Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Hail to the Duke! The GOP Corruption Story that keeps on Giving

 Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-California) is the GOP Sleazeball who keeps on giving.  He May be retiring at the end of this term, but that hasn't stopped him from leaving an ever spreading trail of Slime and corruption of the way out the door.

The shady dealings with a defense contactor who bought his house and gave him a boat were enough, to make him the Perfect poster child for the GOP's Culture of Corruption, (and the GOP's symbiotic relationship with the Klepto-Industrial complex).

But today comes word of a fresh new scandal involving Another Corrupt  businessman, and yet another shady House and boat deal.

As a bonus, this one includes an attempt to intimidate a federal prosecutor on behalf of a NY businessman under investigation for, you're going to love this,   bribing a school superintendent to get a computer contract.

Really. Is it just me or are we sensing a theme here:

Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham wrote to a prosecutor in Queens in 2000 on behalf of a New York developer who was then under investigation for bribing a school superintendent to get a computer contract. The businessman, Thomas T. Kontogiannis, later bought the California Republican's boat and helped finance his new home.

What is this with the Dukester and his boats?

Even Elvis didn't need this many boats.

Now his lawyer vehemently denies any wrongdoing:

K. Lee Blalack II, Cunningham's attorney, said: "Duke's letter to the district attorney did not urge any outcome or action of any kind in the investigation of Mr. Kontogiannis"

Really? hmm. Funny , cause when I read it...well you be the judge:

According to sources who read the letter to a reporter, Cunningham wrote that it had come to his attention that the prosecutor had filed a case against Kontogiannis. The congressman wrote that there may be a political agenda against the school official by a disgruntled contractor and that Kontogiannis may have been victimized as a result. He asked Brown to contact him with any information he could provide on the case, and he thanked the prosecutor for considering his concern.

Cunningham noted in the letter, the sources added, that he had filed a congressional inquiry with Rep. Henry J. Hyde (R-Ill.), who was then chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and attached a note in which a committee lawyer acknowledged receiving the inquiry and said he was looking into it.

So let's review. Cunningham not only "comments on an ongoing investigation" which as we all know is a big No-no in GOP circles.  But he goes so far as to explain  that his good buddy was the victim of a frame up, and the US House Judiciary Committee was investigating the matter.  (for those of you playing along at home, that would be the committee that his boss' boss' boss has to answer to.)  

 Nope. Can't see how That might be an attempt to influence the outcome of the investigation in Any way.

Or at least that's his lawyer's story and he's sticking to  it:

{the Letter} merely related Mr. Kontogiannis's concerns about a political agenda behind the investigation and asked the prosecutor for a response. There is nothing improper or unethical about such a request."

Oddly though, the lawyer for the Judiciary Committee disagrees:

Sam Stratman, a spokesman for Hyde, said the note "was merely a matter of courtesy to acknowledge that the committee had received [Cunningham's] request." When the committee lawyer "learned that the New York case was a potential criminal matter," Stratman said, "any inquiry would have been inappropriate.  No inquires were ever made of New York officials by the chairman or his staff."

And The Dukes poor framed up friend?  Well, He copped a plea and coughed up a huge wad of cash:

Kontogiannis was indicted along with the school superintendent a few weeks later. He pleaded guilty to a scheme to defraud in the second degree, a misdemeanor, and agreed to pay nearly $5 million to settle the bid-rigging case.

But apparently this poor "businessman" is awful careless with his money anyway, like the time he Bought Duke's boat for a whole lot more than it was worth and then clean plumb forgot to change title.  Amazing how absent minded people get sometimes:

Kontogiannis has said he bought Cunningham's boat, the Kelly C, for $600,000 in 2002 and then spent $100,000 on improvements. He never changed the title, and the boat is still registered in Cunningham's name.

Kontogiannis said he used more than $400,000 he owed the congressman on the purchase of the Kelly C to pay off the second mortgage of the home Cunningham bought after his home sale to Wade.

Could this guy Be Any More corrupt?  All he needs is can of  mustache wax and he's a cartoon character. (Maybe he really is the Doonesbury character mysteriously brought to life, the personal ethics are a match...)

This is really quite a hit Parade:  endangering national security  by corruptly awarding  defense contracts to cronies,  screwing  with the justice system by trying to protect a criminal  who was trying to defraud school children!  

What's next? A revelation that he awarded an HHS contract to a guy who's hobby is administering heavy sack beatings to widows and orphans?

Guys, they are making this way too easy on us.  If Dems don't use Dumbass "Duke", and Tripping Tommy DeLay, and the rest of the Culture of Corruption Players as a hook to nationalize the 06 elections and Sweep the chamber, then we simply don't deserve to be a national party.

As C. Montgomery Burns would say

"Release the Hounds"

Monday, July 25, 2005

Follow the Organ Grinder not the Monkeys: How Rovegate has already screwed W

 This morning on The Stephanie Miller Show, Paul Begala  dazzled me with a brilliant insight on Rovegate:

Follow the Organ Grinder not the Monkeys

In other words stop hunting staffers and focus on the big catch, W himself.  And when you examine the facts as he did, this thing is already very bad for W no matter how you slice it:

The Question of what did the president know and when did he know it matters because either a) Karl Rove lied to his face, and the president is allowing someone who lied to him  to continue working for him, or b) Karl Rove told W the truth and therefore the President has been aiding and abetting the cover-up all this time"

Blam.  There it is.  Based just the facts  we already know; he's either a weak willed president who allows his staff to lie to him, or a crook helping hide evidence of a crime.

Of course with all due respect to the brilliant Mr. Begala; let me add a third possibility:

That W is so disconnected from the country and disinterested in anything out side his bubble, that he never bothered to ask Karl Rove in the first place.  Maybe (and very possibly) Karl is really the Organ Grinder  and W is no more than another cleverly disguised Monkey.

The good news is: No matter how you frame it, they all make him look very very bad. So we of course, need to hammer these points home at every turn.   Wouldn't you just love to see Ken Melhman's Talking Points burst into flames when the question of the week becomes variants of:  "Is the President:  a)  gullible and weak willed.  b) an unindicted co-conspirator or c) just out of touch and incompetent?

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Caught! WH confirms Iraqi Election manipulation by denying it

Whatever else may come of the steaming pile of week old sewage that is the Rove Affair, it has already had one extremely beneficial effect. What L'Affaire De Rove has taught us is to take nothing, particularly a denial, from the WH at face value. Instead, if you want the real meaning of a statement you must carefully analyze  its word choice, timing, and most importantly what it did NOT say as opposed to what it really did

For example, responding to   Seymour Hersh's Story on the WH's efforts to rig the Iraqi elections   The NSC spokesman apparently Denies the story

"in the final analysis, the president determined and the United States government adopted a policy that we would not try - and did not try - to influence the outcome of the Iraqi election by covertly helping individual candidates for office." {emph mine}

Now that appears to be a denial doesn't it?  But it ain't  so:

Look at the words again carefully grasshopper.  Yes they appear to say that they did not mess with the election, and that is certainly what the NSC wants you to take away from this.

But with some minor dissection, you can see what they really said.

First, remember How the Iraqi elections worked:

111 political entities (political parties, coalitions or individuals) will field lists of candidates. Eligible voters can caste their vote for a single electoral list, and seats will be distributed to political entities based on the proportion of total votes that they receive. For example, a party receiving 20 percent of the vote would receive 55 seats in the 275-member assembly.

In other words,  the parties did not run single candidates but entire slates of candidates for the assembly

now look at the NSC spokesman's words again:

..we would not try - and did not try - to influence the outcome of the Iraqi election  by covertly helping individual candidates for office.

Which really wouldn't have worked too well anyway because there were no "individual candidates for Office" Only large slates sponsored by various parties!

In other words the Spokesman gave a precise, concise and clear answer, to a question that wasn't asked, Scotty McWeasel would be so proud!

It was a clear effort to get the American people (who have the memory and attention span of goldfish) to take their eye off the ball.  But you shouldn't do that. Remember the question that was asked was "did the US covertly manipulate the outcome of the supposedly "free and Fair" Iraqi elections?"

And the answer to that question, is clearly yes, if you properly parse the answer. (get your blue pencils out and try to follow along)

The Spokesman, could very easily have merely said: "in the final analysis, the president determined and the United States government adopted a policy that we would not try - and did not try - to influence the outcome of the Iraqi election."

Period. Full stop.   that would have been a denial.

  But instead of a bit of proper punctuation, Our friend the talking ferret snuck in a dependant subordinate clause instead;

 "by covertly helping individual candidates for office."

And this clause (neither Santa nor Cat) completely modifies the statement going before.

Now, the spokesman is carefully Not denying the US manipulated election results; merely that they didn't do it by one particular method.  All the other ways to Screw with the election (intimidation, funneling money to Parties rather than individuals, harassing voters, messing with voting machines,  etc)  well they simply were neither denied nor ruled out.

And frankly boys and Girls a non-denial that careful is as good as a confirmation for me.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

WTF Happened yesterday?! (and a small ray of hope)

Okay so yesterday, we all Knew (or so the network news told us) that the Nominee was going to be Edith Clement,  Unless of course, it was Edith Jones.   Except those in the know, whispered it could be The dark Horse Luttig.

On thing was certain. Bush was eager to make his mark on history, we had been reliably informed for weeks, so he'd definitely go with a woman or minority candidate.

Which is why, at 9pm EST bush proudly announced his historical, groundbreaking choice of:

 An obscure white guy with good hair.

What the F--- just happened?  How did everyone get it So Wrong?

well 5 possible explanations come to mind, some more hopeful for us than others:

  1. The Press was Talking out its Ass:  Now I know gentle reader, that you have the utmost trust and respect for the media, but the unfortunate truth is that they, sometimes; how to put this delicately?  Make stuff up.  a whisper here, a hint there, and every beat reporter thinks he's Nostradamus.   I'm inclined to doubt this here though because the speculation was so focused on a very short list of names, and the reporters didn't use any of the famous weasel words that typically accompany total speculation  ("some are saying" "its been reported/rumored that")

  2. The Media's Sources were Making it up:  It happens.  Knowledge is power and "being in the loop" is the ultimate Washington status symbol.  People will often to claim to know a lot more than they really know

  3. The Media's Sources were deliberately misinformed:  We all know this White House hates unauthorized leaks unless Karl Does the leaking.  What better way to keep the press in the dark (heightening suspense) and control future leaks (by destroying the source's credibility)  than to create a false information that could be "discovered"  an leaked?  In Karl Rove's world this doesn't even qualify as Machiavellian.

  4. The Sources Were part of disinformation campaign: a variant on 3, but with the sources  an active part of the plot.  If this happened; be prepared for an almighty backlash from the press.  The do NOT like being blatantly lied to.   Abused, denigrated, dismissed, manipulated, and otherwise treated like a rented vinyl marital aid?  Fine.  But as Scotty McClellan learned last week, don't lie to their faces.  An odd standard perhaps but nice to know  the MSM has at least one

  5. Something Went Horribly Wrong:  This is the one that my hunches tell me is closest to the truth; and the one that leaves a bright ray of hope for us.  The names floated yesterday morning were too authoritative, and to obviously part of a carefully crafted media campaign to have been sheer speculation.  I don't believe for example, that Laura Bush, she of the glassy smile that comes only after downing a few too many Perocet and Vodka cocktails, would have shared her "spontaneous opinions" on who the next nominee should be, if those opinions had been carefully scripted, revised and vetted, by Darth Rove and his band of Merry Machiavellians.  So Something Yesterday went horribly wrong  (either Bush got vetoed by Uncles Karl and Dick, or a screaming red flag popped up on his earlier picks.)

  With all due (and we'll see how much that is) respect to Judge Roberts, he's not anyone's first choice for anything.  He has "safety pick " plastered all over him in ten foot high letters.   And that friends,  is very good news for us.

You See the Evil Political Machine that is the Bush Administration, does many things very well:  divide the country, energize its base through blatant pandering, reward its corporate cronies, and of course, avoid any accountability for its crimes and mistakes.

But there is one thing it does very very poorly:  nominate people.

Lets Ignore the Owens/Brown spectacle that left the Senate Republicans publicly divided and weakened;  lets even overlook the ongoing train-wreck that is the Bolton immolation, sorry , nomination, and lets look back to the biggest most awful screw up of the Shrub's second term:

Anybody remember Bernard B. Kerik's nomination to be director of Homeland Security?

In retrospect, the facts  of his nomination are eerily similar to the ones here.  The Job was a very high profile one, and the subject of intense media speculation.  Early reports authoritatively identified  the prospective nominee.  at the last minute several alternative names were floated; and at go time, a dark horse few had ever heard of was thrust forward.  

And the nomination was an utter disaster.  In a few days it became absolutely clear the White House had done absolutely no vetting or background investigation on a man in a critical national security post.  By the time Kerik withdrew his name citing "Nanny troubles" (for a nanny he never really had),; it became abundantly clear that  his  ethical role model as a cop was Harvey Keitel's  Bad Lieutenant.  

The man was more crooked than a snake in a limbo contest.  Reporters, with a minimum of effort, quickly discovered several mistresses, a secret wife, and not one,  but two secret Manhattan apartments either one of which cost too much to be affordable on a cop's salary.  And,  as the absolute icing on the cake, he had   enough Mob connections that he really should have had a "the" nickname (Bernie "The Mook" Kerik)

 (you can read all the sordid details in This article I wrote at the time entitled, prophetically enough, "Using The Kerik Affair To Save the Supreme Court)"

If this administration has a clear Achilles heel, it is its nomination process.  Ability doesn't seem to matter much to them,  nor competence, nor temperment, nor even ethics.  The only virtue they seem to care about is loyalty, and by that they mean not loyalty to the country but loyalty to the family...err Administration.  If you are willing to be W's Bitch, then the job is yours no matter what.  

If  Judge Roberts  has been subjected to no more than that cursory once over, which  seems to be all other  critical Bush nominees have rated;  then it is very likely that there may be some very interesting surprises Lurking in his past just waiting to leap back into the light of day again.

Gentlemen (and Ladies)  Start your Search engines.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Scotus Nightmare : Worst Cir Ct in US gets most critical civil rights case ever.

When the news of  O'Connor's retirement broke. There was a lot of talk that this was the Big One, the fight we couldn't lose, that it  was time to go to the Mattresses.  

Since then, e-mail has flooded our inboxes.  Oppo researchers are busy  peering through dusty old opinions and journals; trying to find a silver bullet to kill one the  nightmare choices. And  Pols are frantically looking for a lesser evil to get behind to prevent a greater one from reaching the bench.

For once the hype wasn't wrong, and if anything understated.  But too much focus has been on making sure the judge is right on specific issues and not enough attention has be paid to looking at the big  picture.  Overturning Roe V. Wade bad as that would be, is trivial compared to the truly scary scenarios looming just over the horizon.

This week we got a bracing reminder of that fact.  

Possibly the single most important case on government power ever, is about to be placed before the most radically Republican court in the nation, the 4th Circuit Ct of Appeals. If you aren't scared yet you should be:

The Case is Rumsfeld v Padilla

the facts of the case are utterly chilling

Respondent Padilla, a United States citizen, was brought to New York for detention in federal criminal custody after federal agents apprehended him while executing a material witness warrant ...While his motion to vacate the warrant was pending, the President issued an order to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld designating Padilla an "enemy combatant" and directing that he be detained in military custody. Padilla was later moved to a Navy brig in Charleston, S. C., where he has been held ever since

Allow me to translate From legalease:

An American Citizen, was picked up (not arrested, because he's never been charged with a crime) on American Soil, By federal law enforcement agents, as a potential witness to a crime (the September 11 attacks).  His lawyer called BS (since it was a wild abuse of a material witness warrant), and Padilla was about to regain his freedom .

President Bush then signed a single piece of paper, and this American citizen, without a ever being charged with a crime, without ever seeing a judge, was whisked away to a military brig where he has been held incommunicado unable to talk to family, friends, or even his lawyer, ever since.  Worse, the government is claiming, unreviewable unilateral authority to hold him there indefinitely.

  The Government's sophisticated legal argument to justify this action is "trust us, We'll always get the right guy and we'll never misuse this power; but, uhh you don't get to check up on us either. Ya see,  there's a sort of war  being fought  against an undefined enemy, that could last generations, and we can't  be questioned while its going on."

Now I'll give them credit for Chutzpah and inventing a novel legal theory;  But that's about it.   Maybe its just me, but I'm not real comfortable knowing the only check against my government's abuse of power is the Honor System.   Call me a cynic but....

"But this will never Fly!" I hear you protest being a rational person, and especially having read the 5-6th Amendments ; particularly the bits which read:

Amendment V

"No Person Shall be... deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law;

and one of my  personal top ten:

Amendment VI

 In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the state and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the assistance of counsel for his defense

And that would be undoubtedly true in a rational world,  but unfortunately for us in the Here and Now,  it ain't necessarily so.

Ya see,  when this case last came up to the SCOTUS they punked out and ducked the issue by finding a procedural error.  They ruled the case was improperly filed in NY and had to be Re-filed in South Carolina.(where the brig is).

And THAT dear readers placed in right Smack dab under the jurisdiction of The single most  Wingnutty, Whacky, Dangerous, Conservative, Activist Court in the nation.   And we gentle citizens are in BIG trouble

How bad could the 4th Circuit be?  Well let's look at a collection of recent hits:

1)In a very similar case Hamdi v. Rumsfeld  they ruled that a US citizen arrested in Afghanistan can be held indefinitely as an unlawful combatant in a military brig without any right to judicial review.

2) US v. Massoui:  Which held that although the 6th Amendment   seems to grant the right "to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor," It didn't really mean it.  What it apparently meant to say was that the accused was allowed to read summaries of  transcripts of interrogations of his preferred witness, conducted by unknown persons, under unknown (possibly torturous) conditions, and edited  by the same people accusing him of a crime.

This, by the 4th circuit is due process.

And lets not forget their Greatest Hit  ; When they Overturned the Miranda decision, in 1999!  Yes, THAT Miranda. You know, the decision that makes the cops say "you have the right to remain silent....", the one guarding against cops beating a confession out of you?  

I so wish I was Kidding:

In a 2-1 ruling, a three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said a 1968 federal law on voluntary confessions takes precedence over the 1966 Miranda ruling in federal cases. prosecutors in five states have been told they can bypass the high court's landmark Miranda decision against self-incrimination and use a confession from a suspect who opens his mouth before he has been read his rights.

And you Want to talk judicial activism? The Judges raised the issue on their own, appointed a 3rd lawyer to argues it after the federal government refused.  They then based thier decision on a law both parties to the case agreed was unconstitutional.

And this dear reader, if you made it this far, is where we come back to the Supreme Court, and it overwhelming importance in our lives.

It's no secret to legal professionals,  and most interested observers, that certain Circuit Courts have rather pronounced ideological bents.  The 4th is clearly the most egregious, but its not the only one (and conservatives are equally fervent in their condemnations of the 9th, which is their poster child for the evil Liberal Judiciary).  

Up until now however, a relatively centrist (best we could hope for when 4 of the five previous presidents have been Republican) Supreme Court, has been the calming anchor of the law.  No matter how outrageous the pronouncement of some activist neo-con or three on a lower circuit was, we always believed the SCOTUS was there to serve as a backstop, to prevent them from going too far off the reservation.  It didn't always work, (especially as the SCOTUS caseload has drastically declined in the last few years) but by and large they got the really important stuff right.  

Not always the way we'd want it to be sure, but at least their decisions were intellectually defensible (with the glaring exception of Bush v. Gore of course) and predictable to most legal observers.  And since the rabid Wingnuts on the 4th and elsewhere knew the Supreme Court was looking over their collective shoulders; they had a tendency to behave better, since being reversed always makes judge look bad and hurts their chances of getting a call-up to the Show one day.  So by and large they toed the line and tried not to stray too far afeild.

In about 5 hours we will learn whether that will remain true any longer.  The man most of us wouldn't trust to nominate the milk monitor in a 2nd grade classroom gets his shot at what has become the single most important chair in Washington.   Depending on what happens tonight, and how we respond to it, our world could be forever changed. With the wrong person on the Big Bench, it could become open season in the circuits.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to live in an America where the president has the power to disappear anyone he wants.  I don't want to live in a country where citizens can be held forever and never charged with a crime.  And I certainly don't want to live in a world where my only protection against abuses by my government is their word that they'll behave themselves.

Right now the only thing standing between us and that world is a 5-4 majority of a nine member court.  And starting tonight, the process of changing that majority begins.  This is NOT a fight we can afford to lose.


Monday, July 11, 2005

Another secret Memo: UK Planning to Leave Iraq by Christmas

Never let it be said that W> is a go it alone Cowboy, in fact he assembled a mighty coalition to invade Iraq:

Would you believe a Forces from 48 Countries


How about a Giant Multi national Force with  troops from
The Netherlands{ not to be confused with the equally popular nether regions}


Okay how about America and its Proud and Staunch Ally Britian?

NO? You've got to be Kidding me right?  Britian's leaving too?!


At least according to Yet Another Secret British Government Memo

LONDON, July 10 -- The United States and Britain are drawing up plans to withdraw the majority of their troops from Iraq by the middle of next year, according to a secret memo written ..by Defense Secretary John Reid.The paper,...said "U.S. plans assume that 14 provinces could be handed over to Iraqi control by early 2006," allowing a reduction in overall U.S.-led forces in Iraq to 66,000 troops. "

Okay. Fine. Would you believe three very confused Romanian Nuns, and a scrappy New Jersey Boy Scout Troop?

Well that didn't take long.   Our proud generational struggle against evildoers just officially became a footrace to the exit door.  Will the last country with troops in Iraq please turn the lights off?

The undated memo, which was reported in the newspaper The Mail on Sunday, stated that "current U.S. political military thinking is still evolving. But there is a strong U.S. military desire for significant force reductions to bring relief to overall U.S. commitment levels."

allow me to briefly sketch this evolution in thinking over at the Pentagon:

  1. March, 2003:   this is going to be a total cakewalk, one Mad Rush to Baghdad, and then its candy and flowers from the locals and we'll home in time to watch the Sox Choke again in the world series

  2. May 2003: If I could just have everyone's attention. People! people! Hey! put that down, that belongs to the Museum!  Hey! you there! Stop that!  What are you even going to DO with 163 Snow tires?  this is a desert!

  3. January 2004: Yes there is a slight guerilla insurgency going on, but really, it's in its last throes.

  4. April 2004:  We've got the insurgency pinned down in Fallujah, as soon as we take the city they'll be in their last throes

  5. July 2004: What do you mean I'm reading this weeks After action reports?  I thought this was a Script for Platoon

  6. October 2004:   You know, that John Kerry Guy seem to have some good ideas

  7. January 2005: Well its been a long hard Slog, but now the people have voted, and it was all worth it, Things are going to be all better...Boom

  8. April 2005: boom * *boom * *boom

  9. May 2005: we are so Screwed. We are so fricking screwed

  10. December 2005 (tentative): Last one to the Helicopter is a rotten egg!

Now some of you might be a mite confused since Our Commander in Chief recently said:

Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis, who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops, who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy, who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out.

But apparently that message was just a touch vague for Donny Rumsfeld's boys:

While top U.S. military commanders and Pentagon officials have been hoping to reduce troop levels in Iraq for some time, the British memo is apparently the first time such a significant reduction has been outlined under a specific timetable.

Which leads to the Obvious questions(as codified by Uncle Karl):  Why does the Pentagon Hate America and why are they helping the Terrorists?

Of course it should be noted; not all US Military personnel are on board with this plan.   Strangely; the ones actually getting their asses shot off are strongly opposed to further under manning the war:

The memo, posted on the newspaper's Web site, notes a debate between U.S. officials at the Pentagon and military leaders in Iraq, saying that officials in Washington favor "a relatively bold reduction in force numbers," differing with battlefield commanders, "whose approach is more cautious."

Imagine that. its only Their lives on the Line, Can't imagine why they'd want to actually be cautious about this.

For those of you not familiar with the Care and raising of Poultry, that sound you hear are the chickens coming home to roost finally.

The pentagon has a serious problem on their hands.  There are coming to face the perfect storm of a military crisis:
a) No matter how low they drop the recruiting targets, the recruiters are still missing them. It seems all that college money is less attractive when they throw in the getting your head blown clean off, as part of the options package.

b) Their political masters know it would be generational suicide to institute a draft.   The Yellow elephants will turn tail and run at the first sign of actual personal risk from supporting the war.

c) The insurgency has gotten tougher, smarter and far more lethal.  Bombs that killed one solider now take out whole humvee crews, so replacement soldiers are needed at a faster rate now than ever before.

Bottom line: they are running out of soldiers to fight a war that appears to be a War Without End anyway.  There's only one thing to do when faced with a problem like that:

In the immortal words of George Aiken:

"just declare victory and get the hell out".