Saturday, December 8, 2007

Iraq War affecting global warming

I didn’t realize just how much fuel our troops were using until Michael Klare spelled it out. Try 16 gallons of oil per soldier per day — four times what we used per soldier in the Gulf War, and equivalent to the average daily use of the entire nation of Bangladesh.

Besides the massive amount of CO2 for global warming this generates, it also illustrates something else.

We can’t fight our way to oil independence. The world’s most oil-dependent army has the greatest risk of grinding to a halt.

Klare says that the Iraq War has been the single biggest detriment to the U.S. addressing global warming. I’d say the same about Peak Oil.

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Damn Lies: Iran, George W. Bush, and the Fleecing of Americans

Report: Israeli Defense Officials Knew At Least a Month Ago About NIE Findings, Weeks Before Bush Claims He Was Informed
Mark Karlin, Editor and Publisher, BuzzFlash, December 6, 2007

According to the authoritative Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, "Israel has known about the report for more than a month. The first information on it was passed on to Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and to Shaul Mofaz, who is the minister responsible for the strategic dialog with the Americans. The issue was also discussed at the Annapolis summit by Barak and U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and it seems also between Bush and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert."

To say the least, this would put Bush in the unexplainable position of claiming he just found out about the NIE, while his administration had told the Israelis weeks ago that the Iranian nuclear bomb program was stopped in 2003. In short, Bush is basically wanting us to believe that he was the last to know about this "bombshell" intelligence finding.

Furthermore, the one mainstream media company that regularly seeks out the story behind the story (McClatchy Newspapers), reported this story on Nov. 4: "Experts: No firm evidence of Iranian nuclear weapons."

Yet, Bush would have us believe a diligent newspaper reporter knew about the NIE findings before he did.

This is just one in a long series of lies and deceptions that the Bush Administration has inflicted on the American people.

"Neocon Job"
By Keith Olbermann, MSNBC Countdown (via truthout)
Thursday 06 December 2007

Full text of Keith's Special Comment

Finally, as promised, a Special Comment about the president's cataclysmic deception about Iran.

There are few choices more terrifying than the one Mr. Bush has left us with tonight.

We have either a president who is too dishonest to restrain himself from invoking World War Three about Iran at least six weeks after he had to have known that the analogy would be fantastic, irresponsible hyperbole - or we have a president too transcendently stupid not to have asked - at what now appears to have been a series of opportunities to do so - whether the fairy tales he either created or was fed, were still even remotely plausible.

A pathological presidential liar, or an idiot-in-chief. It is the nightmare scenario of political science fiction: A critical juncture in our history and, contained in either answer, a president manifestly unfit to serve, and behind him in the vice presidency: an unapologetic war-monger who has long been seeing a world visible only to himself.

After Ms. Perino's announcement from the White House late last night, the timeline is inescapable and clear.

In August the president was told by his hand-picked Major Domo of intelligence Mike McConnell, a flinty, high-strung-looking, worrying-warrior who will always see more clouds than silver linings, that what "everybody thought" about Iran might be, in essence, crap.

Yet on October 17th the President said of Iran and its president Ahmadinejad:

"I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War Three, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon."

And as he said that, Mr. Bush knew that at bare minimum there was a strong chance that his rhetoric was nothing more than words with which to scare the Iranians.

Or was it, Sir, to scare the Americans?

Does Iran not really fit into the equation here? Have you just scribbled it into the fill-in-the-blank on the same template you used, to scare us about Iraq?

In August, any commander-in-chief still able-minded or uncorrupted or both, Sir, would have invoked the quality the job most requires: mental flexibility.

A bright man, or an honest man, would have realized no later than the McConnell briefing that the only true danger about Iran was the damage that could be done by an unhinged, irrational Chicken Little of a president, shooting his mouth off, backed up by only his own hysteria and his own delusions of omniscience.

Not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr. Bush.

The Chicken Little of presidents is the one, Sir, that you see in the mirror.

And the mind reels at the thought of a vice president fully briefed on the revised Intel as long as two weeks ago - briefed on the fact that Iran abandoned its pursuit of this imminent threat four years ago - who never bothered to mention it to his boss.

It is nearly forgotten today, but throughout much of Ronald Reagan's presidency it was widely believed that he was little more than a front-man for some never-viewed, behind-the-scenes, string-puller.

Today, as evidenced by this latest remarkable, historic malfeasance, it is inescapable, that Dick Cheney is either this president's evil ventriloquist, or he thinks he is.

What servant of any of the 42 previous presidents could possibly withhold information of this urgency and gravity, and wind up back at his desk the next morning, instead of winding up before a Congressional investigation - or a criminal one?

Mr. Bush - if you can still hear us - if you did not previously agree to this scenario in which Dick Cheney is the actual detective and you're Remington Steele - you must disenthrall yourself: Mr. Cheney has usurped your constitutional powers, cut you out of the information loop, and led you down the path to an unprecedented presidency in which the facts are optional, the Intel is valued less than the hunch, and the assistant runs the store.

The problem is, Sir, your assistant is robbing you - and your country - blind.

Not merely in monetary terms, Mr. Bush, but more importantly of the traditions and righteousness for which we have stood, at great risk, for centuries: Honesty, Law, Moral Force.

Mr. Cheney has helped, Sir, to make your Administration into the kind our ancestors saw in the 1860's and 1870's and 1880's - the ones that abandoned Reconstruction, and sent this country marching backwards into the pit of American Apartheid.

Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland ...

Presidents who will be remembered only in a blur of failure, Mr. Bush.

Presidents who will be remembered only as functions of those who opposed them - the opponents whom history proved right.

Grant, Hayes, Garfield, Arthur, Cleveland ... Bush.

Would that we could let this president off the hook by seeing him only as marionette or moron.

But a study of the mutation of his language about Iran proves that though he may not be very good at it, he is, himself, still a manipulative, Machiavellian, snake-oil salesman.

The Bushian etymology was tracked by Dan Froomkin at the Washington Post's website.

It is staggering.

March 31st: "Iran is trying to develop a nuclear weapon ..."

June 5th: "Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons ..."

June 19th: "Consequences to the Iranian government if they continue to pursue a nuclear weapon ..."

July 12th: "The same regime in Iran that is pursuing nuclear weapons ..."

August 6th: "This is a government that has proclaimed its desire to build a nuclear weapon ..."

Notice a pattern?

Trying to develop, build or pursue a nuclear weapon.

Then, sometime between August 6th and August 9th, those terms are suddenly swapped out, so subtly that only in retrospect can we see that somebody has warned the president, not only that he has gone out too far on the limb of terror - but there may not even be a tree there ...

McConnell, or someone, must have briefed him then.

August 9th: "They have expressed their desire to be able to enrich uranium, which we believe is a step toward having a nuclear weapons program ..."

August 28th: "Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons ..."

October 4th: "You should not have the know-how on how to make a (nuclear) weapon ..."

October 17th: "Until they suspend and/or make it clear that they, that their statements aren't real, yeah, I believe they want to have the capacity, the knowledge, in order to make a nuclear weapon."

Before August 9th, it's: Trying to develop, build or pursue a nuclear weapon.

After August 9th, it's: Desire, pursuit, want ... knowledge, technology, know-how to enrich uranium.

And we are to believe, Mr. Bush, that the National Intelligence Estimate this week talks of the Iranians suspending their nuclear weapons program in 2003 ...

And you talked of the Iranians suspending their nuclear weapons program on October 17th ...

And that's just a coincidence?

And we are to believe, Mr. Bush, that nobody told you any of this until last week?

Your insistence that you were not briefed on the NIE until last week might be legally true - something like "what the definition of is is" - but with the subject matter being not interns but the threat of nuclear war.

Legally, it might save you from some war crimes trial ... but ethically, it is a lie.

It is indefensible.

You have been yelling threats into a phone for nearly four months, after the guy on the other end had already hung up.

You, Mr. Bush, are a bald-faced liar.

And more over, you have just revealed that John Bolton, and Norman Podhoretz, and the Wall Street Journal Editorial board, are also bald-faced liars.

We are to believe that the Intel community, or maybe the State Department, cooked the raw intelligence about Iran, falsely diminished the Iranian nuclear threat, to make you look bad?

And you proceeded to let them make you look bad?

You not only knew all of this about Iran, in early August ...

But you also knew ... it was ... accurate.

And instead of sharing this good news with the people you have obviously forgotten you represent ...

You merely fine-tuned your terrorizing of those people, to legally cover your own backside ...

While you filled the factual gap with sadistic visions of - as you phrased it on August 28th: a quote "nuclear holocaust" - and, as you phrased it on October 17th, quote: "World War Three."

My comments, Mr. Bush, are often dismissed as simple repetitions of the phrase "George Bush has no business being president."

Well, guess what?

Tonight: hanged by your own words ... convicted by your own deliberate lies ...

You, sir, have no business ... being president.

Good night, and good luck.

There's more: "Damn Lies: Iran, George W. Bush, and the Fleecing of Americans" >>

Friday, December 7, 2007

'Tis the season for antiwar caroling

Mission: Find some antiwar versions of holiday carols to sing at December 21 Iraq Moratorium #4 and other peace events around the holidays.

The call for lyrics or song parodies, with some samples for inspiration, went out a few days ago.

And now Pat Wynne of the Freedom Song Network offers this:

Words By Pat Wynne
(Tune: Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)

Soldiers resting near an open fire
Generals safe in the Green Zone,
Explosions, shots and unfriendly fire
Arms and legs and bodies blown.

Everybody knows
There were no weapons- let's come clean
Just lies to feed the war machine.
Tiny tots with their homes all aflame
It¹s hard to not affix some blame.

They know no Santa's on his sleigh
There's just more death and maiming on the way.
And every mother's son would like to say,
"Just send me home to my family today."

And so I'm offering this simple plea,,
To folks from one to ninety-three,
Peace In Iraq, Stop the war, Let's all say,
"Bring the troops home today".

Think you can do better? Go right ahead and post your lyrics in the comments. They could soon be heard at a mall near you.

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A Billion here, a Billion there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money

CBS News barely scratched the surface.

The actual Pentagon audit [.pdf] reveals a lot more waste of taxpayer money than the news outlets bothered to report. (Where is that "liberal media" again? Under aWol's desk? Behind the curtains? Or maybe it was smuggled into Syria?)

On May 13, 2005 PL 109-13 “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Tsunami Relief, 2005,” became law, and set aside $5.7 Billion for the Iraq Security Forces Fund. The Commander, Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq received $5.2 billion to provide equipment, services, training, supplies, and construction of and repairs to facilities and infrastructure.

On June 15, 2006 PL 109-234, “Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006” became law. That piece of legislation mandated a series of three audits of the Iraq Security Forces Fund.

The third audit is now complete, and the Multi-National Security Transition Command - Iraq (MNSTC-I) has been unable to account for over a billion dollars in materiel, services, weapons and cash. As a result, the MNSTC-I was not able to provide reasonable assurances that the Iraqi Security Forces Fund had achieved or was achieving the results the money was supposed to buy, or even that the funds were used in the manner intended when the American taxpayers were handed the tab. The MNSTC-I was not able to offer assurances that there were even safeguards in place to prevent waste, fraud and mismanagement. Because of these shortcomings, several of the auditable transactions revealed that $1.8 million of funds could have been “put to better use.”

The internal Pentagon auditors recommend that the MNSTC-I develop and implement internal controls and protocols for forward-deployed personnel to observe and follow to maintain records to facilitate oversight of the funds and establish “accountable property records for expenditure of wartime funding.” In addition, the audit recommended that the MNSTC-I develop procedures for the processing, management and oversight of Military Interdepartmental Purchase Requests (MIPRs) and identify personnel requirements for proper sourcing in the Joint Manning Document that is submitted through CENTCOM and the Multi National Forces – Iraq, the Joint Chiefs and the Department of Defense. The goal of the recommendations is to ensure compliance with DoD financial regulations.

Now, before we dig in to the findings, it would be appropriate to remind ourselves that the Pentagon uses accounting methods that would make your average Hollywood studio accountant turn beet-red with shame. When they admit that a billion went missing, apply exponents as multipliers until your mind is boggled and you pass out – then double it, and you might be half way there. Maybe. If they’ve been frugal about the waste, fraud and abuse.

Let’s look at the areas the audit examined, shall we?

Service Contracts The Department of Defense’s own protocols require triannual reviews be conducted on service contracts. This was not done.

Service MIPRs Because MNSTC-I lacked internal safeguards and protocols, there is no way to even tell if the funds allocated to the State Department were ever disbursed.

Equipment Contracts Lack of procedure and protocol at MNSTC-I led not only to a lack of oversight, but to the lack of an audit trail as well. Instead, MNSTC-I relies heavily on other DoD Components in the field to self-report. This way of doing business makes audits virtually impossible.

Equipment MIPRs Receipts for equipment and materiel passed off to the ISF did not record traceable data. In plain English – lots and lots of guns went out the door, without so much as having the serial numbers recorded.

Construction MNSTC-I did not have policies and procedures in place to assure that construction projects were being completed on time or to spec. Instead, they simply relied on contractors and subcontractors to self-police and properly report. The Pentagon only reviewed six incomplete construction contracts, leaving 84 unexamined, because MNSTC-I claimed that the task of providing documentation would prove too onerous.

So to recap…

The MNSTC-I was not able to provide any reasonable assurances that the ISFF has achieved any of the intended results, or that resources were appropriately distributed. Without auditable records, the audit determined that at least $1 Billion in equipment was unaccounted for. Not only is the equip missing, the scenario under which it went missing was so disjointed and chaotic that the Pentagon auditors determined that trying to track it down would be an exercise in futility. Instead, they have opted to simply write it all off, with a promise to do better in the future.

Auditors simply throwing their hands in the air and writing off at least a Billion bucks just perfectly illustrates fiscal responsibility by the Bush administration and makes those vetoes and veto threats totally understandable.


There's more: "A Billion here, a Billion there, and pretty soon it adds up to real money" >>

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Vets, military families turn against the war

You probably sensed this, but a new survey confirms it: The Iraq war is not any more popular with military families than it is with the rest of the population in the U.S. -- and that's pretty unpopular.

Bloomberg News Service reports:

Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Kent Fletcher, an Iraq war veteran, says he enthusiastically voted for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004. Now, he is a registered Democrat who questions the need for the war, the way it has been managed and the treatment of returning veterans.

``Saddam Hussein wasn't a threat and the culmination of my career was that war and it wasn't necessary,'' says Fletcher, 32, a financial analyst in Bluffton, South Carolina, who served almost 10 years as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

A Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times poll shows that Fletcher's skepticism about the war reflects a growing disenchantment within the broader military community, long a bastion of support for the Bush administration and Republicans. Among active-duty military, veterans and their families, only 36 percent say it was worth going to war in Iraq. This compares with an Annenberg survey taken in 2004, one year after the invasion, which showed that 64 percent of service members and their families supported the war.

The views of veterans and their families are now closer in line with overall public sentiment. The poll shows that 32 percent of the general population supports the war.

There's more: "Vets, military families turn against the war" >>

Bush-Cheney may still start World War III

Just when you thought Bush and Cheney might have to rethink starting World War III, Matt Rotshschild has to spoil your mood. Rothschild, editor of The Progressive, writes:

Hold on a second here.

The risk of Bush attacking Iran is not yet over.

When the National Intelligence Estimate on Iran came out earlier this week, a lot of people jumped to the conclusion that Cheney and the hardliners have lost, and so we can all breathe a sigh of relief.

Well, I’m not exhaling at the moment.

Because I still believe Bush and Cheney are going to do the deed.

And he may well be on to something.

If there's one thing our own, DC-based Axis of Evil learned in the runup to the Iraq war, it's that if one argument doesn't work you should just keep making others, until you wear down the resistance and something finally sticks.

And if it turns out later that you were wrong or lying about it, so what?

Will bombing be enough? Sending ground troops might be problematic, since most of those available are bogged down in another quagmire at the moment. And World War III will be a bit of an overstatement when it turns out Iran has no nukes and little ability to fight back. So maybe, despite Bush's hype, it's just another dirty little war.

Rothschild posits that Bush will simply switch gears and find another reason to attack:

“Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous, and Iran will be dangerous if they have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon,” [Bush said.]

Note well that he didn’t say Iran will be dangerous when it acquires such a weapon, but prior to that, when it acquires the knowledge to make one. That’s a big difference, and it shortens the timetable laid out in the NIE, which doubted Iran would have such a weapon until 2015.

Who knows when Iran will have the “knowledge to make” one? Maybe it has that knowledge already and lacks only the technical sophistication...

He reiterated that “Iran needs to be taken seriously as a threat to peace,” adding: “My opinion hasn’t changed.” And he remained as macho as ever in boasting that he wouldn’t allow Iran to acquire such a weapon while he’s around.

There's more. And it doesn't read like paranoia.

There's more: "Bush-Cheney may still start World War III" >>

US Army Admits to Shooting Iraqi Civilians

The Headline:

U.S. soldiers shoot 4 Iraqi civilians, one killed

The punchy opening hook:

U.S. soldiers mistakenly shot four Iraqi civilians, killing one, during operations against al Qaeda militants, the U.S. military said on Tuesday.

The Story:

U.S. soldiers had detained a suspected al Qaeda fighter in Tarmiya, 30 km (20 miles) north of Baghdad, on Monday when they were approached by a car that did not obey an order to stop.

The "news" is that the US Army admitted to the shooting.

The readers eyes roll:

As if this is a rare news story. Doh!

The Google Results: approached car stop fired Iraq

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Security guards fire on Iraqi car

Security guards open fire on car, kill two Iraqis Oakland Tribune ...

U.S. soldiers attempted to warn the occupants of a car carrying a freed Italian journalist before troops opened fire, ...

ABC News: Pregnant Iraqi Woman Shot Near Security Checkpoint

Worldandnation: U.S. troops fire on car, killing 2 civilians (Jan. 2005)

A shooting after nightfall --
The car rolled to a stop. It was not the first time soldiers in Iraq have fired on vehicles driven by people who were either uncomprehending of the danger ...

Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - Middle East
In western Baghdad, an Iraqi police officer said an American patrol fired at a group of civilian cars as they approached a bridge, killing two people. ...

What Iraq's checkpoints are like |

I could go on, but there are over a million links.


The Head Shakes:



Reuters, U.S. soldiers shoot 4 Iraqi civilians, one killed, December 4, 2007.

Originally posted on GDAEman Blog

There's more: "US Army Admits to Shooting Iraqi Civilians" >>

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The Obfuscation Continues

Crossposted from BFD Blog!

At a December 4 press conference, Bush asserted:

I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell [Director of National Intelligence] came in and said, 'we have some new information.' He didn't tell me what the information was; he did tell me it was going to take a while to analyze. Why would you take time to analyze new information? One, you want to make sure it's not disinformation. You want to make sure the piece of intelligence you have is real. And secondly, they want to make sure they understand the intelligence they gathered: If they think it's real, then what does it mean? And it wasn't until last week that I was briefed on the NIE that is now public.

Sure George, and we believe in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy too...

There's more: "The Obfuscation Continues" >>

Jingle bells, mortar shells

Congress Isn't Stopping the War
(To the tune of "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town")

You better shape up,
You better get tough.
Or this next election
Is gonna be rough
If Congress doesn't stop the war

We're watching your votes
We're taking good notes
Gonna insist on more than good quotes
Congress isn't stopping the war

We see you when you're voting
We know when you sell out
We know when you don't have the guts
To get our troops right out

So you better shape up,
You better get tough
Or this next election
Is gonna be rough
If Congress doesn't stop the war.

(VARIATION: Substitute Democrats for Congress, with a few word adjustments)

Think that's bad? You ain't heard nothin' yet. Read on ...

There's No Reason To Be Jolly
(To the tune of you know what)

There's no reason to be jolly
Fa la la la la, la la la la
The Iraq war is Bush's folly,
Fa la la la la, la la la la

It's past time to bring the troops home
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Tell the Dems to get some backbone
Fa la la la la, la la la la

No more bloodshed, stop the killing,
End the war and bring them home.

Think you can do better? I hope you'll try. This is your invitation. Submit some lyrics in the comment section.

This is inspired -- if that word can be applied here -- by the fact that there are many antiwar vigils and actions planned between now and the holidays, and some edgy carols would be one way to liven things up. We'll collect them and pass them on to groups planning events, like Iraq Moratorium #4 on Dec. 21, among others.

In Vietnam, we sang holiday classics like:

Jingle bells, mortar shells,
VC in the grass
Take your Merry Christmas
and -- well, you know.

Or this, to the tune of "O Christmas Tree."

We like it here,
We like it here,
You focking A
We like it here.

Although we have malaria,
We still maintain our area.
We like it here,
We like it here.
You focking A we like it here.

(Maybe it wasn't focking, but it was something like that. My memory's getting hazy.)

Related post.

There's more: "Jingle bells, mortar shells" >>

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Additional loopholes in the CAFE bill

Gregg Easterbrook notes that the ramp-up to 35mpg, rather than requiring incremental increases on the way, is entirely voluntary until 2020. (Scroll about halfway down the page.)
And, that’s not all. It also has a waiver provision!

But TMQ is hugely suspicious, and hopes the media will watch the specifics of the bill carefully. The mpg legislation the Senate already has approved requires a one-third improvement in fuel efficiency — but nothing becomes mandatory until 2020, meaning Detroit could continue to do nothing for 13 years. Worse, the Senate version has a waiver provision that says that if the new standards prove too onerous, automakers can ask they be waived before 2020. That is a formula for what Washington specializes in: the appearance of dramatic action while nothing actually happens.

(Automakers drag their feet, then demand a waiver.) In January, George W. Bush proposed, and Barack Obama endorsed, new mpg rules that would take effect right now, mandating a 4 percent annual improvement in fuel efficiency until a one-third overall betterment is achieved. How often do a sitting conservative president and one of his leading liberal opponents agree on something? The Bush-Obama mpg reform would have gone into effect immediately, with immediate positive results. I worry that what Congress ends up enacting on mpg will be a make-believe bill that sets lofty targets but has no teeth. And I worry that the mainstream media, excited by gaffes and scandals but endlessly bored by the details of public-policy proposals, will be too gullible to notice the difference between real mpg reform and make-believe.

Easterbrook goes on to note that cars now don’t meet the current 27.5mpg average. Since the government reformulated its fuel-economy tests closer to real-world standards, I have no doubt that’s true. I also don’t doubt that current standards probably aren’t being enforced that well by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Finally, he blames the increase in auto horsepower over the last decade or so as being a contributor to road rage. Hmm….

There's more: "Additional loopholes in the CAFE bill" >>

Monday, December 3, 2007

The Surge At Home

Courtesy of Mark Fiore, over at Mother Jones:

Click here to link to the animation.

There's more: "The Surge At Home" >>

GAO Blasts Department of Defense on Iraqi Police

[This post originally appeared on my blog, Blue Girl, Red State and was written by my friend and co-blogger Pale Rider - one of the sharpest minds blogging today.]

--By Pale Rider

They put out the NIE on Iran today in order to keep people from paying attention to what came out on Friday--the GAO Report on the Iraqi police forces.

The report, filed under the subject heading Operation Iraqi Freedom: DOD Assessment of Iraqi Security Forces’ Units as Independent Not Clear Because ISF Support Capabilities Are Not Fully Developed, highlights a critical fact of what is going on in Iraq. The Iraqi police can't do anything independently, but the Bush Administration by way of the Department of Defense is doing everything it can to keep you from figuring that out. And it sent General Petraeus to testify before Congress about some things that weren't, ahem, not quite true. Oh my goodness, has St. David of the General Rank of Petraeus been caught lying to Congress? Perish the thought. And by the way, that was him walking on water a little while ago.

[Keep reading...]

The GAO goes on at length in their report, and I can't do it justice. I can't adequately parse all the polite doublespeak in a way that adequately expresses how outraged we should all be.

A few things stand out. The GAO says:

...the Administration’s September 14, 2007, Benchmark Assessment Report stated that although some Iraqi Army and police forces were operating independently, it also stated that the greatest constraints on independent operations were a shortage of trained leaders and an immature logistics capability, and that for the present time Coalition partnership and support remained necessary for most ISF operations.

"Independently." Remember when this was an issue? Let's get in the way-way back machine and travel all the way back to 2005:

Sep 29, 2005 - from USA Today:

WASHINGTON — The Iraqi military has only one battalion — about 500-600 soldiers — capable of fighting on its own, U.S. commanders told lawmakers Thursday.
Many Iraqi police are not being paid, and insurgents are infiltrating Iraqi police and military forces, the commanders acknowledged. Even so, Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. general in Iraq, said U.S. troops could start leaving next year if Iraqi voters back a proposed constitution and form a government.
"I do believe that the possibility for condition-based reductions of coalition forces still exists in 2006," Casey told the Senate Armed Services Committee.


In his final appearance as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, retiring Gen. Richard Myers told McCain that he never said "things are going very well in Iraq" and that the United States is not developing a "cut-and-run strategy."
"This is a win strategy," Myers said, adding that Iraqis were making progress toward forming a government. "In a sense, things are going well."
The commanders didn't say how many qualified Iraqi troops would be necessary to allow U.S. withdrawals.
In June, the Pentagon said three of 100 Iraqi battalions were capable of acting on their own, Casey acknowledged. Thursday morning, that estimate changed to one.
After a recess, Casey said the new assessment of Iraqi readiness stemmed from a new, more demanding standard U.S. commanders use to judge Iraqi forces.


So, in just over two years, the Iraqi police are in the same shape today that they were then. In other words, they've made no progress whatsoever in any of the important areas they needed to improve. In 2005, we were told that they have tens of thousands that don't show up, that the insurgents have infiltrated the forces, that there is inadequate training and the units can't fight independently.

According to the GAO, not a damned thing has changed. I guess Generals Petraeus and Hunzeker--two individuals, who you'll recall, once were given responsibility for training the Iraqi police forces--did a bang-up job training the Iraqi police--so much so that they got promoted and were given great new jobs. If there was any accountability whatsoever in the United States Army, the only assignment these two generals would have right now is a temporary billet at Fort Living Room with a future engagement planned at Camp Golf Course.

Just a few highlights--and the intrepid Blue Girl will tell us more when time permits--

...As of July 2007, the Iraqi Army was short 18,000 corporals, 14,500 sergeants, and 7,500 sergeants first class. With MNSTC-I advice and assistance, the Iraqis are working a number of initiatives to address this leadership shortage.

...the MOI is facing the fundamental challenge of not being able to accurately account for its personnel. According to DOD’s June and September 2007 reports to Congress, there is currently no reliable data on how many Coalition-trained personnel are still serving in the MOI’s forces. Moreover, DOD has also reported that the MOI has hired a significant number of police beyond those trained by the Coalition. According to testimony by the former MNSTC-I commander, the MOI’s payroll accounts for about 60,000 to 74,000 more personnel than the number trained and equipped by the Coalition. However, he also stated that about 20 percent of this overage are “ghosts,” meaning personnel whose names appear on the MOI’s payroll but who are not actually serving.

...According to both the former and current MNSTC-I commanders, the National Police are also beset with widespread sectarianism. In June 2007, the former MNSTC-I commander testified that the Iraqi National Police was the “single most sectarian organization in Iraq.” Two months later, the current MNSTC-I commander echoed his predecessor’s assessment, stating that the National Police were “overly infiltrated with militia elements” and that “there’s no doubt that in the National Police the sectarian influence remains and will be hard to eradicate.” Finally, evidence indicates that the Iraqi Police Service is also heavily infiltrated with sectarian elements. The former commander of the Iraq Assistance Group13 characterized the Iraqi Police Service as the ISF element most vulnerable to sectarianism, despite the MOI’s removal of over 3,000 members considered to have a sectarian bias in January 2007.

...Since January 2007, the Iraqi government has replaced 70 percent of senior commanders in the National Police due to their sectarianism, a list that includes 2 division, 7 brigade, and 17 battalion commanders. These high level command changes are especially significant given that the National Police are facing a critical officer shortage; by the summer of 2007 they had filled fewer than half of their officer positions. Despite these officer changes, however, according to a July 2007 DOD report, there continues to be a sectarian bias in the appointment of senior Iraqi police commanders.


What did General Petraeus tell Congress? Well, the GAO weighs in on that, too:

For example, in its most recent report to Congress, issued in September 2007, DOD stated that 95 Army, Special Operations Combat Forces, and Iraqi Army Infrastructure units; an indeterminate number of MOD logistics enablers; 7 National Police Combat Battalions; and 3 National Police Brigade Headquarters were all “capable of planning, executing, and sustaining counterinsurgency operations independently or with Iraqi or Coalition forces.” Although in none of these reports does DOD distinguish between those forces that are capable of operating independently and those that require Coalition or Iraqi assistance, the tables in which DOD’s data are presented lead one to believe that at least one if not more than one of the units was rated as independent. This was underscored during the MNF-I commander’s September 10 and 11, 2007 testimony, during which he briefed the Congress that in every month since November 2005, with only one exception (February 2006) the Coalition has assessed at least one ISF unit as “fully independent.”

The GAO has a disturbing finding on this--

However, despite DOD’s reports and the MNF-I commander’s recent testimony that a certain number of ISF have been assessed as “fully independent,” after March 2006 it was no longer possible for a Coalition transition team member to rate the readiness of an ISF unit using these terms. Previously, in guidance provided to Coalition transition teams for use in evaluating Iraqi Security Forces, a level 1 unit was said to be “fully capable of planning, executing, and sustaining independent operations.” However, in the spring of 2006, MNC-I removed the words “fully” and “independent” from the definition. When we asked DOD officials for the reason for this change they were not able to provide us with an explanation. Therefore, according to the current guidance, a level 1 unit is one that is “capable of planning, executing, and sustaining counterinsurgency operations.” It is important to note that, according to the guidance, a Coalition transition team cannot judge an ISF unit as “independent.” However, in its most recent report to Congress, DOD asserted that an “independent unit is one that is capable of planning, executing, and sustaining counterinsurgency operations.” Thus, DOD’s continued reporting that some ISF units are “independent” or “fully independent” is not congruent with MNC-I’s instructions for filling out the Operational Readiness Assessments on which DOD’s assertions and reports seem to be based. If independence is still a relevant descriptor of ISF unit capabilities, then why was the term removed from the definition of a level 1 unit in 2006?

So did General Petraeus lie to Congress? Did he commit perjury?

My reaction to all of this is...[sigh].

Another day, another outrage. And we don't have a working press to tell all of this to the American people.

There's more: "GAO Blasts Department of Defense on Iraqi Police" >>

Can we impeach Cheney now?

So - the administration has known for a year that all sixteen intelligence agencies have determined that Iran halted their nuclear weapons program in 2003, but that little bit of inconvenient truth did not deter Cheney from not only advocating for another illegal war, one that would possibly (probably) use nuclear weapons, but he didn't stop there - he also attempted to stifle the report and tried to get the parts they didn't agree with stricken.

Remember how, a couple of months ago, the meme changed? Resident Evil said that the Iranians couldn't be allowed to have the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon. In October, aWol gave a dire warning about WW III if Iran obtained a nuclear weapon, and the warmongering old prick vowed "serious consequences" if the Iranians didn't (re)abandon their nuclear program. (It's all very cartoonish, in a tragic way. Remember your Looney Tunes? Bugs: "Batten down the hatches!" Buster:"I did! I did batten 'em down!" Bugs: "Well batten 'em down again. We'll teach those hatches!")

[Keep reading...]

Gareth Porter pointed out a month ago that the NIE was being held up. (h/t Kevin Drum)

A National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran has been held up for more than a year in an effort to force the intelligence community to remove dissenting judgments on the Iranian nuclear programme, and thus make the document more supportive of U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's militarily aggressive policy toward Iran, according to accounts of the process provided by participants to two former Central Intelligence Agency officers.

But this pressure on intelligence analysts, obviously instigated by Cheney himself, has not produced a draft estimate without those dissenting views, these sources say. The White House has now apparently decided to release the unsatisfactory draft NIE, but without making its key findings public.

Cheney got his knickers in a twist over more than the nuclear part of the NIE. He was also furious that there was no conclusive evidence that the Iranians were meddling in Iraq and arming Shiite militias.

So, congresscritters, especially you, Nancy Pelosi, read the god-damned NIE for yourselves, and then riddle me this:

Is it enough yet? Can we please make with impeaching the warmongering, pathological old prick? We can't risk another year with this psychotic madman at the levers.

There's more: "Can we impeach Cheney now?" >>

Another price of war paid but not acknowledge

Along the lines of uncounted deaths, here yet another one. I posted it yesterday on my blog. There are thousands of others but no one is putting them all together. has tried. They have four or five they found not counted anywhere except by their families.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Sammantha Arlene Owen Ewing after Walter Reed a casket
From the Washington Post report on Army 1st Lt. Elizabeth Whiteside. Yet one more death that did not have to happen. One more soldier gone.Tom Whiteside comforts his daughter at the funeral of Sammantha Owen-Ewing, a soldier who hung herself last week. Whiteside and Owen-Ewing were friends on Ward 54 at Walter Reed.Owen-Ewing lost all her medical benefits when she left the Army earlier this year.

Ewing, Sammantha Arlene (Owen)

Sammantha Arlene Owen Ewing, 20, passed away Monday, Nov. 26, 2007, in Pawtucket, R.I. Sammantha was born in Orem, Utah, on Dec. 7, 1986, to Samuel and Linda Greene, and later adopted by Jason and Diana Owen. She graduated from Box Elder High School in 2005. She married Scott Ewing on June 12, 2007. Sammantha pursued her desire to work in the medical field while in the Army. She planned to continue her educational goals while also working as an EMT in Rhode Island. Sammantha was adventurous. She loved to travel and enjoyed learning from each new experience. Sammantha loved roller coasters, collecting seashells at the beach, photography, scrap booking, painting and beading. Her greatest joy was spending time with her siblings, Rebekah, Michael, Alexxa and Mookey. Sammantha was sweet, thoughtful and loving. She brought joy to the lives of those around her. We were blessed to know Samm and we will miss her very much. A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 1, 2007, at the Bothwell LDS chapel. Friends and family may call from 8:45 to 9:45 a.m. prior to the funeral. Interment is at Springville Evergreen Cemetery.

Why is this still happening? How many other deaths not counted? How many other born heroes need to die from this wound that do not need to die?

There's more: "Another price of war paid but not acknowledge" >>

The Uncounted

Ran across this post about the death of Sfc. Anthony Raymond Wasielewski from Ladysmith WI. My father was born in Ladysmith, and that's what initially caught my attention. He's never mentioned the Wasielewskis (and I DEFINITELY would have remembered the name) so I don't assume any connection other than that my dad was born in Ladysmith...a town name I've always liked. But back to the post.

[Sfc. Wasielewski] had been injured in Iraq last May and died at his home in early October. It appeared his death was related to his comabat injuries but from the article that was not conclusive. I wondered if he would be counted as a casualty of the war. I checked Iraq Coalition Casualty Count site and found he was not listed.

Recently I checked back at the site and found that Sfc. Anthony Raymond Wasielewski is listed in a separate count of "Post Iraq Deaths Not Confirmed By the DoD".......

It seems there are several soldiers who died from wounds received in Iraq, but the DoD does not include their deaths in the official count of the soldiers killed in Iraq.

Coupled with the news that the Pentagon has underreported the number of US servicemen and women wounded in Iraq by a whopping 40%, I wonder if anyone at the Pentagon could pass a 5th grade math test.

There's more: "The Uncounted" >>

Sunday, December 2, 2007

They said they were planting the seeds of Democracy; instead corruption took root and is thriving

Iraqi and American officials have admitted that in spite of a statistical drop in violence during the Surge™, the state slipped further over the brink into lawlessness over the last year. Corruption and theft have never really been out of favor in Iraq, but occupied Iraq has become nothing short of a kleptocracy. According to an independent analysis, Iraq is the third most corrupt nation in the world - of 180 countries surveyed, only Somalia and Myanmar were more corrupt than Iraq.
The scope of the theft is staggering. It is estimated that as much as 1/3 of what American taxpayers are spending on reconstruction contracts ends up stolen, with a healthy cut going to militias. The top anticorruption official in Iraq estimated that $18 Billion had been filched since 2004.

That official resigned his position and fled the country a few weeks ago, after 31 of his agencies employees were hunted down and executed over the past three years.

[Keep reading...]

All this stealing and pilfering undermines the ability of the nation to provide essential services, yet providing the basics is integral to sustaining the recent perceived advances in security. It also facilitates a distrust of government and throws up roadblocks to reconciliation as groups with an established foothold in the Shiite dominated government resist reforms that would rein in the systemic corruption.

The average Iraqi, for the most part, finds the thieving to be a major source of embarrassment. They feel like the corruption and thievery affects them on an emotional and moral level, and point to what the Q'uran says about theft - Allah is against it. "God does not love the corrupters," is a theme that runs throughout the Q'uran. The Iraqis who were horrified at the looting in the wake of the invasion and toppling of Saddam Hussein are doubly ashamed of the libertarian free-for-all their country has turned into because the tentacles of corruption reach into every nook and cranny of the society.

If you have children in school, you have to buy their textbooks from, a profiteer at three times the price charged by the ministry of education. If you want to wash your car, chances are the carwash is stealing the water from the degraded infrastructure that supplies water to homes and citizens. If you have a loved one with cancer, their pain medications are only available on the black market and are devastatingly overpriced. If you need a job, pay a $500 bribe and become a policeman.

And it has degraded so far that corruption is no longer a means to wealth, it is a way of life. It has created an endless spiral of dishonest dealings, and everyone feels the taint.

There's more: "They said they were planting the seeds of Democracy; instead corruption took root and is thriving" >>