Tuesday, February 27, 2007

David Hicks

Korova from Mask of Anarchy asked me to put the following slide show on the blog about David Hicks, the Australian man currently being held by the United States on "terrorism" charges. Remember that under the current law, DeadEye Dick and/or Heckuva Job Bushie can declare you an enemy combatant and stick your ass in jail without access to a lawyer or even knowledge of the charges that have been levied against you. They can torture you or render you to a foreign country to be tortured. Or they can kill you and say "Ooops! Our bad!!!"

Jefferson, Madison, Franklin et al. would be appalled.

I Heard Booing At The Close Of The New York Stock Exchange Today.

That can't be good, can it?

Oh, well.

The nice thing about the Wall Street story for the White House is that it took the "Taliban Tries To Kill Cheney In Afghanistan, 23 Dead" story off the top of the news headline page.

It's awfully hard to explain what a success story Afghanistan is (as Cheney has repeatedly done) when his secret trip to Afghanistan got leaked to Taliban terrorists in time for them to bomb the compound he was visiting.

Monday, February 26, 2007

McClatchy: Bush Surge Has Failed So Far

The stats don't lie:

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Nearly two weeks into the newest Baghdad security plan, the daily count of murder victims dumped on the city's streets has declined significantly, a likely sign that Shiite Muslim militia groups aligned with the Iraqi government have reined in their members or sent them out of the capital.

But deaths from bombings and mortar attacks, after an initial decline, have returned to the levels of the previous two months, suggesting that the plan's initial measures have had little impact on the Sunni insurgent groups believed to be responsible for most of that violence.

U.S. and Iraqi officials have released only limited information about what steps they've taken to secure the city since the plan's official kickoff on Feb. 15. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told President Bush last week that the plan, dubbed Operation Enforcing the Law, so far had been a "dazzling success." U.S. officials have been more cautious, saying that it may be months before the plan can be labeled a success or a failure.

Statistics compiled from official daily reports of the Interior Ministry and other Iraqi government sources, as well as interviews in 20 Baghdad neighborhoods about the plan's initial measures, however, show that some early judgments are possible about the plan's effectiveness. With most members of Congress expressing skepticism about the plan's prospects for success, such information could prove useful in the debate over Bush's plan to commit a total of 17,500 additional troops to the plan in the coming months.

From Dec. 1, 2006, through Feb. 14, the number of people killed in public places from violent attacks averaged 14.8 a day. From Feb. 15 through Monday, the number declined, but just barely, to 13.8. Car bombs were up slightly, from an average of 1.2 a day to 1.6, while roadside bombs were identical at 1 per day.

Injuries, on average, rose from 40.4 a day to 52.8 since the start of the plan, while bodies dumped by death squads declined from 22.8 a day to 14.6.


The decline in dumped bodies is largely thought to be the result of anti-American Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's decision to send his Mahdi Army forces underground or out of the city. Sadr hasn't been seen in a month, and American officials have said he's in Iran.

But a Sadr statement released over the weekend openly criticized the plan's inability so far to stop the car bombings, and it raised, at least implicitly, the threat that Shiite militias would become active again to prevent such attacks.

"Here we are watching car bombs continue to explode to harvest thousands of innocent lives from our beloved people in the middle of a security plan controlled by an occupier," news accounts quoted the statements as saying.

Just wait until Sadr takes the handcuffs off his militiamen. The violence will be back to exactly what is was before the surge. Or it will be even worse.

You know why?

Because 21,500 additional troops isn't enough to do anything more than make it look like Bush is doing something to bring this war to a successful conclusion.

That's why.

Majority of Americans Support Murtha Plan

Whattya know - a majority of Americans support the Murtha Plan, support setting a timetable for troop withdrawals from Iraq, and think the war in Iraq was a mistake. And best of all, 63% say the Bush administration can't be trusted on its handling of intelligence! So finds the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll:

With Congress preparing for renewed debate over President Bush's Iraq war policies, a majority of Americans now support setting a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from the war-torn nation and also support putting new conditions on the military that could limit the number of personnel available for duty there, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll.

Opposition to Bush's plan to send an additional 21,500 troops to Iraq remained strong, with two in three Americans registering their disapproval -- 56 percent said they strongly object. The House recently passed a nonbinding resolution opposing the new deployments, but Republicans have successfully blocked consideration of such a measure in the Senate.


The Post-ABC poll found that 53 percent of Americans favored setting a deadline for troop withdrawals. Among those who favored a deadline, 24 percent said they would like to see U.S. forces out within six months and another 21 percent called for the withdrawals to be completed within a year. The rest of those who support a timetable said they did not favor withdrawing all troops until at least a year from now.

This is the first time a Post-ABC News poll has found a majority of Americans supported establishing such a timetable for withdrawal, which has long been resisted by the president and even some Democrats.


There was clear support for the kinds of conditions proposed by Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), who wants to establish requirements for the training and resting of military units that would have the effect of limiting the number of troops available to send to Iraq.

Murtha's plan has drawn fire in the House, including from some of his Democratic colleagues, after it was unveiled on a liberal Web site. The Post-ABC News poll, which did not associate the plan with Murtha, found that 58 percent of Americans said they support such new rules. Even some Americans, 21 percent, who supported the president's troop surge said they would favor rules for training and resting troops.


The latest poll also registered a new low on the question of whether the Iraq war was worth fighting. Just 34 percent responded that the war was worth fighting while 64 percent said it was not -- 51 percent strongly. On this question, 51 percent of military veterans and 53 percent of veteran households said they strongly believe the war was not worth fighting.


On another issue, the poll found that a majority of Americans now distrust the Bush administration on its handling of intelligence. Just 35 percent said they can trust the administration to report potential threats from other countries honestly and accurately, while 63 percent said they cannot.


Just 41 percent expressed confidence that the administration will do a good job handling current tensions with Iran, compared with 58 percent who said they were not confident.

Now if only the media would stop repeating GOP talking points about the Murtha Plan and come to realize that both the Democratic Party AND the American people want the troops adequately rested, equipped and trained before their multiple deployments into war zones.

It's the White House and the GOP apologists who don't give a shit about the troops.

That's why they've got no compunction about the multiple deployments, extended overseas duties, stop-loss measures, lack of proper armor, lack of proper medical care for many of the wounded, etc.

And yet, as this McClatchy article noted, the Bush administration and many in the GOP have no compunction wielding the "Support The Troops" mantra at the very same time they're ignoring the needs of the ordinary soldier.


Finesse In International Relationships and Grounding In Reality

Here's what Kevin Drum has to say about Sy Hersh's report in The New Yorker that the Bush administration has decided to take its attention away from the Sunni terrorists who hit us on 9/11, take the side of Sunnis in the overall Sunni-Shiite conflict in the Middle East, and start backing Sunni terrorist organizations and Al Qaeda wannabes in Lebanon and other places in the region (except for Iraq, of course) in the hopes that they'll hurt Shiite powers like Iran and Shiite terrorist organizations like Hezbollah:

Is this true? Who knows, since the sources mostly seem to be Hersh's usual anonymous cast of ex-spies, ex-consultants, and ex-diplomats. But the story is plausible. Having never really believed in the threat of non-state terrorist groups like al-Qaeda in the first place, the Bush administration may now have come full circle from 9/11, tacitly teaming up with Sunni jihadists in the hope that they'll help us take out the state-based terrorist threat of Iran -- after which, presumably, the jihadis will all go home to watch TV and raise their families. Just like they did after the Afghanistan war.

Lovely, no? And one more thing: Hersh says the covert side of this plan is being run by the vice president's office. Which means, of course, that it will be handled with the same finesse in international relationships and grounding in reality that Dick Cheney is famous for.

Drum issues a final warning about the report: "buckle your seat belts."


Pat Buchanan has been saying for months that he believes the Bush administration is not going to leave office without taking care of the "Shiite Crescent" of power that currently rests in Iran, Syria and Lebanon. But backing Sunni extremist groups with ties to Al Qaeda - the same people who attacked us on 9/11 and inaugurated the official start of the War on Terror in the first place - in order to do it seems counterproductive and dangerous to me.

Oh, well. I guess that's why I'm a high school teacher and Dick Cheney's VP of the United States. He knows what he's doing in these matters.


Sunday, February 25, 2007

We Can't Be This Lucky

I despise the Clintons. They're two-faced, phony egomaniacs who believe in nothing but their own careers. While I voted for Bill in both 1992 and 1996, by 2000 I had seen and heard enough from the Clintons and their coterie (i.e., Carville, Podesta, Stephanopolous, Begala, Davis, et al.) that I was ready for them all to go off to prison or their own island or just far, far away.

Instead they moved to NY and set up shop for Hillary's future presidential run. But I refused to vote for Hillary for Senator in either 2000 or 2006. I won't vote for her for president either. I have long assumed, as have many, that unless something strange and out of the ordinary happens, HRC is the inevitable Democratic nominee. But four days after David Geffen took the Clintons on in Maureen Dowd's column, it looks like the inevitability factor may be going, going, gone:

Geffen said publicly what so many in Washington are saying privately. Hillary is a terrible public speaker: liberals loathe her centrist, Blairite position on the Iraq war; conservatives hate her viscerally; moderates don’t actually like her even when they agree with her; and Bill still has a woman problem. Do we really want to go through all that again?

That's exactly it - Hillary Rodham Clinton as the Democratic nominee brings all the freaking Clintonite baggage (the interns, the sexual harassment stuff, the Whitewater/ethics stuff, the Lincoln bedroom fundraising stuff) without any of the benefits (Clinton's marvelous speaking ability, his pure genius at politicking, etc.)

Now that Geffen said aloud what many were thinking, the Clinton people have their work cut out for them to return the inevitability factor back to the race. Too many people this week said "You know what? She really is unelectable...maybe so and so is a better choice..."

Fill in the so and so for yourself. Perhaps Obama (although I'm not sold just yet that he's for real); perhaps Edwards; perhaps a third tier contender or even a candidate not yet announced.

Anybody but Clinton.

POSTSCIPT: All is not well in GOP land on the presidential nominating front either. The wingers aren't too happy with their choices (Mitt/St. John/St. Rudy seen as too liberal and/or untrustworthy while Brownback/Huckabee/Hunter are seen as conservative but unelectable.)

I really believe one of those second tier candidates in the GOP has a chance to break out of the pack and make it into the first tier. Rudy's got so much baggage that if he gets any scrutiny whatsoever on the personal life/personal business front, he's got trouble. McCain has turned into John McBush (as the former McCain fan Chris Matthews dubbed him recently), losing his appeal to independents and moderates while he has been ineffectually sucking up to the Bushies and the evangelicals. Romney really does look like he can be defined as a GOP version of John Kerry (i.e., northeastern liberal with a penchant for flip-flopping.) These first tier guys are all pretty flawed.

As for the second tier candidates, I don't think Duncan Hunter has much appeal either in or out of the party, but Mike Huckabee is a very savvy media player (I've been listening to him on Imus for years and he's very, very good at coming across as a sane, likable conservative) who could appeal to people outside of the Grand Old Party while keeping the evangelical base happy. Sam Brownback is probably a much longer shot than Huckabee, but again if he can garner some appeal from the winger base, he might be able to pull up into the first tier and become a serious contender for the nomination.

We'll see.

Iran Contra Part Deux - This Time They're Funding Terrorists

Sy Hersh writes in The New Yorker that the Bush administration is so alarmed about the growing power of Shiite Islam, particularly Iran, in the Middle East, that they've started helping Sunni extremist groups with ties to Al Qaeda to push back against Hezbollah and other Shiite power groups in the region.

Apparently the administration didn't realize taking out Saddam would leave open a power vacuum that would be filled by Shiites.

Idiots. Real fucking idiots.

So now according to Hersh, to fight back against the burgeoning power of Iran, the United States is secretly backing terrorists with ties to Al Qaeda - the same ones who hit us on 9/11 and are looking to hit us again - through our allies in Saudi Arabia. The secret operation is being run out of the VP's office using money originally appropriated for Iraq and/or money that is being laundered through Iraq. The Congress has not been informed about these operations.

Hersh says the CIA is being kept out of the loop on these operations too because "they cannot be trusted." Hersh also says the Agency is concerned because "they think it's amateur hour."

All I can say is, it sure the hell is amateur hour. On 9/11, Sunni extremists from Saudi Arabia and Egypt- members of Al Qaeda - attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. The administration initially responded by hitting Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the world in an effort to keep another 9/11 from happening again. But then, instead of completing the mission against the Sunni terrorist group, they took out Saddam (a secular Sunni with NO ties to Al Qaeda), bogged the U.S. down in a never-ending war in Iraq, and set off a power struggle in the Middle Mast between Sunni and Shiite powers that the Shiites are currently winning. The realbig winner in all of this is Shiite Iran. So now, to put a crimp in some of that power, the administration is secretly funding the same kind of Sunni terrorist groups that hit us on 9/11.

That sounds like amateur hour to me all right.

It also sounds impeachable if it can be proved. While most Americans oppose impeachment of the preznut or the vice preznut right now, if they learn that the VP is running a secret war out of his office that is being illegally funded and is helping Sunni extremist groups with ties to Al Qaeda, I bet that stance will change.

Attacks Continue In Iraq

The weekend in Iraq:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A suicide bomber struck Sunday outside a college campus in Baghdad, killing at least 38 people and injuring dozens as a string of other blasts and rocket attacks left bloodshed around the city.

Most of the victims were students at the college, a business studies annex of Mustansiriyah University that was hit by a series of deadly explosions last month. At least 44 people were injured in Sunday's blast.


Earlier, two Katyusha rockets hit a Shiite enclave in southern Baghdad, killing at least 10, and a bomb near the fortified Green Zone claimed two lives, police said.

The Green Zone houses the U.S. and British embassies and key Iraqi government offices. The blast was about 100 meters yards from the Iranian Embassy, but authorities did not believe it was targeting the compound.

A separate car bombing in a Shiite district in central Baghdad killed at least one person and injured four, police said.


Iraq's interior ministry, meanwhile, raised the toll from a suicide truck bombing in the violence-wracked Anbar province on Saturday to 52 dead and 74 injured.

The attack on worshippers leaving a mosque in Habbaniyah, about 50 miles west of Baghdad, was believed linked to escalating internal Sunni battles between insurgents and those who oppose them.

These attacks came a day after Prime Minister Maliki praised the progress of Operation Imposing law - the name for the joint U.S./Iraqi security crackdown - and said ''There is no safe shelter for all outlaws."

Except there is safe shelter for outlaws. Plenty of it, actually. While the U.S. military and the Iraqis security forces are trying to stop the violence in Baghdad with extra manpower and patrols, the outlaws have fled the capital for nearby Diyala Province. Here's the AP on that trend:

But the crackdown also has sent Sunni insurgents fleeing the city to the nearby province of Diyala, which has emerged as a new and busy front for U.S. troops.

It has become so volatile that the Pentagon may delay plans to turn over control of Diyala to the Iraqi military by the end of the year, Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon told The Associated Press.

''The potential is there'' to hand over Iraq's other 17 provinces ''except in Diyala, where the future remains in question,'' said Mixon, commander of U.S. forces in northern Iraq, which includes Diyala.

Diyala, northwest of Baghdad, is known as ''Little Iraq'' because of its near-equal mix of Sunni and Shiite Arabs as well as Kurds -- the country's three major groups. Al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in Diyala last year. Sunni extremists claim Diyala's capital, Baqouba, as the seat of an Islamic state in Iraq.

Direct fire attacks on U.S. soldiers are up 70 percent in Diyala since last summer, and fierce battles have raged since the Baghdad security plan was launched.

Proponents of the surge/supporters of the war like Senator Lieberman and many in the Grand Old Party keep saying this is a last ditch effort to get control of security in Iraq and it must be given a chance to succeed before we declare it a failure.

But how long do we have to give it? Newsweek said the Petraeus Plan calls for counterinsurgency measures for 5-10 years. Is that how long we have to give the surge before we declare it a failure?

Because two weeks into the surge, I see no decrease in violence. Instead I see a movement of violence - Baghdad gets quieter while other places in Iraq get more violent. Iraq as a whole gets quiet for a few days, then explodes in horrific violence.

Frankly, that's been the pattern for previous security crackdowns as well.

Maybe (and it's a big "maybe") if the U.S. had 300,000-400,000 to throw into Iraq for 5-10 years, the Petraeus Plan would work. But as currently devised, the Petraeus Plan has no chance to succeed and all we are doing is playing a political game of make-believe to save the political asses of war supporters and the preznut and VP.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

How Come Rudy Is Restricting Access?

Josh Marshall points out that a new Quinnipiac poll gives Rudy Giuliani a 22 point lead in the GOP primary. Rudy gets 40% support, McCain 18%, Gingrich 10% and Romney at 7%.

Rudy's support is rising in nearly every recent poll while McCain's support is slowly but surely tanking. Giuliani hasn't actually announced for president yet, but given the popularity of support he's garnering, you'd think he'd leap into the race with both feet.

But he's not. Not only hasn't Giluliani "officially" announced he's running for president, he also is restricting his access along the campaign trail and only taking softball questions from dye-in-the-wool supporters:

SPARTANBURG, S.C., Feb. 21 — In a swing through South Carolina this week, Rudolph W. Giuliani chose to campaign at a fire house, which is a little like Derek Jeter meeting with Yankees fans — a most unlikely forum for hostility, or even much skepticism.

Instead of the sometimes barbed give-and-take endured by the other candidates, Mr. Giuliani, the former mayor of New York, fielded a few questions from the firefighters and police officers who gathered to hear him here. The questions, which began with comments like, “Being in your presence here is just unbelievable,” stuck almost entirely to issues on which Mr. Giuliani is most comfortable, like airport security and border control.

More than the other major presidential candidates, Mr. Giuliani has limited himself to events with narrowly defined, friendly audiences, avoiding the kind of uncomfortable interrogations his rivals have occasionally faced. Aside from a couple of brief swings through diners, including one yesterday in Delray Beach, Fla., he has done little of the politicking that exposes candidates to random sets of people — at shopping malls or train stations — who might be of any political stripe, and can raise any issue.

Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton, John McCain and Barack Obama and others have held forums in Iowa and New Hampshire that were open to anyone and were widely advertised in advance — Mr. McCain did three on Saturday alone. People who were clearly skeptical pressed the candidates — Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain on their Iraq war positions, and Mr. Obama on his relative inexperience.

Mr. Giuliani has had no such events so far. He has yet to be questioned by voters about his support for abortion rights, same-sex civil unions and gun control, or about his marital history.

So here's a question: so far, Rudy's been given a free pass. No one has asked him about his messy personal life - the three ex-wives, the marriage to his cousin (which he had to get a special papal dispensation for) or the phony annulment he got for that marriage (shock of shocks - he found out he was married to his second cousin!), the infidelities (I can think of at least three - he was cheating on his first wife with his soon-to-be second wife Donna Hanover; he was cheating on his second wife with his communications director, Christine Lategano; and he was cheating on his second wife with his soon-to-be third wife, Judi Nathan), the court order he got so he could bring his mistress home to Gracie Mansion while his second wife and kids were up the hall, his living with two gay men after his second wife Donna threw him out of the house for schtupping another woman while Donna and the kids were home (that ought to go over well with evangelicals!)

What happens when somebody asks him about this sleazy behavior?

If the marriage, the infidelities, and all the rest of the sleaze are approachable topics for the Clinton campaign (and apparently they are - the Geffen mess this week was basically all about Bill's alleged philandering), they ought to be approachable topics for the Giuliani campaign as well.

So how will Giuliani handle those questions?

In addition, how will Rudy handle the ethics questions he's going to get over Bernie Kerik? How will he handle the ethics questions over his post-9/11 business (basically using the memory of 9/11 to enrich himself)? How will Rudy handle the questions about his plan to place the New York City Emergency Crisis Center in WTC 7 in 1999, six years after the Trade Center had been attacked by terrorists?

The fact that Rudy's restricting access along the campaign trail and not taking unscripted questions from non-supporters suggests he doesn't want to answer these questions at all. Ordinarily I'd say that a presidential candidate would never get away with restricting access to himself and not answering pertinent questions about his past record as mayor of New York, his ethical behavior in business, the criminal behavior of his business ethics, and the messy details about his marriages and his infidelities.

But St. Rudy ("America's Mayor") might just get away with running from all the tough questions as a presidential candidate. The irony is, Rudy could win the GOP nomination and Hillary could win the Democratic nomination and we could have a race where Bill's past, present and future infidelities, indiscretions and business ethics will be Topic A on the campaign trail while St. Rudy gets a pass from the fawning, slobbering press corps.

I hope that doesn't happen. I am sure that McCain, Romney et al. will try to nail him on some of these questions as soon as he announces. Later on, I'm sure Dems will bring up all the ethics and sexual questions as well. Let's hope the Chris Matthews of the press corps will take their mouths off Rudy's cock long enough to ask the same questions about St. Rudy they're asking about the Clintons.

This Guy Should Be A Member Of The Bush Administration


LONDON - Embattled Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz faced fresh criticism Friday after newspapers published photos of him trying to watch military maneuvers with the lens cap still on his binoculars.

Peretz was inspecting Israeli troops in the Golan Heights, near the Syria border, along with the Israeli army's chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported.

The photographer said Peretz gazed through the capped binoculars three times, nodding as Ashkenazi explained what he was looking at, the British Broadcasting Corp. said.

Peretz's popularity has plummeted in the wake of Israel's war last year in Lebanon.

And just in case you think Amir Peretz won't be allowed to do any real damage after last summer's disastrous campaign against Hezbollah in Lebanon, let's note that The Telegraph is reporting that Israel is negotiating with the United States to be able to fly over Iraqi airspace on their way to taking out Iran's nuclear facilities in a military air strike.

Gee, I hope Peretz takes the binocular caps off before looking at the air strike plans.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Vilsack Out Of 2008 Race

That didn't take long:

Former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack is announcing today that he’s dropping out of the Democratic presidential race. His campaign said Mr. Vilsack will make a major announcement at 11 a.m. in Des Moines.

Mr. Vilsack began calling supporters and other party officials early today, giving them a heads-up that he was closing his candidacy. Party officials and advisers said Mr. Vilsack had struggled to raise money this year and could not keep up with expenses needed to run a national campaign.

As Atrios noted yesterday (here and here), Vilsack was pledging to destroy Social Security.

Instead, blogofascism destroyed him! Good riddance.

In For The Long Haul

Michael Hirsch writes in Newsweek that the Petraeus Plan counterinsurgency plan the U.S. military is currently using in Iraq means U.S. troops are going to be deployed there for years to come. Key quotes:

To a degree little understood by the U.S. public, Petraeus is engaged in a giant “do-over.” It is a near-reversal of the approach taken by Petraeus’s predecessor as commander of multinational forces in Iraq, Gen. George Casey, until the latter was relieved in early February, and most other top U.S. commanders going back to Rick Sanchez and Tommy Franks. Casey sought to accelerate both the training of Iraqi forces and American withdrawal. By 2008, the remaining 60,000 or so U.S. troops were supposed to be hunkering down in four giant “superbases,” where they would be relatively safe. Under Petraeus’s plan, a U.S. military force of 160,000 or more is setting up hundreds of “mini-forts” all over Baghdad and the rest of the country, right in the middle of the action. The U.S. Army has also stopped pretending that Iraqis—who have failed to build a credible government, military or police force on their own—are in the lead when it comes to kicking down doors and keeping the peace. And that means the future of Iraq depends on the long-term presence of U.S. forces in a way it did not just a few months ago. “We’re putting down roots,” says Philip Carter, a former U.S. Army captain who returned last summer from a year of policing and training in the hot zone around Baquba. “The Americans are no longer willing to accept failure in order to put Iraqis in the lead. You can’t let the mission fail just for the sake of diplomacy.”


“This is the right strategy: small mini-packets of U.S. troops all over, small ‘oil spots’ [of stability] spreading out. It’s classic counterinsurgency,” says one of the Army’s top experts in irregular warfare, who helped draft the counterinsurgency manual that Petraeus produced while commander at Fort Leavenworth last year—the principles of which the general is applying to Iraq. “But it’s high risk and it’s going to take a long time.”


The Army expert in irregular warfare notes that insurgencies take on average 10 years to defeat. And while technically we’re about four years into this one, the Pentagon was in such denial for so long about confronting the Iraqi insurgency—and wasted time on so many errant alternatives—that America may be at square one in fighting it, or possibly even “in negative numbers,” this expert says.

Couple of things here: the preznut's troop surge plan was sold to the American public as temporary. The administration and its allies spread the word that the surge was needed to get Baghdad under control and once that goal was achieved, the U.S. military would begin turning operations back over to the Iraqi security forces.

But now Hirsch tells us that the administration knows that the only way the Petraeus Plan can be successful is if we are willing to continue it for years to come. Administration figures never gave a timetable for how long the surge would continue, but if they are planning on 5-10 more years of 160,000 Americans working the counterinsurgency beat in Iraq, then the preznut and his Grand Old Party apologists engaged in a blatantly false advertising campaign to sell this surge (as they did with the original invasion for that matter - remember the smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud they warned us about?) Didn't they learn any lessons after they lied about the original rationales for war?

But for the sake of argument, let's say the administration manages to convince Americans that the Petraeus Plan is worth pursuing for the next 5-10 years. I'm dubious that they can do that, but let's say they can: The next pertinent question becomes - Will 160,000 troops actually be enough military force to make the plan successful? When Petraeus and the other military experts were writing the book on counterinsurgency techniques, they were envisioning adding more than 21,500 additional troops to Baghdad for the surge. The first few days that the surge was employed showed a decrease in violent activity. But after that, the levels of violence around Iraq returned to normal, even if some of that violence had shifted from Baghdad (where the extra troops had been added) to other areas where troops were not deployed in any great numbers. Can 160,000 American military troops realistically stop the insurgency and the sectarian violence with such small numbers (especially now that the Brits and Danes are on a timetable to withdraw the rest of their troops from the country)? And if they can't, will Americans be willing to send more in to complete the mission?

Doubtful. I'm not even sure the American military can handle the current level of long-term deployments they're using in both Iraq and Afghanistan right now. How can they conceivably add more in the near future without completely breaking the services?

A half-assed mess is what these people have created in Iraq. Had Rumsfeld/Bremer/Cheney et al. been willing to admit an insurgency existed back in 2003-2004, a counterinsurgency plan like Petraeus' could have worked. But for them to be starting the Petraeus Plan almost five years into the war, with most Americans ready for a withdrawal timetable and not a commitment of 160,000+ troops for the next 5-10 years, seems senseless to me. The troop levels are too little, the plan is being deployed too late, and there is no way the American people are going to back this thing for any extended period of time.

And yet Bushie and Cheney will certainly try. And anybody who opposes them will have their patriotism, their courage, and their will challenged.

Yeah, they're in it for the long haul. But are the American people?

Thursday, February 22, 2007

More Rape Allegations Against Iraqi Security Forces

From the Associated Press:

TAL AFAR, Iraq - Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was confronted with fresh rape claims against his Shiite-dominated security forces on Thursday after a 40-year-old Sunni woman accused soldiers of attacking her in her home.

The allegations came just days after a 20-year-old Sunni woman in Baghdad accused police of gang-raping her, sparking a political furore that has laid bare the bitter sectarian divide between majority Shiites and minority Sunni Arabs.

The Islamic State in Iraq group, which includes Sunni Islamist al Qaida and several minor insurgent groups, vowed an “earth-shaking response” to the alleged rapes. The group is blamed for some of the worst bombings in Iraq.

As bad as the violence and mayhem is in Iraq right now, don't you get the feeling it's a powder keg that could blow up into REAL carnage at just about any time?

Report: Another U.S. Helicopter Shot Down In Iraq

Just one day after the U.S. military announced that a Black Hawk helicopter was shot down by insurgents north of Baghdad, Al Jazeera reports that another U.S. helicopter crashed north of Baquba City during a clash between the U.S. military and insurgents. The report, if confirmed, would make that helicopter the ninth to be either shot down or crash in Iraq since January 20.

Think about that stat for a minute. At least eight American helicopters have either been shot down or crashed in the last 34 days. If today's report is correct, the number is actually nine.

That would mean insurgents are shooting down American helicopters at the rate of one every four or so days.

That trend, if it continues unabated, doesn't bode too well for the future.

And yet the American news media is still covering the Iraq war debate in the Congress as if the preznut's surge policy is actually turning the security conditions around.

Between the increase in helicopter take-downs and the increased use of chemical bombs by the insurgency, it seems to me the insurgents have elevated their game just as the U.S. military tries to elevate its game with the troop surge.

That trend, if it continues unabated, also doesn't bode well for the future.

Yes, But Why Didn't You Do Something About The Train Wreck?

From the NY Times:

In an interview with ABC News in which Mr. Cheney was asked about Mr. McCain’s criticism of Mr. Rumsfeld, the vice president responded by bringing up other McCain comments critical of Mr. Cheney’s role in managing the war in Iraq, and said Mr. McCain had subsequently said he was sorry.

“John said some nasty things about me the other day,” Mr. Cheney added, “and then the next time he saw me, ran over to me and apologized. Maybe he’ll apologize to Rumsfeld.”

In response, Mr. McCain seemed to go out of his way to re-emphasize his assertion that Mr. Rumsfeld would be remembered as one of the worst defense secretaries in history, and to criticize the Bush administration more generally when he appeared at a news conference in Los Angeles to discuss initiatives to deal with global warming.

When asked about the administration’s environmental record, Mr. McCain said, “I would assess this administration’s record on global warming as terrible.”

Asked by a reporter about his comments about Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. McCain said, “The criticism of the conduct of the war I have voiced for more than three years when I saw that this train wreck was taking place.”

Some minutes later, after the news conference had ended, Mr. McCain, unbidden, said to the reporter, “Sir, I stand by my comments about Secretary Rumsfeld, by the way.”

But St. John, if you saw the train wreck coming the whole time while Rummy was running the engine, why didn't you do something about it other than appear on TV news programs and offer sound bites?

As I recall, there hasn't been a bit of administration war policy you haven't been willing to support in the Senate.

As I also recall, Donald Rumsfeld served at the pleasure of George W. Bush for a long, long time and not once did you ever criticize this preznut for his support of Rumsfeld as the SecDef led the nation down the track to disaster.

Frankly, Senator, for all your foresight in seeing the train wreck that this war has become since the beginning, you did nothing but help it along by ALWAYS siding with the administration and its war policy.

This makes you as responsible for the train wreck as Rummy, Cheney, Bushie, Condi, or Hadley are.

It's your war, Senator. Own it, baby.

POSTSCRIPT: A similar case can be made for Hillary Clinton's ownership of this war. While HRC has been a little more critical of the preznut and the administration over the war, she has been about as helpful as McCain in making the architects of the train wreck get back on track. She's so busy triangulating between war critics in her own party and war supporters in the other party that I don't know what she wants to do with the war. I'm pretty sure she doesn't know what she wants to do with it either.

Perhaps that's why she won't apologize for her vote on the war resolution that allowed the train wreck to happen in the first place?

Perhaps that's why war opponents and administration critics in the Democratic Party such as myself will have such a difficult time supporting her in the primary?

I voted against her this time around in both the primary and the general election. If she wins the nomination for president (or worse, if she wins the nomination and faces either St. John or St. Rudy - both warm embracers of the Bush war policy), I don't know what I'm going to do on election day.

I'll tell you this: I'll be very tempted to vote a straight Marxist ticket.

You know - Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, Gummo, and of course Groucho...

Only trouble is, Justice John Paul Stevens will be 87 and quite unlikely to make it through another two terms of Grand Old Party rule. For that matter, Scalia and Thomas are starting to get up there in age and either of those fat bastards could keel over from cardiac arrest or a stroke. It would be shame if that happened, of course (unlike Pat Robertson, I'm not going to advocate or pray for the death of political opponents.) But if one or both of those guys did go, it would be a shame if there wasn't a Dem president to replace them with somebody sane (i.e., somebody less willing to give the next president dictator-like power to arrest, imprison, and torture, etc.)

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

War Supporters Whine Over Brit Pull-Out

The Washington Post reports that Iraq war supporters in the White House and the Grand Old Party are disappointed about the announced Brit troop withdrawal from Iraq because it gives war critics and troop surge opponents ammunition to fight the attacks on their patriotism:

No matter the military merits, the British move, followed by a similar announcement by Denmark, roiled the political debate in Washington at perhaps the worst moment for the White House. Democrats seized on the news as evidence that Bush's international coalition is collapsing and that the United States is increasingly alone in a losing cause. Even some Republicans, and, in private, White House aides, agreed that the announcement sent an ill-timed message to the American public.


White House officials said they had known for a while that the British were moving in this direction and that Prime Minister Tony Blair informed Bush of his decision during a secure videoconference Tuesday. But the rest of Washington was taken by surprise, and Republicans were put back on their heels, just as they were beginning to feel more confident that the fight over war strategy was shifting their way.

The House last week approved a nonbinding resolution opposing the president's planned deployment of 21,500 additional troops to Baghdad and Anbar province in western Iraq. But Republicans have since been on offense, hammering a House Democratic plan that would tie war funding in a supplemental spending bill to strict new standards for resting, equipping and training troops.

The strategy, championed by Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) and endorsed in principle by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was supposed to neutralize GOP charges that Democrats plan to "de-fund" the war, while forcing Republicans to defend the deployment of troops who are not rated fully trained and equipped. But Republicans labeled it a "slow bleed" strategy that would leave troops in harm's way by blocking their reinforcements


The news of Britain's partial withdrawal, though, swamped the funding debate for at least a day. "The timing of the British announcement is very unfortunate," said Nile Gardiner, a scholar at the conservative Heritage Foundation. "The British decision is going to be used as a political football by opponents of the president's Iraq plan."

Rep. Ray LaHood (R-Ill.) said the move will undercut Republicans in Congress trying to stave off attempts to limit what Bush can do in Iraq.

"It's probably not going to bode well for those of us who want to make a case against what Murtha and Pelosi plan for the supplemental," LaHood said. "It does not help."

Now that Tony "Bush's Poodle" Blair has announced a troop withdrawal timetable, it does become a bit difficult for War Repubs and the White House to tar Dems and GOP opponents of the preznut's surge policy as "cut-and-runners" and "defeatists."

Not that they won't try, though.

Cheney did so today even as he was declaring the British pull-out as a sign of Mission Accomplished in Iraq.

With the Brits and the Danes pulling out just as we're putting more troops in, with the levels violence in and around Baghdad as bad as before the start of the troop surge, with 8 helicopters shot down in the past month and with insurgents having pulled three chemical attacks in the past few weeks, maybe the news media will finally start to cover the real story on the preznut's troop surge policy - it's failing and no amount of Repub rhetoric and Orwellian spin is going to change the reality on the ground in Iraq. The civil war is getting worse by the day.

UPDATE: Via The Wall Street Journal, here's what Middle East Expert Anthony Cordesman at the Center for Strategic and International Studies sees happening as a result of the British withdrawal plan:

The reduction in the British troop levels “will in many ways simply reflect the political reality that the British ‘lost’ the south more than a year ago. The Shi’ites will takeover, Iranian influence will probably expand, and more Sunnis, Christians, and other minorities will leave. British action will mean more pressure for federation and separatism, but local power struggles are more likely to be between Shi’ite factions than anything else.”

“The irony,” he said in a brief analysis, “is that British force cuts may well have the same de facto effect as the new set of U.S. military operations in Baghdad… In effect, both the UK and US may end up acting to expand Shi’ite influence in very different ways.”

In a paper entitled "The Calm Before The Storm: The British Experience in Southern Iraq," Michael Knights and Ed Williams of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy describe the south of Iraq this way:

“Instead of a stable, united, law-abiding region with a representative government and police primacy, the deep south is unstable, factionalized, lawless, ruled as a kleptocracy and subject to militia primacy,” they write.

The authors go on to quote Brig. James Everard, the British commander in the region until last November. “Freedom of speech, freedom of expression: it just hasn’t quite worked out the way it was planned. They’re just not prepared to debate. They tend to do things at the end of a gun.”

Yeah, the south of Iraq sure sounds like Mission Accomplished to me.

Remind me again, how much money and and how many lives did Bush and Blair waste to bring about this mess?

Another Helicopter Shot Down In Iraq

The U.S. military confirms that the helicopter that had a "hard landing" north of Baghdad today was actually shot down by small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades.

That makes at least 7 American helicopter that have crashed or been brought down by hostile fire in the last month. In all, 28 Americans have died in the incidents.

Also the NY Times reports that insurgents have pulled three separate chemical bomb attacks in the last month in Iraq. While the attacks were poorly executed and not as deadly as they could have been, they leave open the possibility for some REALLY horrific attacks in the near future.

Surge or no surge, which way does the trend line on the war look like it's going?

Britain To Pull Troops Out Of Iraq While U.S. Adds More...

...and still the carnage in Iraq continues. First, the British withdrawal story:

LONDON, Feb. 21 — In sharp contrast to the American troop buildup in Baghdad, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced today that Britain will withdraw up to 1,600 of its roughly 7,100 British troops in southern Iraq in the next few months.

Around 460 Danish soldiers under British command in southern Iraq will also be withdrawn by August, the government in Copenhagen said today.

Then the carnage story:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- A suicide car bomber struck a police checkpoint Wednesday in the Shiite holy city of Najaf, killing at 13 people in the spiritual heartland of the militia factions led by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

U.S. forces, meanwhile, investigated the ''hard landing'' of a Black Hawk helicopter north of Baghdad. Military spokesman Maj. Gen. William Caldwell said the airmen were picked up by rescuers, but gave no further details.

At least seven U.S. helicopters have crashed or been forced down by hostile fire in the past month, killing 28 troops and civilians.

Gee, how come the Brits are pulling out while the Americans are ramping up the troop numbers? How come Poodle Boy Tony can't send some of those departing Brits to Baghdad for the security crackdown?

Might it be that even Tony knows this bloody cake is baked?

And just in case you think reconciliation between Shiites and Sunnis is still a possibility, take a look at this rape accusation by a 20-year old Sunni woman that threatens to increase Sunni/Shiite tensions even more (if that's possible) and suggests that the Iraqi security forces may be riddled with rapists as well as militiamen and death squad members and the Maliki government may be engaging in a cover-up of the matter:

When a 20-year-old Sunni woman from Baghdad appeared on the satellite television station Al Jazeera on Monday night with a horrific account of kidnapping and sexual assault at the hands of three officers in the Shiite-dominated Iraqi National Police, people across the country were stunned, some disbelieving, others horrified, but all riveted.

Almost immediately, Shiite leaders lined up to condemn the woman, calling her charges propaganda aimed at undermining the new security campaign. Sunni politicians offered the woman their support. Whatever the truth of the accusation, though, it played to sectarian fears on both sides.

For many Shiites, the charges appeared to be an attempt to smear them and attack the Shiite-led government; for Sunnis, the woman’s account only highlighted what they already believed to be true — that the Iraqi government cares little for justice and promotes a Shiite agenda.

Bitter exchanges between politicians of various sects were relayed to millions on television, interspersed with clips of the woman telling her story, her face veiled, just the tears in her eyes visible.

Today, tensions over the matter remained high as Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki ordered the dismissal of Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Ghafoor al-Samaraei, the head of the country’s Sunni endowment, after Mr. Samaraei and other prominent Sunni politicians called for an investigation of the incident.

The Americans, who have advisers working with the Iraqi National Police, have found themselves caught in the middle without answers. The woman said the Americans had rescued her from the officers and gave her medical treatment. The American-backed, Shiite-led government said the Americans would show the woman’s claims to be false.

The American military said only that it was investigating the charges.

Watch this rape accusation case closely. The Shiite Maliki government looks like they are covering the whole thing up. At first, Maliki released a statement saying he would pursue a full investigation of the matter. Hours later, he released another statement calling the woman a liar and saying that the accused rapists had been rewarded by the government. Here's the money quote:

“It has been shown after medical examinations that the woman had not been subjected to any sexual attack whatsoever, and that there are three outstanding arrest warrants against her issued by security agencies,” said the second statement. “After the allegations have been proven to be false, the prime minister has ordered that the officers accused be rewarded.”

No evidence was revealed, no explanation given. Just that the Sunni woman who had made the rape accusation was a liar and the accused officers were heroes of the state and had been rewarded.

I dunno if the accusation against the officers is legitimate or not. It's possible the woman is lying. It's also possible the officers are lying and the Maliki government is covering up for them. Given the way the matter has been handled, I'm betting it's the latter.

If the Americans become complicit in the Maliki/Shiite government cover-up of this rape accusation case, how can they look the Sunnis in the eyes and say they haven't taken sides in the Iraqi civil war?

The answer is, they can't. So if the Americans become complicit in the Maliki/Shiite government cover-up of this rape accusation case, it will be another sign that the Bush administration has decided their exit strategy in Iraq is to side with the Shiites, pound the Sunnis into submission, and leave a Shiite authoritarian government in power after they leave.

The American military should conduct a full, open investigation of this matter themselves. While Maliki and his Shiite cronies may not like it, the American military and government should not be seen to be helping Maliki and the Shiites covering up this case.

I have a feeling that they're not going to do that, however. It looks more and more like they have sided with the Shia (notice that the security crackdown is mostly aimed at Sunni insurgents.) This could have a profound effect on how other Sunni powers start to conduct themselves. if you think the insurgency is bad now, wait until Saudi Arabia and other Sunni powers officially join the cause against the Shiites in Iraq and their Iranian cohorts. The region could explode into full-scale sectarian violence. between Sunni/Shia nation-states, kinda like the Iraqi civil war gone regional.

UPDATE: Mike at Crest points out that the sophisticated weaponry Sunni insurgents are using to bring down American helicopters (Russian-made SA-14 or SA-16 shoulder-fired missiles) has to be coming from somewhere outside of Iraq because Saddam did not have this type of weaponry in his stockpiles. Looks like the Sunni powers are ALREADY arming and funding the insurgency in the Iraqi civil war. Just wait until they start doing it openly.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

More Carnage In Iraq And What It May Mean For The Surge Policy

So far, Preznut Bush's vaunted troop surge - the security crackdown in Baghdad dubbed "Operation Imposing Law" - hasn't stopped the violence in Iraq. After a very brief respite from insurgent attacks and sectarian violence, the carnage has returned to Iraq in full force:

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- A car bomb and a suicide attacker killed at least 11 people across Baghdad on Tuesday as militants show increasing defiance of a major security operation in the capital. More than 100 people have been killed in the Baghdad area since Sunday in a direct challenge to efforts by U.S. and Iraqi forces to restore some authority on the streets and give the embattled government some breathing room.


Outside Baghdad, nearly 150 people were hospitalized complaining of breathing problems, vomiting and other ailments after a truck carrying a chlorine-based substance was hit by a roadside bomb north of Baghdad, said Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, a military spokesman.

Two people died in the blast and the others were treated after being exposed to fumes and debris near Taji, about 12 miles northwest of Baghdad, Moussawi said. All those treated were in stable condition.

On Monday, insurgents staged a bold daylight assault against a U.S. combat post north of Baghdad, killing two soldiers and injuring 17. The U.S. military called it a "coordinated attack" _ which began with a suicide car bombing and then gunfire on soldiers pinned down in a former Iraqi police station, where fuel storage tanks were set ablaze by the blast.

The head-on attack in the town of Tarmiyah, about 30 miles north of Baghdad, was notable for both its tactics and target. Sunni insurgents have mostly used hit-and-run ambushes, roadside bombs or mortars on U.S. troops and stayed away from direct assaults on fortified military compounds to avoid U.S. firepower.

It also appeared to fit a pattern emerging among the suspected Sunni militants: trying to hit U.S. forces harder outside the capital rather than confront them on the streets during a massive American-led security operation.

Altogether, nine U.S. service members have been reported killed since the beginning of the weekend, six of them on Monday

Does any sane person with even an inkling of common sense and a history of paying attention to the deteriorating situation in Iraq over the last four years actually think 21,500 additional American troops (17,000 of which are combat troops - the remaining are support) will actually bring peace and stability to the country?

Isn't it patently obvious that the Sunni insurgents were going to split the capital as soon as the U.S. started deploying extra troops there for the "unprecedented" security crackdown the military and the administration have been bragging about since the plan was first announced last month and wait out the surge and/or take their insurgent attacks elsewhere?

Isn't it even more obvious that the Shiite militias and death squads (many of whom are actually working on the same side of the sectarian divide as Prime Minister Maliki's government) were going to lay off the killing and mayhem while the joint U.S.-Iraqi security crackdown is ongoing?

It seems to me that adding 21,500 additional American troops to Baghdad and expecting the security situation in both the capital and the rest of the country to stabilize is like adding a thimble of fresh water to Utah's Great Salt Lake and expecting the lake water to become drinkable.

The chances of this surge working are not very good.

You can see the pattern already. Like past security crackdowns, violence drops for a brief time while the insurgents get acclimated to the new normal. Then it explodes once again.

Politicians in Washington and the members of the news media covering them are still acting like the debate around the troop surge should focus on a Pro-Surge vs. Anti-Surge argument. Should the preznut be allowed to send additional troops (or in this case, extend the deployments of soldier and marines already there and send troops scheduled to go to Iraq earlier than their listed deployment dates)? Should the Congress cut off funding for the surge directly and if so, what will happen to the members who vote to cut off funding in the next election? Should the Congress try and limit the funding through more obscure parliamentary maneuvers like the Murtha plan, thus giving themselves some political cover for the inevitable attacks from administration apologists that they voted to defund the troops? Should the Congress simply register its disapproval with non-binding resolutions and let events on the ground dictate the next course of action?

I have a feeling that while this Pro-Surge/Anti-Surge argument goes on for the next month or so and occupies all of Washington like a bouncing ball occupies a puppy, events on the ground in Iraq will essentially render it meaningless.

I mean, if the violence continues to rage unabated both inside and outside of Baghdad after the U.S. adds 21,500 troops, what's the point about arguing whether you're Pro-Surge or Anti-Surge? It will become obvious to even the dumbest Washington observer and/or font of conventional wisdom that the surge will have failed and it will be time to try something else.

In the past, I have advocated either sending in 300,000 additional troops for a REAL SURGE (and starting a military draft to do it, since the Pentagon doesn't have anywhere near enough numbers to pull that kind of surge off) or pulling back to the borders and letting the civil war run its course (as seems to be happening with U.S. troops there anyway.)

An additional school of thought has the U.S. taking sides in the civil war and backing the Shiites against the Sunnis in the fight to control the country. That option seems particularly unsavory, as it means U.S. troops would essentially be working on the same side of the Shiite death squads in their ethnic cleansing campaigns. Another option is to break the country in three along the lines of the Biden Plan.

Not one of these options is a good one.

Obviously the Bush administration doesn't have the guts or political will to call for a military draft to get the numbers necessary to throw in 300,000 additional troops into Iraq long-term(a move that wouldn't guarantee peace and stability in the country but sure would go a long way toward ending the violence.)

Pulling back to the borders and letting the civil war run its course seems like a particularly bad option as well since it was the United States that helped launch the civil war in the first place by taking out Saddam and allowing the insurgency and the sectarian violence to rage mostly unchecked until they became unstoppable.

Backing the Shiites over the Sunnis is sure to create problems for the U.S. both inside and outside Iraq as Sunni powers like Saudi Arabia and Jordan will not look kindly upon such a sectarian policy.

And the Biden plan to split the country into three may create problems too if Turkey decides to grab the Kurdish north for its own and/or if the Sunnis decide they want more of the oil-rich Shiite south for themselves.

No - there are no good options for bringing peace and stability to Iraq. But the current troop surge plan isn't REALLY an option either. It's nothing more than a cynical political maneuver by the Bush administration and the GOP leadership to try and pass off blame for the Iraq war debacle onto war critics and delay the inevitable ignominious U.S. retreat.

I wish the news media would mention that when they getting around to talking about the politics of the war here at home. But they don't. They're too busy reading off the talking points from both sides to reveal the reality of the situation.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Preznut Wants To Fuck Osama In The Ass

I kid you not - he said it himself, according to a new book by one of Ariel Sharon's aides, Uri Dan.

Gee, after all that furor the preznut caused over the gay marriage ban, who'd have thought he would be such a proponent of sodomy with another man?

Oh, well - that's sexual fantasy for you. You never can tell what's going to turn on somebody else.

Except for wingnuts, of course. When it comes to them, humiliation, abuse, torture, and rape fantasies often do the trick. And if the "Bush wants to fuck Osama in the ass" remark doesn't convince you, check out all the masturbatory writings the wingers have penned over the need to torture, waterboard, sexually humiliate, etc.

Start at NRO and work you way to Little Green Footballs. You'll see what I mean.

Violence Continues To Rage In Iraq Despite "Operation Imposing Law"

Here's the "brilliant success" that is the preznut's troops surge plan - otherwise known as "Operation Imposing Law":

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- The U.S. military has said two U.S. soldiers were killed and 17 were wounded in a coordinated attack on a base north of Baghdad.

A string of bombings killed at least 15 people Monday in the Baghdad area, a day after a massive car bomb attack in a Shiite area market delivered the first major blow to the U.S.-led security crackdown.

Attacks in other parts of Iraq pushed the overall death toll near 30.

U.S. forces also reportedly came under attack. They clashed with insurgents north of Baghdad after a suicide bomber apparently tried to break through barriers around a joint U.S.-Iraqi base, area residents told The Associated Press. U.S. military officials said they were looking into the incident.

In Baghdad, five people were killed when a suicide attacker detonated a bomb-rigged belt on a public bus headed for the mostly Shiite area of Karradah in central Baghdad, police reported.

A roadside bomb killed three policemen in the Shiite area of Zafraniyah in southeastern Baghdad, officials said. Only 100 yards away, a bomb hidden in an open-air market exploded, killing at least five.

In Mahmoudiya, 20 miles south of the capital, a car bomb went off among auto repair shops, killing two and wounding two, police said. Mahmoudiya is mostly Shiite with Sunnis living in villages around the community and has long been a flashpoint for sectarian violence.

Elsewhere in Iraq, a car bomb in Ramadi, about 90 miles west of Baghdad, killed at least nine bystanders congregated at a police checkpoint in the aftermath of a failed suicide attack.

And in Duluiyah, a Sunni area about 45 miles north of Baghdad, at least four were killed when a bomb-rigged car exploded.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military announced Monday that a U.S. Marine was killed two days earlier during combat operations in Anbar province, a Sunni insurgent hotspot west of the capital.

The latest attacks were a sobering reminder of the huge challenges confronting any effort to rattle the well-armed and well-hidden insurgents.

On Sunday, police said at least 62 people died in the attack in the mostly Shiite area of New Baghdad. Nearly 130 people were injured.

Another person was killed in a car bombing Sunday in the Shiite militia stronghold of Sadr City.

Just a few hours before the weekend blasts, Lt. Gen. Abboud Qanbar led reporters on a tour of the neighborhood near the marketplace and promised to ''chase the terrorists out of Baghdad.'' On Saturday, the Iraqi spokesman for the plan, Brig. Gen. Qassim Moussawi, said violence had plummeted 80 percent in the capital.

Sounds like a brilliant success to me.

It's too early to say the surge is a failure, since many of the American troops aren't in place yet and the Iraqis have only sent 55%-60% of the troops they're supposed to be bringing into Baghdad for the crackdown. But it surely was too early to declare the plan a "brilliant success" too (Prime Minister Maliki claimed the plan was just that after a few days of low levels of violence and discord) and as we can see from the past 48 hours in Iraq, violence can plummet 80% for a few days and still explode with horrific intensity and frequency right after a relative lull. And today Maliki claimed the car bomb attacks and other violence of the past 48 hours is more proof that the security crackdown is a "brilliant success":

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki condemned the bombing as a desperate act by ''terrorists'' and ''criminals'' who sense they are being squeezed.

''These crimes confirm the defeat of these perpetrators and their failure in confronting our armed forces, which are determined to cleanse the dens of terrorism,'' al-Maliki said in a statement.

So when there's low levels of violence in Baghdad for a few days, the preznut's surge plan is a "brilliant success," and when there's a horrific outbreak in violence that kills scores, the preznut's surge plan is also a "brilliant success."

Sounds like Maliki is reading from the Bushie/Cheney/Rummy/Rice book of deluded political statements - no matter what happens in Iraq, it always means we're winning and the "deadenders" are losing.

What a joke - a deadly, bloody joke. A few more days of this and maybe the American news media will stop talking about how the preznut and the GOP are putting the Dems on the defensive by forcing them to vote on the funding for the troop surge and start saying "Why should anybody fund a 21,500 troop surge that clearly hasn't worked."

McCain Continues To Court The Right

Just in case there's anybody out there who STILL thinks John McCain isn't a right-wing politician ready to toe the Falwell/Robertson line, he said this yesterday:

SPARTANBURG, S.C. - Republican presidential candidate John McCain, looking to improve his standing with the party’s conservative voters, said Sunday the court decision that legalized abortion should be overturned.

“I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned,” the Arizona senator told about 800 people in South Carolina, one of the early voting states.

McCain also vowed that if elected, he would appoint judges who “strictly interpret the Constitution of the United States and do not legislate from the bench.”

Can't get any plainer than that - elect McCain and he will work to overturn Roe and appoint judges to the courts who will do the same.

Funny thing is, I doubt statements like the above will actually help McCain with the evangelicals or the right-wingers in the GOP. They don't trust him, they don't like him and they're probably not going to support him in the primary.

But statements like the above sure will take the last bit of gloss from McCain's appeal as a "maverick" politician who appeals to independents and moderates. Take a look at the poll numbers. McCain continues to lose support among independents and moderates.

I don't know who McCain thinks he's fooling with the way he's running his presidential campaign. Sucking up to the evangelicals and the wingers hasn't gained him any support on the right and it has hurt what appeal he had from independents.

It's the worst of both worlds for McCain.

His campaign seems DOA a year out from the primary season. There's a measure of desperation coming from him and his people that's hard to miss.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Car Bombs Kill 56 In Baghdad

From the Associated Press:

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) -- Two car bombs exploded in an outdoor market in Baghdad on Sunday, killing at least 56 people and injuring scores in the deadliest attack since U.S. and Iraqi forces began a major security push around the capital last week.

The twin blasts -- which tore through the open-air market in the mostly Shiite district of New Baghdad -- marked the first major response by militants to the sweep launched last week and a sobering reminder of the huge challenges facing any efforts against the well-armed factions.


A separate car bomb in the mostly Shiite area of Sadr City killed at least one person and injured 10, police said.

The U.S. military reported the deaths of two American soldiers, one of them in Baghdad who was killed when an insurgent hurled a grenade at his vehicle. The other soldier died when a patrol came under fire north of Baghdad, the statement said. Both died Saturday.

Before the car bomb attacks, Prime Minister Maliki had called Operation Imposing Law (the name for the security crackdown) a "brilliant success."

But given the violence that suddenly exploded at 3PM in Iraq today, maybe he should wait more than five days before declaring Mission Accomplished with Operation Imposing Law.

The security crackdown may bring a temporary lull in violence in Baghdad, but as we saw today, bloodshed can break out at any time with frightening and deadly results and 21,500 additional U.S. troops isn't going to change that horrible truth.

Taking Care Of The Soldiers

One of the reasons Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said Republicans killed the Iraq resolution debate pushed by Dems in the Senate yesterday is because it threatens to cut off funding for the troops. Here's his quote:

"I think the majority of Senate Republicans have made it clear again today, and are highly likely to do that again in the future, that when we turn to this issue, we're going to insist on voting on funding the troops."

No matter that the Washington Post reported a few weeks ago that the administration doesn't have enough armed humvees and other needed armor available to protect the surge troops in Iraq (and won't for many more months.)

No matter that the Washington Post reports today that Walter Reed Hospital is understaffed, underfunded, and overcrowded with severely wounded and slowly recovering soldiers who are largely neglected and abused by the bogged-down system. Here's a taste of how the Bush administration and the U.S. military currently treat many of these wounded vets:

Behind the door of Army Spec. Jeremy Duncan's room, part of the wall is torn and hangs in the air, weighted down with black mold. When the wounded combat engineer stands in his shower and looks up, he can see the bathtub on the floor above through a rotted hole. The entire building, constructed between the world wars, often smells like greasy carry-out. Signs of neglect are everywhere: mouse droppings, belly-up cockroaches, stained carpets, cheap mattresses.

This is the world of Building 18, not the kind of place where Duncan expected to recover when he was evacuated to Walter Reed Army Medical Center from Iraq last February with a broken neck and a shredded left ear, nearly dead from blood loss. But the old lodge, just outside the gates of the hospital and five miles up the road from the White House, has housed hundreds of maimed soldiers recuperating from injuries suffered in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The common perception of Walter Reed is of a surgical hospital that shines as the crown jewel of military medicine. But 5 1/2 years of sustained combat have transformed the venerable 113-acre institution into something else entirely -- a holding ground for physically and psychologically damaged outpatients. Almost 700 of them -- the majority soldiers, with some Marines -- have been released from hospital beds but still need treatment or are awaiting bureaucratic decisions before being discharged or returned to active duty.

They suffer from brain injuries, severed arms and legs, organ and back damage, and various degrees of post-traumatic stress. Their legions have grown so exponentially -- they outnumber hospital patients at Walter Reed 17 to 1 -- that they take up every available bed on post and spill into dozens of nearby hotels and apartments leased by the Army. The average stay is 10 months, but some have been stuck there for as long as two years.

Not all of the quarters are as bleak as Duncan's, but the despair of Building 18 symbolizes a larger problem in Walter Reed's treatment of the wounded, according to dozens of soldiers, family members, veterans aid groups, and current and former Walter Reed staff members interviewed by two Washington Post reporters, who spent more than four months visiting the outpatient world without the knowledge or permission of Walter Reed officials. Many agreed to be quoted by name; others said they feared Army retribution if they complained publicly.

While the hospital is a place of scrubbed-down order and daily miracles, with medical advances saving more soldiers than ever, the outpatients in the Other Walter Reed encounter a messy bureaucratic battlefield nearly as chaotic as the real battlefields they faced overseas.

On the worst days, soldiers say they feel like they are living a chapter of "Catch-22." The wounded manage other wounded. Soldiers dealing with psychological disorders of their own have been put in charge of others at risk of suicide.

Disengaged clerks, unqualified platoon sergeants and overworked case managers fumble with simple needs: feeding soldiers' families who are close to poverty, replacing a uniform ripped off by medics in the desert sand or helping a brain-damaged soldier remember his next appointment.

"We've done our duty. We fought the war. We came home wounded. Fine. But whoever the people are back here who are supposed to give us the easy transition should be doing it," said Marine Sgt. Ryan Groves, 26, an amputee who lived at Walter Reed for 16 months. "We don't know what to do. The people who are supposed to know don't have the answers. It's a nonstop process of stalling."

This is the funding for the troops McConnell is afraid Dems are going to cut? The surge troops do not have the proper armor to keep them safe and when they do come home wounded the U.S. military does not have the facilities, the money or the manpower to help them and their families deal with the long-term recovery process.

If I were Harry Reid, every time Mitch McConnell or some other chickenhawk piece of cowardly shit pulls the "Dems want to harm the troops by cutting their funds," I would wave these two Washington Post articles in the air and say "We're not cutting the funds for the troops, we want to make sure their properly armed and taken care of God forbid they get wounded, which is why we are supporting John Murtha's plan to make sure our military men and women are properly taken care of before, during, and after their tours of duty in Iraq."

Got it, Harry? Dems want to properly arm the troops and make sure they can be taken care of if and when they are wounded. Repubs (but for the 7 in the Senate and the 17 in the House) want to send military men and women into harm's way without the proper armor or armed vehicles and then throw them into a Catch-22esque nightmare of bureaucracy and neglect when they come back wounded and in need of care.

A Brilliant Success

That's how Prime Minister Maliki has described Bush's surge plan - dubbed "Operation Imposing Law." Violence is down in Baghdad (only 5 bodies were found in the city on Saturday; on a typical day before the troop surge started, 50 or more bodies would be found littering the city streets), the Mahdi Army and other Shiite militias are lying low, and the car bomb attacks have stopped in the city.

So is this finally Mission Accomplished in Iraq?

Well, not exactly.

As I blogged yesterday
, the U.S. military believes the lull in violence is due more to the insurgents and militiamen lying low for the start of the much publicized troop surge than any actual progress in security conditions. In addition, violence has increased in other parts of Iraq as insurgents have left Baghdad for safer areas (the same thing has happened during previous security crackdowns.) And the violence hasn't completely stopped. Reuters is reporting that two simultaneous car bombs aimed at passing U.S. troops just went off in Baghdad, killing at least 10 people and wounding 40.

So it seems to me what Maliki terms a "brilliant success" is nothing more than a break in the fighting while the insurgents and militiamen wait out the troop surge. And why can they do this? Because the U.S. does not have the manpower to add more than 21,500 additional troops into Iraq, nor does the U.S. have the ability to keep the troops there long-term. The insurgents and the militiamen know this. So does Maliki (who seems to be using the "breathing space" created by the troop surge to crack down on Sunnis and better prepare his Shiites for the unbridled civil war sure to follow once the U.S. leaves Iraq completely.) The surge will end soon enough and they can go back to the business of sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing with abandon.

A troop surge would actually have a chance to work in Iraq if the United States had enough additional troops to send in for the long-term (say 150,000-200,000 additional troops.) There would be no guarantee that a long-term troop surge of 150,000-200,000 extra troops would actually work at permanently ending the sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing campaigns in Iraq. But it surely would have a better chance to succeed than the band aid surge of 21,500 for 3-6 months that Bush is trying. The bad guys can simply outwait and outwit this band aid escalation.

Once again, the real story about Iraq is not what the Bush administration and it's GOP allies are doing to win the war in Iraq vs. what those commie pinko tree-hugging pussy Dems are doing to lose the war in Iraq. Rather the story is how badly the administration miscalculated what it would take to actually secure Iraq (Rumsfeld thought the U.S. would only need 5,000 troops in Iraq by 2007), how badly they screwed up the first years of the occupation by ignoring the realities of the country and trying to create their own Ayn Randian vision of a tax-free business haven while the Sunni insurgency raged nearly unabated (Rummy wouldn't even admit it existed) and how they have continually been too little, too late in dealing with the insurgency, the sectarian violence and political problems that threaten to break up the country.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

No Public Relations Opportunity Left Behind

Secretary of State Condi Rice made a secret trip to Baghdad today to tout the progress of the preznut's surge plan. Strange how this unannounced visit came on the heels of the House delivering a bipartisan no-confidence vote to the preznut's surge plan yesterday. But that's the way this White House works - when the going gets tough, the tough plan a p.r. offensive.

Anyway, the violence in Baghdad has indeed subsided since the troop surge plan went into effect. The Iraqi government is already declaring "Mission Accomplished" for the lower levels of violence in Baghdad, but the Associated Press reports that Sunni insurgents are "streaming out of Baghdad to escape the security crackdown, carrying the fight to neighboring Diyala province where direct fire attacks on Americans have nearly doubled since last summer."

Here's what's happening in northern Iraq as a direct result of the surge:

Some U.S. officers suspect the advance publicity for the Baghdad security plan may have encouraged extremists — both Sunnis and Shiites — to flee the capital for surrounding provinces, including Diyala, where fewer U.S. troops are stationed.

Even before U.S. President George W. Bush announced last month that he was sending in 21,500 more soldiers, mostly to Baghdad, violence had been steadily increasing in Diyala, among the most religiously mixed of Iraq's 18 provinces.


It is unclear how many insurgents have entered the province over the last month. But U.S. officers believe the numbers must be substantial because of the sharp spike in violence.

Last July, U.S. soldiers came under 90 direct fire attacks — meaning weapons aimed straight at them. Last month the number of such attacks was up about 70 percent, to 157 attacks, according to U.S. Col. David W. Sutherland.

Meanwhile, the number of weapons caches seized more than doubled in that time period, from eight in July to 21 last month. That suggests more weapons are also flowing into the province.

"We know one thing for certain: The resistance and fight in Diyala has gotten tougher over the past couple weeks," said Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, commander of Multinational Division-North, which includes Diyala.

Another officer tells the AP he was stationed in Diyala in 2004 and insurgents weren't attacking tanks in open daylight. In 2007, they are. The officer concludes the insurgency has gotten bolder as a result of the big Sunni influx into the area.

So the Bush administration "whack a mole strategy" has worked brilliantly - the U.S. has managed to tamp down violence in Baghdad by adding troops to the city only to find out that violence has increased elsewhere in Iraq. And no wonder - 21,500 additional troops aren't nearly enough to handle the sectarian violence and the insurgency around the entire country. Many more troops are actually needed to permanently alter the security conditions in Iraq, but the Bush administration does not have the numbers to actually accomplish that objective, so instead they send in just enough troops to tamp down violence in one area of the country while it flares in another.

Whoo-hoo! Another Mission Accomplished!

Perhaps the news media will eventually realize that Bushie and the GOPers still with him are doing nothing with this troop surge plan other than playing politics and trying to pass off blame for the debacle they created in Iraq by making it look like Dems brought about defeat by not supporting the surge. The truth is, defeat in Iraq was brought about by the Bush administration's poor pre-war planning, incompetent handling of the occupation, and failure to tell the American people that the war might actually go on longer than just a few months and/or come clean with why they were starting it in the first place.

Nice going, assholes.

BTW, the preznut's surge plan doesn't actually send 21,500 additional troops to Baghdad; it extends the tours of duty of those troops already there in Baghdad and sends others who were already slated to go into Iraq earlier than their initial deployment date.

Therefore, the "surge" is actually an "extension." Dems and anti-war Repubs would do well to start calling it what it is instead of allowing the administration to frame the debate.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Iraqi Gov't Says Al Qaeda In Iraq Leader is Wounded


BAGHDAD, Iraq - The leader of al-Qaida in Iraq was wounded and an aide was killed in a clash Thursday with Iraqi forces north of Baghdad, the Interior Ministry spokesman said.

The clash occurred near Balad, a major U.S. base about 50 miles north of the capital, Brig. Gen Abdul-Karim Khalaf said.

Khalaf said al-Qaida in Iraq leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri was wounded and his aide, identified as Abu Abdullah al-Majemaai, was killed.

Hey, that should do it! Now the insurgency in Iraq is over! Killing the top Iraqi Al Qaeda guy's aide and wounding the top Iraqi Al Qaeda guy himself means we win right?

I mean, didn't it work that way when we killed Saddam's sons? Or when we captured Saddam? Or when we killed Zarqawi?

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Too Little, Too Late

We already know how much the Bush administration has screwed up post-war Iraq.

McClatchy says the Bush administration has screwed up Afghanistan too.

The administration has long ignored the problems in Afghanistan (weak Karzai government, resurgent Taliban, border problems with Pakistan, drug traffickers own much of the country, Taliban owns what the drug traffickers don't.)

The administration has long underfunded the mission in Afghanistan (less than $3 billion a year in aid compared to the gobs of money they've been throwing into Iraq.)

The administration has long figured that the mission in Afghanistan is nearly complete (Cheney has often said a future Iraq will look like the success the U.S. has had in establishing a peaceful, stable society in Afghanistan - even though Afghanistan becomes less peaceful and less stable by the week.)

McClatchy says slowly but surely the administration has begun to notice just how precarious the situation in Afghanistan really is. The problem is, it may already be too late to stop the slide without a major input of manpower and resources:

U.S. commanders are bracing for a spring offensive by Taliban insurgents that'll test the staying power of the fragile U.S.-backed Afghan government.

In a sign of the administration's concern, President Bush will deliver a speech Thursday highlighting plans for a dramatic increase in military and economic aid, but skeptics fear that the renewed focus on Afghanistan may be too little and too late.

"We have our finger in the dike because our resources and attention were turned toward Iraq," said Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., a former Navy admiral who served in both conflicts. "This is the real front in the war on terrorism. It's a daunting task, more daunting than it had to be because we let the opportunity almost slip away."

Administration officials and U.S. military commanders agree that Afghanistan is grappling with potentially crippling challenges. Five years after U.S. troops ousted the Taliban regime and its al-Qaida allies in retaliation for the Sept. 11 attacks, Afghanistan is still embroiled in war, terrorism, drug trafficking and instability.

The government of President Hamid Karzai has a shaky hold on power; the Taliban and al-Qaida continue to launch attacks from their haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border; and opium production has increased dramatically. Attacks by Islamic extremists spiked last year, making 2006 the deadliest year since the U.S. invasion.

"A point could be reached at which the government of Afghanistan becomes irrelevant to its people, and the goal of establishing a democratic, moderate, self-sustaining state could be lost forever," Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, the former top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, told the House Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.

Government officials and outside experts agree that the biggest threat isn't a Taliban military takeover, it's the possibility that the Karzai government could collapse and leave a void for Islamic extremists.

The infuriating thing is that while the wingers at NRO and the WSJ wave their cocks around angry about the administration's alleged capitulation to North Korea and the need to attack Iran before the preznut leaves office (IF he leaves office!), the first war they started - the necessary war in Afghanistan that was meant to take out the sanctuary for the Al Qaeda terrorists who attacked the United States on 9/11 - was never fully brought to a close.

Now the place looks like it's going to be under Taliban management again and the United States doesn't have the resources to suppress the problems and the rest of the world isn't exactly running to help out (And why would they? Except for the Bush Butt Plug Brigade - British Blair and Aussie Howard - the rest of the world hates Bush and Bush hates them. Nobody's jumping at the chance to help Preznut Schmucko out of his self-created mess.)

Despite the mess, we have the preznut telling the world he doesn't have any real proof that the Iranian government is supplying the IED's to kill American troops in Iraq but he "intends to do something about it" anyway - which is a fairly obvious threat that those two carrier groups he's sent to the Persian Gulf might just spring into action sometime soon - and yet the stupid bastard hasn't been able to successfully complete the first two wars he started in Afghanistan or Iraq!

In a world where accountability actually mattered for the power elite, Bush, Cheney, Rice et al. would have been relieved of their power and duties a long time ago and sent to clean up highways of road kill and debris for the next 3-5 years.

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