Saturday, September 30, 2006

Who "aids and comforts" the enemy?

Consider this.

When The New York Times exposed the President's illegal NSA eavesdropping program there were many on the right who decried the reporters who had published this as possible recipients of the Pulitzer Prize for Treason, with some going as far as to say:

"I think what they did is worthy of jail."
Now consider this.

Under the new Detainee Bill the term "enemy combatant" has been redefined and is no longer just someone captured "during an armed conflict". It is now stated that an "enemy combatant" shall be anyone who George Bush decides has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States." That person can then be jailed, simply on the word of the Commander in Chief, and has no recourse through any courts to question that judgement - despite the fact that most people arrested and sent to Guantanamo have been released without ever being charged - a small matter that might bring some to question his judgement.

However, what is troubling is the very vague definition of what constitutes an "enemy combatant": Someone who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States."

Reporters from the New York Times have already been called treasonous by supporters of Bush and many of them called for these same reporters to be jailed. Indeed some, when discussing whoever had leaked the story of the illegal wiretapping, went considerably further:

When I say "treason" I don't mean it in an insulting or hyperbolic way. I mean in a literal way: we need to find these 21st century Julius Rosenbergs, these modern day reincarnations of Alger Hiss, put them on trial before a jury of their peers, with defense counsel. When they are found guilty, we should then hang them by the neck until the are dead, dead, dead.

No sympathy. No mercy.

Under this new legislation it is Bush himself who will get to decide just who constitutes a person who has "purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States."

This reminds me of Blair's attempt to outlaw "glorifying" terrorism. It's a term so vague that it can be applied very widely indeed.

Now we know that some of Bush's supporters want to hang people by the neck for exposing any illegal activity carried out by the administration, so I shudder to think how such people might define what constitutes "purposefully" supporting hostilities against the US.

Many people have already been accused of giving comfort to the enemy simply by reporting the truth of what is happening in Iraq, including the leaders of the Democratic Party.
How many of the enemy will fight rather than surrender, because Pelosi and Murtha have told them they're winning? How does that not give the enemy aid and comfort? Is that not treason?
Bush has now been handed an incredible amount of leeway in declaring who is and is not aiding and giving comfort to the enemy. His supporters appear to believe that this includes anyone who either reports his illegal activities or anyone who even questions whether the US is winning it's war in Iraq.

How long before offering any form of criticism becomes an act for which you can be imprisoned?

Much has been written about the foulness of the Detainee Act as it pertains to enemy combatants, but I think a discussion needs to be had on the fact that this Bush's right to jail people - without ever putting them in front of a court - now includes American citizens. Indeed, it includes any citizens anywhere in the world.

I am stunned that Congress has chosen to give this kind of power to a man whose supporters hold these views of Liberals:
"Americans cannot comprehend how their fellow countrymen could not love their country. But the left's anti-Americanism is intrinsic to their entire worldview. Liberals promote the right of Islamic fanatics for the same reason they promote the rights of adulterers, pornographers, abortionists, criminals, and Communists. They instinctively root for anarchy against civilization. The inevitable logic of the liberal position is to be for treason." -- Ann Coulter.
There. We are all traitors and our "inevitable logic" leads us "to be for treason".

Now I know that there is a difference between Bush and some of his more fanatic supporters but, nevertheless, this power has now been put into his hands and it is only by his beneficence that people who think the way we do have not been jailed as giving "aid and comfort" to the enemy.

At what point does the US cease to be a Democracy? And can I be jailed for asking that?

Olbermann Traces Bush Admin's Pre-9/11 Actions

Sheppard Smith clashes with Kristol on the War: it’s “repulsive” that Bush won’t do anything till after the election in Iraq.

And so it comes to this.

We now have the extraordinary sight of William Kristol being berated on Fox News, of all places, for admitting that more troops are needed in Iraq but that the President can't send them until after the November mid-terms.

The interviewer says that if he was the father of a child killed in Iraq between now and November he would be "raising Holy Hell". At this point Kristol seems to realise the hole he has dug for himself and stars backpedalling furiously.

But it's quite something to see Faux News admitting that the war in Iraq "isn't working".

Crooks and Liars have the video here.

White House Disputes Book's Report of Anti-Rumsfeld Moves

I said yesterday that I fully expected the Republican attack dogs to be set on Bob Woodward ahead of the publication of his new book which alleges that Bush ignored warnings over the need to send more troops to Iraq.

The White House now seem to have adopted a strategy of dismissing key parts of the book and dismissing the rest of it as somehow being "old news". It's similar to the way Snow wishes to deal with Clinton's allegations regarding bin Laden. They simply choose "not to engage".

"In a lot of ways, the book is sort of like cotton candy -- it kind of melts on contact," White House spokesman Tony Snow said at a briefing dominated by the topic. "We've read this book before. This tends to repeat what we've seen in a number of other books that have been out this year where people are ventilating old disputes over troop levels." Snow said it was well known that events in Iraq have been difficult and that officials have debated the right approach. "Rather than a state of denial," he said, "it's a state of the obvious."

"State of the obvious". It's a good line, but it doesn't go anywhere near addressing the points raised in Woodward's tome.

One of the most incendiary is the sheer amount of people who wanted Bush to remove Donald Rumsfeld from his post; Colin Powell, Condaleeza Rice and even Laura Bush all thought Rummy should go.

The book reports that then-White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. twice suggested that Bush fire Rumsfeld and replace him with former secretary of state James A. Baker III, first after the November 2004 election and again around Thanksgiving 2005. Card had the support of then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and his successor, Condoleezza Rice, as well as national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley and senior White House adviser Michael J. Gerson, according to the book.

Even first lady Laura Bush reportedly told Card that she agreed Rumsfeld had become a liability for her husband, although she noted that the president did not agree. "I don't know why he's not upset with this," she told Card, according to the book. But Vice President Cheney and senior Bush adviser Karl Rove argued against dumping Rumsfeld, and Bush agreed.

Apparently the reason given by Cheney and Rove was that the President might be criticised as the removal of Rumsfeld might imply that the war in Iraq was being fought in the wrong way.

Now, in my naivete, I would have thought that the decision on whether or not the Secretary of Defence should or should not be removed would have something to do with the good of the troops on the ground; it seems extraordinary to me that the decision is made with no consideration of the troops, but rather a lot of consideration on whether or not such a decision would embarrass the President.

It seems "the Decider" decides such important matters based solely on how it reflects on himself.

The other astonishing thing the book reveals is the staggering level of complacency exhibited by Condaleeza Rice.

The book also reports that then-CIA Director George J. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, grew so concerned in the summer of 2001 about a possible al-Qaeda attack that they drove straight to the White House to get high-level attention.

Tenet called Rice, then the national security adviser, from his car to ask to see her, in hopes that the surprise appearance would make an impression. But the meeting on July 10, 2001, left Tenet and Black frustrated and feeling brushed off, Woodward reported. Rice, they thought, did not seem to feel the same sense of urgency about the threat and was content to wait for an ongoing policy review.

The report of such a meeting takes on heightened importance after former president Bill Clinton said this week that the Bush team did not do enough to try to kill Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) said her husband would have paid more attention to warnings of a possible attack than Bush did. Rice fired back on behalf of the current president, saying the Bush administration "was at least as aggressive" in eight months as President Clinton had been in eight years.

It is also noteworthy that Rice has never given any details of these supposedly "aggressive" actions and that when she has given concrete examples in the past, they have turned out to be blatant lies.

It is also rather odd that this July 10 meeting is missing from the timeline reported by the 9-11 Commission. Is it because this meeting would shed bad light on to the administration? This certainly appears to be the impression held by J. Cofer Black.

Woodward wrote that Black "felt there were things the commissions wanted to know about and things they didn't want to know about."

Jamie S. Gorelick, a member of the Sept. 11 commission, said she checked with commission staff members who told her investigators were never told about a July 10 meeting. "We didn't know about the meeting itself," she said. "I can assure you it would have been in our report if we had known to ask about it."

White House and State Department officials yesterday confirmed that the July 10 meeting took place, although they took issue with Woodward's portrayal of its results. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, responding on behalf of Rice, said Tenet and Black had never publicly expressed any frustration with her response.

And it's a sad day when your best defence is "You've never mentioned this before!" which appears to be the tack Sean McCormack is taking regarding Tenet and Black's criticisms.

However, the overall impression of a White House in denial certainly corresponds to every public utterance Bush has made on the subject of Iraq. For the last three years it has been almost impossible to reconcile Bush's Iraq with any of the facts emanating from the ground.
"The president himself is out of touch with reality, is in denial as to what is happening in Iraq," Pelosi said. "That could be the only explanation for why he has withheld the truth to the American people."
I think Nancy is being overly generous in that reading. There are many other reasons for why the President could be withholding the truth. Not least of which is the competence of his entire administration.

The book is released next week.

Click title for full article.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Democrats See Strength in Bucking Bush

As the Bush administration pass one of the most dangerous and iniquitous laws ever in American history, the Democrats say that they feel confident about facing the American public in November's mid terms and feel sure that the public are as appalled by torture as they are.

Democratic opponents of the legislation said their political position was driven by a substantive determination that the bill, which creates rules for interrogating and trying terrorism suspects, is fundamentally flawed and a dangerous departure from founding American principles.

“The only reason to worry about the politics of it is if you don’t understand it and don’t have the guts to stand up and defend your vote,” said Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Democrat of Connecticut, who is considering a presidential race.

It was a stark change from four years ago, when Mr. Bush cornered Democrats into another defining pre-election vote on security issues — that one to give the president the authority to launch an attack against Iraq. At the time, many Democrats felt they had little choice politically but to side with Mr. Bush, and a majority of Senate Democrats backed him.

The Iraq vote of October 2002 was a subtext to the Senate debate on Thursday. Democrats pointed to the situation in Iraq as an example of what can happen when the Bush administration, in the charged atmosphere of an approaching Congressional election, is handed new power by a compliant Congress.

“After four years, the price we are paying is clear for saying to a president and an administration that we would trust you,” said Senator John Kerry, Democrat of Massachusetts, whose own vote on the war haunted his 2004 presidential campaign.

The Republicans are certain to attempt to portray the Democrats as fighting for terrorists rights, the Democrats now need to come out fighting to say loudly why this legislation is against everything that America stands for and will isolate the US more than ever.

Torture is not an American value, and the Republicans - and the few Democrats - who voted for this legislation deserve to be run out of office.

Party strategists have concluded, however, that Democrats can hold their own politically with Republicans on security issues and that voters no longer give Mr. Bush such wide latitude in the fight against terrorism. Democrats believe they can rebut the stinging attack to come by persuading Americans that the tribunal bill was rushed for political reasons and overturned basic rights like the ability to challenge one’s incarceration.

“I think most Americans would agree that if somebody is held they should at least be able to respond to the charges,” said Senator Barack Obama, Democrat of Illinois. “The fact we don’t have that is something that, over time, Americans are going to be embarrassed about.”

I really hope that Obama is right and that most Americans see through this shameful bill and the disgrace it brings upon their nation.

If they don't, then the US will no longer be said to be leading the world, as the civilised world won't want to follow the path down which they are being led.

There are many who have expressed the view that Bush is doing this merely as a tactic. I agree with this up to a point, but I also think he is motivated by a desire to make previous actions he took before Hamdan - when he believed Geneva did not apply - legal. There is no question that Bush has acted in ways contrary to the Geneva Conventions and that such behaviour is, in some cases, a war crime.

It is for this reason that I believe Bush seriously needed to pass this law. To cover his own ass, pure and simple.

Americans now need to state in November whether or not they find such despicable behaviour acceptable. If they decide they approve, the Statue of Liberty may as well hang her head in shame.

Click title for full article.

Book Says Bush Ignored Urgent Warning on Iraq

Bob Woodwards new book, "State of Denial", describes a White House at war with itself over the conflict in Iraq with Bush ignoring pleas from a top Iraq adviser who stated that thousands more troops were needed to combat the insurgency.

The book says President Bush’s top advisers were often at odds among themselves, and sometimes were barely on speaking terms, but shared a tendency to dismiss as too pessimistic assessments from American commanders and others about the situation in Iraq.

As late as November 2003, Mr. Bush is quoted as saying of the situation in Iraq: “I don’t want anyone in the cabinet to say it is an insurgency. I don’t think we are there yet.”

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld is described as disengaged from the nuts-and-bolts of occupying and reconstructing Iraq — a task that was initially supposed to be under the direction of the Pentagon — and so hostile toward Condoleezza Rice, then the national security adviser, that President Bush had to tell him to return her phone calls. The American commander for the Middle East, Gen. John P. Abizaid, is reported to have told visitors to his headquarters in Qatar in the fall of 2005 that “Rumsfeld doesn’t have any credibility anymore” to make a public case for the American strategy for victory in Iraq.

It's also interesting to note that Bush declined to be interviewed for this book having made himself freely available for the two preceding books by Woodward. It also describes the lengths that Cheney went to in order to "prove" that Iraq possessed WMD.

Vice President Cheney is described as a man so determined to find proof that his claim about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq was accurate that, in the summer of 2003, his aides were calling the chief weapons inspector, David Kay, with specific satellite coordinates as the sites of possible caches. None resulted in any finds.

It is known that Powell was ambivalent about Bush's plan to invade Iraq but what is surprising is Woodward's claim that George Tenet shared Powell's viewpoint, although it is claimed that Tenet did not make these views known to Bush.

What does promise to be explosive though, especially in the light of Clinton's claim that the Bush administration did not do enough to capture bin Laden prior to 9-11, are Woodward's claims regarding Rumsfeld and Rice:

Mr. Woodward writes that in the weeks before the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet believed that Mr. Rumsfeld was impeding the effort to develop a coherent strategy to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Mr. Rumsfeld questioned the electronic signals from terrorism suspects that the National Security Agency had been intercepting, wondering whether they might be part of an elaborate deception plan by Al Qaeda.

On July 10, 2001, the book says, Mr. Tenet and his counterterrorism chief, J. Cofer Black, met with Ms. Rice at the White House to impress upon her the seriousness of the intelligence the agency was collecting about an impending attack. But both men came away from the meeting feeling that Ms. Rice had not taken the warnings seriously.

It's a wonder that a man who thought al Qaeda were indulging in "an elaborate deception plan" and a woman who seemed not to take "the warnings seriously" should remain in their positions after the worst terrorist attack in US history, but that appears to be the story that Woodward is telling.

We can expect the Republican attack dogs to be set on Woodward any day now.

Take UK troops out of Iraq, senior military told ministers

As I reported yesterday British military commanders feel that the "British armed forces are effectively held hostage in Iraq" and are anxious that British troops should be withdrawn from Iraq and moved to Afghanistan where it is felt they would be of much more use.

"What is more important, Afghanistan or Iraq?" a senior defence source asked yesterday. "There is a group within the Ministry of Defence pushing hard to get troops out of Iraq to get more into Afghanistan."

Military chiefs have been losing patience with the slow progress made in building a new Iraqi national army and security services. Significantly, they now say the level of violence in the country will not be a factor determining when British troops should leave.

The debate has been raging between different groups in the MoD and has involved the chiefs of staff as well as the permanent joint headquarters, based in Northwood, north-west London, defence sources say. Army chiefs have expressed concern about opinion polls showing the increasing unpopularity of the war and the impact on morale and recruitment.

Political arguments, including strong US pressure against British troop withdrawals, have won, at least for the moment. US generals in Iraq privately made it clear they were deeply unhappy about British talk of troop reductions and complained that the British seemed interested only in the south of the country.

British troops are complaining about the length of time it is taking the new Iraqi army to stand up and take over in it's own role of protecting the Iraqi people. And it's hard not to sympathise with their point of view. I know Bush and Blair like to talk about "staying the course" but it is now over three years since the invasion, just how long does it take to train an Iraqi soldier?

Meanwhile, US commanders who have previously denied that Iraq is on the brink of civil war, have now complained that the new Iraqi government is failing to deal with sectarian death squads and that this failure may lead to.... civil war.

Other senior US officials have begun warning that if the Iraqi government does not take a lead in disarming the militias, the US military might have to do so.

Despite a massive military effort in Baghdad to clear no-go areas of militants, much of the effort has focused on strongholds of Sunni fighters, and has so far had no impact on the slaughter. Instead, a record 7,000 Iraqis have died in the last two months alone. To add to US gloom it was revealed yesterday that the Bush administration is spending $2bn (£1bn) a week on the campaign in Iraq.

It's taken long enough, but it's now possible to detect some distancing between the Bush and Blair government's official positions and that of their armed forces, just as yesterday we saw the same distancing between both governments and their respective intelligence agencies.

The British Army may be giving Afghanistan as the reason for wanting to leave Iraq - and that alone is unusual enough - but beneath this reasoning is an admission that they no longer appear to believe that the Iraq war is winnable.

The debate within the MoD is unusual: arguments about the size and shape of the defence budget are common, but arguments about the merits of military deployments overseas are much rarer.

The fierce debate at the highest military and political levels in the MoD is reflected in a passage of a leaked memo written by a staff officer at the Defence Academy, an MoD thinktank. It reads: "British armed forces are effectively held hostage in Iraq - following the failure of the deal being attempted by COS [chief of staff] to extricate UK armed forces from Iraq on the basis of 'doing Afghanistan' - and we are now fighting (and arguably losing or potentially losing) on two fronts."

It is a testament to the training and discipline of both the US and British armies that it has taken this long for any dissent in the ranks to break into the open.

However, the cracks are now discernible, just as they are amongst the intelligence communities.

Bush and Blair, it is now clear, have no plan to offer other than to "stay the course". A meaningless phrase that simply offers "more of the same".

It is now that we really see the folly of both men entering Iraq without a UN resolution. Recently, Blair went on an offensive asking for Nato to step up to the plate and meet it's responsibilities. The rest of the world stared at the table and offered zero support.

Bush, having declared that the US "doesn't need a permission slip from the UN", now finds it impossible to encourage other nations to join them in the battle. Britain and the US are, effectively, on their own out there.

Losing two wars on two fronts.

And, as far as I can see, neither Bush nor Blair have any real plan that will help their armed forces. "Stay the course" is not a plan, it is an attempt to turn stubbornness into a virtue.

The brave young men and women who volunteered to defend their respective countries from maximum danger deserved better than this.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Bush Blamed More Than Clinton for Failure to Capture Bin Laden

With Wallace's extraordinarily ill thought out attack on Clinton, and Condi's subsequent lies regarding what plans Clinton did or did not leave for the incoming administration, I thought it would be interesting to find out who the public are blaming for the failure to capture bin Laden: Clinton or Bush?

Gallup have recently conducted a poll and it confirms that Snow is right when he attempts "not to engage" with Clinton's argument because, as I said at the time, it's an argument he is certain to lose.

The recent firestorm over former President Bill Clinton's culpability for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks was fuelled on Tuesday when Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice contrasted President Bush's efforts to pursue al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden with Clinton's efforts. Clinton has strongly denied various suggestions that his administration missed key opportunities to kill bin Laden and left the Bush administration without a comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy. However, Bush -- whom Clinton says did nothing about al-Qaeda for the first eight months of his presidency -- has the bigger image problem with Americans on the issue.

According to a recent Gallup Panel survey, the American public puts the primary blame on Bush rather than Clinton for the fact that bin Laden has not been captured. A majority of Americans say Bush is more to blame (53%), compared with 36% blaming Clinton.

I still think Wallace will regret the way he, smirkingly, opened this disastrous debate. What was he thinking, that the public really were stupid enough to buy into his insane little talking point?

The Light goes out on "The Shining City on a Hill"

So, the Republicans have managed to push through their disgraceful new bill that allows the US to torture prisoners without fear of prosecution in American courts and to deny those same prisoners any right to question their detainment in front of those same American courts.

Some Republicans sought to defend this barbarity:

“We are dealing with the enemy in war, not defendants in our criminal justice system,” said Representative Duncan Hunter, Republican of California and chairman of the Armed Services Committee. “In time of war it is not practical to apply the same rules of evidence that we apply in civil trials or courts martial for our troops.”
Mr Hunter seems to be ignoring the fact that the way a nation treats it's prisoners defines how civilised that nation is. And that includes how fair are the trials that any nation gives to people it detains.
Leading Democrats said the approach would result in government-sanctioned mistreatment of detainees.

Fellow Democrats said the measure could be interpreted by other nations as reducing America’s commitment to the rights of prisoners of war.

“When our moral standing is eroded, our international credibility is diminished as well,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House.

Senator Carl Levin of Michigan, the senior Democrat on the Armed Services Committee, characterized the bill as the product of an administration that “has been relentless in its determination to legitimize the abuse of detainees.”

The stain on America's reputation by the passing of this bill will be impossible for most Americans to realise. The Republicans are not even attempting to hide what this bill actually means:

But Republicans argued repeatedly that the nation is facing a faceless and brutal enemy that lurks in the shadows, requiring a new way of thinking on the part of the United States and giving new importance to the ability to freely interrogate them.

The entire world will recognise this as what it is. A euphemism for torture. This is surely one of the darkest days in America's history. The day the light went out on Reagan's Shining City on a Hill.

Of course, like all Republican rifts, the rebellion of the "brave" Republican Senators who opposed this disgraceful legislation was predictably short-lived. As always, they fell into line very quickly.

Let us be very clear regarding what these Republicans have just legalised. Interrogation techniques that the rest of the civilised world regard as torture is now permitted in the US. People held on suspicion of terrorism, like the men at Guantanamo Bay - many of whom were subsequently released without charge - and cases like Maher Arar - the Canadian citizen sent to Syria to be tortured - will now have no right to challenge their imprisonment in American courts.

The Republicans once again, disgracefully, invoked the memory of 9-11 as they tore apart the ideals that made the US great.

House Republicans blocked Democrats from offering amendments, including one that would have extended the habeas corpus right to detainees. House Judiciary Committee Chairman F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) said terrorism suspects have enough rights without habeas corpus, including the right to a lawyer, to be presumed innocent, to cross-examine witnesses and to collect evidence. "Let's bring justice before the eyes of the children and widows of Sept. 11," he implored on the House floor.

But Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) said: "This is how a nation loses its moral compass, its identity, its values and, eventually, its freedom. . . . We rebelled against King George III for less restrictions on liberty than this." Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said the habeas corpus right is so fundamental that it "is un-American" to deny it to detainees held by U.S. forces.

As a British Lefty, I will admit that I have at times had great difficulty with some of America's actions across the globe, but I have never been anti-American. Indeed, quite the opposite. I believe the world needs America, but it needs the America that gave the world the Marshall Plan, the America that stood for higher ideals and a fairer planet.

With the passing of this legislation that America is lost to all of us. What is exceptional about an America that locks people up in Russian style Gulags and denies them the right to challenge their imprisonment? What is the difference between this America and rogue nations that routinely use torture?

If there is any difference, then it is one of degrees where once there was a chasm. Bush and the neo-cons have taken official US behaviour much nearer to that of the regimes that the US used to routinely condemn than even a British Lefty like myself would have believed possible.

And that's not just the US's loss, that's a loss for all of us.

Reagan must be turning in his grave.
"For we must consider that we shall be as a city upon a hill, the eyes of all people are upon us; so that if we shall deal falsely with our God in this work we have undertaken, and so cause Him to withdraw His present help from us, we shall shame the faces of many of God's worthy servants, and cause their prayers to be turned into curses . . ."
Click title for full article.


There is a superb New York Times editorial on this subject that is a must read.

Some clips to give you a taster:
Here’s what happens when this irresponsible Congress railroads a profoundly important bill to serve the mindless politics of a midterm election: The Bush administration uses Republicans’ fear of losing their majority to push through ghastly ideas about antiterrorism that will make American troops less safe and do lasting damage to our 217-year-old nation of laws — while actually doing nothing to protect the nation from terrorists. Democrats betray their principles to avoid last-minute attack ads. Our democracy is the big loser.

Republicans say Congress must act right now to create procedures for charging and trying terrorists — because the men accused of plotting the 9/11 attacks are available for trial. That’s pure propaganda. Those men could have been tried and convicted long ago, but President Bush chose not to. He held them in illegal detention, had them questioned in ways that will make real trials very hard, and invented a transparently illegal system of kangaroo courts to convict them.

These are some of the bill’s biggest flaws:

Enemy Combatants: A dangerously broad definition of “illegal enemy combatant” in the bill could subject legal residents of the United States, as well as foreign citizens living in their own countries, to summary arrest and indefinite detention with no hope of appeal. The president could give the power to apply this label to anyone he wanted.

The Geneva Conventions: The bill would repudiate a half-century of international precedent by allowing Mr. Bush to decide on his own what abusive interrogation methods he considered permissible. And his decision could stay secret — there’s no requirement that this list be published.

Habeas Corpus: Detainees in U.S. military prisons would lose the basic right to challenge their imprisonment. These cases do not clog the courts, nor coddle terrorists. They simply give wrongly imprisoned people a chance to prove their innocence.

Judicial Review: The courts would have no power to review any aspect of this new system, except verdicts by military tribunals. The bill would limit appeals and bar legal actions based on the Geneva Conventions, directly or indirectly. All Mr. Bush would have to do to lock anyone up forever is to declare him an illegal combatant and not have a trial.

Coerced Evidence: Coerced evidence would be permissible if a judge considered it reliable — already a contradiction in terms — and relevant. Coercion is defined in a way that exempts anything done before the passage of the 2005 Detainee Treatment Act, and anything else Mr. Bush chooses.

Secret Evidence: American standards of justice prohibit evidence and testimony that is kept secret from the defendant, whether the accused is a corporate executive or a mass murderer. But the bill as redrafted by Mr. Cheney seems to weaken protections against such evidence.

Offenses: The definition of torture is unacceptably narrow, a virtual reprise of the deeply cynical memos the administration produced after 9/11. Rape and sexual assault are defined in a retrograde way that covers only forced or coerced activity, and not other forms of nonconsensual sex. The bill would effectively eliminate the idea of rape as torture.

•There is not enough time to fix these bills, especially since the few Republicans who call themselves moderates have been whipped into line, and the Democratic leadership in the Senate seems to have misplaced its spine. If there was ever a moment for a filibuster, this was it.

We don’t blame the Democrats for being frightened. The Republicans have made it clear that they’ll use any opportunity to brand anyone who votes against this bill as a terrorist enabler. But Americans of the future won’t remember the pragmatic arguments for caving in to the administration.

They’ll know that in 2006, Congress passed a tyrannical law that will be ranked with the low points in American democracy, our generation’s version of the Alien and Sedition Acts.

Bush is hit by "triple whammy"

With Bush forced to release parts of the National Intelligence Estimate yesterday in an attempt to play down the news that the Iraq war has aided rather than hindered the war on terror according to 16 intelligence sources, the news out of Britain must have been the last thing he wanted to hear.

A paper prepared for a Ministry of Defence think tank has just been leaked in Britain claiming that the Iraq war has acted as a "recruiting sergeant" for extremists in the Muslim world.

"The war in Iraq ... has acted as a recruiting sergeant for extremists across the Muslim world ... Iraq has served to radicalise an already disillusioned youth and al-Qaida has given them the will, intent, purpose and ideology to act."
The timing of the leak seems designed to tie in with the leaks from the National Intelligence Estimate, and leads to the unavoidable conclusion that intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic have come to a similar conclusion towards the Iraq war.

The British leaked document states that "The wars in Afghanistan and particularly Iraq have not gone well and are progressing slowly towards an, as yet, unspecified and uncertain result."
The paper said British army chiefs had pressed the government to move their troops from Iraq to concentrate on Afghanistan, but failed to win approval. "British armed forces are effectively held hostage in Iraq," it said.
To have two such reports leaked within a few days of each other is unprecedented and is indicative of two intelligence agencies distancing themselves from the mistakes of their political masters.

However, as Bush scrambles to maintain his line that Iraq is a vital part of the war on terror he is about to be hit by a triple whammy.

A new UN report appears to back the other two leaked reports by claiming that "the Iraq war was providing al Qaeda with a training center and fresh recruits, and was inspiring a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan hundreds of miles away."
"New explosive devices are now used in Afghanistan within a month of their first appearing in Iraq," it said. "And while the Taliban have not been found fighting outside Afghanistan/Pakistan, there have been reports of them training in both Iraq and Somalia."
So as Bush attempts to convince American voters ahead of the mid term elections that the leaked portions of the National Intelligence Estimate were misleading and "political", he must now also explain why a similar conclusion has been reached by both British intelligence and the UN.

Bush and Blair's almost incessantly upbeat readings of the situation in Iraq have always stretched credence almost to breaking point.

It would now appear, that for intelligence agencies at least, that breaking point has, at last, been reached.

Tony Snow defended the Bush administrations position by "staying the course" with an argument that was crumbling around him:

Spokesman Tony Snow insisted during a combative session with reporters that the United States and allies had made great gains against al Qaeda, including taking out key leaders, taking away a safe haven in Afghanistan and attacking its financial support.

He said even if the United States had not been fighting the Iraq war, the threat from Islamic extremists would still exist, given the attacks attributed to al Qaeda before September 11.

Snow is attempting a sleight of hand that ignores the central charge against the administration. The argument is not whether or not a threat from Islamic extremists would still exist even if the US had not invaded Iraq, the argument is whether or not the war in Iraq has increased or diminished that threat.

The overwhelming view of the intelligence communities, across the world it seems, is that the war in Iraq has increased the threat from terrorism and made us less safe.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Fmr. Col. Says U.S. Conducting Military Operations In Iran

CNN interviews Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner (Ret.) said, "We are conducting military operations inside Iran right now. The evidence is overwhelming."

Gardiner, who taught at the U.S. Army's National War College, has previously suggested that U.S. forces were already on the ground in Iran. Today he added several additional new points.

The Bush Administration has made us less safe. Period.

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH): "I think it's important to say this administration clearly has made the united states less safe, and as citizens of this country, we can't be afraid to say that. They have made us less safe, period, dot."

The lies of Condi Rice

Bhc, has a great post (covering work also done at Martini Republic) which details the sheer size of the lies currently being spouted by Condi Rice. As he rightly says, it's so untrue it's probably actionable.

Here's a taster:

Within days after taking office, National Counterterrrorism Director Richard Clarke left a memorandum for then National Security Advisor Rice summarizing the responses to al Qaeda which had been formulated to respond the threat of al Qaeda and the Cole attack, which had been linked to the terrorist group in late 2000.

More importantly, attached to Clarke’s Memorandum was the very thing Rice now denies she was given: a 13 page document entitled, Strategy for Eliminating Jihadist Networks of al Qida.
Click title for full article.

Intelligence report blow to Bush's war on terror

Oh, what has Chris Wallace done!

As I reported yesterday, 9-11 has been the one thing that the Democrats have not been able to attack Bush on, as to do so would have been to play "partisan politics" with America's greatest ever terrorist outrage. Then Wallace, in a moment of extreme foolishness, attempted to lay the blame at Clinton's door and allowed Clinton to do what has, up until now, been totally out of bounds: to question Bush's record on the subject.

This has forced the Republicans to mount their defence.

Bush's decided yesterday to declassify a small portion of a leaked National Intelligence Estimate in an attempt to limit the damage done by it's partial leaking over the weekend. The only problem for Bush is that the declassified section doesn't appear to be making the case he would like it to make.

But Mr Bush's "war on terror" narrative was contradicted by the report.

"The Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success [in Iraq] would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," it said.

"The Iraq conflict has become the 'cause celebre' for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world. If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide."

The report, reflecting a consensus of 16 intelligence agencies, acknowledged some US success in disrupting al-Qaida. But it said these gains were outweighed by other factors, fuelling al-Qaida's spread: anger at corrupt Muslim regimes, anti-US sentiment, and a decentralised leadership that made it harder to penetrate.

It also predicted further attacks in Europe as "extremist networks inside the extensive Muslim diasporas in Europe facilitate recruitment and staging".

Bush insisted that he had released this document to prove that reports over the past few days have been based on politically motivated leaks. And he may be right. But the biggest problem for Bush is that even in his recently released fuller document, the facts do not seem to support his argument.

Bush has actually released only four pages of a 30 page document, claiming that national security would be threatened were he to release any more. It's hard to take such a claim seriously as Nancy Pelosi, "tried and failed to persuade Republicans to agree to a vote that would have shut the doors of the House of Representatives to allow members to read the entire classified report."
Officials who have read the entire document said the still-classified portion contained a more detailed analysis of the impact of the Iraq war on the global jihad movement. Representative Jane Harman of California, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said that what the White House released Tuesday was broadly consistent with the classified portion of the report.
So, if the rest of the report is "broadly consistent" with what has so far been released, then Bush's argument - that the war in Iraq has been a success in terms of the war on terror - appears to have been substantially undermined.

Democrats seized on the document’s conclusions as proof that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake.

“The war in Iraq has made us less safe,” said Senator John D. Rockefeller IV of West Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee. Mr. Rockefeller said the judgements contained in the intelligence estimate “make it clear that the intelligence community — all 16 agencies — believe the war in Iraq has fuelled terrorism.”

Bush was left mouthing empty platitudes:
“You know, to suggest that if we weren’t in Iraq we would see a rosier scenario, with fewer extremists joining the radical movement, requires us to ignore 20 years of experience,” Mr. Bush said. He added: “My judgement is: The only way to protect this country is to stay on the offense.”
The problem for Bush though, is that is exactly what the report says. The Iraq war is fuelling terrorism rather than defeating it.

The overall estimate is bleak, with minor notes of optimism. It depicts a movement that is likely to grow more quickly than the West's ability to counter it over the next five years, as the Iraq war continues to breed "deep resentment" throughout the Muslim world, shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and cultivating new supporters for their ideology.

Bush, as always, is left defending his position with stunning arguments like, "I don't agree". As if the word of "The Decider" renders anything else posited as worthless.

But one thing is clear, Wallace's attempt to lay the blame for 9-11 at Clinton's door has backfired spectacularly and Clinton's reply to Wallace's central charge have made it open season for an examination of Bush's record in the war on terror both before, and after, 9-11.

Madeleine Albright, was accusing Mr Bush of adopting damaging policies because of his strong beliefs.

"If certainties such as the war in Iraq and the axis of evil are based on a religious belief that God is on our side - versus we should be on God's side as Lincoln said - then certitude creates foreign policy problems," Ms Albright said.

Oh dear, I wonder if Wallace now regrets that moment of madness...

Blair delivers stunning goodbye.

He's always been the King of Conference speeches, but it's fair to say that Tony Blair kept the best till last. Labour Party members who have spent the last couple of months calling for his head sat, moist eyed, in the palm of his hand as the old charmer used self deprecation and hard political facts to, once again, disarm his critics and leave the Conference baying for more.

He started with a gag:

I know I look a lot older. That's what being leader of the Labour party does to you.

Actually, looking round some of you look a lot older. That's what having me as leader of the Labour party does to you.
It was classic Blair, never shirk from what your opponents identify as your greatest weakness, get in there first and claim it as your own. There's something very charming about someone who does this.

Then he went on to list his party's achievements:

Now, for all that remains to be done, dwell for a moment on what has been achieved.

We have had the longest period of sustained economic growth in British history.

Mortgage repossession, like mass unemployment, are terms we have to be reminded of.

The last NHS winter crisis was six years ago.

Heart patients wait on average less than three months. Cancer deaths are down by 43,000.

You are more likely to see a new school building than a crumbling one.

There are virtually no long- term young unemployed.

Today we ask: can we meet our ambitious targets on child poverty when, before 1997, the idea of a child poverty target would have been laughable?

We have black ministers and the first woman and then the first black woman leader of the Lords. Not enough women MPs but twice what there were.

A London mayor, thankfully Labour again. Devolution in Scotland and Wales. But not just this.

Free museum entry that has seen a 50% rise in visitors.

Banning things that should never have been allowed: handguns, cosmetic testing on animals; fur farming, blacklisting of trade unionists and from summer next year, smoking in public places.

Allowing things that should never have been banned: the right to roam; the right to request flexible working; civil partnerships for gay people.

And in 2012 it is London that will host the Olympic games.

Of course, the daily coverage of politics focuses on the negative.

But take a step back and be proud: this is a changed country.

Above all, it is progressive ideas which define its politics. That is the real result of a third term victory.

And the Tories have to pretend they love it.

The Bank of England independence, they never did in 18 years, the minimum wage, they told us would cost a million jobs. The help for the world's poor, they cut. They fall over themselves saying how much they agree with us.

Don't lose heart from that; take heart from it.

We have changed the terms of political debate.

This Labour government has been unique.

Now considering he is talking about the achievements of the very people he was addressing, this was always going to go down very well.

However, he defined politics as not what you have achieved, but as what you have the power to deliver:

I spoke to a woman the other day, a part-time worker, complaining about the amount of her tax credit.

I said: hold on a minute: before 1997, there were no tax credits not for working families not for any families; child benefit was frozen; maternity pay half what it is; maternity leave likewise and paternity leave didn't exist at all. And no minimum wage, no full time rights for part time workers, in fact nothing.

"So what?", she said "that's why we elected you. Now go and sort out my tax credit." And, of course, she's right.

He then addressed his leaving Number 10 and did so with a directness and a lack of bitterness that, considering the machinations and power play of the past few months, left one open mouthed with gratitude. This man could have plunged the knife in, but he didn't. And my admiration for him increased ten fold.
The truth is, you can't go on forever. That's why it is right that this is my last conference as Leader.

Of course it is hard to let go. But it is also right to let go. For the country, and for you, the party.

He then faced the man who's plotting is said to have contributed more than anything else to his downfall.

I know New Labour would never have happened, and 3 election victories would never have been secured, without Gordon Brown.

He is a remarkable man. A remarkable servant to this country. And that is the truth.

He then went on to list the global challenges facing the next Labour leader and highlighting how different they were from the challenges that he faced ten years ago.

He defined Labour as the party of the people and warned that Labour must never again aim simply to appeal to it's base. The country he said, was Labour's base.

He finally warned against easy anti-Americanism.

Yes it's hard sometimes to be America's strongest ally.

Yes, Europe can be a political headache for a proud sovereign nation like Britain.

But believe me there are no half-hearted allies of America today and no semi-detached partners in Europe.

And the truth is that nothing we strive for, from the world trade talks to global warming, to terrorism and Palestine can be solved without America, or without Europe.

At the moment I know people only see the price of these alliances.

Give them up and the cost in terms of power, weight and influence for Britain would be infinitely greater.

Distance this country and you may find it's a long way back.

He then delighted Conference by rounding on the Tories:

David Cameron's Tories? My advice: get after them.

His foreign policy. Pander to anti-Americanism by stepping back from America . Pander to the Eurosceptics through isolation in Europe. Sacrificing British influence for party expediency is not a policy worthy of a prime minister.

Built to last? They haven't even laid the foundation stone. If we can't take this lot apart in the next few years we shouldn't be in the business of politics at all.

This was music to their ears.

He then prepared for the final goodbye:

They say I hate the party, and its traditions. I don't. I love this party. There's only one tradition I hated:


I hated the 1980s not just for our irrelevance but for our revelling in irrelevance. And I don't want to win for winning's sake but for the sake of the millions here that depend on us to win, and throughout the world.

Every day this government has been in power, every day in Africa, children have lived who otherwise would have died because this country led the way in cancelling debt and global poverty.

That's why winning matters.

So keep on winning. Do it with optimism. With hope in your hearts.

Politics is not a chore. It's the great adventure of progress. I don't want to be the Labour leader who won three successive elections. I want to be the first Labour leader to win three successive elections.

So: it's up to you.

You take my advice. You don't take it. Your choice.

Whatever you do, I'm always with you. Head and heart. You've given me all I have ever achieved, and all that we've achieved, together, for the country.

Next year I won't be making this speech.

But, in the years to come, wherever I am, whatever I do. I'm with you. Wishing you well. Wanting you to win.

You're the future now. Make the most of it.

It was a speech that was as notable for what he didn't say as for what he did. But he wowed them, and me. It is untrue, as many papers will today imply, that the Party suddenly realises what a mistake it has made.

Blair got it right, it is time for him to go. But it was joyous to, once again, be held in the palm of possibly the greatest British orator since Churchill and have him not scold us but remind us of what collectively we have achieved.

He did it with such dignity, such charm, such self deprecation. It was impossible not to be moved.

There are times when someone steps up to the occasion and delivers by hitting every ball clean out of the park.

Blair delivered. By God, did he bloody deliver. Breathtaking stuff. There will be time, in the future, to examine Blair's premiership in more detail. For now, it is enough to appreciate the grace of that exit from Conference, the knives unplunged, the rivalries apparently forgiven.

There was so much more he could have said, and the graceful way he chose not to say it is an incalculable debt that he is owed by the party.

Even I stood for the old bugger. Despite all our differences on policy, I stood. There is no greater compliment I can pay than that.

Click title for full speech.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Olbermann on Fox's interview with Clinton

Snow refuses to engage with Clinton's argument

Fox News had sought to sell it as the interview in which Clinton "lost it". No doubt firing up their base to prepare themselves for his anger rather than what he had to say.

However, what I find most interesting is the reaction of the White House to Clinton's claim that he made more effort to kill bin Laden in the last two months he was in office than the Bush administration did in the eight months they were in power before 9-11.

Tony Snow had this to say:

Q: Any reaction to former President Clinton’s comments on what he did about Osama bin Laden, compared to what’s been done -the Fox interview, especially? He kind of implied that he’d done more than had been done the first nine months. I wonder if there’s any comment on that.

MR. SNOW: Well, he retorts; you decide. It’s my view that -well, not my view. President Clinton clearly had strong feelings, but I’m going to let -we’re just not going to engage.

In other words the White House plan on offering no defence to Clinton's charge that they did bugger all about catching bin Laden despite the CIA confirming - on Bush's watch - that al Qaeda were responsible for the attack on the USS Cole.

They will offer no defence against Clinton's charge that Dick Clarke was ignored and could not get an audience with Bush despite eight months of trying, and that the Presidential Daily Brief entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the U.S.” was dismissed as Bush continued with his vacation rather than responding to this clear signal of bin Laden's intent to strike inside America.

Clinton, ever the shrewdest of political operators, has done well to move the spotlight back on to the inaction of the Bush administration who have, so far, been protected from this kind of criticism due to the sheer horror of 9-11. However, through the documentary The Path to 9-11, the right wing have made a fatal mistake in attempting to rewrite history and place the blame for 9-11 at Clinton's door. This has made discussion of what exactly Bush did prior to 9-11 fair game in a way that it never was before.

Clinton rightly pointed out that most Republicans opposed his attempts to get bin Laden as "Wag the dog" or simply as an attempt to divert attention away from the Monika Lewinsky scandal.

Indeed, when Clinton attempted to kill bin Laden, two weeks after the murderous terror attacks on the U.S. embassies in East Africa, he was savaged by right wingers and his motives mocked:
"Senators Dan Coats (R-Ind.) and Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) swiftly voiced concern that Clinton might have acted to divert public attention from his personal problems related to the Monica Lewinsky sex scandal.

Indeed, at the time some described Clinton's bombing of Iraq as a reason to impeach him.

Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Mississippi) and House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas).

"I cannot support this military action in the Persian Gulf at this time," Lott said in a statement. "Both the timing and the policy are subject to question."

"The suspicion some people have about the president's motives in this attack is itself a powerful argument for impeachment," Armey said in a statement. "After months of lies, the president has given millions of people around the world reason to doubt that he has sent Americans into battle for the right reasons."

For these same right wingers to now claim that Clinton was lax on terrorism is the height of hypocrisy, as they were the loudest voices opposing him at the time.

And for Bush's camp to somehow attempt to lay the blame for 9-11 at Clinton's door ignores the fact Clinton during his exit interview with President Bush stressed that bin Laden was the greatest threat to US security and not Iraq as Bush had claimed during the campaign.
"In his campaign, Bush had said he thought the biggest security issue was Iraq and a national missile defense," Clinton said. "I told him that in my opinion, the biggest security problem was Osama bin Laden."

Clinton said his inability to convince Bush of the danger from al Qaeda was "one of the two or three of the biggest disappointments that I had."
So it is no great surprise that Snow and the White House do not wish to engage in a discussion of the points that Clinton raised. They do not wish to engage because it is an argument that they are certain to lose.

Wallace did the right wing no favours when he attempted his ambush of Clinton as it has backfired on them spectacularly.

Right wing theories that seek to ignore the fact that Bush was Commander in Chief on 9-11 are best left to discussions around right wing dinner tables. The mistake Wallace made was to articulate this in front of Clinton, and to give Clinton the opportunity to blast this nonsense out of the water.

Had Wallace not done so, Clinton would have been forced - as have all Democrats post 9-11 - to refuse to play "partisan politics". Wallace opened the flood gates, an act of extreme foolishness from a Republican stand point.

Snow is trying to jam Wallace's thumb back into the dyke when he says, "We're not going to engage".

I bet they are not. Their record on this is disgraceful. And it deserves to be more widely examined.

Army chief tells Bush: there's not enough money for Iraq war

I've searched the New York Times and the Washington Post and am amazed that neither seems to have any link to the news that General Peter Schoomaker has declared that his army does not have enough money to fight the Iraq war.

This comes on top of three retired senior military officers who have said that Donald Rumsfeld has bungled the war in Iraq and that the Pentagon was "incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically".

Major General Paul Eaton, a retired officer who was in charge of training Iraq troops, said: "Mr Rumsfeld and his immediate team must be replaced or we will see two more years of extraordinarily bad decision-making."
This is happening as Mr Bush prepares to fight the mid term elections on the back of his "strong leadership" in the war on terror.

It also follows a report yesterday, the National Intelligence Estimate, which stated that "the invasion of Iraq has created a flood of new Islamic terrorists and increased the danger to US interests to a higher level than at any time since the 9/11 attacks."

The criticism comes amid an unprecedented show of defiance from the army chief, Gen Schoomaker. The general refused to submit a budget plan for 2008 to Mr Rumsfeld, arguing the military could not continue operations in Iraq and its other missions without additional funds, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. The seriousness of the protest was underlined by Gen Schoomaker's reputation as an ally of the Pentagon chief. The general came out of retirement at Mr Rumsfeld's request to take up the post.

"It's quite a debacle," said Loren Thompson, a military analyst at the Lexington Institute thinktank. "Virtually everyone in the army feels as though their needs have been shortchanged."

Gen Schoomaker's defiance gives a voice to growing concern within the military about the costs of America's wars, and the long-term strain of carrying out operations around the world.

For the past three years, the $400bn (£210bn) cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been funded by emergency spending bills passed by Congress. But Gen Schoomaker and others say the Iraq war has also put a severe strain on regular budgets. That puts the generals at odds with Mr Rumsfeld's strategic vision of a more nimble, hi-tech military. In addition, Congress and the White House have cut a number of army spending requests over the past months. "There is no sense in us submitting a budget that we can't execute, a broken budget," he told a Washington audience.

It is frankly amazing that the Republicans can have the gall to continue fighting elections on the strength of their war on terror, especially the war in Iraq which has become such a bad news story that it sometimes slips off the front page - such is the monotony of the horror emanating from there. It is simply impossible to keep reporting the same bad news day after day.

And yet, the cold hard facts remain that nearly 7,000 civilians were killed in the past two months alone, a shocking average of some 100 every single day.

Stories that Kofi Annan has declared that Iraq stands on the brink of civil war are easily swept aside such is the torrent of awfulness emanating from the region.

It's almost as if the worse things become in Iraq the more it suits President Bush as the public and the media have switched off. There is only so much horror any of us can stomach.

I mean seriously, how much are we supposed to take?
Increasing numbers of terrorist attacks, the strength of sectarian militias, the growth of organised crime as well as "honour killings" of women from both the Sunni and Shia communities reflect a society utterly out of control. Torture, according to a separate UN report, is now more prevalent than in the darkest days of the Ba'athist dictatorship. A new tactic is for armed groups to turn kidnap victims into suicide bombers - seizing them, booby-trapping their cars without their knowledge, then releasing them only to blow up the vehicles by remote control. News agencies yesterday issued a 24-hour tally of shootings of policemen and civilians, including women, some corpses found beheaded or mutilated, and two US soldiers killed by a roadside bomb. That could have been any day in recent months.
It is only natural that the public should grow tired of such a continual bad news story. But it is simply staggering that a political party should be so deeply cynical as to propose selling such a bad new story as a sign of their own strength, safe in the knowledge that the public have turned off from the grim reality.

And yet, that is precisely what the Republicans propose doing. They are going to continue selling the war in Iraq as a sign of their strength, and imply that anyone who opposes them is weak, for the simple reason that - having made the dreadful mistake of invading - there is simply no easy answer to the question of "What to do next?"

By framing the debate as a question of "What do we do now?" they successfully skip the larger and much more relevant question of "Why are we here in the first place?"

Disaster is being sold as victory because the public are too tired to care. For the simple reason that there is only so much horror that people can digest.

For a political party to calculate this and use it as a means of fighting an election campaign is the most cynical thing I think I will ever witness. And yet, that is precisely what they are about to do.

Click title for full article.