Saturday, December 15, 2007

Bush Adds Another Gem to Lie Log

Cross-posted from The Paragraph

In August, I think it was … [National Intelligence Director] Mike McConnell came in and said, we have some new information. He didn’t tell me what the information was …” (2007-12-04)x60 President Bush uttered that statement last week, claiming ignorance about the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) finding that Iran has had no nuclear weapons program for years.x61 But inside reports say that the White House saw a draft of the NIE with similar views a year ago, and that Vice President Cheney had held up its release.x62 During that year, Bush and Cheney had been drumming up fear of Iran getting a nuclear weapon, even to the point where Bush raised the specter of World War III.x63 So this gem goes into the Bush lie log, joining others such as these:

  • We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq.” (2003-03-08)x65 Bush spoke that to the nation two weeks before launching the invasion of Iraq, and after spending a half-year beating the war drum. The Bush regime planned for an Iraq invasion on its first week in office, and conjured up intelligence that was “being fixed around the policy.”x66x67 A month and a week before that statement, Bush met with British Prime Minister Tony Blair and told him that the start of bombing was “penciled in” for March 10th.x68

  • We gave him (Saddam Hussein) a chance to allow the inspectors in, and he wouldn’t let them in. And, therefore, after a reasonable request, we decided to remove him from power.” (2003-07-14)x69 Actually, Hussein was complying with the UN resolution and weapons inspectors were making good progress, when Bush warned them to get out just before he launched the “shock and awe” attack.x70 In the years since, Bush has often repeated this false history.

  • If there is a leak out of my administration, I want to know who it is. And if the person has violated law, the person will be taken care of.” (2003-09-30)x71 Bush was playing dumb about the leak that blew the cover of covert CIA agent Valeri Plame. Actually, Bush had authorized such leaks in a vain try at smearing Plame’s husband, Ambassador Joe Wilson, who had publicly undermined one of Bush’s false bases for invading Iraq—that the country was developing nuclear weapons.x72 But one could say that part of Bush’s statement was true: one of the leakers, Cheney’s top aide I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, who was convicted of lying to FBI agents about the leak program, was “taken care of” when Bush commuted his jail time.x73

  • By the way, any time you hear the United States government talking about wiretap, it requires – a wiretap requires a court order. Nothing has changed, by the way. When we’re talking about chasing down terrorists, we’re talking about getting a court order before we do so.” (2004-04-20)x74 At the time Bush spoke this, he had the National Security Agency (NSA) tapping into phone and internet communications at the data switches of AT&T and Verizon—all without a court order.x75x76

  • Both those men are doing fantastic jobs, and I strongly support them.” (2006-11-1)x77 Bush said this about Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and went a step further, as the reporter wrote: ”[Bush] replied in the affirmative when asked if he wanted Messrs. Rumsfeld and Cheney to stay with him until the end.” But Bush had already decided to oust Rumsfeld, and three days later did so. While this lie is not as weighty as the others, it is special in that Bush admitted he was lying. After ousting Rumsfeld, he told the same reporter: “The reason why is I did not want to make a major decision in the final days of the campaign. The only way to answer that question, and get it on to another question, was to give you that answer.”x78

Further Reading

‘Log of lies from the Bush-Cheney administration’ – Unknown News

‘George W. Bush IS a Liar’ by Robert Parry,, 2006-04-14


60 ‘Press Conference by the President’ 2007-12-04

Q Mr. President, thank you. I’d like to follow on that. When you talked about Iraq, you and others in the administration talked about a mushroom cloud; then there were no WMD in Iraq. When it came to Iran, you said in October, on October 17th, you warned about the prospect of World War III, when months before you made that statement, this intelligence about them suspending their weapons program back in ‘03 had already come to light to this administration. So can’t you be accused of hyping this threat? And don’t you worry that that undermines U.S. credibility?

THE PRESIDENT: David, I don’t want to contradict an august reporter such as yourself, but I was made aware of the NIE last week. In August, I think it was Mike McConnell 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.

61 ‘National Intelligence Estimate: Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities’ November 2007

62 ‘Cheney Tried to Stifle Dissent in Iran NIE’ By Gareth Porter, IPS, 2007-11-08

63 ‘Press Conference by the President’ 2007-10-17

65 ‘War on Terror – President’s Radio Address’ 2003-03-08

66 ‘Will Bushies Sell Iran War ‘Product’?’ source 75 the Paragraph 2007-09-08

67 ‘America Puts Brakes on Drive for More War’ source 103 The Paragraph 2006-11-30

68 ‘Bush Was Set on Path to War, British Memo Says’ By DON VAN NATTA Jr., March 27, 2006

“Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning,” David Manning, Mr. Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides.

“The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,” Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. “This was when the bombing would begin.”

69 ‘President Reaffirms Strong Position on Liberia – Remarks by the President and United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in Photo Opportunity The Oval Office’ 2003-07-14

70 ‘Bush’s Favorite Lie’ by Robert Parry,, 2007-11-09

71 ‘President Discusses Job Creation With Business Leaders’ University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois, 2003-09-30

72 ‘George W. Bush IS a Liar’ by Robert Parry,, 2007-11-09

Bush had included the bogus Niger claim in his State of the Union Address in January 2003. But Wilson’s first-hand account of his assignment in 2002 to check out the Niger suspicions – and his conclusion that the evidence was weak – represented the first major assault on Bush’s pre-war intelligence from a mainstream government figure.

The White House struck back, organizing anti-Wilson leaks to friendly reporters. Privately, Bush declassified information that tended to bolster his Niger claim – even though by then its truthfulness had been discredited by U.S. intelligence agencies.

With President Bush’s clearance, Vice President Dick Cheney dispatched his chief of staff, I. Lewis Libby, to leak information to Washington Post investigative reporter Bob Woodward on June 27, 2003. Libby approached New York Times correspondent Judith Miller on July 8 and Time magazine reporter Matt Cooper on July 12.

73 ‘Bush Commutes Libby’s Prison Sentence’ By Amy Goldstein, Washington Post Staff Writer, Tuesday, July 3, 2007

74 ‘President Bush: Information Sharing, Patriot Act Vital to Homeland Security – Remarks by the President in a Conversation on the USA Patriot Act’ Kleinshans Music Hall, Buffalo, New York, 2004-04-20

75 ‘Big Brother Bad Idea Still Breathing’ source 25, The Paragraph 2007-10-28

76 ‘A Simple Censure is Warranted’ The Paragraph 2006-04-03

77 ‘Bush Stands By Cheney, Rumsfeld’ By TERENCE HUNT, Associated Press, November 2, 2006

78 ‘VIDEO: Bush Admits He Lied About Rumsfeld For Political Purposes’ – Think Progress, 2006-11-08

There's more: "Bush Adds Another Gem to Lie Log" >>

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Self-Deception Does Not Help

An email just landed in my inbox linking to an article from Alexander Bolton at The Hill this morning, telling me, for the umpteenth time, that Congressional Democrats led by Nancy "I think we're doing just great" Pelosi and Harry "we don't have the votes" Reid have once again caved or capitulated or rolled over or backed down or given up or submitted or tried their best, or some other bullshit story that I keep hearing, not only from mainstream media, but from progressives all across the blogosphere.

Dems cave on spending

Senate and House Democrats backed down Wednesday from a spending showdown with President Bush.

The Democrats’ capitulation Wednesday on the total domestic spending level is the latest instance of Bush prevailing on a major policy showdown. Bush and his Senate Republican allies have repeatedly beat back efforts by Democrats to place restrictions on funding for the war in Iraq as well as Democratic attempts to expand funding of children’s health insurance by $35 billion.
In the final analysis, Democrats realized they would not be able to muster enough Republican votes to override Bush’s veto. The president vowed to reject any spending package that exceeded the $933 billion limit he set.

Democrats made a final attempt to drive a wedge between congressional Republicans and Bush by threatening to kill all lawmakers’ earmarks to bring the cost of the omnibus to the level Bush demanded. Obey hoped rank-and-file Republicans would pressure their leaders to accept a Democratic-proposed compromise...
The email came from truthout.

On Tuesday srkp23 posted a story at Docudharma about Human Rights Watch telling us that Dems are "cowardly".

I hear stories like this every day. And I'm sick of it.

Why are we doing this to ourselves?

Congressional Democrats are not caving or cowardly or capitulating or incapable or rolling over or backing down or giving up or submitting or trying their best, or any of that crap.

They are, simply and plainly, COMPLICIT.

And I think it is long past time we not only stopped letting the MSM fool us but long past time we stopped fooling ourselves, and long past time we stopped letting Republicans or Democrats in Washington take the country for a ride.

Once more, with gusto...

Congressional Democrats are not caving or cowardly or capitulating or incapable or rolling over or backing down or giving up or submitting or trying their best, or any of that crap. They are, simply and plainly, COMPLICIT.

They are doing exactly what they intended to do all along. And one of the things, IMO, that they have intended to do all along is to fool and convince the electorate into believing that they are "trying" but "failing".

They are doing neither. They believe that the electorate is too stupid to see through them. Maybe they are right?

It's about time we smartened up... and about time we quit accepting being set up.

Never Give An Inch

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Boy, is John Edwards wrong – or deceiving – on Iraq

In an interview today, Edwards claimed there’s not that much difference among Democratic candidates on Iraq and that voters know that:

“My instinct is that most caucus-goers think any of us will end the war.”

Just plain wrong. You’re one of the three Democratic “front-runners” who do NOT have a plan, desire, goal, or intention of getting us OUT and not halfway out of Iraq. No exceptions, no stipulations, nothing short of getting us out qualifies as getting us out.

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Obey Stands Up...Again

Once more, David Obey (D, WI 07) has done what he alone among congress-critters, Democrat or Republican, seems able to do.

He took a principled stand.

The $522 Billion omnibus spending bill that had been scheduled for a House Vote today was held up when Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Obey announced last night that he would not file it, and recommended the bill be scrutinized and revised before it goes to a floor vote. Obey, clearly disgusted, said he is prepared to cut billions from domestic programs and eliminate all earmarks for home-state spending projects, which congresspersons of both parties are addicted to.

“I’m not in the business of trying to pave the way for $70 billion or $90 billion for Iraq for $10 billion in table scraps,” Obey said. “We asked Bush to compromise. He has chosen to go the confrontation route.”

“I want no linkage what-so-ever between domestic [spending] and the war. I want the war to be dealt with totally on its own. We shouldn’t be trading off domestic priorities for the war.”

In October, you may recall, Obey put a hold on the $190 Billion war supplemental spending bill lusted after by Chimpy McWarPorn, announcing that until there is a definitive change of course where the unholy clusterfuck of Iraq is concerned, there would be no supplemental spending legislation coming out of committee, Nancy and Steny (especially Steny) be damned.

The omnibus bill was the product of weeks of wrangling and back-room wheeling and deakling, and had been an attempt to find some middle ground with the administration, which upon losing the majority in that thumpin' last November got the fiscal responsibility religion and joined a cult with some weird ideas. Bush wanted $10.6 Billion cut from the spending bills passed by the House last summer, while simultaneously addign emergency funds for the State Department and for border security, a pet issue of the Republican party.

Obey is not just directing his anger at the Bush administration, but at his congressional colleagues as well, especially Steny Hoyer, whose comments last week suggested a trade-off was in the works - war funds for domestic spending.

Liberal blogs - mine included - went nuts

In order for the bill to ratchet down to the spending levels Resident Evil™ would sign would have required cuts that would have effectively frozen many agencies spending levels at 2007 levels. Obey said, in effect, "fuck that notion." Okay - what he really said was
“If we’re going to lose we might as well lose with clarity so that people understand who is responsible for those inadequate investments,” the combative Obey said. “And if you take those bills down to the president’s level, it is very hard for me to understand how earmarks can survive. It’s not a threat. It’s a reality. Win or lose, we have to move on,” Obey said. “I don’t want to chew last year’s cud 15 more times. I’m willing to win. I’m willing to lose fair and square. I just want to cut the bull gravy and get to the bottom line.”

Democrats caution that Obey's strident stand is not mere posturing. There is a growing impatience both among the anti-war Democrats in Congress and among constituents in everyones district.

Good for Obey - if there is only one set of stones in Congress, I'm glad they belong to the guy who chairs Appropriations. And I wish the entire Democratic side of the aisle would have breakfast tomorrow from that same box of Wheaties. Maybe if they did, they could truly give aWol what I want to give him for Christmas...a stroke.

[That's all...]

There's more: "Obey Stands Up...Again" >>

No Moral Compass: Pelosi, Democrats, & the WP Revelations

Crossposted at Invictus, Docudharma, & Daily Kos

Notoriously (depending upon your point of view), this past weekend the Washington Post published an article revealing that a number of top Democrats and Republicans were briefed in September 2002 on CIA interrogation methods. They were "given a virtual tour of the CIA's overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk." The reported techniques are said to have included waterboarding.

Yesterday, Pelosi released a statement clarifying what happened from her perspective. This must have shocked even a little those Democratic Party stalwarts, but no, as we'll see, their Nancy can make no mistake. She was, you see... helpless.


All of this comes in the wake of recent revelations on the machinations of the Bush/Cheney clique and how they have cozened their favorite torture techniques over the years. There was the revelation of secret memos authorizing torture in 2005. There was last weeks report on the destruction of video tapes of the torture of al-Queda suspect Abu Zubaydah. Before all that, there have been years of exposes on waterboarding, sensory deprivation, secret renditions to foreign torture chambers, training of foreign torturers, a CIA handbook of torture and the history of its development... it goes on and on.

Pelosi Releases a Statement

Now, Spencer Ackerman over at TPMmuckraker has published Pelosi's latest statement on her CIA 2002 briefing. Is it meant to stanch the growing controversy, or a someday prosecution?

"On one occasion, in the fall of 2002, I was briefed on interrogation techniques the Administration was considering using in the future. The Administration advised that legal counsel for the both the CIA and the Department of Justice had concluded that the techniques were legal.

"I had no further briefings on the techniques. Several months later, my successor as Ranking Member of the House Intelligence Committee, Jane Harman, was briefed more extensively and advised the techniques had in fact been employed. It was my understanding at that time that Congresswoman Harman filed a letter in early 2003 to the CIA to protest the use of such techniques, a protest with which I concurred."

Let's summarize: Pelosi admits she was briefed in 2002 on CIA "interrogation techniques" (she doesn't elaborate), and that both CIA and DoJ had concluded they were "legal". Pelosi says nothing about the Washington Post reporting about briefings concerning CIA overseas detention sites -- were these the "secret prisons" not exposed publically until November 2005 by Dana Priest at the (now reviled by Pelosi defenders) Washington Post? (The story first came out via Amnesty International.)

"No further briefings on the techniques"... but what about the program in general, Nancy? Then there is the revelation that it was Harman that was advised the techniques were "employed". Harman's (classified) letter of protest was something with which Pelosi "concurred." How, why, or when Pelosi concurred she saw not fit to elbow into her two paragraph explanation.

The Powerlessness of Power

Meanwhile, the standard apologia for Pelosi, Senate Intelligence Committee chair Jay Rockefeller, and other Democrats made privy to CIA crimes is that they were powerless to protest because their actions were stifled by national security secrecy provisions. This is the thesis of MediaFreeze at Daily Kos, who sees it all as a clever GOP trap, now sprung five years later:

Back in 2002 around the one year anniversary of 9/11, when the nation was being whipped up in a froth of warmongering and hatred, a very very short list of Democrats where given a super secret briefing on the Thug's plans to torture some people. Since it was classified they couldn't tell anyone else about it. Who knows what they were told, but it was enough to make them complicit. That was the intent of the briefing. It was a torture trap. (emphasis in original)
Here's a different take from Phoenix Woman, also at Daily Kos on the general powerlessness of the minority party, which tied Nancy's hands:

Again, this was 2003....

There wasn't much else she could do, especially under the House rules that were in effect then, which essentially stripped the minority party of any power. (The Democrats, either generously or foolishly, undid those rules when they took over this January, which is one reason why the Republicans currently have such blocking power even in the minority.)

Glenn Greenwald, whose blog sits on Kos's own blogroll, questions much of this CHA (cover her ass) bloviating:

I continue to be amazed and disturbed by the number of people willing to defend the actions of Rockefeller and his comrades by claiming that these poor, victimized Congressional members just have no ability to do anything when they learn about outright lawbreaking by the administration. As I asked yesterday, why would they even bother to attend briefings if they believed that they were "powerless" to act even upon learning of serious illegalities? Here is the central purpose of the Select Committee on Intelligence -- the primary reason it exists, as stated by the resolution which created the Committee:

It is further the purpose of this resolution to provide vigilant legislative oversight over the intelligence activities of the United States to assure that such activities are in conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United States.

The Intelligence Committees were created as a response to the discovery in the 1970s of illegal conduct by the CIA and other intelligence agencies. The core function is to monitor what the intelligence community does and to "assure that such activities" are legal. It is a complete travesty for the senior Democrats on those Committees (and their apologists) to claim that they are powerless to act when learning of lawbreaking.

Reformism and Torture, With a Nod to to the APA

It has not gone unnoticed in some quarters that the Democrats, with some GOP allies (like Chuck Hagel), have a bill currently in Congressional Conference Committee that seeks to ban all "harsh interrogation techniques" in favor of adherence by all U.S. entities, such as the CIA, to the current practices of the Army Field Manual.

When Sharon Brehm, current president of the American Psychological Association wrote a letter to the New York Times supporting the current Congressional bill, some at APA felt that organization had finally made a turn toward seriously opposing U.S. torture policy. I have no link, but my copy shows President Brehm writing:

I applaud this week’s vote of the House and Senate conference committee on the intelligence authorization bill to outlaw harsh interrogation tactics and to require all U.S. interrogators to abide by the Army Field Manual when questioning suspected high-level terrorists (The New York Times, Dec. 6). This requirement would make clear once and for all that “waterboarding” and several other “enhanced” interrogation techniques are illegal.

It is deplorable that the White House is already threatening to veto this measure, should it pass the full House and Senate. Harsh interrogation techniques are not only illegal they are ineffective. Effective interrogations are based on establishing trust and building rapport with the subject, whose human dignity is preserved. As one World War II interrogator recently told the Washington Post, "We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture."

The position of the American Psychological Association is that any and all harsh interrogation tactics, including so-called “no-touch torture” and “torture light,” constitute torture and are always unethical. It is our fervent hope that the conference committee’s proposed prohibition will soon be extended to all interrogators acting on behalf of the United States, whether military or CIA.

But as I wrote to a member of an APA listserv:

In the latest letter, APA says nothing about indefinite detention (and neither does the new bill). Indefinite detention, of course, feed right into the Army Field Manual (AFM) technique of "futility". It is good that APA says that it opposes "torture-lite", but it does so while politically supporting a resolution that would enshrine torture-lite, via the AFM. It is this kind of obfuscation that is precisely why one has learned not to trust practically anything that comes out of Washington these days, whether Congress, or APA HQ.

The problem with attacking so-called "harsh" techniques before stopping psychological types of torture is that it misinforms the public, and feeds into the idea that "torture-lite" kinds of coercive treatment, such as sensory and sleep deprivation, and isolation, are in fact not as bad as the "harsh" kind. The political manifestation of this is the kind of bill now in conference committee, a bill, by the way, certain to face a Bush veto, and, surviving that, the kinds of signing statements Bush has made the hallmark of his regime.

Those complicit in earlier forms of torture and coercive interrogation, e.g., the Democrats and the APA, are trying to insulate themselves against the growing scandal that is U.S. torture, while also preserving CIA-approved forms of earlier coercive interrogation that centers around the old isolation and sensory deprivation paradigm of the KUBARK manual. (Harsher methods can be obtained via secret extraordinary renditions to foreign prisons, which apparently still go on unabated.)

The Compass Points to Moral and Political Degradation

The issue of covering up complicity brings me back to where this article began: the gyrations by Pelosi, Rockefeller, and much of the rest of the Democratic leadership and their supporters around the country, especially among the pro-Democratic "netroots".

I ask the latter: where is your moral compass? If Bush didn't care who he tortured, as long as he maintains power for his administration and the corporations and contractors that prosper from the hogfeed that is the "war on terror", then how are the Democrats any different if in the name of electoral success evidence of complicity in inhumane forms of behavior is ignored. The saliency is only enhanced when one realizes I'm talking about the leader of the Democratic Party, second in line to the Presidency, and the leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee, among others.

Pelosi's admissions over the weekend show that her participation in briefings on torture are not a "CIA smear", or the lies of CIA old-time hack Porter Goss. But not all Democrats are sleeping on this -- though I've heard no outrage from Congressional members themselves, as yet. For instance, there was this excellent piece by Deep Harm over at Daily Kos. And a hat tip to shpilk, also at Daily Kos, for his referencing of Jonathan Turley on the concatenation of scandals around torture, executive power, and Congressional capitulation that have surrounded the revelations around waterboarding (the Mukasey nomination), destruction of CIA torture tapes, and the briefings to Congressional leaders:

The news would serve to explain why the Democrats have repeatedly act to protect the White House from a showdown on torture. The most obvious and distressing example was when Sens. Chuck Schumer and Diane Feinstein saved Attorney General Michael Mukasey from having to admit that waterboarding is torture. The Democrats clearly do not want to have such a moment, which would trigger an investigation (and possible impeachment proceeding) where they own knowledge would be revealed.

Voters are likely to look harshly on the fact that their leaders knew of a criminal act and failed to reveal it — while professing disgust at the notion of torture....

If true, the knowledge of Democratic leaders shows a deep disconnect and possible dishonesty between our representatives and the voters. In many ways, this will be the test of our political system. If the public returns to its prior slumber after this story, there is little hope for a system that seems to replicate this type of conduct.

Over the weekend, I saw the movie The Golden Compass with my young daughter. In the movie, the evil Marisa Coulter (played by Nicole Kidman) explains to her daughter that some of the evil she does to others -- brainwashing and even killing young children -- is defensible because it's done in the name of some (peculiarly defined) good. This is the morality of the Bush Administration, and it appears to be the morality, too, of much of the leadership of their opponents in the Democratic Party. If one crime is one of commission, the other is one of ommission.

Pelosi and Rockefeller Should Step Down

Let not those who profess progressive politics and really want to change this country sit back in silence or disbelief and let this kind of betryal stand. Now is the time to change things. Not tommorrow. Not in November 2008. Not in some other lifetime. If we fail to speak out now, our acquiescence weakens the entire progressive cause, and all the elections in the world will not make such a stain any cleaner, or go away.

We could start by asking for the resignation from the Speakership of Nancy Pelosi, and the resignation from the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairmanship of John D. Rockefeller.

There's more: "No Moral Compass: Pelosi, Democrats, & the WP Revelations" >>

Obey tells White House to stick its spending bill

Wisconsin's Dave Obey, the House Appropriations chair, is never one to mince words.

He's famous for his explosive language and telling it like it is, even on the House floor.

He's got a temper (not that there's anything wrong with that.) And he hates to be pushed around.

So it should be no surprise that Obey has pulled the plug on the deal the Democrats were working on with the White House, to pour billions more into Iraq in return for some domestic pork.
The Washington Post reports:

A Democratic deal to give President Bush some war funding in exchange for additional domestic spending appeared to collapse last night after House Appropriations Committee Chairman David R. Obey (D-Wis.) accused Republicans of bargaining in bad faith.

Instead, Obey said he will push a huge spending bill that would hew to the president's spending limit by stripping it of all lawmakers' pet projects, as well as most of the Bush administration's top priorities. It would also contain no money for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"When the White House continues to stick it in our eye, I say to hell with it," House Appropriations Chairman David Obey. He said he will push a stripped-down spending bill.
Whether he can make it stick is another question. As chairman, he has a lot of clout. But too many Democrats seem far to ready to wheel and deal and sell us out on the war, as noted here on Saturday.

But Obey, at least, has had enough. He sounds ready to dig in for the long haul -- unless his caucus undermines him, which would not be a shock. Back to the Post:

House Democratic leaders were scheduled to complete work last night on a $520 billion spending bill that included $11 billion in funding for domestic programs above the president's request, half of what Democrats had initially approved. The bill would have also contained $30 billion for the war in Afghanistan, upon which the Senate would have added billions more for Iraq before final congressional approval.

But a stern veto threat this weekend from White House budget director Jim Nussle put the deal in jeopardy, and Obey said he is prepared for a long standoff with the White House.

"If anybody thinks we can get out of here this week, they're smoking something illegal," he said.
A timely call to your representative in the House would be in order, asking him/her to do the right thing and refuse to support any Iraq appropriations that are not tied to troop withdrawals.

Call the House Switchboard 202-224-3121

Or go here to find email and phone for your representative.

There's more: "Obey tells White House to stick its spending bill" >>

Throw Out The Hyenas of the Ruling Class

Is there anyone out there who still harbors the delusion that George Bush or most of his administration possesses the slightest shred of human integrity or the tiniest morsel of respect for the truth, for law, for the people of this country or any other?

Sorry, the question was rhetorical and asked out of personal frustration with the evil festering stew of lies, theft, brutality and domestic and international piracy that this administration has created in the place of what was once the USA.

No, I'm not naive enough to believe that we were ever a perfect country, free of guilt from participation in many and various Machiavellian schemes and plots over the last two centuries, the influence of the power lusts of private wealth have always had far too much influence in our public affairs to allow us to avoid responsibility for the results of our contributions to the general level of human misery. We have committed serious crimes against people in places as varied as Vietnam and Chile, and as far apart in space and time as Nicaragua and Iran.

In the generally business driven efforts to support the interests of entities such as United Fruit, Chiquita Banana, Anaconda, various oil giants, mining companies, and financial institutions we have gone to bat for tin horn dictators in Iran, Cuba, Chile, Cambodia and in other places to numerous to name here. Even the Mafia found support in the efforts to prop up the fascist pig Batista against communist pig Castro.

Much of our record has not been pretty and, in general, has usually favored and supported wealth and property over humanity and justice.

Revelations last week of more administration lies in the widening "Waterboardgate" scandal came as no surprise to most people and, although many expressed shock and dismay in public, the expressions of astonishment seemed to be presented for dramatic effect rather than as spontaneous displays of true emotion. When it comes to the current administration I don't believe that there are many rose colored glasses left among the body politic, experience having taught us to assume the worst.

Even the families of the long suffering military who have borne the brunt of the aspirations to Empire of America's transparently criminal ruling class over the last seven years are now beginning to break ranks with the "commander" who has squandered the lives of their loved ones treated them with such contempt.

I suppose that what depresses me and, in truth, causes me the greatest fear is the fact that the oligarchic forces of fascistic wealth have effectively bought out the opposition which showed it's true face last month with the passage of the "Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act," one of the most frightening pieces of legislation since the "Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798."

This legislative abomination, added to the so called "Patriot Act," and last year's "Military Commissions Act" helped to spell the end of any pretense to adherence to constitutional principle and democratic rule in this country.

The forces which have so cynically manipulated public opinion to bring about the death of democracy have always been with us and have, at various times, risen and ebbed as evil tides, of "red scares," "commie menaces," of "outside agitators," and the currently in vogue "Islamofascism," a term popularized by some Goebbelian marketing wonk in the bowels of Dick Cheney's office and pressed forward by money driven waves of irrational fear, and the malignant energy of powerful and pathologically dishonest men.

With the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, caused in large measure by the abdication of reason by rank and file Democrats, the racist and anti-democratic march to plutocracy, halted and long delayed since the thirties by the common blessings of FDR's "New Deal," was born again, hidden behind thinly disguised code words like "silent majority," "hard hats," or "family values."

The incubation of this poisonous philosophical monstrosity did not begin to reach it's full virulence until large measures of neo-conservative and rabid theocratic ingredients stirred into the mix at the millennium, at which point those who most despised the Constitution and the rule of law were then able, due to a perfect storm of world events, a combination of public dread and apathy, congressional and judicial meekness, and the complete corporate takeover of the fourth estate, to seize control of the very government they long held in such contempt and begin it's thorough looting, dismantlement and replacement with corporate rule.

Now we have a Department of Agriculture run by agribusiness, the Mine Safety and Health Administration run by corporate mining interests, a Department of Energy thoroughly in the control of multinational oil and gas and coal conglomerates, a health care system run by the insurance and drug industries and on and disgustingly on through every federal department and agency.

The takeover has been so complete and the parties involved so incredibly powerful that the Congress and the courts have, in large measure, knelt in fear and supplication before them as evidenced by the aforementioned "legislation" that would have been laughed out of the halls of congress four decades ago.

But as cowardly as the courts, the congress and the media have become, their cowardice is overshadowed by their addiction to the corporate feed bags of their campaign contributors and advertisers. The lure of hundreds of millions of dollars draws them to the putrid feast like hyenas to the sun ripened carcass of a wildebeest and in their lust to feed at the feet of the ruling class they have lost all sense of shame, all sense of the wretched aroma of their own corruption.

On the horizon looms an election, now entering it's second painful year, in which nearly two dozen of our most respected flimflams have pandered to the National Association of Manufacturers, the health lobby, the defense lobby, the insurance and energy lobbies along with anyone else who will pay them to turn a trick.

By the time the general election is held just under a year from now the various moneyed interests will have spent nearly a billion dollars to place their man or woman on the puppet throne of public policy and the big dance will go on, the music, the lyrics and the tempo unchanged no matter which "party" is elected to represent their masters in industry.

Looking for solutions? So am I. Finding any? I know of only one.

Write, call, speak out, raise bloody hell, make noise and lots of it. The people who rule will never willingly give up control, they will always strive for more, for absolute control, it is their nature as a class. They will never willingly remove the economic and political shackles they have devoted so much effort to place on the "lesser" classes, they will be satisfied with nothing but total slavery, the complete exploitation of the world's working people, it is the nature of their class. The people must seize power using many of the same methods employed in shedding the British yoke at the end of the eighteenth century.

In the short term, I will vote for any Democrat over any Republican, even if I have to hold my nose, and when we elect them we must hold their feet to the fire constantly, without letup, to insure a return to open and honest democratic government.

In the longer term we have to insist on the immediate passage of public campaign financing, we must place severe limits on the the ability of corporations to stand above the law and avoid responsibility for their crimes and get rid of the revolving door between elected office and the lobbying industry, and the corporate boardroom. We must enact extremely tough ethics rules for elected and appointed public officials and include within them mandatory jail time commensurate with the seriousness of the crime, in other words, treat violations of the public trust as the treasonous acts that they are.

Along the way we have to seriously revise or reverse much of the misguided and flat out dangerous legislation of this dark era of the neo conservative robber barons and build a new era of progressive populism in which the people truly rule, unencumbered by the tyranny of a cynical and self serving ruling class.

Bob Higgins
Worldwide Sawdust

Lying Down with Hyenas

There's more: "Throw Out The Hyenas of the Ruling Class" >>

Monday, December 10, 2007

What will be Muqtada al-Sadr's next move?

Three months ago, Iraqi nationalist and Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr ordered his 60,000 strong Mahdi Army to stand down for six months and not attack American forces during that time. Sectarian violence and American casualties have both dropped as a result of the stand down. In the intervening time not much has been heard from him.

Last week he issued a vehemently anti-American statement. "Get out of our land," he wrote on Friday. "We don't need you or your armies, the armies of darkness; not your airplanes, tanks, policies, meddling, democracy, fake freedom." Still, he told his increasingly impatient followers to continue to stand down, and take no actions beyond praying in a Mosque for two hours after sundown.

Now, American forces and Iraqis alike await with bated breath his next move. He stands at something of a precipice. What he does next could fundamentally alter his relationship with his followers, who are increasingly impatient with the arming of their Sunni rivals by American forces, as well as with other Iraqi leaders.

[Keep Reading...]

From McClatchy:

Nevertheless, said Hazem al Araji, an aide to Sadr, the Mahdi Army ceasefire is likely to extend beyond the planned six months. While this would please U.S. commanders and many Iraqis, it would bolster Sadr only if his followers agree that they're likely to gain more by keeping their weapons in their closets than they are by pulling them out again.

"There is an entity in the Sadr trend that doesn't want the freeze," said Sheik Naza al Timini, a Sadr cleric in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, south of Baghdad. "They said, 'We have the right to use violence and force.' We always hope for good, and we hope that the decision of Sayed Muqtada will be for the best of Iraq, but after he gives his final decision about the future of the Mahdi Army, many, I believe, will change their ideology and choose to leave the Sadr trend."

"What he did was basically pull the rug out — 'You can continue acting as the mafia, as the mob, but not in my name,' " said Peter Harling, a Sadr expert at the International Crisis Group. "It worked remarkably well, but I don't know how sustainable this can be. (His followers) appear extremely frustrated, willing to comply with Muqtada's decision, but not for very long."

If Sadr should recant on the ceasefire - or lose control of his Mahdi Army to rebellious commanders - the result would likely be a return to sectarian violence, and that would make it difficult for the United States to continue drawing down forces to pre-Surge™ levels, especially if it brought a renewal of attacks against American forces.

United States military commanders have made a conscious effort to tone down their rhetoric and show al-Sadr respect by using the title "Sayed" before his name, and by referring to the cease fire as a pledge of honor. "Since we don't have a direct dialogue with him, this is our way of reaching out," said a U.S. military intelligence official.

"I hope he will go on like this, not fighting, but trying to use political means against Americans or against the government," said Kurdish legislator Mahmoud Othman.

Last Friday, after prayers in Sadr City, 300 women dressed in black from head-to-toe held signs and banners and moved slowly down a quiet, narrow street toward a billboard-sized portrait of the cleric. They were protesting the presence of American troops in their country, and the detention of hundreds of Iraqi Shiites who are loyal to al-Sadr.

"Anything that comes from Sayed Muqtada is good for us," said one of the protesting women, Hannah al Rubaye, using the honorific title for descendents of the prophet Mohammed. "After this step, we expect other orders from Sayed Muqtada. Patience has limits."

While everyone keeps a watchful eye toward Sayed Muqtada al-Sadr's next move, Iraqi politicians are pushing their own agendas, and al-Sadr's owm restless followers, are so far maintaining their allegiance. Tentatively.

There's more: "What will be Muqtada al-Sadr's next move?" >>

BushWars Inc. - We Finance Weapons For EVERYONE! No Money Down… EZ Payment Plan!

Cross-posted as a comment on Juan Cole's Informed Comment and my site - My Buffalo River Home:

From the USG Open Source Center translation of "an article from an opposition Afghanistan newspaper alleging that Washington it (sic) deploying Pakistani tribal levies against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.":

"When the White House attacked Afghanistan in 2001 and occupied this country, it dispersed the Taleban and Al-Qa'idah in the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. In the second phase, it maintained direct contacts with the senior leaders of this group. Therefore, America has been using Al-Qa'idah as a tool since the symbolic and self-made event on 11 September 2001."

What part of this doesn't the American public understand?

The U.S. Government is backing almost EVERYONE'S insurgencies in the Middle East. Even organizations that have goals diametrically opposed to the stated 'needs & goals' of U.S. foreign policy.

Two examples:

Hersh: U.S. Funds Being Secretly Funneled To Violent Al Qaeda-Linked Groups

New Yorker columnist Sy Hersh says the single most explosive element of his latest article involves an effort by the Bush administration to stem the growth of Shiite influence in the Middle East (specifically the Iranian government and Hezbollah in Lebanon) by funding violent Sunni groups.

Hersh says the U.S. has been pumping money, a great deal of money, without congressional authority, without any congressional oversight for covert operations in the Middle East where it wants to stop the Shiite spread or the Shiite influence.

Hersh says these funds have ended up in the hands of three Sunni jihadist groups who are connected to al Qaeda but want to take on Hezbollah.


"During his stint as NATO Supreme Commander (1997-2000), Wesley Clark was in permanent liaison with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Under Wesley Clark's command, NATO directly sponsored a terrorist paramilitary army, with links to Al Qaeda and the trans-Balkan narcotics trade."

That gem is from Project Censored (there's more about AQ, NATO and the West on their site): CIA Double Deals In Macedonia

Lets not forget the PKK and affiliated Kurdish rebels (BushCo WILL abandon them again too... already have.): Professor Cole on the topic

John Robb @ Global Guerrillas on the topic: How to bait Turkey Into A Regional War...

What we have going on globally are 'Straw' insurgencies. I mean... If we can't make peace with them... sell/give them weapons and money through back channels that destabilize their region, give them enough local social control to allow their group a modicum of western media coverage, and maybe NEXT YEAR (or the year after that...) we can make a boogey-organization out of their actions and cut one of those AC-130 gunships and a DynCorp air crew loose from the Horn of Africa (or the Colombian drug wars) to supress them, an organization we initially allowed to prosper.

Here's a writeup one of the (Weapons/Logistics) movers & shakers...
Central Asia, Middle East, Africa.

Victor Bout, the Russian Mobster/Former KGB officer whose Bosnian airline 'vanished' 200,000 AK-47s in Iraq which the Pentagon/CPA contracted for shipment to the Iraqi Security Forces:

All General Petraus had to say about that was essentially... 'The bookkeeping was bad'.

Petraeus blames bookkeeping for missing weapons
Thursday, August 9, 2007

Bookkeeping problems are to blame for the inability to account for nearly 200,000 weapons issued to Iraqi security forces, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said late Tuesday.

In Full @ Stars & Sripes

Bout has worked for the U.N., NATO in Kosovo (the KLA connection?), AND the Taliban.

Extrapolate!...At some point in recent history, Osama bin-Laden's buddies flew Victor Bout's air transport network.

We're dealing $$$ with the world's 'finest' thugs in the name of some dysfunctional 'democracy'. An affluent 'democracy' so dysfunctional & callous that can't even willingly supply housing for it's own disabled homeless INCLUDING veterans of their nasty little wars.

disabled homeless

Perhaps this is what the government has in mind for our Veterans:


Just add weapons and send 'em back into action.

Just like they do when they've seen one too many of their buddies blown to bloody mush and have to be medicated into submission.
Las Vegas Sun:

September 06, 2007
Rushed back to the front

Experts: A depressed soldier on a potentially dangerous drug needed more time

By Ed Koch and Mary Manning

A Las Vegas Army infantryman who was prescribed Prozac for depression and several weeks later killed himself in Iraq should have undergone at least three months of observation before returning to normal duties, psychiatrists and other medical experts said in interviews Wednesday.

Family and friends of Pfc. Travis Virgadamo say he told them he was prescribed daily doses of 12.5 milligram s of the anti depressant Prozac beginning in July. He died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound last Thursday outside of Baghdad, the military said.

Medical experts interviewed by the Sun said anyone given prescription anti depressants should be watched carefully and kept out of high-stress duty for at least three months. In Full

Blackwater maskedMore thugs, American thugs... Blackwater... Not just killers of 'in-the-way' Iraqi civilians but implicated in the smuggling of CPA Glock pistols to the Kurdish PKK and onward into the Turkish underworld.

This is one of the secretive parts of Henry Waxman's Blackwater investigantion we may NEVER hear about again.

"Officials in Washington said the smuggling investigation grew from internal Pentagon and State Department inquiries into U.S. weapons that had gone missing in Iraq. Turkish authorities protested to the U.S. in July that they had seized American arms from the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK, rebels." In full @ the WaPo Archive ($$$)

Another take @ McClatchy:

A former Blackwater employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the investigation includes a look at whether Blackwater shipped weapons from its Moyock headquarters to Iraq hidden in pallets wrapped tightly in shrink wrap.
"In December, the prosecutors obtained guilty pleas from two former Blackwater employees, Kenneth Wayne Cashwell of Virginia Beach, Va., and William Ellsworth "Max" Grumiaux of Clemmons, N.C. The men and their lawyers either refused to comment or did not return calls.

The court files are stingy on details of the crimes..."

"...the federal (Nb. criminal) investigation of Blackwater is proceeding behind closed doors," In Full

It's called feeding the voracious maw of the military industrial complex.
The only major "industrial industry" left in America.

You can thank twenty or more years of federal job non-creation negligence for this outcome.

The government's motto for all those years?

"The private sector will provide".

They did... for their corporate friends.

Meanwhile, Detroit and other American cities are becoming ghost towns.

Abandoned MI Home

We need a reality check here people.

FoMoCo sells a few cars...

But the REAL $$$ is in Hydrogen powered military UAVs.

Ford Powered UAV

I'll bet you wish they spent those R&D bucks on H-powered Excursion SUVs...

...But they won't. Unless the American people DEMAND IT.

That would require Americans to actually DO SOMETHING besides watching '24' & L.A. Law re-runs on the tell-unh-vision.

It will require MORE than simply voting for the hand-picked (just like Iraq) candidates offered up for U.S. presidency.

Truly unlikely, which leaves us rather permanently 'screwed' into war, and rumors of war...

--Da' Buffalo

There's more: "BushWars Inc. - We Finance Weapons For EVERYONE! No Money Down… EZ Payment Plan!" >>

We're winning in Iraq, and I'm the Prince of Wales

Finally, some good news from Iraq.

"We are winning," declared former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee...Former Sen. Fred Thompson of Tennessee said the U.S. "must prevail" in the war, and added, "... I believe that we are."

...Former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani ... said that the goal in Iraq should be a "victory for America."

The phrase was striking because Bush himself, who often touted the U.S. strategy for victory, recently dropped the word "victory" from his lexicon as part of an administration effort to avoid appearing to overstate progress.

Right, we're winning. Victory is just around the corner. And I am the Prince of Wales.

Excuse me, but I think this is where I came in.

Mission accomplished? Victory? Hardly.

Who's kidding whom?

At best, we have a temporary respite from escalating numbers of deaths and attacks in Iraq since the so-called surge began.

On Sunday, 23 civilian deaths were reported. On Saturday, 26. On Friday, 32. The worst day last week was Wednesday, with 45 killed. The weekly total: 202. Those are conservative numbers from a reliable source.

Thirty-seven US service members died in Iraq last month, the lowest monthly total since March 2006.

Lest anyone confuse those numbers with "victory," consider this sobering assessment:
BAGHDAD -- The U.S. troop buildup in Iraq was meant to freeze the country's civil war so political leaders could rebuild their fractured nation. Ten months later, the country's bloodshed has dropped, but the military strategy has failed to reverse Iraq's disintegration into areas dominated by militias, tribes and parties, with a weak central government struggling to assert its influence.

In the south, Shiite Muslim militias are at war over the lucrative oil resources in the Basra region. To the west, in Anbar province, Sunni Arab tribes that once fought U.S. forces now help police the streets and control the highways to Jordan and Syria. In the north, Arabs, Kurds and Turkmens are locked in a battle for the regions around Kirkuk and Mosul. In Baghdad, blast walls partition neighborhoods policed by Sunni paramilitary groups and Shiite militias.

"Iraq is moving in the direction of a failed state, a highly decentralized situation -- totally unplanned, of course -- with competing centers of power run by warlords and militias," said Joost Hiltermann of the International Crisis Group. "The central government has no political control whatsoever beyond Baghdad, maybe not even beyond the Green Zone."
The key word in the first paragraph of that story is "failed."

And that's the situation with US troop levels at their peak. A relative handful -- 5,000 of the 162,000 US forces -- are on their way home this month.

By next summer, 25,000 more are to come home under the plan put forward by Gen. David Patraeus. That would merely bring troop levels back to where they were before the surge -- and Patraeus has kept open the option of changing his mind, depending upon the security situation in Iraq.

At the absolute best, that leaves 130,000 US troops in Iraq next July.

Victory? Hardly.

There are plenty of words to describe the situation in Iraq, but victory is not one of them.

We've got to keep the pressure on, or we'll be hearing Hillary & Co. talking about "victory" in their next debate.

A real victory would consist of ending the war and bringing our troops home. That is not even up for discussion by the Republican candidates, except Ron Paul, and gets very little traction with the leading Demomcrats, either.

It's time to turn up the heat. Iraq Moratorium #4 on December 21 is a good place to start, but don't stop there. We've got to not only turn up the heat, but keep it on.

Or we should consider the solution proposed by Sen. George Aiken, a Vermont Republican, during the Vietnam war: Just declare victory and being the troops home.

That's the kind of victory we could all get behind.

There's more: "We're winning in Iraq, and I'm the Prince of Wales" >>

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A small thing to brighten vets' holidays

While we continue the long-term effort to end this senseless war, Veterans for Peace offers a small, inexpensive, and immediate thing we can do to brighten the holidays for veterans in VA hospitals around the country:


Thanks to Bush Administration cuts to the Veterans Administration (VA) budget in recent years, veterans recuperating at VA hospitals aren't even allowed long-distance time to call home to their families over the holidays. Will you chip in and help our nation's veterans be able to call their loved ones this holiday season?

CREDO Action (from Working Assets) and Veterans For Peace have teamed up again this year to repeat last year's successful delivery of phone cards to 148 VA hospitals around the country. Reports back from the VA hospitals were fantastic; to quote one volunteer who helped deliver the cards...

"The Vets were astounded. Two hours of phone time is like gold to them. Many a tear was shed. Thanks to you, the holidays will be happier for lonely veterans around the country."

We've used our relationship with Sprint to get a great long-distance rate on these cards -- 2.9 cents per minute. This means that your tax-deductible contribution of $10.50 will get two-hour phone cards into the hands of three deserving veterans this December. A contribution of $52.50 will get phone cards into the hands of fifteen veterans.

Show support for other veterans that need our help! Don't our nation's veterans deserve a chance to call their families this holiday season?

Click here to donate.

There's more: "A small thing to brighten vets' holidays" >>