the waving purple fingers?).

But it didn't.

Then we were told the October 15th referendum vote would bring Sunnis, Shi'a, and Kurds together and help end the violence.

But it hasn't.

And so now here we are, on November 25, 2005, with 140,000 American military personnel still in Iraq, the insurgency raging unabated, popular Amercian support for the war plummeting, Iraqi forces totally unprepared to take over their own security details, Shi'a /Sunni sectarian violence threatening to break out into a full-blown civil war any day now, and George W. Bush too fucking scared to pull another Iraq/Thanksgiving photo op over in the Green Zone in Baghdad.

And what does the administration have to say about where we are in Iraq?

When asked at a press conference on November 19, 2005 about Congressman Jack Murtha's (R-Pa) call for a troop withdrawl from Iraq, George W. Bush said that "the progress in Iraq is amazing" and

I am confident we will succeed in Iraq. I'm confident that the Iraqi forces will be trained; I am confident the political process will slowly, but surely, marginalize those that are trying to stop the march of democracy. And I also know that we have got to make sure that Iraq does not become a safe haven for terrorists. It's very important for -- during this debate to listen to the words of Zawahiri, who's the number-two man of al Qaeda, where he has made it very clear that his intention, and the intention of his henchman, Zarqawi, is to drive us out of Iraq before we have completed the mission.

Progress? The preznit thinks this is progress? We turned Iraq into a haven for terrorists and jihadis, now they're exporting their violence and terror to other countries like Jordan, and the preznit thinks we are making progress in Iraq?


If this is progress, I'd hate to see what regress is.

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