Friday, January 28, 2005

Required reading: War Stories

In all the heat light and noise generated in the arguments over the Bush adminstration's diastrous war Policies and justifications for going to war ( or lack thereof) its easy to forget that the war involves not just political symbols but real people, fighting, living and dying on both sides of the conflict

Here's a collection of excellent reporting done from the front lines of the war that goes way beyond the daily body count stories and gives you a worms-eye view of what's really going one. Taken together they tell a tragic story of the war's true cost:

First from the soliders mouth directly: This an extradorinary piece of writing from a solider who was paralyzed during a routine operation in Afghanistan. HisEvocative writing style will make you feel you were right next to him. Spare a parayer for his recovery as well.

Today's Washington Post gives you a worms eye view of what its like to be US infrantryman on the ground in Iraq.
The story is of a young officer, beloved by his troops, who is sincerely trying to do right by the Iraqi people, who isfelled by a sniper's bullet after a long day slogging through the rain, trying to convince Iraqi's to come out and vote. The story is sad in itself , but its downright tragic when you consider this is one death of 1300, probably each one as brave and dedicated and good hearted.

Next, Dexter Filkin's of NY Times may rank as this war's Ernest Hemmingway. .
His With the Marines series taken together are an incredible portrait of a harrowing fight for with a dedicated and resourceful enemy, and its psychic costs on our soldiers:

Urban Warfare Deals Harsh Challenge to Troops

In Taking Falluja Mosque, Victory by the Inch

Black Flags Are Deadly Signals as Cornered Rebels Fight Back

Marines' enemy both craftier, deadlier

In Falluja, Young Marines Saw the Savagery of an Urban War

Thursday, January 27, 2005

For the Record: The smear campaign against Sy Hersh

First Came the Report

Seymour Hersh, New Yorker 1/17/05
Rumsfeld will become even more important during the second term. In interviews with past and present intelligence and military officials, I was told that the agenda had been determined before the Presidential election, and much of it would be Rumsfeld’s responsibility. The war on terrorism would be expanded, and effectively placed under the Pentagon’s control. The President has signed a series of findings and executive orders authorizing secret commando groups and other Special Forces units to conduct covert operations against suspected terrorist targets in as many as ten nations in the Middle East and South Asia.
The Administration has been conducting secret reconnaissance missions inside Iran at least since last summer. Much of the focus is on the accumulation of intelligence and targeting information on Iranian nuclear, chemical, and missile sites, both declared and suspected. The goal is to identify and isolate three dozen, and perhaps more, such targets that could be destroyed by precision strikes and short-term commando raids. “The civilians in the Pentagon want to go into Iran and destroy as much of the military infrastructure as possible,” the government consultant with close ties to the Pentagon told me.

And then The smear campaign reposnse, simultaneously attacking Mr. Hersh's Credibility AND patriotism

Pentagon Spokesman Lawrence Di Rita Jan 17,2005
Mr. Hersh’s article is so riddled with errors of fundamental fact that the credibility of his entire piece is destroyed.
Mr. Hersh’s source(s) feed him with rumor, innuendo, and assertions about meetings that never happened, programs that do not exist, and statements by officials that were never made.

Tony Blankley January 19, 2005
I am not an expert on these federal code sections, but a common sense reading of their language would suggest, at the least, that federal prosecutors should review the information disclosed by Mr. Hersh to determine whether or not his conduct falls within the proscribed conduct of the{ espionage} statute.

David Frum National Review Online January 17,2005
Read Seymour Hersh’s latest piece in the New Yorker with a yellow marker in hand. Can you count how many vital national security secrets – secrets that could potentially get US personnel killed – have been betrayed in just this one article by serving and former agents of the Central Intelligence Agency or by serving or senior and former military officers?

Michael Leeden, National Review Online January 21, 2005
I have usually ignored Hersh's articles and books over the years, because there were so many errors in them that I could never figure out what, if anything, was true. Better to ignore him altogether than get sucked into a morass of confusion. The Coming Wars" was classic Hersh incoherence, almost from the beginning…. Prior to publication, senior Defense Department officials told Hersh that he was dead wrong on several counts — something he might have mentioned, unpleasant though it is. …So much in the Hersh piece,…is ridiculous.

Richard Perle, The Charlie Rose Show 1/19/05
"It was a typical Sy Hersh piece. That is to say it was full of inaccuracy."

But then the wheels came off as major news organiziations were able to confirm the story:

Global Politician 1/19/05
ANALYSIS: Hersh's Report Largely Accurate

Washington Post Jan 22, 2005
The Pentagon, expanding into the CIA's historic bailiwick, has created a new espionage arm and is reinterpreting U.S. law to give Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld broad authority over clandestine operations abroad, according to interviews with participants and documents obtained by The Washington Post.

Military and civilian participants said in interviews that the new unit has been operating in secret for two years -- in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places they declined to name.

New York Times Jan 24, 2005
WASHINGTON, Jan. 23 - The Pentagon has created battlefield intelligence units that for the first time have been assigned to work directly with Special Operations forces on secret counterterrorism missions, tasks that had been largely the province of the Central Intelligence Agency, senior Defense Department officials said Sunday.
The teams, which officials say have been operating in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries for about two years,

And the Pentagon then About faced and claimed that what they really menat is that Hersh was right, and that the Pentagon in fact HAD such units aand they simply couldn;t understand what all the fuss was about:

Lawrence DiRita 1/23/05
It is accurate and should not be surprising that the Department of Defense is attempting to improve its long-standing human intelligence capability.

No apology for Labeling MR. Hersh a terrorist, traitor, liar or spy seems forthcoming from all those opinionated pundits however......

Friday, January 21, 2005

Rogue Elephant, One of W's Judges Runs Amuck

Judge Richard Leon's ruling todayshutting Gitmo detainees out of Federal court makes a mockery of the Supreme Court's ruling last year that they could not be denied access to US Courts to challenge their detention. Judge Leon dutifully granted them access and then promptly dismissed their case in a breathtaking kowtow to executive power, ruling that whatever the executive branch does to non-citizens abroad is beyond the power of the court to control, Constitution and treaties be damned

This judicial capitulation to the will of the executive is nothing new for Judge Leon; but merely par for his career. Appointed By W in 2001 to the extremely powerful Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Judge Leon has been a judicial wrecking ball. In four short years has already done untold damage to the country and the law. He routinely ignores precedent and established law to produce rulings that serve the administration or his extreme neo- conservative views. An examination of his infamous career on the bench (to which he has a lifetime appointment) Shows why the Fight for the Judiciary is one the Left simply cannot afford to avoid; and the disastrous consequences for our country if we lose.

In all the controversy that accompanied George W's early nominations, it likely no one noticed Judge Leon's appointment. Other than a Congratulatory note from Senator Dewine (which noted that Judge Leon was originally hired by , surprise, Dick Cheney) The nomination and confirmation of Judge Leon was an unremarkable and unremarked event.

Once he ascended the Bench however, Judge Leon wasted no time making his presence felt as this early profile of him shows He was going to be trouble:
Leon is just now settling into his new job, and he's already busy making first impressions. "He's loud, obnoxious, and big," said one of his new colleagues after a meeting. More to the point, he's also a movement conservative ... A friend of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's from their undergraduate days at Holy Cross,

Leon is skilled in partisan witch-hunting. He spent part of the last decade serving as the Republicans' chief counsel to the House Banking Committee during its sound-and-fury-signifying-nothing -- or as others call it, Whitewater --

And before he's even settled into his office he was making judicial waves as well:
Judge Richard Leon -- a recent George W. Bush appointee. Leon is so new that most attorneys in the D.C. bar weren't aware that he'd reported to work. He's not even listed on the court's Web site. [However] Leon and Kollar-Kotelly may each end up heading a three-judge panel that would hear the respective cases [Challenging McCain Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Act
And predictably Judge Leon's part of the ruling was good news for the administration and bad news for us:
_____________________________________________________________________________________The net effect of Leon's ruling was to broaden significantly the ban on advocacy group advertising and to remove any time limits on when the ban took effect — meaning that an ad broadcast today could run afoul of the law, even though the presidential election is 18 months away.

"It took a couple of days to sink in," says Joel Gora, associate dean of Brooklyn Law School. "But we realized that if the ACLU wants to run an ad criticizing Bush on civil liberties, we would be committing a crime … . How can it be that if we criticize President Bush, we have to ask the government for permission? It's an enormous problem." Gora was one of the American Civil Liberties Union's lawyers arguing against McCain-Feingold in McConnell

Since that auspicious start, Judge Leon has been a reliable friend of the corporate executive and polluter and a sworn enemy of government oversight
Some of his more memorable rulings:

Protecting big pharmaceutical companies against price fixing lawsuits

Limiting the government's power to go after corrupt corporate executives

in this case making sure that corrupt CEO of Freddie Mac would be able to keep his 60 million dollar paycheck (which the government tired to seize after it was reported that the mortgage giant's books were in accurate by billions of dollars)Warning the logic used in this decision is twisted it may cause mental sprain

He's also Voided a Consent Decree to give developers a blank check to destroy a habitat for an endangered frog species That's right, the two parties had already worked out a compromise, and was only Asking the court to ratify it. Instead, in a nearly unprecedented move, Judge Leon made his own deal giving the developers everything they asked for, despite its extreme damage to the environment, including critical habit for an endangered species. (this disdain for the environment probably shouldn't be too much of a surprise given his previous work for the Oil and Gas Institute

This same sensibility can be seen in This case where he denied citizens the right to sue the EPA for delays on restricting hazardous wood preservatives.

The point of all this? Just one. This man is on one of the most powerful District Courts in the nation (all suits against federal agencies are heard here) and he will be there for the rest of his life, and there is nothing we can do about it. Judicial appointments are the ideological gift that keeps on giving, long after rest of BuschCo's reign is nothing more than a bad memory, the judges he appoints will continue to wield enormous influence and be able to incredible damage. If one judge wreck this much havoc in four short years imagine what a Bush controlled judiciary could do over the next 3 or 4 decades. There is no such thing as a minor judicial appointment, and we can't afford to let a single one go unchallenged. In an era where democrats believe they have to pick their battles, this and this alone is the most crucial one of all. We cannot afford to let the Neo-cons solidify their hold on this most permanent branch of government, or the problems the next reformist president will face, will make FDR's look like a picnic

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Wars and WMD's quotes found down the memory hole

A Special thank You to What Really Happened and Lunaville for doing some of the sourcing and compliing of quotes on this list

The president [Clinton] must remember that the military is a special instrument. It is lethal, and it is meant to be. It is not a civilian police force. It is not a political referee. And it is most certainly not designed to build a civilian society.
-Condoleeza Rice, Foreign Affairs, January/February 2000.

[Saddam] has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction.
-- Colin Powell Cairo press conference, Feb. 24, 2001

Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.-Dick Cheney Speech to VFW National Convention August 26, 2002
"We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device.
"The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud "
(see July 2003 Quote)
-Conndalezza Rice CNN's Late Edition September8, 2002

Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons.
-George W. Bush Speech to UN General Assembly September 12, 2002

"We've discovered through intelligence that Iraq has a growing fleet of manned and unmanned aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse chemical weapons across broad areas."
-George W. Bush Cincinnati Museum Center on Oct. 7, 2002

"We estimate that once Iraq acquires fissile material -- whether from a foreign source or by securing the materials to build an indigenous fissile material capability -- it could fabricate a nuclear weapon within one year. It has rebuilt its civilian chemical infrastructure and renewed production of chemical warfare agents, probably including mustard, sarin, and VX. It actively maintains all key aspects of its offensive BW [biological weapons] program."
-John Bolton, Undersecretary of State Speech to the Hudson Institute 11/1/2002

If he declares he has none, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world.-Ari Fleischer, Press Briefing December 2, 2002

We know for a fact that there are weapons there.
-Ari Fleischer, Press Briefing January 9, 2002

I am absolutely convinced, based on the information that’s been given to me, that the weapon of mass destruction which can kill more people than an atomic bomb -- that is, biological weapons -- is in the hands of the leadership of Iraq.
Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader MSNBC Interview 1/10/2003

Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent.
-George W. Bush State of the Union Address January 28, 2003

"There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more. And he has the ability to dispense these lethal poisons and diseases in ways that can cause massive death and destruction. If biological weapons seem too terrible to contemplate, chemical weapons are equally chilling"
Colin Powell, Secretary of State Addresses the U.N. Security Council 2/5/2003

We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons -- the very weapons the dictator tells us he does not have.
-George Bush Radio Address February 8, 2003

So has the strategic decision been made to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction by the leadership in Baghdad? I think our judgment has to be clearly not.
-Colin Powell Remarks to UN Security Council March 8, 2003

"Getting rid of Saddam Hussein's regime is our best inoculation. Destroying once and for all his weapons of disease and death is a vaccination for the world."
-Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader Washington Post op-ed 3/16/2003

Getting rid of Saddam Hussein's regime is our best inoculation. Destroying once and for all his weapons of disease and death is a vaccination for the world.
Bill Frist, Senate Majority Leader Washington Post op-ed 3/16/2003

"We believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
Dick Cheney, Vice President Meet The Press 3/16/2003

Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised.
-George Bush Address to the Nation March 18, 2003

Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes.
-Ari Fleisher Press Briefing March 21, 2003

There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them.
-Gen. Tommy Franks Address to the Nation March 22, 2003

I have no doubt we're going to find big stores of weapons of mass destruction.
-Kenneth Adelman, Defense Policy Board , Press Briefing, March 23, 2003

"One of our top objectives is to find and destroy the WMD. There are a number of sites. "
-Pentagon Spokeswoman Victoria Clark, Press Briefing March 22, 2003

"We know where they are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad, and to the east, west, south and north somewhat."
-Donald Rumsfeld, ABC Interview, March 30, 2003

"We simply cannot live in fear of a ruthless dictator, aggressor and terrorist such as Saddam Hussein, who possesses the world’s most deadly weapons."
Bill Frist, Speech to American Israel Political Action Committee 3/31/2003

Obviously the administration intends to publicize all the weapons of mass destruction U.S. forces find -- and there will be plenty
-Robert Kagan Washington Post op-ed April 9, 2003

"We still need to find and secure Iraq's weapons of mass destruction facilities and secure Iraq's borders so we can prevent the flow of weapons of mass destruction materials and senior regime officials out of the country."
-Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense Press Conference 4/9/2003

"I think you have always heard, and you continue to hear from officials, a measure of high confidence that, indeed, the weapons of mass destruction will be found."
-Ari Fleischer Press Briefing April 10, 2003

"But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found."
-Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary Press Briefing 4/10/2003

"Were not going to find anything until we find people who tell us where the things are. And we have that very high on our priority list, to find the people who know. And when we do, then well learn precisely where things were and what was done."
-Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense Meet the Press 4/13/2003

"I have absolute confidence that there are weapons of mass destruction inside this country. Whether we will turn out, at the end of the day, to find them in one of the 2,000 or 3,000 sites we already know about or whether contact with one of these officials who we may come in contact with will tell us, ``Oh, well, there's actually another site,'' and we'll find it there, I'm not sure."
-General Tommy Franks, Commander in Chief Central Command Fox News 4/13/2003

"We are learning more as we interrogate or have discussions with Iraqi scientists and people within the Iraqi structure, that perhaps he destroyed some, perhaps he dispersed some. And so we will find them."
-George Bush NBC Interview April 24, 2003

"There are people who in large measure have information that we need . . . so that we can track down the weapons of mass destruction in that country. "
-Donald Rumsfeld Press Briefing April 25, 2003

We'll find them. It'll be a matter of time to do so.
-George Bush Remarks to Reporters May 3, 2003

"I'm absolutely sure that there are weapons of mass destruction there and the evidence will be forthcoming. We're just getting it just now. "
-Colin Powell, Secretary of State Remarks to Reporters 5/4/2003

We never believed that we'd just tumble over weapons of mass destruction in that country.
-Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense Fox News Interview 5/4/2003

I'm not surprised if we begin to uncover the weapons program of Saddam Hussein -- because he had a weapons program
-George W. Bush, Remarks to Reporters May 6, 2003

U.S. officials never expected that "we were going to open garages and find" weapons of mass destruction.
- Condoleeza Rice, Reuters Interview , May 12, 2003

I just don't know whether it was all destroyed years ago - I mean, there's no question that there were chemical weapons years ago - whether they were destroyed right before the war [or] whether they're still hidden.
- Maj. Gen. David Petraeus, Commander 101st Airborne, Press Briefing, May 13, 2003

We said all along that we will never get to the bottom of the Iraqi WMD program simply by going and searching specific sites, that you’d have to be able to get people who know about the programs to talk to you.
-Paul Wolfowitz, Deputy Sec of Defense Interview with Australian Broadcasting 5/13/2003

Before the war, there's no doubt in my mind that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical. I expected them to be found. I still expect them to be found.
-Gen. Michael Hagee, NBC Today Show interview May 21, 2003

It's going to take time to find them, but we know he had them. And whether he destroyed them, moved them or hid them, we're going to find out the truth. One thing is for certain: Saddam Hussein no longer threatens America with weapons of mass destruction.
George W. Bush, President Speech at a weapons factory in Ohio 5/25/2003

Given time, given the number of prisoners now that we're interrogating, I'm confident that we're going to find weapons of mass destruction.
-Gen. Richard Myers, NBC Today Show interview Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff May 26, 2003

They may have had time to destroy them, and I don't know the answer
Donald Rumsfeld Remarks to the Council on Foreign Relations May 27, 2003

For bureaucratic reasons, we settled on one issue, weapons of mass destruction (as justification for invading Iraq) because it was the one reason everyone could agree on.
Paul Wolfowitz Vanity Fair interview May 28, 2003
You remember when Colin Powell stood up in front of the world, and he said Iraq has got laboratories, mobile labs to build biological weapons, And we'll find more weapons as time goes on. But for those who say we haven't found the banned manufacturing devices or banned weapons, they're wrong. We found them."

It was a surprise to me then - it remains a surprise to me now - that we have not uncovered weapons, as you say, in some of the forward dispersal sites. Believe me, it's not for lack of trying. We've been to virtually every ammunition supply point between the Kuwaiti border and Baghdad, but they're simply not there.
- Lt. Gen. James Conway, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force, Press Interview, May 30, 2003

We know that some of them, especially the biological weapons, were being destroyed," Hastert said, adding that it would "take a little while to find weapons of mass destruction... and we're going to continue to do it.
Dennis Hastert, House Speaker R-IL Press Briefing 6/4/2003

We recently found two mobile biological weapons facilities which were capable of producing biological agents. This is the man who spent decades hiding tools of mass murder. He knew the inspectors were looking for them. You know better than me he's got a big country in which to hide them. We're on the look. We'll reveal the truth
George W. Bush, President CAMP SAYLIYA, Qatar 6/5/2003

What the president has said is because it's been the long-standing view of numerous people, not only in this country, not only in this administration, but around the world, including at the United Nations, who came to those conclusions...And the president is not going to engage in the rewriting of history that others may be trying to engage in.
Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary Response to Question From Press 6/9/2003

Iraq had a weapons program...Intelligence throughout the decade showed they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find out they did have a weapons program.
George W. Bush, President Comment to Reporters 6/9/2003

"It doesn't appear there are any more targets at this time," said Lt. Keith Harrington whose team has been cut by more than 30 percent. "We're hanging around with no missions in the foreseeable future."
Keith Harrington, Lt. Colonel Iraq 6/9/2003

British scientist and biological weapons expert, who has examined the trailers in Iraq, told The Observer last week: "They are not mobile germ warfare laboratories. You could not use them for making biological weapons. They do not even look like them. They are exactly what the Iraqis said they were -- facilities for the production of hydrogen gas to fill balloons."
Unnamed British Weapons Inspector The Observer 6/15/2003

You may be reading too much. I don't know anybody that I can think of who has contended that the Iraqis had nuclear weapons.
Donald Rumsfeld, Secretary of Defense DoD News Briefing 6/24/2003

Remember this?
We believe [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons.
- Dick Cheney, NBC's Meet the Press, March 16, 2003 _________________________________________

I'm not sure that's the major reason we went to warBill Frist, Senate Majority Leader
Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist told NBC, Today Show. 6/26/2003

"But make no mistake -- as I said earlier -- we have high confidence that they have weapons of mass destruction. That is what this war was about and it is about. And we have high confidence it will be found."
-Ari Fleischer, Press Secretary Press Briefing 4/10/2003

Based on my experience with the administration in the months leading up to the war, I have little choice but to conclude that some of the intelligence related to Iraq's nuclear weapons program was twisted to exaggerate the Iraqi threat
Joseph C. Wilson IV, Ambassador New York Times Editorial 7/6/2003

John Bolton, undersecretary of state for arms control, said that whether Saddam's regime actually possessed weapons of mass destruction "isn't really the issue." "The issue I think has been the capability that Iraq sought to have ... WMD programs," Bolton said
John Bolton, Undersecretary of State Interview with The Associated Press 9/4/2003

DIANE SAWYER: But stated as a hard fact, that there were weapons of mass destruction as opposed to the possibility that he could move to acquire those weapons still — PRESIDENT BUSH: So what's the difference?
George W. Bush, President Diane Sawyer Interviews President Bush. 12/16/2003

Already, the Kay Report identified dozens of weapons of mass destruction-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations.
George W. Bush, President State of the Union Address - 2004 1/20/2004

I think some in the media have chosen to use the word 'imminent.’ Those were not words we used. We used 'grave and gathering' threat.
- White House spokesman Scott McClellan, White House Press Briefing , Jan 28,2004

But that's Not exactly true:
This is about an imminent threat.
White House spokesman Scott McClellan, press briefing, Feb. 10, 2003

After being asked whether Hussein was an “imminent” threat: Well, of course he is
White House spokesman Dan Bartlett, CNN interview, Jan. 26, 2003

After being asked whether the U.S. went to war because officials said Hussein’s alleged weapons were a direct, imminent threat to the U.S.: Absolutely.
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer, press briefing, May 7, 2003

will know precisely what happened to Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction."
-Condolezza Rice PBS transcript. July 30,2003

"It was a case that said he is trying to reconstitute. He's trying to acquire nuclear weapons. Nobody ever said that it was going to be the next year"
-Condolezza Rice PBS transcript. July 30,2003

Except all these people: ____________________________________________
" But the intelligence assessment was that he was reconstituting his nuclear programs; that, left unchecked, he would have a nuclear weapon by the end of the year; that if he got foreign assistance, it would be very much quicker
--Condolezza Rice Fox News Sunday Oct 10, 2003

"Senator, that was just a question of pointing out to people that there was an uncertainty. No one was saying that he would have to have a weapon within a year for it to be worth it to go to war."

"We estimate that once Iraq acquires fissile material -- whether from a foreign source or by securing the materials to build an indigenous fissile material capability -- it could fabricate a nuclear weapon within one year."
John Bolton, Undersecretary of State Speech to the Hudson Institute 11/1/2002

"If the Iraqi regime is able to produce, buy or steal an amount of highly-enriched uranium a little larger than a single softball, it could have a nuclear weapon in less than a year."
--George W. Bush Cincinnati Museum Center on Oct. 7, 2002,

The 1991 Persian Gulf War and subsequent U.N. inspections destroyed Iraq's illicit weapons capability and, for the most part, Saddam Hussein did not try to rebuild it, according to an extensive report by the chief U.S. weapons inspector in Iraq that contradicts nearly every prewar assertion made by top administration officials about Iraq.
Duelfer Report October 7, 2004

."You can only search so many places for WMD,the actual physical search is over for all intents and purposes" Anonymous Defense Official Jan 12, 2005

"We've talked to so many people that someone would have said something. We received nothing that contradicts the picture we've put forward. It's possible there is a supply someplace, but what is much more likely is that [as time goes by] we will find a greater substantiation of the picture that we've already put forward."
Unamed Intelligence Official Jan 12, 2005

(Duelfer) is continuing to wrap things up at this point on an addendum to the report which will be issued some time next month," "That's not going to fundamentally alter the findings of his earlier report.
Scott McClellan, White House Spokesman, press Briefing Jan 12, 2005

"The President's focus is on is looking at the recommendations from the independent commission on weapons of mass -- on intelligence relating to weapons of mass destruction that he appointed . . . ,"
Scott McClellan, White House press secretary press Briefing 1/12/05

"We've talked to so many people that someone would have said something. We received nothing that contradicts the picture we've put forward. It's possible there is a supply someplace, but what is much more likely is that [as time goes by] we will find a greater substantiation of the picture that we've already put forward."
Unamed Intelligence Official Jan 12, 2005

"Barbara Walters: This was our main reason for going in. So now when we read, 'Okay, the search is over,' what do you feel?
"President Bush: Well, like you, I felt like we'd find weapons of mass destruction. Or like many, many here in the United States, many around the world, the United Nations thought he had weapons of mass destruction, and so therefore, one, we need to find out what went wrong in the intelligence gathering. Saddam was dangerous. And . . . the world was safer without him in power.
"Walters: But was it worth it if there were no weapons of mass destruction? Now that we know that that was wrong? Was it worth it?
"Bush: Oh, absolutely."

President George W. Bush
ABCNews Interview 1/13/05

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Doing the Innaguration on $10,000 or less per day

Giving new meaning to the term wretched excess (and utter insensitivity-given current events) The luxury hotels around Washington DC are gearing up to accommodate W's base as they come to town to usher in the dawning of the New Gilded Age

Haliburton execs and Bechtel Vps can spend their upcoming bonuses early and book one of the Ritz Carlton's $150,000.00 Inauguration packages which include a private jet ride to the event, all the amenities and inaugural clothing from Saks for the whole family. Tux for him, Gown and jewelry for her and of course for " the pooch:" * Jacket, collar and leash

Because nothing shows your sensitivity and concern for thousands of homeless tsunami victims and respect for dying soldiers like a well dressed lapdog

For the wealth challenged, perhaps a young worker eager to spend their personal retirement account early the Fairmont hotel Offers a more modestly priced $10,000 President for a Day packageBut don't let the low price put you off, it still has plenty of perks including faux secret service protection


The First Lady will receive in-room spa treatments prior to hosting a Beluga Caviar and Dom Perignon ''State Reception'' for 10. The couple will ride in a chauffeured Rolls Royce to Inaugural Festivities and then return to their suite to host a midnight buffet for 10. They will be guarded during their stay by two ''faux'' Secret Service Agents donning black sunglasses and suits fitted with cufflink walkie talkies, for their protection, of course.


For Old money, or those traveling with their own bodyguards and Balinese masseuses, The Hay Adams for a mere $25,000 offers the ultimate Washington Perk, proximity to power. You get a suite overlooking the White House itself, and a pair of real live presidential cufflinks, which could come in handy for intimidating that annoying investigator from the inspector general's office who wants to know why your contract is 6 months late and 6 billion over budget.

But even the middle class is not forgotten The Hotel Monaco is offering a package for a mere $5,000 a night, but of course at this budget price you have to expect a few less amenities but you are still getting Bourbon (to commerate our glorious president's intoxicant of choice) in a white house glass AND a set of Binocluars (which you'll need cause your broke behind obviously ain't getting front row parade seat either)

But lest you lose heart the Hotel Monaco is throwing a sop to all you grieving blue staters who can take advantage of their special "over the Rainbow Package" in February during DC Pride Week (soon to be renamed Sodomite Repentance Weekend)
And Don't forget to buy your ball tickets for a mere 500-2000 each

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Republicans Support the Troops.....until it costs money

Citizen Hastert continues his Reign of Terror, as he tries to purge any committee chairman who has the audacity to do his job or serve his country. After almost forcing out the Ethics Committee chairman for having the temerity to slap Tom Delay on the wrist; Hastert has now dropped the axe on another target: Veterans Affairs Committee chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) . His crime? Actually trying to spend money to help veterans
"For me, it's about principles, about doing right regardless of the consequences," said Smith. "I am a loyal Republican who believes in fighting for good public policy and that is the best way to show loyalty."

His replacement? Well he is, in the incredibly sensitive words of an anonymous Republican staffer coward, "Someone who will tell the vets, enough is enough"
Apparently the Republican idea of supporting the troops involves puffery and empty words of encouragement, not ya know, actual support

Diaries :: Magorn's diary ::

Enough is Enough. Enough is Enough?! Did they really say that? Out Loud?
This kind of message of support for the troops makes Dandy Don Rumsfeld look like Bob Hope!

Although he was removed for "disloyalty"; Rep Smith's real crime was too much loyalty to the people he was actually supposed to be helping:
Smith, now starting his 13th House term, has been a strong advocate for improving veterans' programs, authoring bills to improve health care, increase college aid, help homeless veterans and raise life insurance benefits for surviving spouses. He had two more years left before term limits would have required him to step down as chairman.

You read that right, Smith's crime was trying to spend money to help Homeless veterans and War widows!

Smith's "disloyalty" was that his bills highlighted a very inconvenient truth the leadership simply can't afford to face: We have only just begun to pay of this war. Many of the bills for it will be paid by our Children or grandchildren. Besides the 1200+ Us soldiers killed in action to date there are almost 6,000 who have been wounded so severely they had to leave combat operations all together even this figure does not include those injured, however severely by means other than hostile fire.

In addition, many of the wounded from this conflict are wounded far more gravely than those of previous wars (where they would have died outright) and will require a lifetime of specialized medical care. The rate the amputation rate for US soldiers is twice that of any war since the civil war and there has been a massive increase in head and facial wounds. _________________
These injuries, surgeons said, have long-term implications, with many involving irreversible brain damage, breathing and eating impairments, blindness, or severe disfiguration. The study prompted the military to add a full-time head and neck surgeon to a Baghdad field hospital.
"These folks are just starting to come back, and they may require care for a long, long time," said Holt.

Instead of facing up to this grim reality, and making the necessary financial commitments Citizen Hastert has responded to the situation by killing the honest messenger and replacing him with a yes man wearing a fig-leaf of his own previous combat service. Publicly the Republicans claim his replacement will be more sensitive to Veteran's needs

Hastert, in a prepared statement, said Buyer is "someone who has real-world veterans experience" and "understands the issues confronting today's veterans when they return home from fighting the war on terror."
"I'm confident under Steve's leadership, those who faithfully fought to defend our freedoms will continue to have access to quality health care," Hastert said.

But behind closed doors the Leadership is equally confident of their hold on his leash:


Buyer had lobbied the leadership for the post and has opposed Smith and veterans' groups on a number of issues in the past several years.
A Republican leadership aide, who asked not to be identified, said veterans spending has been "going up and up well beyond the rest of the budget." He said the GOP leaders wanted someone like Buyer who could "tell the veterans groups, 'Enough is enough.'"
"Smith has not been much of a team player," said the House aide. Rather than work with the leaders, he said, Smith has publicly opposed them and put members in difficult political situations.

And the message is coming through loud and clear:

Last night, leaders of veterans groups said the move does not bode well for improving veterans' health care at a time when so many soldiers are coming home wounded from the war in Iraq.

"This is not only a slap at Chris Smith, but a shot over the bow at veterans organizations," said Richard Fuller of the Paralyzed Veterans of America. "The Republican leadership has made a statement that the country is making too much of a commitment to the men and women who have served in uniform."

Dennis Cullinan, legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars, called Smith's ouster "a bitter disappointment," while Joe Violante of Disabled American Veterans said it "sends a terrible message to veterans that they are not a priority with the House leadership.

"I don't believe they are in favor of giving veterans anything more then the bare minimum," said Violante.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Sorry Sen. McCain, the beatings just didn't hurt enough

Washington wisdom has it that its a foregone conclusion that Alberto Gonzales will be confirmed as the next attorney general. Apparently being morally bankrupt enough to endorse torture as well as a poor lawyer is still no reason you can't be confirmed as our nation's top legal official. Which means that this whole confirmation business is strictly for Show. Well if you are gonna be part of a show, might as well make it an entertaining one. Here's the exchange I wish one of our members of the too-loyal opposition would have the guts to initiate:

Sen X: Mr Gonzales you authorized this memo defining torture under US law did you not?
AG: Yes Senator
Senator X: Thank you, would you then be so kind as to get up from the witness table and Go find Sen McCain in his office, and tell him to his face that despite what he's believed for years, you have determined that was never tortured in the NVA prison camps since the electric shocks and beatings he received there for five years didn't cause pain equivalent to that of ``organ failure, impairment of bodily function or even death

I know this will never happen, but I do think It would cast into sharp relief the cloying hypocrisy of the whole confirmation process, and the mockery GW has made of the whole idea of deference to the president's choices. On a basic good government level, I understand the notion that the president should be entitled to have his choices for cabinet posts confirmed. After all, he is the democratically elected CEO of his branch of government, and like the head of any company, he should be allowed to pick his subordinates. However, our Constitution is not a corporate charter; and this is not a business that can succed or fail without consequence to the larger society.
The main cabinet posts are not merely Senior VP's of the Bush Administration Inc. ; they are constitutional officers of our country and hold positions of independent public trust. Therefore, they should be evaluated that way, no matter whose feelings get hurt. There is a reason the founding fathers required the Advice and Consent of the Senate before allowing people keys to certain of the most powerful stores in government.

Once upon a time, when we had thoughtful patriotic grown-ups on both sides of the aisle and the Mall, a president would have been too responsible to even put forward the name of such unqualified and partisan hacks. A nominee like Gonzales or Kerick would never have had to be rejected because no sane president , however powerful, would have dared put them forward. In that environment where there were unspoken rules about the caliber of the appointee, the tradition of deference to the president's choices made sense and was a way to foster bipartisan comity and cooperation.
Those days however are sadly long gone and its time for the deferential tradition to go with it. Once, nominees were selected from a pool of people universally regarded by all sides as the best and brightest. Not anymore, now we are dealing with a presidency where everyone is evaluated solely on the administrations two lodestars: personal loyalty to the president, and ideological loyalty to extreme conservatism. Talent, honesty, character and competence are at best secondary considerations so long as the nominee is obedient to Dick's brand of neo-con ideology and GW Bush personally.

So Far the president has put forward three major names based on his selection criteria. One (Rice)is an enigma to even Washington insiders, but is supposed to be the public face of America abroad. One (Kerik) was to head the largest bureaucracy in the history of the republic, but was so extremely ethically, legally and morally challenged that he would have had trouble getting a security clearance, much less a cabinet post. The last (Gonzales) is to be our nation's chief law enforcement officer, and the final word on legal matters in the administration. Instead of the integrity and flawless judgment that position demands, he has revealed himself as a man of loyalty and ideology over principle, law or morality. By giving the legal imprimatur to administration terror war tactics such as indefinite detentions, military tribunals, the torture of suspects, and the arrest without trial of American citizens he has done one graver insult to the law, and the proud American legal tradition in 4 years, than anyone since Joseph McCarthy.

Should we really continue to rubber stamps these nominees because "the President is entitled to his choices" Or Should the president be "advised" that Bipartisan cooperation stops when he tries to promote people he should be firing instead?

Friday, January 07, 2005

Gonzales to Inmates "Drop Dead"

Alberto Gonzales is getting a well deserved (and probably pointless) roasting on Capitol Hill for his role in the Preparation and dissemination of the now infamous Justice Dept. Memos sanctioning torture by US forces. However all the focus on these memos distracts from even more important point.
Gonzales' work product to date reveals someone who not only doesn't deserve to be the AG, but doesn't even rise to the basic standards of professional competence.

A good case in point is his work advising then Gov. GW Bush on death row appeals

When Bush was governor of Texas, He gave Gonzalez the task of reviewing final clemency appeals from convicted inmates. Basically this was the last stop for an inmate, Gonzalez was in effect their last hope for life As this WashPost article details, he was an extremely poor hope indeed.
(to be fair it should be noted that the Governor is so weak in TX that he cannot Pardon an Inmate, only provide a 30 day stay of an execution order, or a commutation)
In 1995, a one-eyed drifter named Henry Lee Lucas was headed for execution by injection in a Texas prison for the murder of an unnamed woman

The task of recommending whether then-Gov. George W. Bush should grant a reprieve or commute Lucas's death sentence fell to Alberto R. Gonzales, In a memo Gonzales marshaled a case for Lucas's guilt... Left out of Gonzales's summary was any mention of a 1986 investigation by the Texas attorney general's office that concluded that Lucas had not killed the woman, and that he had falsely confessed to numerous killings in an effort to undermine the veracity of his confessions to the crimes he did commit.

Several other attorneys for convicts executed in Texas during Bush's tenure complained that Gonzales provided unfair or incomplete summaries of evidence and mitigating circumstances.

Jim Marcus, an attorney for convicted murderer Kenneth Ray Ransom, said, "Had I known that the 40-page petition I filed would be boiled down to one slipshod sentence in Mr. Gonzales's memo, I would simply have filed a one-sentence petition,"

There was a Particularly revealing exchange Betwen Sen Feingold and Gonzales at yestrrday's confirmation hearing :

FEINGOLD: Well, on that point, one of the cases involved an inmate on death row named Carl Johnson. He was executed in September 1995, during the first year that Governor Bush was in office, and you were his counsel on these matters.

Mr. Johnson was represented by a lawyer named Joe Cannon, who slept through the major portions of the trial and who was apparently notorious in legal circles for this behavior.

In his challenges appealing the trial and conviction, Mr. Johnson argued consistently that he had had ineffective assistance of counsel, primarily based on the sleeping lawyer who represented him at trial.

In your memo to the governor discussing this case and in pending execution, however, you failed to make any mention whatsoever of the basis for Mr. Johnson's appeal. You go to great lengths to describe the underlying facts of the murder, but there's no mention at all of the fact that this lawyer slept through the major portions of the trial.
I'd like you to, in a second, explain this omission. I want to know how the governor could have weighed the clemency memo fully and properly if you had failed to even indicate the basis for the clemency request.

Gonzalez defends himself by stating that his mitigating circumstance (that was eventually litigated all the way to the Supreme Court, which vacated the conviction) was irrelevant. Since the imate had lost that appeal in the lower court's Gonzales didn't think it was necessary to mention (as if the whole point of executive clemency wasn't to catch mistakes the judiciary missed)
The bottom line was at this very important Job, Gonzales was so ineffective as to make lawyers not want to even bother filing the requests:
Jack Strickland, who both prosecuted and defended death penalty cases, said actions by Gonzales and Bush left a wide impression that "it was a waste of paper" to request a commutation.

Besides a sole commutation (that came during an election campaign), Bush granted a single 30-day death penalty reprieve, in a case that arose after Bush had appointed Gonzales to the Texas Supreme Court. In non-death-penalty cases, Bush granted 19 of the 149 pardons "for innocence" or compassion that were urged by the Texas Board of Pardons and Paroles, an official review body for such requests. Scholars at the University of Pittsburgh have said that was the lowest number by any Texas governor since the 1940s.

The relevance to the current AG nomination is this. In all of his published memos Gonzales reveals a habit that is a fatal flaw for any lawyer, but particularly one charged with uphold a public trust. He decides first, he researches later, and only to bolster his pre-conceptions. He totally misunderstand the Lawyer's role. We are charged with advising, not deciding. It is our Job to gather all the facts, weigh all the contrary opinions and summarize them to our client so THEY and not us can make an informed decision. Gonzales' work reveals that he has abandoned this role for making pre-emptive decisions based on his own pre-conceived notions, values and feelings. As bad as this would be for a lawyer in private practice; this would be an utterly disastrous trait for an Attorney general